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Euthanasia to escape lockdown in Canada

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24th November 2020

Elderly Canadian woman euthanised to avoid COVID lockdown, a “shocking” development warns CNK

Date: Tuesday 24th November 2020

Release time: Immediate

An elderly woman, who was not chronically ill or dying has been euthanised to avoid living through another COVID-19 lockdown, according to news reports.

CTV News, Medical Correspondent, Avis Favaro reported that 90-year-old Nancy Russell died last month by euthanasia (MAiD) to avoid living through another COVID-19 lock-down, despite the long-term care resident not being disabled, chronically ill or dying.

Mrs Russell was described by her family as exceptionally social and spry, was one such person. Her family says she chose a medically-assisted death (MAID) after she declined so sharply during lockdown that she didn't want to go through more isolation this winter.

Current Canadian euthanasia legislation, passed in 2016, is supposed to be limited to the terminally ill, however last year a court struck down the requirement that a person be terminally ill before they qualify for euthanasia. This followed the case of Alan Nichols, a former school caretaker who was physically healthy, but struggled with depression. His life was ended by lethal injection in July. Or the case of Roger Foley, a disabled man who was repeatedly offered the drugs to kill himself, while being denied the social care he needed to live a dignified life, due to the cost.

Canadian parliamentarians are still debating how far any change should be made, with Bill C-7, which would see euthanasia extended to the those who are terminally ill, disabled people and even those with mental health problems.

Responding to the report, Dr Gordon Macdonald, Chief Executive of Care Not Killing commented:

'This is a shocking story, that highlights how quickly well-meaning, but dangerous changes, put forward under the false premise of alleviating suffering, can spin out of control.

'In Canada we have seen the rapid increase in the number of people being euthanised and an expansion, ahead of legislative changes, of those who are having their lives ended. In the case of Alan Nichols case, this was done even before the Courts struck down the legal safeguard that limited euthanasia to the terminally ill.

'Closer to home, we see how laws introduced in the Netherlands or Belgium, which were also supposed to be limited to mentally competent terminally ill adults, now include non-mentally competent adults and children, profoundly disabled people, and even those with treatable psychiatric problems such as depression and anorexia. In the Netherlands, there was a 600% increase in cases of euthanasia of patients owing to psychiatric conditions between 2012 and 2017.

'Our current laws here in the UK, which ban both assisted suicide and euthanasia exist to protect those who are sick, elderly, depressed or disabled from feeling obliged to end their lives - People like Nancy Russell who clearly felt alone, depressed and a burden, unable to cope with the isolation and restrictions of another COVID lockdown.

'The current laws protect those who have no voice against exploitation and coercion and those who care for them who might come under pressure to save money on care costs. They do not need changing.'

For media inquiries, please call 07970 162225.


Editors Notes

Care Not Killing is a UK-based alliance bringing together over 40 organisations - human rights and disability rights organisations, health care and palliative care groups, faith-based organisations groups - and thousands of concerned individuals.

We have three key aims:

  • to promote more and better palliative care;
  • to ensure that existing laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide are not weakened or repealed;
  • to inform public opinion further against any weakening of the law.

*As this story is dealing with suicide, please could we ask that you include details about organisations that offer help and support to vulnerable people who might be feeling suicidal such as the Samaritans, CALM or similar - Thank you.*

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