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Euthanize Me, or I’ll Starve Myself to Death

Photo credit: Sasun Bughdaryan via Unsplash.

In Canada, an autistic 27-year-old suicidal woman known as M.V. — whose judicially approved euthanasia was delayed until at least October by her father’s claim that she does not qualify — is now starving herself to emotionally blackmail the court into allowing her to be killed expeditiously. From the CBC story:

On Tuesday, M.V.’s lawyer Austin Paladeau filed an application with the province’s top court asking for that stay to be lifted because of a “material change in circumstance.”

On May 28, M.V commenced voluntary stoppage of eating and drinking (VSED).

“VSED is incredibly unpleasant and is increasing my suffering,” reads part of M.V.’s affidavit filed with the application.

“I would greatly prefer to receive MAID to reduce the suffering I have to endure to protect my autonomy in acting out a decision I have already made.”

M.V. says she cannot wait to die until Oct. 7 appeal.

Some thoughts.

  • Voluntary stoppage of eating and drinking (VSED) has been suggested previously by activists to people who do not otherwise qualify to be killed or assisted in suicide to risk imminent death and thereby become legally eligible to be made dead. The added twist here is the threat of suicide by starvation as an emotional cudgel to short-circuit normal court procedures.
  • M.V. claims that VSED is “incredibly unpleasant and increasing my suffering” — which certainly makes sense since starving to death is agonizing. Yet, VSED is pushed quite vigorously by organizations such as Compassion and Choices (formerly, the Hemlock Society) who claim that it causes little discomfort. Indeed, C & C claims, in its pro-suicide-by-VSED propaganda:

Since VSED is a natural process of dying, individuals can have a range of symptoms and experiences. Unwanted symptoms can typically be managed with medications from the doctor or hospice.

Some people express a sense of peace that they can “stop fighting” and describe feeling euphoria or pleasant light-headedness. Researchers believe there is an analgesic effect caused by dehydration that may explain this response.

Hmm. M.V. certainly doesn’t seem euphoric.

  • VSED doesn’t describe dying patients who stop eating as their organs shut down at the end of their lives. That’s a natural process that does not cause suffering. In contrast, the experience of VSED for a suicidal person whose body is not otherwise shutting down would be little different from being locked in a room without food and water for three weeks — which is why palliation is needed. To say the least, C & C dramatically underplays the potential for extreme discomfort.
  • Legalization activists promise that strict guidelines protect against abuse. But those limitations — such as they are — are meaningless if a suicidal patient can emotionally blackmail authorities on the threat of pursuing a more agonizing suicide.

Allowing euthanasia and/or assisted suicide unleashes drastic desires in suffering individuals and allows deadly, socially sanctioned actions that would have been unthinkable before doctor-administered or prescribed death became legalized and normalized. This is no longer about “slippery slopes” — it is demonstrated by abundant facts on the ground.

Cross-posted at National Review.