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'Willing to Help Me Die, But Won't Help Me Live': Canadian Paralympian 'Offered Assisted Dying'

© Flickr / Alberto BiscalchinEuthanasia
Euthanasia - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.12.2022
Canada’s Minister of Veterans Affairs Lawrence MacAulay testified to a parliamentary committee on November 24 that his department had uncovered four instances of medical assistance in dying (MAID) being offered to veterans during an internal investigation in the wake of reporting on the issue in the summer of 2021.
Instead of helping a Canadian Army veteran and former Paralympian finally have a wheelchair lift installed in her home, a Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) staff member offered the woman a different option - medical assistance in dying (MAID), local media reported.
Retired Army Corporal Christine Gauthier, who sustained severe injuries during a training accident in 1989, had been trying to get the ramp fitted for five years, but to no avail. When the “shocked and in despair" Gauthier offered a detailed account of her worsening condition to a VAC case worker, the person reportedly said, “Well, you know that we can assist you with assisted dying now if you'd like.”

“And I was just shocked because I was like, 'Are you serious?' Like that easy, you're going to be helping me to die but you won't help me to live?" the paraplegic, who competed for Canada as a para-canoeist at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics and the Invictus Games, told the House of Commons on December 1.

The woman added that she had laid out her concerns about the assisted dying offer in a letter to Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay.
© AP Photo / John RaouxFormer President George W. Bush presents a gold medal in women's powerlifting to Canada's Christine Gauthier at the Invictus Games on May 9, 2016.
Former President George W. Bush presents a gold medal in women's powerlifting to Canada's Christine Gauthier at the Invictus Games on May 9, 2016. - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.12.2022
Former President George W. Bush presents a gold medal in women's powerlifting to Canada's Christine Gauthier at the Invictus Games on May 9, 2016.
Veterans Affairs is looking into the matter "very seriously," a spokesperson for MacAulay was cited as saying on Friday.
"Our employees have no role or mandate to recommend or raise it. Considerations for MAID are the subject of discussions between a patient and their primary care providers to determine appropriateness in each individual context," the press secretary for MacAulay's office underscored in a media statement.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in on the report, particularly as it appeared to follow other similar incidents. He said the government would be "following up with investigations" in light of the "absolutely unacceptable" episode with Gauthier.
The PM said that the protocols would be revised to ensure "what should seem obvious to all of us: that it is not the place of Veterans Affairs Canada, who are supposed to be there to support those people who stepped up to serve their country, to offer them medical assistance in dying."
Last summer, Canadian media first reported about a case where a veteran was purportedly pressured by a Veterans Affairs case worker to consider medically assisted dying. This had prompted Lawrence MacAulay to order an internal investigation, which discovered four such cases taking place between 2019 and May 2022, and all purportedly leading to one and the same staff member.
During his own testimony on Thursday, the veterans minister said the cases linked to the aforementioned case worker had been referred to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
"If any of the veterans in question are watching or listening right now, I am sorry. I am sorry you had to endure these appalling interactions and we are doing everything we can to ensure this never happens again," MacAulay stated on November 24.
Assisted suicide is the act of deliberately assisting another person to kill themselves. The Parliament of Canada passed federal legislation in June 2016 allowing eligible Canadian adults to request medical assistance in dying. In 2021, the law was expanded to offer the option to patients with chronic, “grievous and irremediable” conditions and physical disabilities even if they are not terminally ill and whose natural death "is not believed to be imminent."
Canada - one of 12 countries, along with a number of US states, where assisted death is permitted under certain qualifying conditions - registered 31,664 assisted deaths as of December of 2021.
Euthanasia - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.10.2017
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