Tag Archives | annette corriveau

Annette Corriveau, Dr. Phil and Joni Eareckson Tada

Google just recently alerted me to May 25 blog on Huffington Post by Joni Eaerckson Tada on the Annette Corriveau   April 13 Dr. Phil interview with Annette Corriveau. She was not impressed with how he handled it. Neither, apparently, were a coalition of unnamed organizations and individuals who wrote to Dr. Phil, accusing him of promoting the idea that parents should have the right to euthanize their disabled children.


Did we watch the same program, I wonder?

Eareckson Tada’s Objection’s to the Dr. Phil Interview with Annette Corriveau

Eareckson Tada, who is the founder and CEO of the Joni and Friends International Disability Centre, had several objections to the Dr. Phil interview with Annette Corriveau:

  1. For a discussion on euthanasia, there should have been a wider variety of guests reprepresenting a a wider spectrum of perspectives.  If this had been a general discussion on euthanasia, I wouldn’t agree more. But it wasn’t. It was an interview with one woman whose controversial views had put her in the news.  For context and comment, a person who supported her views and a person who opposed her views also talked. I would have loved to have seen this topic get two episodes so that they could have brought in more voices on either side, but it was an interview and it didn’t even get an hour. The Dr. Phil interview with Annette Corriveau covered a lot in less than an hour.
  2. It was biased toward her position. No, it wasn’t. I actually found Dr. Phil to be firmly in the camp of Annette Corriveau’s two adult children. He specifically said that while he would not want to continue if he had their disabilities (and he is entitled to his opinion), they can’t tell us how they’re feeling about life and what they want done on the basis of that. Therefore, even if Annette Corriveau did have the right to euthanize them, to do so would be wrong, as she’s making an assumption that they want to die. (This is the part that really disgusts me too, by the way…just because she feels that she”d want to die if she was in their situation doesn’t mean that they want to.)  If Tada wants to talk about biased television, the “16 x 9” episode about Annette Corriveau that appeared on Global Television is available on the internet.
  3. Dr. Phil used “mercifully” in the question when he asked the audience about whether Annette Corriveau should be able to kill her childen – Ereckson Tada seems to think that fewer people would have raised their hands had “mercifully” not been used in the question. I’m not convinced.

Ereckson Tada also said that in the “Uncensored” video (which appears generally appears on the Internet after summary for each Dr. Phil episode, but I could not find it for this one when I searched), Dr. Phil and his staff were much more pleased with how the show went than they had a right to be. Ereckson Tada believes that he was very irresponsible.

Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I just don’t see it.

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Annette Corriveau Interview on “Dr. Phil” on Friday, April 13

It’s 5:30 where I am, and I’ve returned to the blog today to update on the Annette 

annette corriveauCorriveau story. Annette Corriveau, in case you don’t remember or haven’t heard, is a mother of Jeffrey and Janet Collins, two adult children with San Filippo syndrome. They have severe physical and intellectual disabilities, and have been institutionalized for decades.

Annette Corriveau on “Dr. Phil”

For those for whom “Dr. Phil” still hasn’t aired today, or for whom today’s show appears on Monday, Dr. Phil is interviewing Annette Corriveau today. The segment uses quite a bit of footage from the “16×9” segment that the Canadian Association for Community Living (and I, for that matter) found so unbalanced. Since Dr. Phil tells his audience regularly that he reads the tweets that people leave him, I took the liberty of leaving him one telling him that Canadian disability advocates were particularly upset by how one-sided that piece of reporting on the Annette Corriveau story was.

Dr. Phil handled the interview (and the ensuing debate between a lawyer who felt that Corriveau should have the right to end her childrens’ lives and a mother who definitely felt she should not) very well. He pointed out to Annette Corriveau that she was making assumptions about what Jeffrey and Janet could and could not feel and experience and what their decision would be about continuing life as they were. He said that he would not want to continue if he was in their place, but that they couldn’t know what Jeffrey and Janet were feeling about it.

I was happy to see that he was supporting the rights of Jeffrey and Janet, who cannot speak for themselves. But I’d been paying attention to the statements to which the audience responded with applause over the course of the interview and debate. As Dr. Phil asked people to raise a hand if they thought that parents should have the right to end their child’s life in a situation like Annette Corriveau’s, I felt sick to my stomach, and it turned out that I had good reason to.

90% of the audience raised their hand. The mother who had been involved in the debate said, “Oh no…” and started to cry.

How are we supposed to make the world a place where people with disabilities feel welcome and valued, when we’re up against this?

Dr. Phil message boards: http://community.drphil.com/boards/?EntryID=31912

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Canadian Association for Community Living Complains to Global Television

The Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL) wrote an open letter of complaint on March 30 to GlobalCanadian Association for Community Living Television regarding it’s “16 x 9” program. Specifically, CACL was upset with reporting in a segment in a episode of “16 x 9” regarding whether family members should have the right to take the life of a person with severe disabilities.

The Canadian Association for Community Living’s Concerns

CACL is one of the largest support/advocacy agencies for people with intellectual disabilities for people with intellectual disabilities in Canada. It oversees a network of ACLs at the provincial level, which in turn oversee ACLs in most cities and towns. I read the CACL’s letter to Global, and their concerns run along the same lines as mine (http://www.girlwiththecane.com/annette-corriveau/). I’m glad that an organization with their influence is speaking up.

The full text of their letter to Global is here:  http://www.cacl.ca/news-stories/blog/open-letter-and-formal-complaint-global-tv-biased-damaging-media-coverage

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“Disturbingly One-Sided” – Annette Corriveau and the Right to Kill

I wondered why I was hearing Robert Latimer’s name recently. It turns out that on Friday there will be vigils Annette Corriveauaround the United States, in cities including New York, Washington, Chicago, Boston, Tampa, Fla., Fort Worth, Texas and Portland, Ore.,  for people with disabilities who have been killed by their caregivers. But it’s been the profile of Annette Corriveau on “16 x 9”, a program run on Canada’s Global Television Network, that’s put Latimer (and the question of “mercy killing” for people with severe disabilities) in the spotlight in Canada again.

For those that don’t know Robert Latimer, he was convicted of second degree murder when he put his daughter, Tracy, in the cab of his pick-up and killed her using carbon monoxide. Tracy was twelve years old and had severe physical and intellectual disabilities due to cerebral palsy. Robert, convinced that she was in unendurable pain, said that he didn’t want her to have to deal with it anymore. Normally a second degree murder conviction carries a life sentence in Canada, but he was released from prison with life on parole in seven years.

Annette Corriveau, according to “16 x 9”, is very much where Latimer was when he made the decision to kill Tracy. She wants to right to kill her two adult children, Jeffrey and Janet, both living with severe disabilities due to San Filippo syndrome and institutionalized for most of their lives. She made the decision that this is what she wanted to do when it became necessary to feed them via feeding tube so that they won’t choke. She doesn’t believe that they would choose to live like this, so she would like the legal right to end their lives.

Annette Corriveau and Robert Latimer Got to Speak…

I get that it’s very difficult to watch your child’s health and abilities keep deteriorating, especially when they’re in pain. Tracy was having seizures that routinely disconnected her hip. It had to have been terrible.

And I know that there’s little support in every way in Canada for caregivers of people with disabilities. There’s very little respite money or opportunities available. Supports are being cut back everywhere. The struggles are difficult to talk about. It’s a tough, often thankless job.

Additionally, for parents who are looking after children with severe disabilities, there’s always that mourning for the dreams that they had for the child. That’s why I’ve always liked “Welcome to Holland”, a story with which I’m sure many of you are familiar. http://www.our-kids.org/Archives/Holland.html

I recognize that this sort of parenting is very difficult, and empathize with the parents. However…

Who Speaks for Jeffrey, Janet and Tracy?

The “16 x 9” profile was, as anti-euthanasia activist Alex Schadenberg said, “disturbingly one-sided” http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.ca/2012/03/taking-mercy-case-for-euthanizing.html  . It was riddled with ableist language and assumptions. The staff that work with Jeffrey and Janet on a daily basis, that would be able to testify to the ways in which they communicate, were not interviewed.  The reporter did not challenge Annette Corriveau at all on her conviction that her children do not want to live the way they are (just because she felt that she would not choose to live if she was living that way), or ask if she’s worked with the facility in which they live to take steps to make their lives more “bearable”.

For example, it was brought up several times that Janet has not left the facility in over 20 years, but the reporter never asked Annette Corriveau if she’d worked with the facility to try and arrange some trips out into the community.

The documentary obviously took the stance that what had happened to Jeffrey and Janet was horrible and that no one could blame Annette Corriveau for thinking the way she was, like she was the victim of some cosmic tragedy that no parent should have to endure…and therefore jusified in stopping her pain in whatever way she could.  After all, as the reporter pointed out, more than half of Canada and most of the jury actually supported Latimer’s actions while the trial was going on.

I find all of this profoundly disturbing.

Reporter: “Is any of this about you?”

Listening to the interview with Annette Corriveau, and the interview with Latimer that was included in the segment, I had no doubt that these parents love their children. But I don’t buy that Latimer killed Tracy (at least solely) to ease her pain, or that Annette Corriveau wants to kill her children out of concern that they wouldn’t want to live that way. I think it’s more about parents that can’t stand dealing with the pain that their childrens’ “suffering” causes *them*. And when you don’t know how much someone is actually suffering, or what they’d like done about it (in Tracy’s case, at her age, no responsible clinician one would even have thought of asking her “Do you want to die?” if she’d not had an intellectual disability)…it’s just plain wrong.

Ask, don’t assume.

All people deserve the dignity of making their own life choices. No matter how *you* feel about what living their life must be like.

I can only be empathetic with the Robert Latimers and Annette Corriveaus to a point, and frankly I’m glad for it.

The whole “16 x 9” segment is available for viewing here:


See the Council of Canadians with Disabilities’ response to the program here:


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