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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Quebec’s Doctors to Become Killers?



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Quebec is about to make a major push to legalize euthanasia based on the recommendations of a commission. I have now had a chance to read the report, and it is pushing Quebec (and thence, Canada) toward a Belgium style culture of death.

Here’s an overview: “First, the euphemism “aid in dying” means active killing by doctors: . From the Select Committee Dying With Dignity Report recommendations:

We propose that this option take the form of “medical aid in dying”. This assistance involves an act performed by a physician in a medical setting following a free and informed request made by the patient himself.

Second, the categories of the killable are broad and wide enough to drive a hearse through:

The person is suffering from a serious, incurable disease;• The person is in an advanced state of weakening capacities, with no chance of improvement;• The person has constant and unbearable physical or psychological suffering that cannot be eased under conditions he or she deems tolerable.

Consider: “serious and incurable disease” isn’t a synonym for “terminal disease.” Despite the dicta from the committee that this should be reserved for end of life situations, that is not the wording of the recommendation. Hence, diabetes could qualify in this definition, say, when the patient loses a foot or begins to have vision issues. MS would apply. Serious arthritis. HIV as it turns to AIDS, etc. 

The “no chance of improvement” criterion is also a misnomer in most cases, if literally applied. People often go into unexpected improvements of health even when they are unquestionably terminally ill. Some, even get kicked out of hospice because they stop dying. Others have their symptoms effectively palliated. Still others overcome their depression about wanting to die sooner rather than later, and are glad to be alive–if they have the chance to get there

The recommendations would allow doctors to kill incompetent patients who had signed an advance kill directive:

The Committee recommends that relevant legislation be amended to recognize that an adult with the capacity to consent is entitled to give an advance directive for medical aid in dying in the event that he becomes irreversibly unconscious, based on the current state of medical science.

This means that an incompetent patient who might not want to die today, could be killed anyway because he thought he would in the past and because his doctor thinks he should.

Quebec wants to lead Canada off the moral cliff already leaped off of by Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.  It is a radical province growing increasingly so. I hope there are enough people remaining in the French-speaking province who still believe in Hippocratic values and the intrinsic dignity of human life to hold the death agenda at bay.

Post Script: The recommendations would also legally require all doctors to be complicit in killing if asked–even if they are morally opposed. I’ll deal with that matter in a separate post.



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