Runaway Euthanasia Train Feeling Some Drag
Euthanasia, once a runaway train with advocates rapidly laying new tracks to keep it going, is suddenly feeling some drag.
For months, you have participated with us in our Care Not Kill campaign, raising awareness about the impending March deadline when euthanasia access would expand to those with mental illness. It was so encouraging to see our talking points in the mainstream media and then to hear the government announce a plan to delay the March deadline.
The weeks before Christmas were a maelstrom of activity as various MPs, senators, and media spoke out against the expansion of euthanasia to those with mental illness. Veterans Affairs is under fire for an employee repeatedly offering medically assisted death to struggling veterans. Doctors suggesting that euthanasia be offered to minors, or even infants, caused horrified pushback.
We shared many of these stories on social media, but we want to give some background to help you understand how hopeful and encouraging this is after some very dark months. We also want to keep the pressure on our federal lawmakers, as a postponement of the deadline is not a permanent solution. Mental illness as a reason for euthanasia still needs to be removed from the table entirely.
At a recent Special Joint Committee meeting studying medical assistance in dying, Dr. Mauril Gaudreault, President of the Collèges des médicins du Québec, said that euthanasia for infants is an area worth exploring and that the suffering of the parents must also be taken into account when making a decision for a baby with a disability or deformity. By that logic, if we are going to take parental suffering into account, why not the suffering of other caregivers? How much of a stretch would it be to allow caregivers to decide their suffering is too great in caring for a loved one with dementia, and so allow them to consent to euthanasia for a person who is unable to consent for themselves?
Not to be outdone by Gaudreault’s radical suggestion, Justice Minister David Lametti responded to a reporter questioning the expansion of euthanasia to people with mental illness by saying, “Remember that suicide generally is available to people. This is a group within the population who, for physical reasons and possible mental reasons, can’t make that choice themselves to do it themselves. And ultimately, this provides a more humane way for them to make a decision they otherwise could have made if they were able in some other way.” It seems the Justice Minister would promote making euthanasia generally available to all people, for any reason, at any age, because suicide is already a legal option but can be onerously difficult. Lametti seems to have no problem with suicide, as long as it is done “humanely,” with minimal pain and suffering.
It’s possible that the original Supreme Court justices in the Carter case really did believe that “the risks associated with physician-assisted death [could] be limited through a carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards” that are “scrupulously monitored and enforced.” We would still have been killing people, but certainly not so many people (just over 1,000 people were euthanized in 2016; it was more than 10,000 in 2021).
Since the legalization of assisted suicide, though, safeguards have become distant memories. Dr. Gaudreault asserted in his presentation that “medical assistance in dying is a form of care, a medical act that may be appropriate in certain circumstances. It is not a political or moral or religious issue; it is a medical issue… Its acceptance is now complete. Society has evolved” (emphasis added).
That some see the rapid expansion of euthanasia as a positive evolution shows how far Canada has shifted in its understanding of the sanctity of life. Suicide prevention has long been a goal of Canada’s public policy. Has there been such a fundamental shift in less than a decade that we are now fixated on suicide assistance rather than suicide prevention? It hardly seems like something to celebrate if we have evolved to a point of allowing – even encouraging – doctors to consider killing patients.
The truth is that society hasn’t evolved. It has lost its way and is out of control. Now it’s a question of whether together, by God’s grace, we can find our way back. Thankfully, the government has announced plans to extend the March 2023 deadline when those with mental illnesses were to be eligible for euthanasia. But what they will do with this delay remains to be seen, and we will be watching closely.
To learn about ARPA Canada’s campaign against euthanasia and to take action, visit CareNotKill.ca.