Children of Alzheimer’s patient spur mainstream media to champion her death
VANCOUVER, July 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The children of an 82-year-old woman with advanced-stage Alzheimer’s Disease are fuming that a care home has refused to honour their mother’s previously made “living will” that she be “euthanized” when her condition “deteriorated”.
Margot Bentley, a registered nurse in British Columbua who tended patients with Alzheimer’s, detailed in her 1991 living will that she be euthanized if she reached a similar state.
Described by her daughter as a “strong advocate of dying with dignity”, Bentley stated in the will: “I direct that I be allowed to die and not be kept alive by artificial means or ‘heroic measures,’” specifying that care workers were not to dispense any “nourishment or liquids”.
“[If] I am unable to recognize the members of my family, I ask that I be euthanized,” she wrote.
Daughter Katherine Hammond, named as a proxy in her mother’s living will, approached Maplewood House care home in November, 2011, requesting that her mother’s request be put into practice, reported the National Post.
When Hammond asked the care home in Abbotsford, B.C., to stop feeding her mother so that she would die, the Fraser Health Authority (FHA) intervened to save Bentley from being abused by neglect.
FHA's adult abuse and neglect department wrote Hammond in December 2011: "From Fraser Health's clinical knowledge of Margot, we know that if Margot is not fed by hand by a caregiver then her basic nutritional needs will not be met. This failure to provide Margot with her basic nutritional needs will meet with the definition of 'neglect' in the Adult Guardianship Act."
The FHA told Hammond that if she continued demanding that her mother be euthanized by withdrawing food and water then it would go to court to assume guardianship of her mother.
Hammond backed down at the time but has now turned to the court of public opinion to champion her mother’s ultimate demise.
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“[She’s in] the very state she desperately wanted to avoid,” Hammond told Vancouver Sun.
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told LifeSiteNews.com that intentional death by dehydration is “ethically the same as euthanasia.”
Schadenberg said that doctors in Canada cannot be forced to do something to a patient “when the doctor is convinced that the treatment is futile or unethical”.
“In the same way, caregivers should not be forced to act in a manner that they are convinced is unethical,” he said.
While euthanasia is prohibited by the federal Criminal Code, liberal governments, courts, and mainstream media have eagerly highlighted cases such as Bentley’s, swaying public opinion to accept state-sanctioned death.
Last year, Justice Lynn Smith struck down the prohibition against assisted suicide in the B.C. Carter case.
Smith argued that since suicide is technically legal in Canada, the ban on assisted suicide is “unconstitutional,” because it prevents the disabled from getting the help they may need to kill themselves.
The Conservative government appealed the decision, saying that the law against assisted suicide exists to “protect all Canadians, including the most vulnerable members of our society, such as those who are sick or elderly and persons with disabilities.”
The case is still winding its way through the courts.
Quebec introduced last month a bill that would legalize euthanasia throughout the province as “medical aid in dying”.
Life and family leaders around the country slammed the move as “dangerous”, “opposed to social justice” and an “abandonment of people”.
Ethicists define euthanasia is any action or omission which intentionally causes someone’s death, usually performed with the motive of eliminating suffering.
The Catholic Church teaches that since God is the author of life, every human life is sacred and has a divine purpose that makes it worthy of the greatest respect and dignity.
In a 2004 Congress on Life-Sustaining Treatments and the Vegetative State, the late John Paul II called euthanasia a “serious violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person”. [Emphasis in original.]
He said that care providers have an unequivocally moral obligation to provide permanent vegetative state patients with food and water, even when these are supplied through a feeding tube.
“I should like particularly to underline how the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act.”
“Its use, furthermore, should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate, and as such morally obligatory, insofar as and until it is seen to have attained its proper finality, which in the present case consists in providing nourishment to the patient and alleviation of his suffering,” he said.