By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
An excellent article written by Tristan Hopper was published in the National Post on January 5 titled: Disability groups now assuring members they won’t recommend euthanasia.
Hopper reports on a growing coalition of disability and human rights groups that are saying that Canada’s euthanasia law has gone too far. The groups are also assuring their members that they will not suggest or refer any of them for euthanasia.
A growing coalition of disability and mental health groups have begun openly advocating against Canada’s liberalized MAID (medical assistance in dying) regime, including posting signs assuring patients that they will not recommend them for assisted suicide.
“This organization will not recommend, suggest or refer anyone to Medical Assistance in Dying as an alternative to assisting in obtaining necessary supports and services you require,” reads a sign recently circulated on social media by the group Disability Without Poverty.
The sign was accompanied by a note urging other health-related organizations to pledge never to recommend MAID as a solution to poverty “no matter what some would have you believe.”
The New Brunswick Coalition of Persons With Disabilities posted a sign directed at its members reading “you are safe with us” and promising not to pursue assisted death as an alternative to “speaking out for necessary supports and services you require.” This sign is now being shared by other disability rights groups.
A letter was signed by more than 50 disability and human rights groups and sent to Justice Minister David Lametti urging him to dial back Canada’s MAID regime lest it continue “euthanizing people with disabilities who are not terminally ill.” Hopper quotes from the letter:
“We know, as do you, that the existing law is not working and has not worked, and that people with disabilities have been dying due to their life circumstances and oppression,” added the letter, which was endorsed by groups ranging from Spinal Cord Injury Canada to the Stratford, Ont.-based Community Food Centre.
The Simons euthanasia commercial re-enforces the failure of euthanasia, Hopper explains:
This was true even of Jennyfer Hatch, who was featured in a pro-euthanasia video entitled All is Beauty commissioned by the Canadian clothing retailer Simons. After the video’s release, CTV released an interview with Hatch showing that she had opted for MAID only after years of failing to secure care for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare disease that strikes the body’s connective tissues.
Hopper reminds us how Canadian veterans have been urged towards euthanasia:
In November, a House of Commons committee heard of five Canadian Armed Forces veterans who were counselled to seek MAID after approaching Veterans Affairs to seek assistance on conditions including PTSD. In one of those cases, the veteran acted on the recommendation and died by assisted suicide before the hearing was convened.
Doctors that provide euthanasia denied approving it for poverty but Hopper explains the reality:
Although representatives of the MAID doctor community have said publicly that nobody is getting approved for assisted death due to housing, internal documents from the Canadian Association of MAID Assessors and Providers show that members are indeed encountering patients who cite poverty as the primary driver for their wish to die.
The disability community predicted that this would happen. Hopper concludes:
In Feb. 2021, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on disability rights openly condemned Canada’s liberalization of MAID.
“From a disability rights perspective, there is a grave concern that, if assisted dying is made available to all persons with a health condition or impairment … a social assumption might follow (or be subtly reinforced) that it is better to be dead than to live with a disability,” wrote Special Rapporteur Gerald Quinn.
Editor’s note. This appeared in Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and reposted with permission.