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Mother very upset after doctor urged her to approve assisted suicide for her daughter with disabilities

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Sheila Elson and daughter Candace Lewis
(Photo Credit: Gavin Simms/CBC)

Sheila Elson, who lives in Newfoundland, was very upset when Dr. Aaron Heroux offered assisted suicide for her daughter Candice, 25, who lives with multiple disabilities.

According to Geoff Bartlett reporting for CBC News Newfoundland:

“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.”

Candice Lewis, has several disabilities including spina bifida, cerebral palsy and chronic seizure disorder.

Elson has spent 25 years caring and advocating for Lewis, fighting to get the services her daughter needed.

In September 2016, she says, Dr. Aaron Heroux presented her with the option of physician-assisted death for Lewis.

The discussion happened after Candice had been admitted to hospital, and doctors suggested that Lewis was dying.

According to Roberts

Elson wrote that Heroux had taken her out into the hallway by Lewis’s hospital room to discuss physician-assisted death and advise her the option was legal in Canada.

She alleges the doctor said he supported physician-assisted death for Lewis.

“This left me dumbfounded and I told him it was something I did not want to consider,” she said.

She contends the doctor suggested she was being selfish and that she told him that she didn’t believe Lewis was able to fully comprehend what was being suggested.

The article reports that Candice heard the conversation.

She says Lewis could hear the conversation from her room and it was causing emotional distress for them both.

“I am still very concerned about this, it is always on my mind. I am emotionally exhausted. I see that it has been also very stressful for Candice and one of my main reasons for writing this letter is that I don’t want any other family to have to go through this,” Elson wrote.

Labrador-Grenfell Health responded to Elson’s letter on June 6.

In the correspondence, Molgaard-Blake apologized for the delay and expressed regret that Elson did not feel her family was treated with dignity and respect during Lewis’s hospital stay.

She added that the doctors involved did not intend any disrespect.

Molgaard-Blake said Elson was welcome to discuss any issues in person, but noted that Heroux is currently not on locum assignment with Labrador-Grenfell Health and “is not scheduled to be back in St. Anthony until later this fall.”

Roberts reported that “Elson calls Labrador-Grenfell Health’s response to her letter a joke.”

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has always stated that you cannot separate the attitude of the doctor or nurse practitioner who proposes or does euthanasia from the act itself.


Chelsea Garcia is a political writer with a special interest in international relations and social issues. Events surrounding the war in Ukraine and the war in Israel are a major focus for political journalists. But as a former local reporter, she is also interested in national politics.

Chelsea Garcia studied media, communication and political science in Texas, USA, and learned the journalistic trade during an internship at a daily newspaper. In addition to her political writing, she is pursuing a master's degree in multimedia and writing at Texas.

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