Introduction

Webcast archive: Ten people euthanized in Québec

This week, we discuss the ten people who have died in Quebec, as well as a new study from Belgium.

Webcast archive: Ten people euthanized in Québec

In this episode of Euthanasia & Disability, Amy Hasbrouck and Christian Debray discuss:

  • Ten people have been euthanized in Québec
  • Prime Minister Trudeau may force Liberals to vote the party line on assisted suicide
  • A study of 66 cases of euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in the Netherlands shows 70% were women

Please note that this text is only a script and that our webcast contains additional commentary.

TEN PEOPLE HAVE BEEN EUTHANIZED IN QUÉBEC

  • According to a report by Radio Canada, since the euthanasia program began two months ago, around ten people have been euthanized in Québec.
  • Health Minister Gaetan Barrette believes the program is going according to plan.  But others believe a lack of doctors willing to participate, and ignorance about the program are causing delays.
  • Christiane Martel, president of the Québec Association for Palliative Care estimates that only about 1% of doctors are willing to kill their patients.  She points out that supporting the idea of euthanasia is not the same thing as being willing to do it.
  • Palliative care doctor Louis Roy said some people who are applying don’t meet the eligibility criteria.  He estimates that it takes five to eight hours, over several days, for a doctor to pursue the process with the applicant.
  • Doctors don’t want to risk the uncertain legal status of the law, or get stuck with these requests, according to the report.
  • Health Minister Barrette says Québec will begin a public information campaign at the end of February to educate people about the program.

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU MAY FORCE LIBERALS TO VOTE THE PARTY LINE ON ASSISTED SUICIDE

  • Before the proposed law is even drafted, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is forcing Liberal MPs to vote the party line on a federal assisted dying bill.
  • He states that the caucus must vote to uphold the charter right found by the Supreme Court.
  • The Conservatives and the New Democratic Party have stated that their members will be allowed to vote their conscience on this controversial issue.
  • Usually such personal questions of conscience are left up to individual MPs.

A STUDY OF 66 CASES OF EUTHANASIA FOR PSYCHIATRIC REASONS IN THE NETHERLANDS SHOWS 70% WERE WOMEN.

  • A study was published on February 10 in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Psychiatry describing 66 cases of euthanasia in the Netherlands for psychiatric reasons between 2011 and 2014.  Of these cases:
    • 70% were women.
    • 55% had depression, and most had more than one condition such as personality disorders, autism, PTSD or anxiety
    • 58% had another illness such as heart disease or diabetes.
    • 52% had attempted suicide and 80% had been hospitalized.
    • 56% reported loneliness or isolation
    • In 41% of cases, a psychiatrist performed the euthanasia, but in 11% of cases there was no independent psychiatric consultation.
    • In 24% of the cases there was disagreement among the physicians about whether euthanasia should go forward.
    • Many had tried various treatment, but some had refused treatments for their conditions.
  • It’s worrisome that autistics are among those who are requesting, and receiving, euthanasia.
  • One of the most troubling statistics here is that 70% of those euthanized were women.  It makes you wonder why more men were not selected.
  • Women attempt suicide three times more often than men, but men have a higher suicide completion rate.  Assisted suicide seems designed to even those odds.
  • Several feminist scholars who have looked at assisted suicide believe it is especially dangerous for women.  They believe that women request assisted suicide, and it is granted for reasons that have a lot to do with gender:
    • Women are expected to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their families and those around them.
    • Women have a hard time getting good health care,
    • Women often get poor pain relief, and sometimes physical problems are written off as psychological problems.
    • Women have higher rates of depression than men,
    • Requests for assisted suicide may be an effort to change an oppressive situation.
    • Gender expectations may affect the physician’s decision whether or not to grant the request.