Friday, December 29, 2023

Homeless man who applied for euthanasia is now the author of a book.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Earlier this year, Tyler Dunlop gained international attention for all the wrong reasons. He was the ‘Homeless, hopeless Orillia man’ who was seeking euthanasia. Now, he hopes to make a similar impact for all the right reasons. Therefore Choose Life—My Journey from Hopelessness to Hope was published on November 17, 2023.

Therefore Choose Life is available from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition for $20 for 1 book or $50 for 3 books (+$5 for shipping per book).

Order the book using this link (Order Link) or call the EPC office at: 1-877-439-3348.

Tyler with Tim den Bok
Ali Al Ashoor interviewed Tyler Dunlop in an article that was published in the National Post on December 29, 2023 concerning his book: Therefore Choose Life - My Journey from Hopelessness to Hope. Ashoor reported:

In January 2023, Tyler Dunlop was in the depths of despair.

He had been homeless on and off since 2010 and was walking around cold, hungry and sleepless. He decided to apply for medical assistance in dying (MAID).

The eligibility for assisted suicide was set to expand to include mental illness in March 2023. The government has since pushed that date back until March 2024.

Ashoor continues:

Dunlop never did go through with his assisted suicide. In January, he told his story to OrilliaMatters. This story, in turn, made its way to Tim den Bok, an author from Collingwood, Ont., who has worked for years helping homeless people. His daughter Leah is a photographer who runs a project called Humanizing The Homeless.

“That’s the saddest story I’ve ever heard in my life, and I interviewed probably hundreds of people experiencing homelessness. It really struck a nerve with me,” den Bok said.

Den Bok got in contact with Dunlop. The two have since become friends and together authored a book entitled Therefore Choose Life: My Journey from Hopelessness to Hope.

 “It wasn’t very difficult, in part because Tyler was such a good writer to begin with,” said den Bok.

Ashoor reports that others have helped Tyler

The other healing presence in Dunlop’s life is Barbara Fichette. In November 2022, she met Dunlop at a Toronto park while taking her dog for a walk. He was drunk and hobbling. It was Fichette who helped Dunlop get clean and move to Orillia, and she has written the introduction to the book. These days, Dunlop refers to Fichette as his mom.

Ashoor asked Dunlop about his journey.

I came from a troubled background. It was a dysfunctional home. I grew up kind of on the edges of society, and I used to play in a rock band years ago for many years. However, it didn’t work out. Since that time, around 2007 or so, I started to self-medicate a mental illness that I was diagnosed with. After that, I began to experience homelessness. I’ve been coast-to-coast twice. I’ve been to countless cities and small towns. I’ve been struggling with my issues. I’ve been all over Canada and a lot of my book talks about what I’ve seen on the streets and the social conditions in Canada right now and how frightening they are.

Dunlop spoke about his experiences.

There’s a growing wall between the affluent and the poor. I have seen a lot of people on the streets that really didn’t deserve to be on the streets. Many years ago, when I first started experiencing couch surfing and kind of tramping around, you might say a lot of the people had a kind of common theme. They were addicted to drugs or alcohol, or they had an unmanageable mental illness. In recent years, however, what I’ve seen has been alarming. I’ve seen senior citizens, veterans, working professionals, and students on the street because of the prices of housing. It’s become so astronomical. Just nobody can afford it. There are people living together with strangers just to make the rent. I think it’s a big crisis that needs to get addressed.

Dunlop explains the reality of homelessness

The homeless life is far from charming. There are shelters in Canada, but the shelters are so saturated in drug use and violence that a lot of street people don’t want to stay in them. So, they ended up using emergency services, trying to get into detoxes and treatment centres, or basically anywhere where they could get away from the cold. It’s a hard life and it’s getting harder. A lot of homeless people resort to panhandling and crimes of desperation. Wherever I go in Canada now I see a lot of tent cities springing up in various communities. It is getting worse and the leaders of Canada don’t seem to be paying much attention. I don’t think that’s entirely their fault. I think there’s just nobody has an easy answer to what the homeless life is like.

The worst-case scenario is in the winter. The first thing a homeless person will do is they’ll try to find a warm shelter, usually a hospital emergency room or a bus shelter. Then they wait for things to open until people start coming around and hoping for generosity and maybe some change. Many people will find a spot where they can panhandle, hoping to get through the day or get something to eat or maybe a coffee.

Most people try hard not to see you, and you might get a few insults during the day. Some of them are harassed by law enforcement. Many homeless try to panhandle in front of a business they’ll be asked to leave. They’ll just basically do the rounds and go to various spots within their community where they can get anything to eat.

You have the belligerent homeless people and the nonbelligerent homeless people. It’s very hard to blend in. It’s very hard to not look homeless. It’s very hard to strike up a conversation with them because there’s this unspoken kind of rule that poverty and homelessness are like an airborne virus. Nobody wants to deal with you. It’s a very lonely experience. There’s a lot of walking. Oftentimes your feet will be so sore that you’ll sit anywhere just to rest. If you go into a business, you’re oftentimes treated as a thief or a problem of some kind.

In the warmer months if I had a guitar, because I’ve been playing for 32 years, I would set myself up on the street corner and would just play music.

Ashoor then asked Dunlop why he was seeking death

What caused me to want to end my life was, once I was walking around in the cold, no family or so-called friends could put me up. I hadn’t slept in over three weeks. I was dirty. I was hungry. But one thing I’ve always had is my faith. I’ve always been Christian.

What persuaded me was my talks with Tim den Bok. That kind of philosophical conversation helped me see the light, so to speak. We had a lot of long discussions. He’s very well versed in philosophy and I’m quite familiar with it myself. So last winter, we did a lot of talking together and some arguments got pretty heated. Eventually, he helped me see why life is fundamentally worth living. It was a good experience that brought me back to my senses. When I chose MAID I was in a state of complete brokenness and hopelessness. My hope was restored and my faith in humanity was restored by the kindness I received from many people.

Dunlop explains why his favourite chapter is Welcome to My Nightmare.

I would have to say Welcome to My Nightmare. it shows what I have struggled with in terms of mental illness and alcoholism. It takes the reader through a typical cycle of addicted, mentally ill, chaos and struggling to find housing that I went through. It also takes the reader through the many hoops that you have to jump through to try to access services whether they be homeless services, treatment services, or mental-health services. It speaks for a lot of Canadians.

The article concludes with Dunlop explaining what home means to him.

A home is a place where you stay permanently, and hopefully you’re surrounded by loved ones and support and encouragement. That’s a word that I haven’t been able to use as much in the last 14 years. It’s something I eagerly hope for and am trying to obtain one day. Yeah, home is a permanent place that I can afford.

Therefore Choose Life is available from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition for $20 for 1 book or $50 for 3 books (+$5 for shipping per book).

Order the book using this link (Order Link) or call the EPC office at: 1-877-439-3348.

Monday, December 25, 2023

2023 Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Year in Review

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) blog had almost 1.1 million blog articles read in 2023. 2023 was an active year for news related to euthanasia and assisted suicide. This article shares many of the most important stories.

We encourage you to renew your EPC ($25) membership (Link).

In early January 2023 we reported that a Colorado man accidentally ingested lethal assisted suicide drugs while attending an assisted suicide death (Link). This story emphasized the fact that there is no independent oversight for assisted suicide. In late January we reported that a Vancouver doctor euthanized a man who was deemed to be incapable of consenting (Link). Dr Ellen Wiebe is Canada's most notorious euthanasia doctor. We also reported on Tyler Dunlop who was homeless and seeking death by euthanasia (Link).

Dr Leonie Herx
In early February we reported that the United Church approved a euthanasia prayer (Link). Soon after, a Canadian Health expert issued a warning to Scotland's parliament concerning Canada's euthanasia law (Link). In mid February, Canada's Special Joint Committee on Medical Aid in Dying issued a report calling on parliament to extend euthanasia to "mature minors" and by advanced directive (Link). According to the report, Canadian children would be able to be euthanized with or without parental consent (Link).

In March we published the article - Where the Churches stand on euthanasia (Link).

In early May an Ontario man was arrested for selling a suicide substance online (Link). In mid May Bill C-314, a bill that would have prohibited euthanasia for mental disorders, had it's first hour of debate in Canada's parliament (Link). We also reported that a Québec funeral home was offering euthanasia (Link).

In September we reported that a Belgian doctor completed a euthanasia death with a pillow (Link). In mid-September I wrote about my experience visiting the Memorial to the Victims of Euthanasia in Berlin (Link).

In November I published an article titled: Canada's euthanasia law has gone "mad" (Link). This article was made into a pamphlet that can be ordered from EPC (Ordering Link).

In December, Tyler Dunlop, who had applied to die by euthanasia, published a book titled: Therefore Choose Life - My Journey from Hopelessness to Hope (Link). Order the book from EPC (Order Link). We reported that a BC woman, who had cancer and offered euthanasia, was successfully treated in the US (Link). Soon after we reported that a BC cancer patient died by euthanasia after BC Cancer couldn't provide him chemotherapy (Link). Waiting lists for cancer treatment in Canada continues to get worse.

We encourage you to renew/become a member of EPC ($25) (Link).

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Cuba legalizes euthanasia.

This article was published by National Review online on December 23, 2023.

By Wesley J Smith

We have seen how bad euthanasia can get when a (continually less) free country like Canada legalizes medicalized killing. But now a tyranny — Cuba — has joined the Let Doctors Kill Sick Patients Club. From the Reuters story:

Cuba on Friday became the second country in Latin America and the Caribbean to authorize euthanasia, following Colombia.

The Communist-run country’s National Assembly passed the measure as part of legislation updating the nation’s legal framework for its universal and free healthcare system. “The right of people to a dignified death is recognized in end-of-life decisions, which may include the limitation of therapeutic effort, continuous or palliative care, and valid procedures that end life,” the final draft of the legislation stated.
People have little freedom in Cuba but will now have “the right to die?” Talk about misplaced priorities.

Swell. Cuba is a very poor country with people having access to general practitioners, but the country is plagued by medicine shortages and run down facilities. Indeed, according to the Miami Herald, poor access to medical care is one reason Cubans immigrate or flee the country.

Poor quality care and socialized medicine are a toxic combination, perhaps even leading to people being driven to euthanasia or lethal jabs becoming a substitute for care, both of which appear to be happening in Canada.

Then, there is the possibility of euthanasia being used as a cover for political murders in a ruthless tyranny. Hey, what happened to that political dissident? Oh, he asked for “death with dignity.” Aww, compassion!

Friday, December 22, 2023

Cuba quietly legalizes euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Reuters reported on December 22, 2023 that Cuba quietly authorized euthanasia making it the second Latin American country to permit doctors to poison their patients to death upon request.

Marc Frank and Nelson Acosta reported for Reuters that:
The Communist-run country’s National Assembly passed the measure as part of legislation updating the nation’s legal framework for its universal and free healthcare system.

“The right of people to a dignified death is recognized in end-of-life decisions, which may include the limitation of therapeutic effort, continuous or palliative care, and valid procedures that end life,” the final draft of the legislation stated.
The Reuters report continued:
There was barely a mention in Cuba’s state-run media that the government would approve the practice, and no public debate, though Dr. Roque said that would change as regulations were drawn up.
I have not seen the language of the law, but I am very concerned. Cuba has faced serious economic stagnation over the past few years and euthanasia will save the communist government money for it's healthcare system.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Canary Islands: 10 euthanasia deaths since Spain legalized euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Canary Islands News reported on December 21 that there were 10 euthanasia deaths on the islands since Spain legalized euthanasia in June 2021. The Canary Islands are part of Spain but located off the coast of northwestern Africa.

The Canary Island news also stated that Spain's Ministry of Health reported that in 2022 there were 576 requests for euthanasia and 288 euthanasia deaths. From June 2021 until December 31, 2021 there were 173 requests and 75 deaths by euthanasia in Spain.

In August 2022, Marin Sabau, a 46-year-old Romanian man who was awaiting trial for allegedly shooting 5 people, including a police officer, at a Securitas office in Tarragona Spain in December 2021, avoided trial by being approved and dying by euthanasia. Sabau was approved for euthanasia based on an injury from a shot in the spine by a police sharp-shooter, before being apprehended.

The euthanasia lobby published a report in June 2023 pressuring the Spanish government to further expand its euthanasia law.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Don’t abandon people with mental illness to death by MAiD.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On December 15, 2023 Stephanie Taylor reported for the Canadian Press that Justice Minister Arif Virani stated that the federal government may “pause its plan” to permit euthanasia (MAiD) when a person’s only underlying condition is a mental disorder (Link).

*Sign and share our petition to Justice Minister Hon Arif Virani, Hon Rob Moore (CPC Justice Critic) and Randall Garrison (NDP Justice Critic) (Petition Link).

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition needs your help to implement a successful campaign to reverse the current direction with euthanasia in Canada.

When the Canadian government expanded its (MAiD) euthanasia law in March 2021 (Bill C-7) it did so by removing the terminal illness requirement and permitting Canadians to be poisoned to death if they have an irremediable medical condition (Link).

Bill C-7 also added the option of euthanasia for mental illness alone. (Link) The government originally provided a two-year moratorium on euthanasia for mental illness to give them time to prepare for this expansion. In 2023 the government extended the moratorium for another year (Link). Therefore, unless the government pauses its current plan, euthanasia for mental illness alone will become an option on March 17, 2024.

In February 2023, the Angus Reid Institute published a poll indicating that 31% of Canadians supported euthanasia for mental illness alone, with the highest support being in Quebec (36%) and the lowest support being in Saskatchewan (21%) (Link). In September 2023, the Angus Reid Institute conducted another poll which indicated that support for euthanasia for mental illness alone had dropped to 28% of Canadians (Link).

Even though Canadians oppose euthanasia for mental illness, Canada’s parliament recently defeated Bill C-314, that was sponsored by Hon. Ed Fast (MP) that would have prevented euthanasia for mental illness alone. The good news was that the vote was close (167 – 150) with all of the Conservatives and NDP and 8 Liberals supporting Bill C-314. (Link)

We need to tell the stories.

In August 2022, Global News reported the story of a Veterans Affairs employee who advocated (MAiD) euthanasia for a veterans living with (PTSD). The article stated (Link):

A Canadian Forces veteran seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury was shocked when he was unexpectedly and casually offered medical assistance in dying by a Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) employee, sources tell Global News.

Sources say a VAC service agent brought up medical assistance in dying, or MAID, unprompted in the conversation with the veteran. Global News is not identifying the veteran who was seeking treatment.

Canadians were shocked that a veteran who served the country and was seeking help for PTSD was offered (MAiD) euthanasia. The story was published around the same time as several other stories of people with disabilities who were approved for euthanasia based on poverty (Link), homelessness or being unable to obtain medical treatment.

Kathryn Mentler
The Tyee in August 2023 the story of Kathrin Mentler (37) who lives with chronic suicidal ideation. Mentler, who said that she has lived with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts for many years, was offered euthanasia at the Assessment Centre at the Vancouver General Hospital when she was seeking help for suicidal ideation (Link).

According to the article, Mentler went to the Vancouver General Hospital to receive help. The article states that she was told by the counsellor that the mental health system was "completely overwhelmed", there were no available beds, and the earliest that she could talk with a psychiatrist was in about five months. The counsellor then asked Mentler if she had ever considered medically assisted suicide.

Canadians reacted strongly to the Mentler story as she was experiencing suicidal ideation and offered euthanasia while seeking a “safe place”. It must be noted that euthanasia for mental illness was technically illegal in June 2023 when it was offered as an option to Mentler.

In August 2023 a story was published by the Richmond News explaining that if euthanasia for mental illness had existed in the past, that Karim Jessa would be dead. Jessa explained in the interview that he opposes euthanasia for mental illness because, when he had hit rock bottom, he would have asked for an assisted death if it had been legal, but now he is a completely different person.

An editorial published by the Globe and Mail on November 4, 2023 quoted Dr. K Sonu Gaind, Chief of Psychiatry at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, stating that there is "absolutely no consensus" as to what constitutes an irremediable medical condition when it comes to patients with mental illness. (Link) This comment is important because the law requires that a person to be approved for euthanasia, must have an irremediable medical condition.

There have been many articles in the media concerning people with disabilities who asked for or received (MAiD) euthanasia based on poverty, homelessness or an inability to obtain medical treatment.

Similar to people with disabilities (Link), people with mental health issues (Link) are more likely to live in poverty (Link), to be homeless (Link) or to struggle to obtain the medical treatment that they need.

The battle to protect people with mental illness has not ended. 

On December 13 Justice Minister Arif Virani stated that the Federal government may “pause its original plan” to permit (MAiD) euthanasia for mental illness (Link).

Members of parliament will have the opportunity to oppose euthanasia for mental illness when they return to parliament after the Christmas break.

Members of Parliament need to reject euthanasia for mental illness.

Urge Member's of Parliament Not to abandon people with mental illness to death by MAiD.

Sign and share our petition to Justice Minister Hon Arif Virani, Hon Rob Moore (CPC Justice Critic) and Randall Garrison (NDP Justice Critic) (Petition Link).

Links to reference articles used in this article:
  • Canada's government may pause the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness. (Link)
  • Canada passes Bill C-7 - permitting euthanasia for mental illness. (Link)
  • Canada to delay euthanasia for mental illness until March 2024. (Link)
  • The majority of Canadians oppose euthanasia for mental health. (Link)
  • 28% of Canadians support euthanasia for mental illness. (Link)
  • Bill C-314 defeated. Parliament divided on euthanasia for mental illness. (Link)
  • Veterans Affairs Canada worker advocates euthanasia for PTSD. (Link)
  • Canadian Quadriplegic woman approved to die by euthanasia faster than it takes to get needed disability benefits (Link)
  • Canadian woman offered euthanasia as a "treatment option" during a mental health crisis. (Link)
  • Globe and Mail editorial urges federal government to withdraw euthanasia for mental illness. (Link
  • The problem with Canada's MAiD policy (Link)
  • Ontario man seeks euthanasia to avoid homelessness. (Link)
  • Why did they kill my brother. (Link)

Monday, December 18, 2023

Victoria BC woman dies by euthanasia after waiting 10 weeks for a cancer treatment assessment.

Alex Schadenbeg
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Samia Saikali with daughters
A Victoria BC woman decided to die by euthanasia (MAiD) because she was forced to wait 10 weeks, just to see an oncologist for her aggressive cancer.

Mary Griffin reported for CHEK news that Danielle Baker, the daughter of Samia Saikali (67), wants changes to cancer treatment in British Columbia since her mother died by euthanasia because she was forced to wait 10 weeks for an oncology appointment. Griffin reported:

On March 17, she received a diagnosis of inoperable stomach cancer. Her surgeon told her she had two options: Without treatment, she had only three to six months to live. With chemotherapy, it would add at least a year to her life.

“She said I’ll do what I can, like, I will do treatment and fight for as long and hold on for as long as I can,” said Baker. “I want to have the summer, at least, with you girls. We had so many plans. But she started to go downhill so quickly with the gastric cancer.”

It took 10 weeks to get in to see an oncologist.

By then, she had only weeks to live.
Baker's mother was a fighter but by the time she had the appointment with the oncologist, it was too late. Griffin wrote:
“It should not have taken that long, because that was the difference, especially an aggressive cancer,” said Baker. “Between my mom being strong enough to handle, and withstand, treatment to give her a fair shot at more months to live, versus not.”
Dan Quayle
This is not the first British Columbia story of a person dying by euthanasia while waiting for cancer treatment. A National Post story reported on December 5 that Dan Quayle also died by euthanasia in Victoria BC while awaiting treatment:
Dan Quayle marked his 52nd birthday on Oct. 7 in Victoria General Hospital waiting to find out when chemotherapy would start for an aggressive form of esophageal cancer. He would die waiting.

After 10 weeks in hospital, Quayle, a gregarious grandfather who put on his best silly act for his two grandkids, was in so much pain, unable to eat or walk, he opted for a medically assisted death on Nov. 24. This was despite assurances from doctors that chemotherapy had the potential to prolong his life by a year.

His family prayed he would change his mind or get an 11th-hour call that the chemo had been scheduled, said his step-daughter Shayleen Griffiths, whose mother, Kathleen Carmichael, had been with Quayle for 16 years. As the weeks dragged on in hospital, Carmichael kept pressing for answers on when chemo would be scheduled. 

Allison Ducluzeau
There was also the story of Allison Ducluzeau reported by Amy Judd and Kylie Stanton for Global News on November 27

Ducluzeau was diagnosed with abdominal cancer and was offered MAiD (euthanasia) rather than treatment, instead she was successfully treated in the US

Ducluzeau found several places where she could receive treatment in the US and she was then successfully treated at the Institute for Cancer Care at Mercy Medical Centre in Baltimore.

Before going ahead with treatment 'she called BC Cancer to ask how long it might be to see the oncologist and was told it could be weeks, months, or longer, they had no idea.'

Ducluzeau is doing well now and thanks the team at Mercy Medical Center but she is now working to get the BC Ministry of Health to pay for her successful treatment that she received in Baltimore.

Euthanasia (MAiD) was legalized in Canada based on freedom and choice and autonomy. Instead Canada is now experiencing euthanasia based on poverty, homelessness and an inability to receive medical treatment.

Euthanasia is not about freedom but abandonment. 

More articles on this topic:

  • Canadian (BC) Cancer Patient Euthanized After He Couldn’t Obtain Chemotherapy (Link)
  • BC woman with cancer who was offered euthanasia, was successfully treated in the US (Link)

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Canada's government may pause the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Stephanie Taylor reported for the Canadian Press on December 15 that Canada may once again pause the expansion of euthanasia to people with mental illness alone.

When Canada expanded the euthanasia law in March 2021 (Bill C-7), less than five years after legalizing euthanasia, one of the expansions in the law was euthanasia for mental illness alone. At that time the government decided to approve euthanasia for mental illness but it included a two-year moratorium to give the government time to prepare for this expansion.

Earlier this year the government delayed the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness for another year. Canada's is currently scheduled to permit euthanasia for psychological conditions on March 17, 2024. The result of this decision will be more killing, except that people with psychiatric conditions who will also be abandoned to death. 

Justice Minister Arif Virani stated on Wednesday that the government is considering "hitting the pause button" on euthanasia for mental illness. Taylor reported for the Canadian Press that:
The federal government is considering whether to pause its original plan tobroaden the rules that govern medically assisted dying so they include patients whose only underlying condition is a mental disorder.

"We're weighing our options," Justice Minister Arif Virani said Wednesday.

It would be the second time the federal Liberals have hit pause on the plan. The first came in February, when the government decided to impose a one-year delay amid widespread public and political concern.
Many organizations that are working to stop Canada from implementing euthanasia for mental illness are applauding the statement by the Justice Minister. 

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is pleased that Virani may hit the "pause button" on euthanasia for mental illness, but Virani has only said that it may happen.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is working on a political lobbying strategy with the hope of convincing the Justice Minister to not only hit the "pause button" but to reverse the governments plans to permit euthanasia for mental illness.

Ed Fast
Taylor, in her Canadian Press report, spoke to the Hon Ed Fast who sponsored bill C-314 that, if passed, would have reversed the government's implementation of euthanasia for mental illness. Taylor wrote:
Conservative MP Ed Fast sees Virani's comments as a shift.

"It's the first time I've seen a glimmer of hope come from the Liberal government that they're prepared to reconsider their decision to move ahead."

Earlier this year, Fast's private member's bill, which would have amended the Criminal Code to expressly prohibit the use of a mental disorder as a basis for choosing medical help to end one's life, came to a vote in the House of Commons

While it was defeated with the majority of Liberal and Bloc Quebecois MPs opposing it, eight Liberal MPs broke ranks. Twenty-four NDP MPs also voted for the private member's bill, with none opposed.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition agrees that the Hon Ed Fast did an excellent job of gaining support for Bill C-314 and that led to the government considering the reversal of their position on euthanasia for mental illness.

Taylor further reported that:
Other organizations, like the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, note there is no clear medical consensus on what constitutes a "grievous and irremediable" mental illness, or on how to distinguish that from suicidality.

The centre was pleased to hear the government was open to another delay, Dr. Tarek Rajji, who chairs its medical advisory committee, said in a statement.

The Canadian Mental Health Association also released a statement supporting a delay beyond March, saying the recent consultations done by provinces have been "significantly expedited" to meet the current timelines.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition will launch a new campaign in January to convince Members of Parliament that people with mental health concerns should not be abandoned to death by MAiD.

More articles on this topic:

Meghan Schrader: We need a world that embraces an ethic of generosity rather than apathy.

Meghan is an autistic person who is an instructor at E4 Texas - University of Texas (Austin) and an EPC-USA board member.

A Christmas message from Meghan Schrader.

I love Christmas. It’s one of my favorite things in the whole world. I love it so much that I leave my Christmas tree up until Easter. My life, my Christmas tree, my choice.

Given what’s happening with the euthanasia movement’s attack on people with disabilities, I think it’s instructive to consider the parallels between its ethos and the Mathusian ethic that Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol was responding to. (Link)

The Canadian government has once again refused to rush through material aid for starving, suicidal disabled Canadians, but is spending millions of dollars to build a “MAiD center” next to a dissenting hospital. Over and over again the American right to die movement pals around with thinkers and advocates who want to take the United States in Canada’s direction; going so far as to claim that any harm assisted suicide might cause for disenfranchised people “ought not to be of special concern.”

This is precisely the ethic espoused by Ebeneezer Scrooge when he is approached by charity workers collecting donations for the needy. (Link) The excerpt from that part of the manuscript reads as follows:
‘At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the [one of the gentlemen], taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

“Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.”

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”’
That’s the policy that the Canadian government has established for its disabled citizens, and what the United States right to die movement has in store for disabled Americans if we do not interupt its agenda.

But what can we do in the meantime to remediate a world that has been poisoned by the right to die movement’s ableist agenda? Perhaps the best solution is the ethic of love and generosity that Scrooge discovers at the end of the story, when he promises to “keep Christmas in my heart all year round.” We can do what Scrooge did when he doubled Bob Cratchit’s salary and became a “second father” to Tiny Tim. A world that embraces an ethic of generosity rather than apathy and austerity will not starve its disabled citizens or help them die by suicide. That world will embrace disabled people as equals and provide the resources and environment for disabled people to live with dignity.

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Brian Bird: Canada is euthanizing persons and personhood.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Brian Bird
Public Discourse published an article by Brian Bird, who is a lecturer at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia on December 10, 2023 titled: Canada Is Not Only Euthanzing Persons but Personhood itself. Brian writes:

In 2016, Canada legalized euthanasia for adults suffering severely and incurably near the end of life. Four years later, it legalized euthanasia for adults even if death is not “reasonably foreseeable.” Next year, euthanasia is set to become legal also for adults whose sole medical condition and source of suffering is mental illness. Recommendations have been made to legalize euthanasia for minors whose death is “reasonably foreseeable.” The organization that regulates physicians in the province of Quebec has suggested that euthanasia should be available for infants with severe disabilities or illnesses that render them unlikely to survive.

Between 2016 and 2022, close to 45,000 Canadians died through what is officially termed “medical assistance in dying,” or MAID. As of 2022, euthanasia was virtually tied with cerebrovascular disease as the fifth-leading cause of death in Canada (with only accidents, COVID-19, cancer, and heart disease causing more deaths). In each of the preceding years starting in 2016, the number of deaths by euthanasia grew significantly. Between 2019 and 2022, the average increase was just over thirty-one percent per year.

Bird then explains his explanation of why euthanasia undermines personhood.

These statistics reveal disturbing truths about what happens when a society legalizes euthanasia. Canadians have been told by advocates, legislatures, and courts that euthanasia is a basic good. But in truth, euthanasia teaches that human dignity is degradable rather than enduring. It creates hierarchies of personhood by calling into question the worth and value of certain individuals based on their strengths and abilitiesthings that, by nature, are mutable. This is always and everywhere a fundamental injustice. In Canada, this injustice is surfacing in deeply damaging ways.

These warnings are not new. When, in 2021, Canada was about to expand euthanasia to scenarios in which death is not near, three UN officialsincluding the special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilitieswrote to the Canadian government to express concerns about how this step would affect individuals in Canada living with disabilities. The authors noted that if euthanasia 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 (or be subtly reinforced) that it is better to be dead than to live with a disability.”

This point is accurate, but it has a broader reach. When euthanasia is legalized, the social assumption that it is better to be dead than to continue living takes hold in all the scenarios in which euthanasia is legal. And one must ask: what factors would lead us to think that it is better to be dead than to continue living in these scenarios? Advocates for euthanasia will point to quality of life, autonomy, dignity, pain, and suffering. But the deeper message embedded in these advocates’ words is that some of us are no longer persons. If we find ourselves eligible for euthanasia, we are not really living anymore. And if that is true, euthanasia seems like a sensible choice.

Bird continues:

When it comes to euthanasia, quality of life and autonomy have been inextricably linked to dignity, which has affected how we understand personhood. As my quality of life and autonomy decline, so too does my dignity. As my dignity declines, so too does my personhood. Once my personhood has sufficiently faded away, it is cruel for the state to stand in the way of letting me die. In fact, it is cruel for the state to refuse to help me die. Enter euthanasia, provided through the healthcare system.

We are witnessing, in other words, a reconstruction of personhooda reconstruction that began before euthanasia was legalized in Canada or other countries. This reconstruction professes that, while some of us may technically be here, we are not here in any meaningful sense. Legalizing euthanasia is not only a natural plank of this reconstruction. This step also accelerates this process and takes it to new places, all the while claiming to render societies and each of us more respectful of human rights and thus more humane.

Bird explains how the rights asserted for legalizing euthanasia have been undermined by euthanasia.

As it turns out, the vision of personhood conveyed and reinforced by euthanasia has led to violations of the same rights that were allegedly violated by a ban on euthanasiarights that speak to personhood. In a 2015 case, the Supreme Court of Canada relied on the constitutional right to “life, liberty, and security of the person” to strike down Canada’s ban on euthanasia. This ruling led to the legislation of 2016 that legalized the first version of euthanasia across Canada.

Since 2016, it has become clearif it wasn’t clear beforethat legalizing euthanasia endangers life, liberty, and security of persons. If it is easier to be euthanized than it is to find adequate or affordable housing, personhood properly understood is far from being respected. The same is true when euthanasia is offered to veterans contacting the government for assistance, when euthanasia is viewed as the only viable option by a quadriplegic mother who cannot find adequate support to live with her disability, or when public health authorities provide information sessions on euthanasia to pensioners as they contemplate their retirement years. When a federal minister admits that in some parts of Canada it is easier to access euthanasia than it is to obtain a wheelchair, alarm bells should be ringing.

And if even one person in Canada has chosen euthanasia because that person considers him- or herself to be a burden on others, or because he feels isolated and lonely, Canada is failing to protect the life, liberty, and security of persons. Faced with these realities, one of the rationales for a total ban on euthanasianamely, the practical impossibility of avoiding abuse and misusecomes into clear focus.

Kathrin Mentler
Bird continues by explaining the relevance of the Kathrin Mentler story.

A case in point is that of Kathrin Mentler, a woman in her thirties who in June of this year admitted herself to a Vancouver hospital due to depression and suicidal thoughtsconditions she has lived with for some time but that had become more acute owing to a recent traumatic event. Once at the hospital, Mentler was taken to a room where a clinician told her that the healthcare system is “broken” and that the wait time to see a psychiatrist would be significant. The clinician then asked her if she had ever considered euthanasia, noting that it would be more “comfortable” than committing suicide through overdosing on medication, a concern that Mentler specifically had in mind when she went to the hospital that day. In her words, “I very specifically went there that day because I didn’t want to get into a situation where I would think about taking an overdose of medication.”

For decades, societies like Canada have rightly spent time, money, and resources on suicide prevention. Mentler’s case reveals a disturbing shift on this front: she wished to live, yet death was suggested to her. While the exchange between Mentler and the clinician was brief, and the hospital says that the question about euthanasia was simply a way to evaluate Mentler’s level of suicidality, the notion that Mentler’s personhood was fading away seems to have been at work. If a society is offering euthanasia as a solution to persons who are suicidal, we have arrived at a destination where personhood has been reconstructed beyond recognition.

Mentler’s case is also revealing because euthanasia was brought to her attention at a time when she appeared to be ineligible for it. Euthanasia for persons suffering solely from mental illness will not be available in Canada until next year. Perhaps the step of legalizing euthanasia for individuals in other circumstancesin circumstances that are currently covered by the lawhas activated a radar within some Canadians for other cases in which euthanasia should be legal. The legislation of 2016 taught us the basics of when euthanasia should be granted, and now we are applying these lessons to novel situations.

Bird explains how Canada's euthanasia program has become intertwined with poverty.

That radar now seems to be picking up members of society who find themselves in particularly dire straits, such as persons who are homeless and struggling with unemployment, mental and physical illness, and addiction to drugs or alcohol. Areas of Canadian cities where these challenges are especially visible, such as the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, are now being spoken of in the same breath as euthanasia. One recent article suggests that individuals with substance use disorder may qualify for euthanasia once mental illness is added to the eligibility criteria. The article, in making this forecast, also gestures to how euthanasia is eroding the concept of personhood. As an advocate for the Downtown Eastside quoted in the article puts it, to render individuals afflicted by substance abuse eligible for euthanasia is to say that these individuals “aren’t really human.”

In Canada, we are witnessing the powerful ramifications of legalizing euthanasia, euphemistically calling it “medical assistance in dying,” delivering it through a publicly funded healthcare system, wrapping it up in distorted understandings of dignity and rights, and demonizing individuals and institutions that believe (and wish to act on the belief) that euthanasia is killing and a mark of an uncivilized and inhumane society. This is a cautionary tale that must be told.

Bird concludes by explaining why euthanasia kills the person and personhood.

Some euthanasia advocates will say that these statements are hyperbolic fearmongering. They said the same when critics of euthanasia warned that opening the door in 2016 would lead to euthanasia in other cases and contexts: where death is not foreseeable, when minors are involved, in cases of mental illness, and beyond. And look where we are, less than a decade later. Forget the slippery slope. This has become a sinkhole.

Much work must be done to restore the proper understanding of personhoodwhat it means to be humanin societies that permit euthanasia. This work will take not just years, but decades and possibly even longer than that.

But that work must begin somewhere. I believe it begins with telling the truth. Euthanasia does not erase a shell of a person. It erases a person, each and every time.

More articles on this topic

  • Canada's MAiD program has gone "Mad" (Link). 
  • Killing people with an uncertain prognosis (Link).