Media Engages in Journalism Malpractice Covering for Quebec Euthanasia Bill

International   |   Wesley J. Smith   |   Jun 14, 2013   |   12:24PM   |   Quebec City, Quebec

As I reported here previously, Quebec will be debating the legalization of euthanasia–not assisted suicide–a bill that does not limit medicalized killing to dying patients.

But don’t tell that to so-called journalists, who are busily about the task of badly misstating what the proposal would permit. I mentioned a Toronto Star example in my original post. Now, AFP has also misreported the story:

The government of Canada’s mostly French-speaking Quebec province on Wednesday unveiled legislation allowing terminally ill patients to kill themselves with a doctor’s help. The bill, expected to be passed into law as early as September, would make Quebec the first province in Canada to effectively legalize assisted suicide and set the stage for a jurisdictional row with Ottawa.

No! The bill allows those with “an incurable serious illness” to be killed by doctors, which is not a synonym for ”terminal illness.” From the legislation:

26. Only a patient who meets the following criteria may obtain medical aid in dying:
(1) be of full age, be capable of giving consent to care and be an insured person within the meaning of the Health Insurance Act (chapter A-29);
(2) suffer from an incurable serious illness;
(3) suffer from an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability; and
(4) suffer from constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain which cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable.

And it isn’t assisted suicide, during which a patient self-administers the poison. Rather, it is euthanasia, which is administered by the doctor–e.g., a lethal injection. From the bill:

29. If a physician determines, subsequent to the application of section 28, that medical aid in dying may be administered to a patient requesting it, the physician must administer such aid personally and take care of the patient until
their death.

In other words, the doctor has to kill the patient!

So, as we so often see in the reporting of euthanasia, cloning, abortion, and other contentious social issues, the media either can’t–or won’t–get it right.

Meanwhile,

Canada’s premier national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, has now also committed journalistic malpractice describing Quebec’s euthanasia bill. It accurately reports that the law would allow doctors to commit euthanasia–e.g., directly kill the patient–but it continues the pretense that the lethality would be limited to the “dying:”  From the story:

Quebec has entered unchartered waters in becoming the first province to propose legislation that allows a dying patient with an incurable disease “at an advanced state of irreversible decline” and suffering “unbearable physical and psychological pain” to decide their moment of death. Strict protocol and criteria are outlined in the bill that calls for continuous medical supervision of patients who must meet specific conditions in order to be eligible for end-of-life treatment. For instance, a paraplegic, despite suffering intolerable pain, would not be admissible.

False! The conditions are not specifically identified. The guidelines aren’t “strict,” and they are certainly not limited to the “dying.” Nor must the suffering be a result “unbearable phyisical AND psychological pain.” Rather, as you will see below, it is “unbearable physical OR psychological pain,” a hugely different thing!

Once again, here are the guidelines as written in Bill 52:

26. Only a patient who meets the following criteria may obtain medical aid in dying:
(1) be of full age, be capable of giving consent to care and be an insured person within the meaning of the Health Insurance Act (chapter A-29);
(2) suffer from an incurable serious illness;
(3) suffer from an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability; and
(4) suffer from constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain which cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable.

Paraplegics could most certainly qualify: It could be deemed an “incurable illness” that has led to “irreversible decline in capability” and which causes “unbearable physical or psychological pain” that cannot be relieved “in a manner the person deems tolerable.”

If the authors wanted the law to be limited to dying patients, it would say so in the bill. It doesn’t. Stating otherwise is journalistic malpractice.

LifeNews.com Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Secondhand Smoke.