Last week marked the four-year anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that validated Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). At the time, many euthanasiasts confidently predicted that there would be no “slippery slope” toward abuses. Since the procedure was being justified on the basis of self-determination, “consent,” it was strenuously affirmed, would be de rigeur.
As Andrew Coyne put it in a June, 2016 column, “When the subject is as priceless as a human life, it is not enough that consent usually be obtained. It must be in every case. It will not suffice if the safeguards are adequate. They must be perfect.”
But since the right to be killed by medical practitioners paid by the state has now been normalized, individuals are stepping forward, as any student of human nature (and observer of the euthanasia histories of Belgium and the Netherlands) might have predicted, to demand custom-tailoring of that right.
Audrey Parker, a Halifax woman with terminal cancer who was assisted to death Nov. 1, weeks earlier than she wished, left a video, released last week by Dying with Dignity Canada. In it, she said she would have preferred to stay alive until Christmas, but worried that her cancer, creeping to the lining of her brain, would render her unfit by then to invoke MAID. She asked for a “Parker’s amendment” to the law, allowing for a proxy to facilitate a previously sworn request in such circumstances.
It sounds reasonable. All safeguard abrogations do when they are attached to sympathetic protagonists with a black-and-white narrative. They are less palatable, though, when attached to muddier stories, like the case of a Dutch woman with dementia who’d signed a living will endorsing euthanasia when of sound mind, but then, when the time came, struggling against the needle, had to be held down by relatives as the doctor killed her.
Audrey Parker, diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer which had metastasized to her bones and has a tumour on her brain, talks about life and death at her home in Halifax on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018.
In fact, the Canadian government already asked the Council of Canadian Academics to study advance consent, as well as euthanasia in cases of mature minors and advanced dementia. On Dec. 13 the Council submitted a report including what they saw as the pros and cons of each proposal, but without recommendations. Federal Justice Minister David Lametti has said the government will continue …read more