Explosion of forecasts and predictable extensions

The complete statistics for the first year of euthanasia in Quebec were released during the month of March. While forecasts predicted about 100 requests in the first year, finally there were 461 people in Quebec who died by euthanasia between December 2015 and December 2016. This explosion of euthanasia deaths in Quebec is at the same level Belgium achieved in its 6th year of operation as a percentage of all deaths. And if the pace of the last quarter continues (without continuing to increase), the 2nd year in Quebec could correspond to the 9th or the 10th year in Belgium.

Unfortunately, the signals sent by the Quebec government do nothing to calm the frenzy around euthanasia. The Minister of Health, Gaétan Barrette, concluded the month of March by announcing "measures intended to contribute to the debate on a possible extension of the Law Respecting End-of-life Care", notably to include people with a form of dementia such as Alzheimer's.

Let us recall that the government's "reflection" directly follows the murder of a woman who had Alzheimer's disease. In this context, the lawyer of the Montreal man accused of killing his wife believes that it will be up to society and the court to decide whether it is murder or an aid in dying. We may be at the dawn of a new era for lawyers, who will now appeal to popular opinion polls to determine whether the criminal's motive is worthy of a sentence or not. This is one more example of the confusion arising from the legalization of medical homicide as a solution to certain problems. It seems that the distinction between not judging when one is ignorant of the circumstances, and recognizing the criminal nature of an act regardless of the reason behind it is slowly fading away.

In addition, instead of responding to the 21 cases of abuse identified by the Commission responsible for evaluating the application of the law, Health Minister Barrette preferred to modify the Commission's mandate so that it could analyse situations where a doctor refused euthanasia. Undoubtedly, it is a question of targeting the next customer base to whom euthanasia will be sold, notably those living with a chronic disease.

The same tendency can be seen at the federal level, demonstrating that this reductionist vision of the human person is leading us in one direction: that of broadening the criteria of the law. Indeed, the federal government is also examining the possibility of extending the eligibility criteria for euthanasia and assisted suicide by analysing the cases of people who have been denied access.

In the meantime, these predictable extensions of the eligibility criteria confirm the logical consequences of any law legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide. Thus, once the homicide-suicide duo is socially accepted as a solution to certain problems, the real question becomes: why say yes to some, and no to others?