Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Canada's Assisted Suicide Battle and an Ad Campaign.

Not unlike here in the US, Canada is enmeshed in a battle for the legalization of aid in dying, commonly called assisted suicide or euthanasia. A poignant Toronto ad campaign is raising awareness of the "deadly seriousness" of health care laws regarding end of life care.

"To the Glory of Kathleen (Kay) Mandell, Who at the age of 32 was stricken by Lou Gehrig's disease that caused her muscles to waste away, one by one, until her throat paralysed and she choked to death while fully conscious." A series of stickers have been placed on park benches to bring awareness to how health care policies commit the diseased to suffering at the end of life.

From the Toronto Star, an article on how the campaign is grabbing attention:

The stickers are forthright in their message, dreamed up by art director Andy McKay and Manson, his creative partner at Toronto's Cundari Group. They have both been affected by "bad deaths" among their friends and family.

The faux plaques "commemorate" three fictional people – Donald J. McLeod, Rosa Maria Allende and Kathleen (Kay) Mandell – and point to an information website that McKay and Manson created in their spare time, dignityindeath .com.

The site went live last month and, in slightly more than a day, the stickers had generated 1,500 hits, says Manson.

It has since gone viral, stirring heated debate on sites such as about what one poster terms the "five-star moral question" of how we end our lives. It's a debate that's badly needed as the tsunami of aging baby boomers stresses Canada's health system.

"I guess enough people thought the message was important. We just hoped that somebody might sit on a bench, see the sticker and talk about it," says Manson, conceding that the project has had "more reaction than we expected."

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