MAID in Canada

By Richard Young | Posted January 23, 2023

King Saul, Israel’s first monarch, and his sons had just been routed by the Philistines. “The battle became fierce against Saul. The archers hit him, and he was severely wounded” (1 Samuel 31:3). Knowing that he was going to die, Saul commanded his armorbearer to finish him off. “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised men come and thrust me through and abuse me” (1 Samuel 31:4). 

Basically—Saul had requested assisted suicide.

However, the armorbearer couldn’t bring himself to go through with it. So, instead, Saul killed himself. Seeing his king dead, the armorbearer then killed himself. “So Saul, his three sons, his armorbearer, and all his men died together that same day” (1 Samuel 31:6).

That might have been the end of this sad story—but not quite. A man from Saul’s camp came to David, Saul’s anointed successor, and, thinking that he might win favor with the soon-to-be king, made up a story about how, being greatly injured, Saul had asked him to put him out of his misery. “So I stood over him and killed him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown that was on his head and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them here to my lord” (2 Samuel 1:10).

However, his lie didn’t get the expected response. Instead of thanking him, David had the man killed because he stretched forth his “hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed” (2 Samuel 1:14).

MAID in Canada

This biblical narrative makes for a good introduction to the debate now raging in Canada about MAID, its Medical Assistance in Dying law, which allows for assisted suicide. Though other nations—Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, and Spain, plus parts of Australia and the United States—allow for the practice, usually in the form of a deadly drink prescribed by a doctor, Canada’s expansion of those who can be legally euthanized has drawn renewed controversy.

The BBC reports that “since 2016, Canada’s medical assistance in dying programme - known by its acronym ‘Maid’ - has been available for adults with terminal illness. In 2021, the law was changed to include those with serious and chronic physical conditions, even if that condition was non-life threatening.” This expansion has now put “Canada in the company of just a handful of countries … that allow medically assisted dying for those without a terminal illness.” 

And MAID is soon to allow for the assisted suicide of the mentally ill, a development that got many people, already concerned about the law’s enlarging reach, even more worried.

Aktion T4

To be fair, MAID is not akin to Nazi Germany’s Aktion T4 program, in which thousands of people with mental and physical disabilities were secretly put to death, even though some today see MAID as the greatest threat to people with disabilities since Aktion T4.

For this reason, the growing expansion, which is set to begin this March, has resulted in calls to delay it. On December of last year, three Canadian government ministers issued a statement that began: “There is no doubt that medical assistance in dying (MAID) is a complex and deeply personal issue. We are committed to ensuring our laws reflect Canadians’ evolving needs, protect those who may be vulnerable, and support autonomy and freedom of choice.”

“Under the current MAID law, eligibility for MAID will be expanded to persons whose sole medical condition is a mental illness as of March 17, 2023. Listening to experts and Canadians, we believe this date needs to be temporarily delayed.” 

Delayed? And only temporarily? No wonder the concern.

When and Where Does It Stop?

Whatever one thinks of the euthanasia of human beings in general or Canada’s MAID law in particular, assisted suicide has always been a contentious and difficult issue, regardless of whether someone is starting from a secular atheistic position or a deeply religious one. Many Christians point to the sixth commandment, “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13), to condemn assisted suicide under any circumstances, but other Christians don’t see it in such black-and-white terms.

After all, some versions do translate the commandment as “You shall not murder,” a much more limited term than “kill.” This translation does seem to make more sense because the same God who issued the sixth commandment about not “killing” later told the Hebrews to kill those who had sinned with the golden calf. “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’ So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day” (Exodus 32:27, 28).

Religion aside, the big issue regarding MAID is its ever-widening reach. First, the terminally ill; next those with degenerative diseases; now, perhaps, the mentally ill. When and with whom does it stop? And who decides when it stops? And, even more important, what criteria do they use in deciding who shall live and who shall die?

David, obviously, didn’t want anyone to assist in Saul’s death. But suppose it had been someone else, a common citizen, instead of the “Lord’s anointed?” Would it have been right? When is assisted suicide the best option? Or—is it ever the best option?

In a time when Christian values, which have always placed an emphasis on life (only after the spread of Christianity in ancient Rome did the practice of leaving unwanted elderly or infants out in nature to die finally stop) are eroding from the public square, who knows what will take their place, and what value, if any, this morality will place on human life? Jesus, in talking about the end-time, said, “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). Some see these expansions of MAID as another expression of His warning.

Though we don’t know where MAID in Canada will lead, the Bible does talk about conditions of the world before Jesus returns, and it’s not hard to depict MAID as one of them. To learn more about what to expect at the end and how to prepare, watch the presentation “Matthew 24 and 25.” 

Richard Young
Richard Young is a writer for Amazing Facts International and other online and print publications.

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