The Return of Bloodletting: Welcome to 2016

NOTE: The original article was published in French in the Huffintgon Post on December 23, 2015 (link here >>).

The official entry into force of the articles of the law on "medical aid in dying" marks the beginning of the end of professional judgment and medical expertise. Medicine just made a big step backwards exacerbating an unhealthy social wound: the answer to human suffering is too complex (and too costly) to cope with.

With this in mind, we are presented with "medical aid in dying" as the ultimate solution to human suffering, the simple answer to apparently unsolvable problems. So to speak, it is the return of bloodletting. Indeed, during a period less scientifically advanced, bloodletting was prescribed to resolve almost all unsolvable problems: injury, pain, fever, depression, and even as a precaution1...

Today, bloodletting has just found itself a new life under the name of "medical aid in dying." Indeed, when we look at what is happening elsewhere in the world, we come to the same observation: the criteria for resorting to euthanasia continue to expand, as each person is claiming his "right to die" for specific personal reasons that might be excluded by a too general and discriminatory law. As a result: euthanasia becomes the solution to more and more problems, including depression and fatigue of life...

So we are back to square one.

One setback of the widespread admiration for this ultimate solution to all the world's problems is that palliative care sees its credibility undermined, with fingers being pointed at its inability to provide a satisfactory response to suffering – beginning with health professionals who are even accused of wanting to prolong pain for their own financial benefit (!).

Furthermore, the whole of medicine finds itself with a distorted sense of fundamentals, as a procedure that would be penalised under any other circumstances is now being imposed on doctors. Indeed, could you imagine a surgeon telling his patient: "Given the result of my examination, it would not be appropriate to operate on you, but if you insist, I can send you to another surgeon who will agree to operate anyway"?

As of today, such a breach of ethics will now not only be endorsed, but it is already mandatory in Quebec in cases of "medical aid in dying". From now on, doctors who refuse euthanasia are obliged to refer their patients to an authority that will find someone to do the job for them. While shocking, this forced complicity should not be surprising in view of the fact that public discourse now associates suicide and homicide as two complementary acts of "compassion"...

At this rate, subjectivity will soon replace medical expertise; professional opinion will be considered as one option among others; human misery will be seen as a result of therapeutic obstinacy; and despair will be in the social dictionary as factual evidence that must be remedied by the suppression of the life of the desperate person.

And all of this will constantly be presented as social progress.

Welcome to 2016.