Euthanasia and Alzheimer’s: the story of an announced slippage


Montreal, February 24, 2017 – The murder of a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease on Monday in Montreal resulted in new pressure to extend euthanasia; this time to make it accessible to incapacitated people. While an investigation into the circumstances of the tragedy is still ongoing, all political parties have jumped at this opportunity to draw their own conclusion: we should consider extending euthanasia.

Yet the gesture of despair caused by a man who admits to have “cracked” should have led the Quebec government to question the lack of resources to support the natural caregivers who provide for a loved one suffering from a form of dementia like Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, the minister of Health rather declared that he is open to the idea of offering euthanasia as a solution to all forms of dementia.

Living with Dignity deplores this general eagerness to open a new gateway to euthanasia to address a lack of resources on the ground.

The first year of euthanasia in Quebec has ended with 21 cases of abuse identified by the Commission, which will remain free from consequence. If such abuses are already tolerated by the authorities – including the euthanasia of people who are not at the end of life or suffering from a serious and incurable illness – it is all the more worrying to think about the foreseeable abuses if euthanasia is extended to the 230,000 people who are at risk of being struck by the disease within the next 15 years in Quebec, and whose consent can no longer be verified at the time of their killing.

Moreover, the Netherlands has recently provided us with a concrete example of how such a measure has been achieved: a woman suffering from dementia was euthanized against her will because she was imprisoned in her advance directive. She even struggled to resist the physician who wanted to inject the deadly poison. This physician finally had to ask family members to forcefully restrain her to ensure that the verdict of her paper, signed in the prime of her life, was respected.

The tragic event that occurred Monday in Montreal once again opened the debate on the expansion of the law permitting euthanasia in Quebec. With consideration to respect the plurality of opinions, Living with Dignity will engage in discussions, which will soon take place in government bodies, to promote the protection of the lives of people made vulnerable by sickness, old age, or disability.


About Living with Dignity

Living with Dignity is an autonomous, non-profit organization in Quebec with no religious or political affiliation. Its mission is to promote the protection of the life and dignity inherent in people made vulnerable by sickness, old age, or disability, by ensuring an end to their lives that is natural and respectful of the person and their dignity accompanied with compassion.

For more information, please contact:

Aubert Martin, Executive Director

Living with Dignity