Published 8 December 2022 at 17.01
Foreign. The Canadian fashion company La Maison Simons has released a commercial in which suicide is described as “the most beautiful way out”. The film glorifies a young woman's decision to end her life with the help of Canada's MAID euthanasia program.
– It's easier to let go than to keep fighting, the woman, who really wanted to keep living, told CTV News before she was killed.
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Jennyfer Hatch, 37, chose to die instead of continuing to fight for care.
In Canada, since 2016, it has been possible to receive euthanasia through the MAID euthanasia program, which stands for Medical assistance in dying .
Anyone over the age of 18 who is seriously ill or disabled has the right to be killed provided their condition is incurable and causes “unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be alleviated in a way that the person considers acceptable” . It is not required that the condition be life-threatening.
Anyone who wants euthanasia submits a written application to the health service. Once the application has been approved by two doctors or nurses, the “patient” can make an appointment to be killed, or be assisted in committing suicide, when he sees fit.
The most common approach is for a doctor or nurse kills the patient through a series of injections. The patient can also take a fatal dose of the drug himself, but that method is unusual and has only been used in a few cases.
The possibilities for granting euthanasia were expanded by a law amendment in 2021. The previous restriction that only people whose natural death could be predicted with reasonable certainty could receive euthanasia was removed. Previously, there was also a requirement for a ten-day waiting period between the application for MAID and the actual killing, but this was removed in cases where the death is deemed to be predictable.
In March next year, the regulations will be liberalized further. Then patients who suffer from mental illness, such as depression, will also have the opportunity to apply to be killed.
“Canadian citizens whose only medical condition is a mental illness, but who otherwise meet all the criteria, will not to be able to receive MAID until March 17, 2023,” writes the Government of Canada on its website.
Since the euthanasia program was launched, more and more people have chosen to let themselves be killed. According to the official statistics, about 10 000 people were killed by MAID in 2021. That represents 3.3 percent of all deaths in Canada that year.
However, the program is controversial. Doctors have sounded the alarm that people who don't really want to die are applying for MAID because they have received inadequate care or live in poverty.
One notable such case is 37-year-old Jennifer Hatch from British Columbia. She applied for MAID after years of unsuccessfully trying to get adequate care for a chronic illness. The symptom picture for the disease she suffered from, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, includes, among other things, sensitive skin, chronic pain and hypermobile joints.
In an interview that was broadcast in June by the television channel CTV News, Jennyfer Hatch, who had not yet released her real name, said that she really wanted to continue living. What made her apply for euthanasia anyway was that she was not given access to care that could improve her quality of life. She had asked for a long time to see an expert in Ehlers-Danlos syndrome but instead was sent around to different doctors who had no experience in treating her disease.
– It's easier to let go than to keep fighting, Jennyfer Hatch told CTV News.
She applied for euthanasia through the MAID program last year. Her application was approved by British Columbia Health Services, after which she had what the MAID decision described as a “standing invitation” to make an appointment at any time to have the euthanasia granted carried out.
In October of this year, Jennifer Hatch decided to die. Then the Canadian fashion company La Maison Simons got the idea to use her death in a marketing campaign that the company calls “All is beauty”.
La Maison Simons hired an advertising agency in Toronto that made a lavish commercial about Jennifer Hatch's decision to kill herself. The recording took place the month before Jennyfer Hatch was killed and she herself appears in the film.
– Dying in a hospital is not natural, it is not soft. In moments like these, you need softness, says Jennyfer Hatch at the beginning of the film.
Then follows the text “the most beautiful way out”.
The lavish film shows in beautiful images how Jennifer Hatch hangs out with friends by the sea during her last weeks of life, plays the cello and blows soap bubbles. She draws pictures in the sand that are erased by the waves. The atmosphere is bright and peaceful. Nowhere is it mentioned that Jennifer Hatch would have liked to have continued to live, but chose to die because she did not receive the care she needed.
According to La Maison Simons marketing manager Peter Simons, the purpose of the film is not commercial but to “contribute to building the societies we want to live in tomorrow and leave to our children”. He hopes that those who see the film will be able to “celebrate Jennifer's life and the choices she made”.
The film has received sharp criticism.
– To depict something to do with MAID as clean and beautiful, and connecting it to the culture of consumption as if it were a free choice appears to me to be deeply problematic, says Professor Esther Ignani at Toronto Metropolitan University to The Globe and Mail.
– It covers everything that we don't talk about when it comes to MAID. Healthcare is in crisis. We know that many do not even have access to primary care, not to mention more advanced care, good pain relief and palliative care. For such people, MAID is not always just an option, but may be the only way out.
“If you give people the choice between a hard life and an easy death, they are tempted to choose the latter. And if you gives the state the option of choosing between an expensive life and a cheap death, it is likely to choose the latter. There is nothing “beautiful” about it. It is barbaric,” comments the American National Review.
La Maison Simons chose last week to de-publish the video from the company's YouTube channel where it has received over a million views.
– The All is Beauty campaign has ended this week. Simons is now starting his annual Christmas sprint. Against that background, the company's staff is focusing on Christmas activities in stores and online, a spokesperson for La Maison Simons told Fox News.