Assisted suicide/euthanasia case is a recipe for elder abuse and a threat to individual patient rights

VANCOUVER, Nov. 9, 2011 /CNW/ - On November 14, 2011, trial will begin in Carter v. Attorney General of Canada, which seeks to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia. Last year, Parliament defeated a bill seeking a similar result. The vote was 228 to 59. EPC was an instrumental force in obtaining this overwhelming defeat.   EPC and EPC - BC have intervenor standing in Carter. They oppose assisted suicide because legalization is a recipe for elder abuse and a threat to individual patient rights.  

A recipe for elder abuse   

Will Johnston, a Vancouver physician and Chair of the EPC - BC states:

"I see elder abuse in my practice, often perpetrated by family members and caregivers. A desire for money or an inheritance is typical. To make it worse, the victims protect the perpetrators. In one case, an older woman knew that her son was robbing her blind and lied to protect him. Why? Family loyalty, shame, and fear that confronting the abuser will cost love and care.

Under current law, abusers take their victims to the bank and to the lawyer for a new will. With legal assisted suicide, the next stop would be the doctor’s office for a lethal prescription. How exactly are we going to detect the victimization when we can’t do it now?"

If assisted suicide were to be legalized under Carter's Amended Notice of Civil Claim, new paths of abuse would be created. A more obvious path is due to a lack of oversight when the lethal dose is administered. This situation creates an opportunity for a family member or someone else to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent. Even if he struggled, who could know?

Preventing elder abuse is official Government of Canada policy.

A threat to individual patient rights

In Oregon, where assisted suicide has been legal since 1997, people desiring treatment under the Oregon Health Plan have been offered assisted suicide instead.  The most well known cases involve Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup.  Each wanted treatment.  The Plan offered them assisted suicide instead.

Neither Wagner nor Stroup saw this scenario as a celebration of their individual rights.  Wagner said: “I'm not ready to die.”  Stroup said: “This is my life they’re playing with.”

Wagner and Stroup were steered to suicide. Moreover, it was the Oregon Health Plan, a government entity, doing the steering. If assisted suicide were to be legalized in Canada, the Canadian health care system would be similarly empowered to steer patients to suicide.

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of EPC, states: "With legal assisted suicide, the healthcare system, doctors and the government would be empowered, not individual patients."  

Learn more  

To learn more about problems with the Carter case, click here:    

SOURCE Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada (EPC)

For further information:


Will Johnston, MD, (604) 220 2042
Alex Schadenberg, (519) 851 1434

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Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada (EPC)

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