Monday, October 16, 2023

MPs should vote on Bill C-314 (euthanasia for mental illness) with their eyes wide open

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Bill C-314, the bill to prevent euthanasia for mental illness (alone) in Canada will go to a vote in the House of Commons on October 18.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition supports Bill C-314 and we urge our supporter to contact their Member of Parliament to support Bill C-314. This is important as several Liberal and NDP MP's have indicated that they plan or want to support Bill C-314. Contact your Member of Parliament (MP Contact Link)

Dr Sonu Gaind
On Sunday October 15 the Hamilton Spectator published an excellent article by K. Sonu Gaind who is a professor at the University of Toronto and a former president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association.

In his article - MPs should be voting on MAiD with their eyes wide open, Gaind explains that Bill C-314 would reverse the clause in Bill C-7 that was passed in March 2021, that approves euthanasia for mental illness alone, a provision of the law that will be implemented in March 2024.

In his article, Gaind first answers the question of who would be approved for euthanasia for mental illness.
At heart of the issue is whether death by MAID for mental illness would be provided for the reasons it is claimed to be for. Regardless of one’s ideology, the inescapable answer is that it would not be. Instead we would be providing death under false pretences to many struggling with mental illness — from which they could recover — fuelled by social inequities like poverty and housing insecurity.

Canadians have been falsely reassured MAID would only be provided if the person’s mental illness would not improve, and that traditionally suicidal people who benefit from suicide prevention would not get MAID. Evidence shows both these claims are false, and in fact cannot be met. Despite some MAID assessors believing they can make these distinctions, evidence shows they are wrong. MAID provided for sole mental illness is different than MAID for near end-of-life conditions, and we can neither predict when the mental illness will not improve, nor can we separate suicidality from psychiatric MAID requests.
Gaind then deals with the question - is it discrimination to deny euthanasia for mental illness.
Expansion activists have claimed it would be discrimination to not provide MAID for mental illness. This appropriates the word “discrimination” while ignoring the meaning of it. The real discrimination is providing death under false pretences to suicidal individuals who could improve, based on unscientific assessments of zealous MAID assessors wrongly predicting that person will not get better. This poses discriminately high risk to marginalized individuals receiving avoidable deaths fuelled by social distress and inequities, which sadly afflict those with mental illness disproportionately.

No wonder so many MAID assessors have indicated unwillingness to participate in MAID for sole mental illness assessments. In some regions, all existing MAID assessors have flagged their refusal to participate in MAID for mental illness provision. Who does that leave? The true believers: those who believe, ignoring science, that they can predict an individual’s mental illness will not improve, and who believe, ignoring evidence, that they would not be providing MAID to marginalized suicidal individuals.
Gaind challenges those that he refers to as euthanasia expansion activists.
The government’s policy agenda has been driven by an echo chamber of such expansion advocates. The same experts charged with designing MAID for mental illness guidelines have refused to provide any actual standards on what type of treatments need to have been tried before providing MAID for mental illness; have openly stated that suicide and MAID for mental illness may be the same thing, but claimed that society has made an ethical decision to provide MAID anyway; and have whittled away any actual safeguards to empty reassurances without meaning.

Some of these expansion advocates have said they would approve a person for MAID if they were on a long enough wait list, even if there was care that could help. Others have openly argued that providing MAID for poverty, social suffering and inequities to non-dying individuals is acceptable, and a form of “harm reduction.”
Gaind concludes his article by supporting the Society of Canadian Psychiatry statement and calling for MAID for mental illness expansion to be paused indefinitely.

In other words, Gaind is asking MP's to support Bill C-314.

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