NRL News

Shopping for a death doctor in Canada 

by | Aug 10, 2022

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A CBC news report suggests that Canadians who are turned down for MAiD (euthanasia) multiple times just need to find another doctor or nurse who is willing to kill them.

Priscilla Ki Sun Hwang reported on August 3 that Margaret Bristow was declared ineligible for (MAiD) euthanasia by assessors in Ottawa three times but then was approved for euthanasia in Brampton. 

According to the report:

Bristow said she applied for medical assistance in dying, also called MAID, three times since the procedure was decriminalized in 2016 — twice prior and once after the recent legislative changes in 2021 broadened the eligibility criteria for patients.

All three times, she said, her Ottawa assessors declared her ineligible. 

Bristow said that her family doctor got her in contact with MAiD assessors in Toronto this Spring. The CBC report states that she is now scheduled to die by euthanasia on August 10 in Brampton and she chose to have it done in a hospital so that she could donate her organs.

Priscilla Ki Sun Hwang interviewed Dr. Chantal Perrot, a Toronto family physician and MAID provider, who explains that many people travel across Ontario or even to another province to die by euthanasia. 

Perrot states:

Each assessor comes to a clinical decision regarding a patient’s eligibility on a case-by-case basis, based on their interpretation of the legislation, the patient’s history and conditions, she explained.

“It happens not infrequently that a person will be found ineligible by one assessor, but found eligible by somebody else

Shopping for a death doctor is not uncommon in Canada. If one doctor or nurse decides that a person is ineligible, another doctor might find them eligible for death.

The 2021 Health Canada euthanasia report stated that only 487 (4%) of the euthanasia requests were declared to be ineligible that year and yet Bristow was turned down three times. There may be more to this story.

When Canada was debating euthanasia legislation in 2016,  I recognized that the law lacked clear standards or definitions, and I predicted that people could shop for a death doctor. Sadly this CBC report will encourage other people who have been declared ineligible for euthanasia to seek an assessment from a doctor or nurse who will approve their death.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Euthanasia