Now Canada is euthanising autistic people

A father has discovered he is powerless to stop his perfectly healthy daughter being killed.

Kevin Yuill

Topics Politics World

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Imagine one day you discover that your adult daughter, who still lives with you, wants to be euthanised. As far as you are aware, she is healthy. She suffers from autism and ADHD, but no physical illnesses or disabilities that you know of. You know that she has faced many difficulties in her life, but you love her and desperately want to prevent her death. You are left fighting against her doctors, who encourage her decision and are perfectly happy to help her go through with this. To make this nightmare even worse, no one will even tell you why your daughter has been approved to die.

This is the awful reality facing one father in Alberta, Canada. A judge issued a ruling this week that clears the way for a 27-year-old woman, known to the court only as MV, to be accepted into Canada’s medical assistance in dying (MAID) programme. Despite the attempts by her father – known as WV – to prevent this, there was really very little that could have been done. Under Canadian law, the court had no choice but to allow his daughter to be killed. According to the twisted logic of assisted-dying campaigners, this is the ‘compassionate’ option.

To be eligible for MAID, a patient needs to have a ‘grievous and irredeemable’ medical condition. In court, MV did not need to identify which medical condition she is supposed to be suffering from. She was not required to provide information about her symptoms or explain how they cause her to suffer. All her parents have seen is the evidence that she followed the correct procedures to access MAID, and that her eligibility was approved by two doctors.

WV argues that the doctors were wrong to conclude that his daughter met the MAID criteria. He told the courts that she was diagnosed in 2016 with autism-spectrum disorder. She also has a long history of seeking medical diagnoses for physical ailments. But, to her father’s knowledge, no diagnosis was ever made. He said it is unclear to him whether she suffers from any physical condition at all. He speculated that she may suffer from psychological conditions that ‘caus[e] her to believe that she suffers from physiological symptoms’.

MV’s case gives a disturbing insight into just how easy it can be to access MAID. Patients can simply shop around for doctors who are willing to give their approval. Her first application was turned down, because one of the two doctors she consulted said she did not meet the criteria (it is not known when she made this application). She made a second application in 2023. Again, one doctor determined her to be eligible and the other did not. The Alberta Health Services then allowed her to obtain a third assessment (a ‘tie-break’). However, the doctor selected to break the tie was the same doctor who had already agreed with MV’s first MAID application. Who was responsible for this decision? We will probably never know.

The court agreed that MV had no obligation to answer any of her parents’ questions about her medical condition or the MAID process. The judge declared that ‘the court cannot review a MAID applicant’s decision-making or the clinical judgement of the doctors and nurse practitioners’. Because of medical-privacy laws, her parents can never know why two doctors felt it was acceptable for the state to euthanise their daughter. Life and death decisions are being made in secret, by unaccountable figures.

Assisted-dying campaigners often claim that they are on the side of compassion. But stopping a father from saving his daughter’s life is surely the cruellest outcome possible. Anyone who still believes that euthanasia prevents suffering needs to seriously think again.

Kevin Yuill is an emeritus professor of history at the University of Sunderland and CEO of Humanists Against Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia (HAASE).

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics World


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