The controversial topic of end-of-life care, and euthanasia and assisted suicide are currently being debated in the province of Quebec where the government is proposing a so-called "euthanasia" bill
Photo Credit: CBC

Hot debate continues over Quebec “euthanasia” bill


In Canada, health care is almost entirely within the jurisdiction of individual provinces.

The minority government in the mostly French-speaking province of Quebec is currently proposing a law which it calls “An Act respecting end of life care” and labelled as Bill 52.

Dr Paul Saba, a Montreal doctor heads the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice, a group which strongly opposes what it calls a promotion for the practice of euthanasia.

A panel of Quebec politicians is holding public hearings into the proposed Bill 52 © CBC

Dr Saba and the coalition have cited several cases where similar legislation in other countries has led to “excesses” in euthanasia.

He cites the example of a depressed 64 year old woman in Belgium who asked to end her life, and was indeed euthanized by an oncologist, without any consultation with a psychologist, nor the woman’s son who was greatly distressed by the hasty action which he said forever robbed him of his mother, and his children of their grandmother.

Dr Saba also says that however the Quebec government  presents it, or whatever they call it, lawyers his group consulted insist it would still constitute a criminal killing by doctors under federal law.

Dr Paul Saba, Montreal physician and head of the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice © Courtesy Dr P Saba

 At Quebec’s public hearings into the issue earlier this month, the president of the Right to Die With Dignity Association put forward their view.

Hélène Bolduc told the all-party panel of MNAs (Members of the National Assembly, ie the provincial government) leading the hearing that the debate is being sidetracked by calls for better palliative care, more hospital beds and better pain management.

“I don’t want to be against palliative care,” Bolduc said. “But I have to say: there is a limit. It’s not because I don’t believe in this type of care, but palliative care shouldn’t be practised with dogged determination.”

She likened the palliative care community to the church, with doctors acting as “apostles of redemption.”

The association, which counts 310 members,  wants individuals to have the right to decide when to die, and Bolduc said she hopes Quebec will at the very least stop prosecuting doctors who assist in a terminally ill person’s death.

Dr Saba, hints that the provincial government is proposing this as a humane end-of-life option, but underlying it is the issue of money, and savings of vast sums in palliative care vs the miniscule cost of a life ending injection costing a few dollars.

He  points out that the Canadian Medical Association, and the World Medical Association, (representing 9 million doctors) remain firmly opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Public hearings into the proposed Bill 52 will continue into early October.

Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice

Quebec  Provincial Government site with English PDF of proposed Bill 52

 Dying with Dignity.Canada

Categories: Health, Politics, Society

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6 comments on “Hot debate continues over Quebec “euthanasia” bill
  1. Look at the website : Belgium legislates in favour of euthanasia for children

  2. 13 feb 2014 Euthanasia Act Belgian Parliament‏ (Minor Proficient Children)

    Euthanasia Act for young childeren will become a law very soon. At 17:15 h UTC : 66 votes YES , 44 Votes NO and 12 abstentions

  3. Avatar Herman (Gent , Belgium) says:

    Doctor Saba says : ” He cites the example of a depressed 64 year old woman in Belgium who asked to end her life, and was indeed euthanized by an oncologist, without any consultation with a psychologist, nor the woman’s son who was greatly distressed by the hasty action which he said forever robbed him of his mother, and his children of their grandmother. ”

    That is falls and far from right. The Belgium laws says ” It has to be the own free will of the person ” and a team of independent physicians need to talk about this and the also need to collect information before the says ” YES ” on the will to end the life of a person at his own free will. And the laws also says that you have write a paper where. You tell that ask for Euthanasia.

    Doctor Saba dos take a very deep and hard line conservative and very religious point of view. And there not right the way he sees Euthanasia. I don’t agree with him at all in this. He is very wrong

    Herman (Gent, Belgium) Europe

  4. Avatar Herman (Gent , Belgium) says:

    In the Belgium TV News (3.feb.2014)I did hear the comment on the Euthanasia Bill for children under age of 18. What the young daughter of Dr Saba is telling in the video clip that she will died because she dos a problem with here Heart. And that she would died when the Euthanasia Bill for Children would pass in the Belgium Parliament and that are King dos NOT have to pass the bill.

    Well this is great nones and far from true. Because the sick child need to say and needs to ” choose ” that he or she likes to have Euthanasia and say ” I wane died ” like adults also have to say ” indicate ” their the will that the do not like to live any more.

    This is a strict control of an independent physician and a team of Doctors that decides to proceed if euthanasia will be performed or not. And all this is only by the ” specific will “. There for I do think that Dr Saba is very wrong and in his protest that are King not sign the law.

    Are parliament and are King will sign the law. The particularly terror against this bill comes from the Catholics corner. The do not stand with both feet in the middle of the real world but outside of it and a unreal world.

    I am a strong supporter of Euthanasia for Adults as well as young Children ho are mature enough to tell the own will to have Euthanasia. And Dr Saba dos abuse his child on the video clip and dos give a negative signal the way Euthanasia really dos happen and Children don’t need to die if the have a Heart trouble like his young daughter those have. He is very wrong in his way point of view.

    So this is my personal point of view of the Euthanasia for young Children.

    Greetings from

    Herman Gent (Ghent) in Belgium , Europe

  5. Avatar Peter Ashcroft says:

    I agree. Euthanasia is just another term for murder and should not be promoted by any provincial government. Palliative health care and hospice facilities are the alternative and logically Christian solution.

    • Avatar Herman (Gent , Belgium) says:

      Hi Peter ,

      I do not agree with you point of view. It is NOT murder but the own free will of the person that would like to make a end of her or his life. If you you have to stand out with agony than it needs to be the free will to end this terrible pain and agony.

      Palliative health care is only to make your life longer in much more pain even if you are under very heavy drugs to kill the pain. Well that is what I call ” murder ”

      Herman (Gent , Belgium)