A Conservative MP has warned Westminster not to follow Canada’s “dystopian” example of failing the vulnerable by pushing them to assisted suicide.
Danny Kruger, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Dying Well, told BBC Newsnight that although Canada legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide in 2016 for a “small number of defined people”, it is “now on the brink of allowing it for pretty much anybody who requests it”.
He said “it’s an entirely subjective judgement whether somebody is suffering intolerably”, and when two doctors deem this to be the case, they can push you down the assisted suicide road “very, very, quickly”.
The House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee is currently hearing evidence on access to palliative care, the role of medics in assisted suicide and eligibility criteria for such services in England and Wales.
killed by the state
Kruger explained that a group of Canadian doctors recently told Parliament “story after story of people whose family didn’t believe they should be receiving this, who were not terminally ill, but who wanted to die because of other reasons”, mostly poverty, depression, or lack of care from the health service.
He said: “Those people have been effectively killed by the state because they weren’t being looked after properly.”
James Cowan, a former politician who was involved in developing Canada’s assisted suicide law, accused the MP for Devizes of being “inflammatory” and claimed that there were “no instances” of these situations.
But Kruger rejected this, arguing that there is “case after case”, and since “record keeping is very poor”, it is “very difficult to pursue a case after the event of somebody dying”.
He added: “It’s an absolutely dystopian situation that’s developing there, I do use inflammatory language because I’m afraid it reflects the reality, we’ve got people with anorexia, people with eating disorders, young women who qualify for an assisted death and have been euthanised by doctors”.
Last month, it was revealed that fears over vulnerable people suffering a “wrongful death” caused a liberal journalist to question her support for assisted suicide.
Writing in the Observer, columnist Sonia Sodha said that stories hinting at “a lack of safeguards” emerging from Canada had prompted her to rethink her support of a change in the law in the UK.
A Bill to remove protections for vulnerable people is currently before the Scottish Parliament, and public consultations on similar proposals have recently been conducted in Jersey and the Isle of Man.