On July 24, 2017, CBC reported a story about a 25-year-old woman living in Newfoundland who has many disabilities. While she was hospitalized for illness, the doctor made a suggestion to her mother that she could consider medical assistance in dying (MAiD) as a choice for her daughter’s future. Her mother was reminded that assisted suicide is now legal in Canada.
Just over a year ago, the federal government passed a law allowing medical assistance in dying, after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the ban on assisted suicide.
The disability community was gravely concerned about the medical assistance in dying law. The Newfoundland case is exactly the kind of situation many of us were afraid would happen.
One of the problems with this legislation is that it exists in a society that is deeply ableist. Abelism is the belief that a disabled person’s body is worse than the able person’s body. The worst of this point of view is evident when people with disabilities are told that it is better to be dead than to be disabled.