Support the people this law leaves behind

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Stand up for compassion and choice

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Dear friends,

No one deserves to die the way my mother did.

It was July 18th, 2015 when I got the call. My mom’s voice was broken, defeated, overwhelmed. After nearly twenty years of battling primary progressive multiple sclerosis – two decades of fighting with and against her own body – she decided it was time to end her life.

Suzette Lewis and Rachel Ricketts

Rachel Ricketts with her mom Suzette Lewis

Mom was as strong as they come, and despite the incredible challenges that arose with her chronic illness and resulting quadriplegia, I had hardly ever heard her cry. I was taken aback by the distress in her voice as she said "I can't do this anymore. It’s time for me to go".

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My mom’s wish was to die in her home, where she felt safe, with me and her beloved cat, La Perla, by her side. She wished to be granted agency in how and when she died, particularly given that nearly every other form of agency had already been stripped away from her. But in the absence of MAID, this wish was impossible.

Since suicide was a legal option, but assisted death was not, my mom's only permitted avenue to find solace was to starve and dehydrate herself until death. Over the next 14 days, I bore witness as my mother slowly wasted away before my eyes. I had to hold her hand through the hunger pangs and water cravings so that she could finally achieve her wish: freedom.

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No one should have to endure what we did for the basic right to control their own body and yet, due to the government’s restrictive MAID legislation, so many still have to. I believe that even if my mom were alive now, under Bill C-14 she would not qualify for MAID because her death would not be deemed to be “reasonably foreseeable.” My mom was years away from death from MS.

I miss my mom every day, with every ounce of my being, but I am also proud to say that I did everything I could to help her find the respite she so certainly deserved. My greatest hope is Canada, and this court, will finally follow suit.

- Rachel Ricketts

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