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New data from the Canadian Medical Association is highlighting the annual financial savings that Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) has provided the Canadian Universal Healthcare system. The report, which found MAiD to be cheaper than actually treating patients, is very concerned with the value of medical treatment, but it makes no mention of the value of human life.
The data, provided by CBC News, found that doctor-assisted deaths could save Canada between $34.7 million and $136.8 million in annual healthcare spending. It is estimated that the direct cost of MAiD treatments adds up to between $1.5 to $14.8 million, annually. Aaron Trachtenberg, an author of the report and a resident in internal medicine at the University of Calgary, wrote of the data’s “takeaway points” with clinical sterility:
“The take-away point is that there may be some upfront costs associated with offering medical assisted dying to Canadians, but there may also be a reduction in spending elsewhere in the system and therefore offering medical assistance in dying to Canadians will not cost the health care system anything extra.”
Trachtenberg did, however, note that the findings of the study are still being treated as “theoretical,” because there has not been a chance to draw large-scale data from Canada. The data examined mostly came from the Netherlands and Belgium, where euthanasia is legal, and was placed next to statistics from provinces of Canada, where MAiD has been offered but not popularized since 2016.
“In a resource-limited health care system, anytime we roll out a large intervention there has to be a certain amount of planning and preparation and cost has to be a part of that discussion,” Trachtenberg said. “It’s just the reality of working in a system of finite resources.”
The report is very concerned with “finite resources,” yet it neglects to take into account a variety of factors such as the value of human life, the inherent dignity that all human beings are due, the effects of doctor-assisted death on family members and loved ones, and the effects of MAiD on the psyches of patients. The study did concede that more research is needed to include data on the clinical effects on patients, but this was posed in regards to reaching a “true economic evaluation” of MAiD.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states what the Church teaches:
Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible.
Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.
Pope Francis too has repeatedly spoken out against euthanasia. The Holy Father has often insisted that when the elderly or sick are truly cared for, the desire to hasten death evaporates:
“We must accompany people towards death, but not provoke death or facilitate any form of suicide. I would point out that the right to care and treatment for all must always be prioritized, so that the weakest, particularly the elderly and the sick, are never discarded. Life is a right, not death, which must be welcomed, not administered. And this ethical principle applies to everyone, not just Christians or believers.”