Remember when the idea that government-run health care could lead to “death panels” was scoffed at as absurd?
Well, the absurd is coming closer to reality as Canada—which has a universal, publicly funded health care system—extends medical assistance in dying (MAiD) laws to include a wider variety of conditions.
Since Canada passed its law in 2016, more than 30,000 people have died as a result, and those numbers are accelerating.
MAiD is set to expand in March and will then allow people with mental illness to seek medically assisted death, too. It’s not just going to be the sick and the poor being eliminated, but those who are depressed. How progressive.
In Nazi Germany, they might have called these people “undesirables” or some other mean, nasty epithet before exterminating them. But in liberal, tolerant, modern Canada, they are above such sordid terminology.
Under the current law, only Canadians over 18 years of age are eligible. However, the Canadian government has put together a commission to study whether it should be extended to “mature minors,” who could be allowed to seek euthanasia without parental consent.
There is no set definition of what exactly a “mature minor” is, but presumably it would be for Canadians under the current age threshold.
Given the speed at which the law is expanding, it’s hard to see that option for minors not being on the table in the near future. What we are talking about isn’t really a slippery slope at this point, it’s a free fall to perdition. Certainly, it wouldn’t be the first time a medically assisted death program in an “advanced” country rapidly expanded to a point many would consider unimaginable when it began.
What makes the societal sanction of assisted-suicide laws particularly disturbing is how they are wound up with the government and its collective incentives.
While assisted-suicide laws have generally been sold as a means to empower individual choice, in reality it’s almost impossible to separate that choice from the interests of society. That’s especially the case when there is massive government involvement in medical care and cost.
A few stories from Canada in the past few years highlight the problem.
In 2017, the Canadian Medical Association Journal estimated that medically assisted death could save the government between $34.7 million and $136.8 million per year. One assumes that expanding the law could provide even more “savings” of this nature.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported the story in a way that made it sound like it was discussing the cost of a new highway or infrastructure project, not something with immense ethical implications.
Somehow, it gets even worse.
In 2020, the Ottawa Citizen reported that medically assisted death provided a “boon” to organ donation.
“In the first 11 months of 2019, MAiD patients in the province accounted for 18 organ [donors] and 95 tissue donors, a [14%] increase over 2018 and a [109%] increase over 2017,” the Ottawa Citizen reported.
It seems there are many in the managerial health-expert class who desperately want to normalize the idea that perhaps society should find ways to simply get rid of the sick and old (and harvest their organs for the healthy and useful). They look at the financial numbers and see that a stretched health care system—where aging societies and plunging birthrates are accelerating the problem—would really benefit if some people were taken off the books.
Right now, the Canadian system is in the aggressive promotion phase, where “offing” the old, the sick, the poor, and the mentally ill is advertised as humane and compassionate. But it’s already moving toward the next phase in the process, where suicide is the initial option given to patients by doctors and medical institutions looking to save money.
It’s like going from “do no harm” to “take this pill, and begone.”
For instance, a 52-year-old retired corporal who had competed in the 2016 Paralympics for Canada was provided a medically assisted suicide kit when she requested a wheelchair lift for her home. The incident prompted the Canadian government to review and change its protocols, but is there any doubt that this will become a more frequent occurrence?
And given the trend, it doesn’t seem at all unthinkable that in the future—especially when governments that bear most of the cost of health care and medically assisted death is normalized—government agencies will offer suicide as the only option for patients with various ailments.
This exposes one of the biggest problems with “socialized” medicine and why many Americans fear it, especially in a time of radicalized government agencies. Not only could government agencies work ruthlessly to cut costs, promoting policies that even Nazi Germany tried to hide from its people, but they could make financial decisions based on ideology.
Who is worthy of care, and who is deserving of life or death? These decisions will increasingly be made by woke institutions.
This is all to say that the increasing government approval of medically assisted death is leading Western societies into dangerous, morally repugnant territory. Massive government involvement makes it an even thornier issue.
Canada’s fast track to universal euthanasia is a warning to America, where medically assisted suicide is still limited to 10 states and the District of Columbia. For that, we should be thankful for federalism.
In the meantime, however, we must do what we can to promote a culture of life.
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