With the Canadians going to the polls next week, I contemplate what “big apology” a future government will one day take.
Past crimes have made governments more efficient at saying sorry late. Even the kind and polite Canada is no exception. From mourning wartime detentions and removal of voting rights, to turning away Sikh refugees – some to their deaths – on the Komagata Maru, to residential school atrocities against indigenous children, to press conference opportunities for national apologies Have become.
Foregoing In anticipation of future photo opportunities, perhaps we should consider what the next big apology could be, and avoid the need to make it.
One such opportunity may be to reconsider the widespread expansion of medical aid in dying (MAID). In March 2021, the Liberal government, with the support of the Bloc Québécois, passed the new MAiD law, removing the previous safeguards (notably, both the left and the right were united against it, voting against the NDP, the Conservatives and the Greens). It is one of the most liberally facilitated suicide laws in the world.
Consider the previous justification for mental illness and one of the most infamous policies that discriminated against Indigenous women: forced sterilization. Forced sterilization was justified by a combination of devaluing and rationalizing certain lives that we were indeed “doing the right thing”, and happened around the world for decades. This policy officially continued in Canada until the mid-1970s, with women continuing to report the practice until the late 2010s. Clearly coerced, society comforted itself by arguing that these women were “mentally defective” and “unfit”, that they would be “better” by not having children, and that society would somehow serve the greater good. was following.
Enablemental notions, with some attaching more importance to human life than others, have appeared in social policies for centuries. In September 1921, at the Second International Eugenics Congress, Alexander Graham Bell and leading academics of the day provided expert assurances of enlightened charity with the tag line, “Eugenics is the self-direction of human development,” promising a better future for all. and installs. A platform to justify decades of abuse of mentally ill and marginalized people.
MAiD and Marginalization
Now consider the arguments in favor of providing MAiD for mental illness: MAiD is about respecting autonomy and providing compassionate relief from suffering. That MAiD is about dignity and giving importance to what people want. And perhaps most importantly, MAiD is not what the tragic suicide society is supposed to stop.
When MAiD is provided in near-end-of-life situations, when we know one will not improve and is experiencing permanent suffering, the above arguments are valid and supported by evidence. In these situations, we find that white, wealthy and privileged people seek MAiD.
All of the above arguments become fiction when the MAiD is expanded beyond end-of-life situations to non-dying people with disabilities and mental illness, as the Trudeau government intends, with even more MAiDs in 2023. With the removal of restrictions.
In these situations, evidence suggests that populations marginalized by poverty, loneliness and unresolved life pains seek MAiD, with twice as many women as men being euthanized for mental disorders. A similar proportion of women who attempt suicide when mentally ill, but who are absent by the 100 percent lethal means of MAiD, survive the attempt and do not attempt again.
Yet, despite the lack of evidence that MAiD can be provided responsibly for mental illness, MAiD expansionists blindly pursue similar arguments to pursue broader access to MAiD with fewer safeguards. It benefits whites, the wealthy and the privileged to have even greater autonomy, while allowing our most vulnerable, who are marginalized by sexism, racism, ageism, and competence, to die entirely of premature deaths. make sacrifices for.
Ironically, it makes them sacrifice these deaths under the pretense of autonomy, ignoring how internal oppression makes our most vulnerable people an impossible, and unfair choice to “die well”. Because society never gave them a chance to live well. Evidence suggests that these are often suicidal urges in people who could have been better and sought to avoid social estrangement, not the inevitable medical agony. Instead of being tempted to die painlessly to escape a painful life, these people would like to live if they are given the right choice of life with dignity.
Read more: Medical aid in dying of mental illness ignores safeguards for vulnerable people
From eugenics to forced sterilization, public figures and thinkers of the day ignored warnings of dissent and reassured society that it was “doing the right thing”, allowing us to overlook the reality that most among us Weak people are being abandoned.
Today, ignoring the evidence, prominent politicians, senators and, sadly, some of my psychiatric colleagues are similarly reassuring Canadians that our extensive MAiD expansion is enlightened and “safe”. It may be safer for those privileged who already live well and will have more autonomy to die better. For others, the dying handicapped and marginalized whose social suffering would be resolved with death, it would eventually be called something else.
If we deliberately ignore this reality, we can anticipate the inevitable press conference in the future with the Canadian Prime Minister issuing a heartfelt apology for our current sins.