Please allow me to state at the outset that I have always enjoyed my visits to Canada and have nothing but admiration for the Canadian people. Any nation that has great cities, stupendous natural vistas, and Tim Hortons doughnuts is one we can all agree is wonderful.
Nonetheless, I must admit that Canada’s recent moves to make doctor-assisted suicide easier to obtain and more accepted as a normal fact of life both confuse and concern me, particularly because I worry these attitudes could soon migrate south to America.
Medical assistance with dying has been legal in Canada since 2016, but updates to this law in late 2021 engendered a great deal of comment because they allowed those suffering from a diagnosed mental illness—and only a mental illness—to receive assistance with ending their lives.
Although the start date for the implementation of this provision now has been pushed back until March of 2024, the very idea that Canadians who, due to their mental illnesses, might not be competent to make an informed choice about suicide can soon request a lethal injection has the most unpleasant implications.
One cannot help but remember that the Nazi regime in Germany had their own brutally efficient program for eliminating their mentally ill with poison gas, and the question of where choice ends and compulsion begins should Canada actually go down this path is impossible to avoid.
When the killing of those who are seriously unwell—or perhaps seriously unwanted—is normalized in any society, whether it be done in the past by the thuggish criminals of Hitler’s Germany or the liberal elite of a democracy now perched on our northern border, we should all shudder.
Whether we are speaking of the strange intellectual gymnastics now used by so many holding power in supposedly enlightened democracies to justify the extraordinary cruelties of irresponsible fiscal policies that cause price inflation to explode and impoverish families, abortions allowed right up to the moment of live birth, mandated censorship meant to crush honest dissent, pervasive surveillance that robs us of our privacy and dignity, or the still incomprehensible horrors of the years of compulsory lockdowns and shutdowns during the pandemic, all of these reach their logical conclusion when we begin to think of facilitating the deaths of those whose existences are inconvenient and expensive. Back in 2018 Washington Post editor Ruth Marcus proclaimed in a published commentary that she would have no moral qualms about aborting a child with a pre-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome because raising such a child would be—wait for it—inconvenient and expensive.
Many of the great minds today telling us what to do and how to act apparently think alike.
In America roughly 22% of our population lives in a state where medically-assisted suicide is legal, but we fortunately still have a firewall in place that restricts its availability to only those who are diagnosed with a terminal illness, are adults who are capable of making medical decisions for themselves, and are able to take the lethal dose on their own. No American medical practitioner is permitted to administer a drug necessary to commit suicide.
In contrast, Canada has seen its firewall disintegrate over the past few years as safeguards have eroded. More and more non-terminal patients are now allowed to choose medically-assisted suicide, medical personnel are empowered to administer lethal drugs, and there is a proposal to allow those as young as 12 years old (if judged mature enough) to choose to end their own lives with medical assistance. These trends are, to say the least, deeply troubling.
Even more concerning are public opinion polls in Canada that find 1/3 of Canadians are now open to providing medically-assisted suicide to those who are homeless—or simply poor. The slippery slope has apparently become a free fall.
To suggest what is transpiring in Canada cannot happen here is self-comforting foolishness. Moral relativism respects no national boundary, and the cross-pollination of pretzel logic across medical, academic, and cultural elites worldwide is a clear problem—and unmistakable danger. A civilized society is a frail entity that can be easily shattered by fools, bullies, and people too resoundingly tolerant to resist the encroachment of evil.
Those who wish to choose suicide in order to avoid the misery of a painful and certain death must be allowed that option. However, we must guard against those who fail to appreciate the precious sanctity of life—and would codify their misunderstandings into our laws.