As the debate surrounding assisted suicide in Canada intensifies, an alarming trend has emerged. Despite distressing accounts of the poor and disabled resorting to lethal injections out of sheer desperation, there is a growing acceptance of this practice. This article explores the shift towards a post-Christian culture in Canada and delves into the arguments put forth by bioethicists who advocate for the social acceptability of euthanizing the poor. By analyzing their viewpoints, we can better understand the implications of this controversial topic.
The Questioning of Values
In 2022, The Spectator, a prominent U.K. magazine, raised a thought-provoking question: “Why is Canada euthanizing the poor?” The response from certain bioethicists seems to be rooted in a changing societal landscape – one that has gradually moved away from its Christian foundations. The belief that assisted suicide should be socially acceptable is presented in a new paper authored by Kayla Wiebe, a philosophy Ph.D. candidate, and Amy Mullin, a bioethics professor at the University of Toronto.
Challenging Social Circumstances
Wiebe and Mullin argue that it is unacceptable to subject individuals already burdened by unjust social circumstances to prolonged waiting periods or unreliable public charity. They propose a harm reduction approach that acknowledges the imperfect nature of available options. This approach considers euthanasia as a “lesser evil” among other less desirable alternatives. According to them, it is essential to respect individuals’ autonomy in determining whether their lives are worth living, irrespective of the challenging conditions they face.
Rejecting Coercion and Perpetuating Suffering
The bioethicists dismiss the notion that Canadians seeking assisted suicide are coerced into their decisions. They argue that denying their requests perpetuates their suffering and only fosters hope for a hypothetically better and more just world. Their perspective favors a “harm reduction approach” that allows medical assistance in dying (MAiD) to be accessible, considering it the least harmful path forward.
Redefining Words and Concepts
A concerning consequence of this discussion is the redefinition of words and concepts. Terms like “suicide” and “lethal injections” are now framed as “medical aid” or even a form of healthcare. The bioethicists justify their stance by branding suicide as “harm reduction” and believe that offering this option to those facing intolerable social conditions is the least harmful choice available. While acknowledging the tragedy of all available options, Wiebe contends that granting competent individuals access to this choice, regardless of its inherent terribleness, is the least harmful way forward.
Recognizing the Shift
It is crucial not to dismiss or trivialize the arguments presented in this paper. A short while ago, euthanasia activists denied any correlation between social conditions and requests for assisted suicide. Now, some are acknowledging its occurrence and advocating for its legalization. With Canada’s ever-expanding euthanasia policies under the Trudeau government, proposals like these demand serious consideration. By labeling suicide by lethal injection as healthcare, Canada faces the challenge of justifying its denial to certain individuals.
A Moral Stain on Society
Yuan Yu Zhu, a Canadian research fellow at Oxford’s Harris Manchester College and an expert on euthanasia, aptly describes the situation as a moral stain on the nation. The repercussions of embracing assisted suicide without due consideration will haunt future generations. Unless proactive measures are taken, the situation is likely to deteriorate further before any potential improvements can be realized.