By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Brian Lilley, a regular columnist with the Toronto Sun, published a piece on Saturday, October 21 asking:
Lilley examines the question of euthanasia for mental illness, which he points out, will include people who are living with drug addiction.
We’ve offered medical assistance in dying to veterans struggling with PTSD. We will soon offer MAID to those suffering from mental illness, which will include drug addiction.
Combined with the stories of people looking for assistance in dying due to homelessness or poor living conditions, it’s time to ask if there is any line in the sand when it comes to euthanasia and the government in Canada?
Lilley explains the history of how Canada legalized MAiD (euthanasia) and how Canada is poised to expand its euthanasia law again to allow euthanasia for mental illness in March 2024.
Now, the government is about to expand it again and last week voted down a Conservative MP’s proposal not to expand MAID to include mental illness.
Ed Fast, the British Columbia MP who sought to stop those solely dealing with mental illness being able to access MAID, has said the system is already being abused with people accessing assistance in dying already before it is legal. Fast worries about what these changes will mean down the road and just how far Canada is will to go in expanding access to something we were told would be rare.
Lilley states that in 2021 euthanasia was Canada’s seventh leading cause of death and it will soon be Canada’s fifth leading cause of death.
It’s not clear that the public has thought through the full implications of expanding MAID even further. Should we be allowing people suffering solely from mental illness to access help in killing themselves?
Reuters recently reported on a 47 year-old woman with anorexia who is looking forward to the law being changed so she can access MAID. Vice News recently wrote about how drug addicts will be able to access MAID in the near future, even speaking to an activist doctor who supports this move while also being an activist for so-called “harm reduction” and “safer supply” programs.
This isn’t what Canadians expected when we started down this path.
A poll from the Angus Reid Institute released in September showed just 28% support the government’s move to allow access solely based on mental health concerns even though a strong majority in Canada support MAID overall.
It’s a difficult issue for the government to deal with and an uncomfortable one for many Canadians to discuss but before we move forward with a further expansion in March, we need to have a real discussion about the future of MAID.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.