This week I came across two pieces on medical assistance in dying (MAiD). Both are worth reading.

Andrew Roman

Just as the state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation,
it has no business deciding
how long and how much Canadians must suffer
before we seek medical assistance for a better death.
Andrew’s Views

Chris Selley

As unprepared as much of Canada was to fight a pandemic — to have adequate PPE on hand, to take the threat seriously before it was too late, to secure adequate tests and vaccines — it was totally unprepared to legalize assisted suicide without it becoming a shame and a disgrace. And that’s exactly how we will see it in a few years’ time, if not sooner.

The solution isn’t to limit access. If someone would rather have help dying peacefully than endure squalor, “sorry, we’re protecting your rights” is no kind of answer. There isn’t a solution except to become a better, more competent, more serious country. We haven’t managed it in a lethal emergency unprecedented in our lifetimes. I wish I could see any prospect of it in the giddy, vaccinated, post-pandemic afterglow to come.

National Post


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11 Responses to MAiD

  1. Tom Watson says:

    A bit over three years ago, I was one of two witnesses to the signature of a friend on papers which would allow her doctor to administer the drug which would bring about her death when the time came. She had been suddenly stricken with incurable lung cancer.

    As it turned out she went into palliative care, and only lived for four days once she got there. Thus, there was no need to summon the doctor. Personally, I believe that she willed herself to death. She woke up on the fourth morning of being in palliative care, but wouldn’t talk and wouldn’t eat, and before the day ended she died.

    There are worse things than death. I have seen far too many cases where life has become so debilitating that while there might be some measure of quantity left there is certainly no measure of quality.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – I’m sorry for the loss of your friend. Thanks for sharing your experience. I found Chris Selley’s angry article an important perspective. There are, indeed, things worth than death, and Canada should be able to do better.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    There’s a bit more to the story.
    You know that Janice died in the palliative care ward at St. Joseph’s Health Care Centre in Guelph. They only have 6 palliative care beds.

    Two weeks after Janice died, the friend I mentioned went into the same room in St. Joseph’s Health Care…so Janice and she died in the very same room.

  3. I disagree with Mr. Roman on this point: “Unfortunately, the Bill also prohibits access to MAiD if the sole medical issue is “mental health”, involving no other physical illness or disease, even if the person is competent to make the decision.” I think he might change his mind after discussing new information about “mental health” I might share with him.

    I agree with his contention that the government should not be attempting to regulate this matter; therefore, I disagree with his “hold your nose and vote for it” approach simply on the basis of a prediction that only a seer could make.

    Also, there is more to be said on the issue of ableism and the sorts of prejudices that the disabled experience even from the medical community. An assumption that the disabled should be more willing to be victimized creeps into certain kinds of decisions. The deplorable state of elderly care comes under this umbrella.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – It’s a complex issue and an emotional one for many, which is why I appreciate Mr. Roman’s dispassionate approach. But when I look at Chris Selley’s contention (taken at face value) that people with chronic diseases and/or disabilities are choosing suicide because their care [sic] conditions are intolerable, I can hardly think straight. I’m very sure we can do better than that. We must.

  4. barbara carlson says:

    It’s down to the details (and the devil) but for a good friend of a friend who chose this path, she was grateful for any path at all. She had spent five years deteriorating from brain cancer, and in her final months she accepted the end by this painless method. Two weeks ago she signed the “papers” and a week later was given a “spot,” and in that week — her mind still sharp — held living, loving Wakes with her friends and family on Zoom. Seems pretty civilized to me — first a sedative and then something to make her heart stop.

    (Perhaps her case was clear-cut.)

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – I expect the details do matter, but am glad the friend of your friend was able to access the support. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. Jim Taylor says:

    Joan chose not to follow the MAiD route. Aside from her last 24 hours, I think she chose wisely. But she had three factors that many desperately ill people do not: a team of palliative care nurses, a clear mind, and me. She was surrounded by love and care right to the end. That certainly is not true of everyone.
    What will I do when my own time comes? I don’t know.
    My philosophical concern, I suppose, is that I don’t feel anyone has a right to impose their decision upon someone else. That applies to anti-abortion groups as well as anti-MAiD groups — by what right do you assume that you can decide that I must keep on living even when life is no longer worth living? Shouldn’t that be my choice?
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – I’ll take that “you” as rhetorical: I have no desire to decide for someone else what they can do when they feel their life is not worth living. I think we need to provide the option, and then work like hell to make it unnecessary. After all, good palliative care should mean not only that most people don’t have to choose death as the only alternative to intolerable suffering, it would mean most don’t need to experience intolerable suffering. Some of the stories coming out of LTC homes are beyond an abomination.

  6. Pingback: MAiD – Riposte | Traditional Iconoclast

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