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Sharp rise in Canadians accessing assisted suicide, euthanasia

Assisted Suicide
11 January 2022
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The number of Canadians accessing assisted suicide and euthanasia has risen sharply since a change in the law just five years ago, stats confirm.

A report by Health Canada published this week indicates that the number of assisted deaths recorded in Canada grew from 2,838 in 2017 to 7,383 in 2020 – an increase of more than 160%.

Canada’s Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD) law was passed in 2016, legalising physician-assisted suicide, where doctors prescribe lethal drugs. It was soon extended to allow euthanasia, where doctors bring about the death of patients.

There has been a consistent rise in access to assisted death each year, with 2,838 cases in 2017, 4,478 in 2018, 5,425 in 2019 and 7,383 in 2020. The figures for 2021 are not yet available.

Cancer was recorded as the reason for the majority of assisted death requests in 2019 and 2020 (67%), with cardiovascular and chronic respiratory conditions second and third.

The average age of Canadian citizens applying for assisted suicide or euthanasia in 2019 and 2020 was 74 years old.

In the UK, pro-life campaigners have warned against introducing assisted suicide because it would damage the provision of conventional care.

In a letter to The Herald newspaper this week Gordon MacDonald, CEO of the Care not Killing Alliance, warned that Scottish proposals would undermine palliative medicine:

“The Bill would provide a cheap solution for policy-makers or NHS managers, enabling them to sidestep their obligations to address the unmet need for palliative care. It would make the situation worse.

"The experience of those countries which have gone down the assisted suicide or euthanasia route shows that the development of palliative care is impeded when such legislation is in place.”

“Faced with shortages of NHS resources, an overstretched workforce due to the pandemic and the prospect of huge savings to be made by enabling patients to end their lives prematurely, can we really trust politicians to come up with a law containing adequate safeguards which will prevent abuses from occurring?”
Gordon MacDonald CEO, Care Not Killing Alliance

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