The Quebec Parliament is pictured in Quebec City in 2014. CNS photo/Philippe Vaillancourt, Presence

Deception exposed

  • December 10, 2015

Finally, a victory for common sense. Justice Michel Pinsonnault of Quebec Superior Court sounded a rare voice of reason when he ruled that Quebec’s so-called “medical aid in dying” legislation is no more than a euphemism for euthanasia. As they say, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck . . .

“It must be concluded at this stage that ‘medical aid in dying,’ in the present context, corresponds prima facie to the euthanasia of a human being at his express request, or in other words, assistance with suicide necessarily through the intervention of another person,” wrote Pinsonnault.

With those words, the judge derailed Quebec plans to allow lethal injections for some terminally ill patients as of Dec. 10. He told Quebec to abide by the federal Criminal Code which, for the moment, still prohibits one person from helping another end their life, although the death knell is sounding for that law.

Meantime, bravo to the judge. For more than two years, throughout consultations, legislative debates and ultimately a vote, Quebec politicians spuriously claimed that what they proposed was merely another medical option for people at the end of life. With a straight face, they christened this option to let doctors give lethal injections as “medical aid in dying,” and ho-hummed that it was neither euthanasia nor assisted suicide but just another healthcare matter under provincial jurisdiction.

Court etiquette restrained the judge from invoking the adage about putting lipstick on a pig, but he correctly pointed out that glamourizing a law by inserting the word “medical” before “aid in dying” doesn’t make it healthcare and certainly doesn’t make it legal. He ruled Quebec’s law to permit doctors to intentionally cause death violated the Criminal Code and ordered Quebec to obey the law. Good for him.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean Quebec’s euthanasia law is dead, only that it is in limbo until the eventual implementation of a bad Supreme Court decision to inflict assisted suicide on Canada. That misery will arrive sometime before Aug. 6, depending on what the courts rule and the federal government legislates in coming weeks.

Just the same, this small victory is worth cheering. It not only saves lives in the short term but it exposes the deception of trying to rebrand intentional killing as medical care.
Medical aid in dying exists, but it has nothing to do with euthanasia. It is the compassionate care provided by doctors and nurses to guide palliative care patients to a dignified natural death. To equate euthanasia with medical aid, to suggest killing is ever healthcare, is an insult to the caregivers who offer genuine medical aid in dying to the terminally ill.

Judge Pinsonnault’s common-sense ruling is a victory for them, and for common sense itself.

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