Compassionate Killing: aka Mercy Killing

By Camille Giglio

Oakland 1/16/16. The ink is barely dry from the recent signing, by Governor Brown, of a Right-to-Die bill by means of assisted suicide. It is only the first step in a euthanasia slippery slope. That bill authorized a competent but terminally ill patient to arrange for his or her own death by pharmaceutical suicide. No person aiding and abetting this suicide, such as doctors, hospital staff or family, are held responsible for the final act.

It would appear that the main supporters of assisted suicide have already begun their next move in expanding to other groups of people the right to take the life of a sick, disabled family member

Now here comes Dr. George D. Lundberg, with the “Good News about Dying in America.” He is writing in At Large in Medscape (1/4/2016)that sick people have a responsibility to die, the implication being that if they don’t die when we want them to, we have to take matters into our own hands. “[We] have to change the changing the moral belief and ethical standards, dying is our responsibility.” After decades of cultural resistance to easing the terminally ill into death, the tide is turning, with a growing number of states passing laws that provide for assisted death, says Dr Lundberg.

“Final Act of Love Costs Him His Freedom”

Welcome Seventy-two year old Jerry Canfield who may have taken Dr. Lundberg’s advice to heart.

According to an article placed on the front page of the Contra Costa Times and other area newspapers, we may be seeing the initial foray into authorization of mercy killing.

Apparently, 72 year-old JoAnne Canfield, reportedly afflicted with dementia, failed to succumb to the sleeping pill overdose that husband Jerry Canfield administered to her in 2014, so he took responsibility.  He got a gun and shot her in the head, according to the Times article. His attorney, Alameda County Public Defender George Arroyo, mounted a defense of compassion for the man’s mercy killing of his beloved wife of 40 years. Canfield will serve less than the 3 years required of him due to time already served in prison awaiting trial.

A part of the Defense’s argument focused on the fact that her husband had to do something to ease her pain and suffering. Due to her dementia, Mrs. Canfield was unable to arrange for her own death as required under the Right to Die legislation.

Jerry Canfield’s 50 year-old stepdaughter, Lisa Reed, stated at his trial that: “while it was hard to accept the manner of her mother’s death, she has no ill feelings toward her stepfather.” She stated further that: “I know in my heart he loved my mother so much he didn’t want her to he sacrificed his own freedom.” Reed’s biggest regret, she says, is that: “I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to my mother.”

This Story Gets Even More Interesting

Jerry Canfield’s first appointed public defender was Andrew Steckler who, during the initial phases of the Canfield trial, was appointed a Judge in the Alameda County courts by Gov. Brown.  Steckler apparently had made a name for himself by defending several clients who also took action into their own hands and killed family members, getting them reduced sentences by urging compassion for the defendant and positioning them as victims who had no choice but to defend themselves and/or were victims of extreme domestic violence.

Compassion and Choices Director, Tony Broaddus, has come forward to show his agency’s support for Mr. Canfield’s plight and reassure the citizenry that they are working on ways to overcome this situation. He states that: “I think our medical system and our legal system are going to figure out how to deal with these cases. I don’t think that we know now how to do that.”

George Arroyo, Canfield’s current Public Defender, sums up the situation by declaring that Canfield is: “a special guy. It’s been a privilege to represent him.”

Of further interest is an article in Contra Costa Times, buried on page 6B under local news entitled: “Wife gets 40 years to life for murder.” The wife appears to have ended a violent marriage with a well-placed bullet to her husband’s mid-section as he lunged at her during a violent argument. The judge, in handing down her sentence declared that: “You are no doubt a danger to society.” The Prosecutor declared during the trail that her story “just didn’t add up.”  In other words, they believed that it was a well-planned attack on her husband.

Now, Canfield gets front page sympathetic coverage for two attempts on his wife’s life, the fatal attempt being a bullet to the head. No doubt in my mind he was fearful that she would become a burden and an expense on him, but he only gets 3 years for killing a woman who couldn’t run away from him.  Julie Harper of Carlsbad, CA gets labeled as a danger to society because she had been beaten by her husband in the past and was fearful that she was about to be beaten again. Where is the Compassionate Caring Director on this case?  One cannot accept the deliberate killing of any person but where is the equality of justice that these people are always calling for?  It’s okay to kill a disabled elderly wife but not okay to kill a violent and virile husband?

Our laws concerning the protecting of human life and or the taking of human life have become so meaningless. To those of us in the pro-life movement, it is very clear that the cause being promoted by the pro-euthanasia groups is heading in the same direction as the abortion argument went in 1973.

Please be aware, this coming year, of the importance of defending all human life. All human lives matter whether it be the aged, disabled, abused, young, old, or middle aged.

End Notes:

1. Gov. Jerry Brown’s reasoning for signing the Assisted Suicide law was: “In the course of working to pass the End of Life Option Act, some of the most difficult stories for us to hear were from family members of people who had dementia or Alzheimer’s or other illness that diminished their mental capacity, and we don’t have solution in the law for those situations.” Toni Broaddus, California campaign director for the nonprofit advocacy group Compassion & Choices, said: “[I] think our medical system and our legal system are going to figure out how to deal with these cases. I don’t think that we know now how to do that.”

2. Another quote from Dr. Lundberg’s article:  “To accomplish medical and cultural change, one needs to work at the levels of moral beliefs and ethical standards with professional and individual leadership.  Subsequent changes in state and federal laws and regulations may be needed. Economic drivers can move it along. But first, you have to get their attention.”

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