In a Canadian CBC News article titled “Mature minors, mentally ill should have right to doctor-assisted death, report advises”, a special committee of MPs (members of Parliament) and senators issued a 70 page report “Medical Assistance in Dying: A Patient-Centred Approach” stating that mature minors and mentally ill people should not be excluded from the right to “doctor-assisted death” (physician-assisted suicide). It also states that Canadians should have the right to make an “advance request” for physician assisted suicide, termed “medical aid in dying”, after being diagnosed with certain debilitating, but not necessarily terminal, conditions.
There is not even a requirement that the lethal overdose be oral or self-administered and the Canadian province of Quebec has already started lethal injections.
Ironically, capital punishment existed in various forms in Canada until 1998, when the federal government completely abolished the death penalty.
How can lethal injections be “cruel and inhumane” for convicted murderers but a civil right when it is chosen by an ill person?
And while physician-assisted suicide laws in the US routinely provide immunity for physicians, the Canadian recommendations also exempt nurses, pharmacists and other health care practitioners from key criminal code provisions.
Age of Consent
Although the Canadian Pediatric Society pushed to exclude minors regardless of competence, the report states that
“Given existing practices with respect to mature minors in health care and the obvious fact that minors can suffer as much as any adult, the committee feels that it is difficult to justify an outright ban on access to medical assistance in death for minors.”(Emphasis added)
The report states that the right to assisted death should not be limited to physical conditions, and that Canadians with psychiatric conditions should not be excluded from “doctor assistance to end suffering” (physician-assisted suicide).
“As reported by Medscape Medical News, the inclusion of psychiatric suffering in assisted death laws in European countries such as Belgium has sparked significant debate, particularly with research showing that many individuals who have a history of suicide attempts later regret taking such action.
“Most people who consider or attempt suicide never die by suicide [and] the conviction that there is no alternative but to end their lives often passes with the resolution of an acute crisis,” medical ethicist Paul S. Applebaum, MD, told Medscape Medical News.
“By making the option of suicide easier, ie, a painless, certain death with medical assistance, the Dutch, Belgian, and similar laws may encourage many people, especially women, who would not have ended their lives to do so,” said Dr Applebaum, Dollard Professor of psychiatry, medicine, and law and director of the Division of Law, Ethics, and Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York City.” (Emphasis added)
“Advance Consent” for Assisted Suicide for People with Dementia
The advocacy group Dying With Dignity Canada applauded the report’s recommendations, especially the one to allow advance consent.
“Patients deserve real choice,” said CEO Shanaaz Gokool in a release.
“Without the option to consent in advance to assisted dying, Canadians with dementia who want to die in peace with the help of a physician face a dire choice: access assisted dying prematurely, while they are still competent; or risk losing competence before their wishes can be carried out, only to be condemned to the exact fate they sought to avoid.” (Emphasis added)
Actually, that result was already on the agenda when “living wills” were first proposed by Chicago lawyer Louis Kutner in his 1969 article “Due Process of Euthanasia: The Living Will, A Proposal” .
Some people say that Holland, Switzerland and Belgium are not like the US so that their virtually unregulated euthanasia policies should not affect us. But no one can deny the potential lethal impact on our own society from this terrible “right to be killed” propagated by our neighbor to the north.
One thought on “Canada’s Assisted Suicide Law to Cover Mental illness, Dementia and Minors”
Thank goodness there is one country – Canada – in North America with some semblance of intelligence, respect and thus true morality. I pray Canada moves forward with this initiative.
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