By Wesley J. Smith
Euthanasia advocates tend to advance their cause by requesting that panels of “experts” or lawmakers conduct oh, so careful studies to recommend policies that, invariably, would legalize assisted suicide or expand it where already allowed. These are stacked decks; activities choreographed to reach a particular conclusion.
Such a bit of theater was just performed in Canada, where a report was just published by the Canadian Parliament’s Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (AMAD). Surprise! It calls for even further expansion of the already permissive law that allows terminally ill and chronically ill adults, people with disabilities, and the frail elderly to opt to be killed by doctors or nurse practitioners.
The mentally ill are scheduled to be included in this dismal list next month under existing law, but that may be put off for a year because of domestic and international agitation around the issue. But, mark my words, they too will eventually become eligible for the lethal jab.
The committee has now recommended that “mature minors” whose deaths are “reasonably foreseeable” be allowed to access death — perhaps even without parental consent. From, the AMAD report’s recommendations:
Recommendation 14: That the Government of Canada undertake consultations with minors on the topic of MAID, including minors with terminal illnesses, minors with disabilities, minors in the child welfare system and Indigenous minors, within five years of the tabling of this report.
Recommendation 15: That the Government of Canada provide funding through Health Canada and other relevant departments for research into the views and experiences of minors with respect to MAID, including minors with terminal illnesses, minors with disabilities, minors in the child welfare system and Indigenous minors, to be completed within five years of the tabling of this report.
These two provisions loosen the foreseeable-death requirement listed below, as it already has been for adults:
Recommendation 16: That the Government of Canada amend the eligibility criteria for MAID set out in the Criminal Code to include minors deemed to have the requisite decision-making capacity upon assessment.
Recommendation 17: That the Government of Canada restrict MAID for mature minors to those whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable. . . .
Recommendation 19: That the Government of Canada establish a requirement that, where appropriate, the parents or guardians of a mature minor be consulted in the course of the assessment process for MAID, but that the will of a minor who is found to have the requisite decision-making capacity ultimately take priority.
In other words, children would be able to choose to die even over the objections of their parents. (It’s worth noting that a similar recommendation was previously made in a medical-journal article by Canadian pediatricians, which I wrote about here.)
The committee also wants people who have been diagnosed with dementia to be allowed to order themselves killed in an advance directive:
Recommendation 21: That the Government of Canada amend the Criminal Code to allow for advance requests following a diagnosis of a serious and incurable medical condition disease, or disorder leading to incapacity.
Recommendation 22: That the Government of Canada work with provinces and territories, regulatory authorities, provincial and territorial law societies and stakeholders to adopt the necessary safeguards for advance requests.
My editorial comment: What a joke.
Recommendation 23: That the Government of Canada work with the provinces and territories and regulatory authorities to develop a framework for interprovincial recognition of advance requests.
This practice is already allowed in the Netherlands and Belgium — and yes, there have been abuses of these laws that haven’t matter a whit.
Will these recommendations be followed in Canada? Almost surely, in part or in full. That’s why the committee was asked to file a report in the first place. Why should we, in the U.S., care? Canada, being our closest (and, according to many progressives, a far more enlightened) cultural cousin, exerts a substantial influence on our own country’s social policies.
Beyond that, the same process of broadening access to death is happening here, too, albeit more slowly. Already most states that previously legalized assisted suicide have loosened their eligibility guidelines by, for example, reducing waiting times, allowing virtual assisted-suicide requests, and/or ending residency requirements.
The more Americans generally support euthanasia, the speedier that process will occur, which is why adamant opposition in places where the practice remains illegal is a moral imperative — as is doctors’ total noncooperation wherever it has already been legalized.
Editor’s note. Wesley’s great columns appear on National Review Online and are reposted with permission.