The Quebec government is considering allowing people with Alzheimer's to be euthanized without their consent
Human Rights

Quebec government considers allowing people with Alzheimer’s to be euthanized without their consent

euthanasia, vegetative state, pregnancy

In 2015, Canada officially legalized assisted suicide. And the number of people taking advantage of it is huge — in Quebec alone, there were over 600 cases of assisted suicide from 2016-2017. (In contrast, only 167 people were euthanized in the six months after it was legalized in 2015.) And it may be about to get far, far worse.

Quebec residents are evidently asking for the government to allow people to euthanize their family members with diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s, even without their consent. Veronique Hivon, of the Parti Quebecois, said that “a lot of people” have asked her to change the law, which currently forbids such a practice. “According to the evidence, the numbers confirm that the law is responding to a need of people at the end of their life, who are suffering and who want access to this option,” Hivon said. “There is a very clear desire within the population to debate expanding the legislation. We need this debate to happen.”

Hivon used Michel Cadotte as an example. Cadotte is facing second-degree murder charges for killing his wife, who was living with Alzheimer’s in a long-term care facility. His wife had allegedly requested assisted suicide, but was denied, as she was not yet terminally ill. The “problem,” according to Hivon,” is that by the time someone with Alzheimer’s is terminally ill, they are not mentally fit to request assisted suicide. So the answer, for her, is to amend the law and allow people like Cadotte to make the request for them.

While it may be easy to write this disturbing mindset off if it were just one politician advocating for this, unfortunately, the government is actively considering the proposal. Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette said that a “panel of experts” will be assembled to consider the “complex question” of expanding the law to allow family members to make euthanasia requests for someone deemed “legally and clinically unfit.”

Let that sink in: the Quebec government is considering allowing family members to request assisted suicide for someone deemed “legally and clinically unfit.”

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That such a thing could possibly be allowed is unthinkable, and is rife with the potential for abuse. Who would determine if someone is “legally and clinically unfit”? And what would the safeguards be to prevent parents, spouses, and adult children from euthanizing a family member who, perhaps, had dementia but is otherwise not physically ill and does not wish to die? What prevents a parent from deciding to euthanize his or her severely disabled child because he or she feel the child’s quality of life is not good enough? After all, Canada is already considering allowing children to be euthanized.

Make no mistake, if the law was expanded as suggested, it would be abused. We are already seeing that now, with doctors pressuring parents to euthanize their disabled children. The government is also already putting a formal study into place to determine whether or not people with mental illness should be allowed to undergo assisted suicide. And many Canadians already support people like Cadotte, and Robert Latimer. Latimer is a father who murdered his daughter because she had cerebral palsy; Latimer was given a short prison sentence and was defended by many Canadians. Latimer, of course, supports legalizing euthanasia.

What, in this new, expanded, law would prevent the Michel Cadottes and Robert Latimers of the world from euthanizing any family member they deem to be inconvenient or worthless, whose lives they decide are not worth living? And what will happen to people don’t want to be euthanized, even as their family members decide they should be?

To say that this is disturbing is an understatement. And such a law cannot be allowed to pass.

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