March 5, 2024

Legal, yes, but not safe and rare

The latest figures for euthanasia deaths in Canada have just been published. Allowing for some deficiencies in the data, an astonishing 1.12% of deaths are attributable to what the Canadians call “Medical Aid in Dying” (MAiD). I say “astonishing” because, like many others, I thought that euthanasia would be “safe, legal and rare”. Instead, between one in a hundred and one in fifty people die at the hands of a doctor. 

The Ministry of Health explains that “The percentage of deaths … continues to remain within the percentage of medically assisted deaths provided in other countries where 0.4% (Oregon, USA, 2017) to 4% (Netherlands, 2017) of total deaths has been attributed to a medically assisted death”. Somehow this is meant to be reassuring, but comparing two figures which differ by a factor of ten and relate to two different practices (assisted suicide and euthanasia) is meaningless. 

What should alarm all Canadians is that in a mere two years since legalisation, euthanasia has become so widespread. Is it going to stop at 4%? There's no reason to say that it will. 

Michael Cook
Euthanasia deaths in Canada