Should Quebec’s Alzheimer’s patients be eligible for euthanasia?
by Michael Cook | 25 Feb 2017 |
Quebec is about to embark upon a debate on the involuntary euthanasia of demented elderly after a 55-year-old man in Montreal allegedly smothered his Alzheimer’s stricken wife and posted what he had done on Facebook. Michel Cadotte was charged with second-degree murder after his 60-year-old wife died in an assisted care facility.
He said on Facebook that he had "cracked" and "consented to her demands to help her die." Although the facts are not clear yet, the media has reported that the woman requested medical aid in dying but was refused.
Under Quebec’s 2015 law, euthanasia for the demented is specifically excluded. “A person who makes a request for medical assistance in dying must be capable of consent,” Jean-Pierre Ménard, a Montreal medical lawyer, told the Montreal Gazette. “This means the patient must understand their state of health and can express their will. A patient with advanced Alzheimer’s no longer has the capacity to consent, no longer has the cognitive capacity to understand.”
The Gazette reports that Quebec parliamentarians now want to open a public debate on legalizing euthanasia for persons unable to give informed consent. This debate about extending eligibility for euthanasia is happening just a bit more than a year after the law came into effect.
The Quebec Alzheimer’s Society contends that demented patients need to be protected. "It's very difficult with the complexity of dementia to know for sure what a person with dementia would want today," April Hayward, of the Society told CTV News. "They may have expressed a wish ten years ago and do we know for certain that's what they would want today?"
We’ve often blamed the pharmaceutical industry for medicalising the normal ups and downs of life. But journalists are not above disease-mongering. I’ve just noticed a promising new ailment to which members of the Fourth Estate themselves are particularly susceptible: post-election stress disorder.
According to columnist in Psychology Today, “Countless Americans are reporting feeling triggered, traumatized, on edge, anxious, sleepless, angry, hopeless, avoidant of connection, alone, and suddenly haunted by past traumas they believed they had buried” because of the Trump election.
As of now, no pharmaceutical company is marketing a drug to cure these anxieties. Instead, therapists are recommending a range of behavioural strategies for dealing with the stress. “I advise my clients and friends affected by the election and its aftermath to reach out, connect, affiliate and show compassion for those similarly affected,” wrote Steven Stosny in the Washington Post.
Some people are indignant that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after battle is being compared to discouragement after an election loss. Republican Congressman Brian Mast lost both legs in Iraq because of a roadside bomb. Let him have the last word:
There was a big missed opportunity in naming it ‘Post-Election Stress Disorder,'” he says. “I would have preferred they name it ‘Post-Inauguration Stress Disorder,’ that way they could have called it ‘PISD.’ There’s a big difference between being pissed off about things and what happens on the battlefield.”
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