Canada’s Medically Assisted Dying Policy Sets ‘Dangerous Precedent’

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr. Paul Saba

Andrew Chen interviewed Dr. Paul Saba in an article published by the Epoch Times on June 11, titled  “Canada’s Medically Assisted Dying Policy Sets ‘Dangerous Precedent’: Physician and Author.”

Dr. Saba, who authored the book “Made to Live” and is a co-founder of the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia in Quebec, told Chen

Canada’s medically assisted dying policy sets a “dangerous precedent” that has opened the door to other scenarios in which people can be denied medical care or have their lives prematurely ended.

“In terms of expanding, first of all we change the criteria, and then we make it easier and easier to get rid of people who are faced with life’s challenges, with health issues”

Dr. Saba refers to Canada’s assisted dying law as a “very sad statement of affairs of our society, and what we’ve become in terms of devaluing human life.” He said of Ontario’s COVID-19 triage protocol

“I think an even greater issue is that how we evaluate life. Once you open up that door to ending people’s lives, and evaluate people’s lives, you have the whole issue of [COVID-19] and the triage system that was being supported, and directives being set up not to care for people who were ill,”

The pandemic protocol states that only patients with a 70% chance of surviving more than 12 months would be prioritized for critical care. Saba comments

“Once the government starts evaluating lives, and not seeing it as their mission— health care is a mission of caring for people who need to be cared for—then we’ll decide who gets cared for, who won’t get cared for, who lives, who dies. And that’s why it is so important that we … push back on this.”

Dr. Saba became concerned about these issues in 2009 when his wife was pregnant with their daughter, Jessica. Jessica had a severe congenital heart defect—her heart’s pulmonary valve was almost completely sealed—making her survival nearly impossible. They were offered the “option of abortion which they refused.”

Today Jessica is a healthy 12 year old. Dr. Saba’s  book, Made to Live, focuses on Jessica’s story.

Chen noted that

Roughly 7,600 Canadians died via medically assisted death in 2020, a 35 percent increase from the roughly 5,600 cases in 2019, a number which was itself a 26 percent uptick from the approximately 4,500 cases in 2018, Health Canada senior official Abby Hoffman told the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying on June 7.

Dr. Saba extrapolated from these numbers and said that there have been approximately 25,000 assisted deaths since legalization. He then says:

“What was supposed to be just for terminally ill people really at the end of life has now been expanded to include people who are disabled, who have chronic conditions … and they are looking at and studying for people who have mental health challenges.”

Parliament has also heard arguments for expanding medically assisted death to children.

“So, basically, death, needs to be available to everybody.”

Dr. Saba then comments on how the Covid-19 pandemic has made people with disabilities more vulnerable. 

Saba condemned the passing of Bill C-7* during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time “when people are most vulnerable.”

“We’re encouraging and we’re supporting … killing people with disabilities, because we know that they’ve been marginalized, that they’re struggling, and it doesn’t take much to push people over the edge.”

Dr. Saba concludes by stating:

“Ultimately, I hope one day that assisted suicide and euthanasia get reversed in our country because it’s … a dangerous policy and a dangerous precedent.”

*Among many other dangerous changes, Bill C-7 removed the requirement in the law that a person’s natural death must be “reasonably foreseeable” to qualify for death by lethal injection. Therefore, people who are not terminally ill can die by euthanasia.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.