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Canadian Minister of Health: ‘Suicidal’ Are Not Eligible for Euthanasia

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Wesley J. Smith
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Assisted-suicide activists play a word game when they insist that the practice isn’t really “suicide.” They claim that a person who seeks death does so only because of serious illness or disability. If a person is healthy, this claim goes, he or she wouldn’t have wanted to die. Thus, assisted suicide isn’t suicide but merely medical aid in dying (MAiD).

But the same kind of reasoning could be applied to anyone who seeks to die, regardless of the circumstances. Had the grieving mother’s child not been hit by a car, for example, she wouldn’t be thinking of killing herself. But for his chronic depression, the psychiatric patient wouldn’t want to die. Had the entrepreneur’s business not collapsed, he wouldn’t want to end it all. You get the idea.

Canada’s health minister recently argued that suicidal people are protected from euthanasia. From a National Post column:

When Pierre Poilievre last week criticized the Liberal government’s plans to expand doctor-assisted death to depressed people, the Conservative leader was admonished by Canada’s minister of mental health and addictions. Carolyn Bennett accused Poilievre of being “totally irresponsible” and misrepresenting what medically assisted death would mean for people with a mental disorder, saying that “all of the assessors and providers for MAID are purposely trained to eliminate people that are suicidal.”

Excuse me? By definition, someone who wants to die is suicidal. Indeed, suicide is about what is done, not why. (Technically, lethal-injection euthanasia in Canada is a legal homicide, but the desire to be euthanized is properly characterized as a suicidal ideation.)

This makes the Canadian health minister’s blithe assertion that suicidal people are protected from euthanasia plainly ridiculous. All people euthanized legally by doctors in Canada were suicidal. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have asked to be killed in the first place.

The minister’s sophistry reveals the insidious nature of euthanasia advocacy. Activists push suicide as an answer to serious health difficulties, while pretending that the kind of suicide they support isn’t really suicide.

But it is. If assisted-suicide was as compassionate as its supporters claim, they would stop hiding behind ridiculous word games.