The cruelty of Canada’s euthanasia policy

Its liberal Maid programme has been turned into a political weapon

BY  21.8.23

With uncharacteristic humility, I would concede that a few positions I’ve argued fiercely in print might be viable on paper, but in practice are a disaster. The “war on drugs” being a fiasco, years ago I advocated the legalisation of recreational pharmaceuticals. But given the dirty, dangerous, dismal tent cities full of addicts in LA, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland — which have all effectively decriminalised drug possession — it may be fortunate that glib journalists like me don’t control public policy.

I’ve likewise argued for legalised assisted dying. After all, nobody asked us if we wanted to be here (a favourite headline: “Woman Sues for Being Born”); the least we might expect is help leaving the building. Why should living be an obligation? While the strongest candidates for a gentle, legal assisted death are patients with agonising terminal illnesses, any respectable libertarian would maintain that outfits such as Dignitas in Switzerland simply provide a service, of which consumers in any medical condition should be free to avail themselves. And for lack of a better word, I’m a libertarian.

I gained an appreciation for how being alive could simply fail a clinical cost-benefit analysis in the summer of 2020. For five days, I was in such blinding pain from a nerve in my spine that I awoke each morning screaming at my poor husband: “I would rather be dead!” I wasn’t being histrionic. Well, okay, I was — but I was also brutally sincere. Had remaining alive been conditioned on such intense and unrelenting suffering forever more, for the first time I could see a persuasive case for calling it quits. During the blackest periods of those days, on which I took half an hour to descend a single flight of stairs, I was incapable of pleasure, humour, or love. The sole thought in my head was that I would do anything to get the pain to stop.

Canada has an unusually liberal programme called Medical Assistance in Dying, or Maid — although this acronym doesn’t tidy your flat but sponges your existence from the known universe. The Great White North should, therefore, represent my perverse version of Valhalla. Instead, Maid’s lax protocols make me queasy. In theory, maybe everyone has a right to die if they want to. In practice, maybe the state needs to keep a tight regulatory reign on whom it graciously provides a one-way ticket to nowhere.

Introduced in 2016, Canada’s government-sanctioned euthanasia by medically administered lethal injection and legalisation of assisted suicide (there’s a difference; the latter usually entails patients themselves swallowing fatal tablets prescribed by a doctor) were initially intended to put the terminally ill who’d had enough out of their misery. Yet sister programmes in the seven other countries that permit euthanasia generally restrict the pool of applicants to people destined to die naturally within six months. Maid initially codified no such limitation, merely citing vaguely that death should be “reasonably foreseeable”, as it is for all us mortals. Hypothetically, then, even the programme as originally conceived could have been open to people whose ailments would only kill them many years hence. Yet, bolstering its critics’ “slippery slope” argument, the programme soon radically loosened its restrictions. Assisted dying is now available in Canada to all adults with a serious illness or disability, regardless of whether the source of their torment would be fatal over time.

August 28, 2023 | 2 Comments »

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  1. I forgot to mention in the first post that we in Canada also allow dissidents to die when they need medical treatment, but do not accept the state medical ideologies. Two people — Garnet Harper in Ontario and Sheila Lewis in Alberta- were denied medical transplants because they had refused to get the Wuhan flue injections. Mrs Lewis took the government to court and the court refused to support her arguments. The court did, however, issue a ban on the publication of the names of the doctors so that no one could harass them for their refusal to treat Mrs Lewis. The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear her appeal. She died last week; Mr Harper died several months ago.

    People have said that this was a breach of medical ethics; I call it judicially sanctioned murder. And I also believe that the doctors involved as well as the judges should be tried as murderers.

  2. Back in the balmy days of 2015 when our dear leader was elected, he declared that Canada was the first post-modern nation because we had no core values. (Well, we have to be first in something.). So, why anyone should be surprised at the inception and rapid metastasis of MAID surprises me.