Why a Canadian Artist Chose to 'Schedule' Her Death

Saskatoon artist Jeanette Lodoen wanted Canadians to understand the realities of medically-assisted dying.

New Delhi: Jeanette Lodoen, an 87-year-old Canadian artist, knew the exact date and time of her death. How? Because she had scheduled it.

Lodoen was not alone. Medical assistance in dying (MAID) is being chosen by a growing number of Canadians, particularly in the province of Saskatchewan that Loeden belonged to, CBC News reported.

“Some people think that they have to live until their illness takes them away. They have a right to that,” Jeanette told CBC News. “But sometimes I think people would want to go home. They aren’t aware a person can have control and dignity when they die, control over how they die.”

In the weeks leading up to her death, Lodoen and her family granted CBC News unrestricted access to document the process and aftermath of MAID.

On February 10 this year, Lodoen had a few bites of her requested meal, an Eastern European crepe called a blini, with crab and dill toppings; had a sip of her Kahlua liqueur with cream, and then moved into the living room easy chair to wait for her doctor to arrive.

About 40 minutes and a series of tearful goodbyes and silent hugs later, her doctor inserted the intravenous line in her arm that would carry a mix of a sedative, anaesthetic, a coma-inducing agent and a neuromuscular blocker to stop respiration. Minutes later, Lodoen was declared dead.

More than 10,000 Canadians now choose medically-assisted death each year according to CBC News. Its popularity is growing in every province and territory but most rapidly in Saskatchewan, where case numbers rose to 243 last year, a 55% increase, the report said. Medical experts told CBC News that these trends will likely continue as more people hear about the program.

A national conversation on the issue first broke in 1993 when the Supreme Court of Canada narrowly rejected amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patient Sue Rodriguez’s plea to legalise assisted death. Rodriguez sought and received an assisted death from an anonymous provider a year later. It took the Canadian top court more than 20 years to legalise assisted dying in 2016.

Opposition to MAID comes in many forms — religious, moral and medical. Some say it’s always wrong to intentionally end a human life. Others say medical science could improve pain management or find cures not currently available. Still others say MAID would not be as popular if more was done to support the elderly or ill.

In India too, active euthanasia in the form of injecting a lethal injection is illegal. However, on March 9, 2018 the Supreme Court of India legalised passive euthanasia by means of the withdrawal of life support to patients in a permanent vegetative state in a judgement made as part of the verdict in a case involving Aruna Shanbaug.