Canada’s assisted suicide laws are being rationalized as an answer to poverty, disability
When there is one article in the media about a topic, it results in more stories on the same topic. In the past few months there have been several articles about people who are considering, have been approved, or have actually died by MAiD (euthanasia) based on disability and poverty.
On July 12, Christina Frangou wrote an article that was published by Chatelaine concerning a 54-year-old Vancouver woman who has amassed $40,000 in debts trying to treat myalgic encephalomyelitis and other ailments. When her money runs out, she says a medically assisted death may be her only option.
Frangou is writing about a woman known as Madeline, who is living with disability and poverty. A previous article about Madeline was published in July 2021. Frangou reports:
Today, she is among the more than 1.4 million Canadians with disabilities who live in poverty. Many, like Madeline, receive some government support; despite that, 40 percent of Canadians with disabilities live below the poverty line. And people with disabilities often need more basic goods and services just to survive—things like mobility aids, home care, accessible housing and transportation, prescription drugs and health care services, not all of which are fully covered by Canada’s publicly funded health programs.
There is, however, one government-funded service available to some people living with disabilities: medical assistance in dying (MAID). Last year, the Canadian government voted to expand MAID laws to include people suffering with illness whose death is not imminent, like Madeline. This has put her in a quandary: She has government funding to die in comfort, but not enough to live at the same standard.
The article explains that when Canada’s parliament passed Bill C-7 in March 2021, parliament expanded euthanasia to people with disabilities who are not otherwise dying.
Frangou wrote that Madeline applied for euthanasia in 2020 but she was told that she didn’t qualify, but after Bill C-7 passed, she was approved. Frangou continues:
Many in the disability community have expressed frustration about the new criteria for MAID, saying that people may feel coerced into dying when they are suffering from poverty more than illness. Madeline, however, says she welcomed the changes to MAID. At the same time, she says that her decision to apply for an assisted death is largely driven by finances: “I’ve been forced to a measure of deterioration [where] I’ve ended up with MAID,” she says.
She isn’t alone. Hewitt of Disability Without Poverty told Chatelaine that she knows of eight people who are considering MAID because of poverty. This winter, a 51-year-old Ontario woman diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivities chose MAID after she could not find affordable housing free of cigarette smoke and chemical cleaners. And another woman with the same condition told CTV that she will also seek a medically assisted death due to a lack of suitable housing. There are few known details about these cases, although they will be reviewed by the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario, in keeping with the rules for MAID requests in the province.
It was argued that expanding euthanasia to people with disabilities, who are not otherwise dying, provided equality but in fact it undermines the equality of people with disabilities who are often living in poverty.
The article ends by quoting Madeline as saying: “I’m not [giving up]. That’s not what MAID is. MAID is brutal practicality.”
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition accurately predicted that once doctors and nurses are given the right in law to kill patients that the rules and reasons for approving medical killing (MAiD) would expand. This is what has happened in Canada.