A sensitive and delicate subject if ever there was one. However, in my humble opinion, we are witnessing a profound shift with this bill to expand physician assisted dying. This is, of course a complex subject with many factors to consider, but it perhaps requires that everyone stop for a moment to better perceive what it is, because we are skidding off track into a nonsensical situation, both medically and humanly.

It is a question of values. Where do we place death in our collective values? Do we place it in a box on which each of us writes the date and time of his death or do we consider it part of a natural cycle? And where do we place life and old age in our collective values?

By wanting to overly control the date and time, does this not hide a certain fear of death? Shouldn't we rather try to tame this fear, instead of looking for ways to eradicate it? Aren't we harming a process where life lies behind an apparent darkness?

Soon, we will also be talking about children and people with mental disorders. We are thus trying to rationalize death and even to treat it, as we do different diseases or infections, either with drugs or surgery. It is the scientific mentality that no longer knows how to act and that is desperately seeking a remedy for suffering, for lack of a real global approach that aims at a better accompaniment of the patient.

Moreover, it also seeks to make physicians the executors of this treatment, which, in the case of advance consent1, would only aim at implementing a person's wish to end his or her life. We should therefore use the right terms and stop disguising things, pretending that we are talking about human dignity and life care. It is, in fact, assisted suicide.

What message does this send to our seniors? Are we not saying to them: "Don't worry, if you lose your autonomy for health reasons, we have a treatment for you." Therefore, we are further marginalizing the elderly by showing them a way out, and this as soon as they are considered less useful to society.

And as to our youth, what perception will they have of old age and the elderly? Are we in the process of showing them that one injection is enough to stop all suffering? Is this the legacy we want to leave to future generations?

One also wonders how much money the implementation of this law will save governments? More people will shorten their lives, and more beds will be freed up in hospitals and long-term facilities. Is one of the hidden objectives a decongestion of the health care network, in order to reduce costs and alleviate the shortage of manpower? In the context of an aging population, is this the solution that governments have found to lighten the burden on the health care system? Would we go that far?

Martin Moisan, M.D.
Kanesatake Health Center
12, Joseph Swan
Kanesatake (Québec)

1.  A person's decision to pre-program their death, when they are capable of making that decision, in the case, for example, of a diagnosis of dementia such as Alzheimer's.

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