A request by a Belgian prisoner for euthanasia made international headlines not too long ago, even though he was not permitted to take advantage of the legislation.
But in a measure of how enthusiastically Canada has embraced euthanasia, one prisoner has already been killed under its Medical Aid in Dying (MAID) law, and three others have been approved. According to a report in CBC News, the death took place in a hospital outside of the prison, under the supervision of two correctional officers.
Correctional Service Canada (CSC) told CBC News that it had, to date, received eight requests for MAID.
CSC is now permitted to organise MAID in a community hospital — but it can also take place in a penitentiary regional hospital or treatment centre in exceptional circumstances and at the request of the inmate.
Correctional Investigator Ivan Zinger criticised the possibility of inmates being euthanised in a prison in a letter to the CSC head:
“Practically and perceptually, I simply can not imagine a scenario where it would be considered acceptable to allow an external provider to carry out a MAID procedure in a federal penitentiary,”
Zinger said that MAID should occur only outside prisons. A prohibition on MAID within prisons would protect the integrity of the system now and in the future, when eligibility for assisted death could expand to prisoners suffering from acute psychiatric illnesses – and in prisons there are a number of these.
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