By Jonathon Van Maren
Euthanasia numbers are skyrocketing. In the first seven months of legal assisted suicide in Quebec, 262 people utilized the process to kill themselves. And now this, from the CBC:
There were 1,523 medically assisted deaths in Canada in the last six-month reporting period — a nearly 30 per cent increase over the previous six months…Using data from Statistics Canada, the report shows medically assisted deaths accounted for 1.07 per cent of all deaths in the country over those six months. That is consistent with reports from other countries that have assisted death regimes, where the figure ranges from 0.3 to four per cent. Since Quebec’s assisted death law and the federal legislation came into force two years ago, 3,714 Canadians have received medical aid in dying.
In fact, the rates of assisted suicide are attracting some concern—at the end of May, the President of the Quebec College of Physicians wrote to Health Minister Gaetan Barrette, indicating that some patients may be opting to have themselves killed due to a lack of available palliative care. There are “difficulties with the accessibility of palliative care for many end-of-life patients,” Dr. Charles Bernard noted. “In certain well-identified cases, patients, not benefiting from such care, could have no choice but to request medical assistance in dying to end their days ‘in dignity.’”
In fact, some doctors have even stated that access to palliative care has decreased, with Teresa Dellar, the director of the West Island Palliative Care Residence noting that “medical aid in dying is available to 100% of the population and [in] palliative care the resources are only available to 30% of the population.” The Canadian government had promised that with the legalization of euthanasia would also come better and more readily accessible palliative care. That promise has not been realized, and people may be killing themselves as a result.
For those interested, Blaise Alleyne and I co-authored the book A Guide to Discussing Assisted Suicide on how to talk to your peers about this issue, featuring street-tested arguments and conversational dialogues.