‘Healthcare serial killers’: Man whose father died by assisted death in Canada warns New York against it

euthanasia, assisted suicide

New York lawmakers are considering legalizing assisted suicide, and joining 10 states and the District of Columbia in allowing doctors to participate in the killing of their own patients. But as legislators consider legalization, one man whose father was euthanized in Canada is urging them to vote against it.

Christopher Lyon, though originally from Canada, is a social scientist at the University of York in the United Kingdom. His father died under Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) program, which Lyon described as horrific. He said his father had numerous health problems, albeit none terminal, and had been suicidal. As soon as he was able, his father applied for MAID and was approved. Lyon and his family tried to send information relating to his father’s medical state to the MAID assessors but hit obstacles along the way.

“After he applied, my father seemed to move away from idealized suicide and, adopting the language of MAiD, claimed only vague ‘suffering’ as well as ‘autonomy’ as reasons, citing a changing series of minor complaints about leg pain, constipation, and how he felt that morning. He became elusive and angry when we queried him about remedies that doctors had offered for his ailments, including physiotherapy,” Lyon wrote, adding, “When, at last, I heard from Provider before his death, I asked if she had received our list of concerns and received an evasive response. The provider seemed to want to hurry off the phone and appeared to be in a busy place, like a hospital corridor, as I could hear voices in the background. I therefore only had a few seconds to describe my father’s complex history.”

Eventually, they were referred to a psychiatrist, but that did not help.

“Provider bluntly told me before my father’s evaluation that the psychiatrist would ‘just agree’ and ‘provide cover’ for her, yet also said he would be ineligible for MAiD if mental illness was found,” Lyon said. “However, ‘finding’ mental illness would only be a comorbidity and not a sole diagnosis, given the approval and track move rationales, so this comment does not make sense to me. Despite my advisement that Dad had previously been diagnosed, the provider said she did not think he was depressed.”

Despite their efforts to save him, Lyon’s father was able to undergo MAID, which Lyon said was a horrible experience — so much so that he nicknamed the doctor who killed his father “Death.”

“Death tried one arm and then the other for an injection site, settling on his right side, and sat body-warm beside me on the small, smooth, clinical sofa,” Lyon recalled. “Death then delivered her long poison-parade of prepared syringes, fished out in order from a plastic toolbox – the chemicals, like the box, repurposed for something their makers did not intend. Adrift somewhere on the slow white river of propofol, flowing into him from three or four milk-bottle syringes, Dad disappeared. His warm face blanched and his head lolled where he was left propped upon the bed. It took him twenty minutes to die. Death’s last words to me, just as she left a short time later, were a demand not to bring the concerns or issues I had raised ‘forward’. He was 77.”

READ: Sisters file complaint after ‘non-terminal’ mother was ‘fast-tracked’ for euthanasia

In an op-ed for, Lyon pushed back against current efforts to legalize assisted suicide in New York.

“Under the proposed bill, the patients would self-administer — that is, swallow a lethal dose of prescription medication,” he wrote. “Poisoning is the third most common means of suicide in New York. There is no meaningful difference in method between MAID and many suicides — except for the involvement of physicians and pharmacists in providing the means (with risky complications).”

He continued by pointing out the trauma it causes for surviving families, how easily psychiatric conditions are bypassed, and how many people are approved for MAID in Canada despite being “ineligible” under the law.

“Finally, healthcare serial killers mainly target the same kinds of ill, distressed, disabled patients as those who would be eligible for MAID,” he said. “In Canada, some MAID doctors talk about the adrenaline high and other pleasures they get from MAID and even compare it to a ‘crusade.’ MAID is often promoted as a ‘right’ by its advocates, so its medical reasons or suffering aren’t always the first reason for it; in Canada the suffering doesn’t even have to be real or directly caused by the illness.”

Lyon concluded by asking people to consider what kind of doctors volunteer to actively kill their patients, specifically calling out the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) for supporting legalization.

“Could healthcare and law enforcement services even tell the difference between a serial killer and a MAID physician?” he asked. “New York state lawmakers should avoid Canada’s path and reflect very hard on the implications of MAID for suicide prevention, harm to others, trust in doctors and patient safety.”

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