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Letters to the Editor

05/24/2017

Article on euthanasia misleading to readers

The Editor: The article "Home care agencies becoming euthanasia facilitators" (PM, May 3) is misleading to readers.  The writer suggests that few guidelines exist in the recent Canadian legislation on medical assistance in dying (MAID).  The people she quotes provide incorrect information suggesting, for example, that people living with Alzheimer’s disease or with a disability are particularly at risk. 

The article notes that health providers have no choice but to participate in MAID and that nurses and personal support workers go into homes encouraging patients to opt for medical assistance in dying.  This is not the case.  The legislation provides restrictive eligibility criteria for medical assistance in dying. For one thing it clearly outlines that the person must be competent and capable of making the decision and that the request must be voluntary and not the result of outside pressure or influence. A physician or nurse practitioner must make sure that the eligibility criteria are met and a second physician or nurse practitioner must provide a written opinion confirming the eligibility.  A 10-day reflection period is required from the time of the written consent and withdrawal from the process can take place at any time.   

I have been a volunteer at a hospice for more than ten years and in my experience I have never encountered a medical professional who has attempted to influence patients to request medical assistance in dying.  The impression left in the article is that since the legislation was passed people receiving health care services in facilities or at home are targetted for assisted death.  Inciting fear is not helpful and suggesting that this is the approach in our health system is deceptive.   — Martha Wiebe, Ottawa, ON.