In 1993, Robert Latimer murdered his 12-year old disabled daughter, gassing her to death with fumes from his truck. He was convicted of second degree murder with a mandatory sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 10 years. For nearly two decades, Robert has received widespread sympathy and support from the Canadian public as a loving father who finally put an end to his poor, suffering daughter’s misery. But, whose misery was he trying to end, really?
Responding to yet another comment defending Latimer for killing his daughter, Mark Pickup attempts to set the record straight
Was Tracy’s life completely miserable as the media and Robert’s defense lawyers maintained? Was Tracy’s life unworthy of living? Was her life one of continual suffering? Did Tracy have no happiness, no joy? Did her life have no redeeming qualities as the defense lawyer, media and Laura Latimer portrayed?
Misery and pain were not the sum total of Tracy Latimer’s life any more than pain and misery are the sum total in the lives of countless other people with severe disabilities.
Tracy was a happy child. Professionals who worked with Tracy contradicted Laura’s dismal portrayal of Tracy. Even Laura contradicted herself through her handwritten notes in a communication book that always accompanied Tracy for caregivers to read. Samples of Laura’s notes alluding to Tracy being a happy child included comments like “Tracy was happy”, “Tracy ate a good ham supper, she was a very happy girl”, “When I came home, I gave Tracy a pudding. She was a happy girl.”, “Tracy seems cheerful and more like her old self.”, and “Tracy was very cheerful”.
Tracy did have joy — the irrepressible joy of childhood, despite her disability. According to testimony by family physician, Dr. Robert Kemp and Laura Latimer, Tracy loved music. Others testified that Tracy loved sleigh rides, television, games, parties, the circus, and pets.
Tracy Latimer went to a developmental center Monday to Friday for regular school days. She came home each day on the same school bus as her siblings and other children, and did so right up to the Friday before she was murdered by her father. There were discussions about integrating Tracy into the regular school system. All of this information brought out at the trial was available to read in the court transcripts if anybody cared to research it.
Please read the whole thing.
A recent study by Newcastle University found that most children with cerebral palsy have the same range of happiness and unhappiness as all children. By all accounts, Tracy Latimer was no different.
The “mercy killing” of sick and disabled people by their caregivers happens more often than we hear about even today and, when we do, so many people let their emotions blind them to principle. The sick and disabled need to be loved and cared for. Killing is not care and we are in for a world of trouble if it is accepted as such.