The first day of consultations on Bill 52 was held in the red room in the Quebec Parliament building on September 17th 2013. The groups who expressed their opinions that day were groups of doctors and pharmacists. Many subjects were discussed but two in particular are worth examining at a deeper level : the problem of definitions and the question of aptitude.
The groups who were invited to speak today were:
- Collège des médecins du Québec
- Fédération des médecins omnipratriciens du Québec
- Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec
- Association médicale du Québec
- Ordre des Pharmaciens du Québec
- Association des pharmaciens des établissements de santé du Québec
We must emphasize the fact that the directors of these groups were not speaking on behalf of their members, who have not yet been consulted about the proposed bill.
Many key words are not defined in the bills' text and many groups fear that this would lead to confusion for the public and for the professionals. It is obvious that the terms "terminal palliative sedation", "imminent death", "terminal phase" and "medical aid in dying" are not clear for everyone. And yet, despite the queries, the impression left by the commission is that no additional definitions will be added. Certain doctors have said that they understand the intention of the words, others not. Many people have expressed their fear that the population may not understand. The confusion created by this lack of precision in the definitions seems to assuredly guarantee that people not understand the danger. And if the law is adopted, the lack of precision in the definitions would allow for a free interpretation. Vulnerable people would be even more so.
For the moment, the bill does not permit the offer of medical aid in dying to inapt people. But the PQ and the CAQ are open to a bill modification in order to add access for those with dementia. Pass the bill into law, wait a while and then offer access to inapt people. With one blow, a representative could take the decision to kill a vulnerable person. There are already enough cases that have arisen regarding problems with choices of representatives; it is not desirable that the representatives have this amount of power. Once more, the door will be wide open to all kinds of abuse.
This first day of public consultation has brought about many problems regarding Bill 52. Let's hope that these problems keep reappearing even more clearly over the course of the following days and let us especially hope that the parliamentary commission will keep in mind these problems and recommend the withdrawal of the bill.Share