The Ethics of Assisted Dying

Happy Tuesday! We hope you experience as much joy today as DJ Khaled did upon receiving four TOTO Toilets as a birthday present from Drake. “This is the most amazing toilet bowl that I’ve ever seen in my life,” the hip-hop producer said in a thank you video. “This might be the best gift ever, like real talk.”

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Widespread protests over draconian anti-COVID measures continued across China on Monday, with solidarity rallies cropping up elsewhere in the region, including Hong Kong. Chinese authorities have deployed police in large numbers to quash the protests in mainland cities. Although state media’s continued praise of the country’s zero-COVID pandemic approach seems to signal no major change of tack is imminent, local officials have started to walk back several regional measures— including the policy of blocking access to apartments where infected people are living—that have been particular targets of protesters’ ire.
  • State Department officials said Monday that Russia had “unilaterally” postponed meetings to discuss ongoing implementation of the New START arms reduction treaty between the two nations. The talks were slated to begin today, and a State Department official said in a statement that the U.S. “is ready to reschedule at the earliest possible date, as resuming inspections is a priority for sustaining the treaty as an instrument of stability.”
  • The Georgia Supreme Court reinstated the state’s six-week abortion ban last week, overruling a decision handed down a week prior by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney. McBurney had blocked the law on the grounds that Roe v. Wade was the law of the land when the six-week ban was passed in 2019.
  • A Mogadishu hotel seized by al-Shabaab extremists over the weekend was recaptured by Somali forces Monday after a 22-hour siege that left the six attackers and at least nine civilians dead.
  • After four key railway labor unions declined last week to ratify a tentative labor contract brokered by the White House in September, raising once again the possibility of a crippling rail strike next month, President Biden on Monday called on Congress to pass legislation implementing the September agreement without union ratification. In a statement, Biden said he was “reluctant to override the ratification procedures,” but that such a step was necessary to prevent a rail shutdown that “would devastate our economy.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised her chamber would take up legislation this week.
  • Democratic Rep. Don McEachin of Virginia died yesterday after a battle with colorectal cancer, his chief of staff announced last night. The congressman—who had represented his state’s 4th District since 2017–was 61 years old.

Canada Set to Expand Assisted Deaths

A physician holds the hand of a patient.

Michael Fraser—a fan of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and a volunteer church handyman known as “Church Mike” around his Toronto neighborhood—died at the age of 55 this summer after his longtime doctor administered the lethal drugs Fraser had requested. His wife Ann hugged him and whispered “I love you, I love you, I love you,” as he died in his bed.

Fraser’s doctor isn’t sure his patient should have died this way. “Professional standards were met, it’s legal, but I do feel guilty,” Dr. Navindra Persaud told the Toronto Star. “Someone you know and care about is dead. As a doctor, there is doubt. Could I have done something differently to reduce the suffering?”

Since 2016, Canada’s medical assistance in dying (MAiD) laws have allowed severely or terminally ill and disabled people to choose to die by either euthanasia—lethal drugs administered by a physician—or physician-assisted suicide, which typically entails a provider prescribing lethal drugs a patient then takes independently. To be eligible, Canadian adults must: have an irreversible and advanced illness or disability causing “unbearable physical or mental suffering,” request MAiD voluntarily without external influence, be informed of other treatment options, sign a written request with a witness present, and get assessed and approved by two independent physicians or nurse practitioners. More than 10,000 Canadians died this way last year—up 32 percent from 2020, and accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in Canada. Already among the most lax in the world, the measures are set to grow even more permissive: Starting next March, the country will allow people suffering solely from mental illness to seek euthanasia.

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