Critics of MAID have pointed out alarming reports of disabled people applying for MAID because of poverty, squalid conditions in long-term-care facilities, homelessness, and lack of appropriate care. According to Canadian news outlet The Walrus: “It is sometimes the case that even if those applicants are approved for MAID based on their physical health, it may be their lack of financial and health care support that drives them toward this option.”
Stainton pointed to discussions in Canada’s Parliament to expand euthanasia for minors, even while there are no evident plans to legislate the process. However, Dying with Dignity Canada provided testimony to the Parliamentary Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (AMAD), which discussed the possibility of expanding eligibility to mature minors and people with mental illness.
While Canada was not specifically mentioned, in a 2021 report U.N. human rights experts expressed alarm about euthanasia being pushed on disabled people. “Disability should never be a ground or justification to end someone’s life directly or indirectly,” they wrote.
In a Jan. 27 article in the Toronto Star, psychiatrist K. Sonu Gaind of Sunnybrook Hospital in Ontario commented about the uptick euthanasia in Canada, saying he is worried about what it “says about our society.” Gaind and three other medical experts wrote a paper in July 2023 in which they concluded: “The Canadian MAID regime is lacking the safeguards, data collection, and oversight necessary to protect Canadians against premature death.”
The Leger polling group surveyed Canadian opinion in 2022 about Canada’s permissive euthanasia law and found the country was divided. Leger found that 51% of Canadians supported expanding euthanasia to mature minors, with 23% opposed and 26% unsure. The survey found 65% supported advanced directives in the face of a worsening cognitive condition, while 45% supported expanding euthanasia to individuals with serious mental health illness.
McQueen told CNA that there is a spiritual component of discussions over euthanasia in Canada, where Quebec is leading Canada in the percentage of MAID cases. She wrote that only 13% of Catholics in Quebec practice their faith on a regular basis.
“It’s more to do with the fact that we don’t really care what others do — it’s their business and everything is about ‘rights,’ autonomy, and choice. Framed in this individualistic mindset, it’s difficult for ideas about the common good or altruism to survive. Live and let live, die and let die!”
She wrote that the “culture of death” is taking hold in Canada: “I thank God for those who continue to believe ‘In God, we trust’ and who trust in that God who gives us life and asks us to hold it dear for everyone, protecting it from conception until natural death.”
Medically assisted death is legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, and in parts of Australia. Passive euthanasia or the refusal of treatment or withdrawal of life support is legal in the U.S., U.K., European countries, and much of South America.
The Catholic Church has long advocated for palliative care, which allows accompanying sufferers with care and pain management that does not accelerate dying. Euthanasia and assisted suicide, the Church teaches, are affronts to human dignity and have always been, and always will be, morally unacceptable.
Citing the first chapter of Genesis, which affirms the intrinsic value of life, “regardless of ability or health,” the Catholic bishops of Canada stated in November 2023: “For these reasons, we, the members of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, unanimously and unequivocally oppose the performance of either euthanasia or assisted suicide (MAID) within health organizations with a Catholic identity. We oppose any efforts by governments or others to compel such facilities to perform MAID in violation of Catholic teachings.”
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The practice of euthanasia, they stated, would “deeply betray the identity of these institutions” and the “Church’s moral teachings on the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person.”