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Canadians Without Life Threatening Diseases Are Being Encouraged to Consider Suicide

by | Feb 14, 2024

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Katherine Brodsky

Katherine Brodsky, a freelance writer, wrote a good article about euthanasia that was published in Newsweek on February 12, 2024.

Brodsky introduces the article by writing about Lauren Hoeve (28) who passed away through assisted suicide. After enduring years of chronic fatigue syndrome (also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, ME/CFS), autism, ADHD, and anxiety. Brodsky then writes about Canada’s euthanasia law:

As a Canadian, I am familiar with the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) program, which has allowed eligible adults to request assisted death services since the federal legislation passed in June 2016. As of this year, the MAID program was also set to allow those with mental illness to choose euthanasia.

However, a recent development on Feb. 1 
proposed legislation to temporarily exclude individuals with a sole underlying medical condition of mental illness until 2027.

This legislation is currently under review by Parliament, and unless it passes, the exclusion will be lifted on March 17, 2024. This means individuals struggling solely with mental health issues may become eligible for assisted death.

Brodsky states that she supported euthanasia but Canada’s application of the euthanasia law concerns her. She continued:

I am now skeptical about the true autonomy of individuals opting for assisted death, especially in a country with socialized health care. The risk of medical practitioners recommending MAID as a cost-cutting measure to alleviate strain on the health care system is unsettling, as suggested by a 2020 analysis estimating potential annual savings of save $66 million annually in health care costs.

Individuals considering MAID are already vulnerable due to physical or mental suffering, making them susceptible to external pressures. Reflecting on my own past struggles, I recognize the unpredictability of emotions and circumstances. What seems unbearable one day may change with time and support—yet the choice to end life is a permanent one.

Brodsky writes that she lives with chronic pain and there have been times where she has questioned continuing. Brodsky then writes about John Scully who lives with severe depression and chronic pain. Brodsky asks, shouldn’t he have a choice? Brodsky continues:

And yet, I was struck by something in the statement put out by Lauren Hoeve’s parents. “Millions of people are affect by ME/CFS, with no established treatment pathways and no cure,” they wrote on X on Feb. 2. “Why is their suffering acknowledged enough for euthanasia but not enough to fund clinical research?”

And herein lies the rub. Why is euthanasia offered as a viable solution to a potentially non-permanent problem, when other options are possible?

Mental health services in Canada (and elsewhere) are scarce. Psychologists are expensive and out of reach for many. Psychiatric services are free of charge, but the wait lists are even longer than those for psychologists and few people can get access. The wait to get help is usually over a year. Family physicians just end up prescribing medications based on a checklist and see what sticks.

Brodsky continues:

Those living with chronic pain and disability have been put at the front of the line for MAID. Readily being presented with assisted dying services—instead of treatments or alternatives—can create a sense of being undervalued or marginalized. It implies that end-of-life choices should be prioritized over efforts to provide care, support, or treatments that could improve one’s quality of life or extend their lifespan.

Moreover, individuals feeling like a burden on their families may be easily swayed.

I’ve heard of least one case where a woman decided to end her life because she couldn’t get access to opioids for pain management. And while opioids are far from ideal, when it’s a choice between life and death—perhaps her doctors should have considered giving her another chance at life.

Brodsky asks if life-enhancing systems being downplayed for euthanasia, a permanent exit plan. Brodsky continues:

People deserve to have choices—and the choice to end their life should only be considered once every other possible option has been exhausted.

An 
estimated 836,000 to 2.5 million Americans and more than 580,000 Canadians suffer from ME/CFS. Their lives are inherently valuable.

Editor’s note, Katherine Brodsky is a commentator and writer who has contributed to publications such as Newsweek, Variety, WIRED, The Washington Post, Guardian, Esquire, CNN, Vulture, Playboy, Independent, Mashable, and many others—covering a diverse range of topics ranging from culture to tech—to spies. She tweets on X @mysteriouskat and writes random essays on Substack: katherinebrodsky.substack.com 

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

Categories: Suicide