Public support for the Quebec government’s “medical aid in dying” proposal is a mile wide but only a foot deep. That’s the striking finding of a new survey of Quebec residents by Abingdon Research.
The poll initially found that when respondents were asked about legalizing “medical aid in dying,” 72% said they were in favour. But when questions were posed about the potential consequences of Quebec’s Bill, modelled after Belgium’s euthanasia legislation, support plummeted to only 35% (31% of women). 47% took the view that what Bill 52 proposes “requires further study,” with another 14% opposed.
Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, would allow doctors under some circumstances to administer a lethal injection to a patient who has an incurable condition. The minister responsible, Véronique Hivon, has repeatedly defended the bill’s provision on “medical aid in dying” by maintaining it has “a large consensus” of support among Quebecers. Past surveys have tended to confirm that. But the new poll suggests that much of that support is soft.
In an 84-26 vote on October 29th, the National Assembly adopted Bill 52 in principle. The Health and Social Services Committee is now examining the bill.
“The poll demonstrates that Quebecers by no means support this legislation in the unreserved way that has been suggested,” said the executive director of LifeCanada, Natalie Sonnen, whose organization commissioned the poll. “Belgium’s law, a model for Bill 52, has been shown to be deeply flawed and dangerous. Once lethal injections become part of medical practice, abuse becomes rampant, as studies have shown that over a third of euthanasia deaths happening in Belgium are without patient consent.” Ms. Sonnen says. “When Quebecers consider the real possibility for abuse, they get cold feet about ‘medical aid in dying’.”
One poll question asked about the Belgian government’s current proposal to extend the right to receive a doctor’s lethal injection to children. Of those surveyed, 82% said they were concerned (58% very concerned) about the potential for suicidal teens in Quebec to eventually be killed through ‘medical aid in dying’ instead of receiving the help they need, if Bill 52 becomes law.
“The public has valid reasons to be concerned about this bill,” Ms. Sonnen stated. “It is our hope that the National Assembly will pay attention to the interests of its citizens.”
The poll of 500 Quebec residents by Abingdon Research was conducted Oct. 24-26, 2013 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.4% 19 times out of 20.
Poll results are attached and can be found at www.lifecanada.org.