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CEO of Canadian retailer Simons claims assisted suicide commercial is 'inspirational'

Christian Post's Brandon Showalter: 'It speaks to the ideological capture, a very pro-death culture'

Assisted suicide
Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

The CEO of a Canadian fashion retailer says its new ad featuring a terminally ill woman who decides to end her life by euthanasia is “not a commercial campaign.” 

The ad from La Maison Simons, better known as Simons, tells the story of 37-year-old Jennyfer Hatch, who sought what’s euphemistically known in Canada as “medical assistance in dying” (MAID) after she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, according to CBC News.

The roughly three-minute video titled “All is Beauty” has a cinematic quality as it follows Hatch on a beach enjoying some of her favorite things, including laughing with friends as a young girl, blowing bubbles, and playing the cello.

“Dying in a hospital is not what’s natural. It’s not what’s soft,” Hatch says at the start of the ad.

As a haunting score plays in the background, Hatch says, “Last breaths are sacred. ... Even though as I seek help to end my life, with all the pain and in these final moments, there is still so much beauty.”

Another title card reads "The most beautiful exit" before the video ends with the dedication, “For Jennyfer. June 1985 to October 2022."

After suffering from chronic pain from Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a combination of inherited disorders that affect connective tissues,Hatch opted for assisted suicide, which is legal under Canadian law, on Oct. 23.

The video was posted directly on the Simons website on a blog page linking to the brand’s holiday collections and men's and women's apparel. 

Peter Simons, the chain’s president and chief merchant, said in a separate video on the Simons website that telling Hatch’s story is intended to be an “inspiration” and “not a commercial campaign.”

“We wanted to do something that really underlined human connection, and perhaps would help people reconnect to each other, and to this hope and optimism that is going to be needed if we’re going to build the sort of communities and spaces that we want to live in and that are enjoyable to live in,” Simons said.

Suffering from chronic pain, Hatch sought to end her life following her diagnosis under Canada’s MAID law, which was known as the “assisted dying” bill when it was passed in 2016. 

Since its passage, MAID deaths in Canada have jumped significantly from just over 1,000 assisted suicide deaths in 2016 to more than 10,000 as of 2021. In fact, MAID deaths now account for more than 3% of all Canadian deaths, CBC reported.

Under the MAID program, Canadians are eligible for assisted suicide if they are at least 18 years old and “mentally competent,” have a “grievous and irremediable” medical condition, make a voluntary request for assisted dying “that is not the result of outside pressure or influence,” and can give informed consent. 

While there are several qualifiers to meet the “grievous and irremediable” criteria, one is not required to have a fatal or terminal condition to be eligible for the program, according to the MAID website.

The Christian Post’s Brandon Showalter, who first reported on some of the more disturbing aspects of the Canadian law in 2018,  told The Daily Wire's Ben Shapiro that the MAID acronym is not a coincidence.

“It papers over what this really is,” Showalter said. “It’s state-sanctioned death, this is highly unethical medical practice, in my view, where a doctor is using his or her training to end life and not heal and preserve life and at least make the death process as pleasant as possible. ...

“The marketing of this is this beautiful, wonderful thing. I think it speaks to the ideological capture, a very pro-death culture, amongst corporate interests,” he added, noting the ad’s beautiful imagery. 

Showalter also pointed out the seeming contradiction between Simons’ stated inspiration for the project and the goal of any corporation, which is to fatten its bottom line.

“It doesn't make any sense, ‘cause you would think if a fashion company wants to sell more clothes, they wouldn’t be selling it to a person who is about to take their life,” he said.

“They’re not going to have a lifelong customer anymore because they’re going to be dead.”

Following the passage of the “assisted dying” law, a 2017 survey of more than 1,000 Canadian doctors revealed that 33% believe assisted suicide ought to be illegal for minors, while approximately half think "mature" minors should have the option to request it.

"I think that conscientious objection in Canada, unfortunately, hangs by a thread," Deacon Larry Worthen, executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, told Catholic News Agency at the time.

Another study released earlier this year found that nations that have legalized assisted suicide or euthanasia have higher rates of “self-initiated” suicides, a result that some experts contend has been a predictable side effect of making it legal for people to end their lives in certain circumstances.

Germany legalized physician-assisted suicide in 2020, with its top court arguing that a previous law banning the practice breached the country's Constitution. 

Italy also recently legalized the practice of assisted suicide, with the Italian Constitutional Court ruling in 2019 that the practice is permitted under certain circumstances. The court decided that assisted suicide is permitted for those in intense pain with no hope of recovery or who have expressed a clear wish to die.

Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ian.giatti@christianpost.com

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