‘Awful for patients’: Frustration grows over delay in assisted dying expansion – National

John Scully has lived 40 years with a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder. Despite trying nearly every treatment known to medicine, from shock therapy to transmagnetic stimulation, his condition did not improve.

The 82-year-old says he wants to end that suffering. He wants to do it legally and painlessly in a way that respects those he loves. would like help.

But like many Canadians suffering from mental illnesses whose doctors were unsuccessful in treating them, Scully had to wait.

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In 2021, the liberal government passed a law expanding eligibility to patients whose sole condition is a mental disorder. This included a two-year deferral to allow clinical practice guidelines to be developed. Last month, it hastily enacted another year’s deferment.

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Scully said in an interview that waiting is beyond pain.

“I have total contempt for the commission and the government for delaying the application of (assisted death),” Sculley said. “They can’t make up their minds. That’s why they go astray.”

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The liberal government’s decision to extend dying medical assistance to people with mental illness as their only underlying medical condition has provoked a wide response in Canada.

Opponents, including some disability advocates, have expressed concern that it will open more doors to abuse and coercion, and we really need better access to support such as housing and mental health care. Sometimes people will choose to end their lives.

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There is also concern about the lack of agreement among medical professionals on how to determine whether a mental illness is “serious and incurable” to meet the criteria for medical assistance leading to death. I have.

Conservative Party leader Pierre Polivre has promised to end the expansion if he becomes prime minister.

Proponents say the move will give autonomy and dignity to those who have exhausted all other treatment options and would otherwise endanger Canada’s rights and freedoms by discriminating against people with disabilities. They argue that it would violate the charter.

A former journalist who has covered 35 conflict zones during his long, award-winning career, Scully also suffers from severe spinal stenosis and chronic kidney disease. These physical ailments, however, do not qualify him for assisted death.

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Under the current state of law, Scully will finally be eligible to apply on March 17, 2024, but has expressed doubts about whether the government will live up to its promise.

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he already has the paperwork But he’s too frustrated to start filing the papers, he said, “I haven’t touched them. I might tear them up.”

Scully describes his condition as “non-stop, constant, incurable” and his life was “joyless” due to severe mental illness. I feel as if I am

“It’s an outrageous choice they made on me, and I’m guessing other people are either[assisting death]or suicide.”

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Dr. Chantal Perrault, a family physician who makes diagnoses and provides medically assisted death, said, “Patients are in a position to believe they can choose between taking their own life and continuing to suffer great suffering. is terrible,” he said.

The latter also “contributes to the suffering of family and friends who love them,” Perrault said. It should not be the end.”

She said there was no need to further delay the expansion of the program.

“Each patient will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the unique peculiarities of their lives, circumstances and wishes,” she said.

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“We conduct these evaluations because we have evaluations of all other patients requesting[euthanasia]and with the honesty and thoroughness that we apply to all medical practice. will do it.”

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Scully said he doesn’t discount the need to consult with doctors and family members before accessing euthanasia, but the situation has caused him to lose faith in the system, which he believes is in his best interests. He said he doubted whether

Ultimately, he said, “I am the one who decides whether I die or not.”

Perot said that since medical assisted dying has become available, the diversity of those who access them is “as remarkable as the breadth of the population”. Since she does not have a

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“It’s hard to tell people that they have to wait another year,” she said, referring to the case of people whose irreversible condition is mental illness.

In a statement, Justice Minister David Rameti said he knew the delay was frustrating and disappointing.

But he doubled down on the delay, saying it was a “prudent path” for the government to consider the experts’ recommendations and allow practitioners to understand how to assess complex cases.

“Medical assistance in dying is a complex and personal matter for many people and their families,” Rametti said. “It’s important to do this right.”

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Many other patients are frustrated because of concerns about eligibility that go beyond the current framework.

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Assisted dying is still out of reach for Ron Posno, who has mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Because when it gets to that point, he may not be able to clearly tell the practitioner that what he wants is death assistance, as is now required by law.

A special joint committee in Congress released a report in February recommending that the government allow people with serious and incurable medical conditions, illnesses, or disabilities to pre-apply for methods of dying.

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“My wife and I are having a great time in this period of our lives and doing what we can,” Posno said. “But part of that relief is the belief that I will have access to it when it actually becomes available.”

Posno said he has already gone through all the processes involved in accessing the program. He said he was assured by his healthcare provider that death assistance would be provided if the federal government decided to add advance requests to the system.

There’s no sign Ottawa is heading in that direction anytime soon, but Posno is still optimistic that he can die in the dignified way he wants.

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“For those of us facing things we don’t want to deal with, this is a ray of hope,” he said. “It gives us a way out, a ray of hope.”

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