‘Health care’ providers push women with one medical condition to choose death

By Around the Web

(Image by max leroy from Pixabay)

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Live Action News.]

By Cassy Fiano-Chesser
Live Action News

A Saskatchewan woman who said her life with cerebral palsy is a miracle from God also said health care providers in Canada have repeatedly pressured her to undergo medical assistance in dying (MAiD) because she has a disability.

In an op-ed for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Heather Hancock said she was born in Alberta at 25 weeks gestation, weighing just one pound, six ounces. At two years old, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and doctors said she should be institutionalized because she “would never amount to anything.” Hancock, however, has no intellectual disabilities; her disability is purely physical.

“I was the first disabled child mainstreamed into the Calgary public school system,” she said. “It was great for my education, but not for my social life. Fear and ignorance resulted in years of bullying and being ostracized by my peers and a few teachers. I graduated with Honours in 1986. Intermixed with all of this were multiple surgeries and regular physiotherapy appointments.”

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As an adult, she has become a disability advocate, fighting for better accessibility in the workplace. By 33, she had lost the ability to walk and was medically retired at 44. She began writing about her life instead. But her situation began taking a serious turn for the worse when she began experiencing what she refers to as “spastic paralysis.”

“In 2017, all of the muscles in my legs spasmed simultaneously from the hips down both legs to the tips of my toes, and then the muscles just kept tightening and tightening. I could not move from the waist down. There were subsequent episodes in 2018 and 2019,” she said. “In hospital, I discovered a change in the attitudes of nurses, doctors, orderlies, and therapists. There was a subtle undercurrent that was almost tangible. I had nurses neglecting me, forcing me to try and walk while they stood at a distance and watched with arms crossed. It was evident the medical staff preferred not to treat me.”

During her second episode, she said she was given an idea of what one’s quality of life should look like — and if that standard can’t be met, then the person should be referred to MAiD, which had been legalized in 2016. Hancock said she was repeatedly encouraged to choose death.

“I was in Victoria General Hospital in 2018 and was approached by a hospitalist who asked me if I had ever considered MAiD, given the incessant level of severe pain and fatigue I lived with. I made eye contact with the doctor and said, ‘God gave me life and He is the ONLY One who knows the number of my days. The answer now and from this moment on is NO,’” she recalled. “The third episode in 2019 landed me back in the same hospital on a different unit, but my bed was in the hallway for my entire stay. It was humiliating. Again I was offered MAiD, and that doctor was given the same reply. It was the last straw for me. My GP retired in 2016; three years of lack of care had taken its toll and I left the Island and moved to rural Saskatchewan about an hour west of the Alberta border.”

Then, after a fall, a doctor gave her therapeutic botox for her spine, which took a three-week hospital stay to begin working. During that time, she was again pressured to die:

One nurse came to my bedside in the early morning hours before breakfast and asked me “to do the right thing and consider MAiD.” Her next words still ring through my head… “if I were you, I would take it in a heartbeat. You’re not living, you’re existing!”

I replied, “I am not you, and you have no right to push me to accept MAiD. I will never accept it! My life has value and no human being has a right to say otherwise.”

The nurse stormed off and the next time she answered my call bell, she simply sneered at me instead of helping me get to the bathroom with my walker. I was very unsafe and talked with the head nurse of the unit and had her removed from my care. She wasn’t reprimanded as the head nurse said it was a “personality clash.”

People with disabilities have become some of the most vocal opponents of Canada’s MAiD regime; a recent viral campaign included stories from disability advocates, many of whom pointed out that there are treatments available for their conditions. The problem is the government-funded health care system won’t pay for these treatments, and instead, offers patients MAiD. People with disabilities have sought medical care and instead, have been told to die, while others have been approved simply because they live in poverty. But Hancock and other advocates like her are vowing to continue fighting for their right to life no matter what.

“I am a human being. My life has intrinsic worth. I won’t allow anyone to say otherwise,” she said. “I wasn’t supposed to amount to anything, but I was a unit clerk, and I am now a published author and an editor. Words are powerful and I intend to wield them until my last breath. My stories educate and entertain. My poetry is raw and brings the reader into my world as a person with a disability. I fight many battles on different fronts, but the right to life is sacred, and should be treated with dignity and compassion. Sadly, the majority of our society have forgotten how.”

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Live Action News.]

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