N.S. man pleads for euthanasia laws to end sister's suffering
A Bedford, N.S. man would like the province to adopt euthanasia laws so he can end the life of his sister who is living with Alzheimer’s.
Gord MacInnis says he has watched his 80-year-old sister Joyce slowly deteriorate for years.
“She’s in another world. It’s almost like she’s gone but she’s just there,” he says.
MacInnis say Joyce doesn’t even recognize him anymore, and it’s not the first time he has watched a sibling suffer from Alzheimer’s. Joyce’s twin sister Joan died from the disease eight years ago.
“She can’t walk. She can’t talk,” says MacInnis. “She doesn’t understand anything anymore. She’s just there and that’s it, like a rag doll.”
MacInnis says his sister also suffers from bed sores and, if the law permitted it, she would be a candidate for euthanasia.
“It’s an awful thing to say, but my sister would be better off gone from this world.”
He believes Nova Scotia should adopt a right-to-die bill like the one recently passed in Quebec.
“I think they should have euthanasia. If your mind is gone, or you’re terminally ill, I think it should be your choice,” says MacInnis.
However, the bill passed in Quebec stipulates that patients themselves would have to repeatedly ask a doctor to end their lives on the basis of unbearable physical or psychological suffering. They would have to be deemed mentally sound at the time of the requests.
Francoise Baylis, an ethics professor at Dalhousie University, says Quebec hasn’t passed a euthanasia law, but one that allows for doctor-assisted deaths.
She says MacInnis and his sister wouldn’t qualify for that kind of assistance, even if they were living in Quebec.
“One of the criteria that’s really important is that person has to be asking on their own behalf,” says Baylis.
She says there are six criteria that must be met in Quebec, and a person can’t ask in advance.
“This is not for the person who is already in a demented state and it is not for the competent person who anticipates being in a demented state,” says Baylis.
MacInnis has power of attorney for his sister but, even in Quebec, it would not extend to their new law.
“It’s not for anyone who just wishes assistance in dying, and it’s also not for the family members of anyone who wishes to have assistance in bringing about the death of a family member,” says Baylis.
Nova Scotia Health Minister Leo Glavine says euthanasia is not on the table at the moment.
“I want to work on having the highest quality at end of life through palliative care,” says Glavine.
MacInnis says it is very difficult for him to see his sister in such a condition, and he just wants to take away her pain.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Rick Grant