Would you euthanize your disabled children, especially your adult children? One Canadian woman is fighting to do just that.
Dr. Phil recently featured Annette Corriveau, on his show. She is the mother of Janet and Jeffery, two severely disabled adults who she says if they had the ability to chose for themselves, they would "opt for suicide." Since they can't communicate though, she wants the right to end their lives herself.
Janet, 43, and Jeffery, 42, started off as healthy, seemingly normal children, but Corriveau told Canada's Global News in an interview last month, they became particularly unruly and hard to control at age 5 and 6. From there, their condition began to deteriorate, losing speech and motor skills. Eventually, a hospital found Corriveau and her husband both carried a recessive gene for a trait that would not allow their children to process sugars. The results of this genetic illness -- Sanfilippo syndrome -- can include severe mental retardation, blindness, nerve damage to the point of being wheelchair bound, seizures and early death. The symptoms of the disease begin from age 2 to 8 and conditions worsen from there.
According to Global News, both Janet and Jeffery have feeding tubes, and Corriveau believes they cannot see as they don't respond to stimulus. Both have been in an institution since before the age of 10. Global News has more from Corriveau on her children's condition and why she believes they would want to die rather than continue suffering:
“They wouldn’t like to live like this,” she says. “My children were full of life. When they were young, before this disease took hold…I just don’t believe that they would want to stay alive the way they are.”
Annette says no one can understand unless they watch -- as she did- as her children slowly succumbed to this rare genetic disorder.
“The saying, ‘walk in another man’s moccasins’? Don’t judge. Unless you’ve been there, don’t judge,” she says. “This is no life. For anyone.”
During her appearance with Dr. Phil, the doctor polled the audience to see whether they agree with her right to euthanize the children or not. Dr. Phil estimates the audience is 90 percent for mercy killing of those in conditions such as Janet and Jeffery:
During the show, Dr. Phil clarifies that Corriveau is asking for a more "humane" way to let her children die versus taking away away their feeding tubes and letting them starve. He asks Corriveau, "If you were going to do it, do you now wish you had done it 25 years ago?" Corriveau responds she would have wanted to do it when Jeffery first received his feeding tube 17 years ago. Janet went on a feeding tube five years ago. Corriveau explains:
“After 25 years of watching them just exist, it’s time that somebody did something," she continues. "I didn’t want to be the one to do it, but I’m here,” she adds.
Watch Global Mail's more than 15 minute interview with Corriveau here. The interview also includes Robert Latimer, a father who killed his disabled daughter Tracy via carbon monoxide poisoning in 1993.
Alex Schadenberg, executive director and international chair for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, finds this feature by Global Mail "dangerously one-sided". He writes it is a "serious attempt by the Canadian media to re-write the history of the Latimer case and to justify euthanasia for children with disabilities. In his post, Schadenberg shares the thoughts of Steve Passmore, a man with cerebral palsy who opposes euthanasia. Passmore said:
"Many people in society view people with disabilities as having lives that can be euthanized, like a kept pet, because of pain and suffering, that he lives with everyday."
"this story clearly shows the prejudice that people with disabilities experience in society and the threat that euthanasia and assisted suicide place on the lives of people with disabilities."
Schadenberg states that of course cases such as these cannot be taken lightly, but if parents are allowed the right to kill disabled children, it opens the door for a "a whole new debate which would focus on who lives and who dies."
The Blaze has covered a number of articles over the past two years on this subject, from the British who said it would be "loving" for a mother to smother a disabled child (and advocates aborting disabled children, too), to the bioethicicsts who suggest killing someone with no autonomy left isn't morally wrong.