British Columbia cancer patient was pushed toward euthanasia (Medical Assistance in Dying)

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Joan Rohoway with family

Terry O’Neill, writing for the BC Catholic, has uncovered another story of a person who was pressured toward euthanasia. 

The story concerns Joan Rohoway (84) who is dying from cancer. Joan, her daughter Pamela and son-in-law Alain tell O’Neill how Joan was pressured to euthanasia, but the family fought back. 

O’Neill writes:

The setting is the Seguin-Rohoways’ Surrey home. Joan rests quietly as the three others discuss her rapidly fading health, her quality of life, and – most important – the pressure that Pamela and Alain say medical personnel exerted on Joan so she would agree to be killed under the provisions of Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) protocols.

After several minutes during which Pamela and Alain talk about Joan’s opposition to MAiD, she suddenly speaks. “I want to live,” she says with a light but distinct voice. Her intention made clear, she goes silent.

The declaration brings a smile to the faces of Pamela and Alain, confirming for them that a two-week-long fight they waged with the Fraser Health Authority on her behalf was the correct one.

O’Neill explains what happened:

The family’s battle with Fraser Health began in late May while Joan was a patient in the cancer and palliative-care wards at Surrey Memorial Hospital. Alain told The B.C. Catholic that, unbeknownst to him and his wife, an oncologist visited his heavily medicated mother-in-law while she was alone and then initiated a discussion about MAiD.

In a separate interview, Pamela added that when her mother asked about treatment options, the doctor said there were none for her late-stage cancer, but opened up discussion about MAiD. Alain said Joan would never have asked about MAiD and would never have agreed to it. Nevertheless, he said the doctor insisted that Joan had agreed to it.

The family was shocked by assertion that Joan asked for euthanasia:

Alain and his wife said they were shocked to be told that Joan had accepted MAiD. “I was aghast, I was angry,” Alain said. “It was done so underhandedly. To me, [the subterfuge] was intentional.”

He added, “The way they handled it was poor, where the doctor went ahead and put the idea in my mother-in-law’s head
.”

O’Neill explains how Fraser Health threatened to remove guardianship from her family in order to continue with the MAiD order:

The couple complained to the hospital about the MAiD order, but when they met with a nurse and social worker were told Joan had requested MAiD three times. The MAiD declaration stayed in place, even during the days after they brought Joan home on June 7 for palliative care. (Widowed two years previous, Joan had moved in with Alain and Pamela last September.)

Pamela said that when two new FHA health-care workers visited two days later, ostensibly to check her bed sores, they spoke only about the possibility of Joan’s entering a hospice and accepting MAiD, then threatened to file papers to obtain legal guardianship of Joan if Pamela and Alain continued their opposition.

Pamela said she told the two that she believed they were “pushing death” on her mother, and that Joan would never in her right mind agree to it. “You brainwashed her,” she recalled saying to the two.

The issue was finally resolved two days later with the visit of two new health-care workers. “I think they came to smooth the waters,” Alain said. With Alain and Pamela present, the two asked Joan if she wanted MAiD. “She said, ‘Absolutely not, I want to stay here,’” Pamela recalled. “The two then said, ‘OK.’”

O’Neill interviewed Dr. Will Johnston, the Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition BC who stated:

“Altruism for some Fraser Health bureaucrats takes the form of putting medically hastened death squarely in front of everyone whose life looks low quality to euthanasia-minded staff,” Johnston said in an interview.

“Suicide prevention is not on their radar. In my opinion, the chain of command Is intolerant of any impediment to access far more than it cares about cutting a life short. This has become a juggernaut.”

Referring to the Rohoway case, Dr. Johnston concludes, “Families just get in the way, as can be seen by the threats thrown at these loving people by that social worker.”

A similar situation happened to Candice Lewis in Newfoundland when she and her mother were pressured to ask for an assisted death in August 2016.

The tactics to promote euthanasia (MAiD) have led to the deaths of incompetent people, such as Alan Nichols and the death of elderly people who died by MAiD without any known medical condition.

The Canadian government is currently studying further expansions of euthanasia, such as euthanasia (MAiD) by advanced directives, but is the government committee even concerned about the deaths related to the mis-use of the law?

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.