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MAiD advocate speaks out against expansion of euthanasia to the mentally ill

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Professor Sonu Gaind

From LifeSiteNews

By Carlos Prado and Dorothy Cummings McLean

‘not so much a slippery slope as a runaway train.’

A leading Canadian psychiatrist has testified that Canada is “not ready” to offer euthanasia to the mentally ill.

Doctor K. Sonu Gaind, who supports euthanasia under certain circumstances, testified on November 28 before the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in Ottawa against expanding the practice.

“This expansion is not so much a slippery slope as a runaway train,” he declared.

Gaind underscored that he is not a “conscientious objector” to euthanasia and that he was the chair of his prior hospital’s MAiD team. His principal concern is to protect those with mental illness.

“MAiD is for irremediable medical conditions, ones that we can predict won’t improve,” he said.

“Worldwide evidence shows we cannot predict irremediability in cases of mental illness, meaning the primary safeguard underpinning MAiD is already bypassed,” he continued.

The leading psychiatrist added, “Scientific evidence shows we cannot distinguish suicidality caused by mental illness from motivations leading to psychiatric MAiD requests … .[There are] overlapping characteristics suggesting there may be no distinction to make.”

RELATED: Top Canadian psychiatrists urge gov’t to halt expansion of euthanasia to the mentally ill

Gaind directly addressed the claims of “discrimination” made by those in support of the expansion of MAiD, including Senator Stanley Kutcher and Dr. Mona Gupta.

“That is the ultimate discrimination.”

Gaind also took issue with statements made by Dr. Jocelyn Downie, a leading euthanasia activist and Trudeau Foundation Fellow.

“Professor Downie claimed, ‘Irremediability is a legal term rather than a clinical concept.’ Try those mental gymnastics on your constituents,” Gaind said dryly.

“Convince them it was okay their loved ones with mental illness got MAiD, not because of a clinical assessment based in medicine or science, but on the ethics of the particular assessor.”

RELATED: Trudeau Foundation fellow cites ‘privilege’ to justify expanding euthanasia to the mentally ill

Gaind criticized the euthanasia curriculum used by the Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers (CAMAP) for not teaching users how to differentiate between “suicidality” and “psychiatric MAiD requests.”

“A key problem with psychiatric MAiD assessments [is] the hubris of the assessor thinking they can determine irremediability and distinguish suicidality from psychiatric MAiD requests, when evidence shows they can do neither,” he said.

Based on all the evidence, Gaind is convinced that direct euthanasia should not be offered to the mentally ill.

“I’ve reviewed our legislation, the Health Canada practice standard, and the CAMAP training for MAiD for mental illness,” he said. “As someone who supports MAiD in general, I assure you: we are not ready.”

Gaind included in his fast-paced, passionate speech an admonishment of those who support expansion of MAiD.

“An echo chamber has driven expansion with reassurances but no safeguards,” he asserted. “It’s reassurance theatre.”

Gaind is a University of Toronto governor and professor of psychiatric medicine. In addition, he is Chief of the Department of Psychiatry at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and past president of Canadian Psychiatric Association.

Former Bill C-7, which allows for euthanasia on the grounds of mental illness, was passed into law in early 2021. However, the eligibility of the mentally ill to be killed was delayed for two years. The exclusion was extended in February 2023 and then extended again in March to last until March 17, 2024.

In October this year, Conservative MP Ed Fast introduced Bill C-314, an effort to “amend the Criminal Code to provide that a mental disorder is not a grievous and irremediable medical condition for which a person could receive medical assistance in dying.”

When put to a vote, the Bill was defeated 167 to 150.

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Great Reset

Canadian euthanasia doctor takes delight in having killed hundreds through assisted suicide

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Ellen Wiebe

From LifeSiteNews

By Jonathon Van Maren

“I know the exact number,” she told Kirkey, but didn’t want to provide it. “It’s become a weird thing, people talking about their numbers, or criticizing people who talk about their numbers.”

The National Post’s July 6 profile of euthanasia doctor and abortionist Ellen Wiebe begins with a barnburner line: “Dr. Ellen Wiebe has never shied away from speaking publicly about the act of ending someone’s life.” That’s a bit of an understatement — Wiebe has positively reveled in it. In the recent BBC documentary Better Off Dead? Wiebe informed disability rights activist Liz Carr that killing patients “is the very best work I’ve ever done.”

Wiebe’s enthusiasm — and chuckling throughout the interview — made viewers very uncomfortable. Clearly, so is National Post writer Sharon Kirkey. The profile of Wiebe is titled “This doctor has helped more than 400 patients die. How many assisted deaths are too many?” Of course, Wiebe hasn’t “helped people die.” She has actively ended their lives by lethal injection. She now realizes that people recoil from that fact. “I know the exact number,” she told Kirkey, but didn’t want to provide it. “It’s become a weird thing, people talking about their numbers, or criticizing people who talk about their numbers.”

“Hundreds is good,” she added. As Kirkey noted, Wiebe had ended at least 430 lives by May 2022, according to her own testimony before a special parliamentary committee on MAiD.

Wiebe has accrued many nicknames — the “pro-choice doctor providing peaceful deaths,” and a “de facto ambassador” of MAiD, for example. Unsurprisingly, she insists that the killing she does be carefully cloaked in Orwellian language. “In Canada, we don’t use the word euthanasia,” she told a podcaster. “That’s what we use for our pets. Here, we call it assisted dying.” Still, Kirkey notes that not everyone is happy about the work she finds so rewarding. She told Scottish euthanasia advocates that “we know that angry family members are our greatest risk” because they are most likely to bring complaints against euthanasia practitioners.

Indeed, as Kirkey notes, Wiebe is willing to bend the rules:

She’s published numerous papers in the assisted dying space, mentoring other doctors and hosting MAID training webinars, but has also been accused of bullying and sneaking her way into faith-based facilities. She’s faced multiple complaints against her to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia. but has always been found in compliance with the rules …

Wiebe has had several complaints lodged against her, including her provision of death in the case of “Ms. S,” a 56-year-old woman with advanced multiple sclerosis who, in 2017, starved herself to meet eligibility criteria that her death was “reasonably foreseeable,” a case with eerie echoes to the 27-year-old autistic Calgary woman who stopped eating and drinking in May over a judge’s order blocking her access to MAiD.

In 2017, Wiebe was accused of “borderline unethical” behaviour for entering Vancouver’s Louis Brier Home & Hospital, an Orthodox Jewish long-term care home, and providing MAID to 83-year-old cancer patient Barry Hyman, despite knowing the facility did not allow assisted deaths on its site. Hyman’s family had invited Wiebe in to honour his wish to die in his room. As Wiebe assembled her prepared syringes, “My heart was racing that someone would open the door,” Hyman’s daughter, Lola, told The Globe and Mail.

The same year, the chief medical officer and coroner with B.C.’s coroner’s service raised questions about Wiebe’s provision of MAID to a woman with dementia.

As she told journalist Peter Stockland in 2018, her practice comes “right up to the edge of the law but never beyond.” Thus far, at least, the authorities have agreed with her.

Although Wiebe is 72 and suffers from a heart condition, she’s determined to continue the work she believes in the most — euthanasia and abortion. Euthanasia, in particular, she says, is “the last thing I’ll give up,” and both euthanasia and abortion are “about honouring people’s wishes, empowering people to have control over their own lives. It’s wonderful that I have the opportunity to do that.” Kirkey notes that, as in the BBC documentary, Wiebe grinned and laughed in her interview with the National Post. “I love life,” she told Kirkey.

Disturbingly, Wiebe isn’t the only euthanasia practitioner who enjoys her work. Kirkey noted that in “one study, MAiD providers with between 12 and 113 assisted deaths each described the delivery of a medical death as ‘heartwarming,’ ‘the most important medicine I do,’ ‘an ultimate act of compassion,’ ‘liberating’ and ‘almost an adrenaline rush. I was surprised at how good I felt.’” As Christopher Lyon, a social scientist at the University of York, observed, this is jarring “because death is usually a deeply painful or difficult moment for the patients and their loved ones.” As Kirkey noted:

Lyon’s 77-year-old father died by MAiD in a Victoria hospital room in 2021, over the family’s objections. (Wiebe was not the provider.) His father had bouts of depression and suicidal thinking but was approved for MAiD nonetheless. Lyon wonders what draws some providers to MAiD “and what happens to a person when killing becomes a daily or weekly event.”

“Some providers have counts in the hundreds — this isn’t normal, for any occupation,” he said. “Even members of the military at war do not typically kill that frequently. I think that’s a question that we’ve not really ever asked.”

Wiebe says she didn’t plan to be a euthanasia practitioner — she grew up in a conservative, Bible-believing Mennonite home in Alberta but abandoned faith by age 17 — but has been long committed to the medicalized killing. In her work as an abortionist, she did “pioneering work on medical abortions and bringing trials of the abortion drug, mifepristone, to Canada.” When the Supreme Court legalized euthanasia, she wanted in. “I called up a friend who was also an abortion provider and said, ‘Palliative care is not going to do the work. We better figure out how to get trained and get in there,’” she told the National Post.

Wiebe believes that Canada’s euthanasia regime will only expand in the years ahead. Kirkey writes:

She fully anticipates that MAiD will be extended to mature minors. “I’ve always been assuming for eight years that a 17-year-old with terminal cancer is going to say, ‘I have the right,’ and of course any judge in the country will say, ‘Yes, you do.’” She also expects some form of advance requests for MAiD in cases of dementia, which would allow a person to make a written request for euthanasia that could be honoured later, even if they lose their capacity to make medical decisions for themselves. Support for advance requests is strong, according to polls. But if someone is unable to express how they’re feeling, who decides if they are suffering unbearably — and what if they changed their minds? MAID doctors may be asked to “provide” for someone they have not met before, and with whom they will not be able to communicate. That’s going to be hard for us as providers,” she said. “This will be a new challenge. And I’m up for challenges.”

Wiebe’s predictions and enthusiasm are a warning for Canada. We have seen tens of thousands of Canadians die by lethal injection and many others speak out about how they feel pressured or pushed into euthanasia. It is imperative that Wiebe’s vision for Canada be opposed at every step. Lives depend on it.

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Jonathon’s writings have been translated into more than six languages and in addition to LifeSiteNews, has been published in the National Post, National Review, First Things, The Federalist, The American Conservative, The Stream, the Jewish Independent, the Hamilton Spectator, Reformed Perspective Magazine, and LifeNews, among others. He is a contributing editor to The European Conservative.

His insights have been featured on CTV, Global News, and the CBC, as well as over twenty radio stations. He regularly speaks on a variety of social issues at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions in Canada, the United States, and Europe.

He is the author of The Culture War, Seeing is Believing: Why Our Culture Must Face the Victims of Abortion, Patriots: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Pro-Life Movement, Prairie Lion: The Life and Times of Ted Byfield, and co-author of A Guide to Discussing Assisted Suicide with Blaise Alleyne.

Jonathon serves as the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

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Great Reset

Canadian assisted suicide data suggests over 15,000 chose euthanasia last year

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From LifeSiteNews

By Alex Schadenberg

With a slightly higher population than Canada, the state of California also legalized euthanasia in 2016. From 2016 to the beginning of 2023, 3,349 Californians ended their life by euthanasia.  In that same time span 44,958 Canadians died by euthanasia.

As we await the federal government’s release of Canada’s 2023 euthanasia data, last week British Columbia released it’s 2023 provincial euthanasia data.

According to the BC Medical Assistance in Dying 2023 report there were 2,767 reported assisted deaths, up by 10 percent from 2,515 in 2022.

It is concerning that “other conditions” represented 32.9 percent of the BC assisted deaths in 2023. Other conditions were reported under these categories:

Autoimmune Condition 2.4%, Chronic Pain 24.8%, Diabetes 9.8%, Frailty 60.5%, Other Comorbidities* 52.1%.

READ: Canadian hospice society provides ‘Guardian Angels’ to protect patients from euthanasia

Canada’s MAiD law does not require that a person be terminally ill. Diabetes, frailty, chronic pain, and autoimmune conditions are usually chronic and not terminal conditions.

The report does not indicate the conditions that comprise “Other Comorbidities” yet the report indicates that mental disorders, as a comorbidity, is within that category.

Euthanasia for mental disorders alone is not permitted in Canada but if a person has a mental disorder and another comorbidity (condition) then the person can qualify to be killed by MAiD.

The report excludes any important information, such as an analysis of questionable deaths or a further examination of why a person actually asked to be killed, rather it only includes their condition.

Canada’s euthanasia statistics

Based on the data from Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta, and Nova Scotia, I now predict that there were approximately 15,280 Canadian euthanasia deaths in 2023. Here is how I came to that prediction:

CBC Radio Canada published an article on March 9, 2024, stating that there was a 17 percent increase in Québec euthanasia deaths with 5,686 reported deaths representing 7.3 percent of all deaths, which is the highest rate in the world in 2023. The Radio Canada report was based on the Quebec euthanasia deaths between January 1 and December 31, 2023.

The Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario released the December 2023 MAiD data indicating that there were 4,641 reported euthanasia deaths in 2023, which was up by 18 percent from 3,934 reported euthanasia deaths in 2022.

Alberta Health Services reports that there were 977 reported assisted suicide deaths in 2023, which was up by more than 18 percent from 836 reported assisted deaths in 2022.

The Nova Scotia Medical Assistance in Dying data indicates that there were 342 reported assisted deaths in 2023, which was up by more than 25 percent from 272 in 2022.

READ: Dame Cicely Saunders began the great work of modern palliative care. Let’s continue it

An article published by Global news, which may only be preliminary data, indicated that there were 236 reported Manitoba assisted deaths in 2023, which was up by 6 percent from 223 in 2022.

The BC Medical Assistance in Dying 2023 report stated that there were 2,767 reported assisted deaths, up 10 percent from 2,515 in 2022.

According to the data from Ontario, Québec, Alberta, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and British Columbia, there were 14,413 assisted deaths in 2023 (in those provinces) which is up by 15.4 percent from 12,490 assisted deaths in 2022 (in those provinces). Since the total number of Canadian assisted deaths in 2022 was 13,241, I can predict that there were approximately 15,280 Canadian assisted deaths in 2023.

Reprinted with permission from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

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