Medical assistance to die: this is not an “open bar”

The Act concerning the end of life care, in force in Quebec last month, raises many issues among the population. So much so that the College of Physicians calls on the government to launch an information campaign to make clear that Quebec is not an “open bar” for euthanasia.

“What the Quebec law provides, this is not an open bar. Patients can not claim euthanasia as they want. Several criteria exist. We would have liked a government campaign about it, “says the secretary of the College of Physicians of Quebec, Dr. Yves Robert.

Since the adoption of the Act relating to end of life care, December 10, patients question their doctor about whether they are entitled to medical assistance to die.

According to Dr. Lussier, who was appointed to the End of Life Care Commission to study all cases of patients that will require medical help to die in Quebec, the government should launch an information campaign anticipation of the entry into force of the law on 10 December. “But it seems that legal proceedings surrounding the entry into force of the law have blocked this campaign,” says Dr. Lussier.

At the office of the Minister of Health, Gaétan Barrette, it was confirmed that the information campaign surrounding the law was suspended.

Ending misinformation

The lawyer Jean-Pierre Ménard, specializing in defending the rights of patients, also receives requests from patients about medical help to die. “We could do more to inform the public. Especially since many commentators continue to suggest that the Quebec law allows almost unlimited access to euthanasia, while this is not the case at all. It should be made clear, “he said.

When she was minister responsible, Véronique Hivon had repeatedly indicated that a comprehensive information campaign on the issue of end of life care and medical aid in dying would prevail. Antonine Yaccarini, Press Secretary Ms. Hivon, stressed that for the Parti Québécois MP, the campaign will take place, “although it would have been desirable that such a campaign is started before the entry into force of the law.”

Among patients who wonder if they are eligible for medical help to die, some are suffering from multiple sclerosis. Dr. Robert says that among the criteria for granting access to medical assistance to die, only those “end of life” can get it.

Although no definition of “end of life” is offered in the law, Dr. Robert says that the patient must be “terminally ill.” “Death must be in the decor in a few weeks a year at most,” he says. Dr. Robert believes that some patients may be frustrated that they are not eligible and that the government should clarify the situation.

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