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(LifeSiteNews) — “MAiD is not end-of-life care. It is not an expression of equality; it is an exemption to equality.” 

“You hear your legislators discuss whether it would be better to be dead than to be like you.  

“Disabled people are dying en masse in institutions.” 

When three disability rights advocates addressed the special joint parliamentary/ senate committee on medical assistance in dying (AMAD) last Friday morning, they did so with enough lived experience, research data, and eloquence to trounce platitudes about freedom to die being a legal right. 

Dr. Catherine Frazee, Dr. Isabel Grant, and PhD candidate Megan Linton pulled no punches as they recounted how Track Two MAiD is taking out high numbers of people with disabilities in Canada. 

Bill C-7, made law in March 2021, allows persons with a “grievous and irremediable medical condition” whose natural death is not “reasonably foreseeable” to access MAiD. Earlier legislation, referred to as “Track One MAiD,” required that a person’s death must be “reasonably foreseeable.” 

Coming on the final day of panel presentations to the committee, after dozens of hours of testimonies to the committee from people on all sides of the issue, Friday’s opening panel was a solid home run for those advocating for better medical care and social supports for Canadians rather than increased access to MAiD. 

‘Counting our dead’ 

“Track Two is embedded in law. . .and we are left counting our dead,” said Frazee, professor emerita of the School of Disability Studies at Toronto Metropolitan University and former Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Frazee was awarded the Order of Canada in 2014 for her work to advance the rights of persons with disabilities. 

Frazee began by stating that the AMAD committee’s invitation for those with disabilities to help them draft guidelines for euthanasia was ironic: “That the government who brought us Track Two is now seeking ways and means to ensure protection for those with disabilities is a hard pill to swallow.” 

Using bold, graphic language, Frazee declared, “Our people are dying, and we must step up to save them.” She described her advocacy work as the desperate act of “throwing out lifelines to pull our disabled kinfolk back from the vortex that funnels them into the beckoning arms of MAiD.” 

Frazee urged the committee to “stop the carnage of Track Two” and to reinstate the “equality-affirming requirement for a reasonably foreseeable natural death” of Track One MAiD. READ

READ: Liberal laws give Canada the ‘dubious honor’ of leading the world in euthanasia: professor

Life with a disability not ‘optional’ 

The witnesses of the first panel targeted Track Two MAiD, but agreed that those facing imminent death should have the “right” to end their lives (Track One MAiD).  

Yet the witnesses’ arguments—that the lives of those who suffer must be protected, that pain is not a reason to end someone’s life, and that better pain management must be a medical priority—made a compelling case for the elimination of MAiD all together in favour of better palliative care. 

Frazee stated that the Track Two MAiD law popularized the notion that “life with a disability is optional and, by implication, dispensable.” She said she hears such comments “in unsolicited coaching from social service gatekeepers” as well as from ordinary citizens. 

Frazee said Track Two MAiD “has swiftly been normalized as a way to relieve the cost and toil of those who are burdened with our care,” adding that “its euphemistic framings have not fooled anyone.” 

‘Disableism permeated’ hearings 

Grant, a professor and academic dean at the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia and fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, declared that “ableism is so deeply embedded [in our culture] that we don’t see it as ableism but as a form of common sense.” In fact, she stated pointedly, “disableism has permeated these hearings.” 

Referring to frequent comments—by members of the committee during panel presentations as well as by euthanasia advocates more generally—that MAiD offers freedom of choice, Grant pointed out that, for people with disabilities, “Far from feeling like your autonomy has been enhanced, you feel demoralized and depressed.” 

Grant then played out a scenario of how such a “devaluing” of those with disabilities can lead to a request for MAiD: “You tell your doctor you are struggling, but she just reminds that you are now eligible for MAiD.” 

“Is it any wonder so many disabled Canadians feel devalued and afraid?” Grant asked. 

READ: Canadian VA worker allegedly encouraged troubled veterans to consider assisted suicide

Social ‘system took me out’ 

Grant gave the example of Sathya Dhara Kovac, a Winnipeg woman who, out of frustration from being denied home care, opted for MAiD. Ironically, Kovac then received MAiD by means of a house call.  

Kovac wrote her own obituary in which she stated, “It was not a genetic disease that took me out. It was a system.” 

Grant pointed out that the criminal code “makes explicit that it is so serious to end a life that we do not allow people to consent to their own deaths.” 

She noted that MAiD legislation makes an exception to this law—but only for disabled people: “Only their lives are not worth saving. How can you not see that this is discriminatory? Grant asked. 

Grant said that the federal government has focused “not on eradicating suffering, but on eradicating sufferers.” 

‘Instead of home care, you offer death’ 

The final witness, Linton, is an advocate for disability justice and a PhD candidate at Carlton University studying the political economies of institutionalization in Ontario. 

Linton called Track Two MAiD “eugenics” and said it must be repealed. Decrying the shortage of services for people with disabilities, she said, “Instead of giving people accessible housing, home care and pain management, you offer people death.” 

Linton claimed that Covid-19, in both acute and long-term forms, has placed such burdens on the healthcare system that government is now “eviscerating the social contract” and “retreating from its responsibilities” to those in need. 

Linton described the high number of suicides among people with disabilities, declaring, “Disabled people do not need your help to die. We have been killing ourselves for years.” 

‘That’s not what equal access looks like’ 

MP Luc Thériault asked the witnesses if people with disabilities would not be made “victims twice” if the state moved to “take away their free choice” and not offer them access to MAiD.  

Grant responded that the message given by Track Two MAiD is not free choice but that the deaths of people with disabilities are “a social good.” 

Frazee noted that the premise–that people with disabilities should have equal access to MAiD—is flawed. “Why is Track Two MAiD only available to us?” she asked. 

Linton responded to Thériault, “That’s not what equal access to programs looks like,” saying that government should instead offer more  access to supports to living in community. 

Grant responded, “A competent, non-disabled person does not have the right to MAiD, so I don’t see why a competent, disabled person should have a right to MAiD.” 

Is pain a reason for MAiD? 

“Should a person with unremitting pain be denied MAiD?” asked Senator Stanley Kutcher. 

“If they’re not at the end of their lives, no,” responded Linton. “It seems an issue of pain management and access to pain medication.” 

Grant agreed, stating, “If we’re really worried about their unremitting pain, we should be doing more to treat that pain.” She noted that “there have been people who opted for MAiD because they were cut off pain medication.” 

When Kutcher pressed the question, Linton made her answer personal: “No, I don’t think I should die because I have pain. I think I live a really great life. 

Disabled people should have the right to live beautiful lives with or without pain.” 

‘Horrifying’ conditions will increase MAiD deaths 

The witnesses warned that Track Two MAiD and the coming expansion of MAiD to include those whose sole medical condition is mental illness (slated to begin next March) will lead to a high increase of deaths by MAiD. Linton described “horrifying” conditions in unregulated institutions for people with disabilities in Canada —“four people to a room, cockroaches”—that will make MAiD seem an appealing choice. 

Describing the “abysmal” conditions in psychiatric hospitals, Grant declared that “when those who are detained by the state, forcibly treated, have lost all rights and liberties, are given access to MAiD, we are going to have a human rights disaster.” 

Grant stated that the committee was told that it is not known if mental illness is irremediable. “That evidence was ignored in the expert panel report” that led to the expanded MAiD rules, observed Grant. 

Equally troubling, said Grant, is data from Belgium and the Netherlands showing that up to 70 per cent of people accessing MAiD are women—many of whom have lived through trauma. 

Senator denies testimony before reading report 

Senator Pamela Wallin, the member of the Canadian Senators Group who proposed the amendment to Bill C-7 that allows people who fear losing mental capacity to sign advance requests for medical help to end their lives, challenged the statements made by Linton before Wallin and other committee members received a report of that research.  

“We cannot have on the record that people are dying en masse in institutions because of Track Two MAiD. I just don’t think that’s factual,” she said, even after Linton offered to provide results of her research to the panel. 

Frazee told the committee their report “is going to affect powerfully whether people with disabilities in this country will see ourselves as welcome and valued citizens.” 

The AMAD committee will release the report on five aspects of MAiD next February.  

Take Action: Contact MPs and Senators 

Pro-life advocacy groups are urging supporters to contact their MPs as well as all the members of the AMAD committee to urge them to oppose the expansion of euthanasia to mature minors (children) and other groups.  

The Association for Reformed Political Action Canada is urging pro-lifers to send emails to their MPs and to members of the AMAD committee. Their “Easy Mail” site provides sample letters and emails MPs and all committee members with one click.   

Campaign Life Coalition is hosting an online petition against infant euthanasia. 

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPCC), together with Citizen Go, has launched an online petition against euthanasia for mature minors.  The EPCC is also hosting a postcard campaign to MPs to oppose euthanasia of infants. To order cards for a local campaign, supporters can call the EPCC at 1-877-439-3348 or email [email protected].