CHILLIWACK, British Columbia (ChurchMilitant.com) - Doctors in Canada euthanized a man with a mental illness who had no terminal bodily disease.
Alan Nichols, a 61-year-old man in British Columbia, was admitted to Chilliwack General Hospital in June after he was found dehydrated and malnourished. He had struggled for years with chronic depression.
A month after being admitted to the hospital, he died by lethal injection in a medically assisted suicide.
The story of Nichols' death was brought to light this week by CTV News Montreal.
In the days leading up to his death, family members pleaded with Nichols not to go through with the procedure.
The late man's brother, Gary Nichols, recently told the press, "He didn't have a life-threatening disease. He was capable of getting around. He was capable of doing almost anything that you had to do to survive."
His sister-in-law, Trish Nichols, said, "We spent 50 years helping Alan live, and in one month they signed his death warrant."
She added, "How can that happen in that period of time? Where's the legislation to protect us?"
The family asked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate Nichols' death.
Referencing the decision to have his brother stay at the hospital, Gary said, "We thought this would be the best place for him to get back on track."
He noted, "We would never have allowed this to happen if we knew the outcome."
Gary says he was never informed that his brother had submitted a Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) application while in the hospital. Then, on July 22, family members received a stunning phone call that Nichols would be euthanized in four days' time.
Decades ago, when Nichols was 12 years old, he underwent surgery for a non-malignant brain tumor. He eventually lost hearing in both ears, then received a cochlear implant to help him hear.
He developed depression, but family members say he did well on medication. But after his father's death in 2004, Alan fell into worse depression and stopped taking his anti-depressant.
The 61-year-old's death certificate lists "frailty," seizure disorder and a stroke as "antecedent causes" for his assisted suicide. Among other "significant conditions" were the brain tumor removed decades ago and a shunt that relieved pressure in the brain.
According to family, Nichols' assisted suicide may have been illegal at the time.
But a recent court decision could make deaths like his normal in Canada.
On Sept. 11, a court in Quebec struck down a federal requirement that patients applying for MAID be terminally ill. The court also removed language from provincial law in Quebec to that effect.
Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann said that government officials would be examining the 187-page ruling.
She noted, "We have a period of six months, but we must really analyze the decision."