Jordan Peterson exposes the ‘drowning’ effect of assisted suicide drug

Jordan Peterson’s recent interview with mental health advocate and host of “The Brass & Unity Podcast,” Kelsi Sheren, exposed dark truths about the process of assisted death and what can happen to the people electing to die by assisted suicide and euthanasia. As previously reported by Live Action News, the process is not peaceful, because the person can drown to death while paralyzed.

“I’ve already seen romanticized death encounters distributed online,” said Peterson. “And so, I think that’ll be the next thing that’ll confront us in Canada.”

Sheren replied that there’s something “really troubling” and “concerning” that needs to be discussed concerning MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying) in Canada that no one understands.


“What I found out… that really, really bothered me was the mechanism of the actual procedure,” she said. “So there’s this drug called sodium thiopental and it’s made in Italy… so it’s used by anesthesiologists. And the anesthesiologist that came forward with this… he came forward with this for the Senate subcommittee talking about this with MAiD and his concerns with it because MAiD is being seen as compassionate and empathetic care.”

That anesthesiologist, Dr. Joel Zivot, penned an op-ed discussing this drug back in 2021, which Live Action News reported on at the time. He looked at a handful of autopsies of executed criminals who were given sodium thiopental, and he found their deaths had not been peaceful. Their lungs were full of fluid. Called pulmonary edema, it makes a person feel as though they are drowning or suffocating.

NPR then used the Freedom of Information Act to examine the autopsies of more than 300 individuals executed in America using sodium thiopental. They learned that 84% of those individuals who had information about their lungs in their paperwork showed a 2x level increase of water in the lungs.

Reporting for NPR in 2020, Noah Caldwell said, “Now lawyers are also bringing autopsies to federal courts around the country, claiming that the pain of pulmonary edema amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. And they say this explains why we’ve seen some inmates in recent years gasping for air and choking as they’re being executed.”

READ: ‘Faces of MAID’ social media campaign opposes Canada’s euthanasia program

The effect of this drug is “akin to dying by waterboarding or drowning” said Sheren. She added, “[T]he reason the people who are given MAiD seem peaceful is because they are given a paralytic first so they are completely paralyzed.”

Sodium thiopental, which is also called thiopental, Sodium Pentothal, thiopentone, or Trapanal, is used in assisted death in Netherlands and Belgium, but it does not appear to be used in Canada. In Canada, midazolam, a sedative not a painkiller, is used. However, medical examiner’s reports for two death row inmates in Oklahoma, John Grant and Bigler Stouffer, showed that both men, executed with drugs including midazolam, suffered pulmonary edema — fluid in the lungs –which can also cause feelings of suffocation or drowning. Normal lungs weigh about 900-1000 grams. Grant’s weighed 1390 grams while Stouffer’s weighed 1510 grams.

Oklahoma had been using a different drug, pentobarbital, but was unable to find a source from which to purchase it, so it switched to midazolam. Critics argue that because midazolam is a sedative, not a painkiller, those who are given it before death is carried out can suffer.

“When one watches an execution, it’s not clear that this is happening. There is not much to see,” said Zivot. “Executions, like, I imagine medical assistance in dying, are a rather bloodless event; not much can be seen outwardly. But the autopsies revealed a very disturbing and surprising finding.”

He continued, “.. when a person dies by lethal injection, they basically drown. Their lungs fill with fluid, and I would describe that the experience of dying under that circumstance is more akin to death by water boarding, which we recognize as cruel. … When I look at the method of dying by medical assistance in dying, the technique is strikingly similar. The pharmacology is similar in design to the death by lethal injection in the United States”.

Research published by the British Medical Bulletin found that there “is also evidence that the drugs used for assisted suicide do not consistenty bring about death quickly” with the time to death being “highly unpredicatble.” it also found that there is a “wide variety of lethal drug combinations” being used, and a “prevalance of complications and failures” that show “‘assisted dying’ applicants are at risk of distressing deaths.” Canada’s MAiD protocol even warns, “The pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics listed for the medications… are at typical therapeutic dosing, not MAiD dosing. There has been little to no research into their parameters at such high doses as seen with MAiD … There is no peer-reviewed literature to guide best practice in compounding these medications.”

Saving money by ending lives

Sheren also told Peterson about the millions of dollars the Canadian government is saving on health care costs by killing people instead of caring for them — and promoting it as a person’s “right.”

In 2020, Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report showing that its MAiD program created a “net cost reduction” of $86.9 million a year for the Canadian government. The report noted that the planned expansion of eligibility for MAiD would create an additional net savings of $62 million per year.

In an article for The Spectator, author Yuan Yi Zhu explained, “Health care, in particular for those suffering from chronic conditions, is expensive; but assisted suicide only costs the taxpayer $2,327 per ‘case.’ And, of course, those who have to rely wholly on government-provided Medicare pose a far greater burden on the exchequer than those who have savings or private insurance…. There is already talk of allowing ‘mature minors’ access to euthanasia too—just think of the lifetime savings.”

From 2021 to 2022, deaths by MAiD in Canada grew by 31.2%. Since assisted death was legalized in Canada in 2016, 44,958 have died by it. Each of them were sold the idea of a peaceful death that may have actually been torture.

Editor’s Note 6/18/2024: This article was updated with further information about Canada’s MAiD protocol and its risks.

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