Monday, November 23, 2020

I hate to say that we were right but Canada’s law did not prevent euthanasia for mental illness.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alan Nichols died by euthanasia for mental illness in 2019
Parliament is currently debating Bill C-7, a bill to expand Canada’s euthanasia law.

During the debate on Bill C-14 (2016) we argued that the lack of definition in the bill would enable the law to be continuously expanded by doctors who support euthanasia.

Joan Bryden published an article for CP Press on November 22 titled: Exclusion of mental illness in assisted dying bill slammed by psychiatrists. In her article Bryden writes:

“Vancouver psychiatrist Dr. Derryck Smith, who has personally been involved in two cases where people suffering solely from severe mental disorders received medical help to end their lives. And he says he knows of other similar cases.”

One of the cases Smith took part in involved a woman of about 40 years old who suffered from a "severe, intractable eating disorder" and was intending to starve herself to death if she did not receive medical help to end her life.

"She was approved for assisted dying and received assisted dying just for a psychiatric illness, in this case anorexia nervosa."
When Smith admits to being involved with cases of euthanasia for mental illness alone, he is admitting that Bill C-14, in 2016, did not prevent euthanasia for mental illness or even prevent euthanasia for a person who was not terminally ill.

Since Bill C-14 did not define the phrase: natural death is reasonably foreseeable, and it did not define the term psychological suffering, therefore it did not prevent euthanasia for mental illness or limit it to terminally ill people.

In August 2019, Alan Nichols died by euthanasia in British Columbia, even after his family insisted that Alan was not competent to make this decision and that he was living with chronic depression

Bill C-7, also does not define psychological suffering or the meaning of natural death is reasonaby foreseeable. Bill C-7 makes the situation worse because it also eliminates some key safeguards in the law.

If the government wants to exclude euthanasia for mental illness, Bill C-7 needs to define psychological suffering in a manner that excludes euthanasia for mental illness.

What does Bill C-7 do?

Bill C-7 removes the requirement in the law that a person’s natural death be reasonably foreseeable to qualify for MAiD. People who are not terminally ill can be killed by MAiD. The Quebec Truchon court decision, that led to Bill C-7, only required this amendment to the law, but Bill C-7 goes further.
1. Bill C-7 permits a medical practitioner to lethally inject a person who is not capable of consenting, if that person was previously approved for MAiD. The current law required consent at the time of death.

2. Bill C-7 waives the ten-day waiting period when a person is deemed to be “terminally ill.” A person could request death by euthanasia on a "bad day" and die the same day.

3. Bill C-7 creates a two track law. A person who is deemed to be terminally ill would have no waiting period while a person who is not terminally ill would have a 90 day waiting period.
If Bill C-7 is passed, a future court decision will strike down the 90 day waiting period for people whose natural death is not reasonably foreseeable because, this provision represents an inequality in the law.
4. Bill C-7 reduces the number of independent witness from two to one.

5. Bill C-7 falsely claims to prevent euthanasia for people with mental illness. The law permits MAiD for people who are physically or psychologically suffering in a manner that is intolerable to the person and that cannot be relieved in a way that the person considers acceptable. This is a completely subjective evaluation.
Since mental illness is already considered a form of psychological suffering, and since psychological suffering is not defined in the law, therefore Bill C-7 does not prevent euthanasia for mental illness.

Contact your Member of Parliament and tell them that Bill C-7 is a sham because it does not define the key terms, natural death is reasonably foreseeable and psychological suffering. The list of Members of Parliament:

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