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The expansion of euthanasia in real time worries the editorial board of the Washington Post

by | Jan 29, 2024

By Dave Andrusko

When even the Washington Post calls for a time-out on further expansion of euthanasia (albeit in Canada), you know it’s pretty clear that Canada has gone off the rails.

To understand the Post’s sort-of-concern, recall that in Canada, “euthanasia” –or “Medical Assistance in Dying” [MAID]– refers to “lethal injections or other interventions administered actively by physicians,” The Post observes.

In the United States, by contrast, “assisted dying still takes only the comparatively passive form of ‘physician-assisted suicide,’ in which doctors prescribe a lethal dose of medications for self-administration.” [Emphasis added.] Note the next sentence: “We have supported limited assisted dying programs of this kind.”

So what is about the latest “reform” that so unnerves the editorial board of the Washington Post? Where did our compassionate position take a wrong turn North of the border?

“On March 17, barring a last-minute change in government policy, Canada will authorize MAID upon the request of patients whose only illness is a psychiatric one, such as depression or schizophrenia.

At first reading, this is so bizarre that you find it hard to believe. This is a sick joke, right?

No! Here’s the background, the slippery slope in real-time.

Going back 30 years, the pro-death movement has experience great success in convincing governments (or states or provinces) that it is an invidious form of discrimination to “deny” this “right” to…well, fill in the blank.

“Mature minors,” for one, people who are not terminally ill, for another. Waiting periods? That’s just attempting to stall the individual’s taking the final step. Even residency requirements are being eliminated. Why shouldn’t I be able to go to the state where this is legal if it is not in my state?’

How about permitting assisted suicide by telehealth? Of course, can’t “discriminate” against people who live in the hinterland.

This is “legislative creep” gone amuck! [The term is Sue Webber’s, a senior Tory and a Member of the Scottish Parliament.]

Almost the last step—although doubtlessly the grotesquely misnamed “Compassion & Choices” will find others—is extending this “right” to people suffering mental disorders, The aforementioned “legislative creep” is alive (in a manner of speaking} and accelerating.

“The latest statistics we have are that 44,958 people died by MAID between 2016 and the end of 2022, more than the number of Canadian military deaths in the Second World War,” The National Post’s John Ivison writes.

“The trend lines are worrying: 31.2-per-cent more cases in 2022 over the previous year.

“The fear is that those numbers will really blast off if access becomes too open. There are plenty of signs
 that Canada has gone too far already, without lifting more restrictions.”

Getting back to the Washington Post editorial warning about expansion:

Advocates frame this as an advancement for patient autonomy and equal rights for the mentally ill. In fact, it would risk the lives of vulnerable people who, by definition, might have trouble assessing reality and whose symptoms and conditions are notoriously difficult even for experts to specify. There might, indeed, be mentally ill patients suffering from symptoms so debilitating and intractable that their options are uniformly dismal. But designing a system to distinguish them reliably from others in mental distress, who would benefit from treatment, is at least extremely hard, if not impossible.

And, certainly, as the editorial points out

Canada’s system is not up to the task. Its MAID regulations are looser than those of Belgium and the Netherlands, where psychiatric euthanasia has been lawful since 2002 — and where serious concerns have arisen about that practice.

The editorial concludes

Good intentions tend to have unintended consequences. In the United States, Americans need to keep a close eye on their neighbor’s experience, and learn from it.

You think?

Categories: Euthanasia