A British psychiatrist who was kicked off the medical registry has since helped six people with dementia get assisted suicides, the Daily Mail reports.
Psychiatrist Colin Brewer wrote reports for each of the patients, claiming they had the mental capacity to choose to die; none of the patients had terminal illnesses, the report states. After the assessment, the patients traveled to one of two Swiss euthanasia facilities where they were killed, according to the report.
According to the report, Brewer was struck off the British medical registry in 2006 after one of his patients died. However, Brewer still is allowed to see patients and offer non-medical services as long as he tells them that he is not on the medical registry, the report states.
It appears that he continues to assess and refer patients for assisted suicide, despite being barred from medical practice.
“You don’t have to be a doctor to assess mental capacity,” Brewer told the Daily Mail. “It’s helpful but it’s not essential.”
Between 2013 and 2016, he assessed 18 patients who then were killed by assisted suicide at one of the Swiss euthanasia clinics; six were diagnosed with dementia, according to the report. Many are questioning whether these dementia patients really had the mental capacity to understand their decision.
Here’s more from the report:
Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Dr Brewer said that he regularly refuses to write reports for dementia patients who contact him because they are no longer lucid enough to make the decision to take their lives.
Last year, he turned two patients away because they were too demented, he said.
The 76-year-old psychiatrist said: ‘More and more people are living long enough to get dementia, although most of the people I see are in their 70s and therefore not particularly old. People are also more aware of dementia now.
‘These are people who know that dementia means the gradual annihilation of their personalities and for most people their personality is the most important thing. It’s who they are.’
Baroness Ilora Finlay, a prominent end-of-life doctor in England, said she is concerned that Brewer’s patients let their fears drive them to suicide, rather than to seek help.
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“You don’t know how the disease might or might not progress,” Finlay said. “Some people may be frightened and may be in despair. But if you assist their suicide, you cut their life off by months or years when they may never have gone on to experience more severe forms of the disease …”
Assisted suicide is illegal in England.
People with physical and mental disabilities have become some of the most vocal advocates against assisted suicide and euthanasia because the acts devalue them because of their disabilities. Others say legalization of the deadly measures puts financial pressure on people with special needs to end their lives.
“It’s a hugely dangerous trend to start allowing people with diminished mental capacity to end their lives,” said Alistair Thompson, a spokesman for Care Not Killing. “A lot of people fear that when there is a care crisis within the NHS [British National Health Service] there will be more pressure on people who are elderly and frail to think about ending their lives.”
In several U.S. states where doctor-prescribed suicide is legal, sick people are being denied medical treatment coverage and offered assisted suicide instead. LifeNews has reported about cases in Oregon and Vermont as well as California.