The disaster of euthanasia

This letter was originally published in the French newspaper La Presse (>>), on December 10, 2016.

At the beginning of November, physicians from one of Montreal’s hospitals received a letter from the Professional Services Directorate, in which they were told of the “need [for] additional physicians for medically assisted death.”

Already, the friendly tone of the letter asking for the “help” of refractory physicians for euthanasia markedly contrasts the political discourse of the past months. However, the pleading tone of the letter has especially revealed the inaccuracy of many accepted ideas by clearly demonstrating the disaster caused by euthanasia in Quebec.

Firstly, the management acknowledges in its letter that there are only “a few physicians who have given their consent to participate in this process,” whereas popular opinion attributes the refusal to participate to only a minority group. We can therefore conclude that, in fact, the reality is the exact opposite of this prejudice; the majority of doctors are still opposed to any participation in euthanasia.

Incidentally, when it was a question of “subduing  refractory physicians,” we now know that this was a threat to the majority of doctors.

Subsequently, we see in the letter the consequence of a year of euthanasia in Quebec, all the while political discourse assures us again that everything is going “very, very, very well.” During this first year, the focus was placed on accessibility to this exceptional measure in exceptional cases.

However, the (predictable) result of such an approach now puts us in the throes of a growing surge of euthanasia – used “more and more regularly in our circles” as per the words of the letter. Paradoxically the solution envisioned by the directorate to remedy this irresponsible behaviour would implicate the participation of “refractory” physicians.

Finally, the letter reminds us that euthanasia will never be a trivial gesture, although much effort has been made to make it a socially acceptable “procedure.” By recalling that the “Interdisciplinary Support Group (ISG) assures you of its support in the process,” the directorate shows that the real exception in this gesture falsely called “care” lies in the seriousness of its impact on the physicians who practice it.

In conclusion, we, the undersigned physicians, wish to reaffirm that we will not participate in this social drama which does nothing but add suffering to suffering. We are always of the opinion that the answer lies in quality care, and in wider access to palliative care accompanied by human support, respectful of the person.

Dr Nicholas Newman, orthopedic surgeon, Montreal

With the support of the following signatories:

Evelyne Huglo, MD, Family physician, Montreal

Richard Haber, MD, Associate professor of pediatrics, MUHC

Michel Brouillard, MD, General physician, Rouyn-Noranda

Tommy Aumond-Beaupré, MD, Family physician, Montreal

Jean-Pierre Beauchef, MD, Endocrinology, Greenfield Park

Mark Basik, MD, General Surgeon, Montreal

Jacques R. Rouleau, MD, CSPQ, FRCPC, FACC, Cardiology, University Institute of Cardiology and Pulmonology, University of Laval.

Mathieu Gazdovich, MD, Family physician, Montreal

Liette Pilon, MD, Family physician, Montreal and Rive-Sud de Montreal

Renata Sava, MD, Family physician, Montreal

Simon Wing, MD, Endocrinology, Montreal

Catherine Ferrier, MD, Family physician, Montreal

Michel R. Morissette, MD, Retired physician

Dr. Nathalie de Grandpré, MD, Family physician, Montreal

Melanie Ghobril, Resident family physician, Université de Montreal

Marie Jetté-Grenier, MD, Retired

Guy Bouchard, MD, General practitioner and Occupational medicine, retired

Odile Michaud, MD, Family physician, Otterburn Park

José A. Morais, MD, FRCPC, Geriatrics, Montreal

Abdallah Dallal, MD, Family physician, Hôtel-Dieu de Saint-Jérôme

Sonia Calouche, MD, Psychiatrist, Saint-Eustache

Bernard H. Doray, MD, Retired pediatrician

Michel Masson, MD, Retired pediatrician, Quebec

Judith Trudeau, MD, Rheumatology, Lévis

Céline Devaux, MD, Hematology, Hôpital Charles-LeMoyne

Pierrette Girard, MD, Orthopedist, Clinique médicale McDermot

Louis Martel, MD, Family physician, Trois-Rivères

Ibrahim Mohamed, MD, Neonatal pediatrician at Sainte-Justine Hospital, Montreal

Jacques Beaudoin, MD, Cardiology, Quebec

Julien Marc-Aurèle, MD, Retired

Katia Khoukaz, MD, Family physician, Montreal

Daniel Viens, MD, Internal medicine, Drummoondville

Louise Morissette, MD, FRCP

Rosaire Vaillancourt, MD, FRCSC, Thoracic surgery, IUCPQ, Quebec

Suzanne Labelle, MD, Family physician, Laval


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