Jul 10, 2023

permanent relief

Dhananjay Jagannathan:

Not only is having a mental health issue on the verge of becoming a qualifying condition; advocacy groups are now calling for Canada to expand access to so-called “mature minors” who meet the government’s criteria for making their own decisions about their health. If the MAiD law is reformed again to make this further accommodation, suicidal teenagers seeking help could find themselves choosing between two sets of public resources: one intended to help them get through their crisis, and one intended to help them end it all. Trouble is already here: In 2021, fully one in six euthanasia recipients cited “isolation or loneliness” as one source of the suffering from which they sought permanent relief.

It’s going to take a lot of effort to create (to resurrect) a countervailing narrative to a generous-seeming “autonomy-led” idea of the good life — to situate autonomy in its right-sized place among a panoply of other strong virtues and civic goods, rather than the One Sacred Good after which all other goods must follow in distant second-, third-, fourth-places. As Jagannathan distills it:

Here, then, are three questionable claims about life, freedom, and MAiD that sustain Canada’s euthanasia regime — as well as those most similar to it in Belgium and the Netherlands — and that ought to be more thoroughly scrutinized for the sake of a more valuable public debate:

The right to life implies a right to die — and specifically, a right to die as and when one chooses.

Euthanasia is medical “care” — that is, care appropriately provided by doctors and other medical practitioners.

Limits on autonomy by the government are per se bad.

Discussion of each of these assumptions here.