Ménard report: Dangerous legal vision and ignorance of medical reality.
MONTREAL, Jan. 21, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - The Physicians' Alliance for Total Refusal of Euthanasia (PATRE) deplores the Ménard report's dangerous legal vision and the ignorance of medical reality it reflects. PATRE, which has the signed support of more than 300 leading physicians, urges all Quebecers to become aware of the dangers the report poses to our collective well-being, and to press the opposition majority in the National Assembly to condemn it.
"This report is the work of some hand-picked lawyers who present the act of doctors killing patients as if it were part of a natural continuum with good end-of-life care," said PATRE spokesperson Dr. Catherine Ferrier. "They and the politicians who appointed them introduce the term "medically-assisted dying" ("aide médicale à mourir") as if it were something different from killing patients. This act is abhorrent to us as doctors, and should appall Quebecers who care about social justice and building communities that care about the most vulnerable."
PATRE was formed in the fall of 2012 by a core group of 24 Quebec doctors, including Drs. Patrick Vinay, former Dean of Medicine at U of Montreal, Abraham Fuks, former Dean of Medicine at McGill, Pierre Durand, former Dean of Medicine at Laval, leading Montreal oncologists Gerald Batist, Mark Basik and Caroline Girouard, palliative care pioneer Balfour Mount and many other palliative care physicians, paediatric and internal medicine specialists and family physicians. Since its formation, more than 300 doctors and 1000 citizens have signed the PATRE declaration opposing government attempts to impose euthanasia and assisted-suicide over the clear objections of a majority of Quebecers.
"These practices are completely unnecessary. The knowledge and technical means needed to ensure the dignity and comfort of all patients, to the natural end of their life, exist already," Ferrier said. "Doctors already give medical aid to the dying on a constant basis. What we don't want or need is the legal power to kill our patients."
She called the inability of some patients to access proven end-of-life medical comfort a shameful failure of Quebec's political and medical system, noting the province was the cradle of palliative care in North America but now lags behind many other jurisdictions in providing such care to dying patients.
Ferrier dismissed as "naive in the extreme" the Ménard report's call for bureaucratic safeguards around legalized medical killing. She said its recommendation for laws to allow patients to refuse treatment and exercise informed consent is unnecessary since such laws already exist.
"It is naive to think the heavy bureaucratic process proposed by the Menard report to control legalized euthanasia would be respected when we are told that the existing laws are not.
"It is naive to believe this would be sufficient to protect vulnerable patients from subtle or not-so-subtle coercion to choose death. The mere existence of physician-inflicted death as a legal option gives the message to elderly and terminally ill patients that their continuing existence is an unnecessary burden on their loved ones and the health care system. A desperate shortage of beds is a daily reality in our hospitals and cannot be ignored in this context."
Ferrier condemned the Ménard report as yet another attempt to create a false consensus in favour of legalizing euthanasia. No such consensus exists in the medical profession or in Quebec society at large, she said. The National Assembly's Dying with Dignity committee recommended it despite opposition from 60% of the citizens presenting to the committee.
'We can only speculate on the motives driving the politicians, but it does not seem to be a desire for good medical practice or the welfare of our patients. PATRE urges all Quebecers to pressure politicians and to stop this menace in its tracks."
The Physicians' Alliance for Total Refusal of Euthanasia.
We are physicians who see any law allowing doctors to intentionally end the life of their patients as contrary to the goals of medicine and the good of our patients, especially the most vulnerable and those who cannot speak for themselves. http://www.totalrefusal.blogspot.ca/p/the-physicians-alliance.html
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