Euthanasia deaths alarmingly high in Quebec

Euthanasia deaths in Quebec, Canada, are three times higher than originally anticipated when the practice was first legalised less than a year ago.

Quebec’s commission on euthanasia revealed that 262 euthanasia deaths have taken place since it was allowed in the province in December 2015.

More deaths from euthanasia are expected by the end of the year.

‘Surprising’

Health minister Gaétan Barrette described the figure as “surprising” but he may seek to weaken the law to lift even more restrictions on euthanasia.

Quebec law states that at least two doctors are required to determine that a patient is in the final stages of a terminal illness, with one of them being completely independent from the patient.

But since the report’s release, Barrette has stated that he is considering reducing this requirement.

‘Reduce protections’

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said: “In less than a year, not only have they found that the numbers are much higher than anticipated, but they are also already considering opening up the law further in order to reduce the protections in law for people in Quebec.”

Following Canada’s nationwide legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia earlier this year, George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Washington Ethics and Public Policy Center, shared how the first question medical professionals now asked those diagnosed with cancer was “Do you wish to be euthanized?”

Weigel said: “That is what the new Canadian euthanasia regime has accomplished in just a few months: It has put euthanasia at the top of the menu of options proposed to the gravely ill.”

Colorado

Last week in the US, serious concerns were raised after assisted suicide was legalised in the state of Colorado.

The “Colorado End of Life Options Act” was passed by 65 per cent to 35 per cent in a public vote, allowing citizens over the age of 18 access to lethal drugs.

Alex Schadenberg said that before the vote, people had been inundated with the message that it was about freedom and there were safeguards in place, “when the fact is when you look at the reality, none of that is true”.

Schadenberg added: “If you have a medical condition you don’t have to speak to a specialist, you don’t have to, in any way, receive an opportunity to get the information that might change your mind” about assisted suicide.