In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards euthanasia and medically assisted dying (Maid) in Canada, and this trend is spreading to other countries around the world. This is not something to be proud of, like winning a science contest or inventing basketball. With Canada being one of the most progressive countries in the world, Canada has become a leader in this movement, with politicians rushing to make the “procedure” more accessible to rural and traditional citizens. However, this trend is deeply troubling for many people, especially those of a religious bent.
What is Maid?
Medically assisted dying, or MAiD, is the practice of intentionally ending a person’s life through the administration of medication or other medical means. It is typically used for people who are suffering from a terminal illness or condition, and who have made the decision to end their own lives rather than continue to suffer. There are two streams, with the former being easier to assess than the latter. For example, “hospice” scenarios are more complicated than someone suffering from multiple mental disorders.
The Canadian Experience
In Canada, MAID has been legal since 2016, and since then, it has become increasingly common. In 2018 alone, there were over 6,700 cases of MAID reported in Canada, and this number is expected to continue to rise in the coming years. This makes Canada the most progressive country in the world when it comes to end-of-life care. Some project that this figure will rise to nearly 50,000 by year’s end, especially as the social taboo erodes. In fact, some people are vocal about their decision, using social media (and other platforms) to amplify their voices. It is sure to have some impact on some people.
With all this being said, the growing trend towards MAID in Canada is deeply concerning for many people, not just those who are religious and/or social conservatives. What if your loved one was suffering from depression and was offered MAID? Would you chalk it up to “personal choice”? What is the role of the doctor? Who is in charge?
While proponents of MAID argue that it offers a compassionate and humane option for people who are suffering, opponents argue that it represents a dangerous shift away from the idea that human life is sacred and should be protected at all costs. With some advocating for the complete removal of all constraints-billed as the “right to death”-we may see a movement of people pledging to “opt-in” rather than “choose life”. I guess it comes down to whether someone sees human life as a blessing or parasidical.
The Moral Implications of MAiD
For many people, the idea of intentionally ending a person’s life, even with their consent, is morally repugnant. From a religious perspective, many believe that human life is a sacred gift from God, and that we have a moral obligation to protect and cherish that life. The Jewish faith, as the first Abrahamic religion, emphasizes the importance of human life, and our prophets are respected throughout the world. As the great Jewish sage, Maimonides, said, “To save a life is to save the entire world.” This might mean encouraging someone to give life another chance, to stand up after falling down. If the only solution that you have is MAID perhaps you need another opinion.
What Is A Life Worth?
There is a growing concern that the availability of MAID could lead to a cheapening of life, where people begin to see human life as something that can be discarded when it is no longer convenient or desirable. This starts with an ultrasound when some parents elect to “terminate the pregnancy and try again”. Even if you are not especially devout, you have to admit that there is something magical about how a mother cares for her growing child. Furthermore, we should apply the same care to our elderly and disabled, giving them the respect that they deserve as Image Bearers. For example, in some places, including Canada, there are calls to expand access to MAID to include people who are suffering from mental illness, even if they are not terminally ill. This raises serious questions about how we view people with mental illness, and whether we believe that their lives are worth less than the lives of people who are physically ill. This reminds me too much of the German T4 program where they tried to rid their race of any defects. The Torah teaches us to appreciate our unique nature, created with purpose by a God who loves us dearly.
On a final note, there is the question of whether MAID constitutes a “true form” of healthcare. While proponents argue that it offers a compassionate option for people who are suffering, opponents argue that it is not healthcare at all, but rather a way of offering people the option of ending their lives when they are no longer able to cope with their suffering. In this sense, MAID is more akin to suicide than it is to healthcare, and it raises serious questions about how we view death and dying in our society. Even if you promote it with attractive videos and posters, the core of this idea remains the same.
As the world becomes increasingly progressive, there is a growing concern that euthanasia could become more widespread in other countries, including those that are currently opposed to it. This may result in reactionary movements, choosing a more extreme position as a strategic measure. This will cause society to rupture further, making it difficult to unify under a common banner. Regardless of where you come from, life is precious and should be protected at all costs.
How many people have felt pressured into taking MAID so far?
Are you comfortable with that number rising?
What if it was your family member?