After international criticism, Canada now looks to delay new assisted dying rules for mentally ill.
Now comes a report of a Canadian doctor saying the most rewarding work she has done was overseeing the euthanization of more than 400 people.
Ellen Wiebe, a doctor who works with Dying With Dignity Canada, boasted in a seminar for physicians working in assisted suicide about the time she treated a patient who did not qualify for the end of life service.
A Medical Assistance In Dying (MAID) assessor had rejected the unnamed man because he did not have a serious illness or ‘the capacity to make informed decisions about his own personal health.’
But the man eventually made his way to Wiebe, who cleared him, flew him out to Vancouver, and euthanized him, The New Atlantic reports.
‘It’s the most rewarding work we’ve ever done,’ Wiebe said of MAID during a 2020 event in a video that’s since been shared online.
Obstetrician Stefanie Green, a colleague of Wiebe, also revealed that she’s helped 300 people die in Canada’s controversial MAID program, which eclipses similar programs in the US.
Wiebe was one of three panelists discussing the implementation of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) in Canada in this 2018 video.
Medical assistance in dying (MAID) has been available in Canada since 2016 and was set to expand in March 2023, extending eligibility to those with a mental illness. However, in light of recent push-back, that expansion has been delayed.
The expansion has come under fire from some experts, who worry that it offers death as an option to people with suicidal thoughts.
Supporters of the measure, however, say excluding people with mental illness is discriminatory.
The expansion of assisted dying to people with mental illness would mean that Canada would have one of the most liberal euthanasia laws in the world.
Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti acknowledged on Thursday that more time might be needed to get the country’s Medical Assistance in Dying law right.
“We want to be prudent, we want to move in a step-by-step way so that we don’t make mistakes,” Mr Lametti said at a news conference.
The move was made after international criticism of Canada’s program, which critics claim say makes it too easy to conduct euthanasia.
Even before the law’s expansion, there was growing criticism of Canada’s policy. “Human rights advocates say the country’s regulations lack necessary safeguards, devalue the lives of disabled people, and are prompting doctors and health workers to suggest the procedure to those who might not otherwise consider it,” The Associated Press reports, adding that there are growing worries that some people choose to die simply because they’re poor.
One highly publicized story featured a man who applied for assisted death because he couldn’t pay for a home. (He later reversed course.)
Criticism has come from beyond the country’s borders. In 2021, a trio of United Nations human rights experts expressed concerns that the broader law might create “a social assumption …that it is better to be dead than to live with a disability.” American conservatives have increasingly expressed alarm, as well.
“Important people … promised Canadians that their rights to autonomy would be expanded,” Alexander Raikin writes in The New Atlantis. “But the picture that emerges is not a new flowering of autonomy but the hum of an efficient engine of death.”
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