The term MAID is a new one on me. It stands for ‘medical assistance in dying’. It’s been legal in Canada since 2015. Its first year of operation was in 2016 when there were 1,018 recipients of MAID. Since then, it’s increased rapidly. In 2021 there were over 10,000 cases, 3.3% of all deaths. In British Columbia, 4.8% of all deaths were via MAID. The total for 2022 looks like being over 13,000.
If you’re interested in any aspect of MAID can I recommend this Canadian Government report – after all, I suspect it’s only a question of time before it comes to the U.K.
Canada’s not alone. In the Netherlands there are over 7,500 assisted suicides per year, more than 5% of all deaths. Assisted suicide is also legal in Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, parts of the U.S., Colombia, New Zealand, Spain and Australia. It looks like it will also soon be possible in Germany, Austria and Italy.
Personally, I’m not opposed to assisted suicide; it looks to me like a rather more attractive proposition than many of the alternatives. I think it was John Mortimer on being asked why he didn’t stop smoking replied: “There’s no pleasure worth giving up for an extra year or two in an old-people’s home.”
(Incidentally, Canadian retailer Simons has been in the news this week for using assisted suicide as a promotional tool in an advertisement ‘All is Beauty’. I’m genuinely at a loss to know where this would stand in light of the Government’s proposed Online Harms Bill – is it promoting suicide or beauty products, or both?)
In the Canadian Report, the profile of MAID recipients, while skewed heavily towards those terminally ill with cancer, still bears a remarkable similarity to that of Covid victims. Recently, the controversial category ‘non-RFND’ (non-reasonably foreseeable deaths) has been added to those eligible for MAID. It includes people with mental health conditions such that they wish to end their own life. It remains to be seen how this will impact on the numbers in the future.