Monday, May 6, 2024

People need health care free from MAiD (euthanasia).

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Gabrielle Peters
I was going through my emails and found this excellent article that was published on April 26 in Policy Options by Gabrielle Peters, a disabled writer, policy analyst and the co-founder of Disability Filibuster. X: @mssinenomine

Peters is writing from a disability perspective as to why we need MAiD free health care options in Canada. Peters explains:

Some health-care providers see MAiD-free spaces as working environments that allow them to respect their conscience and adhere to their professional understanding of doing no harm.

Disabled patients, however, have expressed different reasons for wanting MAiD-free health-care settings.

Peters continues:
To start with, we should have the right to receive medical care in places and from people who do not contemplate or participate in killing disabled people as part of a care plan.

Who wants to look up at a doctor from a hospital bed and wonder if they have just deliberately ended the life of someone with a similar condition? Or to overhear conversations in hallways, waiting rooms, nursing stations or on the other side of a curtain, about how a lethal injection preserved a relative’s dignity before she – gasp – became incontinent, like me.
Peters explains that faith based facilities (for now) are the only MAiD-free spaces. She then comments on the reality of ableism:
Many disabled people can remember a time in their lives when they would or could have agreed to MAiD had it been suggested to them. The reason for this unfortunate common bond is ableism.

A brief and widely adopted definition of ableism Fiona Kumari Campbell explains it as “a network of beliefs, processes and practices that produces a particular kind of self and body…that is projected as perfect and species-typical, and therefore essential and fully human.”

As a result, disability “is cast as a diminished state of being human.” It is a short journey from believing disability makes you less human to thinking that it is better to be dead than disabled.

Ableism in Canada is structural, codified, and acts as the rebar in our economy, politics, and culture. It defines and designs access to resources, services, public space, education, housing, health and health care, employment, and fundamental human rights.

Ableism affects how others perceive and treat us and how we perceive ourselves and our experiences. In this way ableism informs how our suffering is interpreted, making causal links that are not supported by evidence.
Peters then quotes from Professor Heidi Janz who commented on medical ableism:
Medical ableism is often presented as “common sense” instead of bias, University of Alberta professor Heidi Janz says. Part of what allows it to remain unexamined is it exists within a larger contested framework referred to as the medical model of disability. In this model, disability is defined as deficiency, tragedy, and the opposite of health. Suffering is assumed and, because disability is understood entirely as a problem with an individual’s body, knowledge, power, and authority are placed within the medical field.

The result of this is our entire humanity is compressed into our diagnoses. There is no examination of the inherent political oppression or the bias in treatment because the medical model assumes the inequity disabled people experience is a logical result of being disabled.

This also incidentally is one of the many reasons MAiD assessors are ill-equipped to identify social suffering and solutions.
Peters writes about how health-care professionals have power over people with disabilities since the doctor are often the gate-keeper to the services and that people need. Peters continues:
That signature is shaped by their perception of us, which is shaped by how well we align with their judgment of us as a “good patient.” In recent years, medicine has moved away from the use of the word compliant to describe whether patients follow medical advice. Now they talk about adherence. But whichever word they use, the power imbalance remains, and patients and family are hesitant to ask questions or raise concerns. As well, in most interactions, patients have just 11 seconds to speak before a physician interrupts them, research has shown.

Physicians conflate disability with suffering. Some bioethicists have likened disabled people to “happy slaves” for daring to suggest that disability is not a synonym for misery. Physicians consistently rate disabled people’s quality of life lower than disabled people themselves do. This is called the disability paradox.
Peters then explains why the euthanasia lobby have had such influence:
The deluge of emotionally charged MAiD coverage is driven primarily by stories crafted or at least aided by the public relations and lobby efforts by proponents. As part of its recent campaign, Dying with Dignity, a national organization that campaigns for the expansion and liberalization of MAiD, emailed supporters urging them to submit opinion pieces to media organizations and offered the help of its communications team.

The CEO of Dying with Dignity has met with senators and members of Parliament in official lobbying capacity 41 times in the last 12 months. The charity also employs lobbyists at Blackbird Communications.

In a public-relations war, money can create even more imbalance than it does in a courtroom.
Peters explains her concerns with suicide contagion.
But much of the media coverage of MAiD runs counter to the World Health Organization’s guidelines for responsible reporting on suicide. The WHO warns against spreading suicide contagion through prominent placement of stories about suicide, by normalizing it or presenting it as a constructive solution to problems, and by explicitly describing the method used.

Perhaps a lot of the coverage of MAiD ignores contagion protocols because MAiD is a euphemism for assisted suicide or euthanasia.
Peters then comments on the concept of the "forced transfer":
A former executive director of Dying with Dignity said in a 2019 statement of claim that it was her “creative-thinking” that is responsible for the “ground-breaking” term. The statement was part of an Ontario lawsuit in which the public-relations value of the term was highlighted, noting it has been adopted “nationally and internationally by academics, clinicians, lawyers, and others in the right to die movement.”

Patients are transferred every day to access care, equipment or expertise that is not available where they are.

And it is striking that the term “forced transfer” is selectively applied to MAiD and not, for example, patients forced to move to long-term care facilities not of their choosing, on threat of being billed $400/day by the government if they refuse.
Peters comments on the reality of her deterioration of care.
In 2009, before MAiD was legalized, I was living in North Vancouver. Since the onset of my rare neuromuscular disease several years prior I had been seen by an assortment of specialists at three different hospitals. Approximately two years of that time was spent in search of diagnosis for the multiple and worsening symptoms. At first, I thought I was just run down following a virus, but a turning point was when I had to be helped out of the community centre pool by a lifeguard because I couldn’t catch my breath a quarter of the way into my first lap. Over time, I transitioned from trail runner to using a cane, then walker and eventually a wheelchair. Simultaneously I transformed from being perceived as normal but sick to disabled and “unfixable” – and fat because of the corticosteroids.

No longer able to work and unable to access benefits due to eligibility criteria that declared me a dependent of the boyfriend I had been living with, my economic situation deteriorated.

Soon, my care changed, too. Nurses stopped complimenting me on my shoes, asking about my work, and telling me not to give up. The new answer to every question was a shrug and “you’re disabled.” It took three trips to two different hospitals and a tense standoff to finally be diagnosed and treated for deep-vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism following an intravenous immunoglobulin treatment (IVIG).

Meanwhile my condition created a smorgasbord of symptoms and managing one would sometimes worsen or create another. There were complications, “atypical presentations,” systemic infections, superbugs, and an ever-growing list of prescriptions sometimes accompanied by allergic reactions and serious side effects. I was a “high-cost health-care user.” The term is used to describe the five per cent of health-care users who are said to account for nearly two-thirds of health-care costs.

I sensed a growing defeatism among those providing me with care. But I was certain that the danger was at least partially a result of the health-care system’s siloed and almost exclusive focus on the latest acute crisis made worse by under-funding and embedded bias.
Peters explains her experience with treatment and care at St Paul's hospital in Vancouver that led to her improved health. There was a hospital employee who pressured her to accept non-treatment as a "treatment" proposal but after dealing with that employee she did find good care at St. Paul's. She then writes:
Many, if not most, disabled people would prefer the additional option of secular MAiD-free spaces. But Catherine Frazee, whose quote starts this article, has articulated the view of a great many disabled people who fervently want safety from MAiD.

Affirming support for the belief of “better dead than disabled” in health care is dangerous and cruel. Canada has made disabled people a killable class, and hardly anyone has considered the impact this would have on us. This country must maintain MAiD-free health-care spaces.
More articles concerning Gabrielle Peters:


Jay Gee said...


Respectfully, the notion that these are health care COSTS, is erroneous and harmful
because it hardens the public and leaves the majority of people under the impression that caring for people, is NOT profitable. It is ENORMOUSLY profitable and a lot of people earn a living doing so. We need to shift the mind-set about the scarce resources that fiat currency is and that the sick are a BURDEN to be disposed of. One way of doing that is to stop mispositioning costs as a hardship when in fact, they are EARNINGS - or the billions of dollars everyone involved in the sick care industry is putting in their pocket, feeding themselves off of and living from.

The Economics of Canadian Health Care Robert G. Evans UBC
" "
... total expenditure on health care by category over the post-war period both in dollars and relative to Gross National Product. These expenditures are frequently referred to as "health care costs" and are alleged at various times to "spiral," to be "explosive," or to do other peculiar things. From another perspective, however, these data describe the sales of the health care industry to Canadians, by product line. They are total revenues, not costs of production. This dual nature, with each expenditure item being simultaneously a revenue item to someone else, has important implications for both interpretation and policy. Health care "expenditures" are costs to the rest of Canadian society, not to health care providers -- to the providers they are income.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree! As a person with a disabilty thanks to a drunk driver i am now always dealing with wounds, kidney infections and such and if anyone ever said MAiD id smack em! Where is humanity? All of us use the healthcare system at least twice in life. When your born and when you die. We all pay into it too even people with disabilities!