Friday, September 23, 2022

To countries considering legal euthanasia, Canada is a model of what not to do

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Tristin Hopper, writing for the National Post, wrote an excellent column on September 23 challenging Canada's euthanasia law. Hopper subtitles his article by stating:
Canada has the "least safeguards" for medically assisted death, and a mounting list of controversial cases

Hopper writes:

As Canada’s rate of medically assisted deaths continues its precipitous rise, the country has unwittingly become a poster child for how not to pursue assisted suicide.

In 2021, 10,064 Canadians received a medically assisted death. This represents a nearly ten-fold increase since the practice was first legalized five years prior.

It’s also more than a 30 per cent increase from the year before.

While the vast majority of the 10,064 were patients with terminal illnesses (usually cancer), the 2021 stats also included 219 Canadians “whose natural deaths were not reasonably foreseeable.”
Hopper explains that Canada's euthanasia law has garnered international attention.
This week, a New York Times feature questioned whether choosing death had become “too easy” in Canada. “Canada has the least safeguards of all of countries that allow it,” University of Toronto researcher Trudo Lemmens told the publication. “It’s a state-funded, state-organized, medical system providing end of life.”

Lemmens was also quoted in an article published this month in British medical journal The Lancet regarding “worries” surrounding the Canadian assisted suicide regime. “What we see in Canada are rates of assisted suicide and euthanasia that are quickly bypassing Belgium and the Netherlands,” said the researcher.

Last month, a widely circulated profile by the Associated Press even compared the Canadian assisted dying regime to a suite of infamous Nazi German policies that prescribed mass euthanasia for the mentally ill. Tim Stainton, a researcher at the University of British Columbia, described the Canadian assisted dying regime as “probably the biggest existential threat to disabled people since the Nazis’ program in Germany in the 1930s.”
Hopper then explains the history of how Canada legalized euthanasia. He writes:
One of the more widely circulated cases was that of Alan Nichols, a B.C. man who was approved for a medically assisted death only days after his family brought him to the hospital suffering from a psychiatric episode. Or, more recently, a string of cases in which Canadians with chronic conditions were offered death in lieu of medical care — including a Canadian Armed Forces veteran with PTSD.
Hopper points out that criticism of Canada's euthanasia law has grown. He writes:
The libertarian-minded Reason magazine is normally a vocal advocate of “right to die” laws. But they took pause at how the system was being implemented in Canada. “When the government runs the system, the right of citizens to end their own suffering can be twisted to serve the state,” wrote the publication earlier this month.

Last year, on the eve of Canada expanding MAID to patients who couldn’t prove a terminal illness, the policy was drawing sharp criticism from United Nations special rapporteurs who warned it could put Canada in violation of any number of international agreements affirming the rights of the disabled and the elderly.

“From a disability rights perspective, there is a grave concern that, if assisted dying is made available for all persons with a health condition or impairment, regardless of whether they are close to death, a social assumption might follow … that it is better to be dead than to live with a disability,” they wrote.

Links to more stories of the euthanasia experience in Canada:

  • Mother wants to stop 23-year-old son from being Killed by euthanasia (Link).
  • Veterans affairs worker advocates euthanasia for PTSD (Link).
  • Ontario man approved for euthanasia can't get needed medical treatment (Link).
  • Alberta man requests euthanasia based on poverty (Link).
  • Shopping for doctor death in Canada (Link).
  • Gwen is seeking euthanasia because she can't access medical treatment (Link).
  • Euthanasia for disability and poverty (Link).
  • Euthanasia for Long Covid and poverty (Link).
  • Canada's MAiD law is the most permissive in the world. (Link).

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