The Harms of Assisted Death Are Not Just a “Disabled Thing”

“The mere legalization of MAID creates a critical and discriminatory hazard…”

This article is in response to the collection, “MAID and the Disabled” by Douglas W. Heinrichs, MD.

It is with the best pleasure I be taught that Douglas W. Heinrichs, MD, has accorded me the honour of replying to my criticism of his views on assisted dying.

Dr Heinrichs incorrectly surmises that I help medical help in dying (MAID) for sufferers on the finish of life. I don’t. However, I do consider that to usefully focus on MAID this present day, we should stipulate a wider context; for that is how MAID is now more and more outlined and practised.

As the reader could recall, my principal argument (which Dr Heinrichs has not tried to refute) considerations the inherently dangerous impact upon the disabled and chronically sick of decriminalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Simply acknowledged: This decriminalizationrequires the selective elimination of in any other case common felony code protections.1 The mere legalization of MAID, due to this fact, creates a critical and discriminatory hazard. That the hazard is critical, we should actually agree. Because, in any other case, we’d haven’t any prohibition, and no want for an exception. That the hazard is discriminatory, seems in the truth that its burden falls upon 1 group alone.

In addition, I’ve made a second declare: that this discriminatory, deadly hazard, has been imposed upon the members of that group, in opposition to their will. It is instructive, on this gentle, to overview the just lately profitable passage, in Canada, of Bill C-7 (2021),2 enacted to extendeuthanasia to people not on the finish of life.

Every single one of the testimonies and briefs launched earlier than Parliamentary Committee,3 by disabled people and their organizations, was against the growth. Moreover, in a theatrically orchestrated Open Letter,4 the Vulnerable Persons Standard5 offered the signatures of a minimum of 147 nationally consultant disabled organizations (and their allies) in opposition to the Bill.

If knowledgeable and engaged opinion are to be our information, it may be confidently acknowledged that the “disabled group” is unconditionally against euthanasia eligibility for its members. And but this laws was carried, 213 votes to 106.6

What, we should ask, can probably clarify these details?

Many of my disabled associates would level to the idea of ableism,7 a extremely developed social concept of injustice based mostly upon systemic discriminatory oppression. Others, choose to stay inside the bounds of widespread language, in figuring out an especially adverse exterior notion of disabled life.

Whatever clarification is chosen, the important harmsuffered by particular person sufferers (confronted with the unbridled subjectivity of particular person docs as noted by Susan Stefan, JD) outcomes from theunfortunate expression of such prejudices below the cloak of professional medical care.

Sadly, additionally, we should keep in mind that this is not just a disabled thing.8 All of the above-noted considerations apply with equal pressure to assisted dying on the finish of life:

1) Mere legalization creates a discriminatory hazard for the nonsuicidal affected person.

2) This poisoned privilege is supplied opposite to majority want. For even within the Netherlands, amongst terminal most cancers sufferers—who account for 70% of all euthanasia in that nation—lower than 1 in 10 will consent to die in that method.9

3) The push to “inform” all eligible sufferers, is a clear reflection of projected prejudice in direction of imperfect life.

On this level, Dr Heinrichs opens the door to a semantic rabbit-hole, the place phrases like “price” are challenged of their widespread utilization, and the place it’s recommended that the thriller of private selection may allow a explicit life to be terminated with out implying adverse judgment thereon. I’ll respectfully decline that dialogue.

Allow me merely to conclude by reaffirming my very own conviction (regardless of phrases or intention): that those that insist it’s one way or the other acceptable for 1 class of individuals to be disadvantaged of felony protections loved by everybody else (and this in opposition to their clearly expressed collective needs), would appear to have afairly settled opinion as to the pertinence of persevering with such lives; an opinion, I need to add, which may be very completely different from that of the people who find themselves truly residing them.

Gordon Friesen is a disabled particular person who has adopted the assisted dying query intently because the early Nineties, and is at present President of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.


1. Statues of Canada: Bill C-14. An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make associated amendments to different Acts (medical help in dying) (2016). Accessed December 19, 2022.

2. Statues of Canada: Bill C-7. An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical help in dying) (2021). Accessed December 19, 2022.

3. Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. House of Commons, Canada. Accessed December 19, 2022.

4. Open Letter in opposition to Bill C-7. Vulnerable Persons Standard. Accessed December 19, 2022.

5. Vulnerable Persons Standard. Accessed December 19, 2022.

6. third studying and adoption of Bill C-7. An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical help in dying). December 10, 2020. Accessed December 19, 2022.

7. Dr. Heidi Janz testifying earlier than the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Parliament of Canada. November 10, 2020 (presentation at 12:19:00). Accessed December 19, 2022.

8. Friesen G. Lessons from the Canadian euthanasia debacle: utilitarian death-medicine piggy-backing on the ability of selection—why (and the way) to deconstruct the medical “narrative.” August 4, 2022. Accessed December 19, 2022.

9. Note on Dutch most cancers sufferers who consent to euthanasia.

Total Dutch deaths (2020): 168,678

Dutch most cancers deaths (2020): 49,008

Total Dutch euthanasia deaths (2020): 6938

Cancer euthanasia deaths (2020): 4480

Euthanasia as fraction of complete deaths (2020): 0.041

Cancer deaths as fraction of complete deaths: 49,008 / 168,678 = 0.29

Cancer euthanasia as fraction of complete euthanasia deaths: 4480 / 6938 = 0.65

Cancer euthanasia as fraction of complete deaths: 0.65 * 0.041 = 0.027

Cancer euthanasia as fraction of complete most cancers deaths: 0.027 / 0.29 = 0.09 “lower than 1 in 10”

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