Compulsory referral for euthanasia recommended in Quebec

The Select Committee on Dying with Dignity has tabled a report unanimously recommending “relevant legislation be amended” to allow euthanasia in the province of Quebec.  The Committee also recommends that objecting physicians be forced to refer for the procedure.  According to the recommendations, conscientious objections by nurses will be allowed, but it does not indicate whether or not they should be compelled to participate in or facilitate the procedure by referral or other means. The Committee recommends that codes of ethics for physicians and nurses be amended accordingly.  The recommendations are available in English, but the report will not be available in English until May [Quebec National Assembly].


One thought on “Compulsory referral for euthanasia recommended in Quebec”

  1. Euthanasia and assisted suicided are criminal offences in Canada, and the amendment of criminal law is exclusively within the jurisdication of the federal government. Thus, the reference to amendments to “relevant legislation” must refer to some kind of provincial statute; the provincial legislature cannot amend criminal law. However, the prosecution of criminal offences falls within provincial jurisdiction, and the Committee recommends that the province’s Attorney General issue guidelines to prevent the prosecution of physicians who provide euthanasia in accordance with their recommendations. Thus, it appears that the Committee is suggesting the approach now used in England, where assisted suicide, though illegal, is not prosecuted if it is provided according to guidelines issued by the chief of public prosecutions. One key difference, however, is that the British guidelines consider the involvement of health care workers as a reason for prosecution.

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