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Euthanasia for drug addicts is an outcome of euthanasia for mental illness

by | Oct 25, 2023

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Manisha Krishnan reported for Vice on October 19 that when Canada permits euthanasia for mental illness on March 17, 2024 that an outcome of that will be euthanasia for drug addicts. Krishnan reports:

Canada will legalize medically assisted dying for people who are addicted to drugs next spring, in a move some drug users and activists are calling “eugenics.”

Krishnan reports that Health Canada is proposing that at least the criteria for approving euthanasia for mental illness will require that a person at least attempts treatment.

According to a statement from Health Canada, the assessments must explore a person’s treatment history and “a person cannot refuse all or most treatments and automatically render themselves incurable for the purposes of accessing MAID” [Medical Assistance in Dying]. People who haven’t attempted multiple treatments won’t qualify.

A contentious issue was being discussed last week by the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine: euthanasia for drug addicts. 

Dr. David Martell, physician lead for Addictions Medicine at Nova Scotia Health, presented a framework for assessing people with substance use disorders for MAID at the conference. He told Krishnan:

“I don’t think it’s fair, and the government doesn’t think it’s fair, to exclude people from eligibility because their medical disorder or their suffering is related to a mental illness,”

“As a subset of that, it’s not fair to exclude people from eligibility purely because their mental disorder might either partly or in full be a substance use disorder. It has to do with treating people equally.”

Zoë Dodd, a Toronto-based harm reduction advocate, told Krishnan that drug addicts need better access to overdose prevention sites, opioid agonist medications like methadone, a regulated drug supply, housing, and employment. Dodd continued:

“I just think that MAID when it has entered the area around mental health and substance use is really rooted in eugenics. And there are people who are really struggling around substance use and people do not actually get the kind of support and help they need,”

Martell, who has been a euthanasia “provider” since 2016, told Krishnan that he wasn’t sure if he would provide MAiD for a person with a substance use disorder and he recognized that treatment for substance use disorders is underfunded. Martell also agreed that euthanasia assessments for these conditions would be very tricky, nonetheless, it would be an option.

Karen Ward, a drug user activist in Vancouver, told Krishnan that

she considers the expansion of MAID to include people with substance use disorders a “statement in federal law that some people aren’t really human.”

“The government has made death accessible while a better life remains impossible,” she said. “Homes for all, guaranteed dignified incomes, access to healthcare, education and employment: these aren’t radical demands.”

Since Health Canada defined killing by MAiD (euthanasia) as a “healthcare” service the outcome is that there is no limit to euthanasia. Further to that, any potential limit to euthanasia is seen as a form of “discrimination” and therefore withdrawn.

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

Categories: Euthanasia