Claire Dirks has a genetic neurodegenerative disease. Two years ago, her father, suffering from the same disease, chose euthanasia. In a webinar, Claire testifies about the impact of euthanasia on relatives. She describes her successive shocks: the announcement of her father’s choice, the speed of the procedure (1 month), the procedure itself (her father had 3 interviews with a psychologist via skype). Claire understands there are caregivers who defend life but deplores that very often the medical profession does not offer alternative options and at times even encourages the process. Euthanasia is not an alternative to suffering, which is part of life. Claire defends the audacity to live. Being ready to help and support remains a duty in our individualized society.
In the first 10 months of 2022 the number of reported assisted deaths exceeded all of last year, from 3102 to 3213 according to the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario. 13,011 assisted deaths in Ontario have been reported since euthanasia was legalised. According to the Third Annual report, from legalisation until December 31, 2021, the number of assisted deaths increased by 32.4% representing 3.3% of all deaths in Canada. Canada’s Federal Government established a committee to discuss further expansions of euthanasia for incompetent people, for children and for people with mental illness alone. Bill C-7 already approved euthanasia for mental illness. A recent presentation by the Quebec College of Physicians urged the Federal Government to permit infant euthanasia.
Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and Patty Hajdu, minister of Indigenous Services, annonced on Parliament Hill in Ottawa that the canadien federal government is pouring $11 million into a national strategy aimed at preventing suicide among Inuit. The National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy (created in 2016) estimates suicide rates in Inuit five to 25 times higher than the rate in the rest of Canada. Help lines, counselling websites and association put their strength together to help the ones who “wants to take their life” and “support people through those dark times.” Euthanasia was legalised the same year and is responsible for or 3.3% of Canadian deaths, between 2020 and 2021 its practice increased by 32%.
Robert Holcman is a hospital director and university professor. He raises paradoxes of euthanasia: While physical and psychological suffering are much better taken care of than fifty years ago, why think today about shortening the end of life? Some are implementing ways to dramatically extend the lifespan of a healthy human being to 130 years, while others are considering legislation to shorten the life of human beings. Our society forbids being able to commit suicide freely, develops suicide prevention programs, and paradoxically thinks about ways to ensure that people can ask to be “suicided”. To conclude, where to put the limit once we have begun to cross the ban on killing? According to him, euthanasia is a social injustice.
Le Promeneur immobile (The Motionless Walker), by Philippe Pozzo di Borgo. Published 31/8/22.
The French autobiography denounces the “tyranny of performance and autonomy” which would like to eliminate, out of selfishness, the “weight” of disability. In a story he explains the difference between his two lives, that of the able-bodied man and that of the quadriplegic, “that of the senses, noisy and agitated, and the other, insensitive, suffering and inert”. “To what encumbers us so much, competition, normality, productivity, efficiency, appearance respond to silence, relationship, simplicity, intimacy, assumed dependence. » This reflection leads him to denounce euthanasia which is a “violence done to the humiliated, as well as to their companions and caregivers”. He criticizes society for its inability to support, with respect and dignity, people at the end of life.
President Macron wishes to establish a “legal framework” concerning euthanasia and assisted suicide which has been illegal in France until now. In this context, two philosophers and a journalist comment: Euthanasia is an anthropological rupture: Society is not just a juxtaposition of individual freedoms. We are bound. A law can be repressive, but it is also expressive: it translates the values of a society. No one is alone in this gesture. This causes shocks throughout society. Helping someone to die is saying to him: yes, your life is indeed worth nothing. It is breaking a civilizing taboo. We will no longer call killing the name of killing but it is the right to kill that will be legalized.
On Tuesday 6th September 2022, The Health Committee of Uruguay’s Lower House has passed a bill approving euthanasia. “Any person of legal age, psychically fit, who suffers from one or more chronic, incurable and irreversible pathologies or health conditions that seriously undermine their quality of life, causing them unbearable suffering, has the right to be euthanized at their request”. A patient who wishes to receive assistance in dying must go through a series of stages and medical interviews before his/her request is approved: interview with two different physicians within a period of no more than ten days, record in writing of his/her will to die before two witnesses in the three following days of the last interview. The Ministry of Public Health (MSP) must be informed.
Official data shows that the number of people dying with assistance has been rising much faster in Canada over the past three years than in other countries where assisted suicide or euthanasia are legal. The Netherlands and Belgium which, like Canada, allow both have seen numbers rise more slowly. The United States also saw a somewhat faster rise in those dying by self-administered physician-assisted suicide over the past four years (euthanasia is not legal in the U.S.). This was also aided by the fact that four states – New Jersey, Hawaii, Maine and New Mexico – legalized it between 2018 and 2021, while two more populous ones, Colorado and California, started the practice in 2016. Switzerland is another practitioner of physician-assisted suicide, but not euthanasia. 1,196 people died with assistance in the country in 2019, the latest year on record.
U.S. District Judge Fernando Aenlle-Rocha for the Central District of California ruled that California Senate Bill 380, which passed last year to amend the End of Life Option Act, that legalized assisted suicide in California violates the First Amendment rights of doctors by requiring them to participate in assisted suicide. SB 380 required a doctor who opposes assisted suicide to document a request for assisted suicide and that request was considered the first of two of the required requests. Therefore doctors who opposed assisted suicide were required to participate in the act. The case has not ended, but this decision is a great victory for conscience rights. Judge Aenlle-Rocha recognized that SB 380 violated the rights of physicians who oppose assisted suicide and he granted an injunction to prevent the egregious parts of the law from forcing physicians to participate in assisted suicide.
Tuesday, August 23, Marin Eugen Sabau was euthanized before being tried for shooting four people. This 46-year-old man was paralyzed during the shooting that injured several people in Tarragona, Spain He was then accused of five attempted murders and demanded euthanasia. “The victims have a feeling of frustration, underlined José Antonio Bitos, lawyer of two wounded police officers, one let a person decide when and how it finishes with the legal proceedings”. The police will obtain compensation from the public administration, having been injured in service. This is not the case for the other victims who “will have neither trial nor compensation”, points out the lawyer.