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Activists: Allowing 'medical aid in dying' means euthanasia for Quebec
Catholic News Service


OTTAWA, Ontario — Activists are pushing back against Parti Quebecois plans to allow what they say will be euthanasia in Quebec under the guise of "medical aid in dying."

The head of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family said plans to introduce legislation are not a surprise because they were part of the Parti Quebecois' platform.

Michele Boulva, COLF director, said her organization was encouraging "Quebec Catholics and all people who have any respect for the inalienable dignity and worth of all human beings" to contact members of the Quebec provincial legislature, asking them "to oppose any attempt to legalize euthanasia."

"This lethal practice must not enter our hospitals," she said.

Linda Couture, director of the Quebec grassroots group Living with Dignity, said the Quebec elite are masking their euthanasia plans behind the words "medical aid in dying" without defining them. She expressed alarm at how fast the government is moving, noting the new government hopes to have a bill passed by June next year.

In early October, Montreal radio station CJAD reported Parti Quebecois junior social services minister Veronique Hivon said she hoped to introduce legislation soon to help people who face unbearable end-of-life suffering.

Though euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal under the jurisdiction of Canada's Criminal Code, Hivon said health is a provincial matter. The province could also direct crown prosecutors not to prosecute cases of assisted death that fall under the guidelines for "medical aid in dying," she said.

But Couture said using health care and directing prosecutors in this manner bring "euthanasia through the back door."

The province's plans to move in this direction stem from recommendations of an all-party Dying With Dignity committee that held hearings across Quebec and released its report last March, Couture said.

Though 60 percent of the presenters to this committee opposed euthanasia and assisted suicide, the committee's report recommended "medical assistance in dying" for those suffering and close to death. It ignored grassroots rejection of euthanasia and assisted suicide, Couture said.

"Everybody's in favor of palliative care," she said. "'Let's work on what unites us not what divides us."

"People are mobilizing in Quebec against this," said Couture. She also said elderly people are becoming afraid to go to the hospital even though this measure has not been introduced.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said if Quebec's "medical aid in dying" terminology meant doctors could give patients lethal injections, that is euthanasia. He said doctors writing prescriptions for patients knowing they will use the drugs to kill themselves is doctor-assisted suicide.



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