Webcast archive: Québec’s Collège des médecins

This week, we examine a statement from the Collège des médecins de Québec, on whether current euthanasia laws might lead to “death on demand.”

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

  • Québec’s Collège des médecins cautions against death à la carte
  • Frequently Asked Questions: We know assisted suicide already happens.  If we don’t regulate it, won’t we end up with a macabre specialty of assisted suicides with no safeguards at all?

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


  • In an article posted this week on the website of Québec’s Collège des médecins, the group’s secretary, Dr. Yves Robert expressed his concern over a shift in attitude toward medical killing.
  • Dr. Robert points out that that the original goal of the law was to provide medical care at the end of life; care which could, in exceptional cases, include euthanasia.  Yet recently, many people have invoked what they consider a “right” to assisted death following a diagnosis of severe or terminal illness, even before symptoms have become incapacitating.
  • Despite more than 450 euthanasias in the province during the first year, Québec society has faced the “brutal” fact that, because of eligibility criteria, some people who request it are refused assisted death.
  • “So while medical aid in dying was reserved for people who are suffering,” says Dr. Robert, “we now hear people demanding a form of ‘death à la carte.’  Is this really what we want for our society?”
  • Dr. Robert questions the usefulness of opening up access to assisted death when there will always be some people who will be found ineligible.  He laments the paradox of demanding protections from abuse on the one hand, while at the same time asking doctors to behave as if there were no limits on access.  He further criticizes politicians, pundits and the media for denouncing the refusal to provide euthanasia and supporting “death à la carte.”
  • The article goes on to suggest that such a model would remove medical care and medical judgment from the equation, creating a system like that in Switzerland, where assisted suicide is provided by private organizations.
  • Dr. Robert concludes: “What’s striking, after the first year of application of this law which is recognized as being a “major opening”, is the rapidity with which public opinion seems to have judged this opening insufficient.”  He expresses disbelief that society has already reached this conclusion “while we have not fully assimilated either the application of the current provisions or its consequences.”

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: We know assisted suicide already happens.  If we don’t regulate it, won’t we up with a “macabre specialty” of assisted suicides with no safeguards at all? 

  • This “macabre specialty” already exists.  Legalization has done nothing to stop it.
  • 75% of deaths in Oregon are “guided” by people from Compassion & Choices, who refer people to doctors based on their willingness to prescribe lethal drugs, not their relationship with a patient nor their competence or compassion.
  • In Belgium, Dr. Wim Distelmans performs a large percentages of the euthanasias in that country, even as he holds the position of chair of the Belgian commission on Evaluation and Control of Euthanasia.  (conflict of interest).
  • The Final Exit Network has faced criminal charges in situations where “exit guides” held people’s hands down to prevent them from tearing the plastic bag off of their head to stop their “assisted suicides.”
  • The Dignitas clinic in Switzerland will help pretty much anyone, from anywhere, kill themselves
  • The Dutch government provides mobile euthanasia units to make house calls.  Whether or not you can get home care to help you live independently on your own terms, you can certainly get help to die.
  • The Farewell Foundation specifically cites suffering as a result of disability as a reason for suicide.