Frightening new statistics on assisted suicide rates in Canada’s westernmost province of British Columbia show that the province had the highest number of deaths by euthanasia in all of Canada in 2020.
Four percent (4%) of all deaths in British Columbia in 2020 were attributable to Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), Canada’s name for physician-assisted suicide. This is 60% higher than MAiD rates in Canada overall, with 2.5% of all Canadian deaths in 2020 occurring via MAiD, which represents a 25% jump the year prior when just two percent of all deaths were via MAiD.
The increase in MAiD rates, in both British Columbia specifically and Canada as a whole, generally predated the March 2021 loosening of MAiD “safeguards” to allow mentally ill people without any terminal diagnosis to qualify for the practice. The decreased restrictions are likely to lead to a further spike in MAiD deaths for 2021.
Furthermore, British Columbia’s climbing assisted suicide deaths now nearly rival those of the infamous “Benelux” countries — Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg — where the practice has been legal the longest and restricted the least, and which, not coincidentally, have the highest rates in the world. Disturbingly, these countries report a collective rate of five percent of all annual deaths occurring through euthanasia.
As Canada’s lawmakers are loosening restrictions, individuals and organizations across Canada are sounding the alarm about the pressures on seriously ill and disabled Canadians to opt for assisted suicide rather than palliative care or hospice options. The B.C. Catholic reported a distressing story from May of this year in which a British Columbian woman in her 80s was pressured by an oncologist to undergo assisted suicide because she had allegedly run out of treatment options. While the woman’s daughter and son-in-law attempted to reverse the plan for assisted suicide crafted by hospital staff at the supposed request of the heavily medicated older woman, they were rebuffed by medical staff and threatened with legal action if they refused to cooperate. Thankfully, the woman was eventually allowed to remain in the care of her family. Live Action News has previously reported The B.C. Catholic’s additional investigative efforts in uncovering potentially coerced assisted suicide by staff of Fraser Health Authority.
British Columbia’s assisted suicide statistics also highlight a troubling rush to expand MAiD throughout Canada, as the country moves to add mental illness to the list of qualifying conditions. Dr. Trudo Lemmens, a professor at the University of Toronto, told the MAiD five-year review committee, “I therefore have concerns about this review, and particularly about the premise from which it will start. In any area of policy-making, it is harder to scale back a practice once there is an official professed confidence in it.” Lemmens further urged committee members to consider whether “our current practice respects” the “limited and exceptional circumstances” MAiD was originally intended to address, and further to ponder “what even further expansion (of MAiD) would mean.”
The committee is currently in session and is also considering legalizing MAiD for “mature minors” and “advance requests,” referring to cases where an individual signs a “living will” requesting MAiD if in the future they qualify for it but are mentally incapacitated and unable to request it for themselves. This is also concerning, as research has shown that up to 72% of those who request assisted suicide later change their minds.
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