By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.
Maggie Hroncich interviewed me for the New York Sun in an article that they titled: ‘You Don’t Want to Open the Door to this’ Critics warn.
Hroncich is interested in the topic since assisted suicide bills are being debated in several US states, such as New York, Michigan and Massachusetts and she was interested in stories about Canada’s experience with euthanasia. Hroncich writes:
Hroncich specifically asked about the reported number of deaths and I responded:
In Canada, where, as the Sun reported, more than 13,000 patients died in 2022 by euthanasia — 4 percent of the country’s total deaths — concerns are growing that even those high numbers are underreported, as well as numbers in other jurisdictions where assisted suicide is legal.
It comes down to the reporting procedures doctors use to record the deaths, Mr. Schadenberg says. Doctors in Canada and states including Oregon, Washington, California, Vermont, and Hawaii, he says, are required by law to list assisted suicide as a natural death.
“They’re legislated — so it’s forced on them — that they cannot report on the death certificate that this was an assisted death or a euthanasia death,” Mr. Schadenberg says. “They have to report it as a natural death. Which means, that if you had cancer, but you die by euthanasia, that your death certificate will say cancer, it will not say euthanasia.”
When asked about concerns that doctors were reporting death by underlying conditions instead of by assisted suicide, a representative of Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, Anne Génier, tells the Sun that “there is no underreporting” and that “all MAID deaths are required to be reported.”
The reality is that based on Canada’s reporting system, it is impossible for Génier to know if a MAiD [Medical aid in dying] death was not reported. Hroncich then asked about a few recent Canadian euthanasia stories.
In Canada, a theme is emerging among sick patients who want treatment but are instead prescribed assisted suicide or choose euthanasia after waiting for treatment in a backlogged healthcare system.
One patient, a 52-year-old man named Dan Quayle, waited for ten weeks in the hospital for chemotherapy, the National Post reports. Doctors told him the treatment would prolong his life but wouldn’t schedule it or give him a timeline, and after weeks of waiting with intense suffering, he chose assisted suicide.
Another British Columbia patient, a woman named `Allison Ducluzeau, was diagnosed with abdominal cancer and forced to seek treatment in the United States after being pushed towards euthanasia by Canadian doctors.
“Chemotherapy is not very effective with this type of cancer,” Ms. Ducluzeau said she was told by surgeons, according to Global News. “It only works in about 50 percent of the cases to slow it down. And you have a life span of what looks like to be two months to two years. And I suggest you talk to your family, get your affairs in order, talk to them about your wishes, which was indicating, you know, whether you want to have medically assisted dying or not.”
It is important to note that Ducluzeau was successfully treated in Baltimore and has recently married. Hroncich then asked about Canada’s legislated expansion of euthanasia to include mental illness.
Canada’s expansion of its Medical Aid in Dying law to allow mental illness as a condition for dying will allow patients suffering from alcohol addiction, drug and substance abuse disorders, and eating disorders to choose euthanasia.
One 47-year-old woman, Reuters reported, who suffers from anorexia and weighs only 92 pounds, is actively waiting for the March 2024 mental health expansion to go into effect so that she can die.
“The government has decided that certain types of drug addictions are in fact a mental illness. Therefore, they would qualify — even though they admit it would be difficult for them to assess it — they would qualify possibly for an assisted death,” Mr. Schadenberg says.
People who are going through difficult times and suffering from addiction need support, he adds. “And what will they get? They will qualify for death.”
The more that people become aware of the Canadian euthanasia experience, the more they will realize that – You don’t want to open the door to euthanasia or assisted suicide.