Newsletter, vol. 40

CANADA: Canadian Bishops warn Justin Trudeau on expanding euthanasia
NETHERLANDS: 22% rise in euthanasia requests in 2019
FRANCE: Forthcoming changes in the rules surrounding palliative sedation
Jan. 31, 2020 – In a letter adressed to Prime minister Justin Trudeau, the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops expresses his deep concerns on the governement’s decision to expand MAiD.
Feb. 7, 2020 – A Dutch organization that carries out euthanasia received 3,122 requests last year, a 22% increase from the year before, the Euthanasia Expertise Center said.
Feb. 10, 2020 – The Authority in Health of France recommends that continuous palliative sedation be made more accessible. (FRENCH)
SPAIN : Parliament votes to consider legalization of euthanasia
[Opinion] : Can the moment right before we die be a euphoric one?
[Opinion]: The slippery slope of euthanasia is real
Feb. 12, 2020 – After Spain’s socialist party tried and failed twice last year to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, the lower house of the country’s parliament has now voted to consider a bill that would legalize the practices in certain circumstances.
Seamus Coyle, an expert on palliative care, takes a look at whether or not people can experience a rush of happiness before they die.
John Keown adresses this issue again for MercatorNet, with up-to-date data and literature.

Why allow the right to conscientious objection?

By Maxime Huot Couture, interim director of LWD and Ph.D. candidate in ethics and political philosophy

Technical developments in medicine raise new ethical questions, especially since we have widened its field of intervention not only to healing, but to the very existence of individuals, as for example in the case of euthanasia. In this context, some people put forward the concept of “conscientious objection” to avoid being forced to do acts they disapprove of. However, in this debate, others maintain that the right to conscientious objection is not absolute, since it is the interest of the patient or the “client” that must prevail. In fact, they say, one should not prevent someone from receiving recognized medical services because of the “beliefs”, religious or moral, of health professionals.

Conscientious objection is indeed a right, and an absolute right. The primary reason is that conscientious objection is not, as these critics argue, first and foremost a matter of religious or moral “beliefs”. Consciousness is rather an “internal sense of rectitude”, a conviction that this or that specific action is good or bad. Consciousness is therefore a judgment on the merits, or not, of an action. Thus, the refusal of a health professional to perform a particular act is justified by the conviction that this act is bad for the patient. The healthcare professional does not refuse to act in order to ensure respect for his beliefs, but precisely to ensure the well-being of his patient, since this is the very purpose of his function.

Of course, many health professionals may have different judgments. One of them may be wrong. That is why one cannot simply appeal to the authority of conscience in order to have a right to do this or that. The issue of conscientious objection is different. Rather, it is the right not to do something considered wrong. Forcing someone to act against his or her conscience is an attack on one’s integrity. And who would want to have a doctor without integrity, that is to say a doctor who performs certain actions without thinking that they are good for the patient? It is not beneficial for the patient that his or her doctor is “neutral” and that he obeys all his requests, even if they are bad for him or her. It must therefore be understood that conscientious objection is not a refusal of care, but the offer of different avenues of care, in line with the best judgment of the health professional.