Supporters of our campaign to resist a law change on assisted suicide have continually expressed real concerns about the concept of “a slippery slope”. The idea that once assisted suicide is permitted for one group it isn’t long before it’s extended to include other groups and that this is a bad thing. Our opponents have argued that this is simply not true, that a slippery slope does not exist.
Let’s briefly examine what has been happening in Canada.
In December 2015 – the Quebec Province in Canada (a regional government) passed the Act Respecting End of Life Care, which permits Medical Aid In Dying (MAID).
June 2016 – The law was extended to other Provinces and Territories, making Quebec’s law legal across the whole of Canada. It prioritises mentally ill and vulnerable people and those who have a grievous or irremediable medical condition, including people with an incurable illness or disease, and disabled people.
In March 2020 – the Canadian courts (nationwide) extended the law to include the following:
- Removal of the requirement that death should be reasonably foreseeable
- Only one independent witness to request for MAID
- A personal or health care worker may be a witness
- Removal of 10-day period for reflection
- The waiver should be given in advance
On 17 March 2021 – the Canadian legislature expanded MAID to a broader group of people:
- A person does not need to have a fatal or terminal condition to be eligible for MAID.
- Mentally ill patients can give an advanced waiver to sign off for MAID before they are compromised by their condition.
The numbers of people assisted to end their lives in Canada are consistently growing year on year:
The Canadian Government now propose that in March 2023 it plans to give patients with mental illness alone and no other underlying issues the option for a MAID.
Within six years the scope of the assisted suicide legislation in Canada has been amended twice with further amendments planned. More people are now eligible, the death rate is increasing and the protections have been weakened we’d call that a “slippery slope”.