World’s leading expert in palliative care tells of horrific Assisted Dying in her native Canada.

Professor Leonie Herx is one of the world’s leading health experts in palliative care and tells of the horrific effects of the Assisted Dying programme in her native Canada.  It’s reported in Scottish newspaper The Herald.

She has been visiting Scotland to address politicians as the Assisted Dying Bill proposed by the Lib Dem MSP Liam McArthur makes its way through Holyrood. A letter sent by more than 150 Scottish health care professionals to the Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has expressed deep-rooted concerns about the bill and says that the existing law should remain unchanged.

According to Professor Herx similar concerns raised in Canada about their MaiD (Medical aid in Dying) legislation have materialised to a chilling and sinister extent.

If you’re not contributing to society, you’re now a cost burden.

Those considered incapable of fully “contributing” to society are now deemed a cost burden and, as such, have found themselves in the crosshairs of a capitalistic and predatory euthanasia programme.

“In Canada, we’ve been living in a regime of assisted dying for six and a half years and the reality of where we’ve ended up is not what was intended when we started. It’s quite horrific, actually and so it’s important for those considering this type of legislation in Scotland to get a full picture and consider all the unintended consequences of it.

The most vulnerable people being caught in the net.

“Most troubling of these is that the legislation has expanded well beyond what we were told would only be very rare and extreme cases of suffering, it’s society’s most vulnerable groups who are being caught in the net.

“It’s now become very difficult in palliative care to do our work when medically assisted dying becomes a default solution for some patients. In the past, when people said ‘I can’t go on like this’ we’d have brought in the palliative care team to look at all facets of that individual’s suffering. Now it’s too often understood and interpreted as a request for euthanasia.

Euthanasia saving millions of dollars per year on health care.

“In Canada, our parliamentary budget office assessed the cost of expanding the legislation and found it would save the Canadian Government hundreds of millions of dollars per year on healthcare.

Patients being prescribed euthanasia

Reports are now emerging of health care administrators advising euthanasia as an option to patients because the cost of their care is considered too high.

“At the outset, we were told that a ‘carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards’ would limit harm and any risk of wrongful death of vulnerable persons. Yet, every year since, there have been documented cases of non-compliance with safeguards and misapplication of both law and policy.”

“In 2016 Canadians were told that legalised assisted dying would be reserved only for exceptional circumstances of intolerable suffering. Yet it’s since been incrementally expanded by subjective and loose interpretations of the law.

Euthanised  because can’t afford to live. 

As the initial parameters have expanded, Canada has begun to witness increasing numbers of cases where people have been requesting euthanasia because of extreme poverty, lack of access to housing and their inability to afford access to basic care home facilities. Underpinning much of this has been a sense of despair brought on by loneliness and depression.

“It’s characteristic of a very ableist and ageist society that our healthcare system is discriminatory against them. Now we just offer death as an easy and cost-effective way out.

Military veterans with PTSD being offered euthanasia instead of treatment

“Military veterans who are suffering from PTSD and having suicidal thoughts are being offered euthanasia by case workers. There’s now an inquiry into why so many of these brave people who had risked their lives for their country were being offered this. People are shocked by how quickly we got here.

Palliative care works

“I’ve been practising palliative medicine for 16 years and I’ve yet to encounter someone whom I’ve been unable to help make comfortable at the end of their life. We have exquisite tools that are improving all the time to assess patients’ needs and medications to help different and complex suites of symptoms. These can be therapeutically delivered along with constant assessment and reassessment of potential side effects.

‘People driving this are wealthy individuals who want control over their life and death.

“The Canadian disability community believes that the people driving this are often white, worried, wealthy individuals who want control over their own life and death. One of my fellow palliative care specialists calls this ‘privileged autonomy.’

“It’s the ultimate designer accoutrement available to those who have who have the means and resources to remain healthy for longer: the privilege of designing their own deaths. Those with far less and with far less chance of living healthily have no such luxury.’

Don’t let this happen here in the UK, in Scotland or anywhere.  People are more precious than money.

Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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