Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Culture Friday: Normalizing the unthinkable


WORLD Radio - Culture Friday: Normalizing the unthinkable

Euthanasia and gender politics in Canada

Istock photo

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s the 10th day of March 2023.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s Culture Friday!

Joining us now is John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.

Morning, John.


EICHER: Well, John, it appears the Canadian government has pulled back from the brink on extending its euthanasia program. There's a push and there has been a push for this policy change, to extend it and make it available to those suffering from mental illness. The policy change had been set to take effect next week. But now it appears it's delayed for a year or so. So the plan now is for this time next year, that so called medical assistance in dying in Canada will be available for those with mental illness.

Now, you know, the progression on this, but I want to read a BBC report. It's an extraordinary piece. It quotes a psychiatrist who works on MAiD cases - medical assistance in dying - works on those cases up in Canada. Her name is Dr. Madeline Li. She's recalling the first patient she ever helped to die was about a month after Canada first legalized euthanasia. The year was 2016. I remember, she says, I remember just how surreal it was. She's a psychiatrist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. She's recalling checking her patient that day, asking, do you have the right music? Do you have the final meal? Are you sure you want to go ahead? The patient was in her mid 60s She was suffering from ovarian cancer. She said Indeed she was and the story goes on. Five minutes later, the woman was dead. It was like stepping off a cliff that first one Dr. Lee said then time passes. And it normalizes. She has since overseen hundreds of medically assisted dying cases. But Dr. Lee has significant concerns about the expansion of Canada's euthanasia and assisted dying program beyond the terminally ill and she is not alone. Now, John, is that an ethically sustainable position? We've got a patchwork of laws in this country on assisted suicide. Do you think this is in our future?

STONESTREET: Yeah, anytime that anything, whatever we call it, Doctor assisted suicide, euthanasia, medical assistance in dying, there's a million euphemisms for this. And all of them are a slippery slope. And as Joni Erickson Tada once said, you know, even though slippery slopes are not considered to be valid logical arguments, if the slope is truly sloped, and it's greased, then you're going to slide down and every single place that doctor-assisted death has been tried, what began as a so called right to die devolved into a duty to die pressured to die. There are economic factors either from the family or from the state that cannot be denied there are expansion from what starts as, quote, unquote, help for people with terminal illnesses, to quote unquote, help for people with a hopeless diagnosis. In other words, it moves from so called medical care for someone who's going to die to medical care for someone who's never going to get better. That's a very significant shift.

And then it shifts from the physical to the emotional. And that's already happened in Canada. In fact, as you put it here, this move, pulling back from the brink, is the first time that this particular nation has put any brakes at all on medical assistance and dying. I mean, we are getting reports, there was an article not too long ago, where someone said I am the face and medical assistance and dying, and basically saying, Look, my insurance company will cover death, my insurance company will not cover my treatment, and I want to live I don't want to die. She's not the only one that said that. We have a story that has come out of Canada of someone who was sexually assaulted in her 20s, a horrific, not a physical condition that she faces, but purely a mental condition that she faces. And of course, we seen that in the United States. Oregon, for example, was one of the first states to legalize doctor-assisted suicide. And it's always argued for on the basis of, you know, being merciful and helping people deal with physical pain. And yet 20 years after in Oregon, the number one reason by far that people list for choosing this is some form of a psychological condition. They don't want to be a burden. This is number one of the top reasons they don't want to be a burden on their family members. That is either coming from a place of psychological distress, or that's coming from a place of psychological torture on behalf of the family.

Now, when you add a nationalized health care like you have in Canada, then there's a completely different entity that plays a role and that's the state and what the state is willing to cover and not willing to cover, we also have significant shifts in Canada already towards allowing minors to choose medical assistance and dying. We have had several advocates both in the medical community and from the government's basically saying, Look, if you can't sign on to perform this service, you should not be a doctor or a nurse in Canada. And so now we have conscience rights being restricted. And, you know, look, doesn't mean it has to come here. But we already have more and more and more states that are moving that way in the United States. And it is a step off a cliff. And I just was so struck by Dr. Lee's words, that it first feels like stepping off a cliff and then it normalizes, do you want a, a long fall off of a cliff to ever been normalized? I mean, to normalize killing, look, that's what we're normalizing here and normalizing a new understanding of medicine, from do no harm, and provide care and comfort to actually ending someone's life. That's what's being normalized.

EICHER: John, the pro-basketball team Toronto Raptors posted one of these little social-media videos you find sports teams doing. This 11-second video last Friday was in celebration of women’s history month—which of course, is this month.

The question posed to Raptors’ players was the following:

“Beyonce said girls run the world. Why do you think that's true?”

Here’s the whole clip:

PLAYER: Girls run the world because they're the only ones that can procreate. They birth everybody. All women are great because they're all queens.

Just in case you had a hard time hearing their responses, “Girls run the world because they're the only ones that can procreate. They birth everybody. All women are great because they’re all queens.”

Got it? Good, because the Raptors took the video down and issued an apology. I’ll read it:

“Our sincerest apologies to our players, staff, and fans. We’re an organization that prides itself on doing the right thing when it comes to inclusion and representation and we made a mistake.”

John, did you spot the mistake?

STONESTREET: Yeah, the mistake is on the cowardice of the Raptors organization to take this video down, because some people got mad, because they dared to say that women are the ones that give birth. This is not a controversial statement, except in the, you know, the 21st century and the Western world that has so much decadence, and so much money and so much elbow room to do whatever the heck we want, that we actually think we can reframe reality according to our desires, and anybody who gets in the way of that is actually a perpetrator of evil.

Carl Truman, of course, in his book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self talks about how we got here, kind of philosophically, historically, and so on. But there's a really short history that has a lot to do with the author of Harry Potter named J.K. Rowling. And there's a new podcast series coming out of the free press, which is Bari Weiss's group featuring J.K. Rowling, and it's called The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling and just talking about kind of in a shorter run, how we got here, and the role for example, that social media played in it and the the the MO of activist to not actually ever have to make arguments. That's what's so bizarre about this, is that here you have a group of people saying things that are patently absurd, and observably not true. And no one makes them defend their position, they just immediately roll over and play dead anytime somebody yells at them from the Trans activist community. So look, I'll say it. Girls are the only ones that can procreate. They birth everybody. The fact that this is a controversial statement says far more about the state of our culture than the state of reality.

EICHER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast. Thanks, John!

STONESTREET: Thank you both.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


Please wait while we load the latest comments...