Introduction

Webcast archive: 750 euthanasia deaths in Canada in 2016

This week, we discuss the euthanasia deaths that have occured since Bill C-14 came into effect.

Webcast archive: 750 euthanasia deaths in Canada in 2016

In this episode of Euthanasia & Disability, Amy Hasbrouck and Christian Debray discuss:

  • Nearly 750 euthanasia deaths in Canada in 2016
  • What does the inauguration of a new government in the U.S. mean for the struggle against assisted suicide and euthanasia?
  • “Mary Kills People” to premiere January 25 on Global TV
  • The Supreme Court of South Africa rejects a demand for assisted suicide

Please note that this text is only a script and that our webcast contains additional commentary.

NEARLY 750 EUTHANASIA DEATHS IN CANADA IN 2016

  • An article on the CTV News website in December stated that 744 people had received a doctor’s help to end their lives in 2016, not counting terminal palliative sedations.  This includes an estimated 300 people in Québec, where a law similar to the federal Medical Assistance in Dying bill came into effect in December of 2015.
  • According to CTV news, their survey of provincial and territorial health ministries did not reveal the total number of requests for assisted suicide and euthanasia, nor the reasons some applications were rejected.
  • Since the passage of Bill C-14 in June, Ontario leads the nation in the number of euthanasia administered at 180.  Also according to the CTV article:
    • 154 procedures were performed in B.C.
    • 63 were performed in Alberta
    • 18 were performed in Manitoba
    • 8 were performed in Saskatchewan
    • As of Oct. 31, 16 were performed in Nova Scotia
    • 4 were performed in Newfoundland and Labrador
    • None were performed in Prince Edward Island or the Northwest Territories
    • New Brunswick, the Yukon and Nunavut did not release data — however, in the Yukon, local media have reported on one case
  • CTV found that the rate of euthanasia is accelerating in some regions.  For example, one-third of the euthanasia reported in Ontario were performed in the last month of 2016.

WHAT DOES THE INAUGURATION OF A NEW GOVERNMENT IN THE U.S. MEAN FOR THE STRUGGLE AGAINST ASSISTED SUICIDE AND EUTHANASIA

  • Today, a new government will take over in the United States, with Donald Trump at its head.
  • Since most of the activity around assisted suicide takes place at the state level, the republican congress and administration won’t have much of a say in whether assisted suicide becomes legal in the U.S.
  • The exception is in the District of Columbia, where Congress must approve the district’s adoption of assisted suicide, and some Republicans have vowed to prevent the law from taking effect.
  • Where the Republican Congress and the Trump administration are likely to cause a great deal of harm is by repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.  Last week the senate voted to defund the law, the first step toward repealing it.
  • Repeal of the Affordable Care Act will remove important protections, services and supports people with disabilities need to live independently and with dignity.  For example:
    • Under the ACA, insurance companies could not exclude, delay or charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing medical conditions.
    • Insurance companies were prohibited from imposing lifetime limits on benefits;
    • The ACA included Money Follows the Person projects, where Medicaid funded initiatives to transition people with disabilities from long term care facilities into community living.
    • The Community First Choice Option was a stand-alone program that enabled people to choose to live in the community with funds going toward in-home personal care services instead of institutional custodial care.
    • Accessibility standards for diagnostic medical equipment, ensured that machines such as mammograms and MRIs would be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.
    • Medicaid expansion under the ACA enabled many people to benefit from health insurance without having to qualify for SSI or SSDI.
    • Young adults could remain on their parents medical insurance up to the age of 26.
  • The budget reconciliation process is being used to attack ACA.  Budget reconciliation can only affect spending, revenue and debt limits, and is not itself a repeal of the law.
  • The congress will have to decide whether it wants to repeal and replace the ACA, or simply to modify the law by removing provisions it doesn’t like.  The Republicans have not proposed any alternatives to the Affordable Care Act, but say they will come up with something better.

“MARY KILLS PEOPLE” TO PREMIER JANUARY 25 ON GLOBAL TV.

  • Global TV will present a six-episode series called “Mary Kills People” beginning January 25 at 9 p.m.  The series focuses on a fictional emergency room physician, Dr. Mary Harris, who euthanizes people in her off hours.
  • TVNDY is worried that celebrating a euthanasia doctor as the hero of the drama is meant to portray euthanasia as a desirable response to disability and terminal illness, and is nothing short of propaganda.  We are concerned that the program will fail to differentiate between people with disabilities and those with “terminal illness”, as often happens in public discussions of end-of-life care.  We worry that this “entertainment” will fail to reflect on the socio-economic vulnerability of people considering euthanasia, and avoid public policy questions such as access to palliative care and home-based services to prevent people with disabilities from being institutionalized.
  • We are also concerned about the “better dead than disabled” message that is so common in fictional portrayals of assisted suicide, such as “Me Before You,” and “Million Dollar Baby.”

THE SUPREME COURT OF SOUTH AFRICA REJECTS A DEMAND FOR ASSISTED SUICIDE

  • The South African Supreme Court ruled that a lower court Judge was wrong in his 2015 judgment authorising Robert Stransham-Ford to have assisted suicide/euthanasia.
  • According to the group “Euthanasia Exposed” “the Court confirmed this is really a matter for elected parliament and not judges to decide. The lower court decision by Judge Fabricius was made in haste and did not properly consider South African law, the international context, the country’s social values or the impact on the right to life. The medical information provided to the court was flawed and contradicted the real medical records, which were withheld until a court order was issued. The Supreme Court found that the case was manipulated by the euthanasia lobby group Dignity S.A., its lawyers and the estate, and the medical records indicate Stransham-Ford was actually asking if he could back out of euthanasia/assisted suicide.”
  • Mr. Stransham-Ford died two hours before the lower court ruling was handed down.  Thanks to EPC and Euthanasia Exposed for the information in this news brief.