Tracy Latimer: 25 Years Later

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ngd- Now, it is almost the 30th anniversary…

October 24th, 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of Tracy Latimer’s death by homicide. On this day in 1993, 12-year-old Tracy would be loaded into the cab of her father (Robert Latimer)’s truck. Mr. Latimer would run a hose from the exhaust pipe into the cab, and start the engine. Tracy died by carbon monoxide poisoning. She had cerebral palsy. Mr. Latimer claimed that he was nobly ending his daughter’s suffering; he was charged with 2nd-degree murder.

To be clear, Tracy Latimer was murdered. She had a disability, and she was murdered. Those two facts don’t cancel one another out. Nonetheless, Tracy’s life and death are instructive when applied to current day discussions of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). Tracy’s story brings light to the vulnerability that children with disabilities face navigating both life and death.

Are those deliberating offering MAiD to mature minors remembering Tracy Latimer today? They should be. They should be ensuring that under no circumstance will parents be able to murder their children through the Canadian medical system. By continuing to chip away at the laws protecting against assisted suicide, while simultaneously failing to put adequate safeguards in place, we are creating space for this kind of misuse.

Tracy was particularly vulnerable because those entrusted with her care decided that her life was not worth living. She, like all children, was dependent on her family for her survival, for her medical care, food, and shelter. In this case, her support system was broken. Tracy was not just at risk because she had a disability, she was at risk because she was a child who needed others.

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