A young man suffering from a debilitating brain disorder has filed a lawsuit against a Canadian hospital for being unwilling to give him the medical care he needs and instead pressuring him into assisted suicide.
CTV News is reporting on the story of a Canadian man named Roger Foley, 42, who is suffering from cerebellar ataxia, a disorder that occurs when the cerebellum becomes inflamed or damaged. Because the cerebellum is the area of the brain responsible for controlling gait and muscle coordination, this can render a person unable to perform every day tasks.
Foley has launched a landmark lawsuit against a hospital, several health agencies, the Ontario government and the federal government, alleging that health officials will not provide him with the assisted home care team of his choosing and is instead offering him, among other things, medically assisted suicide.
The suit claims that even though a government-selected home care provider left him with injuries and food poisoning, he is being denied the right to self-directed care which would allow him to play a central role in planning his care from the comfort of his own home.
“I have been given the wrong medications, I have been provided food where I got food poisoning, I’ve had workers fall asleep in my living room, burners and appliances constantly left on, a fire, and I have been injured during exercises and transfers,” Foley said. “When I report(ed) these things to the agency, I would not get a response.”
The inferior care caused him to be admitted twice to the hospital.
The case grabbed international headlines when Foley released audio recordings revealing how, instead of providing him with the help he needs, he is being pressured into assisted suicide.
For example, in one recording, he speaks with a man who is threatening him with exorbitant medical bills – upward of $1,500 a day – if he continues to stay in the hospital.
Foley then reminds the man that it is illegal for hospitals to coerce patients like that.
The man is heard saying that the hospital does not use “this conversation in every situation . . . It is only in situations where somebody has a plan in the community that is feasible that they’re not going to accept and that’s OK.”
Foley says that no one has informed him of any plan and that his rights are being violated. He then asks, “So what is the plan that you know of?”
“Roger, this is not my show,” the man replies. “I told you my piece of this was to talk to you about if you had interest in assisted dying.”
In another recording, he is asked whether or not he feels like he wants to harm himself.
Foley responds by telling him that he’s “always thinking I want to end my life” because of the way he’s being treated at the hospital and because his requests for self-directed care have been denied.
The man tells Foley that he can “just apply to get an assisted, if you want to end your life, like you know what I mean?”
Foley objects, saying that he is being forced to end his life.
“Oh, no, no, no,” the man insists. “I’m saying if you feel that way…You know what I mean? Don’t get me wrong. I’m saying I don’t want you to be in here and wanting to take your life.”
Foley told CTV News he decided to release the recordings “to all Canadians as my situation got very bad recently where I almost died.”
Although he is unable to release further details, he added, “It is the real truth of what is going on in Canada regarding so many assisted deaths without appropriate safeguards, in combination with the lack of necessary care that is not being provided to persons who are suffering. . . I have not received the care that I need to relieve my suffering and have only been offered assisted dying. I have many severe disabilities and I am fully dependent. With the remaining time I have left, I want to live with dignity and live as independently as possible.”
The recordings have sent shockwaves throughout Canada and the world.
Tim Stainton, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Social Work, told CTV that the recordings “present a deeply concerning picture.”
“It would seem to indicate that the hospital has determined, not Mr. Foley, that MAID (medical assistance in dying) would be a reasonable option,” he said.
Cathy Fiano-Chesser, writing for LiveActionNews.com, says it’s disturbing “that a country with government-run health care is treating people’s lives as if they have dollar signs attached, refusing to give people the care they need, and yet looking the other way as people are pressured to die.”
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