Saturday, August 22, 2020

Woman goes to court to stop husband from assisted death

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Avis Favaro, the Medical Correspondent with CTV news, reported on the case of a woman who is trying to prevent the euthanasia death of her husband. Favaro reports:
For the first time since assisted death was legalized in Canada in 2016, a judge has ordered that a request for medical help in dying be put on hold.
(Link to the CTV video report) 
A Nova Scotia man wants to die because of a lung disease that he says has left him near the end of his life. Katherine, his wife of 48 years, is fighting that wish in the courts, calling her husband a hypochondriac who is not mentally capable of making the decision to end his life. 
The 83-year-old man has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which he was diagnosed with in 2003. He says he was given three years to live at that time. He also suffered a series of small strokes decades ago and was diagnosed with dementia in 2019.
On August 14 I published the article EPC needs your help to prevent a euthanasia death where I explained that EPC is financing a precedent setting court case of a woman who is attempting to prevent the euthanasia death of her husband.

Favaro explains why the case was launched:
Katherine says her husband first applied for medically-assisted death in April and was turned down, because some assessors felt he did not have the mental capacity to make that decision or that his death was not imminent. 
Katherine says the initial rejection came as a relief to her. Although she knew her husband was talking about ending his life, she felt he was operating under anxiety and delusions. 
In July a new and different group of assessors approved the man for assisted death – setting the date for August 3, which prompted Katherine to contact a lawyer and get an injunction to put her husband's death on hold. 
The issue is now before the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. A judge set aside the injunction last week, clearing the way for the man to end his life. Katherine is appealing this decision, arguing that more psychiatric tests should be ordered before her husband is found to have a sound enough mind to request assisted death.
Hugh Scher
Favaro interviewed Hugh Scher, Katherine's lawyer, who stated:
"There's real question, based on the very conflicting medical evidence within a matter of weeks from different practitioners … as to whether or not this person truly does meet the criteria or not," 
Seven different medical assessors offered differing opinions about the man’s mental and physical state between April and July. Some found him suffering from depression and cognitive decline. Others deemed him as mentally competent. 
"I think to put somebody effectively to death … when we don't have that answer, and where the request can be made truly based on a delusion, is simply a complete violation of the rule of law in this country. I don't think it's what the Supreme Court of Canada or Parliament had in mind when it decriminalized euthanasia and ultimately required that safeguards be put in place to protect those who are vulnerable from the risks of serious abuse."
The next hearing in this precedent-setting case is August 26. Scher suggests that this case may be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
"What I think this court case speaks to fundamentally is the need to have a dispute resolution process through the courts in those rare cases where there is a fundamental disagreement or conflict between multiple experts that needs to be resolved, because they're coming to completely alternate positions about the question of whether the person meets the criteria or not,"
Alan Nichols (left) with his brother.
Favaro referred to a similar situation last year in British Columbia, when Alan Nichols was found fit to request medically-assisted death despite his family arguing that he was depressed and unable to properly give consent.

Favaro asked the Helen Long from the euthanasia lobby group Dying with Dignity who stated that:

partners and other relatives do not have final say in end-of-life decisions.
Favaro also spoke to University of Toronto ethicist, Trudo Lemmens who said that this case raises questions about the safeguards in the MAiD law. He continued:
a person who “may suffer from depression, and who has an application for MAID refused for that reason by medical experts, can shop around and find more lenient physicians to get MAID.” 
“It would be an occasion for the Supreme Court to tighten the criteria and to confirm that there should be appropriate limits on the practice,”
Katherine could not have carried out the legal proceedings or filed an appeal without the financial support of the EPC. She stated that she loved her husband and that she wanted to launch a legal action to prevent her husband's wrongful death, but she could not do so without help.

EPC agreed to pay for the legal bills, but in turn, we need your financial support.

Donate to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition by:
  • Paypal (Link),
  • Call the EPC office at: 1-877-439-3348 to donate by credit card, 
  • Send a cheque to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Box 25033, London ON., N6C 6A8.
EPC needs your donation in this precedent setting case.


Gloria Sihlis said...

I'm so glad his wife is protecting him from making a wrong decision. More people need protection from loving people to put a stop to this especially people who can't make the appropriate decisions. Ultimately, it should be the doctors, but now a lot of doctors believe in euthanasia so who can you trust. The Canadian government has stopped protecting its people from making mistakes a long time ago with all its terrible laws like euthanasia/assisted suicide and abortion. No wonder our country is going down hill fast. Praying for government officials to change this. Thank you Euthanasia Coalition for fighting for this inhumane treatment of Canadians. It's not different then the Jewish Holocaust. It's all murder in God's eyes. Keep up the good work and God bless you.

Nancy said...

Dear Alex,
Thank you so much for supporting this wife. It makes zero sense for an incompetent person to be permitted to kill themselves. Miracles abound on this planet. Take advantage of Jesus' help, people!

Anonymous said...

What were the reasons that the judge set aside the injunction. Can you post them. I was told that a depressed person can still make decisions.

Baron Yves de Menten de Horne, in Belgium. said...

from Yves-Roger, writing from Belgium.
Doctors assisting someone to die are acting against the oath they took at thee end of their medical studies. Suicide is wrong and those assisting people to act as such do not have the right to call themselves "doctor", but rather "murderer". No human beihg has the right to kill another man, full stop.
The only thing I disagree upon with EPC is when I read that 93 % of doctors in my country approve of euthanasia. All the doctors I know certainly do NOT approve, and I know many doctors, since our daughter is a doctor herself. I fully agree with Gloria Sihlis, and thank EPC for their efforts. I dearly love my wife (married 52 years)and would act the same as the wife who is fighting for her husbands life. Good luck to her. My mail address :

Susan said...

Psalm 119: 50
"....Your word has given me life".

Psalm 20: 13
"Thou Shalt Not Kill".