Stories of MAiD



January 16, 2023

When Bill C-7 passed in the House of Commons in 2021, access to euthanasia and assisted suicide was expanded to Canadians living with disabilities. On March 17, 2023, it will be expanded further to Canadians with mental illness. The Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying is currently studying the various issues surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide. This past spring, nearly 350 Canadians submitted briefs to the Committee on both sides of the argument. In a recent article, we looked at some of the overall perspectives of those submissions.

Since the legalization of euthanasia in 2016, access has rapidly expanded beyond the end of life. The number of euthanasia requests and procedures continues to climb steadily, with more than 10,000 Canadians euthanized in 2021. In recent years, multiple stories of abuse have been revealed. Patients are choosing to die by euthanasia because they cannot access other important services, or because they have simply lost the will to live. Patients are being offered euthanasia instead of help to live well.

ARPA Canada has heard from various Canadians who are deeply concerned about the expansion of euthanasia and assisted suicide, and we wanted to share some of their stories here, which were also shared with the committee studying euthanasia. We will be highlighting one story per week for the next 5 weeks as we continue to seek to bring awareness to how euthanasia and assisted suicide harm vulnerable Canadians.

May 2, 2022

Re: Expansion of MAiD to people who suffer from depression

I am afraid the government will expand the options for those with mental illness wishing to end their lives with the help of their doctor. Please help protect all Canadians…especially the ones who suffer.

I recently returned home from a two-day trip to Prince Rupert with my friend Stephen. He suffers with depression and so to have a chance to get out of town for a few days and do some kayaking and fishing in the Pacific Ocean together was a real treat. This was the first time he has ever been on the ocean (he is 39 years old) and we had a great time. However, on the drive home we heard just a short part of an interview on the radio that triggered him to some very deep and disturbing thoughts and his mood shifted drastically. He speaks often of suicide and not being able to go on. Stephen needs his family, friends, and professional health care providers to help him live; we shouldn’t help him die!

Stephen is the type of person who can be living life to the fullest one hour and the next hour be ready to end it all. He is also able to comprehend his rights and would be considered competent to make any medical decisions he might need to. I truly fear that people like my friend Stephen will be lost if the government allows more medical assistance in dying for those whose sole underlying condition is a mental illness.. I understand “there will be limits” and “multiple layers” and “multiple professionals” involved, but I also understand how difficult this can be, and know even how we who love them can also believe at times that MAiD might be what is “best for them” but we can be wrong. We are not gods… we are humans who struggle and we need each other to live; not to help each other die!

Please help by not expanding our existing euthanasia laws into the area of depression and other mental health struggles.

Jeremy Penninga

To: The Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying.

May 11, 2022

As you study whether to expand access to assisted death in Canada, Please consider my story and
recommend against MAID for mental illness.

I have a very good friend who was abused as a child. For years she tried to take her own life. Often we did not dare to leave her alone and we spent many hours with her.

Her friends and family have done their utmost to protect her.

We would certainly have lost her if it was not for the years of counseling and vigilance and protection.

Had there been easy access to assisted suicide, I am confidant she would not have been with us
anymore today. But today, she is a happy woman who knows she is loved, she is productive and a joy to have around.

She is still vulnerable, but an asset to society. She would not have had the opportunity to reach this
point if someone had offered her MAID in her darker times.

Please do not make assisted suicide available to disturbed and mental vulnerable people, people who have often already suffered at the hands of someone else.

They need help! Death is no help!

Sincerely, A concerned friend

To: The Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying.

May 8, 2022

When my mother was at the Ottawa civic hospital after a stroke, a young neurologist came in to see her. He was asking questions about if she wanted “to be like this,” “with tubes sticking out of you.” His tone was somewhat aggressive and angry, and it became clear that he was trying to get her to agree to be euthanized. He finally quit when he asked her to lift her leg, in an attempt to prove how incapable she was, but her leg shot fast and straight up in the air. She kept it there until he finally said to put it down.

She was 95 years old, but healthy and strong with a sharp wit. The tube was in her lungs as the stroke had caused breathing difficulties.

Please add my name to the list of people dead set against euthanasia, especially for the vulnerable.
Being old should not be a reason to be asked if you want to be euthanized. They have the same right as everyone for affordable medical care when needed and should never be encouraged to end their lives for the convenience of anyone!

Barbara Johnston

To: The Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying.

May 18, 2022

My sister Rebecca had just turned 19 when she passed away, losing her battle to cancer. I remember helping her bathe and seeing her bruised back, all black and blue from broken blood vessels. I remember being by her side as she coughed up phlegm and struggled to clear her lungs. I remember her saying weakly, “I’ve lost all my dignity.” I told her that she hadn’t and that this was part of life – that this is what happens to a body breaking down. I remember Rebecca smiling at me, saying thank you with her eyes when words were just too hard. It was my honour to be by her side.

I share this part of her story because I don’t want to negate her suffering. Her suffering was part of her story. But it wasn’t her whole story.

Rebecca was number 8 in a family of 10. She had been diagnosed with cancer when she was 12 and
while her teenage years were marked by her long battles with cancer, they were also filled with much joy. She was able to be maid-of-honor as her best friend and sister Rachel married the love of her life. She was able to take a month to travel with her older sister, Betty-Ann. We have many delightful memories with Rebecca. She loved her brothers and sisters and many nieces and nephews, and she was loved by many in return.

In her last days, Rebecca was ready to go and expressed this. No one can deny the pain and suffering she experienced near the end of her life. But neither can you deny the love and care her family showed for her. Rebecca’s life and death didn’t happen in isolation. Her story will forever be a part of my story. I cannot imagine the horror of what her death would have looked like if it had been ended by euthanasia. If a doctor or nurse, having heard these words expressed, had taken it upon themselves to cut her life short and to euthanize her, it would have been devastating. Rebecca wouldn’t have wanted this, for herself or for the people who loved her.

Rebecca wanted to live, and she lived well to the very end, even with suffering! Her suffering did not
mean that she lacked dignity or that her life was less valuable or not worth living. Rebecca’s life was
valuable to the very end. Rebecca passed away peacefully in my mother’s arms. She died knowing that her life was not over, that she would enter heaven’s gates and spend eternity with the God who loves her. Death is something we will all face, and it should always be approached as part of the natural cycle of life on this earth, not something to be controlled by human hands. Those who are dying are always doing so with dignity – their humanity is what defines their dignity, not the state of their body. Those who are dying should always be surrounded with love, compassion, and the best care possible.

The Bible states that everyone is created in the image of God. Rebecca was created in the image of God. “So God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27) and also “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” (Genesis 9:6) As image-bearers of God, we must protect all human life from beginning to end. MAiD should be restricted, not further expanded.

Elyse Vroom

To: The Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying.

May 7,2022

As Mother’s Day approaches every year, the tension within my mind and my soul grows. I start to feel restless, sad, rejected, and somewhat panicky. Will I be able to get through the day again this year? Will I be able to survive all the hoopla, the great expectations I have of my children or of those the mother figures in my life have of me? Will I be able to get through the whole day not being on the edge of crying?

In the twenty years since my mother’s suicide, I have not been able to have a good Mother’s Day. I try hard and I think some have been better than others but mostly the day is an exercise in talking my way through the day with God to guide me along. How else would I get through? How does any child ever come to an understanding of why a loved one would choose to leave you? I’m here to tell you: They don’t. What would I say to her? It’s okay Mom, I didn’t need you anyway?

Every time I lost a baby, was sick, had a baby, or just needed to talk – who would replace my mother?
Through the years, some really godly women have been there for me, and God has used them to help me up, but it’s a hole that never goes away.

I was 26 years old when Mom passed away and I think I spent the first ten years trying to forgive her and not be such an angry person. Eventually, God helped me through the guilt of not doing enough or loving her enough. God was good and He showed me his grace through this process. I am so thankful that I came to peace about her choice and came back to a place where I could love her again. He also released me from the responsibility for her death.

I’ve learned a lot and one thing I can share is that for any child to process a suicide is the same as if that parent walked out and left. It is abandonment and the pain is as sharp as a knife. My mom had depression and in the end her feelings and thoughts were bigger than what she knew to be true.
Someone choosing assisted suicide has reached the same point, and the pain for those they leave
behind will be no different.

Everyone considering suicide needs real people, real truth, and real help. We cannot over analyse the situation, for in the end it was God’s plan, but I feel I must emphasize that it was not in obedience to Him. God does not want His loved ones to take their lives into their own hands. It was a choice that everyone in her life wishes she had NOT taken. We loved her and we wanted to help!

Giving people in a mental health crisis the choice of having MAID is immoral and will make health care workers across the country culpable in the resulting deaths. This will chip away at their souls. If I think about mothers with depression being offered MAID and they have children at home – how can we as a nation allow this? I am walking, living proof that children will be traumatized by this, and families will be torn apart. MAID is not the answer. Loving people and knowing their innermost pain is the better way, and then seeking to give them the real support they need.

Respectfully submitted,
Gloria Lynn

Euthanasia, Life, MAiD Email Us 

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