Monday, July 11, 2022

A message to the world. Don't legalize euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Recently articles about concerning approvals and deaths by euthanasia (known as MAiD) in Canada have opened the question of have we gone too far in Canada?

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition opposes all MAiD deaths, but sadly, we accurately predicted that once the line in the sand that gives doctors and nurses the right in law to kill their patients was crossed, the rules and reasons for approving medical killing (MAiD) would expand. This is what Canada has experienced.

Dr Ramona Coelho, a family physician who specializes in caring for marginalized people, recently wrote about two cases of premature deaths by MAiD in Ontario. Coelho wrote:

A man was admitted to hospital after suffering a small stroke affecting his balance and swallowing. He was feeling down and isolated due to a COVID-19 outbreak on his ward. The stroke neurologist anticipated he would be able to eat normally and regain most of his balance. Psychiatry diagnosed an adjustment disorder but noted his prognosis was very good. The patient then requested MAiD. Neither of his MAiD assessors had expertise in stroke rehabilitation and recovery. Because he was temporarily eating less, the MAiD assessors decided he could die right away instead of waiting the required 90 days for those living with disabilities despite having no terminal comorbidities. He received MAiD the following week. This man died alone and depressed and before he had tried proper therapy or reached maximal recovery.

A 71-year-old widower was admitted to a Southwestern Ontario hospital after a fall. His family says during his admission he contracted an infectious diarrheal illness. He was humiliated by staff for the smell of his room, his family said. He developed new shortness of breath that was not comprehensively assessed. In this context, a hospital team member suggested he would qualify for MAiD. The team said he had end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and it was terminal. The patient was surprised by the diagnosis but trusted the team. Within 48 hours of his first assessment, he received a medically assisted death. Post-mortem testing showed he did not have end-stage COPD. His family doctor, when notified of his death, also stated he did not have end-stage COPD, but the team had failed to contact her when they were assessing his history.

The first case concerns MAiD assessors who did not have enough knowledge or training to recognize that the patient's prognosis was very good. The patient needed treatment and time to recover, not death by lethal injection.

The second case concerns a hospital team that misdiagnosed the patient. Therefore, his approval and death by lethal injection was based on a misdiagnosis, and to make matters worse, the MAiD team didn't even contact the family doctor who would have told them that the patient was misdiagnosed.

Then there is the case of a woman in BC, known at Kat, who is living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). Kat sought death and was approved for MAiD, not because she wants to die, but because she unsuccessfully fought to receive treatment. She said it was easier to be approved for MAiD than to receive treatment to live. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome cannot be cured, at this time, but Kat is seeking treatment for her symptoms.

In April I wrote about the euthanasia death of a 51-year-old woman with chemical sensitivities. The story by CTV National News Medical Correspondent, Avis Favaro reported that the woman was not terminally ill but living with chronic chemical sensitivities and environmental allergies. Favaro reported:
She died after a frantic effort by friends, supporters and even her doctors to get her safe and affordable housing in Toronto. She also left behind letters showing a desperate two-year search for help, in which she begs local, provincial and federal officials for assistance in finding a home away from the smoke and chemicals wafting through her apartment.

“This person begged for help for years, two years, wrote everywhere, called everywhere, asking for healthy housing,” said Rohini Peris, President of the Environmental Health Association of Québec (ASEQ-EHAQ).

“It’s not that she didn’t want to live,” Peris said from her home in Saint Sauveur, Que. “She couldn’t live that way.”

I stated that the CTV news story represents how MAiD is abandonment. This woman was not killed because of "unremitting suffering" but because she didn't have appropriate housing.

In late April, Favaro reported on a case of a 31-year-old Ontario woman who was also approved for (MAiD) euthanasia for chemical sensitivities. Favaro stated that Denise (not her name) was also diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS):

The chemicals that make her sick, are cigarette smoke, laundry chemicals, and air fresheners. She is at risk of anaphylactic shock and so has EpiPens at all times in case she has a life-threatening allergic attack.

Denise is also a wheelchair user after a spinal cord injury six years ago and has other chronic illnesses. In March 2021, the Canadian government passed Bill C-7 which permitted (MAiD) euthanasia for people who were not terminally ill, but living with chronic conditions. This has resulted in approvals to lethally inject (MAiD) people with treatable chronic conditions and it is exposing the reality that people with chronic conditions are often living in abject poverty and poor living conditions.
According to Favaro, Denise applied for MAiD based on poverty. The good news is that Denise did not die by MAiD because she found a clean place to live.

All of these stories are important as a federal government committee is currently examining the expansion of euthanasia (MAiD) to children, by advanced directive, and they are debating the rules for MAiD given to people with mental illness.

First of all, Canada's federal government needs to re-evaluate the MAiD program. From its inception, Canada's MAiD law employs undefined terms, and it states that the assessor only needs to be 'of the opinion' that a person fits the criteria of the law. Therefore, when cases of questionable euthanasia deaths are identified, the assessor is assured by the law that they cannot be prosecuted.

Secondly, countries that have not legalized euthanasia need to recognize that when the clear line (kill or not kill) is crossed and doctors and/or nurses are legally permitted to kill their patients, that the law will expand in its application. 

There are many reasons why someone may seek death; once death is deemed a reasonable response to human suffering, then more reasons will be approved for death.

Society needs to care for its citizens, not kill its citizens.

Canada is an example of how killing becomes contagious.

Important articles on this topic:

  • Canada's Medical Assistance in Dying law is the most permissive in the world (Link). 
  • 20-year-old man with undiagnosed condition is approved for euthanasia (Link).
  • Euthanasia by advanced directive is a recipe for abuse (Link).
  • BC woman approved for euthanasia but can't access healthcare (Link).
  • Why euthanasia for children is wrong (Link).
  • Euthanasia is out-of-control in Canada (Link).


Voice of Gone Ballistic said...

I hope Jordan Peterson reports on this to his audience.

Francis Lavigne said...

As it stands now, Canadian govt. offers death by euthanasia, even asking MDs who have taken Hippocratic to do everything to preserve life to refer person to another whoor to directly kill a patient, all of which is a failure of govt.
Instezd, be ethical & provide life; support for a better suitable needed aspects of life ie adequate income, suitable affordable housing more & better home support. adequate psychological care or counselling & end of life as needed w/o long waits. More people may choose life. Quit copping out. Sincerely, Francis Lavigne, Fort St. John, BC.

Mary said...

Yes it is so true. I believe Pierre Poilievre, though not pro-life, is in tune with the issues of helping unwed Moms and I expect euthanasia too.
Our PM has no clue about all the implications of MAiD. He just does what he thinks will get him votes regardless of the consequences. A bobble head.