Euthanasia

Canada’s ever-expanding euthanasia law  

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr. Mark D’Souza, a Toronto physician who specializes in pain and symptom management, was published by the Toronto Sun on July 18. The headline for article was “The ever-expanding goalposts of euthanasia in Canada”.

D’Souza examines the concern of people who cannot gain effective treatment for their condition, but they can gain euthanasia. D’Souza writes:

But if you can only access health-care waitlists, as opposed to actual health care, and you cannot get financial or housing supports, is ending your life truly an independent and autonomous decision?

Fewer than 30% of Canadians have access to palliative care, a field I left in 2017 when Canadian governments refused to protect physician conscience rights when their patients seek to end their own lives.

D’Souza asks: how many of our poor and downtrodden will we harm?

D’Souza continues by explaining the government incentive of healthcare savings associated with euthanasia in Canada and then he states:

Is this our unspoken solution to the problem of an aging population promised “free” and unlimited health care?

There was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation about a planet where committing ritual suicide was mandated at age 65.

Perhaps this is not our ultimate societal destination, but when euthanasia became legal in Canada in 2016 with Bill C-14, we were sold a false bill of goods.

D’Souza writes that in the Carter decision, Canada’s Supreme Court found “no compelling evidence” this could result in a slippery slope. Yet parliament passed Bill C-7 in March 2021 which expanded the law to include euthanasia for mental illness alone that will come into force in March 2023. D’Souza wrote:

Years ago, when I cared for suicidal patients in the emergency room, I wondered if the time would come when I would be obliged to, in some way, assist in completion of the act.

The lack of access to prompt mental health care is particularly deplorable in Ontario.

The waiting lists are long. Treatment is expensive and takes time.

But since we live in an “on-demand” era, those who are struggling with mental health will now have legal access to a quicker solution.

D’Souza continues by writing about the pressure on physicians to participate in euthanasia. 

Euthanasia activists and the media have been incredibly successful in glorifying euthanasia. Something that was until recently criminal has suddenly become accepted as a default moral position.

One advocate says, “If you can’t practise medicine because you can’t do an effective (euthanasia) referral, then you shouldn’t be in medicine.”

Another believes it’s a doctor’s duty to do whatever is legal and that the practitioner’s independent thoughts about what is best for the patient have no place in health care.

Can you think of any societies in our recent history where this sort of thinking went awry?

D’Souza completes the article by writing about the need for an open conversation on the issue, rather than the use of pressure by the euthanasia activists. 

My preference would be to put the genie back into the bottle.

But practically speaking, we need to have an adult conversation of the pros and cons of euthanasia and where to draw the line.

There needs to be more debate and less shaming and censorship of those who disagree with the current orthodoxy on euthanasia.

Otherwise, in our utilitarian and utopian zeal, the right to die today may become the duty to die tomorrow. And everyone will echo Willy Loman’s* misguided belief that some people are “worth more dead than alive.”

*From  Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.”

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

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