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Two Canadian doctors euthanised over 700 people between them

Two Canadian doctors, who have euthanised 700 people between them, have described euthanasia as “the most rewarding work we’ve ever done” and used the term “delivery” to describe both the delivery of babies at birth and killing patients by euthanasia.

Last year, the New Atlantis journal obtained video recordings and accompanying presentations of several meetings of doctors and medical professionals who administer euthanasia in Canada, which took place between 2020 and 2022.

In one of these recordings, a doctor who works with Dying with Dignity Canada, Ellen Wiebe, who has personally administered euthanasia to over 400 patients, drew attention to the phenomenon of ‘doctor-shopping’ where, if one doctor judges that a person is not eligible for euthanasia, the person is able to keep searching for a doctor who will approve the request.

In particular, Wiebe discussed the case of one man who was not deemed eligible for euthanasia since he was judged not to have the “capacity to make informed decisions about his own personal health”. However, this same man was put into contact with Wiebe who decided that this man did fulfil the criteria.

“And he flew all by himself to Vancouver”, she said. “I picked him up at the airport, […] brought him to my clinic and [I euthanised him]”.

She also described her role in administering euthanasia as “the most rewarding work we’ve ever done”.

Dr Green has euthanised over 300 people

Dr Stefanie Green, an obstetrician and colleague of Wiebe, said she uses the term ‘deliveries’ to describe both the bringing of new babies into the world and euthanising her patients.

In her book on assisted suicide and euthanasia, she writes “At both ‘deliveries,’ as I call them, I am invited into a most intimate moment in people’s lives”.

Dr Green has performed euthanasia on over 300 people. She described the idea that some people are ending their lives due to fear of poverty or mental suffering as “clickbait” despite the increasing evidence.

“The suffering I experience is mental suffering, not physical”

The New Atlantis, however, in its investigation found evidence of a number of people who sought to end their lives for precisely these non-medical reasons. One patient, Rosina Kamis, 41, suffered from leukaemia and other health problems and was euthanised in 2021 on this basis. However, in a letter apparently for her lawyer, she admitted that this was just a pretence and that the real reason for ending her life by euthanasia was due to the mental anguish she was experiencing.

She was facing eviction from her home, was crowdfunding to pay for food, and was concerned she would “suffer alone”.

She wrote “Please keep all this secret while I am still alive because… the suffering I experience is mental suffering, not physical”.

Criminal investigations of euthanasia providers are extremely rare

CTV News in Canada reports that “federal officials don’t keep statistics on when such cases are reported to police”. The Director of the Disability Studies program at the University of Manitoba, Nancy Hansen, said that in effect “there’s no consequences for non-compliance” with the law.

The New Atlantis explains this lack of legal enforcement: “the people doing the training, the assessments, the procedure, and informing the review are all the same people”. There is, in effect, no outside accountability.

One in five cite loneliness as a reason to want to die

In 2021, 10,064 lives were ended by assisted suicide or euthanasia, an increase of over 32% from the previous year, accounting for 3.3% of all deaths in Canada.

According to the latest report on Medical Assistance in Dying from Health Canada, 17.3% of people also cited “isolation or loneliness” as a reason for wanting to die. In 35.7% of cases, patients believed that they were a “burden on family, friends or caregivers”.

Statistics from the state of Oregon, which made assisted suicide legal in 1997, show that most end-of-life concerns are not medical. The Oregon Health Authority report for 2021 says that 54.2% of patients were concerned with being a “burden on family, friends/caregivers”. 92% of patients were concerned with being “[l]ess able to engage in activities making life enjoyable”. 93.3% were concerned with “losing autonomy” and 68.1% were concerned with “loss of dignity”. Of the total who have died since 1997, 27.5% have listed “inadequate pain control, or concern about it” as one of their end-of-life concerns.

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “Canada’s euthanasia laws are increasingly showing the dangers of this legislation for the rest of the world. Vulnerable people, people who are suffering from poverty or treatable illness, are more regularly seeing euthanasia as one of their options”.

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