Josie Luetke:

Interim writer, Josie Luetke, Talk Turkey

The Canadian government, in consultation with “experts,” is presently determining “how MAID can be provided safely to those whose only medical condition is a mental illness.” In less than a year, on  March17, 2023, they will become eligible for euthanasia, deceptively referred to as “medical assistance in dying,” even though the only things dying are common sense and the definition of “dying.”

This move would be a step towards a more consistent position, for to assume that those who are physically disabled suffer more and are more deserving of euthanasia than those who are mentally ill, but able-bodied, is an indefensible, ableist prejudice. 

There never was a slippery slope. The moment we decided to enter into the business or game of determining in which circumstances it’s okay for citizens to kill each other, we plummeted straight off a cliff. 

Originally, Canada required that one’s death be reasonably foreseeable, but if we’re killing to relieve suffering, then shouldn’t the people we prioritize killing be precisely the ones who aren’t dying, and whose suffering is prolonged? Regardless, that requirement was abandoned. 

Currently, the law specifies that to be eligible, one must have a “grievous and irremediable medical condition” which must be “serious and incurable,” and causes them to be “in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability” and “enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them and that cannot be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptable.” 

Why require one to have a medical condition at all? Why not just kill everyone who says they want to be killed?

And who is to say what is incurable? Nearly everything was incurable once until it wasn’t. 

Why must one be in a decline of capability? Is that not ableist too, and utilitarian in bent? If the government cares about who is capable or not, it might as well off me now. 

Notice especially the subjective nature of the description of suffering. Two people could have the exact same condition, and one could be eligible for euthanasia and the other not, if the latter is less of a pansy when it comes to pain tolerance, even if further along in that state of decline.

There is no objective way to measure suffering. The government has two options: kill everybody who claims they’re suffering (which they’re not yet doing), or kill those whose claims of suffering they consider believable because they wouldn’t consider those lives worth living. 

I have yet to come across euthanasia advocates who admit they’re making these biased value judgments about people’s lives. They simply pretend they’re benevolently providing a much-needed service to those making personal choices not to go any further (as if such choices are ever made in a vacuum), and avoid reflecting on the discriminations they’re making. 

So, let’s set this reality aside, and continue to pretend that they’re in this lovely line of work of wish fulfillment, just to extend their reasoning to its natural conclusion and reveal the pit at the bottom of this cliff that flashes by as we plunge. 

Logically, there’s no basis for not also killing “mature minors” whom the government deems capable of consenting to other “health care” procedures, including “gender-affirming” treatments and surgeries rendering them infertile.

Moreover, if we supposedly have this “right to die” (really a right to be killed), and to stipulate when and how we die (be killed), then why limit the killing to medical professionals?

We want to sanitize the whole affair and confer on it an air of legitimacy, but other than that, why not let anyone stick you with that lethal dose? Because they may be clumsy, and you might suffer or, God forbid, live? If you can consent to being killed, could you not also consent to those risks?

Maybe we could just allow you to be shot in the head. Why not? Why not allow people to duel to the death? What if they don’t really want to die, but will take that chance if it means potentially getting to kill someone without having to go through medical school first? It may be messy, sure. Is that the only objection? We could designate certain duelling centres, so there’s no risk of ricochet or traumatizing the neighbours.

And if you can consent to ending your life—the choice to end all choices—then why couldn’t you consent to ending your freedom through indentured servitude? What couldn’t you consent to, really? Commence the ribbon-cutting of our new libertarian utopia.

Of course, any non-libertarian would argue that certain things we can’t consent to, or shouldn’t, and that personal liberty needs to be weighed against the common good.

But…wait, wait, wait, since when was the common good part of this discussion? We left it behind, at the top of the cliff, once we started chanting the pro-choice mantra, with no regard for what was being chosen, and whether it was good to choose.

If we cared about the common good at all, we wouldn’t be here, considering what parameters to put in place to ensure we kill the mentally ill “safely,” because we couldn’t think of any good reason not to kill them too.

While I kept mentioning consent, I need to clarify that the law doesn’t actually place as much emphasis on it as I’m doing. A dying individual no longer has to provide final consent before they’re killed if they lose the capacity to do so and any words, sounds, or gestures they make in refusal are interpreted as “involuntary.”

A side note: It’s interesting how in the context of sex, consent must be “clear, enthusiastic, and ongoing,” but not so when it comes to getting someone to kill you. Maybe because the dead can’t file police reports. This conflict will be augmented if Canada permits advanced requests for euthanasia, something it is also considering.

I said “utopia,” but you’re probably thinking that this all sounds distinctly dystopian and far-fetched. So, here’s a picture: Funeral homes are now in the racket of offering euthanasia. You can be at a funeral of your loved one, crying your eyes out, and the undertaker can sidle up right next to you, hand you his card, and ask, “Want to go next?” Wake up. You’re in the dystopia already.

Another thing I want to emphasize: These problems are not somebody else’s. You’re not invulnerable. Maybe you’ve never wanted to die, but if you ever do, that is precisely when your willpower is the weakest. That’s when you need your community to lend you their strength, not a hitman in a lab coat (although, really, it could be a gun-slinging cowboy at the end of the day—the job still gets done).

What good is a society at all if it can’t perform its most basic function of stopping people from killing each other? What does it say about the state of our society that it is, instead, actively participating? Can we even call that a society? Are we living in an illusion of order?