ONTD Political

Quebec panel recommends allowing terminally ill to end their lives with help of Doctor

7:38 pm - 01/15/2013
A Quebec expert panel studying the legal aspects of medically assisted end-of-life procedures is recommending the province change the law to allow doctors to help some people who wish to end their lives.

The report says choosing end of life should be more clearly defined in the law as part of palliative care.

Quebec's so-called Dying with Dignity task force recommended allowing people with terminal illness to seek the help of a doctor to end their own lives, something prohibited under the federal Criminal Code.

The report stems from findings by a committee that looked at questions regarding assisted suicide and end-of-life procedures.

The committee's landmark Quebec report in 2012 [article about that here] recommended that doctors be allowed to help terminally ill patients die, in exceptional circumstances, if that is their wish.

The report was released in the Quebec legislature, after two years of work from the Dying With Dignity Committee, a multi-partisan group of nine MNAs.

They mentioned on the Radio-Canada newscast that the public response is generally positive.
gloraelin 16th-Jan-2013 12:59 am (UTC)
Yes please. Because fucking hell, animals get that chance, why can't people? I for one will not sit here and say "oh yes, you need to suffer with cancer until it kills you," or "yeah, you get to watch and feel alzheimer's or parkinson's slowly destroy your mind and body because we don't think you're allowed to make that decision for your own life."

A++ support etc etc.
romp 16th-Jan-2013 02:35 am (UTC)
yeah, sometimes the body says alive longer than is reasonable--it's a definite design flaw :(
tabaqui 16th-Jan-2013 12:51 pm (UTC)
THIS. For fuck's sake.
katrinar 16th-Jan-2013 02:02 pm (UTC)
super support on this - we just put our beloved dog down (it's crushed my husband) and the night we had her euthanized, he just looked over at me and said, "why aren't you allowed to do this for me? that's a cruel fate."

and it really is. we loved her enough to let her die as comfortably as possible, why not give us the opportunity to make these decisions for ourselves/with our families.
tonicat 16th-Jan-2013 02:14 pm (UTC)
As someone who've held the hands of multiple people as they go through the last stage of cancer I say; Fuck yes.
anjak_j 16th-Jan-2013 04:59 pm (UTC)
Exactly. I've never understood why humanity can show such compassion to their beloved pets, but not to other human beings.

Also... I wonder how many people with terminal illness commit suicide prematurely every day, just to do it whilst they can, when in actual fact those people could have had extra time with their families had they not had to worry about their suffering being drawn out for that privilege...
laja_89 16th-Jan-2013 01:06 am (UTC)
I definitely support this.
luminescnece 16th-Jan-2013 01:15 am (UTC)
I couldn't want this more for all of Canada. Go Quebec!
angelus7988 16th-Jan-2013 02:32 am (UTC)
Hopefully the Catholic Church won't manage to turn public opinion against this like it did in Massachusetts.
uluviel 16th-Jan-2013 04:34 pm (UTC)
The catholic church has had no weight in Quebec politics since the Quiet Revolution in the 60s. A majority of the population is roman catholic, but that's more of a cultural identity than a religious one. We're a very secular and left-wing (on social issues, at least) province. Less than 10% of the population goes to church regularly, and an overwhelming majority of those are elderly. Most couples simply co-habitate and never marry (60% of Quebec children are born out of wedlock). Abortion is legal and paid for by our national healthcare. Gay marriage has been legal for almost a decade.

The church can huff and puff all they like, no one is paying attention to them. The only obstacle in our way to legalizing euthanasia is that it's not entirely ours to legalize. The provincial government is all for it - the committee was multi-partisan - but the federal government, which is conservative, might throw a wrench in the process.
romp 16th-Jan-2013 06:13 pm (UTC)
thanks for that insight!
romp 16th-Jan-2013 02:38 am (UTC)
right on! I lived in Oregon when they legalized euthanasia despite it still being illegal federally

I don't understand the argument against it. The decision is not made quickly or easily. It can have the same safeguards against manipulation and abuse as other laws designed to protect the elderly and disabled. Where it exists, people don't go racing to their doctor to die. It's just a little help near the end if existence gets too miserable.
thelilyqueen 16th-Jan-2013 03:00 am (UTC)
The most understandable argument I've heard against it are concerns that people will be pushed into it to spare their families the financial, emotional, etc. burden of their care. Definitely don't want to see that happen. But, like you, I feel the safeguards in laws like Oregon's are adequate.

I seem to remember some research too finding that places with doctor-assisted suicide tend to do better with palliative care, perhaps to try to keep patients from suffering enough to use the law or because doctors had less fear of being prosecuted for providing adequate pain management even if it might shorten life.
romp 16th-Jan-2013 03:42 am (UTC)
I think hospice is less expensive than most types of health care. When my father was dying, it was all very dicey financially *until* he went into hospice. He had insurance but pain meds have to be cheaper than surgery and treatment like chemo, yeah?

I don't think leaving a little early spares the family much emotional pain. I guess they see you suffer less but no one can know how it would have gone. IDK, I guess the argument suggests many dying people have reason to commit suicide now and yet not many do it.

I took a class 20+ years ago in which we learned than doctors in the US are stingy with morphine (and other opiates) because of fear of addiction. Which is madness. Brompton's(sp?) cocktail was a work-around in England, as I recall but resisted in the US at the time. But when another relative died a couple years ago, they gave her a LOT of some opioid (she abused Vicodin so she needed more than most people could handle). So maybe this has improved but my point is that, yes, I have heard that about doctors' ability to treat the dying.
cinnamontoast 16th-Jan-2013 02:22 pm (UTC)
I have no idea if it varies from state to state, but my mother's doctor wasn't stingy with it when she was dying. She chose to die by refusing to go to the hospital. She would have been in terrible pain if not for morphine.
romp 16th-Jan-2013 05:53 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry about your mother. I think the situation has improved although I'm sure you're right about it differing by location (and doctor). The comfort of the dying person should be the only concern IMO so I'm all for removing any obstacles to that.
alierakieron 16th-Jan-2013 04:02 pm (UTC)
I think the concern is that in some places those who cannot consent have the decision made for them, according to some reports.

I support the idea, but I have grave concerns, especially in a country with as many race, class, and ableism issues as the U.S.
thelilyqueen 16th-Jan-2013 04:37 pm (UTC)
That's kind of what I was getting at, yeah. And I do understand those concerns.

Oregon's law is the one I have the most familiarity with and IMHO my home state does it right. IANAL, but as far as I recall some of the provisions are that the person must request it themselves on two occasions with a certain time span in between and with at least one entirely neutral witness present, and multiple physicians must agree the person has less than 6 months to live AND has the mental capacity to make such decisions.
daf9 16th-Jan-2013 02:39 am (UTC)
Read a study a while ago (don't remember where) that showed that given the opportunity to end their lives the majority of people didn't but knowing they had the option improved their state of mind. So go Quebec!
anjak_j 16th-Jan-2013 04:31 pm (UTC)
I remember reading an article a while back about the Swiss assisted suicide organisation Dignitas that indicated that most who register with the organisation never go on to actually use their services. This fits in with what the study you're talking about said - that for most people it is just a comfort to know that the option is there, if they wish to exercise their right to use it.
liliaeth 16th-Jan-2013 03:26 am (UTC)
I'm normally in favor of this, except... last week we had a case here that made me wonder if people should get psychologically evaluated a bit more first.

Last week a set of twins was granted permission for euthanasia, the reason...

Both were born deaf, which never caused a problem in their life, only in the past few years they started going blind as well, and apparently they didn't want to keep living when their only form of communication with one another was gone. Which admittedly, is sad and such, but I just find that what they need isn't to be allowed to end their life, but therapy and training to speak to one another in some other way. I mean seriously, I get that they're close, I get that they feel the need to speak to one another. But there's other deaf mute people in the world who still find ways to communicate....

I just didn't find that this situation matched my idea of undeniable mental and/or physical suffering. Both were only 45, which to me is not too old to learn another way of communication.
gloraelin 16th-Jan-2013 03:49 am (UTC)
But isn't that their choice and not yours? And if they were granted it, don't you think they've gone through enough "vetting"?
zinnia_rose 16th-Jan-2013 03:54 am (UTC)
I just didn't find that this situation matched my idea of undeniable mental and/or physical suffering.

Well, good for you, but it's not about you or your ideas of unbearable suffering, is it? It's about them and their lives.

Furthermore, they did actually several complicating issues. They were never taught sign language so they created their own twin language. Their parents never separated them for school or whatnot, so because of the communication barrier they probably didn't develop meaningful relationships with anyone else. They lived together and did everything together. Losing their sight would cut them off from each other, the only real interaction they had left. I can't say what I'd do in a situation like that, but I can't fault them for their choice either. Who are you to say what they need? Who are any of us?

Also, the process took two years, during which time I'm sure there was extensive psychological testing and evaluation.
morbidoutlook 16th-Jan-2013 09:11 am (UTC)
Dude, they couldn't see or hear. Not having access one of the most used senses is difficult enough without adding another one.
mephisto5 16th-Jan-2013 11:48 am (UTC)
Their bodies. Their choice.

Making sure people have access to alternative means of communication is one thing. Deciding that you know their situation and are able to decide what to do about it better than they can is quite another.
tabaqui 16th-Jan-2013 12:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah, no. Not your decision to make. *They* decide what they can and cannot live with, not you.
mingemonster 16th-Jan-2013 04:42 pm (UTC)
I definitely think psychiatric evaluation should be a part of it to make sure the request comes from genuine need and not as a symptom of an illness, but I don't see any reason to assume that wasn't the case here. Maybe they were both of sound mind and decided to do it anyway.
anjak_j 16th-Jan-2013 04:49 pm (UTC)
It is not for you to tell other people what they should be willing to live with just because their definition of intolerable doesn't match your idea of "undeniable mental and/or physical suffering".

And frankly, what you're saying reeks of the privilege of never having had something happen to your body that stole something you loved away from you. I have, and your assertions that these two brothers could just find another way to communicate are so overly fucking simplistic, I don't even know where to begin.

And as other commenters have said in reply, I'm pretty sure that two years of being vetted has ensured that this isn't some kind of whim on their part.
effervescent 16th-Jan-2013 05:18 am (UTC)
I watched a documentary recently about a man who made the trip to a country where it was legal... It was clearly very well regulated and he'd thought it out ahead of time, and there were witnesses and assessment after to make sure it wasn't murder... I don't see why people are so adamantly against it.
gloraelin 16th-Jan-2013 06:00 am (UTC)
Because suicide is seen as shameful and you're omg hurting your friends and permanent solution to temporary problems blah fucking blah*, and you're a total wuss if you don't tough it all out without pain meds or whatever.

*pardon my rage right now but a friend of mine killed himself over the weekend and this just. fucking hell, the way our society views suicide is so damaging...
zinnia_rose 16th-Jan-2013 06:39 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry for your loss. :( *hugs* if wanted.
zinnia_rose 16th-Jan-2013 06:39 am (UTC)
Because the only ones worth caring about are fetuses and people who are dying, apparently.
ljtaylor 16th-Jan-2013 07:46 am (UTC)
"I don't see why people are so adamantly against it."

...because pro-lifers seem to think that all you need to have life is a pulse. hence why they want to save all those unwanted foetuses, but many won't adopt or foster any. the argument I usually see tossed around is that "life is a gift from God", which was pretty much the reason suicide used to be illegal.
zhiva_the_mage 16th-Jan-2013 08:42 am (UTC)
I never understood logic behind "your life is a gift from god, and that's why you can't end your life yourself". If it's a gift, then person to whom it was given now owns it and can end it whenever they want, no?
mingemonster 16th-Jan-2013 04:48 pm (UTC)
I think the slippery slope argument is the main one. If we let people petition to die, they could be pressured into it, the standards for what makes people entitled to euthanasia could slip and the status of sick and disabled people could be lowered even further if disability is seen an a legal reason to stop living.

All of those are valid fears and definitely something to look into, but I feel like countries like the Netherlands should have shown these effects if it was going to happen just by legalizing it.
tabaqui 16th-Jan-2013 12:54 pm (UTC)
Good on them. I wish the US were less idiotic about this.
crossfire 16th-Jan-2013 05:04 pm (UTC)
This is a good thing.
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