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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Assisted suicide opens the door to grave abuses of the elderly

Recently I had a conversation with friends about an aging relative in palliative care. My friends suggested that the elderly relative, who is in enormous pain and who is not going to recover no matter what is done, would likely wish to end his life medically if he had the choice.

Looked at from that perspective, legal euthanasia or assisted suicide seems like a humane option. My response to my friends, however, was immediately to point out that legalizing euthanasia would be opening a floodgate of abuse. Perhaps it's all the years I've spent trying to protect people (mostly seniors) from the financial predators in their lives, but I can envision one hell of  a lot of greedy individuals shortening their relatives' lives for financial gain.

Every day I hear rationalizations such as "I'm taking my mother's life savings because she doesn't really need it, living in a home as she does, and I'm going to inherit the money one day anyway". You'll notice the excuse has absolutely nothing to do with what the parent wants. It's all about the kids not wanting to wait any longer for their inheritance. Is it really such a big step to get to convincing oneself that the elderly parent doesn't need to be alive anymore?

Yesterday's edition  of the Toronto Star addressed this very issue in an article entitled "Assisted Suicide Opens the Door to Grave Abuses of the Elderly". Click here to read the article, which gives a good overview of the issue. While many seniors will automatically believe that this couldn't possibly happen to them, I have to remind them of the depressing fact that seniors are robbed, defrauded and physically abused by their closest relatives every day. None of those people thought it could happen either.

The illustration shown here was attached to the Toronto Star article cited, and is credited to Paul Lachine/Newsart.

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