Considering the Nazi-tinged history of euthanasia, there is something dark and ominous about a headline reading “Christine’s ‘Don’t Euthanize Me’ Tattoo.” Christine Nagel, who got her first tattoo at age 81, doesn’t even approve of tattoos – but the Calgarian had an important reason for getting this one. It is on her upper arm, and the ink letters spell out crystal clear instructions: “Don’t euthanize me.”
In today’s Canada, Nagel finds it necessary.
She told Amanda Achtman, who works with Canadian Physicians for Life, why the tattoo is so important in an interview for Achtman’s Substack “Dying to Meet You” in August. “Because the government passed a bill that is a way to eradicate human life, but human life is a gift from God,” Nagel said. “We don’t decide when it begins; no more do we decide when it ends.” Nagel was born in London, England, in 1935 and came to Canada in 1957, adopting a total of seven children and surviving an abusive marriage.
Nagel is no stranger to the desperation that leads to suicide. At one point, the abuse she experienced in her marriage brought her to “the end of my tether.” According to Nagel: “I had some pills that the doctor had given me. I was very much on edge, and I just decided ‘I’m gonna swallow this and I’m gonna get to sleep, and that’s the end of it.’ It was so wrong. But I hadn’t really thought about it one way or the other until after I did it. Right after I swallowed everything, then I was concerned about the kids and began to realize how wrong it was. And so I got help. The kids I adopted were just so precious and important.”
Achtman has followed up her August interview with a four-minute film featuring Nagel’s story. Nagel said that the reaction she’s gotten to her tattoo so far has been positive. “When I went to the hospitals, the nurses would see it,” she said. “They’d say ‘Good for you,’ you know, and doctors walking by would give me a thumbs up because none of them wanted to be involved in helping live people kill themselves. It just went against the whole idea of being a doctor.”
When Achtman asked her who the tattoo was for, Nagel had an answer ready. “This tattoo reminds me of my own value personally,” she said. “It gives me the message that I don’t want my life cut short, and I don’t want anybody’s else’s life cut short. Nobody has a right to destroy life. The person may not be so smart or so good-looking or have such a high ‘quality of life,’ but the quality of life that God gives to each person is the same for everybody… I don’t want to be kept alive mechanically, but I do want to die naturally because suffering doesn’t stop us from continuing our race to heaven.”