For immediate release.
Montreal, February 27, 2017. A man kills his wife in a fit of rage, or discouragement, or desperation. We may know with time what made Michel Cadotte crack (“craquer”, as he posted on Facebook after the deed); all we know now is that a vulnerable woman was killed, and by her own husband. We are saddened by Jocelyne Lizotte’s death.
We are outraged at the isolation experienced by her husband (“Personne ne m’a demandé comment je vais”) and by so many family caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
But what is most shocking and worrisome is the reaction of all the politicians whose “solution” to this crisis is to propose euthanasia by advance directive for people with dementia.
Most people with dementia rapidly lose awareness that there is anything wrong with their cognition. The vast majority are happy if they feel secure and are treated as welcome members of society, their family, or the residential setting where they live; they suffer if treated with disrespect. In our medical practices we see outstanding examples of patients who are loved and cared for – and heart-wrenching examples of neglect and abuse. What kind of help and resources is our Health Minister, Gaétan Barrette, offering Quebecers with dementia and their caregivers in response to this event?
Imagine killing someone who is not asking to be killed, in cold blood, because at another moment of her life she put in writing a fear of being as she is now. It happened not long ago in the Netherlands: a woman was sedated without her knowledge and then held down by her family as she struggled against the lethal injection. This is not compassion or self-determination. This kind of ruthless pity leads to murder.
The lobby for euthanasia by advance directive is driven by healthy middle-aged people who are afraid of the consequences of advanced age. They think they would rather be dead than live with impaired cognition, or mobility, or any limitation to their lifestyle. They will change their minds. In several studies patients with dementia consistently rate their quality of life higher than do their caregivers.
The Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia wants to be part of the debate about this that will be organized by the Couillard government. We want ways to support caregivers so they’re not driven to kill their loved ones.
The Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia was founded in 2012 by 24 Quebec doctors and now has over 800 members. The Alliance seeks to ensure the availability of quality medical care and respectful decision-making for vulnerable patients in all care settings. We are especially concerned about ensuring the security of all patients who are at risk of pressure to end their lives prematurely through euthanasia or assisted suicide, and protecting the professional integrity of all health care workers.
For further information:
Collectif des médecins contre l’euthanasie/ Physicians’ Alliance against EuthanasiaShare