Saturday, January 28, 2023

Canada’s Euthanasia (MAiD) law is the most permissive in the world. How did this happen?

Alex Schadenberg
Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada’s laws that protected people from euthanasia and assisted suicide. The case, known as the Carter case, was based on Kay Carter (89), who was not terminally ill but lived with spinal stenosis and died by assisted suicide in Switzerland, and Gloria Taylor, who lived with ALS.

At that time I wrote how the Supreme Court of Canada's decision was irresponsible and dangerous, but the Supreme Court did state that the federal government was to create a “carefully-designed system” with “stringent limits that are scrupulously monitored and enforced.” Clearly, the government ignored that requirement.

In 2016, while the federal government was debating euthanasia Bill C-14, there were many attempts to amend the bill or to define the language in the bill to fulfill the requirement of the Carter decision. The problem with Bill C-14 was evident, the bill gave doctors and nurse practitioners the right in law to cause the death of their patients, without defining the terminology within the law.

For instance, Bill C-14 stated that euthanasia would be restricted to people “whose natural death was deemed reasonably foreseeable.” The government claimed that this phrase would limit euthanasia to terminally ill people but because the phrase was not defined it created confusion.

Based on a lack of definition I predicted that the euthanasia law would expand based on the practise and the law would be interpreted in an expansive manner.

Soon after the passing of Bill C-14 a couple of people with disabilities launched court challenges to the legal requirement that that their “natural death must be deemed reasonably foreseeable.” They argued that it was discrimination to deny euthanasia to someone who is suffering but not terminally ill.

Even though the interpretation of “reasonably foreseeable” had expanded beyond its original interpretation, in September 2019, a Québec lower court struck down the requirement that a person’s death must be “reasonably foreseeable” in the Truchon decision. Even though this was a lower court decision, the federal government did not appeal the decision, thus expanding euthanasia to people who are not terminally ill.

The original law required that a person must have an “irremediable medical condition” combined with that their “natural death being reasonably foreseeable.” By removing the reasonably foreseeable death requirement, euthanasia became available to nearly anyone with a disability or chronic condition.

The federal government “codified” the Truchon decision into the law by passing Bill C-7 in March 2021. Bill C-7 removed from the original law that death must be “reasonable foreseeable” but C-7 also eliminated the 10-day waiting period for people who are terminally ill, it created a 90-day waiting period for those who are not dying and it permitted euthanasia for people with mentally illness. The government declared a two-year moratorium on euthanasia for mental illness, meaning that on March 17, 2023 euthanasia for mental illness could begin. On December 15, 2022 the federal government announced that they will delay the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness alone.

During the C-7 debate, the disability community were adamant that, if passed, it would lead to people with disabilities dying by euthanasia for social reasons. Due to a lack of definition in the law, they predicted that almost everyone with a disability would qualify for death yet the reason people would ask for death may be related to poverty, an inability to receive medical treatment and other social concerns.

Canada has the most permissive law.

In April, 2022; CTV news story reported on a euthanasia death in February 2022 of a 51-year-old woman who had multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). According to Favaro, the woman was not terminally ill but living with a chronic condition that made her highly sensitive to chemicals and environmental allergies. I stated that this story represented the ultimate form of abandonment whereby this woman was killed not because of an “irremediable medical condition” but because she couldn't afford appropriate housing.

Soon after CTV news reported on a 31-year-old woman with MCS who was also approved to be killed by euthanasia. These reports of euthanasia for MCS created awareness that euthanasia was becoming a “treatment” for people with disabilities who were living with poverty or issues related to housing or other social conditions. The good news was that this story resulted in a GoFundMe campaign that raised money to enable this woman to afford a clean place to live.

Donna Duncan's daughters
CTV news also reported that the euthanasia death of Donna Duncan was being investigated by the Abbotsford police. Duncan (61) was diagnosed with a concussion after a car accident in February 2020. Due to Covid restrictions, Duncan was unable to access medical treatment or rehabilitation. The concussion symptoms led to other health problems as well as deep depression. Duncan was assessed, approved and then died by euthanasia even though her condition was treatable.

After these stories were published, other stories began to be featured by reporters. There have been several stories concerning people who were approved for euthanasia but were unable to access medical treatment. Some of these people with disabilities required treatment for their symptoms and found that getting approved to be killed was easier than accessing treatment

Canada had now become the most permissive jurisdiction in the world for euthanasia and the world began to wonder why Canada is euthanizing the poor.

Another powerful story was the Canadian veteran who was seeking treatment for PTSD and a Veteran’s Affairs worker told him that he should apply for “MAiD.” When this story was reported, the Ministry of Veteran’s Affairs stated that it had only happened once. Since then it has been reported that several veterans died by euthanasia and at least 6 veterans were told to apply for “MAiD.”

There was the story of a disabled man who was seeking death by euthanasia to avoid homelessness. He was unable to find a new place to live after the building he was living in was sold. This man relied on a disability benefit and he was unable to find an affordable place to live. He said that he would rather die than become homeless. Thankfully a GoFundMe campaign raised enough money to enable him to find a place to live.

Alan Nichols with his brother

A woman with disabilities died by euthanasia based on inadequate home care, a 23-year-old with diabetes was approved for euthanasia, and the story of Alan Nichols keeps coming back as his family wonders why they killed their brother.

To make matters worse, the Quebec College of Physicians are now urging the federal government to legalize euthanasia for newborns, otherwise known as infanticide.

In a few short years Canada went from legalizing euthanasia for terminal illness, then extending it to people with chronic conditions and disabilities and Canada is now considering euthanasia from "mature minors," newborns, people with dementia and more.

There is only one clear line in the sand, that being, is it acceptable for one group of people to kill other people. By legalizing euthanasia, Canadian doctors and nurse practitioners gained the right in law to kill their patients. Once Canada decided that it was acceptable to kill, the only remaining questions are who can be killed and for what reasons. 

Further reading:

1 comment:

Unknown said...

God did not approve of man killing infants, and other humans, no matter what the disability.
Under this Liberal government, Canada is becoming a murderous country with no respect for humanity. Max