Introduction

Webcast archive: Recap of summer news

This week, we discuss news from the summer, including Daniel Pilote's lawsuits, new audio clips released by Roger Foley, and Robert Latimer's request for a new trial or a pardon of his murder charges.

Webcast archive: Recap of summer news

In this episode of Euthanasia & Disability, Amy Hasbrouck, Christian Debray, and Taylor Hyatt discuss:

  • Webcast mission: accomplished and ongoing
  • Recap of news from the summer

Please note that this text is only a script and that our webcast contains additional commentary.

WEBCAST MISSION: ACCOMPLISHED AND ONGOING

  • Welcome to a new season of our webcast. One of the goals we had when we launched Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet in 2013 was to create a collection of information, in English and French, about the disability rights-based opposition to assisted suicide, euthanasia and other ending-of-life practices.
  • One part of that effort has been our webcasts.  For five years now we’ve been doing weekly webcasts, in English and French, on the stakes for people with disabilities of laws and policies that allow euthanasia and assisted suicide.  Also, since 2015, we’ve been sending the script to our subscribers, as a way to keep in touch and make the text accessible for people who don’t hear.
  • We followed the adoption of the euthanasia laws in Québec and Canada, euthanasia of ineligible people in Québec, the failure to properly monitor the practice across the country, and continuing efforts to widen eligibility criteria.  We’ve also tried to explain, in simple and accessible language, complex and important topics in the field of ending-of-life ethics.  Over five years we’ve produced about 350 30-minute webcasts.
  • Hopefully the webcasts will serve as an helpful resource for advocates, researchers, and anyone who wants more information  about assisted suicide, euthanasia and related topics.

RECAP OF NEWS FROM THE SUMMER

  • This week, we’ll be doing a quick recap of the most important assisted suicide-related news that broke over the summer.

In June:

In July:

  • TVNDY submitted comments for a consultation on palliative care held by the federal government. We submitted a paper describing the impact of palliative care on ill and disabled people, specialized training needed for caregivers and health care providers, problems in accessing palliative care and ways to provide that care in a person-centred way.
  • On July 10, Daniel Pilote, a resident of a long-term care facility in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, along with the Conseil pour la protection des malades, filed a class-action lawsuit against the Québec government over the deplorable and dangerous living conditions in Québec’s nursing homes.  The lawsuit lists 22 examples of living conditions the plaintiffs find unacceptable; everything from problems with food, inadequate staffing levels to poor hygiene and a lack of air conditioning.
  • Robert Latimer asked Canada’s Justice Minister for a new trial, or a pardon of his murder conviction for killing his disabled daughter Tracy in 1993. Taylor wrote a blog on the sense of kinship she feels with Tracy, and what it was like to grow up hearing Tracy’s name in the news. She was also interviewed for an article in Maclean’s Magazine. In addition, TVNDY is working on a letter to the Justice Department explaining the reasons we believe the request should be denied.
  • Health Canada released the final version of its regulations to monitor euthanasia and assisted suicide.  Unfortunately, they didn’t take many of TVNDY’s suggestions or critiques into account. The regulations still reduce complex information to checkboxes or drop-down menus when reporting assisted suicide and euthanasia, which don’t provide a complete picture of the reasons behind the requests. Instead of detailed demographic information, Health Canada relies on postal codes, as well as information submitted to the federal government through other channels (like tax records and census forms). Again, this doesn’t say much about the external pressures and life circumstances that make assisted suicide seem attractive.
    • The health minister emphasizes that “investigating instances of non-compliance with the eligibility criteria and procedural safeguards … falls outside of the scope of the federal monitoring regime,” and is up to local law enforcement.  So much for the “carefully-designed system (for assisted suicide and euthanasia) imposing stringent limits that are scrupulously monitored and enforced” called for by the Supreme Court.
  • Roger Foley – the London, Ontario man who has lived in his local hospital for two years after being provided with inadequate and even dangerous home care services – has released audio and video footage of doctors offering assisted suicide as the “solution” to his problems.

In August:

  • A bill that would have legalized assisted suicide throughout Australia was defeated in the country’s Senate – by two votes, after two senators who were initially in favour of it changed their minds. Pat Dodson, a senator from the Labor party who opposed the bill, mentioned that the introduction of legal assisted suicide would only add to the biases and systemic disadvantages faced by Indigenous Australians.
  • The Dutch doctor who slipped a sedative into coffee given to a woman with dementia, and asked the woman’s family to hold her down so her euthanasia procedure could be completed, was “reprimanded”  last month by the Dutch board that investigates medical complaints. This is the first time that a practitioner has been reprimanded since the Netherlands’ euthanasia law was passed in 2002. According to local news reports, “the public prosecutor will announce after the summer if the doctor will face criminal prosecution.”