Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Mother upset after doctor urged her to approve assisted suicide for her daughter with disabilities.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Candice Lewis with her mother.
Sheila Elson, who lives in Newfoundland, was very upset when a doctor offered assisted dying for her daughter Candice Lewis (25) who lives with multiple disabilities including spina bifida, cerebral palsy and chronic seizure disorder.

According to Geoff Bartlett reporting for CBC News Newfoundland:

"His words were 'assisted suicide death was legal in Canada,'" she told CBC. "I was shocked, and said, 'Well, I'm not really interested,' and he told me I was being selfish." 

Stephen Roberts, from the Northern Pen reported:
Elson has spent 25 years caring and advocating for Lewis, fighting to get the services her daughter needed. 
In September 2016, she says, a doctor presented her with the option of physician-assisted death for Lewis.

The discussion happened after Candice had been admitted to hospital, and doctors suggested that Lewis was dying.
According to the article:
Elson wrote that (the doctor) had taken her out into the hallway by Lewis’s hospital room to discuss physician-assisted death and advise her the option was legal in Canada. 
She alleges the doctor said he supported physician-assisted death for Lewis.

“This left me dumbfounded and I told him it was something I did not want to consider,” she said.

She contends the doctor suggested she was being selfish and that she told him that she didn’t believe Lewis was able to fully comprehend what was being suggested.
The article reports that Candice heard the conversation.
She says Lewis could hear the conversation from her room and it was causing emotional distress for them both. 
“I am still very concerned about this, it is always on my mind. I am emotionally exhausted. I see that it has been also very stressful for Candice and one of my main reasons for writing this letter is that I don’t want any other family to have to go through this,” Elson wrote.
Labrador-Grenfell Health responded to Elson’s letter on June 6. 
In the correspondence, Molgaard-Blake apologized for the delay and expressed regret that Elson did not feel her family was treated with dignity and respect during Lewis’s hospital stay. 
She added that the doctors involved did not intend any disrespect. 
Molgaard-Blake said Elson was welcome to discuss any issues in person, but noted that the doctor is currently not on locum assignment with Labrador-Grenfell Health and “is not scheduled to be back in St. Anthony until later this fall.”
Roberts reported that "Elson calls Labrador-Grenfell Health's response to her letter a joke.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has always stated that you cannot separate the attitude of the doctor or nurse practitioner who proposes or does euthanasia from the act itself.  


Dr. Arnold Voth said...

The doctor was very clearly in the wrong. Under the current law, euthanasia can only be done on the request of and with the consent of the patient being euthanized. Hopefully the doctor will be disciplined both by his hospital and by his College. Arnold Voth MD, Edmonton

Alex Schadenberg said...

Dear Arnold:

I think that it was completely unethical, but you will notice from the response of the health authority that they are not too concerned about whether it was legal or not.

Unknown said...

If we are going to overlook the fact that deliberately killing someone or helping someone to commit suicide is grossly unethical, it seems like splitting hairs to criticize the doctor for briefly mentioning the option.

Gordon Friesen, Montreal said...

Dear Dr. Voth,

In the continuing Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons controversy regarding the doctor's right of conscience, we see the College guidelines forcing doctors not only to make effective referrals for patients requesting euthanasia, but also, creating a "duty to inform".

That is to say, if any patient is eligible, he/she must be informed of that fact.

As in, "Hey Buddy, I just wanted you to know that you fit the assisted death criteria, so, like, I could kill you if you want. Yeah, yeah... I know, but .... .Well... just think about it, OK ?"

Despite appearances, I am not kidding. This is apparently to become the norm, at least for pro-euthanasia doctors. Hippocratic doctors, on the other hand, will use the required information session to expand upon the value of each individual life and the power of medical science to protect it.

Patients now have a choice.

And so do doctors.

A veritable "line in the sand".

Feel the Love,

Gordon from Montreal said...

Tim -We must also recognize that the Dr. apparently told the mother she was selfish not to euthanize her disabled daughter. What could he mean? The most logical inference we can draw s that he was referring to financial burden on the province. It wasn't for the daughter ... all he had to do was ask her. Remember I am incurably ill and disabled too. I am a drain of the Alberta health care system. Am I selfish to desire to live? But by extension, I could extrapolate that from what DR. ARRON HEROUX was saying. Or is the selfishness to love a multiply handicapped child? The doctor was trying to make the mother feel guilty for not euthanizing her daughter.

Paul Anderson said...

The fact that Dr. Heroux directed this suggestion to Ms. Elson, privately and away from the patient, indicates that he either didn't understand the legislation or was seeking to circumvent it. My family faced similar pressure from doctors in 2013, long before Bill C-14, when we were urged repeatedly to ignore the patient's stated wishes and allow withdrawal of life-saving therapies. Hospitals have a long history of "colouring outside the lines", often with little in the way of consequences for noncompliance with laws and guidelines. This case is just another example of the inability of government to effectively monitor Medical Assistance in Dying.

Joanne Bright said...

If it is considered "abandoning your patient" if they want euthanasia and the doctor cannot provide it for conscience reasons, is it not also "abandoning your patient" if they do not want euthanasia and you think they should accept it?

granny Jan said...

I spent 18 years assisting severely disabled students in high school. The parents had horror was told he would only be a blob he communicates like Dr. Stephan Hawkings and makes jokes and laughs and eats lunch with all his friends, he also gives talks about his assistive devices at UBC.. most of these kids were not supposed to live till 10 or 12 yes I watched them graduate with all their friends and party to boot. I meet them on the street and they are always so happy . One could only move his arms in his walker and I saw him purposely poke to girls butts at their lockers...All we wanted for him is to be a typical teenager and sure enough he was lol

Annette Murphy said...

Assisted suicide is murder!

Joseph Marine, MD said...

Thank you for posting and documenting this terrible breach of medical professionalism. Unfortunately, when the medical culture has accepted the fallacy that euthanasia is "compassionate medical care," then there is no possibility that the medical culture will sanction or disapprove of the physician's actions. After all, he is only "informing" the patient and caregiver of all of her "medical options"? What could be wrong with that?

Such is the Orwellian insanity that the medical profession has brought upon itself by cooperating and collaborating with the Euthanasia Movement, a movement that has nothing to do with medicine or medical care.

In the few U.S states which have passed physician assisted suicide (PAS) legislation, the law provides "good faith" immunity to physicians who prescribe suicide pills. In addition, the law forbids medical societies or institutions from taking any action against participating physicians. What this means is that physicians can commit almost any form of malpractice or breach of medical professionalism in the course of prescribing suicide and they are untouchable and unaccountable. The laws suggest that it is the patient who is to ask for PAS, but the law does not forbid or prevent a physician from suggesting or even recommending PAS to a patient.

Treasa said...

Be careful which doctor you allow near you or your family. Have a prepared statement swearing that attending doctors and staff may not under any circumstance commit euthanasia or even suggest it to the patient and family or executor.

Chronically Feminist said...

This is just what disabled people warned of but no one listens to us. The limits of these laws will not be enforced and assisted suicide advocates want to open the criteria for assisted suicide as wide as possible. Her mother should hire a disability rights lawyer. That health district sounds like a bunch of ableist arseholes. The doctor should keep his opinions on assisted suicide to himself and not try to impose them on people with disabilities and our families who are just trying to go about our lives and manage our conditions.

I think it's very disgusting the lack of palliative and residential hospice access in this country but we legalized assisted suicide despite that. It's not a real choice if you can't access the proper care for the choice to die in comfort and manage pain.

Unknown said...

It is wrong to suggest and to perform assisted suicide. Has health care in Canada really come to this point!!! I will pray for this family and the doctor as well.

Doreen said...

The doctor's attitude is very telling. Does he not honor the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm, whether or not assisted suicide is legal? He has added to the burden suffered by both the patient and the parent. I would have immediately asked for another physician.

Sandi Richardson said...

Hello, am I the only one who clearly heard the little girl herself say in the video that she did not want to go anywhere? Even our new pagan laws are supposed to recognize that the individual has the "last" (no pun intended) say on their future! Did the doctor out in the hall not hear that little girl, if I did? Sandi Richardson

Anonymous said...

Chronically feminist says:The doctor should keep his opinions on assisted suicide to himself and not try to impose them on people


I agree but I don't think that is enough. I can't see how anybody could trust him/herself to the care of a doctor who reserves the right to decide which of his patients "deserve" to live. There are just too many places, OR, ICU and even at home where the slightest hesitation to act is fatal. In fact, I have no doubt that doctors like that are constantly "sparing" plenty of people a lot of suffering, off the books and never questioned.

So what I propose is that euthanasia providers be barred from any other sort of medical practice. Just not compatible with their views. Can't be trusted.

Gordon from Montreal

Unknown said...

God bless that wonderful mother & her beautiful daughter.She is surely a hero for fighting for her daughter as her health advocate all her life. Canadian doctor's should not be allowed to denigrate any family members choice for life by labeling it as "selfish". For shame on a health system that is becoming so mercenary since the enaction of Euthanasia!

Voice of Gone Ballistic said...

Did the daughter die.

Alex Schadenberg said...

The daughter is alive and well. Her mother took her out of the hospital.

victoria delacy said...

I am reminded of the case of C. Everett Koop who was diagnosed as a child to have kugleberg waylander syndrome, for which the prognosis was that he would surely die by age 18. He went on to become a surgeon general of the USA and went on to declare that doctors should always err on the side favoring protection of human life. Having gone on to live well into his nineties, he was a good example of the wisdom of that statement. When I suffered a cerebral hemorrhage at age 29 back in early 1986, the prognosis was that I would die within the next 3 days. When I survived that, they said I was due to be a mental veggie who would never walk again. So far by the grace of God I have lived to see my 6 children grow up and (so far) the arrival of 10 grandchildren and one great-grandson. Eventually I also walked over 3,000 miles at a local mall and graduated from college magna cum laude having earned a B.A. in Psychology. The important bottom line is "never give up" because quitters never win and winners never quit, and only God knows where your potential may ultimately take you in life.

Anonymous said...

I have recently dealt with doctor in the story above. From my research on him (which brought me here), it seems like he took off from the Maritimes some time after this incident. At the time of this story he had his medical license for a scant 3 years, and less as a full doctor and not an intern. He surfaced in Inuvik NWT in 2018. Currently he has an office located on an island, known as Bella Coola #2, off the west coast of BC, very remote. It is not shocking to read about his obvious uncaring attitude, nor about about his God-like approach. Perhaps he's hiding in shame, or something worse.