Euthanasia Becoming First Resort in Quebec

By Wesley J. Smith

Euthanasia advocates are so full of it, promising that snuff medicine will only be a last resort when nothing else can be done to alleviate suffering.

It’s never been true, to the point that no law in the world requires that everything — or indeed, perhaps anything — be tried to alleviate suffering prior to taking the lethal measure. The patient can simply refuse alleviating interventions — and that refusal does not legally invalidate the “Make me dead” request even when their suffering could be reduced with proper medical, psychological, or social care.

Suicidal people can even increase their own suffering to qualify for euthanasia; in Canada, by self-starving to become sufficiently weak that death is foreseeable, or, in Oregon, diabetics refusing insulin to immediately become terminal.

Now, a study published in the Journal of Medical Ethics shows that euthanasia in Quebec — euphemistically called “medical aid in dying” (MAiD) — is sometimes applied with little or no attempt to palliate or relieve suffering through non-lethal medical means prior to the killing. (It is worth nothing that in socialized-medicine Canada, only 15 percent of patients receive adequate palliative care, while accessing euthanasia when legally qualified is treated as a positive legal right.)

From the study’s conclusion (my emphasis):

Requests for and provision of MAiD as documented in the chart can occur abruptly and without a documented evolution of the goals of care which may imply that requests for MAiD are not treated as having particular moral considerations but merely administrative or legal ones.

If MAiD is not ethically distinct from other end-of-life practices, then the timing would not appear to add any additional ethical concerns to those already expressed in relation to late discussion of end-of-life care options in general.

If, however, MAiD is ethically distinct and should be treated with special consideration, the tendency to avoid, delay or have inadequate conversations about end-of-life care may be especially troubling in the context of their unknown impact on requests for assisted death.

Of course euthanasia is losing its moral import. It is being normalized!

And what else should we expect? Harnessing the authority of doctors in support of homicide transforms the act into a perceived beneficence, which quickly erodes the perceived intrinsic value of human life. Over time, euthanasia practice becomes a banal bureaucratic matter of checking the right boxes or finding ways to maneuver around the “protective guidelines” — now perceived as “obstacles.”

Humans are a logical species. Once we adopt a principle — here, that killing is an acceptable way to defeat suffering — we take the road wherever it leads.

Editor’s note. Wesley’s fine columns appear at National Review Online and are reposted with his permission.