The government of the Canadian province of Québec is considering allowing doctors to euthanize people suffering from Alzheimer's, dementia, and other disease where the patient is unable to provide their consent.
According to LifeSiteNews, a Canadian health minister, Danielle McCann, said at a press conference earlier this month that the recommendation to allow the practice of euthanizing patients without their consent came from an "expert panel" that spent 18 months studying the issue.
However, McCann says that Québec will launch its own non-partisan public consultation process before deciding whether to allow the practice.
"We have heard the the heartfelt appeal of Quebecers who are suffering and calling for a widening of the rules," McCann said, the Montreal Gazette reported. "Québec society is evolving on this sensitive issue and we have a moral duty to respond. all together."
The final decision will be in the hands of a physician
The advance assisted death directed would have to be authorized by the patient while they are still mentally able to decide. However, family members who disagree with their loved one's decision would "not have a veto," a committee member said at the meeting. Opponents of the measure also say that if someone were to change their mind, they could have no way of stopping their own death.
In the event a person suffers from a disease where they could lose their decision-making abilities, the Canadian panel recommended that patients formally designate a third party while they are still mentally capacitated who would inform doctors of the existence of a prior consent to be euthanized. The third party authorization would be kept in a government registry.
That third party would represent the patient should they lose their faculties due to diseases like Alzheimer's or dementia, but the final decision to euthanize the patient would rest in the hands of a physician.
The Gazette noted that a person in good health would be ineligible for requesting in advance to be euthanized should they were to suffer an unforeseen health incident, such as a heart attack or a car accident that leaves them paralyzed.
It could allow euthanasia "of someone who may never have wanted it"
Under Québec's current law, residents can only be euthanized if they meet all of the following criteria, according to LifeSiteNews:
They are at least 18 years of age; suffer from a serious, incurable illness; are in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability; experience constant and unbearable physical or psychological suffering that cannot be relieved in a way they deem tolerable; are at the end of life; and can give informed consent.
McCann said the new measure gives patients "the freedom to decide and we do this while respecting their will, values and dignity."
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, disagreed and warned that the new policy may result in people being killed against their will.
"This is absolutely crazy, because it will allow euthanasia of someone who may never have wanted it, who might have in fear in an earlier state felt this was what they wanted, and when the time comes, they lose their right to change their mind," he told LifeSiteNews.