A man hospitalised by a medical condition for six years has claimed staff suggested he should consider ending his life under Canada’s assisted suicide law.
Roger Foley, who has the debilitating condition cerebellar ataxia, alleges nurses at Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario, recommended he opt for so-called Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID).
Canada legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide in 2016, but has already scrapped the requirement for a person to be terminally ill and will extend the law to those with a mental illness from March 2023.
‘Better off dead’
Speaking to the New York Post, Foley said: “I’ve been pressured to do an assisted suicide”, adding: “Nurses here told me that I should end my life.”
The 47-year-old said that people with a disability “should be treated equally and celebrated for their strength and diversity and difference”, but, he concluded: “Society deems us better off dead.”
Foley launched legal action against the hospital — and others — in 2018, arguing that the defendants had subjected him to “intolerable suffering” and pushed “assisted dying instead of assistance in living”.
Society deems us better off dead.
Earlier this year, Canadian police launched an investigation into the assisted suicide of a 61-year-old woman after her daughters said she was not able to provide consent due to her mental health.
Donna Duncan suffered concussion from a car accident in February 2020, which led to her gradual physical and mental decline until her death in October last year. Her doctor had refused her assisted suicide application, saying her “mental health really needs to be treated”, but it was subsequently granted by other practitioners.
Her death was scheduled for just two days later. In contrast, her daughter Christie Duncan said it had taken “months and months” for her to access treatment for complications resulting from the accident.
And recently Amir Farsoud, a disabled man in the Canadian city of St. Catharines who faces losing his home, told CityNews network he had applied for MAID as an alternative to being made homeless.
Last month, Liam McArthur MSP confirmed he had secured the right to introduce his Assisted Dying (Scotland) Bill to Holyrood, after it gained sufficient cross-party support from parliamentarians.
McArthur’s plan would allow anyone aged 16 or over who is deemed terminally ill and has been resident in Scotland for twelve months to receive help to take their own lives.
Care Not Killing, the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church all fear that removing end-of-life protections will put pressure on disabled, sick and frail people to seek help to kill themselves.