CARP, Elizabeth Wettlaufer, and Euthanasia

By Adrian Rhodes

Editor’s note. CARP is the Canadian counterpart to the American Association of Retired Persons. This article appeared on the blog of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

CARP’s magazine Zoomer published an article in January 2019, on Elizabeth Wettlaufer, the nurse who murdered her patients while working in long-term care homes in Ontario. The article by Alex Roslin is titled: “Looking at the Complete System Failure that led to the Wetlauffer Murders.” Wettlaufer cited psychological reasons, in part – she was stressed because of poor working conditions. This does not excuse the murders, but it also does not allow for the use of those murders to justify better care.

In this political climate, to argue that better care is needed because otherwise patients will be at risk from the Wettlaufers of the world is disingenuous. Patients are already at risk in “…an environment where patients are disrespected, abused – even sometimes murdered.” This environment came about with the legal permission being given by the Canadian government for medical representatives to kill their patients.

The permission to kill is further permission to neglect. One allegation has been made that if one is approved for death, that after approval one’s pain medication is curtailed to ensure that they are competent at the time of injection. The argument has not been made, but I am sure it is in the back of many people’s minds on reading the CARP article – ‘well, at least the patient isn’t suffering’. These statements above are probably shocking, but they are also normalized in our social lives. This is because we are normalizing the act of killing.

It is expected that suffering people will demand death instead of better care. When someone demands care, this is incomprehensible. Consider the Roger Foley case: he was demanding better care and control over his care at home, and he was offered euthanasia instead. In his case, he publicized the offer and this caused him to become a dubious celebrity as a result.

In the meantime, he had doctors and nurses using presence coercion to convince him to die. This was probably because it was good for the organization: he was apparently costing the hospital $1,500 per day. So it was all about the money, not the right to care as enshrined in the Charter of Rights. So it is expected that death is preferred over treatment, care or protection of other rights.

So for CARP to be lobbying for changes to care when they are the same organization that sings the virtues of euthanasia comes across as a little precious. Remember, the push is on to save money and to allow those who have dementia – as many of Wettlaufer’s victims did – to get euthanasia.

There is a push to kill incompetent people and to kill children by euthanasia. And people have said that this is a virtue, particularly when we consider the responses to Sick Kids Hospital saying they would be willing to euthanize children under 18 without parental consent. The implication is that this organization will kill children in their care – and they argued that killing and letting die are the same act.

The article reported that Wettlaufer’s victim, Maureen Pickering, was given a high dose of insulin – twice. She subsequently died. The coroner’s office representative opined that her death wasn’t investigated because “Her death was foreseeable, and it was expected.” Remember, MAiD can be done if “…death is reasonably foreseeable”. So we can argue that Wettlaufer was a euthanasia enthusiast by other means.

Wettlaufer slipped through the safeguards, time and again. She even talked to her friends about the killings. They did nothing. That alone should have triggered charges. The organizations involved did nothing. The care home never told the College of Nurses about Wettlaufer’s shortcomings. They said themselves that nurses were hard to come by and this is why Wettlaufer was kept on. The deaths of elderly people are expected, after all…

The article stated that one relative of a victim said, “It seems to me that all the parties are accessories.” Another family member said, “Nobody is taking any of this seriously.” This is true, but what is also significant about this CARP article is this: CARP is a pro-euthanasia organization. CARP has advocates on staff who decried what happened to those residents while establishing a glaring contradiction with their pro-euthanasia stance.

Wettlaufer got away with these deaths because no one believed that this would happen in such an active way. This is the same reason medical organizations have attempted to impose death on patients such as Candice Lewis and Roger Foley. No one believes professionals would act against the interest of patients, even when they are acting to convince those patients to die.

People aren’t that evil, they just don’t go around killing patients. Except that in Canada, we do. There is one doctor on the West Coast who has already killed over 140 people, skirting the law to do so and without sanction.

To quote the article: “It remains to be seen if the horror of Wettlaufer’s deeds will make a difference.”

Yes: people who euthanize will continue, and organizations will become even more monolithic when they attempt to kill. And then the number of deaths will continue to rise.

It is interesting that CARP would deplore the actions of someone who was neglecting patients to the point of euthanizing them. CARP’s advocates: Moses Znaimer and Wanda Morris have stumped for euthanasia, so the two situations – the magazine and its political position and Wettlaufer’s actions – are related.

The article says that what Wettlaufer did was ‘shocking’. Canada’s euthanasia law and Carp’s pro-euthanasia position is also shocking.