Saturday, March 16, 2024

Jurisdictions That Legalize Euthanasia or Assisted Suicide Will Regret it. Just Look at Canada.

By Alex Schadenberg 

Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

I am just returning from a speaking tour which included meetings with elected representatives in Scotland and the Isle of Man. Both jurisdictions are debating the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide. While in Scotland, a news story was published concerning Keir Starmer, the leader of the UK Labour party, who promised that if elected he would bring forth a bill to legalize assisted dying.

At the same time the French President, Emmanuel Macron, announced that an "assisted dying" bill would be introduced on May 27. As horrific as Canada's experience with euthanasia has been, the terrible euthanasia stories out of Canada is creating a hesitancy in other countries when they debate legalizing poisoning by doctors.

The recent article by Michael Deacon that was published in the Daily Telegraph is titled: If Starmer legalises assisted dying, we’ll live to regret it... Euthanasia may start off as being for those with terminal illnesses, but its justification would soon blur – just look at Canada.

Deacon writes:

“I’m personally in favour of changing the law,” Sir Keir Starmer told Dame Esther in a personal phone call – before promising her that a Labour government would give MPs a vote on it. “Esther,” he declared, “I can give you that commitment right now.”

Admittedly, Sir Keir has a less than 100 per cent record on honouring his “commitments”. In the past, I’ve often criticised him for it. In this particular case, though, I hope he performs another of his famous U-turns. Because, if he does legalise assisted suicide, I fear we’ll live to regret it.

Deacon continues:

Have they really managed to miss all the horror stories coming out of Canada?

Assisted suicide was legalised there in 2016. And ever since, there have been numerous cases showing how humane intentions can lead to chilling consequences. Take the 61-year-old man who was euthanised in 2019, even though the only health problem he’d listed on his application form was hearing loss. Or the 41-year-old woman who was euthanised in 2021 after telling doctors she wanted to end the suffering caused by her fibromyalgia. In private, however, she’d told friends that she actually wanted to die because she was so poor

Deacon makes it clear, Canada's experience will also happen in the UK:

We may tell ourselves that we’d never let that happen here. But I wouldn’t be so sure. After all, Canadians have long held a well-deserved reputation for being the nicest people on earth. And yet all of a sudden, here they are, eagerly clamouring to bump off the poor. Forget helping them find a decent home and a solid job. Just slip them a lovely, lethal dose of propofol. Well, it’s an awful lot cheaper.

This is the trouble with assisted dying. You start off legalising it solely for people suffering from terminal illness. But then there’s pressure to legalise it for other health conditions, and depression, and eating disorders, and drug addiction – until before you know it, you daren’t even visit your GP any more, for fear of what he might prescribe.

Deacon ends his article with some cautious leavity:

“Good morning, doctor. I think I’ve sprained my ankle.”

“Not to worry. There’s a wonderful new treatment that’s guaranteed to end your pain. And not just in your ankle, either.”

Such a scenario may sound far-fetched. Not least because getting a GP appointment in this country is next to impossible. But even so, it’s as well not to grant the state too much power – because it may well end up using that power in ways we never intended.

Think how often we’re warned that the future of our very society is imperilled by our rapidly ageing population. Back in 2010, Martin Amis proposed a solution. On each citizen’s 70th birthday, he or she would be handed “a martini and a medal”, and then marched to a street corner “euthanasia booth”.

Amis was of course joking. At least, he thought he was.

Deacon is correct. When Canada legalized euthanasia we were told that we wouldn't follow the Netherlands and Belgium experience. In fact, we are surpassing them.