Thursday, September 8, 2022

Canada's MAiD law. The philosophical right to die is colliding with troubling decisions.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An article by Scott Shackford published on September 7 by, a site that promotes free minds and free markets, challenges Canada's current euthanasia regime. Shackford doesn't oppose euthanasia but he states that when the government runs the system, the right of citizens to end their own suffering can be twisted to serve the state.

Shackford begins by explaining how he believes that euthanasia allows for individuals to control their body. I suggest that he is philosophically wrong since MAiD (euthanasia and assisted suicide) requires the involvement of another person, usually a medical practitioner, to be directly involved with ending a person's life. Shackford is stating in the article how the philosophical right to die argument is colliding with troubling decisions. Shackford writes:
Unfortunately, the philosophical argument for the right to die can also end up colliding with troubling decisions in a country where the government funds and controls access to healthcare. That is reportedly happening in Canada, where some citizens say health officials are actively encouraging people with disabilities and other chronic medical issues to consider suicide.

According to the Associated Press, hospitals are raising the possibility of assisted suicide with patients who hadn't asked about it. These conversations are not motivated by quality of life but health care costs.

Shackford recounts the Roger Foley experience to illustrate his point.

Roger Foley, who has a degenerative brain disorder and is hospitalized in London, Ontario, was so alarmed by staffers mentioning euthanasia that he began secretly recording some of their conversations.

In one recording obtained by the AP, the hospital's director of ethics told Foley that for him to remain in the hospital, it would cost "north of $1,500 a day." Foley replied that mentioning fees felt like coercion and asked what plan there was for his long-term care.

"Roger, this is not my show," the ethicist responded. "My piece of this was to talk to you, (to see) if you had an interest in assisted dying."

Foley said he had never previously mentioned euthanasia. The hospital says there is no prohibition on staff raising the issue.
Shackford then explains that a 2017 study indicated that Canada's universal healthcare system would save between 34 to 136.8 million dollars per year through the use of euthanasia. Shackford suggests that healthcare savings is one of the reaons euthanasia is promoted.

Shackford recounts the story of Alan Nichols whose family believes was not of sound mind when he requested and died by euthanasia in 2019. Shackford writes:
Last June, the Medical Assistance in Dying Committee heard from Trish Nichols, whose suicidal and severely mentally ill brother Alan was given assisted death at a Chilliwack, B.C., hospital in 2019, at a time when MAID was still limited only to Canadians with a terminal illness.

Alan had been taken by his family to the hospital only days before to recover from a psychiatric episode, and in the minutes before he received a lethal injection, Trish described Alan screaming uncontrollably, despite the hospital's assurances that he had opted for a medically assisted death while "of sound mind."

Remember, Shackford believes in individual freedom. Shackford concludes:

In absence of significant "freedom" to pursue individualized health care options, Canada is now potentially violating citizens' rights in the exact opposite direction than it was before. People have the right to die but also the right to continue living in the face of medical adversity. That Canada's publicly-operated health care system is unable to efficiently meet the needs of citizens makes all these health worker interactions about euthanasia inherently suspect.

Shackford's philosophical concepts are debatable, but his conclusion that Canada is potentially violating citizens' rights in the exact opposite direction is absolutely correct. Many people with disabilities are considering death by euthanasia because they are unable to obtain the necessary treatment to live or they are living in such poverty that death appears to be the better option.

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