“The plan to expand medically assisted dying to drug addicts is utterly barbaric”
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Kevin Yuill, a professor of American Studies at the University of Sunderland in the UK, published an article in Spiked on October 25 outlining his concern that Canada’s euthanasia program is eugenic.
Yuill, who recently visited Canada, writes:
A few weeks ago, I accidentally toured one of the awful tent cities in Vancouver, Canada. At the corner of Main Street and Hastings Avenue, homeless drug addicts spread their few possessions out on blankets and cover the pavement for blocks on end. It is only a short distance from the restaurants and attractions of this fairly affluent city and is easy to stray into.
So long as they are not violent, homeless addicts are generally ignored across the city. Vancouverites, in that polite Canadian way, accept their presence and do what they can to be kind. Nonetheless, everyone I met spoke about the ‘crisis’ of addicts in Vancouver, where drugs have effectively been decriminalised.
Now, the Canadian authorities seem to have come up with a novel, frightening solution to the crisis: euthanasia.
“Canadians are eligible for the medical assistance in dying (MAID) programme if they have a ‘grievous and irremediable medical condition’, such as a serious physical illness or disability. If their condition has put them in an advanced state of irreversible decline and caused enduring physical or psychological suffering, they may request to be allowed euthanasia.”
This is horrific enough but in March 2024 “those suffering from mental illnesses – with no physical ailments necessary – will also be eligible for MAID,” Yuill writes. “That includes people with substance-use disorders.”
Last week, a framework for assessing people with substance-use disorders for MAID was discussed at the annual conference for the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine in British Columbia. Dr David Martell (ironically a winner of the Family Physician of the Year award) was one of the most vocal supporters of expanding MAID to drug addicts. Dr Martell declared that ‘it’s not fair to exclude people from eligibility purely because their mental disorder might either partly or in full be a substance-use disorder. It has to do with treating people equally.’
Dr Martell went on to explain that doctors will need to distinguish between somebody who has a ‘reasoned wish to die’ and someone who is merely suicidal. A person who is ‘thinking in a calm and measured way about wanting [their] suffering to end’, Martell said, might be considered for MAID. But he conceded that a person can exhibit signs of both suicidality and a calm and measured wish to die, and that it would be ‘fairly impossible’ to make the distinction if the person being assessed were intoxicated.
Yuill quotes from Christopher Lyons, whose suicidal father died by euthanasia, who said
The lines of informed consent are extremely blurred, especially when drugs and alcohol are involved.
Yuill explains that Canada’s parliament recently defeated Bill C-314, a bill which “would have amended the Criminal Code to provide that a mental disorder is not a grievous and irremediable medical condition for which a person could receive MAID…This is despite the fact that only three in 10 Canadians themselves support MAID for the mentally ill.”
Yuill then provides a history lesson on eugenics. “Euthanasia as a solution for those living troubled lives is hardly a new concept. Those most keen on it were those associated with the movement for eugenics.”
For instance, in the first few years of the 20th century, Dr Ella K Dearborn cheerfully called for ‘euthanasia for the incurably ill, insane, criminals and degenerates’. Similarly, in 1906, sociologist L Graham Crozier agreed with her medical compatriot: ‘I would personally rather administer chloroform to the poor, starving children of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and other American cities, than to see them living as they must in squalor and misery.’
In an echo of today’s advocates for legalised assisted dying, Dr Dearborn once thundered: ‘Do not let sentiment or superstition retard the wheels of worldwide progress.’ In Canada, this so-called progress shows no sign of stopping. In the eight years since MAID was legalised for the terminally ill, it has been expanded to disabled people, homeless people and prisoners. And soon drug addicts will be next.
Yuill completes his article by stating
A better, more humane solution might be to offer treatment to addicts, instead of having them killed. Is that really such an unreasonable thing to ask for?
Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.