Project comment on Quebec euthanasia statistics

News Release

For immediate release

Protection of Conscience Project

LifeSite News has published an article concerning Quebec euthanasia statistics collated by the Project.

During the interview that led to the publication of the article, the Project Administrator expressed concern that a significant increase in the volume of cases in the last half of 2016 could increase pressure on physicians and other health care workers who do not wish to participate in the procedure.  Such pressure was generated across Canada by the exponential increase in the number of abortions following liberalization of the abortion law in 1969, from under 300 in eleven years[1] to over 11,000 in the first year after the change in the law.[2]  The number of euthanasia and assisted suicide cases in the first year of legalization seems unlikely to exceed 20%  of that number, but this is still sufficient to warrant concern about pressure on objecting health care workers.

The statistical returns disclose some wide differences between different regions or reporting agencies, and sometimes between reporting agencies in the same administrative region.  For example: the number of euthanasia requests per 100,000 population is reported to be much higher in the Quebec City area than in the rest of the province, while the number of euthanasia requests per 100,000 palliative patients reported in Lanaudiere and Laval is much higher than in the Montreal Region.  Euthanasia is reported to be provided per 100,000 population in the Quebec City area at a rate three times that of Montreal.

The Administrator explained that the statistics were primarily useful in raising important questions about the reasons for such variations or trends, such as differences in the quality or accessibility of palliative care or the nature of patient illnesses.

Note

1. Waring G. “Report from Ottawa.” CMAJ Nov. 11, 1967, vol. 97, 1233 (Accessed 2016-06-15).

2. In 1970, the first year under the new rules, there were more than 11,000. In 1971 there were almost 39,000. “Therapeutic abortion: government figures show big increase in ‘71.” CMAJ May 20, 1972, Vol. 106, 1131 (Accessed 2016-06-15)

[Release revised 2017-03-14]

Quebec euthanasia rate almost doubled in last half of 2016

Quebec euthanasia rate after one year passes Belgian rate at five year mark

Sean Murphy*

Since 10 December, 2015, euthanasia has provided by physicians in Quebec under the terms of An Act Respecting End of Life Care (ARELC).  Health and social services agencies established by the government throughout the province are state agencies responsible for the delivery and coordination of health care in the province administrative regions. These are called Centres intégrés de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) and Centres intégrés universitaires de santé et de services sociaux [CIUSSS).  Some administrative regions (like Montreal and the Quebec City region) have more than one CISSS or CIUSSS.

These agencies are responsible for the delivery of euthanasia and are required to make reports to a commission established by the law (the Commission sur les soins de fin de vie) to monitor the administration of euthanasia.  According to the Commission, they are also required to post these reports on their websites.

As of 6 March, 2016, one of these agencies (Outaouais) had not posted the reports on its website.  Two (Outaouais and Abitibi-Temiscamingue) had neither posted the most recent report nor sent the report to the Commission, and did not respond to a request for it.

The Project has compiled the statistics provided by the other agencies in tables and charts.  Note that, in some cases, the number of patients lethally infused is higher than the number of requests because euthanasia was provided in response to a request made in the previous reporting period.

Quebec’s euthanasia rate almost doubled in the last half of 2016.  One year after legalization, Quebec has passed the euthanasia rate reached by Belgium after five years.  If Quebec’s rate continues without escalation throughout 2017, it will exceed that achieved by Belgium after nine years.

Euthanasia Requests
Response to Euthanasia Requests
Euthanasia Provided
Reasons Euthanasia Not Provided
Frequency of Euthanasia Requests
Frequency of Euthanasia
Quebec Mortality Rates
Quebec, Belgium and Netherlands
Projected Quebec Euthanasia Deaths in 2017

 

Protection of Conscience Project to intervene in lawsuit against state medical regulator

News Release

For immediate release

Protection of Conscience Project

The Protection of Conscience Project has been granted joint intervener status in a constitutional challenge to policies of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

The Project is intervening jointly with the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) and Faith and Freedom Alliance (FFA) in a lawsuit against the College launched by Ontario physicians and national physician organizations.

The joint intervention will defend freedom of conscience in the face of demands by the Ontario College of Physicians that physicians who refuse to kill patients or help them kill themselves must send them to a colleague willing do so.

“Unlike the CCRL and the FFA, the Project does not take a position on the acceptability of euthanasia or assisted suicide,” said Sean Murphy, Project Administrator.

“However, all three groups agree that those who object to the practices for moral, ethical or religious reasons should not be forced to provide or collaborate in them.”

The intervention will attempt to assist the court in defining a principled approach to the nature and scope of freedom of conscience.

Federal government policy a factor

The deliberate decision of the federal government to support coerced participation in homicide and suicide contributed to the Project’s decision to intervene.

“The federal government knew full well that the Ontario College was threatening to punish physicians who refuse to be parties to euthanasia and assisted suicide when it introduced Bill C-14 to set the groundrules for the procedures,” said Murphy.

“It could have prevented coercion by exercising its jurisdiction in criminal law. It could have made it a crime to force someone to be a party to homicide or suicide. It was repeatedly asked to do so. It steadfastly refused.”

Instead, Murphy said, “the Government of Canada chose to enable coercion, and to defend its support for coercion as ‘cooperative federalism.’”1

In contrast, the Project insists upon a foundational principle of democratic civility: that no one and no state institution may compel unwilling citizens to be parties to killing other people. Neither the state nor its agents nor others in positions of power and influence can legitimately order unwilling citizens to become parties to homicide and suicide, and punish them if they refuse.

The case is currently set for a hearing in mid-June.

Contact:
Sean Murphy, Administrator
Protection of Conscience Project
protection@consciencelaws.org


Notes

  1.  Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould, House of Commons Debates, Vol. 148, No. 055, 1st Session, 42nd Parliament, 13 May, 2016, p. 3312 (10:55)

Bill raises questions about delicate balance of doctor and patient rights near life’s end

CN Cronkite News

Arizona PBS

Saundra Wilson

PHOENIX – “Please don’t ask me to do that,” Dr. Paul Liu, a pediatric critical-care physician, said to grieving parents who had asked him to quietly end their child’s life.

Liu said he was frank with the parents, who wanted to put a stop to their sons’s suffering from a terminal illness. He advised them not to pursue an early death for their child because it’s not something they would want on their conscience.

“In their pain and suffering they wanted to end it much more quickly than natural courses would take,” said Liu, who recalled the story as he spoke in favor of Senate Bill 1439 at a Senate health and human services committee meeting this week. . . . [Full Text]

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At least six Manitoba hospitals refuse to provide euthanasia, assisted suicide

Faith-based hospitals reject euthanasia

Winnipeg Free Press

Kristin Annable

At least six faith-based health-care facilities in Manitoba — including two Winnipeg hospitals — will not be providing medically assisted deaths to their patients or long-term care residences.

Officials from St. Boniface Hospital told the Free Press Monday patients seeking medical assistance in dying will have to go to another facility to have the service offered.

Other medical care facilities under the Catholic Health Corp. of Manitoba umbrella, including St. Joseph’s residence in northwest Winnipeg, Ste. Rose General Hospital near Dauphin, and Winnipegosis and District Health Centre will also follow suit, explained the corporation’s CEO, Daniel Lussier. . . [Full text]

On assisted suicide, let’s remember that doctors have rights too

Waterloo Region Record

Luisa D’Amato

Physicians are supposed to save lives, not hasten death.

So it’s not surprising that some doctors are having problems seeing how they fit into Canada’s new law that legalizes physician-assisted suicide for some patients.

It turns out that conscientious objectors like Sandra Brickell, a physician who works in Kitchener hospitals, are not protected.

“When somebody wants to end their life, it goes against what we’ve been trained to do,” she said at a meeting Friday with several other doctors, Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht and Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris. . . [Full Text]

 

Faith-based hospitals in Winnipeg ban medically assisted deaths

St. Boniface General Hospital and Concordia Hospital conscientiously object to legal practice

CBC News

Laura Glowacki

Two faith-based hospitals in Winnipeg say they will not be providing doctor-assisted deaths to their patients.

Both Concordia Hospital (Anabaptist-Mennonite) and St. Boniface Hospital (Catholic) say they will not offer the legal service to patients.

In June, the federal government amended the criminal code with Bill C-14 to allow doctors and nurse practitioners to help patients with “grievous and irremediable” illnesses to die. Manitoba introduced its own policy to implement medical assistance in dying, commonly called MAID, that same month. . . [Full text]

Indonesian Doctors Association refuses participation in chemical castration law

Sean Murphy*

Dr. Prijo Sidipratomo told BBC news that Indonesian doctors cannot be involved with chemical castration of convicted sex offenders “because we have to uphold medical ethics,” and must not “do anything harmful to any human being.”

His comments follow the passage of a new law in Indonesia authorizing chemical castration for paedophiles.

Interviewed by the BBC, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said,  “That’s fine if the doctors don’t want to do it.  We can use other doctors.  We could use military doctors. . . . There are lots of people who want to do it.  That’s not a problem. . .  It’s up to the doctors in Indonesia.  But if the court hands out that punishment, we will carry it out.  Military doctors or government doctors can do it.”

The BBC report does not indicate whether or not the Indonesian medical profession accepts the distinction apparently made by the President between the ethical responsibilities of physicians employed by the state and those in private practice.  It appears that the President believes that the first allegiance of physicians who are employed by the state is to the law and state policy rather than to medical ethics or conscientious convictions.  This is not dissimilar to arguments being made in Canada to the effect that physicians, as agents of the state health care system, must at least collaborate in killing patients or helping them commit suicide; some academics claim that they must actually do the killing themselves if they wish to continue in practice.