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Canada Euthanized 10,000 People in 2021

In an issue of CT magazine, Dr. Ewan Goligher shares what he has learned as a Christian doctor receiving requests for physician-assisted dying. He notes that in the past five years, the number of patients dying with physician assistance in Canada has grown tenfold, from around 1,000 in 2016 to more than 10,000 in 2021. He writes:

When the hospital staff called me to my patient’s bedside, I could see her distress was severe. She was agitated and breathless, her face etched with discomfort and frustration. “I can’t take this anymore,” she cried. She had suffered for years with chronic illness and had been admitted to my intensive care unit with acute complications. She was debilitated and exhausted, and her grief and frustration had come to a head. “I just want to die,” she wept.

Her friend was standing next to me at the bedside, and he was clearly upset by her distress. He said, “Just ask for MAID,” (medical assistance in dying, often referred to as physician-assisted death). Then you can end it all now.” I was startled by his statement. Yet I saw that he was feeling desperate and helpless at the sight of her distress.

After some gentle exploration, we quickly realized that the patient didn’t really want to die. Rather, she needed relief from her pain and anxiety and to understand what her acute illness meant for her future. She still wanted time with her loved ones. We worked to address her symptoms and concerns, and she soon felt calmer and more comfortable. Watching her rest and converse with family made it hard to believe she was the same person who only hours earlier had cried out to have her life ended.

What is more unbelievable is that the ability to have one’s life ended on short notice is an increasingly acceptable option for Canadian patients—with implications that will reverberate around the globe.

Some patients with disabilities or mental illness reported that assisted death was proposed to them without their instigation. Patients have sought and obtained euthanasia because they were unable to access affordable housing. There are even reports that patients have received physician-assisted death based on misdiagnosis, discovered at autopsy. ... Some are even pushing to allow it in certain cases for children and youth.

Possible Preaching Angle:

Suffering cannot rob us of our true meaning—to know and commune with the One who gave himself for us. Indeed, by God’s grace it serves to deepen that communion. To depart and be with Christ is far better, but with patience and faith, we will wait for the Master’s call.


Ewan C. Goligher, “Dying Wish,” CT magazine (November, 2022), pp. 46-51

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