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.
Howard Breen, 68, who lives in Vancouver, is not terminally ill but is experiencing extreme mental suffering because of his concerns about climate change. In 2017, Breen’s doctor diagnosed him with clinical eco-anxiety and biosphere-related depression. Breen had his initial request for euthanasia turned down in February 2021 because one doctor in his euthanasia assessment did not consider eco-anxiety to be an “acceptable, permissible malady”. Eco-anxiety is not currently recognized as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association, whose diagnostic manual Canada uses. Breen however believes that his eco-anxiety is severe enough that he should be eligible for euthanasia now. In March 2023, euthanasia on the grounds of mental illness alone will be permitted.
This is one of many stories proving that euthanasia (MAiD) has grown out of control in Canada. A Canadian Forces veteran who had sustained a traumatic brain injury from a roadside bomb in Afghanistan and suffers from PTSD was seeking treatment when he was unexpectedly and casually offered medical assistance in dying by a Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) employee. This unprompted offer of MAID disrupted his progress for recovering and has been harmful to the veteran’s progress and his family’s wellbeing. Scott Maxwell, executive director of Wounded Warriors Canada, says that advocating for MAiD among veterans living with PTSD is “flat out wrong.” Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay told Global News that this will never happen again.
The Swiss Medical Association agreed to a new set of guidelines for assisted suicide that state:
- The physician must conduct at least two detailed discussions with the patient separated by an interval of at least two weeks.
- The symptoms of the illness and/or functional impairment must be unbearable, the severity of which is to be substantiated by a legitimate diagnosis and prognosis.
- Assisted suicide for healthy persons is not medically or ethically justifiable.
Previous guidelines did not require a two week interval and they permitted assisted suicide for otherwise healthy people. Lifecircle already offers the first meeting online. Swiss assisted suicide groups, as Dignitas, EXIT or The Swiss Medical Association are concerned that “stricter” rules will discourage suicide tourism.
Canadians are seeking death by euthanasia (MAiD) because they are not able to access medical treatment, or they are living with a disability, or a mental illness and/or poverty. Canada’s medical system makes it difficult for Gwen to receive treatment but easy for her to receive MAiD (euthanasia). The Canadian government is currently debating further expansions to the euthanasia law. Canada needs to recognize how its euthanasia law threatens the lives of people with disabilities and other chronic conditions and reverse its killing direction.
The Canadian Virtual Hospice is a “platform [that] could address some of the national gaps in palliative care,” The Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) Activity Book is available. The branding between the “Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) Activity book” and the “Me and My Illness” activity books is similar. If the message being sent with this colourful and engaging activity book is that euthanasia is a normal, innocuous act that “doesn’t hurt” and is appropriate for anyone who is in pain, how can a sick and/or suffering child escape the conclusion that it may be an appropriate solution for them – especially once MAiD is extended to mature minors?
Following a petition signed by “more than 155,000 people” calling for the legalization of “assisted death” for “mentally competent and terminally ill adults”, British MPs debated this subject on Monday July 4. Proposals are “in progress” in Scotland. Tonia Antoniazzi, Labor MP for Gower, who for her part underlines the “underfunding” of palliative care. As for the Ministry of Justice, it refers the decision to modify the law to Parliament. This is “a matter of conscience for individual parliamentarians rather than a matter of government policy,” he said. The government, then, “will make every effort” to apply the law.
Researchers at Rutgers School of Public Health and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey analyzed data from each of the 5,329 patients across the U.S. who died from medical aid in the 23 years after Oregon became the first state to legalize it and found one demographic dominates the group: well-educated, white patients with cancer. More than 72% of patients who died with medical aid had at least some college education, more than 95% were non-Hispanic whites, and nearly 75% had cancer. Nearly 60% of the people who died with medical aid were between ages 65 and 84. Another 16% were 85 years old or older, while 8% were 54 years old or younger.