In what is believed to be a Canadian first, a Toronto physician has been charged with helping a person to commit suicide. It is alleged that Dr. Maurice Genereux, an AIDS specialist, prescribed the drug seconal to one of his HIV positive patients to hasten the man’s death.
The patient, Aaron McGinn, was originally believed to have died of Aids-related causes. Rumors surfaced months after his death. The Toronto coroners’ office was subsequently notified by an anonymous source that McGinn’s death might have been unnatural.
The follow-up investigation warranted enough suspicion to have Dr. Genereux charged under the assisted suicide provisions of the Criminal code of Canada. If convicted, he could face up to 14 years in prison.
This is not the first time the professional conduct of Dr. Genereux has been questioned. In March 1994, the Ontario College of Physicians found him guilty of six counts of sexual misconduct. His license to practice medicine was suspended for 24 months.
Due to a shortage of AIDS specialists in the province, Dr. Genereux was allowed to return to practicing medicine after just nine months, provided that he was supervised by a third party when making examinations.
After a brief five-minute bail hearing, Dr. Genereux was released on $1,000 bail and allowed to continue working at his medical practice. Although his bail conditions do not suspend him as a physician, he is limited to the types of drugs he may prescribe and cannot attempt to contact to contact any of his former patients who are to be witnesses at his upcoming trail.
Many right-to-die activists are upset by the amount of attention that the story has generated.
Anti-euthanasia activists however, worry that if Dr. Genereux is not disciplined by the courts, Canada could face a northern version of America’s Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Kevorkian has helped to kill 31 people since 1990.
Despite being charge three times during the past two years for his actions, he has never been convicted of assisting in a suicide.
Kevorkian is consistently successful in convincing juries that he simply providing a “medical service” and has likened himself to Jesus Christ, Ghandi, and Einstein.