‘You Don’t Want To Open the Door to This,’ Critics Warn, as Support Grows for Assisted Suicide in America 

In Canada, where expansive legal suicide laws are leading to skyrocketing death counts, patients with treatable diseases are being pushed into assisted suicide.

AP/Rich Pedroncelli, file
Supporters of a measure to allow terminally ill people to end their own lives march at the capitol at Sacramento, California, September 24, 2015. AP/Rich Pedroncelli, file

As lawmakers push to legalize euthanasia in several American states, critics are raising concerns that the door to legal assisted suicide, once opened, can’t be shut. 

Efforts are underway by lawmakers in Michigan and Massachusetts, among other states, to legalize assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, but some say the legalization inevitably won’t stop there. Massachusetts voters rejected an assisted suicide referendum in 2012 by a thin margin — a 51-49 vote — but polling this year indicates nearly 80 percent of Massachusetts voters support assisted suicide legislation with safeguards.

“If you look at what’s going on in Canada, and you look at what’s going on or other jurisdictions, you don’t want to open the door to this,” Canada’s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition’s executive director, Alex Schadenberg, tells the Sun. “The concept that this can have some sort of control is a misnomer.”

In Canada, where, as the Sun reported, more than 13,000 patients died in 2022 by euthanisa — 4 percent of the country’s total deaths — concerns are growing that even those high numbers are underreported, as well as numbers in other jurisdictions where assisted suicide is legal. 

It comes down to the reporting procedures doctors use to record the deaths, Mr. Schadenberg says. Doctors in Canada and states including Oregon, Washington, California, Vermont, and Hawaii, he says, are required by law to list assisted suicide as a natural death.

“They’re legislated — so it’s forced on them — that they cannot report on the death certificate that this was an assisted death or a euthanasia death,” Mr. Schadenberg says. “They have to report it as a natural death. Which means, that if you had cancer, but you die by euthanasia, that your death certificate will say cancer, it will not say euthanasia.” 

When asked about concerns that doctors were reporting death by underlying conditions instead of by assisted suicide, a representative of Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, Anne Génier, tells the Sun that “there is no underreporting” and that “all MAID deaths are required to be reported.” 

In Canada, a theme is emerging among sick patients who want treatment but are instead prescribed assisted suicide or choose euthanasia after waiting for treatment in a backlogged healthcare system. 

One patient, a 52-year-old man named Dan Quayle, waited for ten weeks in the hospital for chemotherapy, the National Post reports. Doctors told him the treatment would prolong his life but wouldn’t schedule it or give him a timeline, and after weeks of waiting with intense suffering, he chose assisted suicide. 

Another British Columbia patient, a woman named Allison Ducluzeau, was diagnosed with abdominal cancer and forced to seek treatment in the United States after being pushed towards euthanasia by Canadian doctors. 

“Chemotherapy is not very effective with this type of cancer,” Ms. Ducluzeau said she was told by surgeons, according to Global News. “It only works in about 50 percent of the cases to slow it down. And you have a life span of what looks like to be two months to two years. And I suggest you talk to your family, get your affairs in order, talk to them about your wishes, which was indicating, you know, whether you want to have medically assisted dying or not.”

Canada’s expansion of its Medical Aid in Dying law to allow mental illness as a condition for dying will allow patients suffering from alcohol addiction, drug and substance abuse disorders, and eating disorders to choose euthanasia. 

One 47-year-old woman, Reuters reported, who suffers from anorexia and weighs only 92 pounds, is actively waiting for the March 2024 mental health expansion to go into effect so that she can die. 

“The government has decided that certain types of drug addictions are in fact a mental illness. Therefore, they would qualify — even though they admit it would be difficult for them to assess it — they would qualify possibly for an assisted death,” Mr. Schadenberg says. 

People who are going through difficult times and suffering from addiction need support, he adds. “And what will they get? They will qualify for death.” 

The New York Sun

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