Tag Archives: palliative care

Dying: A Question of How, Not If

Margaret Somerville contributes her usual clarity and sound reasoning to this written debate on euthanasia/assisted suicide. Have a look and vote! As a bonus, in this interesting two-minute video Margaret Somerville suggests that though their white coats lead us to think they can do no wrong, doctors are mere mortals too.

While we’re on the topic, follow this link to sign the Declaration of Hope opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation. For news about the push for euthanasia in different countries, read Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

 

To Care or to Kill?

by Kelden Formosa

On Friday, the BC Supreme Court moved Canada one step closer to legalized euthanasia.

But legalizing euthanasia won’t solve the real problems.

Instead of making it easier to kill the weak and the vulnerable, we should recognize all human beings as having dignity and value and start making serious efforts to ensure their needs are provided for.

That means making serious investments in palliative care and strengthening the institutions of the Culture of Life.

To learn more, or to take action, please visit our friends at the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and check out their press release.

95% of Canadians Want Better Palliative Care

by Alana Beddoe

An Environics poll commissioned by Life Canada found that 95% of Canadians think palliative and hospice care should be a high (66%) or medium (29%) priority for the government. Only about a third of Canadians have good access to palliative care. Palliative care focuses on pain management, emotional and comfort care at the end of life.

Close to three-quarters (74%) of those polled were worried that if the law against euthanasia is changed a significant number of elderly and disabled persons would be euthanized without their consent.

More information can be found here: Canadians’ Attitudes Towards Euthanasia

End of Life or Ending Life?

Check out this article on assisted suicide in the University of Ottawa’s English-language student newspaper, The Fulcrum: http://thefulcrum.ca/2011/11/assisting-the-suicidal/

Assisted suicide conveys a brutal message as to who our society really cares about. It tells the elderly, the weak, and those in pain that we are unwilling to foster their well being. Instead, we propose an easy alternative: Death. Easy for the rest of us, at least.

Lessons from the Swiss Experience

by Dante De Luca
Every so often, we at uOSFL invite a speaker to come share with us their experiences in the pro-life movement. Such speakers have included Stephanie Grey, Andrea Mrozek, Vicky Green, MP Maurice Velacott, Dr. Rene Leiva, and many others. There is one man, however, whom we have wanted to have as a speaker but have never been able to get hold of. That man is Dr. José Pereira.

Dr. Pereira is a professor at the University of Ottawa and head of the palliative care program at Bruyère Continuing Care and the Ottawa Hospital. You can read more about him here. And now you can go hear him speak, courtesy of the Ethics in Medicine club.

Dr Pereira will be giving a lecture, entitled Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: Lessons from the Swiss Experience, on Thursday, January 13, 2011 from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm in RGN 3248 (Amph D). I encourage you all to go listen to what he has to say since this promises to be an event well worth attending.

 

Bill C-384 Vote Today

by Garnet

Our elected Members of Parliament will vote this evening on Bill C-384, the “Right to Die with Dignity” bill proposed by Bloq MP Francine Lalonde.  This vote will decide whether the bill is suitable to move to the next stage in Parliamentary procedure: the committee stage.  Five or six of us were in the House of Commons yesterday to hear the final debate on this bill during Private Members’ Hour.  Here are a few reflections.

The house was a lot emptier than I expected it to be.  Very few cabinet ministers attended the debate, but we did see two of our pro-life heroes MPs Brad Trost and Maurice Vellacott.  After a discussion about representation by population (or something) was finished, the speaker of the house was asked to recognize that the clock was at 5:30 p.m., which meant the Private Members’ Hour was to begin.

Liberal MP Mauril Belanger from Ottawa-Vanier spoke first. He called for more dialogue on the issue, and will vote in favour of the bill going to the committee stage.  He also called for clearer definitions of terms like euthanasia, assisted suicide and “dying with dignity”.

Next was NDP MP Bill Siksay from Burnaby, BC.  He pledged his support for the bill, insisting that the right to die would not turn into the duty to die.  He is committed to providing choice for those that wish to end their lives.

Bloq MP Nicole Demers from Laval, QC also spoke about providing choice.  She said,

As long as one has a life to live and wants to live it, life should go on. However, when an individual can no longer endure the pain they are suffering, I want them to have choices.

MP Nicole Demers

After hearing just about enough choice rhetoric, Conservative MP Tim Uppal from Edmonton spoke with the voice of truth.  He is opposed to the bill and does not believe that doctors should be given the authority to end a life.  I was waiting for him to mention the Hippocratic Oath, but he didn’t.  He also expressed concerns with the bill itself, saying the scope was much too broad, and the safeguards for informed consent were not sufficient.

Liberal MP Mike Savage from Dartmouth, NS, spoke next.  He told an emotional story about his parents, who both died of cancer six weeks apart. Even though his parents suffered, he said, they were still able to be in control of their lives until the end.  I liked his emphasis on palliative care:

Let us focus on palliative care and home care. Let us provide the supports that people need in their time of need. Let us be very mindful of people with disabilities, particularly people who are not always able to make decisions on their own and who rely upon others for support, guidance and the everyday aspects of their lives.

MP Mike Savage

NDP MP Jim Maloway from Winnipeg, MB also spoke against the bill.

I am concerned about the point made by some members that if we were to adopt this measure, it would cut back the impetus to improve palliative care. As long as assisted suicide is illegal, the pressure will still be on governments and jurisdictions to develop palliative care as quickly as possible. If we passed legislation like this bill, then the pressure would be off.

MP Jim Maloway

He also expressed concerns with the way the issue has developed in Holland, where the minister who introduced the euthanasia bill to the Dutch Parliament has since changed her mind.  He advocated for increased support for palliative care programs.

The last MP to speak before Ms Lalonde had the floor to respond was NDP MP Charlie Angus from Timmins, ON.  He also opposes the bill.  He also advocated for increased support for palliative care.

It is possible to treat people with dignity right through the final moments. However, that has to be a decision we make as a society and a commitment we make to each other that we will be there as a society, we will be there with the medical system, we will be there as family and we will be there as a community.

MP Charlie Angus

Then Francine Lalonde had an opportunity to respond.  She spoke quite passionately about the issue.  For Lalonde, someone who has fought cancer herself, this issue is somewhat personal.  She concluded with this:

I can tell you that when I wrote that [newspaper article in 2005], I did not know what unbearable pain was. Now I do and I have learned that medicine, with all its progress, can only provide help with side effects such as hallucinations or other terrible effects to the body. We have to have the right to choose. I am speaking on behalf of the vulnerable. They are the ones who need this type of legislation the most because only this type of legislation will allow them to be the people they choose to be. There are currently many places where people can die and with all the instruments available to doctors, it is possible to help people die without them having to ask.

MP Francine Lalonde

It is the vulnerable that have the most to fear if this bill passes. As is seen in European countries who have legalized euthanasia, the “right to die” can easily become “the duty to die” and “the expectation to die”.  This is symptomatic of a devaluing of human life.  I hope this is not happening in Canada, but so much of what I hear and see tells me it is happening.

Dr. Catherine Ferrier in a letter to the editor in the National Post yesterday says it best.

. . . the slippery slope has definitely materialized in jurisdictions where euthanasia is legal. In the Netherlands, euthanasia is administered routinely to patients who are not terminally ill but rather have chronic diseases or psychological distress; to patients who are incapable of consenting or who are capable but were not consulted; and to children, including newborns. Dying with dignity should indeed be a right for all Canadians, but Ms. Lalonde’s proposal of allowing doctors to kill patients is the worst possible way of reaching this goal.

Dr. Catherine Ferrier

We will be going back to the House this evening to witness the vote.  I hope our politicians will have the courage to stand up for the dignity of human life and oppose this bill.

*quotes taken from a transcript of the debate on OpenParliament.ca.

Right to die?

by Theresa Stephenson

Here in Canada, euthanasia is on the forefront of bioethical dispute. Bill C-384, which will soon go through its second debate in the House of Commons, seeks to legalize euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. “Active euthanasia” is the intentional premature termination of another person’s life by direct intervention.

We live in a time when medical treatments are advanced, and we have the ability to provide pain relief to enhance the quality of life for patients. Palliative care provides a comfortable end of life experience for those who are nearing death. Rehabilitation centres prove to be effective alternatives to help disabled patients recuperate. Euthanasia, however, offers doctors another option; instead of treatment, they have the power to give a lethal injection that ends the patient’s life.

The Hippocratic Oath provides basic moral rules for doctors to guide their actions. The first mandate is a clear prohibition of killing their patients. The laws against euthanasia, which are currently in place, are there to prevent an abuse of power; mandating doctors to provide health care and not executions.

We’re being constantly bombarded with rhetoric of a “right to die”.   Does this translate to a “right to kill”? Doctors are given the power to administer a death sentence to those who have no “quality of life”. This leads to the victimization of those with an illness, be it physical or mental. Indeed, a “slippery slope” exists in the euthanasia debate, where the inalienable right to life is denied especially to vulnerable groups.

The act of euthanasia itself devalues human life.  People’s lives should not be judged as “worth living” or not, but instead must be treated with respect and dignity — from conception to natural death.