Living with Dignity, an organization based in Quebec, reported on the latest findings concerning euthanasia in Canada. From their May 31st article:
“A Canadian study recently examined the reasons behind euthanasia cases in four major hospitals in the Toronto area.
The results of the study demonstrate that the main factor behind euthanasia deaths relates to existential distress. Indeed, the primary reason given by patients concerned the loss of autonomy – and not the unbearable pain that was conveniently sold to us from the beginning. Other reasons included fear of becoming a burden to those around them, fear of losing one’s dignity, or the fact of no longer appreciating one’s life.
In other words, the Canadian picture continues a portrait well known in other parts of the world, in which the same motives are evoked to request assisted suicide. This pattern also confirms what we already knew: euthanasia is primarily a question of how we relate to others and how society views vulnerable people.
Moreover, when loss of autonomy is evoked as an indignity that deserves death, we should first see it as a petty social judgment that affects all persons who suffer from a disability or a serious illness. Furthermore, we have the duty to fight this pernicious and intolerable verdict.
Indeed, this is the logic inherent in all laws on euthanasia as they sell induced death as a blessing and as an adequate response to suffering. In the face of this real ideological scourge, we must continue to promote a benevolent and inclusive vision that values those who are made vulnerable by sickness, old age, or disability by giving them the means to live with dignity and to be accompanied and comforted until their last breath.”
As Living with Dignity points out the reasons for euthanasia requests in Canada are the same as those found in other jurisdictions. Annual reports from the states of Oregon and Washington where assisted suicide is legal show that these reasons are: loss of dignity, loss of autonomy, loss of ability to participate in activities that make life enjoyable, fear of being a burden on family and friends and loss of control of bodily functions. Pain while listed is not the primary reason.