Introduction

Webcast archive: Québec’s Commission on End of Life Care

This week, we look at biases in Québec’s Commission on End of Life Care.

Webcast archive: Québec’s Commission on End of Life Care

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

  • Two members of Québec’s Commission on End of Life Care are accused of opposing euthanasia
  • The first euthanasia of a minor in Belgium

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

TWO MEMBERS OF QUÉBEC’S COMMISSION ON END OF LIFE CARE ARE ACCUSED OF BEING ANTI-EUTHANASIA

  • On Monday, the newspaper Le Devoir printed an article raising “ethical questions” about the inclusion of two members on the Commission on end-of-life care who oppose euthanasia.
  • Le Devoir described the “fierce opposition” of attorney Pierre Deschamps and Mireille Lavoie, and questioned whether the commission could be “neutral” if two of its members opposed euthanasia.
  • Le Devoir implied that letters sent by the commission to doctors, amounted to harassment.  The letters questioned whether people who received euthanasia were at the “end of life” and “able to consent”.
  • Nowhere in the article did Le Devoir question the neutrality of commissioners who had expressed support for the euthanasia legislation.
  • Following the publication of the article, the Parti Québécois and Québec Solidaire called for the removal of the two commissioners whose “neutrality” was called into question.
  • In denouncing the call to remove the two members, Health Minister Gaetan Barrette stated that by having a mix of opinions on the commission, the result is a balanced, or “neutral” commission.
  • This tempest in a teapot is only the latest in the ongoing campaign by Le Devoir in favour of euthanasia and against those who oppose it.  In the past, Le Devoir has ignored the secular opposition and attacked opponents by claiming the opposition is based solely on religious or “moral” arguments.

FIRST MINOR DIES BY EUTHANASIA IN BELGIUM

  • A 17-year-old, “terminally ill” Belgian was euthanized in the Flanders region of that country, becoming the first minor to be euthanized since the law was changed in 2014 to allow for the killing of children.
  • In order to be euthanized, a child must be in the final stage of a terminal illness, and must comprehend the implications of choosing death over life at a rational level. Minors also need to have asked to die on multiple occasions, and receive the consent of parents and two doctors, including a psychiatrist.  Unlike in Holland, where the minimum age for consent to die is 12 years, Belgium has no minimum age for consent to die.
  • Though news reports say the person was “suffering unbearable physical pain” there was no indication what palliative measures had been tried to control the pain.
  • Among the questions to be studied in Canada over the next few years is the possibility of allowing minors to have euthanasia or assisted suicide.  Many people believe that because suicide is already a major problem among adolescents, allowing them to be euthanized would work against the public policy to prevent teen suicides.
  • In a related incident, 14-year-old Jerika Bolen died yesterday in the State of Wisconsin.  Miss Bolen, who had spinal muscular atrophy, had declared her intention to stop life-sustaining treatment at the end of August.  Instead of providing suicide prevention services, her supporters collected funds and held a prom for her, attended by 1,000 people.