A joint reaction of Living with Dignity and
the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia
to the report of the Quebec Select Committee on the Evolution of the Act respecting end-of-life care
Montreal, December 9, 2021 – The citizen network Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia would like to jointly express their gratitude to the Quebec Select Committee on the Evolution of the Act respecting end-of-life care for having shown wisdom in recommending that access to medical aid in dying not be extended to people whose ‘only medical problem is a mental disorder’. At the same time, both groups would like to express their concern regarding the recommendations that facilitate access to medically assisted dying via advance medical directives, to individuals who are incapacitated.
The commissioners conclude in their report that individuals who are capable, who have neurocognitive disorders and “who will ultimately be incapacitated, should be able to make an advanced request for medical aid in dying following a diagnosis”. This recommendation is widely supported by a population convinced that a diagnosis of neurocognitive disorders inexorably leads to a loss of dignity that would make life no longer worth living. As one doctor points out in the report, “people do not die with dignity from Alzheimer’s”. Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia strongly oppose this perception of dementia, as do many medical specialists (geriatricians and others) who work on a daily basis with individuals with dementia, who objectively, never lose their dignity. The incredible vulnerability of those living with neurocognitive disorders must be emphasised – vulnerability due to their condition and due to the societal view. The State has a duty to protect them. Charity takes precedence over self-determination.
It should be remembered that there are still many voices decrying the serious ethical problems associated with an extension of MAiD by advance directives. Many of these issues have already been described in the submissions of Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia (please see below), as well as other experts in the field, including Dr. Félix Pageau and Dr. Pierre Durand. The consultations during the examination of a possible bill will be an opportunity to express our concerns about this extended accessibility favored by the Select Committee.
In closing, Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia hope that the committee responsible for the parliamentary review of the federal law on medical aid in dying will take note of the cautious choice made by the Quebec Select Committee on the Evolution of the Act respecting end-of-life care with regard to individuals whose only medical problem is a mental disorder. There is still time to act so that March 17, 2023 does not mark the opening of the door to medical aid in dying (under Bill C-7).
Video series to reflect on the issues surrounding the expansion of assisted dying
In conjunction with the tabling of the report, Living with Dignity has commenced publishing a series of seven videos (currently available only in French) to reflect on the issues surrounding the expansion of access to medical aid in dying. It gives the floor to Mr. Louis-André Richard. A professor of philosophy, he participated in the development of Bill 52 (Quebec law concerning end-of-life care) from 2010. An expert in ethical and political philosophy, he has been providing training in palliative care in Quebec and France for over 15 years. He holds a doctorate in philosophy, palliative culture and society.
Contribution of Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia to the work of the Select Committee on the Evolution of the Act respecting end-of-life care:
Click here for the testimony and brief of the citizen network Living with Dignity.
Media contact: (438) 938-9410
Coordinator Living with Dignity
Coordinator Physicians’Alliance against Euthanasia firstname.lastname@example.org