“Canada sees it as a mercy to let me die, instead of providing me with what I need to live”

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Spring Hawes

CTV National News medical correspondent, Avis Favaro, produced an insightful program on (MAiD) euthanasia. 

Favaro interviews a woman who is not dying, but wants to die by euthanasia, two women with disabilities who explain why Bill C-7 threatens their lives, a doctor who cares for people with disabilities, and the chief executive of a euthanasia lobby group. 

Favaro starts her news report by introducing the issue at hand.

The agony that Cheryl Romaire lives with is so debilitating that some days, she feels her body “might actually just physically die from the pain.” Marie — not her real name — also lives with multiple disabilities, pain, nerve degeneration, neuropathy, and has trouble walking and standing.

Both are fighting a life-and-death battle over a bill that will change Canada’s assisted dying laws — but from opposing positions.

Romaire, who requested euthanasia in the past but was turned down because she is not dying, hopes that Bill C-7 will enable her to be killed. Marie says that 

the bill as it stands is dangerous and opens the door for medically assisted death to become an acceptable — and even easier — option for vulnerable people with disabilities who would otherwise not choose to die if they had the support and means necessary to live with dignity.

By contrast Marie believes that, based on Bill C-7,

“Canada sees it as a mercy to let me die, instead of providing me with what I need to live…instead of making it easier for me to raise my child.”

Marie is not alone. Favaro reports that Spring Hawes, who became a tetraplegic following a spinal cord injury 15 years ago, shares Maria’s concerns about Bill C-7. 

“It has the potential to create a separate class of people who, for them suicide is a valid, normalized option and that’s really scary for vulnerable people,” said Hawes, who co-founded the group Dignity Denied.

Currently, there is a 90 day waiting period in Bill C-7. Hawes told Favaro that had someone suggested assisted suicide “to her 90 days after her own injury,” that “there is an excellent chance that she would not be alive today.”

The concerns held by Maria and Spring Hawes are confirmed by Dr. Ramona Coelho, a family doctor in London, Ontario,  who is with MAiD to MAD (Medical Assistance in Dying becomes Medically Administered Death), “which has collected more than 1,100 signatures from doctors opposed to the change.” Dr. Coelho says that many of her own patients are refused homecare supports and do not have certain medications covered.

“All of these things can create a sense of tension, a sense of hopelessness,”

“That disparity in care and resources is going to leave certain patients, extremely vulnerable and feel that they don’t have a choice, except to choose death.”

Favaro ends the segment with Hawes saying

“This is life and death. So if we’re not absolutely 100 per cent clear about what we’re doing and how it will affect the most vulnerable people in our society, we have to choose the option of life and supporting life.”

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.