Quebec: Palliative Care Centers oppose Euthanasia

On September 10, 2015 while the Medical College in Quebec was due to publish an administrative protocol for doctors, regarding medical assistance in dying, the 29 centers for Palliative Care declared that they would not practice any acts of euthanasia. The Palliative Care Unit at the Montreal University Hospital Center also supported this position.

Nearing the approach of the December 2015 date for enacting Law 52, dealing with care at life’s end including palliative care, terminal sedation and euthanasia under the term “Medical Assistance to Die”, which has been adopted on June 5, 2014, the Palliative Care centers in Quebec declared that they would not perform euthanasia in their centers. The doctors point out the fact that it is a practice incompatible with the philosophy and values of these centers, in that it is neither health care nor palliative care.

The minister for Health in Quebec, Gaétan Barrette, intends to “make them step in line”. Lawyer Jean-Pierre Ménard, a jurist who participated in drawing up Law 52, even threatens financial sanctions. Yet, the law says clearly in article 13 that palliative care centers are not required to carry out euthanasia: “Palliative Care Homes determine the Life’s End care that they offer in their establishments.”

The 29 palliative care homes in Quebec are independent on the legal front; however, the health minister has insisted that all public sector health establishments will be required to establish procedures for proposing “medical assistance to die”.

The association “Living in Dignity” and the “Group of doctors” against euthanasia have added their voices “to those speaking for palliative care homes, to reaffirm that there is no need for euthanasia and that it would be even more damaging to the care of all to allow its access in places of palliative care.” These associations denounce the threats of reprisals and the false interpretations of the law which are spread around.

This standpoint arrives at a time when the action of the public powers is strongly criticised on their management of residential centers and long-term care centers and on the poor quality of care given to older patients in these centers.

Further Reading:

Law 52 concerning health care

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