Saturday, October 1, 2022
Canada recently changed its assisted death law, loosening the requirements for people to seek medical assistance to end their lives. The new law allows people with “grievous and irremediable” conditions to seek death, even if they are not terminally ill.
Canada is one of 12 countries and a handful of American states where assisted death is permitted, however, it is only one of three nations that permits assisted death without a condition being terminal. When the original law was suggested in 2016, it was a hotly debated issue that won broader public acceptance over time. But the new change is bringing back the debate, especially as the next expansion in 2023 will allow people with mental disorders to apply. Critics believe this is going too far.
Such critics include United Nations disability and human rights experts, who believe that this law devalues lives by suggesting disability is worse than death. Other critics point to the fact that the law makes medical clinicians the final arbiters of death despite no other jurisdiction treating end of life care as a standard medical practice. While proponents point out that any doctors who do not follow strict guidelines will face severe consequences, such as losing their medical licenses or facing criminal charges. They feel that the system is working well.
For more information see Ian Austen “Is Choosing Death Too Easy in Canada?”, The New York Times, September 18, 2022.
Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.