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Canada has seen a significant rise in the number of deaths by euthanasia taking place in the last year, with a third giving ‘not wanting to be a burden’ as a reason.

A Government report revealed that in 2019, 5,631 people were killed by euthanasia or assisted suicide, a rise of 26 per cent on the year before.

More than a third of patients (34 per cent) who requested they be killed by their doctors cited fear of being a burden to their families. 13.7 per cent said it was because of “isolation or loneliness”.

Non-terminal illnesses
The report also showed that of the 7,336 patients who requested Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID), 92 per cent had their applications approved, although 15.2 per cent of patients died before being killed, and a further 263 patients withdrew their request.

Despite this, the Canadian Government is seeking to further liberalise the law to make assisted suicide and euthanasia available for those without a terminal illness.

A new Bill would remove the requirement for a person’s natural death to be reasonably foreseeable, after the Quebec Superior Court ruled last year that such a condition was unconstitutional.

In a joint statement, the Canadian Association for Community Living and the Council of Canadians with Disabilities said the court ruling sent the message that “having a disability is a fate worse than death”.

Pro-life campaigners in the UK have consistently argued that if the law is changed to allow assisted suicide or euthanasia, it will inevitably lead to patients choosing to die for fear of being a burden on their families or carers.

In 2015, when Westminster last voted on an assisted suicide Bill, this argument was raised by MPs, who said legalising assisted suicide would pressurise the sick, elderly and vulnerable into ending their lives.

Many also pointed to the incremental extension of the practice in Europe, and the absence of genuine safeguards.

Watch the highlights from the debate as MPs voted overwhelmingly against legalisation by 330 votes to 118:

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Date published: 11/09/2020

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