MAiD in Canada and How To Educate Yourselves About It

At the end of the month, I will speak to the Carnegie Mellon/Pitt M.A.P group about MAiD (euthanasia/medically assisted suicide). My presentation will address (among other things): the role of bioethicists in the production of an eugenic culture in philosophy in general and in Canadian philosophy in particular, drawing out the connections between the current rounding up of disabled people, academic freedom with respect to the suppression of anti-MAiD positions in philosophy, and the exclusion of disabled philosophers. I have been asked to consider whether students from a bioethics class at Pitt can be allowed to audit the presentation for extra credit. Philosophy and bioethics students seem far more willing to think systemically and structurally about MAiD than their professors.

I am indeed worried about what (if anything) philosophy students are at present taught about MAiD and the situation with respect to MAiD that has developed in Canada in particular. Everything I have seen on social media, in the press, on bioethics blogs, and elsewhere indicates to me that, like the population at large, philosophers—and bioethicists in particular–are negligently uninformed about the current state of affairs in Canada (a state of affairs which they have enabled), that their views about MAiD seem to rely upon what they learned about “physician-assisted suicide” in their undergraduate bioethics classes, and that some of them are actively reproducing and putting into circulation falsehoods to justify the nightmare that disabled people in Canada currently face, including the highly contentious claims that the prevention of further expansion of MAiD legislation to encompass so-called mental disorders is “stigmatizing” and “discriminatory”; that excellent “safeguards” (an odd term if, as argued, MAiD is a compassionate and dignifying practice) are in place and practiced diligently; that physician refusal to recommend MAiD constitutes unprofessional conduct; and that the existence of MAiD is an unequivocal good that increases personal autonomy.

As my friend and colleague Trudo Lemmens (University of Toronto law professor and recognized expert on MAiD) has pointed out, the current developments in Canada constitute the most egregious steps toward full-blown legislated eugenics that have transpired anywhere in the world since Nazi Germany. And still, nondisabled feminist philosophers and others in philosophy who purport to work for intersectional analyses and coalition politics continue to look away: the real “feminist” issues are less hyperbolic; the notion of complicity is “bogus”; and talk about eugenic agendas amounts to “conspiracy theory”.

Nevertheless, you, dear reader and listener, can resist the professional demeanor that urges you to ignore a terrifying situation that your colleagues and predecessors have initiated. How?

For starters, read or listen to at least one article, podcast, video, or additional blog post today that will begin to inform you about the neoliberal tactics of eugenics, that is, about the seemingly compassionate and self-asserting tactics of MAiD. Do the same thing tomorrow and the next day. Trudo’s Twitter page has many resources in this regard. You can also search the BIOPOLITICAL PHILOSOPHY Twitter feed for pertinent articles and other posts, as well as the archives of BIOPOLITICAL PHILOSOPHY which contain quite a few posts about MAiD, bioethics, and disability. Finally, I recommend the YouTube video below which comprises a segment of the CBC’s The Fifth Estate from last evening. The video provides an excellent introduction to the current situation and some legislative history about MAiD in Canada. The title of the video is misconstrued because the Canadian policy is indeed already the most permissive internationally.

Take special note of how the Canadian Minister of Justice, David Lametti, the architect of this eugenic project, is unable to defend or justify the legislation in any consistent and coherent way. Bonus: the wisdom of fellow disabled comrade and scholar Catherine Frazee.

Click through for the video and use the CC button at the bottom of the video screen to turn on the captioning (which is very good).

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