“How exactly are we going to detect the victimization when we can’t do it now?”

Dear Editor:

Patrick Stewart concedes that legalizing assisted suicide would be a problem if “you can bump off your old granny.” [“Spare the dying . . .,” Oct. 15].  This is a major reason why assisted suicide must not be legalized in Canada.  As a Vancouver family doctor I see elder abuse in my practice, often perpetrated by family members and caregivers.  A desire for money or an inheritance is typical.  To make it worse, the victims protect the perpetrators.  In one case, an older woman knew that her son was robbing her blind and lied to protect him.  Why? Family loyalty, shame, and fear that confronting the abuser will cost love and care.
The result: elder abuse is often a hidden and unreported situation.  Indeed, a 2008 government poll found that “96% of Canadians think most of the abuse experienced by adults is hidden or goes undetected.” [1]

Under current law, abusers take their victims to the bank and to the lawyer for a new will.  With legal assisted suicide, the next stop would be the doctor’s office for a lethal prescription.  How exactly are we going to detect the victimization when we can’t do it now?

Will Johnston   MD

Chair
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of BC

[1]  For the poll source, scroll down at this link: http://www.seniors.gc.ca/c.4nt.2nt@.jsp?lang=eng&geo=110&cid=154#f