Since the legalization of Medical Aid in Dying (MAID), Canada has been all over the headlines. Through the MAID program over 31,000 people have died. Advocates of the legalization of MAID assured that the program would be used in rare cases, confined to terminally ill patients, but this is no longer true. With MAID’s new expansions, individuals solely living with mental health issues will be eligible for MAID. There is overwhelming evidence of a slippery slope regarding euthanasia not only in Canada, but all over the world, including America.
The idea of “freedom of choice” and “dying with dignity” is not a foreign idea. The slippery slope in euthanasia is real. First, there is a steady increase in people dying because of physician assisted suicide. Canada’s MAID program reported 1,018 deaths in the program’s first year in comparison to 10,064 deaths in 2021 alone. Canada’s reported deaths have doubled almost every year since MAID’s implementation. Since legalization of euthanasia in Belgium, the number of reported cases has also increased each year. In 2002, 24 people were euthanized in Belgium compared to 4,337 deaths between 2016 and 2017. The Netherlands reported 7,666 deaths in 2021, more than 10 percent from the year before, according to official figures.
Second, once assisted suicide has been legalized for one group of people it’s only a matter of time before it’s extended to other groups of people. Canada has expanded its euthanasia laws since MAID’s legalization. The new MAID expansions will take effect this year, 2023. These expansions are not unique to Canada. Belgium’s laws also include various groups of vulnerable people as eligible candidates for euthanasia. People living with depression, anxiety, blindness, and deafness can choose death. In 2014, Belgium changed their laws to allow children of any age to be euthanized. Due to Belgium’s expansion, the Netherlands shortly after changed their laws to include individuals 12 years old or older as eligible candidates.
Evidence for the slippery slope of euthanasia can be found in our own backyard. Eleven jurisdictions in the United States have assisted dying programs. Figures from Oregon demonstrate that deaths have increased year by year. The Oregon Health Authority shows that in 2016, 133 people died by assisted suicide. Not only is there a steady increase, but expansions are also being implemented. As of 2022, “the Oregon Health Authority ruled to drop the residency requirement for MAID in their state.” Before this decision, only Oregon residents qualified for MAID in their state. Now, a resident from Texas or Alabama can travel to Oregon to be euthanized. State agencies know that certain states will most likely never legalize MAID, so by eliminating the residency requirement they are facilitating the promotion of MAID. The Vermont house has given the greenlight to a bill that will allow non-residents to also seek medically assisted suicide. Our neighbor state, New Mexico, is the latest to adopt this ideology. Other governments successfully passed laws that they believed were palatable enough to be accepted by the public. They then work to whittle it away until there are no limitations. Our laws reflect this process.
In Texas, active euthanasia and MAID are not legal, yet a horrifying and unique law, the 10-Day Rule, allows for a less known form of euthanasia. The 10-Day Rule allows a physician backed by an ethics committee to prematurely remove life-sustaining treatment from a patient regardless of the patient or family’s wishes to the contrary. A physician protected by law can prematurely remove life sustaining treatment hastening a patient’s death. The 10-Day Rule is a form of involuntary passive euthanasia that is based on a physician’s opinion. A physician can turn to the 10-Day Rule based on the belief that the patient has an unacceptably low quality of life.
We should fight to protect those vulnerable patients. Although we cannot stop what is happening in Canada and in Europe, we can stop the growth of euthanasia in America. We must not let our great nation become a death-on-demand society. Texas’ 88th Legislative Session is currently underway. Our legislative team is hard at work making sure that Pro-Life laws are being implemented in our great state. The fight to repeal the 10-Day Rule is immense, but we are making incremental changes that better defend vulnerable patients and their loved ones.