Euthanasia Comes to Canada

Are we next?

This month, the Canadian Supreme Court trampled democratic deliberation by unanimously conjuring a constitutional right to “termination of life” for anyone who has an “irremediable medical condition” and wants to die. Note the scope of the judicial fiat is not limited to the terminally ill: The ruling grants competent adults a right to die if they have an “illness, disease, or disability that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual,” including “psychological” pain.

Even these broad words inadequately describe the truly radical social policy Canada’s Supreme Court has unleashed. For example, a treatable condition can qualify as “irremediable” if the patient chooses not to pursue available remedies. So an “irremediable” condition that permits life-termination may actually be wholly remediable, except that the patient would rather die than receive care.

Imagine the hypothetical Sally, with diabetes (or HIV, heart disease, neuropathy, early-stage cancer, you name it) that can be fully controlled by medication. She decides she wants to die (for whatever reason) and claims that available treatments are “not acceptable” to her. Presto chango, her theretofore treatable illness is suddenly an irremediable condition. Ditto Harley, who becomes clinically depressed after his business fails—a diagnosable “illness, disease, or disability”—and refuses psychiatric treatment in order to seek death.