Calgary grandmother against assisted death gets “don’t euthanize me” tattoo

Physician assisted dying has very strict parameters as to who is eligible.
Physician assisted dying has very strict parameters as to who is eligible. (Photo: REUTERS/Jim Young)

Now that the federal assisted dying law has been in effect for months, some people are making sure to have documents in place saying they don’t want to have a physician assisted death. Calgary, Alta. resident Christine Nagel went even further by getting a tattoo expressing her wishes.

The almost 82-year old decided to get a tattoo that says “don’t euthanize me,” to make it absolutely clear to everyone that she doesn’t want human help with dying after the law was passed.

However, there is little chance of that happening, with or without the tattoo.

Physician assisted dying has very strict parameters as to who is eligible. It’s not enough to have an “irredeemable medical condition,” so that “natural death is foreseeable.” Even if the person has such a condition and wishes medical assistance to die, they have to go through a rigorous process before being approved.

The person has to first find a medical practitioner who is willing to help. Once they have found them, they are evaluated to determine if they’re even sick enough to be eligible, which requires two independent, written medical opinions. If they are, they then have to sign a written request that has to be independently witnessed by two people.

Even after going through the process, it’s estimated that only one in six people requesting the service will be approved.

However, Nagel is not convinced that these legislative safeguards will protect her from being euthanized. “They start with these definite guidelines and then, they eventually starting thinking, well this person is suffering, there is no cure, it’s painful and so, the patient wants to die,” she told Yahoo News.

The chances of that happening are slim to none, unless a doctor determines further medical care would be “futile.” That only happens in rare cases in which the person is near death, often on life-support, unresponsive and there is no reasonable hope of recovery.

Even then, the doctor needs to heed the patient’s wishes. If the patient isn’t capable of expressing their wishes and has no written documents notating their wishes, there has to be consensus with family of the patient, as well as the substitute decision maker.

If there is no consensus, the doctor is unlikely go ahead and take someone off life-sustaining care, unless he or she gets a court order.

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