Canadian Physician Urges Opposition to Assisted Suicide, Not Death With Dignity

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 20, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Canadian Physician Urges Opposition to Assisted Suicide, Not Death With Dignity

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 20
, 2010

Ottawa, Canada ( — As the Canadian parliament prepares to consider legislation that would legalize assisted suicide, one physician saying having doctors kill patients is not dying with dignity. Francine Lalonde, the MP sponsoring Bill C-384 to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada, has been writing articles for her bill.

Dr. Catherine Ferrier of Montreal responded with a letter to the National Post about the bill.

"The most amazing thing about Francine Lalonde’s apology for her euthanasia bill is the amount of false and misleading information she was able to fit into such a short letter," Ferrier writes.

She says patients who are suffering need help and support, not encouragement to kill themselves.

"First, palliative care does alleviate suffering and is effective in the vast majority of patients. When the usual measures are insufficient, other things, such as sedation, can be offered. I don’t know a single palliative care physician who thinks euthanasia is good or necessary," Ferrier said.

The physician said it is wrong for Lalonde or the media to make it appear doctors support legalizing assisted suicide.

"There is no consensus favoring euthanasia among physicians, even in Quebec," she writes. "The College des medecin produced its report without consulting its membership. The two surveys Ms. Lalonde refers to had biased questions and an exceedingly low response rate."

Ferrier also warns of the slippery slope leading from assisted suicide to euthanasia to discrimination against the elderly and disabled.

"The slippery slope has definitely materialized in jurisdictions where euthanasia is legal," the physician says.

"In the Netherlands, euthanasia is administered routinely to patients who are not terminally ill but rather have chronic diseases or psychological distress; to patients who are incapable of consenting or who are capable but were not consulted; and to children, including newborns," Ferrier adds.

The doctor says there is nothing wrong with helping patients at the end of life but urging them to take their lives isn’t the way to go about it.

She concludes her letter, "Dying with dignity should indeed be a right for all Canadians, but Ms. Lalonde’s proposal of allowing doctors to kill patients is the worst possible way of reaching this goal."

A recent poll conducted by the polling firm Environics for a Canadian pro-life group shows 70% of Canadians worried that if legalization occurs, sick, disabled, or elderly persons would be euthanized without their consent. In addition, 56% were concerned that elderly persons would be pressured to accept euthanasia due to rising health care costs.

Related web sites:
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition –

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