Canada’s Euthanasia Abyss

As Canada goes, so will California go. And as California goes, too often goes the U.S.

Within the Octave of Christmas, a Feast of Life, a New York Times (A1, Dec. 28) headline read, “Assisted Death for the Mentally Ill Divides Canada.” This March will bring the Government’s decision. No mention in the Times, of course, of killing. Instead the piece speaks of a “practice,” a “procedure,” and an “option.” So it goes, always progressively, with using medical terminology to cloak an eager complicity in self-destruction. (Imagine executioners re-classifying the gallows, the guillotine, and the gas chamber as “practices” and “procedures.”)

But the Canadian verbal gymnastics go further. Expanding the euthanasia target population from the dying, the disabled, and the incurable to include the mentally ill does come with a caveat. Euthanasia candidates already must be adjudged not suicidal. So now psychiatrists are asking for more guidance in determining whether their patients are suicidal.

What’s wrong, crazy wrong, in this maneuver? Voluntary euthanasia is itself suicide. Indeed, it is often called “assisted suicide.” So, either the requirement of not being suicidal is incoherent or, just maybe, the term is being used in some technical sense. But no explanation of medical subterfuge is made. And so, gentle reader, it seems that the Canadian euthanizers now engage in a flat out, brazenly bold, contradiction.

We should worry that as Canada goes, so will California go. And as California goes, too often goes the United States. California’s End of Life Option Act has already been amended to effectively reduce its waiting period for voluntary euthanasia from 15 days to 48 hours. Of course, as a matter of legal fiction, no one dies from so ending their life! By law, the death certificate specifies a pre-existing condition, not a physician certified lethal concoction, as the cause of death. Nonsense on stilts, is it not? whether in California or Canada.

Living as we do in a culture of death, and one that subverts the very language that we speak, makes it harder and harder to speak up. And when we speak up, it becomes harder and harder to be heard. For many the Biblical concept of redemptive suffering is incomprehensible.

Sometimes, I imagine, the light will shine through as parents speak with their children. What does a parent say to a child who asks what has happened to a gravely ill grandparent? Or what has happened to a deeply disturbed brother or sister? “Well, we did what we could. We were supportive in his (or her) choice to die.” Some children, surely, will ask, “But why not help him (or her) to live? Maybe even with us, here at home?”

For now, we can and should rage against the dying of the light. And in the end, Christ the Physician can heal even a culture of death. We can also serve as his instruments. We can do so, first, by embracing the gravely ill, whether in body or mind, in our own families.

We can also serve by supporting and joining those who are in the forefront of unmasking Canada’s cult of death. Alex Schadenberg is certainly among them. He is director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, founded in 1998 and based in the Canadian Province of Ontario. Schadenberg has traveled the world speaking about the issue and moderates the world’s most widely-read blog devoted to the issue. Another is philosopher Travis Dumsday. His scholarly work Assisted Suicide in Canada: Moral, Legal, and Policy Considerations (2021) is a keenly analytic examination of what led Canada to the euthanasia abyss. Both these leaders merit our closest attention.


Jim Hanink is an independent scholar, albeit more independent than scholarly!

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