THE EDITORIAL Who needs Kevorkian?
Saskatchewan farmer Robert Latimer killed Tracy, his 12-year-old daughter, because her cerebral palsy and mental abilities distressed him. His trial and conviction on murder in late November attracted great media attention.
Some people suggest he is a folk hero who does not deserve a jail sentence. Others fear this public sentiment will further feed prejudice, making it open season on the disabled.
In Ontario, Cathy Wilkieson followed Robert Latimer’s example. She placed her 16-uear-old son, Ryan, who suffered from cerebral palsy, blindness and deafness, in the family car and drove him to her parents’ garage, where she killed both of them with carbon monoxide fumes from the exhaust system.
The Ontario government had recently turned down her appeal for more funding to help the family care for her son – a request which would have cost a measly $120 a week.
Both Cathy Wilkieson and Robert Latimer were caring parents. In the end their actions were totally and completely wrong, but no one should underestimate the constant pressure faced by the disabled and those who care for them.
If any good is to come out of these tragedies, it will be if our society faces up to its prejudice and fear of the disabled, and finds the courage to confront those who believe there is compassion in killing.
It is outrageous that families who want to care for their children at home, rather than place them in the care of an institution, are forced to beg for even a modest amount of help. It is criminal that these requests are turned down when governments across Canada hand out countless millions to the abortionists.
It is too late for Tracy Latimer and Ryan Wilkieson, but is estimated that there are around 30,000 other severely disabled children in Canada. We must speak up now to protect these children, and their families, from further suffering and discrimination.
Our silence will kill them.