TORONTO, October 14, 2009 – The Catholic Civil Rights League today commented on reports that as many as 75 per cent of Quebec’s medical specialists would be favourable to the legalization of euthanasia in certain circumstances. The survey, which did not address assisted suicide but did ask respondents’ views about euthanasia as an aspect of end of life care, found that most would accept some legalization of euthanasia even if they would not use it in their own practices.
The Quebec Federation of Medical Specialists, which represents more than 8,700 physicians in the province and sponsored the survey of its members, said yesterday that "75% of medical specialists would certainly or probably be favourable to euthanasia within a clearly defined legislative limit."
And sometime this fall, it is expected that the Quebec College of Physicians and Surgeons, the licensing body for all doctors in the province, will ask the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to allow euthanasia in certain cases.
All this comes as Bill C-384, which would make euthanasia legal in some circumstances, is going through second reading in the House of Commons. The private member’s bill, introduced by Bloc MP Francine Lalonde, is not expected to pass, but may reflect a growing acceptance of euthanasia and assisted suicide by Canadians.
In the League’s view, much of Canadians’ presumed acceptance of euthanasia is driven by misinformation as to what is legal now, and the absence of palliative care facilities in many parts of Canada. On the first point, it is already legal to refuse treatment, and to administer sufficient painkiller even if a secondary effect could be to shorten life. A commitment to palliative care could go a long way to addressing the fears of extended, futile treatment or uncontrolled pain that often lie behind the belief that euthanasia can be acceptable.
On the other hand, to make an intentional act of killing legal would change the traditional healer role of the doctor, and create serious pressures on their religious and conscientious freedoms. As has been observed in the few jurisdictions that currently allow euthanasia or assisted suicide, it can also lead to diminished respect for the lives of the very ill, the frail elderly and seriously disabled.
The League urges its members to continue their opposition to bill C-384, and any other liberalization of Canada’s euthanasia laws.
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org