Canadian Bill Would Allow Doctors to Euthanize Patients Without Their Consent

International   |   Alex Schadenberg   |   Oct 31, 2022   |   2:41PM   |   Ottawa, Canada

Senator Pamela Wallin, who strongly supports euthanasia, known as Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD) in Canada, introduced Bill S-248: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), to permit involuntary euthanasia (MAiD) by advanced directive when a person is not capable of consenting to be killed.

The purpose of S-248 is to amend the Criminal Code to

(a) permit an individual whose death is not reasonably foreseeable to enter into a written arrangement to receive medical assistance in dying on a specified day if they lose the capacity to consent to receiving medical assistance in dying prior to that day; and

(b) permit an individual who has been diagnosed with a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability to make a written declaration to waive the requirement for final consent when receiving medical assistance in dying if they lose the capacity to consent to receive medical assistance in dying, are suffering from symptoms outlined in the written declaration and have met all other relevant safeguards outlined in the Criminal Code.

When Canada legalized euthanasia (Bill C-14) in 2016 it specifically created an exception to homicide in the Criminal Code. S-248 would amend the Criminal Code by creating another exception – enabling a person to sign a contract so that, if a person loses the ability to request or consent, a medical or nurse pratitioner can still:

“administer a substance to a person to cause their death”

Bill S-248 also enables the person to include in the contract a specific date and time that they have chosen to be administered a substance to cause their death.

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Senator Wallin includes a proviso. S-248 states – Advance consent invalidated:

(3.‍4) Once a person demonstrates, by words, sounds or gestures, in accordance with subsection (3.‍2), refusal to have the substance administered or resistance to its administration, medical assistance in dying can no longer be provided to them on the basis of Insertion start subsections (3.‍21) or (3.‍22) Insertion end.

Section 3.4 refers to the Netherlands coffee euthanasia death whereby a woman with dementia, who had requested euthanasia in her advanced directive, resisted when the euthanasia doctor was trying to kill her. The euthanasia doctor put sedatives in her coffee, but she continued to resist. The euthanasia doctor then had the family hold her down to enable the euthanasia to be completed.

S-248 contravenes the Supreme Court of Canada Carter decision which limited MAiD to competent people.

As much as I oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide Bill C-7 already permitted most of what S-248 is trying to permit, with the exception of enabling the advanced request to be made within a 5-year time frame.

What did Bill C-7 do?

1. Bill C-7 removed the requirement in the law that a person’s natural death be reasonably foreseeable in order to qualify for assisted death. People who are not terminally ill can die by euthanasia.

2. Bill C-7 permits a doctor or nurse practitioner to lethally inject a person who is incapable of consenting, if that person was previously approved for assisted death.

3. Bill C-7 waives the ten-day waiting period if a person’s natural death is deemed to be reasonably foreseeable.

4. Bill C-7 creates a two track law. A person whose natural death is deemed to be reasonably foreseeable has no waiting period while a person whose natural death is not deemed to be reasonably foreseeable would have a 90 day waiting period before being killed by lethal injection.

5. Bill C-7 permits euthanasia (MAiD) for people who are psychologically suffering in a manner that is intolerable to the person and that cannot be relieved in a way that the person considers acceptable. Bill C-7 permitted euthanasia for mental illness alone.

Bill S-248 and the recent push by the Quebec College of Physicians to approve infant euthanasia, undermine that a person needs to be able to request or consent to euthanasia. (Infant euthanasia proposed by Quebec College of Physicians)

How should we respond.

Contact the Senators and contact your Member of Parliament.

Tell them that Canada has expanded MAiD beyond what was approved by the Supreme Court of Canada, Carter decision and that euthanasia without consent is too dangerous and beyond what should be considered tolerable.

Tell them that you oppose the extension of MAiD to infants, who cannot consent, and you oppose the extension of MAiD to people with dementia or other cognitive issues, who cannot consent. Note: Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and you can read his blog here.