As Canada has increasingly expanded its assisted suicide program, people across the world have expressed their alarm at how many people have sought Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD) simply due to disability or poverty. And now, disability rights groups are taking action.
A group called Disability Without Poverty is calling for other organizations to follow its lead in reassuring patrons that euthanasia won’t be offered to them when they seek services. The group tweeted an image of a note ensuring people with disabilities that their lives have value.
“Asking all disability/health related organizations to follow suit,” it wrote. “Post your own statement and let people know they are safe accessing your services and that MAiD is not the solution to address poverty and lack of services and support, no matter what some would have you believe.”
Asking all disability/health related organizations to follow suit. Post your own statement and let people know they are safe accessing your services and that MAiD is not the solution to address poverty and lack of services and support, no matter what some would have you believe. pic.twitter.com/8SNqHw3x8X
— Disability Without Poverty (@Disability_WP) December 29, 2022
The note reads:
You are important. You are valuable. Your needs are important.
This organization will not recommend, suggest, or refer anyone to Medical Assistance in Dying as an alternative to assisting in obtaining necessary supports and services you require.
You are safe here.
A similar note was soon posted by the New Brunswick Coalition of Persons with Disabilities. And a coalition of 50 disability, human rights, and anti-poverty organizations also sent a letter to Minister of Justice David Lametti calling for Canada to establish more safeguards against MAiD, as the program has been found to be “euthanizing people with disabilities who are not terminally ill.”
“We know, as do you, that the existing law is not working and has not worked, and that people with disabilities have been dying due to their life circumstances and oppression,” the letter read.
Though people with disabilities and facing poverty have been open about how they’ve been pressured into MAiD in recent months, warning signs have been there for much longer. Catalina Devandas Aguilar, a lawyer from Costa Rica and the United Nations’ first Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, released a report in 2021 condemning the country for how people with disabilities are treated. Even in 2021, she found people with disabilities being pressured into euthanasia.
“Persons with disabilities have to initiate very lengthy and onerous legal procedures to get their rights recognized,” she said, adding, “The proportion of people with disabilities living in poverty is significantly higher, and in some countries double, than that of people without disabilities. People with disabilities condemned to live in poverty due to the lack of adequate social protection can decide to end their lives as a gesture of despair. Set against the legacy of accumulated disadvantages their ‘architecture of choice’ could hardly be said to be unproblematic.”