Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Siwicki case in Winnipeg does not highlight the euthanasia debate.

Alex Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On December 17, 2014, Ron Siwicki was arrested and charged in the death of his mother, Betty Siwicki (89) who was living with dementia. Ron Siwicki was charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life.

An article by Thomas Wolkam falsely compared this case to the euthanasia debate in Canada.

Due to a publication ban, the information around the case is not clear but the basic story suggests that Betty Siwicki was injured, after a fall, sometime in November. Since she did not want medical treatment she was left, dying on the floor, for a period of time until she died, in the home that she shared with her son. 

Ron Siwicki claims that he fulfilled his mother's wishes.

This case does not hightlight the euthanasia debate in Canada but rather it highlights the issues concerning the obligation to provide basic personal care and the basic necessaries of life.

Every Canadian has the right to refuse medical treatment. If Betty Siwicki was competent to refuse medical treatment, her wishes would have been honoured. In this case, Betty Siwicki was left on the floor of her home to die.

The law does not permit Canadians to neglect or abandon their elderly parents or their children by denying them basic personal care or the basic necessaries of life.

The euthanasia debate is not about whether people should have the right to die with a minimal pain, as the article falsely states. Nobody is arguing that effective pain and symptom management should be denied to anyone.

The euthanasia debate is about whether doctors should have the right to lethally inject people. Currently, no one has the right in law to cause death, or be involved with causing the death of another person.

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