An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IS DOCTOR-ASSISTED SUICIDE becoming too easy? That’s a legitimate fear given what’s been going on lately.
Stories have emerged of patients being offered assisted death as an option to treatment.
Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Frank Caputo, the Conservative shadow minister for veterans affairs, is demanding an investigation into a report of a brain-injured combat veteran being offered a medically assisted death after he sought help for his PTSD.
According to Global News, a Veterans Affairs agent raised the prospect of medical assistance in dying, known as MAID, with the veteran multiple times, causing him great distress.
Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAuley says he’s asked that steps be taken to insure such a thing doesn’t happen again but Caputo insists that’s not good enough, and he’s right.
Since medically assisted death became legal in Canada in 2016, legislative changes have made the process for approval less onerous. Originally, it was to be available only to “competent adults whose deaths are reasonably foreseeable.”
But imminent death is no longer a requirement. And, next year, MAID will be extended to those with mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and….. PTSD.
If that doesn’t worry you, make note of a story that came out last year about a suicidal, mentally ill Chilliwack man who was given an assisted death even though it was still legally limited to those with terminal illnesses.
So, are the requirements for MAID being relaxed too much? Aside from the matter of how there can be any assurance that someone with serious mental illness is competent to make a life-and-death decision, we run the risk of opening the flood gates to those who are simply depressed.
And it all raises another question: will MAID become an alternative to expensive treatment?
We may well be on a slippery slope toward a regime of mercy killing in this country based on expediency. Caputo and others have good cause to be concerned.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.