Drug users with substance use disorders should be allowed to undergo euthanasia after Canada widens its law next year, it has been suggested.
Dr David Martell, an addiction medicine provider who joined a working group on so-called medical assistance in dying (MAID), claimed “it’s not fair to exclude people from eligibility purely because their mental disorder might either partly or in full be a substance use disorder”.
Canada legalised euthanasia in certain circumstances in 2016, but has already abolished the requirement for a person to be terminally ill and intends to extend it to those who suffer from mental health problems from March 2024.
Speaking at the 2023 Canadian Society for Addiction Medicine’s annual Scientific Conference, Dr Martell presented a framework for assessing individuals with substance use disorders who request MAID after March.
But Dr Martell did emphasise that MAID shouldn’t be ‘promoted or pushed’ on such people, and he admitted that although he is a MAID provider he isn’t sure he could be the one to assist their death under the regime.
Zoë Dodd, Co-Organiser of the Toronto Overdose Prevention Society, commented: “I just think that MAID when it has entered the area around mental health and substance use is really rooted in eugenics”.
Earlier this year, an academic paper argued that being poor is sufficient reason for people to be allowed to undergo assisted suicide.
In an article published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Canadian bioethicists Professor Amy Mullin and Kayla Wiebe said assisted suicide “should be available” for people “in unjust social circumstances”.
Since MAID was first legalised in 2016, it has resulted in the deaths of 44,958 Canadians, with over 350 per cent more people killed through the scheme in 2022 than in 2017.