By Dave Andrusko
Editor’s note. This first ran on September 19, 2022.
The New York Times is not only the newspaper of record for the abortion industry, it has also carried article after article extolling the virtues of assisted suicide. At least yesterday contribution—“Is Choosing Death Too Easy in Canada?”– allows critics to voice their concern that not only is assisted suicide already too easy, it’s growing worse!
Ian Austen, naturally, begins his account with one of the worse cases possible. The woman “has undergone 41 medical procedures in 10 years for a painful and worsening spinal cord condition” but is not “eligible” because her death from the condition is not “reasonably foreseeable.’”
And then Austen makes the case that “Although the Canadian law was hotly debated in 2016, when it was originally enacted, it has won broad public acceptance since then, with polls showing strong support. Through December of 2021, 31,664 Canadians have received assisted deaths. Of those, 224 who died last year were not terminally ill, taking advantage of last year’s amendment.”
At that point Austen introduces the latest expansionary example and the controversy that has ensued.
“But the change in the law has reignited debate over the system. In March the law will expand again, to apply to people with some mental disorders. A Parliamentary committee of lawmakers is studying what standards should govern those cases; its report is expected in the fall.”
Already, though, critics are saying Canada is now going too far.
Among those critics are three United Nations disability and human rights experts, who said, in a letter to the Canadian government, that in legalizing assisted suicide for disabled people who are not terminally ill, the law, as written, has devalued their lives by suggesting “that significant disability can be worse than death.”
Some say that with the law’s expansions, Canada is turning assisted suicide into an almost routine medical option, instead of treating it as an extraordinary measure taken in limited situations.
“Canada has the least safeguards of all of countries that allow it,” said Trudo Lemmens, the chairman in health law and policy in the faculty of law at the University of Toronto, referring to the assisted suicide legislation generally, “and it has the most open-ended system.”
“It’s a state-funded, state-organized, medical system providing end of life,” he continued. “What I find particularly troublesome is that there is no other jurisdiction that treats the ending.
Austen shifts gears at this point, quoting proponents, before returning to the upcoming debate.
But a series of committee hearings, including the current parliamentary ones, have provided a public forum for the rekindled debate both about the expanded law and the country’s experience with assisted dying.
The committees have heard from people frustrated by being shut out of the process that led to the deaths of family members; the decision to choose death is, under the law, one in which family members have no say. Many characterized the amended law as a dangerous assault on people with disabilities and have raised the possibility that people facing economic or housing challenges may now simply give up and opt to die.
Others worried that including mental disorders will undermine suicide prevention efforts, or that death was being inappropriately raised as an alternative to treatment or more support.
Experts said there were often disagreements within families when someone chooses assisted suicide. But the government says there have not been documented abuses of the system.
Proponents get much more space than Prof. Lemmens and the three United Nations disability and human rights experts, who wrote the Canadian government in opposition. And he just slides right by a Quebec government committee which rejected euthanasia for mental disorders.
The ultimate goal is plain and more than a few times stated in so many words: Euthanasia is a right for anyone, including perfectly healthy individuals who are “tired of life.”
The potential for abuse is almost limitless.