In 1993, Robert Latimer, a Saskatchewan farmer ended the life of his severely disabled daughter by carbon monoxide poisoning from vehicle exhaust. He then turned himself over to police and started a firestorm public discussion about euthanasia and disability. He was sentenced for second degree murder and isn’t eligible for full parole until December 2010. He is currently in a halfway home with some unescorted day parole, which he uses to travel back to Saskatchewan to be with his family.
On Feb. 27, 1999, Anton “Tony” Lorenz kicked his girlfriend, Sandra Quigley in the teeth, battered her head with a telephone and finished her off with a pillow. Sandra was 32 and had previously been hospitalized twice following beatings and one of those times, the beating was so severe that she miscarried.
Lornez is now on partial parole and living in the community where the murder took place and where Sandra’s friends and family live.
Latimer has never denied his actions and many Canadians, myself included, agree with and are sympathetic to the mercy reasons behind his difficult choice. His daughter was in constant pain, with no relief and no hope for any meaningful life. He ended her life gently.
Lornez brutally beat Sandra on several occasions and doesn’t take responsibility for his actions. Shockingly, the parole board still granted him parole while he has avoided questions and doesn’t take responsibility.
Parole is supposed to be for people who have admitted what they did and regret it. Not for people who push the responsibility to the victim and refuse to discuss the events.
This is especially disheartening when you consider people like David Milgaard who was not eligible for parole because he wouldn’t admit to murder and remained in jail for 21 years until DNA finally cleared him of the crime and the actual killer was identified.
Has it really become more socially acceptable for a man to brutally murder a woman than for a parent to end the life of a severely disabled and in chronic pain child?
Latimer does not pose any danger to the public while Lornez does.
Latimer has never denied responsibility and maintained that he was motivated by mercy, while Lornez doesn’t accept responsibility and blames his victim.
Latimer, in addition to being incarcerated for a longer time period has the added punishment of national infamy. While Lornez has the dubious benefit of being one of many men anonymous to the public who’ve murdered wives and girlfriends and ex-wives and ex-girlfriends.
While it is true that Latimer’s daughter was a far more vulnerable victim, being a child and having severe cerebral palsy making her unable to communicate or move on her own, and had a relationship with a far greater duty of care – parent to child. To many people, Latimer was acting to spare his child a life of pain and suffering. His actions are intellectually understandable although emotionally anguishable. Latimer was not motivated by greed or anger or rage, but compassion for his daughter and his family. A decision of life or death of one’s child has to be the most difficult one a parent has to make, especially if it’s not a simple removal of hospital care.
Parents who’s child is hospitalized aren’t charged with second degree murder for removing life sustaining treatment. Which is a much closer comparable for Latimer’s situation.
Lornez’s murder of Quigley and earlier beatings of her are not at all defensible. That the couple had broken up and he convinced her to return to him suggests that he probably would have murdered her for leaving him.
Women are often more at risk of being murdered by the abusive ex-boyfriend/husband once a restraining order is issued – as it is a direct challenge to the man’s perceived authority and masculinity and this can escalate his actions from abuse/stalking to murder.
What’s interesting to me is that the groups that were so publically outraged by Latimer’s ending his daughter’s life were typically the religious groups.
Yet, these same groups never come forward to protest against the Lornez type cases.
It is very peculiar to me that the religious righteous tend to be so concerned to maintain the continued existence of anyone who can’t speak for themselves (the unborn, the Terri Schiavo‘s, etc). The Religious Righteous remain silent on the deaths of people who can communicate when they are crime victims or soldiers. But the Religious Righteous speak out in favour of death for people who can communicate when they are the murderers.
I have to wonder, why it is that the Religious Righteous attempt to speak out for “those who can’t”. Is is because if the person could, they would tell the Religious Righteous to back off? That they don’t share the Religious Righteous’ beliefs or terror of death?
It’s peculiar that the Religious Righteous upholds Family Values as ideals, yet attempt to interfere in many people’s families that they are not members of.
It is the legal and moral responsibility of parents and spouses to make decisions for spouses and children who are incapacitated. It is up to the woman to decide what is occurring within her body, and she is the first in line to speak for any offspring.
It is not up to unrelated people to step in between a parent and child or potential child; nor between two spouses. Not legally and not morally.
It is in everyone’s interests to ensure that society is as safe as it can be – so it is in our interests to intervene and condemn the beatings, rapes and murders of any member of society.
Sure, some people view abortion as murder and that would have some credibility if their concern about abortion was matched by a concern about murder generally. But it doesn’t.
Too often what abortion objections come down to is subjugating and controlling women, punishing them for sex and often racism. More often than not, there’s more concern that it’s white women having abortions and it ties into the xenophobic fear of being outbred by other ethnicities.
If you don’t believe me, think about all the anti-abortion demonstrations you’ve seen or activists you’ve heard of – primarily white and usually male.
It occurred to me some time ago to not only listen and consider the message, but also look at the group demographics promoting the view.
It seemed to me that if the group was largely homogenous on ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, that likely, there’s something else uniting the group that underlies the issue they are making public.
That if an issue was truly just or correct, that the supporters would cross a lot of those demographics. Because it would be the issue, such as environmental protection, that drew people from all walks of life to unite in common cause.
Whereas an issue dominated by a particular demographic feels more like a symptom of a larger unifying cause.
To my mind, motivation counts, a lot.
Which takes us full circle back – Latimer’s motivation was compassion and Lorenz was control over his victim.
Funny then that the Religious Righteous is outraged at the compassion and unfazed by the attempt to control.