Tuesday, July 25, 2017

In which an outrage is presented

            In my posts, I pointed out that there were serious social issues not solved before euthanasia was legally permitted in Canada, and that euthanasia would not eliminate those problems once it was introduced.

            There is a situation where a doctor is finding that his patient’s access to euthanasia has been blocked by a mother who refuses access to her terminally ill, suffering daughter. The doctor cannot fulfil his wish of ending the daughter’s suffering because of this shot-blocking. Even a nurse agrees that the daughter is costing the system enough money. The daughter is also an adult.

            That’s the spin.

            That’s how the euthanasia enthusiasts will spin the story.

            What happened was this:

            A mother of a disabled young woman, who requires intense support and care, was approached apparently in November of  last year, and offered euthanasia for her daughter. This was said by the doctor in the daughter’s hearing. The daughter Candace has “spina bifida, cerebral palsy and chronic seizure disorder” according to the article.

            :…last November a doctor in St Anthony suggested she (the mother) should consider assisted suicide for Candace.” The mother considers this mistreatment.  Further “….a docrot told her (the mother) that her daughter was dying and that she had the option to end her life if she wanted.” According to Candace’ mom: “His words were ‘assisted suicide was legal in Canada’ …I was shocked, and said ‘well I’m really not interested’ and he told me I was being selfish.”

            The reason why the doctor said Candace was dying was not investigated by the journalist reporting on the story. We are also assured that “…Candace was within earshot of the conversation – which she said was quite traumatic for her to hear.” So we have someone else, observing, imposing the decision on someone else. Candace was erased from the conversation and treated as chattels for the purpose of medical intimidation.

            That action, the doctor imposing his morals on the mother to kill the daughter, is the essence of dehumanization. And the first step in being able to kill another human being is to dehumanize. The trauma of the announcement of death as appropriate is also glossed over in the article.

            We then learn in the article that ‘After talking with some social workers, Elson (the mother) was told she wouldn’t be able to make a decision on ending the daughter’s life, even if she wanted to.”  Note how this is supposed to make everything palatable in the organizational context. Also notice the last five words: even if she wanted to. This suggests that the mother should want to kill her daughter, and that such a choice  is understandable in the context of the story and the daughter’s situation. Then the journalist notes:  “The decision would have to be made by Candace herself, who is capable of verbally communicating.” (My emphasis.)

            The question now becomes, why was Canace not asked herself? Because the doctor was biased against Candace as a human being independent of her diagnosis. By asking the mother, Candace was assumed, and treated as, incompetent. That lack of interaction is not only dehumanizing, but it is patronizing and disrespectful. The attitude of the doctor must therefore be biased against disabled people generally, and Candace in particular. It is comforting, however, to know that the social workers clarified the issue for Candace’ mother.

Disturbingly, “Elson (the mother) said the incident is just the most recent example of mistreatment she’s experienced from Labrador-Grenfell Health. In one example, she said a nurse referred to her daughter as a ‘frequent flyer’ at the hospital – which she feels is insensitive to say about someone with so many health issues.” That tells us the organization is biased against people with disabilities.

Critical Questions

            The questions must be asked of this situation. First, what would have happened if the doctor had approached Candace without her mother there? Would Candace have said yes, and why?

            Second, what is physically stopping the doctor (or the nurse in question) from killing Candace when her mother was not around? There is nothing stopping this act – which is why disabled people in care are more vulnerable than those without disabilities in care.

            Why is this not being given as an example of a disability hate crime? The doctor clearly imposed his morals on Candace mother. Why do we not know the name of the doctor? What does this person have to hide?

            Why was Candace described as dying in November 2016, when she is alive eight or so months later? Did the doctor make a mistake? And if so, did the doctor use the offer of assisted dying as a way to cover up other mistakes? (I know this is a stretch, but still…)

            After Candace’ mom demanded answers, she got an offer from the hospital to ‘discuss’ the matter. She said, “I didn’t want another family going through what we went through. People like her are being mistreated, and enough is enough”…”I’m not going to let them walk over her and mistreat her anymore.”

            One element is missing from this story: Candace herself. She is questioned in a video which is attached to the story, but that questioning takes less than a minute. We do not know, other than her being traumatized, what Candace thinks of her experience with medical discrimination. Therefore, for the purpose of this narrative, Candace is disenfranchised, disempowered, dehumanized and nearly erased. It is imperative that the journalist speak to Candace and get her detailed side of the story.

            Those who are against medically imposed death should be arguing against this, using it as a proof that what was warned about: coercion and discrimination – has come to pass. The most disturbing question for me is this: had the Candace been killed, would we have heard anything about this story? Or would her death been used as a proof that ‘everything was fine’ when it comes to doctors imposing death on their patients?

            For all the complaining that approving journalists did before we had legalization, and how much whinging they did about what an injustice imposed suffering was, we expect to hear just as detailed and mournful pieces about how disabled people are experiencing coercive discrimination in medical care in Canada. After all, that’s only fair for medical equality, Right?

            As I say, disabled human lives are at stake, yours and mine. You can’t afford to approve of medically imposed death if you disapprove of the way Candace and her mom were treated. Because if you remain silent, you approve of the doctor’s demand and the nurses’ opinion.


SOURCE: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/doctor-suggested-assisted-suicide-daughter-mother-elson-1.4218669

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