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What’s Going on in Canada with Assisted Suicide?

Over the past year, the law and practice of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) in Canada has received an incredible amount of media attention, much of it negative.

Last October, a prominent Canadian fashion retailer released a three-minute commercial titled “The Most Beautiful Exit,” featuring the suicide of a thirty-seven-year-old British Columbia woman, Jennyfer Hatch, who was approved for MAID because of Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a genetic connective tissue disorder that is often painful. It was later revealed that Hatch had “preferred” to live, but was finding it difficult to navigate the healthcare system and get the care she needed. “I feel like I’m falling through the cracks so if I’m not able to access health care am I then able to access death care?’ And that’s what led me to look into MAID and I applied last year,” she said under a pseudonymous interview a few months earlier.

That same month, The Free Press published a chronicle of one mother’s desperate attempt to intervene in the scheduled death by euthanasia of her twenty-three-year-old son, who had qualified for MAID on the basis of the three medical factors of diabetes, blindness in one eye, and depression.

A month later, retired Army Corporal and Canadian paralympian Christine Gauthier testified before the House of Commons that after trying unsuccessfully for five years to get financial support from the government to build a wheelchair ramp, the Veterans Affairs office offered her MAID instead.

Despite the fact that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has publicly promised that no one would receive MAID “because [they’re] not getting the supports and cares that [they] actually need,” many are wondering if this is in fact true. Concern has been raised by those on the right and the left. Headlines from mainstream newspapers include the following: “Are Canadians being driven to assisted suicide by poverty or healthcare crisis?”, “‘Disturbing’: Experts troubled by Canada’s euthanasia laws,” and “Why is Canada euthanizing the poor?”

The debate ramped up when journalist Alexander Raikin published a piece in the more conservative-leaning journal The New Atlantis providing evidence that euthanasia providers are aware that such cases are more common than many think. Among Raikin’s sources for such a claim were a set of virtual training seminars produced by the Canadian Association of MAID Assessors and Providers, or CAMAP. These seminars advised providers on how to deal with the moral distress of providing MAID to patients who are driven to euthanasia because of poverty or inadequate social supports—in other words, patients who feel they have “no other options.” Raikin chronicled a few such cases in depth. The subjects said things like “I cannot afford to live . . . what do I do? . . . MAID is the only choice I can see for a way out” and “the suffering I experience is mental suffering, not physical. I think if more people cared about me, I might be able to handle the suffering caused by my physical illnesses alone.”

Read more at Church Life Journal 

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