A Paralympic army veteran told stunned lawmakers in Canada when she claimed that a government official had offered to give her euthanisia equipment while fighting to have a wheelchair lift installed in her home.
Retired corporal Christine Gauthier, who competed at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, testified on Thursday that the unnamed veterans affairs case worker had offered in writing to provide her with a medically-assisted dying device, the CBC reported.
“I have a letter saying that if you’re so desperate, madam, we can offer you MAID, medical assistance in dying,” Ms Gauthier, 52, told a House of Commons veterans affairs committee, according to the CBC.
Three other disabled veterans are believed to have been offered the same equipment, according to Global News.
Testifying in French, Ms Gauthier said she had written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to express her concern.
Mr Trudeau said on Friday the incident was “absolutely unacceptable”, the CBC reported.
“We are following up with investigations and we are changing protocols to ensure what should seem obvious to all of us: that it is not the place of Veterans Affairs Canada, who are supposed to be there to support those people who stepped up to serve their country, to offer them medical assistance in dying,” Mr Trudeau was reported as saying.
Medical assistance in dying has been legal in Canada since 2016 for terminally ill residents.
The law was expanded in 2022 to people living with debilitating disabilities or pain, even if their lives aren’t at immediate risk.
Advocacy group Dying With Dignity describes the procedure as “driven by compassion, an end to suffering and discrimination and desire for personal autonomy.”
But some human rights advocates and religious groups say the regulations are open to abuse, lack necessary safeguards, and can devalue the lives of disabled people.
Testifying before the same committee last week, Canada’s Veterans Minister Lawrence MacAulay said that as many as five instances of veterans being offered the euthanasia equipment by a veterans affairs official had been referred to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
He said all of the cases involved a single employee, who had since been suspended.
Lawmakers apologised to Ms Gauthier, a five-time world champion paracanoeist who also competed in this year’s Invictus Games.
She lost the use of her legs after suffering an injury during military training in 1989.