Vol. 21

Q u i - v i v e  

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  Living With Dignity Newsletter

  Vol. 21

A Word from the Director

As the last month of the summer has come to an end, there are many indications that this fall will be hot with respect to the issue of euthanasia in Quebec.

August ended with the official opening of the Superior Court lawsuit in which two people suffering from a disability are challenging the federal and provincial laws to eliminate the “end of life” and “reasonably foreseeable death” criteria.

At that first meeting, Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia told the court of their intention to file a formal request to be included in the list of intervenors in the case. If their application is accepted, the two organizations will be able to provide the Court with their expertise on the ethical, medical, and social issues surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide, with the aim of opposing the expansion of the criteria of the law.

Furthermore, this request to extend the laws of Quebec and Canada in perfect continuity with the trends observed elsewhere in the world. Indeed, we can observe that the very logic of euthanasia continually generates demands for continuous extension. In that respect, as is already the case in the Netherlands where a bill has been tabled for this purpose, Belgium is now considering the possibility of extending euthanasia to people who have “the feeling of having accomplished their lives.”

Thus, this is where culminate – until now – the successive extensions of laws that open the door to death on request. Over time, “exceptional measures for exceptional cases” end up being offered to healthy people who simply have the “fault” of being old. And in the meanwhile, statistics are exceeding forecasts, abuses are accumulating, and “safeguard” are collapsing one after the other – already, there is pressure to “simplify the paperwork and ease the obligation of seeking a second opinion from an objective and independent doctor” .

And while all eyes are obsessively fixed on death as a medical solution to suffering, and while accusing fingers point at people who refuse to see it as a gesture of legitimate compassion, society as a whole misses many essential questions.

Instead of asking why someone would refuse death to a suffering person, would it not be more beautiful and respectful to ask ourselves why this person came to want to die? Instead of helping people kill themselves, should we not ask where society failed to be able to accompany them properly? Faced with people's suffering, our most pressing concern should not be to ask ourselves what we could do to make each person feel desired, that everyone has access to all the good care available nowadays and that everyone can take part in the collective life, regardless of their physical condition?

Rest assured that Living with Dignity will continue to ask these crucial questions that are at the heart of the belief we share with people who want to build a caring society rather than a society that only thinks about facilitating death to people who need help.

We count on your support and encourage you to participate in the debates by calling open lines, writing to reporters, contacting your MP and writing your comments under the articles that defend our vision.

Thank you in advance for your support.

In solidarity,


Aubert MARTIN, executive director, Living with Dignity

News in Quebec

  • July 25, 2017: According to Irene Demczuk, General Coordinator of the Regroupement des Assistants Naturels du Québec, there is not enough support for caregivers in Quebec. (>>)
  • August 23, 2017: While Quebec and Ottawa are exploring the possibility of expanding medical aid to die, the act is still very controversial for many physicians in the country. (>>)
  • August 28, 2017: The Minister of Justice, Stéphanie Vallée, is reluctant to ask the courts to clarify the concept of "reasonably foreseeable death" (>>)
  • August 29, 2017: Health Minister Gaétan Barrette is not at all shaken by the reluctance of the Quebec minister of Justice and says his government must overcome this internal opposition and stand before the Court of Appeals. (>>)

News in Canada

  • July 28, 2017: The Ontario Palliative Care Network firmly wants early and equitable access to hospice palliative care even though most hospices and the majority of doctors are opposed to it. (>>)
  • August 14, 2017: Dying With Dignity Canada is poised to challenge an Ontario law that exempts religious hospitals from offering assisted suicide. (>>) (>>)
  • August 22, 2017: A new report on the Canada Pension Plan expansion shows that annual spending is expected to reach record levels in the coming decades. (>>)
  • August 24, 2017: A survey by the Canadian Medical Association reveals that a majority of physicians surveyed are supportive of expanding access to medical aid to die. (>>)
  • August 25, 2017: The Canadian Medical Association says changes need to be made within the country's health care system to meet the needs of more and more seniors. (>>)

CASES FOR REFLECTION (English and French)

  • Teenager, 19, killed himself after fearing he would end up in a wheelchair after rare incurable illness attacked his nervous system: Thomas Swales, 19, had begun to walk with a stoop after contracting Friedreich’s ataxia. However, as his conditioned worsened Thomas - known as Tommy - began getting depressed and his family believe he looked into the possibility of taking his own life at the Swiss assisted suicide clinic Dignitas. Read more >>
  • Woman dies after suicide pact, boyfriend charged with assisted suicide: A Palm Coast man is in jail after deputies said he made a pact in June with his girlfriend to commit suicide, but survived. Read more >>
  • Should We Starve Alzheimer’s Patients? The idea of starving a helpless elderly person to death used to be thought of as the most egregious crime. An abhorrence. Now, for some, it is merely another form of “death with dignity.” Read more >>
  • Trente mois de prison pour avoir poussé son petit ami au suicide : Une jeune femme de 20 ans qui avait poussé son petit ami au suicide a été condamnée jeudi à deux ans et demi de prison (30 mois), dont 15 mois ferme, par un juge du tribunal pour enfants de Taunton, dans le Massachusetts. Lire l’article >>


  • Experts rebut pro-euthanasia arguments: Professor of Palliative Medicine Ilora Baroness Finlay of Llandaff from the United Kingdom and Robert Preston, the director of the Living and Dying Well Think Tank in the UK visited New Zealand recently. Both are opposed to legalised assisted dying, based strictly on the evidence. Read more >>


  • A murder case over assisted dying divides Quebec. Should the law be changed? In the aftermath of the controversial Cadotte case, Québec legislators are thinking of expanding the province’s law permitting medical assistance in dying, to allow patients who are diagnosed with a disease like Alzheimer’s to make an advance request to end their lives, before their cognitive abilities have slipped away. Read more >>
  • A Quebec ‘mercy killing’ prompts a rethink on euthanasia law: The ink was hardly dry on Canada’s right-to-die legislation before lawsuits began to expand eligibility for euthanasia to those who are not terminally ill. And now a high-profile case in Quebec could lead to euthanising patients with dementia. Read more >>
  • Aide médicale à mourir : la bataille judiciaire avance lentement : Deux personnes malades qui contestent les lois fédérale et provinciale sur l'aide médicale à mourir estiment que les gouvernements canadien et québécois tentent d'étirer indûment les procédures judiciaires. Le procureur général du Canada a annoncé son intention de faire entendre une dizaine d'experts dans le cadre de la contestation judiciaire, qui se déroule au palais de justice de Montréal. Lire l’article >>


  • BELGIUM: In Belgium, Legalized Euthanasia Has Begun to Encroach on Religious Freedom: Since Belgium legalized doctor-assisted suicide in 2002, over 13,000 people have died at their physicians’ hands; euthanasia is also being used as a “cure” for mental-health problems and other non-terminal illnesses. Now the government has bullied a Catholic organization into adopting the practice. Read more >>
  • NETHERLANDS: Euthanasia and assisted suicide accounted for 5% of all deaths in 2016: A study from the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that euthanasia and assisted suicide contribute to as much as 5% of deaths in the Netherlands. Read more >>
  • NETHERLANDS: Euthanasia deaths becoming common in Netherlands: Euthanasia has become a common way to die in the Netherlands, accounting for 4.5 percent of deaths, according to researchers who say requests are increasing from people who aren't terminally ill. Read more >>
  • NETHERLANDS: Netherlands five year study shows significant increases in assisted deaths and continued abuse of the law: A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that euthanasia is becoming more common in the Netherlands. Read more >>
  • NEW ZEALAND: Great News: New Zealand Health Committee report on euthanasia does not recommend legalisation: After receiving input both directly and indirectly from thousands of people, the New Zealand Health Committee released a report not recommending legalizing euthanasia. Read more >>
  • NEW ZEALAND: Report confirms a massive majority against euthanasia in New Zealand: A New Zealand parliamentary committee has issued a report showing that 80 percent of people submitting their views about euthanasia opposed “assisted dying”. Read more >>
  • UNITED STATES (CALIFORNIA): California Hospital Sued for Refusing to Assist Suicide: The family of a Californian woman who died of cancer are suing a San Francisco hospital for refusing to assist in her suicide. Read more >>
  • UNITED STATES: Assisted suicide legalization defeated in the US in 2017: With nearly every state assisted suicide legislative attempt complete, initial data from a research study by Dr. Jacqueline H. Abernathy at Tarleton State University finds a staggering increase in the number of attempts to legalize assisted suicide in U.S. over the past year, in spite of an overwhelming failure rate associated with such legislation: fewer than one percent of all assisted suicide bills become law. Read more >>
  • BELGIQUE : Vers l’euthanasie des personnes « fatiguées de vivre » ? Jean-Jacques De Gucht, député libéral belge, vient de proposer une modification de la loi en vigueur sur l’euthanasie, pour l’élargir « aux personnes âgées qui ont le sentiment d’une vie accomplie ». Lire l’article >>
  • BELGIQUE : Faut-il permettre l'euthanasie aux personnes âgées "qui ne veulent pas aller plus loin"? Un député lance le débat : Un député belge, Jean-Jacques De Gucht, propose de permettre l'euthanasie aux personnes âgées qui ont le sentiment d'une vie accomplie, ou qui sont fatiguées de vivre. Lire l’article >>

Take Action in September

  • SUPPORT OUR EFFORTS so that we can continue to speak on your behalf:
  • Support Project Value by liking their Facebook page (>>). This initiative offers videos made by people with disabilities to challenge the popular idea of what it means to have a disability. Each video begins with a description of the diagnosis and prognosis of the person and a description of their functional limitations. Then the person talks about their quality and value of life beyond their condition. Share!


  • L’euthanasie pourrait stimuler le don d’organes, conclut une étude : Entretien avec Jan Bollen, de l'Université de Maastricht. Lire l’article >>

PRESS REVIEW (English and French)

  • 'I believed that euthanasia was the only humane solution. I no longer believe that.': “Thirteen years after my aunt slowly and painfully died, I trained in the newly established speciality of medical oncology. I began to see newer emerging team-based palliative care treatment options for those like my aunt.” Read more >>
  • “Dying of Despair”: “I began my work against assisted suicide in 1993. In the intervening years, I have witnessed a very disturbing change. When I began, the emotional zeitgeist of society focused intensely on preventing suicide. Today, in many cases, the emotional oomph (if you will) supports suicide.” Read more >>
  • America’s Suicide Crisis: Life Expectancy Declines for First Time Since 1930 Because So Many Commit Suicide: How bad is America’s suicide problem? Well, it’s so bad that Americans’ overall life expectancy has declined for the first time since the 1930s. Read more >>
  • Does death have a meaning? Why are current approaches to dying problematic? Most people (in the developed West, that is) die in hospitals where patients are clean, well-fed and adequately cared for medically, aren’t they? Read more >>
  • Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the US. Legalizing assisted suicide is not safe: A study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on May 3, 2016 found that Medical error is the third leading cause of death representing at least 251,000 deaths per year in the United States. There is no reason to think that euthanasia will be immune from mistakes. Read more >>
  • The article on assisted suicide that Australian newspapers wouldn't publish: Compassion for people at the end of life is a fundamental reflection of our humanity. We care. It’s what people do. But our compassion should never drive us to support killing by euthanasia or to help someone to their suicide. That intention is always wrong. Read more >>
  • Why was a woman with disabilities urged to accept assisted death, instead of assistance to live? Carmela Hutchison who is the President of the DisAbled Women's Network (DAWN) Canada), an executive member of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities and a mental health advocate, wonders why a woman with disabilities, such as herself, was urged to die by assisted death, rather than offered assistance to live. Read more >>
  • Experts rebut pro-euthanasia arguments: Professor of Palliative Medicine Ilora Baroness Finlay of Llandaff from the United Kingdom and Robert Preston, the director of the Living and Dying Well Think Tank in the UK visited New Zealand recently. Both are opposed to legalised assisted dying, based strictly on the evidence. Read more >>
  • Why Does the CBC Hate my Mom? The CBC’s coverage of Margot Bentley, a one-time nurse whose advanced dementia is apparently causing a legal furor, is concerning as the outrage seems to be more focused on an legal system that does not bow to personal wishes. Read more >>
  • How many safeguards do you need to make assisted suicide safe? The Final Report of the Ministerial Advisory Panel on Assisted Dying set up by Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews late in 2016, recently handed down its final report and recommendations. After reading the report, it is hard to suggest that there can be such a thing as safe suicide. Read more >>
  • I’m an atheist and against euthanasia: Dismissals of opponents to assisted suicide and euthanasia as objecting for purely religious beliefs deliberately ignore valid arguments against it. Read more >>
  • In Ontario, legal assisted suicide could kill conscientious objection: Conscience protections for Catholic hospitals and other organizations could soon come under fire in the Canadian province of Ontario, with one assisted suicide group saying they may challenge this legislation in court.  Read more >>
  • Is Euthanasia Corrupting Transplant Medical Ethics? “In my very first anti-euthanasia column, published by Newsweek in 1993, I worried that once medicalized killing became accepted, it would soon be joined by “organ harvesting as a plum to society.” “Alarmist!” I was called. “Slippery slope arguer!” It will never happen, I was assured. Until it did. Now in both Netherlands and Belgium, mentally ill and disabled patients are voluntarily euthanized and their organs harvested after being killed.” Read more >>
  • Legalising assisted suicide is dangerous – just look at Canada: The British High Court recently heard a legal challenge from a terminally ill man who wants the right to die. The fact that courts are hearing a challenge to the British blanket ban on assisted dying is deeply worrying. Read more >>
  • On pain and palliative care: This morning I was reading The Art of Death by Edwidge Danticat. In it she recounts how her own mother refused all pain medication as she was dying of ovarian cancer because she didn’t want to be “gaga” at the end. That reminded me of this post I’d been meaning to write for a while. I hope it might one day save you or a loved one a great deal of unnecessary suffering. Read more >>
  • Soaring hopes as an antidote to assisted suicide: The very existence of assisted dying creates an expectation that we will surrender to our negativity. Read more >>
  • Suicide is Now the Second Leading Cause of Death for Youth and Young Adults: What gives us our worth? How we answer that question will shape how we live. And maybe how we die. Read more >>
  • Suicide Prevention Harmed by Euthanasia – Govt Report: A parliamentary inquiry into euthanasia has sounded a clear warning that changing the law on assisted suicide could be seen as normalising suicide, and an overwhelming 80% of submitters have rejected calls for euthanasia in this extensive and lengthy inquiry. Read more >>
  • The euthanasia slippery slope: a failure of memory and imagination: Very recently, two senior physicians who have championed the legalization of euthanasia in their jurisdictions have rejected current “appalling” developments in euthanasia in their countries. Yet, these developments should have been anticipated. So, why weren’t they? Read more >>
  • Why the Andrews legislation is all about suicide: It’s difficult to talk about suicide. Not a person who reads this hasn’t been touched by one. Yet a recent editorial in The Age suggests that, by the numbers alone, public policy on dealing with what is clearly a national problem is not gaining any ground. In fact, the numbers seem to be getting worse. Read more >>
  • Entretien avec Christian Saint-Germain: Deux fois docteur (en théologie et en droit), professeur de philosophie à l’UQAM, Christian Saint-Germain livre quelques réflexions sur l’enseignement de la théologie au Québec, la place du catholicisme dans notre histoire et la légitimation étatique de l’euthanasie, symbole par excellence de notre démission collective. Lire l’article >>
  • La détresse silencieuse des proches aidants: Épuisés, tristes et en colère face à leur impuissance à soulager la souffrance de leur proche gravement malade ou en fin de vie, plusieurs Québécois vivent en silence la détresse de leur statut de proche aidant. Lire l’article >>

VIDEOS TO WATCH (French and English)

  • The Euthanasia Deception: A trailer for the new documentary exploring assisted suicide and euthanasia in Belgium. Watch video >>

To make a donation is... to take action!

Our organization would not exist without the support of people who share our vision of human solidarity and our mission to promote good palliative care for all. With your contribution, we can act on your behalf by advocating in person (conferences, panels), in the media (interviews, articles, press releases), and on social networks (blogs, website, Facebook, Twitter).

Thus, by contributing, you are directly participating in defending future generations, especially vulnerable people, threatened by euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

Thank you for your active support!