With Quebec’s euthanasia law, Bill 52, coming into effect Dec. 10, the province is preparing for the legalization of assisted suicide by creating “death kits” for its doctors. Creative Commons license: by alegri/ alegriphotos.com

‘Death kits’ prepared for Quebec doctors

  • September 2, 2015

OTTAWA - When news leaked Sept. 1 that the Quebec government is preparing “euthanasia kits” for doctors, it came as no surprise to the head of a physicians’ group that opposes euthanasia.

Dr. Catherine Ferrier, president of the Quebec-based Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia, said she knew the Collège des médecins du Québec was “working on guidelines on how to euthanize a patient.”

“It was foreseen since the law was passed last year,” she said, noting Quebec’s euthanasia Bill 52 comes into effect Dec. 10.

Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) director Michele Boulva also said these guidelines, while shocking, were expected.

“Citizens who have not yet realized what the legalization of euthanasia will mean for them and their loved ones will have a very difficult awakening,” Boulva said. “Families will obviously need to be very proactive and attentive to what’s going on with their loved ones in the hospital and make sure their family doctor is opposed to this practice.”

The euthanasia guidelines, reportedly developed in conjunction with Quebec’s governing bodies for nurses and pharmacists, involve a combination of drugs delivered intravenously to first, quell anxiety, second, to induce a coma, and third, drugs to stop breathing and to stop the heart.

The drug formulas will be available on a restricted part of the College’s web site to doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

“None of this should have happened, obviously,” said Ferrier, a family doctor with a geriatric practice. “If they are going to make it legal, doctors have to learn how to do it.”

But Ferrier said the Quebec government is “scrambling” because “when the law comes into effect a lot of people won’t be prepared” to perform euthanasia. “The system won’t be set up for it,” she said. A patient might demand euthanasia once the law comes into effect, but the hospital may not have policies set up.

Ferrier questioned whether enough doctors will be willing to kill their patients and whether nurses will refuse to participate. She also questioned whether the guideline that doctors administer the drugs and supervise the death is realistic.

“Doctors are not always known to always sit by the bedside of patients when they don’t have to,” Ferrier said.

The more likely scenario is a doctor giving the injection, then leaving for the operating room or the next patient, leaving the process to the nurse, she said.

“I don’t think there is anything we can do to stop Dec. 10, unless the federal government rushes something through but there won’t be a lot of time after the election,” Ferrier said.

“We have to keep it very much in the forefront of the public conversation,” she said.

The Physicians’ Alliance had launched a lawsuit against the legality of the euthanasia bill, given that the Criminal Code is federal jurisdiction. But Ferrier said the Alliance had to suspend the lawsuit after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the Code’s relevant sections in the Feb. 6 Carter decision.

The Carter decision has left it unclear whether it allows only assisted suicide or euthanasia, Ferrier said. But Quebec had plans to go ahead with its euthanasia bill before the Supreme Court decision.

The Quebec law does not require anybody to euthanize a patient, she said.

“A lot of doctors will refuse to do it for either moral reasons or not wanting to get involved in the practice.”

The law does require a doctor to refer a patient to the director of the hospital, should he or she refuse to be involved in euthanasia.

“I know a lot of doctors who won’t do that either,” she said.

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SCC decision allows for euthanasia and assisted suicide. See: THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA DECISION ALLOWS FOR THE PRESCRIPTION AND THE SYRINGE, by Jocelyn Downie....

SCC decision allows for euthanasia and assisted suicide. See: THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA DECISION ALLOWS FOR THE PRESCRIPTION AND THE SYRINGE, by Jocelyn Downie. http://impactethics.ca/2015/03/01/the-supreme-court-of-canada-decision-allows-for-the-prescription-and-the-syringe/

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