Canada, a country with perhaps the most permissive euthanasia laws in the world, will soon make those laws even more permissive.
Under the new law, "mature" youth under the age of 18 and the mentally ill will soon qualify for euthanasia, according to the AP.
Canada first legalized euthanasia, a process by which doctors administer drugs in order to end a patient's life, back in 2016. The law supposedly attempts to restrict the practice to only those patients with a verifiable pathological condition, who are experiencing "unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be relieved under conditions that patients consider acceptable," and whose death is "reasonably foreseeable." The patient must submit a request for euthanasia, and at least two physicians must approve it.
However, there have been reports that some patients, particularly the disabled, have been coerced into euthanasia and that some of those patients who have been euthanized did not actually suffer life-threatening illnesses.
Tim Stainton, director of the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship at the University of British Columbia said that Canada's euthanasia law is "probably the biggest existential threat to disabled people since the Nazis’ program in Germany in the 1930s."
Now, the country's euthanasia laws will expand so that "mature" minors under the age of 18 and those with exclusively mental conditions can qualify, according to the AP. Mary Vought, founder of Vought Strategies is particularly troubled by the latter group since government lockdowns over the past two years may have instigated or exacerbated experiences of mental illness, and that "an explosion of new deaths from euthanasia" may soon result.
Others are concerned that some hospital professionals have already convinced some vulnerable patients to request euthanasia, perhaps against their better judgment, noting that the Canadian law does not oblige medical professionals to discuss euthanasia decisions with a patient's family.
Because the safeguards in place may not have protected some patients, Trudo Lemmens, chair of health law and policy at the University of Toronto, argued that "the rules are too loose and that even when people die who shouldn’t have died, there is almost no way to hold the doctors and hospitals responsible."
According to the AP, 10,000 Canadian patients were legally euthanized in 2021, which is more than a 30% increase over the year before. Of all patients who have been euthanized since the law first went into effect, 65% of them suffered from cancer. Heart problems, respiratory issues and neurological conditions were also commonly listed conditions.
Changes to the euthanasia law will go into effect in 2023.