Introduction

Webcast archive: News briefs & the resistance

This week, we discuss our next steps, now that Canada has legalized medically-sanctioned killing.

Webcast archive: News briefs & the resistance

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

  • News Brief – The British Medical Association votes against assisted suicide.
  • News Brief – Euthanasia applied unevenly in Québec
  • The Resistance – next steps
  • Announcement – summer break

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

NEWS BRIEF: BRITISH MEDICAL ASSOCIATION VOTES AGAINST ASSISTED SUICIDE

  • At its annual conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the British Medical Association voted this week to maintain its opposition to assisted suicide and euthanasia.
  • The group rejected a motion to take a neutral stance on assisted suicide and euthanasia by a vote of 198 to 115.
  • The BMA had been under strong pressure from groups such as Dignity in Dying to “go neutral.” DID stated that the neutral position was a stepping stone to legalizing assisted suicide, as the Canadian and California medical associations had both abandoned their opposition prior to assisted suicide being legalized in those jurisdictions.

NEWS BRIEF: EUTHANASIA APPLIED UNEVENLY IN QUÉBEC

  • An article in the journal de Montréal last week showed that the euthanasia program is being applied unevenly in Québec.
  • At a hospital in the city of Québec, every one of 26 requests for euthanasia was granted, whereas elsewhere in the province, some requests were rejected or withdrawn.
  • At the hospital of the Université de Montréal, 6 of the 12 requests were granted, while three people died naturally, one person put off the decision, and two were declared ineligible.
  • Two articles reporting on this phenomenon seemed to suggest that hospitals’ failure to accept every request was a problem. On the other hand, it would seem normal that a certain number of people would be ineligible for the procedure.

THE RESISTANCE – NEXT STEPS

  • After last week’s webcast, the Senate voted to accept the assisted dying bill with the provision limiting access to people whose death was reasonably foreseeable. With royal assent, assisted suicide and euthanasia became law in Canada on June 17.
  • Now that Canada has legalized medical killing, the resistance movement must enter a new phase.
  • As Aubert Martin stated in the Living with Dignity newsletter: “there is no question of abandoning the fight by thinking that everything is finished now that the law is passed. Our principles, our reasons, our arguments, and our will to protect the social fabric and vulnerable population are not erased by the stroke of the pen which formalizes the ideology behind assisted suicide.”
  • As such, we must:
  • Fight against efforts to open eligibility to:
    • People with non-terminal disabilities;
    • People who are incompetent;
    • Children;
    • People whose sole disability is psychological.
  • Ensure that the safeguards in the law are adhered to.
  • Bring to light abuses of individuals and of the system.
  • Ensure there is sufficient documentation and reporting of assisted suicides and euthanasia so the program can be thoroughly studied and analyzed.
  • Carry out those studies with an eye toward the effects on vulnerable populations and identifying failures in the system of safeguards.
  • Fight for universal access to top quality palliative care and self-directed home-care services to enable people to stay in their own homes rather than being forced into institutions to receive end-of-life care or personal assistance services.
  • Continue to challenge the belief that life with a disability is a fate worse than death, and remove the institutional barriers to full participation in society for people with disabilities.
  • Ensure that individuals are aware of their rights and responsibilities under the new law, and that public awareness campaigns do not perpetuate stereotypes about disability.
  • Defend the rights of providers to refuse to participate in euthanasia and assisted suicide, and furnish the means by which individuals may choose such providers.
  • Develop the means to provide individual assistance to people who are being pressured to accept assisted suicide or euthanasia.
  • Build relationships with interested groups and institutions to share resources, develop services and referral options.
  • Continue to educate lawmakers and the general public on the effects of assisted suicide and euthanasia on individuals, vulnerable populations and society as a whole.
  • To finish with the words of Aubert Martin: “Taking care of those who need us is not a diminution of dignity. On the contrary, it is an opportunity to demonstrate to the person their value and importance in society in spite of their decreased capacity.
  • “In defending these basic foundations of our society, it is not merely our loved ones or those who are fragile that we defend. We also defend the conscience of generations to come.
  • “In this sense, therefore, there is no room for giving up or for defeatism for anyone who still respects the inherent and inalienable dignity of every human person and who remains concerned for the common good.”
  • Vive la résistance!

ANNOUNCEMENT

  • Our webcast is going on summer break.  The webcast will be back Friday, August 19 at the same time.  Enjoy your summer!