Canada Will Soon Offer Assisted Suicide To The Mentally Ill
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Canada could soon become the next country to allow medical aid in dying (MAID) for people with mental illnesses.
From March 2023, people suffering with disorders including depression, bipolar disorder and PTSD will be able to seek doctor-assisted deaths if they are suffering from unbearable psychological pain.
The majority of people seeking MAID are cancer sufferers, and the move to expand the service has caused deep divides among mental health professionals.
Dutch psychiatrist Dr. Sisco van Veen told the National Post that when it comes to diseases such as terminal cancer, ‘there is something inside the body that can be seen’, though this is not always the case with mental illness.
However Dr. Grainne Neilson, a forensic psychiatrist in Halifax, told the outlet: “My hope is that psychiatrists will move cautiously and carefully to make sure MAID is not being used as something instead of equitable access to good care.”
MAID for psychiatric suffering has been available since 2002 in the Netherlands.
A Canadian high court ruled in 2015 that adults suffering a ‘grievous and irremediable' medical condition that caused unbearable suffering had the right to a quicker death.
This ruling was the foundation for Bill C-14 – Canada’s MAID law – which permitted assisted dying when natural death was ‘reasonably foreseeable’.
Canada went a step further in 2019 when a Quebec Superior Court decided the ‘reasonably foreseeable’ regulation was unconstitutional.
It was ruled that people whose death was not ‘reasonably foreseeable’ should still be eligible for euthanasia.
A new bill, Bill C-7, was passed in March 2021 and made changes to eligibility criteria for MAID, getting rid of the ‘reasonably foreseeable’ rule.
Once a two-year sunset clause passes in March 2023, MAID will become available to those with psychiatric problems.
Writing for The Atlantic in June 2019, psychiatrist Scott Kim claimed the Netherlands had become ‘too comfortable with euthanasia’.
Kim questioned how a physician could be sure that a patient suffering from a serious psychiatric disorder meets the legal criteria for euthanasia.
He wrote: “Compared with cases involving cancer or other terminal illnesses, the application of the eligibility criteria in psychiatric euthanasia depends much more on doctors’ opinions.”
What exactly is euthanasia?
It comes from the Greek, euthanatos, which translates to 'easy death'. The official definition is: "The painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma."
'Euthanasia' and 'assisted suicide' are interchangeable terms. The latter's definition is: "Suicide effected with the assistance of another person, especially the taking of lethal drugs provided by a doctor for the purpose by a patient suffering from a terminal illness or incurable condition."
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