An elderly woman in Canada has been euthanised to avoid having to live through another COVID-19 lockdown.
90-year-old Nancy Russell ended her life by euthanasia last month in Toronto, Canada so that she did not have to endure another lockdown, despite the fact that she was neither chronically nor terminally ill.
According to a report in CTVNews, during the lockdown, which, like the UK has gone through periods of greater and lesser intensity, residents “eat meals in their rooms, have activities and social gatherings cancelled, family visits curtailed or eliminated. Sometimes they are in isolation in their small rooms for days. These measures, aimed at saving lives, can sometimes be detrimental enough to the overall health of residents that they find themselves looking into other options”.
The first wave of Government COVID-19 restrictions in March ended her daily walks, library visits and all the activities in her Toronto retirement home.
It was contact with people that was like food to her, it was like, oxygen.
Her daughter Tory said: “She, almost overnight, went from a very active lifestyle to a very limited life, and they had, very early on, a complete two-week confinement just to her room”.
“She was just drooping. It was contact with people that was like food to her, it was like, oxygen. She would be just tired all the time because she was under-stimulated”.
“She just truly did not believe that she wanted to try another one of those two-week confinements into her room”, her daughter said.
Ms Russell was subsequently euthanised by lethal injection on 20th October. According to her daughter, she did this to “avoid a great fear of hers, which was to endure winter and lockdowns”.
Responding to this case, Dr Gordon Macdonald, Chief Executive of Care Not Killing said: “This is a shocking story, that highlights how quickly well-meaning, but dangerous changes, put forward under the false premise of alleviating suffering, can spin out of control”.
“In Canada we have seen the rapid increase in the number of people being euthanised and an expansion, ahead of legislative changes, of those who are having their lives ended”.
“Our current laws here in the UK, which ban both assisted suicide and euthanasia exist to protect those who are sick, elderly, depressed or disabled from feeling obliged to end their lives – people like Nancy Russell who clearly felt alone, depressed and a burden, unable to cope with the isolation and restrictions of another COVID lockdown”.
“The current laws protect those who have no voice against exploitation and coercion and those who care for them who might come under pressure to save money on care costs. They do not need changing”.
Expanding euthanasia law
Euthanasia has been legal in Canada since 2016. Last year however, following the euthanising of Alan Nichols, a former school caretaker who was physically healthy, but struggled with depression, the legal requirement that a person be terminally ill before administration of euthanasia was dropped.
Bill C-7 which is currently being debated in the Canadian Parliament intends to further extend euthanasia legislation to people with disabilities and those with mental health problems.
Expansion of euthanasia legislation is common in other countries too. In the Netherlands, where euthanasia has been legal since 2002, doctors are now permitted to secretly sedate patients who have dementia before euthanising them. The law permits voluntary euthanasia for anyone over the age of 16, and children age 13-15 can be euthanised with their parents’ consent. Earlier this year, the Dutch government said it would be changing the regulations to allow doctors to end the lives of terminally ill children between the ages of one and twelve.
Right To Life UK’s spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “Laws like the ones we have in the UK that forbid assisted suicide and euthanasia, exist precisely to protect vulnerable people like Nancy Russell. Lockdowns can disproportionately affect people like her causing great depression and anxiety”.
“The solution is not to assist such people to end their lives, but to do everything possible to end their isolation, loneliness and depression”.