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Mother says adult, disabled daughter traumatized by doctor’s suggestion of assisted suicide


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John Burger - published on 07/30/17 - updated on 07/30/17

Canadian mom seeks formal apology on behalf of other families with a disabled child.

A woman who often brings her disabled daughter to a hospital in the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador said she was “shocked” when a doctor there seemed to be suggesting assisted suicide as an option.

Sheila Elson’s 25-year-old daughter, Candice Lewis, has several medical conditions, including spina bifida, cerebral palsy and chronic seizure disorder. According to CBC News, Elson claims that during a hospital stay last November, when Lewis was very sick, a doctor told Elson that her daughter was dying and that she had the option to end her life.

The young woman was within earshot of the conversation, which allegedly took place at Labrador-Grenfell Health in the town of St. Anthony, Elson told the CBC.

“His words were ‘assisted suicide death was legal in Canada,'” she told CBC. “I was shocked, and said, ‘Well, I’m not really interested,’ and he told me I was being selfish.”

Elson said that her daughter was traumatized by the remarks.

Lewis’s mother said the hospital told her that the doctor didn’t intend to cause distress, but Elson wants a formal apology from the health authority.

“I didn’t want another family going through what we went through,” she commented. “People like her are being mistreated, and enough is enough,” she said. “I’m not going to let them walk over her and mistreat her anymore.”

In response to a CBC inquiry, Labrador-Grenfell Health said it could not discuss details of the case, but had been in contact with Elson and has offered her the opportunity to meet with members of her daughter’s care team at her earliest convenience.

But the Canadian Minister responsible for persons with disabilities said the exchange was “not acceptable.”

Sherry Gambin-Walsh told CBC Radio, “It’s not acceptable to government, it’s not acceptable to the individual citizens, families or our society. Disability is not to be confused with suffering.”

According to Canada’s Bill C-14, which legalized assisted suicide nationwide in 2016, a patient must request assisted suicide himself.

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