UN disability envoy urges changes to Canada’s euthanasia law


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by Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Catalina Devandas Aguilar, the UN’s Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities met with Canadian government officials and disability rights advocates from April 2 – 12, 2019 investigating Canada’s implementation of the United Nations rights of people with disabilities. (Link to the report).

In her report, Devandas Aguilar challenged the Canadian government concerning the implementation of its euthanasia law. Her report stated:

I am extremely concerned about the implementation of the legislation on medical assistance in dying from a disability perspective. I have been informed that there is no protocol in place to demonstrate that persons with disabilities have been provided with viable alternatives when eligible for assistive dying. I have further received worrisome claims about persons with disabilities in institutions being pressured to seek medical assistance in dying, and practitioners not formally reporting cases involving persons with disabilities. I urge the federal government to investigate these complaints and put into place adequate safeguards to ensure that persons with disabilities do not request assistive dying simply because of the absence of community-based alternatives and palliative care.

CTV news reported Devandas Aguilar as stating:

Among her chief concerns were reports of patients allegedly pressured to undergo medically assisted deaths, a lack of community care that forces patients into nursing homes, and how the court system fails people with disabilities.

Devandas Aguilar said she was “extremely concerned” about the implications of assisted dying legislation on people with disabilities after hearing multiple complaints.

“I urge the federal government to investigate these complaints and put into place adequate safeguards to ensure that persons with disabilities do not request assistive dying simply because of the absence of community-based alternatives and palliative care,”

This is important news that must not stop with this report. The fact is that Canada’s euthanasia law employs undefined language with no effective oversight.

The Canadian visit and the report by Devandas Aguilar opens the door to pushing back Canada’s euthanasia law

UN disability rights envoy demands protection for people with disabilities from euthanasia in Canada.

Republished with permission

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