The Assembly of Québec Catholic Bishops issued a statement March 29 in response to a report of the Quebec government’s Dying with Dignity commission. The statement praises the report’s recommendations to improve palliative care (care for the dying) but criticized its support of “medical aid in dying.”
The report supported practices similar to those in the Netherlands and Belgium, allowing doctors to kill a person who is a resident of Quebec, is an adult, has freely requested medical help to die, suffers from a “serious and incurable disease,” has a medical situation with “no prospects of improvement,” and is experiencing “physical or psychological suffering which is constant and unbearable.”
The bishops said that calling assisted suicide “medical aid” does not make it an acceptable medical procedure. Assisted suicide is forbidden by the Criminal Code of Canada and was rejected by a vote in the Parliament of Canada in 2010. Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC), note that the report does not limit “medical aid in dying” to people who are dying but that it could be requested by people who are simply depressed.
EPC also charged that the “safeguards” recommended by the commission have been proven not to work: A study published in the May 2010 issue of the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association showed that 32 percent of euthanasia deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium occurred without request or consent, and a study published in the October 2010 issue of the British Medical Journal found that 47 percent of euthanasia deaths in the same region were not reported.