MONTRÉAL, May 27, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - A Motion for Declaratory Judgment is in the process of being filed in the Superior Court of the district of Montréal.
The Plaintiffs are Ms Lisa D'Amico, a handicapped person, and Dr. Paul J. Saba, a family doctor. This Motion is instituted against the Attorney-General of Québec and also impleads the Attorney-General of Canada, in order to obtain a declaration to the effect that :
(1). The euthanasia of a human being by his doctor, a notion more known in Québec under the euphemism «medical aid in dying» or «aide médicale à mourir», is not medical care.
(2). Québec does not have jurisdiction to legislate on this subject.
(3). Euthanasia is contrary to the Canadian and Québec Charters of Rights, the Criminal Code of Canada, The Civil Code of Québec, the Health and Social Services Act of Québec, the Doctors' Code of Ethics and The Constitution Act, 1867.
(4). It is not and will not be possible in Québec for patients concerned by euthanasia to provide a free and informed consent because of their vulnerability which is exacerbated by a lack of resources in the health care system, because of their medical condition and the lack of universal access to palliative care for all persons who require such care, particularly to diminish suffering.
(5). It is illogical to entrust doctors only to verify the conditions for euthanasia and provide the lethal injection, as this would cause them to be in violation of their Code of Ethics as well as the criminal law.
Ms. D'Amico has a personal interest to act because she fears that the shortfall of medical care and social care in Québec will put her in a very vulnerable position and entice her to accept euthanasia as a result of the evolution of her condition.
Doctor Saba believes that no one should ask a doctor to perform euthanasia. He reminds us of two of the fundamental principles of the practice of medicine:
-«-Firstly, the maxim « primum non nocere », which may be translated as meaning the duty to avoid doing anything which could cause harm to a patient. The administration of a lethal injection, when other options which are less invasive and dangerous exist, is contrary to the principles of a sound practice of medecine».
-«-Secondly, the notion of the common good or of the Good Samaritan, should assure the population as a whole that authorized medical care will not cause harm to their loved ones. This notion must guide doctors in order to protect the interests of the population as a whole. In this sense, euthanasia will cause unacceptable deaths and avoidable deaths in the case of people who may be subject to a wrong diagnosis or prognosis».
According to the Canadian Society of palliative care doctors, euthanasia is an act consisting of deliberately causing death of another person in order to put an end to suffering. Palliative care does not include the practice of euthanasia.
Appropriate palliative care is not offered uniformly on the whole of the Québec territory nor in all hospitals and is only available at a rate varying between 20 to 60% depending on the regions and the types of illnesses (Report of the Commission spéciale sur la question de mourir dans la dignité, March 2012, page 26). A majority of patients does not therefore have access to palliative care and will not be in a position to make a choice that would be really free and informed.
This Motion for Declaratory Judgment raises an important question of public interest. There exists a real and imminent risk of danger that the euthanasia law will quickly cause the termination, without appropriate safeguards, of the life of the more vulnerable people of our society, the first of whom are handicapped persons.
The experience of Belgium has demonstrated that 32% of the persons euthanized are euthanized without their consent or consent of their family members («Physician-assisted deaths under the euthanasia law in Belgium: a population based survey», Canadian Medical Association Journal, edition of June 15, 2010). Recent changes to the Beligium legislation provide that persons with depression and children may have access to euthanasia. These situations are not congruent with the fundamental values of our country.
Euthanasia is an encroachment to The Declaration on Euthanasia of the World Medical Association, which represents 9 million doctors in 100 countries, of which many practice in Canada, stipulates:
« Euthanasia, which consists in ending the life of a patient by a deliberate act, and even though the patient or his loved ones may ask for it, is contrary to ethics…and must be condemned by the medical profession. ». And by way of resolution: « The World Medical Association highly encourages all National Medical Associations and doctors to refuse to participate in an act of euthanasia, even if the national law authorizes it or decriminalizes it in certain situations. »
Since the National Assembly of Québec having turned a deaf ear to them, the Plaintiffs are now calling upon the Courts where they are confident of being heard on Bill 52, of which the articles pertaining to euthanasia do not respect our constitution or our fundamental values, since euthanasia is not a medical care.
SOURCE: Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice