Monday, December 9, 2019

Are people being coerced to euthanasia?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Last week I had the opportunity to screen the Fatal Flaws film and speak in Victoria, Nanaimo and Campbell River British Columbia. Thank you to the local organizers who made this possible.

This article is about three stories from the three events where I spoke.

The first story was from a woman who spoke to me after the Campbell River presentation. She told me that her father has medical issues and has been offered MAiD on several occasions. She said that her father has never brought up the topic of euthanasia and being offered euthanasia feels like a form of coercion.

The second story was a man whose mother requires dialysis. He said that while his mother was feeling down from her dialysis that a nurse suggested that she consider MAiD. Another person then agreed with this suggestion. He said that his mother didn't bring up the issue of euthanasia and felt coerced by the suggestion. He said that she was feeling depressed and if she did not call him she may have asked for death.

The third story was a woman who told me that she was approved for euthanasia. She appeared to be physically healthy but when speaking to her she seemed to have psychological issues (I am not a professional, this is only my impression).

Now that euthanasia is legal, how are these decisions being made?

Candice Lewis with her mother Sheila
One of the most powerful stories, in the Fatal Flaws film, is the story of Candice Lewis who was pressured by a doctor to ask for assisted death. (Link to the story).

Euthanasia is sold as a form of freedom. In these cases the people felt coerced to ask for euthanasia. In other words, choice can be an illusion.


cathie butler said...

My brother was admitted to hospital with serious breathing issues. He told me four or five times a day a team of doctors (he called them doctors) came into his room and badgered him about what he wanted to do about his end of life care. He is home now but not doing well.

Unknown said...

I was chaplain and witnessed a person who was encouraged to take MAiD by a doctor who was advancing this as a solution, she agreed to it (in my view she did not want to be a burden to her sons) One son has been having difficulty coming to terms with the situation. This physician was going around seniors promoting her enthusiasm for this. It was all done secretly and was transferred to a Hospice for the deed to be carried out! Having spoken with a retired doctor who has connections with practicing physicians he says that many are not happy with the law in Canada. They entered the profession to help with healing not killing!! It is frightening that today I heard of someone with fibromyalgia wanting MAiD! She is a young lady.

Linda Swab said...

Cathie, This may be quite innocent, hospital personnel need to establish if a person wants to let the illness take its natural course or if the patient wants them to perform lifesaving procedures like CPR should he quit breathing or beating. If the patient does not sign their wishes, they are bound to do everything possible. This is not equivalent to asking about euthanasia.

Anonymous said...

I would say 99 percent MAID is suggested ' Gently"

Paul Anderson said...

When my sister was found unconscious and unresponsive on the floor of her hospital room, due to an event that never would have occurred if not for lax supervision by the (no doubt overworked) hospital staff, I was called - I was her POA for personal care. The ICU doctor had not yet begun aggressive life saving therapy - even though my sister had repeatedly stated to hospital staff both verbally and in writing that she wanted "full code" (all available life saving measures to be taken). Instead, the ICU doctor suggested to me that she should be allowed to die. When I reiterated her wishes to him, as I was legally bound to do as POA, only then did the hospital initiate full code. And for the next 10 days doctors frequently lobbied my family and I to (illegally) override my sister's wishes and have all life saving measures withdrawn. They even went so far as to lie about her condition, saying that she had terrible pneumonia and would die anyway, even though they knew that no infection was present. She eventually recovered and went on to live independently in her own home. This may seem an unusual case, but it shows how pro-death bias has infiltrated health care.

gadfly said...

Ah yes, the coercion is alright because the pistol is held in a velvet gloved hand. Remember, the first thing that happens is that you are enmeshed in a disempowering social relationship when in hospital. This is called enforced dependency. The doctors and nurses all have the professional power, backing and funding. They have the organization, and its pro-death policies at hand. They also have the control over your care, and how your care is presented to you - and recorded in your notes. It won't take much for you to be labeled combative, but don't worry, you can argue back against that without any issues. Except you can't, the organization, its policies and personnel are all standing over against you with the professional and social power.

Agi nurse said...

Thank God my mother had me by her side almost 24/7 because she was approached several times by doctors regarding MAID. But in the process of trying to be “delicate” about how they word it, they only managed to confuse my mother (English is not her first language). When they said they would keep her “comfortable”, she smiled and said “okay doctor, you know what’s best”. My jaw dropped!!!!
I immediately interrupted their conversation and with a trembling and angry tone said “excuse me doctor, I need to explain to my mother exactly what you are proposing because she has absolutely no idea what you are talking about. She has just agreed to something that she has no idea about!!!”. I then explained in very clear language that the doctor is offering to stop all life’s saving measures that they are currently providing her, and they will make her comfortable as she DIES as a result of removing all the medicines and medical treatment that she is receiving. My mother’s face went white as a sheet, she looked horrified. as she screamed NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!’ She has been home for just over a year and she still speaks about that experience. She said if I hadn’t been there she is afraid that she wouldn’t be here because she had no idea that the doctor was offering her DEATH. She never expected a physician to offer a patient death, in her eyes doctors are supposed to heal and do everything possible to save lives, I whole heartedly agree with her!

Taylor Hyatt said...

Hi everyone!

This is Taylor Hyatt, Policy Analyst with Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet. My sincerest apologies that I cannot reply to your comments individually; this seems to be a limitation of the blog platform.

In the summer, my team and I began a data collection project to record stories like the ones you've shared in a more organized way. We're getting ready for the five-year review of Canada’s euthanasia law that was supposed to start next year. (Since then, the Truchon court decision in Quebec was released. This means Parliament will be modifying the euthanasia law before the summer, and the study may be postponed indefinitely. However, we are still extremely frustrated with the lack of information being collected by Health Canada on how the euthanasia program is functioning, who is using it and why, and what alternatives need to be put in place.)

Besides problems with the MAiD program, we’re also looking at related life-ending practices, such as continuous palliative sedation (CPS), refusal to provide necessary medical care, and rushed judgments that continued care is futile. If you feel comfortable, you are more than welcome to add your stories to our database by going to: Thanks so much for your time and attention, and for being willing to share your stories here!

- Taylor Hyatt
Policy Analyst, Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet

Taylor Hyatt said...

If anyone needs assistance completing the form, please feel free to email me ( I am happy to answer questions by email, or arrange a time for us to go through the form together by phone.


Taylor Hyatt
Policy Analyst - Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet