A Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) story. Who truly decides?

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Why has assisted death become so common so quickly in Canada?

I was visiting a friend, this weekend, who told me the story of how his neighbour died by Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)—euthanasia–earlier this year.

He told me that his and his wife were helping their neighbour, who had cancer, by bringing him to the hospital for treatments and to doctor appointments. 

The man was considering a new round of treatment, but his family doctor urged him to “ask” for MAiD. The cancer had spread quickly and he was losing hope so he agreed to die by lethal injection. In case you’re wondering, finding a second doctor or nurse practitioner to agree was not difficult.

His wife asked, how does my husband know that he is dying on that day? [My friend spoke of how the doctor, and his neighbour, kept the decision for euthanasia a secret.] His wife became aware of the decision only in the last minute. 

If there is nothing wrong with killing by euthanasia, then why keep it a secret?

She sat at his side holding his hand while he was injected and died. My friend looked at me and said, the man’s wife was upset.

My friend did not question that his neighbour “qualified” for MAiD. He questioned the process that led to his neighbour’s death.

According to my friend, this man was not suffering, even though he probably feared possible future suffering.

This man had spoken to his doctor about another course of treatment, not euthanasia. I understand that the doctor thought that further treatment was futile, but why did killing become the answer? Was it compassionate?

Why didn’t the doctor assure the man that he could be kept comfortable? Why was euthanasia brought up rather than caring options?

This appears to be a case of a doctor who has normalized killing within his medical practice. He has done it before and doing it again only rationalizes, for him that his other acts of euthanasia were good.

Killing justifies killing and normalizes the act.

Caring normalizes caring.

But killing is not caring. Killing is not dignified.