Latest Quebec report - euthanasia for loneliness or feeling a burden increases
The Sixth Annual Report on euthanasia in Quebec covering 2,426 officially reported cases from April 2020-March 2021 shows that 24% of people euthanased gave isolation or loneliness as a reason while 44% reported feeling like a burden for family, friends and caregivers as a reason.
The Report explicitly mentions isolation from loved ones due to COVID-19 restrictions as contributing to requests for euthanasia based on loneliness.
For 43% of people the mandatory waiting period of 10 days between an initial request and being killed by a lethal injection was waived - although only 16% of people has a prognosis of less than 2 weeks to live.
The cooling off period was dropped from 17 March 2021 allowing same day euthanasia. 52% of cases reported from 17-31 March 2021 involved euthanasia less than 10 days after an initial request.
As well as the 2,426 officially reported cases of euthanasia, for a further 262 cases reported by institutions and the College of Physicians no official report from the doctor was received - a 9.75% non-reporting rate.
The officially reported cases increased 36.75% from the previous year, continuing a steady rise.
Euthanasia accounted for 3.62% of all deaths in Quebec for the period July 2020-March 2021 and the rate was as high as 6.2% of all deaths in one administrative region.
The official Commission which examines each case found seven breaches of the law, including:
- one case in which the doctor did not speak with the person to verify the persistence of suffering and the wish to die between when the request was received, and euthanasia was administered; and
- one case, the person did not meet an eligibility criterion: the Commission said post-traumatic quadriparesis (weakness in the limbs caused by injury) constituted a disability rather than a “serious and incurable illness”.
These last two cases go well beyond administrative defects in the process. Failure to verify that a person still wished to be euthanased before actually administering a lethal poison clearly runs the risk that a person is euthanased involuntarily.
Euthanasing a person for disability “post-traumatic quadriparesis” is not permitted by the Canadian law.
There is no remedy in either of these cases as the person is dead.
In 7% of cases there was no physical suffering at all.
37 physicians euthanased more than 10 people each in this period accounting for 47% of all euthanasia cases.
Following the decision of the Superior Court of Quebec on 11 September 2019 which struck down the requirement that death be reasonably foreseeable, and prior to the change in the national law from 21 March 2021 giving effect to this decision, 20 people with disabilities, mostly wheelchair bound were euthanased in Quebec with court permission.
Download a full report on euthanasia in Canada here
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