About a year after COVID lockdown, the Canadian Government legalized medically-assisted dying. Canadians whose only ailment is mental illness will become eligible for this on March 17, 2024.
Part of the Series How to Survive the Death of the U.S.
What if the United States legalized medically assisted dying?
Current U.S. legislation restricting human rights on abortion, gender non-conformity, and our racist history, is comparable to the MAiD program in Canada. Both nations have a historical and present value system pushing for white supremacy. Erasure of peoples and/or education and access to care is not new to either nation.
Both the Canadian and U.S. government have used eugenics historically and currently against various populations.
MAiD In Canada
The first incarnation of MAiD passed in June 2016, but wasn’t implemented until March 17, 2021. By that time the world had already been in lockdown a full year since the COVID-19 pandemic.
MAiD was implemented on schedule.
Canada’s government uses the most positive language possible to assert it’s “strengthening safeguards” for those whose death isn’t reasonably foreseeable. Canada has since devoted tremendous resources to facilitate access to MAiD applications for individuals lacking resources: including houselessness.
PTSD and MAiD
In August 2022, the Canadian Broadcasting Company interviewed Scott Maxwell, Executive Director of Wounded Warriors Canada. WWC is a National Mental Health Services Provider there. Its goal is to, “support ill and injured Canadian Veterans, First Responders and their families.”
Maxwell demanded an investigation into why the Canadian VA recommended MAiD to an unnamed vet with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury, instead of therapy.
Death is not a treatment for PTSD.
I was especially horrified to learn the VA’s referral was due to an alleged lack of therapists.
In becoming international news, MAiD as a “treatment” for PTSD–which is a chronic, though treatable condition, raises every red flag I have.
Americans and the Right to Die
One of my first undergrad assignments was reading an essay arguing for the right-to-die in the U.S.
Emotional class discussions followed. At that specific time and place, most of the class were poor white people from rural areas. Many of us were the first in our families to go to college, and had never been anywhere else. We’d also never viewed death outside of a Christian context, and vehemently argued the concept was outright anti-Christ. It was “playing God.” It was a ridiculous, and sinful, notion.
At that time in my life, conversation of a “right to die, ” or “death with dignity,” would’ve been a non-starter.
When my class interaction occurred, it’d been roughly a decade since the right-to-die had last been in the American lexicon–yet it was still met with a lot of religiosity that we see today in far-right Christofascist legislation.
Jack Kevorkian’s Late 20th Century Legacy of Medically Assisted Dying
During the 1990’s and early 21st century, medically-assisted dying was synonymous with Dr. Jack Kevorkian.
For those of you who didn’t grow up hearing about “Dr. Death” (as the media dubbed him), Jack Kevorkian announced in 1990 that he was assisting others in ending their lives. A series of public trials and spectacle followed.
During my formative years, the once unheard of ideology of euthanasia was launched into American mainstream. It became a main topic on the evening news and at dinner tables across the nation.
Republicans in the U.S. played a major role in advocacy against medically assisted dying in the U.S.
Some of those politicians still hold office.
Unsurprisingly, these Republicans holding office only voice their stance when it benefits their agenda. So far in the United States, there has been a staunch stance against euthanasia in regards to death with dignity; but it is also a hard stop against “CRT” in public K-12 schools and trans lives.
Jeb Bush Vs. Medically Assisted Dying and the American Right-to-Die
In the early 2000s opportunistic Republicans usurped Michael Schiavo’s right to remove life sustaining equipment from his wife, Terri Schiavo. Their efforts would become a highly publicized battle against one of the biggest political names at the time.
Then-President George W. Bush, and prominent Republicans Trent Lott and Jeb Bush, interjected themselves into legal proceedings between Terri Schiavo’s parents and her husband. Despite Terri Schiavo’s medically diagnosed “persistent vegetative state,” Terri’s parents fought to keep her artificially alive. Republicans set into motion a horrific series of abuses of power against for Michael Schiavo.
A decade after signing “Terri’s Law” into effect in Florida, Michael has repeatedly admonished publicly Jeb Bush.
This piece from Politico interviewing Michael Schiavo is worth the read.
Jeb Bush created the Terri Schiavo nightmare for his own political gain, and was still using that to propel him to the 2016 run for Republican Presidential nominee.
Abusing political power is nothing new to Republicans like Jeb, who as recently as October, 2022 coyly made statements about the upcoming 2024 election.
Republican pushback against the “right-to-die” effectively stalled national efforts that would allow states individual authority to mandate these options.
It didn’t stop the United State’s flavor of fascism; restricting education, healthcare, and human rights for broad swaths of the population. Most notably at the moment, is anti-trans legislation. Many U.S. states have legislation that ties anti-queer, trans, and Black hate speech by linking both educational and healthcare restrictions to build a system that dehumanizes these very peoples.
Why This Matters
Canada, like the U.S., is the byproduct of a colonial government. The primary functions of both governments are centered on preserving white comfort (and reproduction). This is evidenced by the promotion of ideologies like eugenics, and the implementation of enslavement, and forced sterilization.
Indigenous peoples calling for justice from the cultural genocide wrought by residential schools has recently brought North America’s history to the present. This made undeniable proof of white attempts to literally erase thousands of Indigenous peoples – something otherwise known as ethnic cleansing.
Those impacted by the Commonwealth Government of Canada’s forced/coerced sterilization, church-run kidnappings, and Eurocentric torture, were the forcibly displaced Indigenous tribes; their children stolen from their families, communities, and cultures , only to die at the hands of abusive colonizing, paid employees of Catholic “residential schools.” Much like in American “residential schools” for Indigenous peoples.
Many Americans hold the viewpoint that Canadians are generally super nice and therefore mistakenly believe that their government is by extension also charming, kind, and gentle. But a government which promotes medically-assisted dying due to the lack of more regenerative treatment options, is a government practicing eugenics.
Canada is not offering people “death-with-dignity.”
The Canadian government is attempting to relieve itself of undesirables; as is the U.S. While their methodologies are currently different, their core beliefs are the same as they have been since these nation’s inceptions.
Eugenics & Medically Assisted Dying
What is Eugenics?
Eugenics is a junk science created in the image of white superiority, and which rejects disability as an impurity.
Initially imagined in the 1880’s by Charles Darwin’s insecure cousin, Sir Francis Galton, eugenics became a popular U.S. movement. Notable proponents of eugenics of the time include: Helen Keller, Margaret Sanger, Alexander Graham Bell, John D. Rockefeller, Anton LaVey, and Charles Davenport, to name a few.
It was essentially created by weaving together elements of white superiority with the businesses of social work, medicine, and religion.
Reinforced with the grandiosity and manic certainty only afforded white people with money, the idea quickly grew popular amongst bored white elites across North America with little else to do with their time. (For some perspective, my own grandparents were born at the height of American eugenics, in the early 1900’s; making the idea of this piece of history more intimate as opposed to an idealized and amorphous “distant past” without which I have no ties).
A definition provided by ThoughtCo. on eugenics highlights key points:
- Eugenics refers to the use of procedures like selective breeding and forced sterilization in an attempt to improve the genetic purity of the human race
- Eugenicists believe that disease, disability, and “undesirable” human traits can be “bred out” of the human race
- Though commonly associated with the human rights atrocities of Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler, eugenics, in the form of forced sterilization, was first used in the United States during the early 1900s, and prior to that began in the UK.
The U.S. Today and Why History Matters
I’m old enough to remember when it was uncommon to see swastikas and people armed with automatic weapons lining street in the United States.
I’m old enough and privileged enough to be shocked at the ongoing legislation on state and federal levels to restrict access to abortion, who one can marry, and how one parents their children.
U.S. Right-wing elected officials, pundits, and media are telling us exactly who they are right now.
Weaponizing medical care targets trans youth today in the U.S.
This is a proven tactic, also tested by Nazis in 20th century Europe. The Third Reich in Nazi Germany specifically targeted the world’s first trans clinic.
U.S. citizens who are concerned about our country right now must know where we came from and these common threads, I think, if there is any hope to move forward.
How To Keep Moving Forward
Look closely, American readers, at Florida, Jeb Bush, and Ron DeSantis. The false political platform of caring for families and children is being used today to wave Nazi flags at drag story hours.
Aside from knowing our histories, it is important to have hope. To do that, we must get creative!
- WEAR A MASK. The COVID-19 pandemic is enabled and targeting the most socially, medically, and politically vulnerable.
- Are you helping Black communities register to vote? (I live in Ohio, the state with the most strict voting laws in the U.S. Am I making it my business to understand how this directly effects my community and ensure I and others, can vote?)
- Are you able to assist people in signing up to vote, to learning the issues around where you live?
- What communities are you already a part of? What connections and strengths do you have?
- Plug that in directly to focusing on how to hit hard at the heart of fascist legislation.
- If you believe in voting–get people informed and to the polls.
- If you believe in anarchy, build community.
- If you’re disabled or otherwise cannot safely leave your home, consider sharing information, petitions, using your platform and strengths to the cause even if it’s not in-person.
- Consume media–don’t let it consume YOU. Select trusted sources for triggering information and/or specific times of day to decrease overwhelm.