Friday, November 3, 2023

Canada’s Assisted Death Rates a concern for America?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Last week, I was interviewed by Maggie Hroncich concerning Canada's 2022 euthanasia data (and Canada's experience with euthanasia) and the possible affect on the USA. Hroncich's article was published by the New York Sun on Friday October 27

Hronich reports:

As backers of assisted suicide push to expand legalization in the United States, new numbers from Canada’s government show euthanasia is now the fifth-leading cause of death in the country.

A stunning 4 percent of the country’s deaths last year were due to assisted suicide. More than 13,000 patients died by it in 2022 — a 31 percent spike from the previous year. The country’s deaths by euthanasia now number nearly 45,000 since legalization in 2016, almost as many as have died from Covid in Canada.
In fact, Canada's euthanasia deaths have surpassed the number of Covid deaths. The 2022 report stated that there were 13,241 reported assisted deaths in 2022 and 44,958 reported assisted deaths (legalization until December 31, 2022). According to Health Canada there are 54,738 people who have died from Covid in Canada. Since December 31, 2022 there has likely been more than 12,000 assisted deaths in Canada, meaning Canada has likely had approximately 57,000 assisted deaths since legalization.

Hroncich continues:

Canada’s skyrocketing death numbers are raising concerns about American efforts to further legalize assisted suicide.

Some advocacy groups say expanding euthanasia for mentally ill or disabled patients prevents discrimination, while others warn the expanded legalization will lead to a culture of death that allows drug-addicted patients to be assisted in killing themselves, even though they are not sober or able to give their consent.

Alex Schadenberg speaking
Hroncich then reports:

Groups that are advocating for more legal assisted suicide in America should learn from and be wary of Canada’s death rates, a top Canadian euthanasia expert warns.

“You don’t want to legalize this because you can’t keep the door shut,” the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition’s executive director, Alex Schadenberg, tells the Sun.

“Some people say, ‘Well, we can have a little bit of this.’ That’s what they argued in Canada too,” he says. Euthanasia advocates say they’re providing a social good by ending suffering, he says.

“But in the end, it can’t be controlled,” Mr. Schadenberg adds. “If it’s okay for me to kill you or to kill somebody, then these safeguards become seen as a hindrance,” he says, and advocates begin a political push to remove barriers.

I explain that the argument by the euthanasia lobby to expand Canada's law is that it is discrimination to require people to be terminally ill; they then argue that it is discrimination to prevent euthanasia for people with mental illnesses alone.

Hroncich then gets to the reason for her interview concerning the US assisted suicide trends:

Although euthanasia is currently less accessible in America than in Canada, California had a 63 percent increase in assisted suicide last year.

“It’s actually a trend that we’re seeing everywhere,” Mr. Schadenberg adds. “And there’s nothing saying there won’t be another big bump this year in California and in other states.”

Oregon removed its waiting period in 2019, Mr. Schadenberg notes, and Oregon and Vermont removed residency requirements, leading to “suicide tourism,” as residents travel from out of state to die, the Sun has reported.

Hroncich discusses more of the data from the interview:

In nearly 500 cases — 3.5 percent of Canada’s assisted suicide deaths — the patient was not terminally ill or did not have a reasonably foreseeable death. A recent Canadian conference concluded that people with drug addiction should be eligible for euthanasia since addiction is a mental illness.

It’s “really problematic” to let someone consent to end their life in the midst of a chronic drug addiction, Mr. Schadenberg says. “They have serious addiction problems, so they’d have serious incapabilities or problems with consenting, not knowing the reality of their health condition.”

Only 28 percent of Canadians support euthanasia solely for mental health conditions, according to Canadian polling data. Death With Dignity, which describes itself as “a national leader in end-of-life advocacy and policy reform,” was unable to immediately comment.

People need to understand that euthanasia was sold to Canadians as being an option for the few. But in a very short time it has moved from the few people who are nearing death to people who are not nearing death and in March of 2024 it will include people who are not dying and nearing death, but possibly living with treatable mental illnesses.

Once killing is seen as a solution for some circumstances, it will naturally expand to include others.

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