Please note that we include assisted suicide or "medical aid in dying" when we use the word "euthanasia" in this document.
Euthanasia is a homicide.
In most countries killing another person is considered murder, even if the intention is to "ease the pain", even if the person has a terminal illness.
Euthanasia is never necessary - even less since the advent of palliative care.
Palliative care provided by a well-trained team help the patient, his family and loved ones. Good palliative care is able to control physical, psychological , social, spiritual and existential suffering. In extreme cases, palliative sedation is used. It is not only already legal, but effective.
Only about 20% of Canada's population has access to palliative care.
Euthanasia is incompatible with palliative care.
The World Health Organization says that palliative care "intends to neither accelerate nor postpone death ." 90% of doctors working in palliative care in Canada oppose euthanasia.
There has been abuse where euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal.
It is impossible to establish guidelines strict enough to limit euthanasia to persons for whom it is provided. In fact, the safeguards provided do not hold up in practice. According to Professor Etienne Montero, Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Namur in Belgium, it is extremely difficult to follow a strict interpretation of legal requirements once euthanasia is permitted.
There are several documented cases of abuse in countries where euthanasia is legal and in countries or U.S. states where assisted suicide is legal. For example, in Belgium deaf twins were euthanized at their request because they became blind. Also in Belgium, a woman was euthanized because she was suffering from anorexia. In the Netherlands, a woman was euthanized because she was going blind and could not see the dirt. In Oregon, United States, a woman received a letter from her insurance company refusing to pay for her chemotherapy, but offering assisted suicide instead.
The right to die implies a duty to kill.
The so-called "right to die " (for the patient) implies the duty to kill (for someone else, in this case the doctor).
The medical personnel who commit euthanasia suffer personal consequences.
The act of euthanasia is neither easy nor peaceful. It is a difficult thing to do, and medical personnel is adversely affected. In Belgium, doctors are entitled to psychotherapy after euthanizing a patient. It is not uncommon to see Belgian nurses take a day off when they know that euthanasia is planned.
Euthanasia devalues some lives.
Accepting euthanasia means accepting that some lives (such as elderly or people with disabilities) are worth less than others. Legalizing euthanasia would send a clear message: it is better to be dead than sick or disabled. For a healthy person, it is too easy to perceive life with a disability or an illness as a disaster, full of suffering and frustration.
Euthanasia is not in the best interests of the person.
It is easy to imagine cases where a patient could request euthanasia, freely or under pressure, while it goes against her best interests.
- The diagnosis is wrong and the patient is not suffering from a terminal illness.
- The prognosis is wrong and the patient will not die quickly.
- The patient does not receive good care and suffering could be alleviated.
- The doctor does not know all the treatment options that could be offered to the patient. Veterinarians receive five times more training than doctors about pain management!
- The request for euthanasia is often a cry for help. The patient does not really want to die, he wants to see his symptoms and fears treated and relieved.
- The patient is depressed and believes that his situation is worse than it really is.
- The patient maintains unrealistic fears about possible future pain.
Euthanasia may weaken patients.
Access to euthanasia could cause an internal conflict for the patient, torn between fear of pain and the desire to continue to live rich moments with his family and loved ones. Thus, in the context of a society open to euthanasia, the patient having difficulty living with a demanding illness would bear an additional burden .
Additionally, faced with a doctor who both heals and kills, the patient lives with an uncertainty that adds to her vulnerability.
Euthanasia encourages vulnerable people to end their lives.
Directly or indirectly, euthanasia imposes many pressures on the elderly and people with disabilities . These pressures stem from family or society. Patients who are ill or dependent often feel worthless and a burden to their family and loved ones. The growing number of cases of abuse or neglect of elderly or those with disabilities illustrates that this is a major issue to consider. An overburdened health care system limits the quality of care and may create pressure on patients, making them choose death. Patients estranged from their family may think that euthanasia is the only solution.
Euthanasia is likely to increase the suicide rate.
Our society aims to reduce the suicide rate. Quebec even has an annual Suicide Prevention Week, an initiative that some would like to see replicated across Canada. It is important to note that in the U.S states that have legalized assisted suicide, the rate of non-assisted suicide has increased.
Death penalty and euthanasia.
Since the abolition of the death penalty in Canada, it is not permitted to cause another person's death. This action is irreversible.
Euthanasia would transform hospitals into unsafe places.
Many people would hesitate to seek treatment at the hospital. Euthanasia is therefore in contradiction with the demands for dignity and genuine compassion that are at the heart of medicine.
Euthanasia is not necessary to avoid heroic measures.
The law provides that every patient has the right to refuse treatment or to request that ongoing treatment be stopped.
Euthanasia will lead to the decline of care for terminally ill people.
The Geneva University Hospital reduced its palliative care team after it decided to allow assisted suicide. In the Netherlands, there is a confirmed case of a patient euthanized to free up a hospital bed.
In Brazil, although euthanasia is illegal, a doctor has recently been accused of seven murders after killing patients in intensive care. An investigation is underway to elucidate 300 other cases of suspicious deaths, probably caused by the same doctor. What would have happened if euthanasia was legal?
Euthanasia could become an economical method of "treating" the terminally ill.
The cost of poisons used for causing death by euthanasia is about $ 50 per injection, while a chemotherapy treatment costs thousands of dollars.
There are few studies and data on the impact of euthanasia on society.
We know that euthanasia is increasing in countries that have legalized it: an increase of 18 % in the Netherlands in 2011, and another 13% increase in 2012. Moreover, according to The Lancet, 23% of cases of euthanasia are not reported. Assisted suicides are not included in the reports on euthanasia in the Netherlands, but they account for nearly 6 % more deaths. In Oregon, where assisted suicide has been legal since 1997, the number of reported assisted suicides has increased by 306%, but it is impossible to know what the real number, because the system designed to collect the data is flawed.
One thing is certain: Life in society is based on relationships of mutual trust among all citizens. Everyone must be sure that nobody will kill him. We are already witnessing worrisome abuse in jurisdictions where euthanasia or assisted suicide is legal. Negative impacts, such as higher rates of suicide, are present. However, the available studies and reports do not provide the necessary and complete data in order to understand the destructive effects of legalization of euthanasia on society. Do not forget that for a citizen to kill another (for reasons of false compassion) opens a Pandora's box. How could we then condemn another citizen who kills a neighbour for any other reason?
Adverse secondary gains.
Many reasons could push individuals or groups to encourage a patient to request euthanasia: For a government, it could be the desire to reduce health care spending; and for a family, the desire to do away with guilt or a duty to attend the patient; for heirs, a rush to enjoy the property bequeathed by a family member.
Euthanasia is against the intrinsic value and personal dignity.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to life for every individual. It proclaims the fundamental rights of the human person, including respect for his dignity and his value. The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities promotes respect for the inherent dignity of persons with disabilities.
Human life must be respected regardless of age, gender, race, religion, social status or potential for success. Life is good in and of itself, not just as a means to achieve an end. That is the reason for the almost universal prohibition against deliberately taking the life of a person.
Danger: slippery slope.
“Voluntary” euthanasia puts us at the top of a slippery slope that leads to involuntary euthanasia of people who are considered undesirable. This scenario may seem extreme, but we should remember that ideas that were initially thought impossible and unthinkable can quickly become acceptable. Take the example of Belgium: 10 years after the legalization of euthanasia, the law (which was said to have strong safeguards) was amended to allow euthanasia for children with incurable diseases, regardless of their age .