Hearings on Quebec Bill 52: Federation of Quebec Medical Specialists

Dr. Gaétan Barrette

Tuesday 17 September 2013 – Vol. 43 N° 34

Note: The following translation is the product of a first run through “Google translate.”  In most cases it is sufficient to identify statements of interest, but more careful translation is required to properly understand the text.

Original Text

Caution: machine assisted translation

(Suspension de la séance à 12 h 27)
16 h (version non révisée)
16 h (version non révisée)
(Reprise à 16 h 7)
Le Président (M. Bergman) : Alors, s’il vous plaît, la commission reprend ses travaux. Je demande à toutes les personnes dans la salle de bien vouloir éteindre la sonnerie de leur téléphone cellulaire. The Chairman (Mr. Bergman): So please, the Committee resumed. I ask everyone in the room to please turn off their cell phones ringing.
Nous allons poursuivre sans plus tarder les consultations particulières et les auditions publiques sur le projet de loi n° 52, Loi concernant les soins de fin de vie. We will continue without further delay special consultations and public hearings on Bill 52, An Act respecting the end-of-life.
Alors, je souhaite la bienvenue à la Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec. Bienvenue, Dr Barrette. Je vous demanderais tout d’abord de vous présenter et de présenter les personnes qui vous accompagnent. Vous avez 15 minutes pour votre présentation, suivi d’un échange avec les membres de la commission. So I welcome the Federation of Medical Specialists of Quebec. Welcome, Dr. Barrette. I would ask you first to introduce and present the people with you. You have 15 minutes for your presentation, followed by a discussion with the members of the commission.
Alors, le micro est à vous, Dr Barrette. So the microphone is yours, Dr. Barrette.
M. Barrette (Gaétan) : Merci, M. le Président, Mme la ministre, Mmes et MM. les membres de la commission parlementaire. Je suis accompagné aujourd’hui… Dre Diane Francoeur, qui est gynécologue à l’Hôpital Sainte-Justine de Montréal et de Mme Nicole Pelletier, qui est directrice des Affaires publiques et communications à la fédération. Alors, d’abord, je tiens à vous remercier évidemment pour nous donner l’opportunité de pouvoir venir faire quelques commentaires sur le projet de loi n° 52, qui est clairement l’aboutissement d’un très long travail et qui est un document qui est extrêmement bien fait, à notre lecture. Et si vous me permettez, avant de passer à mes commentaires, je vous raconterai ceci. Mr. Barrette (Gaetan): Thank you, Mr. President, Madam Minister, and Ms MM. members of the parliamentary committee. With me today … Dr. Diane Francoeur, who is a gynecologist at Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal and Nicole Pelletier, who is Director of Public Affairs and Communications for the federation. So, first, I want to thank you of course to give us the opportunity to come and make some comments on Bill No. 52, which is clearly the result of extensive work and is a document which is extremely well done, in our reading. And if I may, before moving on to my comments, I will tell you this.

Full Translation

Hearings on Quebec Bill 52: Federation of General Practitioners

Dr. Louis Godin, Dr. Marc-André Asselin

Legal Services Federation

Pierre Belzile

Tuesday 17 September 2013 – Vol. 43 N° 34

Note: The following translation is the product of a first run through “Google translate.”  In most cases it is sufficient to identify statements of interest, but more careful translation is required to properly understand the text.

Original Text

Caution: machine assisted translation

11 h 30 (version non révisée)
11 h 30 (version non révisée)
(Reprise à 11 h 30)
Le Président (M. Bergman) : À l’ordre, s’il vous plaît! Alors, je souhaite la bienvenue à la Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec. Dr Godin, bienvenue. Je vous demande de vous présenter, présenter les membres, votre collègue, et vous avez 15 minutes pour faire votre présentation, suivie d’un échange avec les membres de la commission. The Chairman (Mr. Bergman): Order, please! So I welcome the Federation of General Practitioners of Quebec. Dr. Godin, welcome. I ask you to introduce yourself, introduce the members, your colleague, and you have 15 minutes to make your presentation, followed by a discussion with the members of the commission.
M. Godin (Louis) : D’accord. Mr. Godin (Louis): Okay.
Le Président (M. Bergman) : Alors, ce micro, c’est à vous. The Chairman (Mr. Bergman): So, this microphone is yours.
M. Godin (Louis) : Merci, M. le Président. D’abord, je vous remercie de nous donner l’opportunité de s’adresser à vous. Je voudrais saluer Mme la ministre ainsi que les représentants de la première et deuxième opposition. Je suis le Dr Louis Godin, président de la Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec. Je suis accompagné, à ma droite, du Dr Marc-André Asselin, premier vice-président de la fédération et président de l’Association des médecins omnipraticiens de Montréal, ainsi que de Me Pierre Belzile, qui est le chef des services juridiques à la fédération. Mr. Godin (Louis): Thank you, Mr. President. First, thank you for giving us the opportunity to address you. I welcome the Foreign Minister and the representatives of the first and second opposition. I’m Dr. Louis Godin, president of the Federation of General Practitioners of Quebec. With me, on my right, Dr. Marc-André Asselin, Senior Vice President of the Federation and President of the Association of general practitioners in Montreal, as well as Pierre Belzile, who is the Head of Legal Services federation.
Je dois vous dire d’entrée de jeu que ce projet de loi là revêt un caractère particulier et essentiel pour la fédération et les médecins de famille qu’elle représente parce que, comme vous le savez sans doute, les médecins de famille sont probablement les médecins au Québec qui sont les plus interpellés par les soins en fin de vie, que ce soient les soins palliatifs ou tout autre service qui peut être donné à nos patients. Donc, les médecins de famille sont vraiment au coeur de ce projet de loi là et de cette situation-là. I must say from the outset that this bill there is special and essential for the federation and the family physicians it is because, as you know, family physicians are likely physicians in Quebec who are most challenged by the end of life care, whether palliative care or other services that can be given to our patients. So, family physicians are really the heart of this bill there and that situation.

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Hearings on Quebec Bill 52: College of Physicians

Dr. Charles Bernard, Dr. Yves Robert, Dr. Michelle Marchand

Tuesday 17 September 2013 – Vol. 43 N° 34

Note: The following translation is the product of a first run through “Google translate.”  In most cases it is sufficient to identify statements of interest, but more careful translation is required to properly understand the text.

Original Text

Caution: machine assisted translation

M. Bernard (Charles) : Merci, M. le Président. Alors, M. le Président, Mme la ministre, Mmes, MM. les parlementaires, alors le Collège des médecins du Québec vous remercie de lui permettre de vous présenter ses réflexions sur le projet de loi n° 52 concernant les soins de fin de vie, et j’ajouterais que nous sommes honorés d’être les premiers à auditionner devant cette commission en cette journée de rentrée parlementaire, alors on vous en remercie. Thank you, Mr. President. So, Mr. President, Madam Minister, Mrs, Mr. parliamentarians, while the College of Physicians of Quebec thank you for allowing him to present his thoughts on Bill No. 52 on the end-of-life, and I would add that we are honored to be the first to audition before the Committee on this day parliamentary session, so we thank you.
Alors, ce projet de loi constitue, à nos yeux, un jalon très important dans la réflexion sur les soins de vie, et, à notre avis, il devrait être adopté. Amorcée en mai 2006 à l’occasion de notre assemblée générale annuelle, cette réflexion s’est transformée en un vaste débat public, à l’issu duquel la Commission spéciale sur la question de mourir dans la dignité a remis sont rapport en mars 2012. D’entrée de jeu, vous nous permettrez de souligner le travail exceptionnel effectué sur ce sujet extrêmement complexe et sensible par tous les parlementaires, et en particulier le vôtre, Mme la ministre, vous avez fait preuve d’un respect, d’une qualité d’écoute, d’une rigueur et d’une compréhension des enjeux d’une rare qualité, et nous vous en remercions sincèrement, cela mérite d’être souligné. So this bill is, in our view, a very important milestone in thinking about life care, and, in our opinion, should be adopted. Began in May 2006 at our annual general meeting, the discussion turned into a broad public debate, the end of which the Special Committee on Dying with Dignity are handed over in March 2012. From the outset, please allow us to recognize the outstanding work done on this topic extremely complex and sensitive by all parliamentarians, particularly yours, Madam Minister, you have demonstrated compliance, quality listening, rigor and an understanding of the challenges of a rare quality, and we sincerely thank you, it deserves to be highlighted.

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Science: the religion that must not be questioned

 It’s time for the priesthood to be taken to task – and journalists aren’t up to the job

The Guardian

Henry Gee

You’d think from the way that science tends to be reported in the popular prints, as they used to be called, that Professor Helsing von Frankenstein goes into the dungeon laboratory of his castle one morning, dons his white coat and – by elevenses, and working completely alone – discovers a way to kill all known germs, tautologically. He gets his assistant, Igor, to set up a press conference at lunchtime, at which the professor emphasises that the research raises more questions than it answers. By teatime he has won the Nobel prize and his magic nostrum will be available on the NHS next morning. It’s always a “he”, by the way – received wisdom finds no place for female scientists, unless they also happen to be young, photogenic and, preferably, present television programmes.

Well, as we all know, science doesn’t work like that. Scientific research gets trapped in more box canyons than the Lone Ranger; does more U-turns than the average government; falls to certain death more often than Wile E Coyote; has more women in it than you might at first imagine (though probably not nearly enough); and generally gets the wrong answer.

As my learned colleague Dr Sylvia McLain, who is both a scientist and a person of the opposite sex, explained here just the other day, this is business as usual. All scientific results are in their nature provisional – they can be nothing else. Someone will come along, either the next day or the next decade, with further refinements, new methods, more nuanced ways of looking at old problems, and, quelle surprise, find that conclusions based on earlier results were simplistic, rough-hewn – even wrong. . . [Read more]

Artificial reproduction unregulated in Ireland

Artificial reproduction is not regulated in Ireland, so that sperm and egg donors and people having recourse to it and children conceived or carried to term in surrogacy arrangements may have to go to court to determine their legal status and relationships.  Questions about what to do with embryos abandoned by their parents have also arisen, although this problem also exists in jurisdictions that regulate the procedures.  The Irish Ministry of Health is now considering regulatory proposals. [Irish Examiner]

El problema de la objeción de conciencia no regulada

Cuando la conciencia molesta a la ley

Sean Murphy*

A finales de 2010, en la Asamblea Parlamentaria del Consejo de Europa (PACE) se presentó un informe de su Comisión de Asuntos Sociales, Salud y Familia en el que expresaba su profunda preocupación por el problema de la “objeción de conciencia no regulada” en Europa. El Comité propuso que los Estados adoptaran “una regulación integral y clara” para hacer frente a este problema. . .[aceprensa]

Embryos abandoned by parents present ethical, legal quandary

The Calgary Herald reports that fewer than 5% (20,000) of the roughly 400,000 frozen embryos at fertility clinics in the United States have been abandoned by their parents.  It suggests that over 135,000 frozen embryos are stored at clinics in Canada; a  5% rate would imply over 6,700 abandoned embryos.  That figure might be too low, since one clinic is reported to have 1,000 “unclaimed” embryos.  The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has decided that clinics can destroy embryos that have been abandoned for at least five years, the parents cannot be located, and there are no written instructions to indicate what should be done with them.  The guidance is legally and ethically contested. [Calgary Herald]

Irish Times publishes false “abortion” story

Paper admits “abortion” did not happen

No explanation offered for fabricated “news”

Sean Murphy*

The controversy surrounding Ireland’s new abortion law has been further inflamed by a story by Irish Times Health reporter Paul Cullen.  The story first appeared on 23 August, 2013.  Its accuracy was immediately disputed, and the paper had to add note stating that the article was erroneous in claiming that an “abortion” had occurred at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin “under the provisions of the new abortion legislation,” which had not yet come into effect. Nonetheless, in an interview the following day, Cullen continued to insist that the reported “abortion” had occurred at the hospital, and that the public had a “right to know” about it.

The Irish Times has now been forced to remove the article from its website because it was found to be false.  Despite Mr. Cullen’s concern about the public’s “right to know,” the paper has offered no explanation to account for the fabrication of the story and the failure of editorial oversight that permitted its publication.

A significant issue raised by the incident is a dispute about what constitutes an “abortion.”  A protest outside the Irish Times organized by Irish pro-life organizations Youth Defence and Life Institute included statements and signs to the effect that premature delivery of a baby (presumably resulting in death) is not an “abortion,” but “medical treatment” intended to save the life of the mother.  It is by no means clear that the Irish Times or those favouring legalization of abortion accept this distinction.  Differences on this point are likely to complicate the exercise of freedom of conscience by health care workers who do not wish to participate in abortion.

Activist complains that Catholic hospitals won’t facilitate assisted suicide

In an opinion piece published in the Seattle Times, Tom Preston,  a retired physician who was one of the leaders of the successful assisted suicide lobby in Washington State, complains that Catholic hospitals in the state will not facilitate assisted suicide. “Throughout Washington,” he claims, “doctors are being silenced and forced to adhere to religious rules that prevent any participation in death with dignity,” and that “many Washingtonians are denied access to legal and humane end-of-life medical care.”

Writers with a different view of assisted suicide would respond that Catholic hospitals provide “humane end-of life medical care” as well as “death with dignity,” though not assisted suicide.  In any case, the position taken by Preston demonstrates that the legalization of morally contentious procedures like euthanasia and assisted suicide tends to generate political and social pressures inimical to freedom of conscience among health care workers and institutions.