Expanding Medical Assistance in Dying Will Have Devastating Effects on Canadians with Disabilities

  • 10 mars 2023
  • Lorin MacDonald

This article was originally published by Canadian Lawyer magazine.

Medically assisted death should not be more accessible than appropriate supports

There is a proliferation of news reports of people with disabilities considering medical assistance in dying (MAiD). The legislative expansion of MAiD, scheduled to take effect on March 17, 2023, would lift the current ban for those whose sole condition is mental illness, provided they meet all other criteria. This expansion would cause Canada to have one of the most liberal euthanasia laws in the world. However, the uproar from the medical community has forced the federal government to change course, committing to a legislative amendment to extend the ban, thereby permitting the additional study of proper safeguards. This amendment will occur once the House of Commons and Senate resumes sitting at the end of January.

As a human rights lawyer, a disability advocate, and a woman born with a disability, I find these trends troubling. I believe MAiD is the outcome of Hobson’s choice, which refers to the illusion that multiple options are available. In a “take it or leave it” scenario, “leaving it” is no longer tenable for many Canadians with disabilities, given today’s climate.

An online campaign for change called No Options, No Choice brings these issues to the forefront: “When Canadians are at their most vulnerable, they should be provided with meaningful options to live before they are provided with options to die.” The campaign aims to share stories of Canadians living with life-threatening illnesses, disabilities, and mental illness, thereby mobilizing our collective responsibility to ensure we all live with dignity.