Police are investigating after two Canadian women are claiming that their mother received assisted suicide despite the fact that her mental health should have disqualified her from the procedure.
According to CTV News, Alicia and Christie Duncan have requested a police investigation into the death of their mother, Donna Duncan, who died by assisted suicide in October 2021 under the country’s Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD) laws. The sisters say that their mother suffered a concussion in a car accident in 2020 that left her acting “out of character.”
Alicia and Christie explained that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the treatment Donna was able to receive following her accident. “It was March and that’s when the COVID shutdown happened. So she didn’t have treatment for months and months,” said Christie. Their mother had symptoms consistent with post-concussion syndrome, and she suffered from irritability, anxiety, and depression. She also started losing weight and refused to stay on medication for any significant length of time.
READ: Pro-euthanasia group wants to force religious medical facilities to commit assisted suicide
After a year of undergoing tests, no specific cause of her physical pain was identified, but Donna’s condition worsened. At that time, she asked her physician, Dr. Parin Patel, to approve her for MAiD, but he refused, noting that Donna’s “mental health really needs to be treated.” Donna was then referred to a psychiatrist, Dr. Abid Khattak, who also noted that Donna needed to give medication a chance to work. His notes from the time state, “her feeling that this is all physical is so strong that unless she is made aware that treating the mental health condition is a process and takes time… it would take weeks to months to realize the improvements.”
Despite the recommendations from the two doctors, Donna went to Fraser Health in British Columbia to request MAiD, and she very quickly received approval from two practitioners. Alicia and Christie say that she texted them on October 22 to let them know that she was approved for death on October 26.
“She said, I’ve been approved…. and she said, ‘yes in 48 hours’ and I just started crying and was in complete shock,” said Christie.
While the sisters tried to stop the procedure, Donna was ultimately allowed to take her own life — something they say should never have been allowed. “She hasn’t been properly assessed. I really felt that had she been forced to take antidepressants… I think our mom would be alive,” said Alicia.
“If my mother had not been suffering from mental illness, she would [not have] thought this. She is a two-time cancer survivor. She would have survived this, but she was not in a place mentally to be able to make that decision subjectively,” said Christie.
The case also drew the attention of Trudo Lemmens, a University of Toronto law professor studying MAID in Canada, who called the speed at which Donna’s death was approved “concerning.”
The sisters are now fighting to improve Canada’s laws surrounding MAiD. “I don’t want this to ever happen to another family ever again. And ultimately I want stronger laws and legislation,” said Alicia.
“Our hope is that we can enlighten others about the shocking legislation that leaves Canada’s euthanasia deaths among the highest in the world. These already lax laws are relaxing even further in 2022. We should all be very concerned,” the sisters said.
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