Monday, May 27, 2024

Professional medicine should not endorse assisted suicide

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An excellent article by Dr Joseph A. Caruana, a retired surgeon and clinical ethicist; and Philip A. Reed, Ph.D., a professor of philosophy at Canisius University was published in the Buffalo News on May 26, 2024. 

Caruana and Reed explain why medical professionals should not support assisted suicide and why the New York Assisted Suicide Bill A995 and S2445 should be rejected:

Last month the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) endorsed assisted suicide legislation for the first time. While some state medical societies have adopted positions of neutrality with respect to assisted suicide, the MSSNY is the first to support such legislation. We believe this is unwise and unethical for the following reasons. 

They then explain why the New York assisted suicide bill is particularly concerning:

The Medical Aid in Dying Act, currently being considered in the New York State Legislature, would allow terminally ill patients access to lethal drugs prescribed by a physician. The bill has fewer safeguards than other states that have legalized assisted suicide. Unlike most other states, it lacks a residency requirement, potentially making New York a destination for suicide tourism. If successful, the legislation will also be the first U.S. policy to omit a waiting period for obtaining lethal drugs, enabling terminally ill patients impulsively to end their lives.

They then explain why most doctors oppose assisted suicide:

The legalization of assisted suicide sends the message that the intentional introduction of death is an appropriate treatment option when illness compromises one’s quality of life. It is no wonder, then, that among the most vocal critics of assisted suicide tend to be palliative care physicians and the disability rights community, which hold that the legislation does not protect the vulnerable against coercion and provides a lethal end-around to sufficient medical and social support for the terminally ill and disabled. The experience of Oregon shows that patients choose assisted suicide not primarily for reasons of pain-relief but because they are afraid of losing their autonomy and burdening others.

Doctors have consistently opposed assisted suicide at least since the Hippocratic Oath because it involves the intentional introduction of a fatal pathology into a patient’s body. The American Medical Association still maintains a strong position against assisted suicide, stating that it is “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would
pose serious societal risks.”

They then write about the pressure on doctors to participate and the confusion that legalizing assisted suicide causes.

It is true that the MSSNY also expressed support for a doctor’s decision to refuse to participate in assisted suicide. However, this overlooks the difficulty that many physicians will experience when assisted suicide is thought of as a regular treatment option by their patients.

Even now, some dying patients avoid hospice care because they believe that such care will intentionally hasten death. Imagine how much more difficult it will be to care for the dying–and suffering patients in general–in an environment where assisted suicide is a legal right with institutional support.

They then conclude:

Many physicians are of course well-meaning in their support of aid in dying. And this is obviously a complex and difficult issue for many terminally ill patients and their families. But doctors better protect the practice of medicine and its patients by formally opposing the option of intentionally causing death.

Thank you Dr Joseph A. Caruana, and Professor Philip A. Reed, Ph.D., for your excellent article.

We mourn the euthanasia death of Zoraya ter Beek

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
 
In early April I published an article titled: Autistic 28-year-old Dutch woman scheduled to die by euthanasia
 
Voz media published an article on May 26, 2024 reporting that Zoraya ter Beek died by euthanasia on Wednesday May 24. The report stated:
Young Dutch woman Zoraya ter Beek died this week after undergoing euthanasia, according to various European media reports.

Ter Beek had requested euthanasia from state authorities, alleging that she was suffering from mental health problems, including depression and autism. She was, she said, "tired of living."

She died Wednesday at 1 p.m., according to a local newspaper report. For three years, she had been advocating for the right to die with state assistance.

Her case reignited the debate around the morality and legality of euthanasia.

EPC is helping a Calgary father legally challenge the euthanasia approval of his 27-year-old autistic daughter (Link).

Articles on this story:

Response to Autistic women who plan to die by euthanasia (Link)

Friday, May 24, 2024

Do “Death With Dignity” Advocates Care About People with Disabilities?

Meghan Schrader
By Meghan Schrader

Meghan is an autistic person who is an instructor at E4 - University of Texas (Austin) and an EPC-USA board member.

I don’t think that every assisted suicide supporter is an ableist; I think a lot of people are uninformed about the oppression that the disabled community faces on a daily basis and have no basis for understanding how their agenda could contribute to that oppression. It strikes me that there are assisted suicide advocates out there that earnestly intend to have assisted suicide without expanding it or otherwise harming people with disabilities.

However, assisted suicide is a life and death issue, so trust can only go so far. A lot of “death with dignity” advocates trying to “find common ground” with the disability rights movement say that they care about people with disabilities, but I don’t think that they do. Or, if they do, their concern is mixed with a self-serving motive to eliminate a threat to their agenda. From where I sit as a “Xennial,” someone who came of age in the early 2000s, people who love to virtue signal about how much they care about social justice like to ignore people with disabilities. 

I grew up in the liberal Northeast state of Massachusetts, and so we spent a lot of time talking about racism, but only racism against *ablebodied* BIPOC people. We talked about the women’s rights movement, but the only role models we had were *ablebodied,* neurotypical women. In high school we talked about the rights and experiences of LGBT-identifying persons, but only *ablebodied” LGBT identifying persons. There was no intersectional discussion in which we discussed the needs and experiences of disabled BIPOC or LGBT-identifying persons. We did not learn about disability history, the word “ableism” was never mentioned, we did not learn that there was a dude named Peter Singer working at Princeton who wanted disabled people to die, and when I joined a high school social justice group, we did not talk about disability unless I brought it up.

Because of this cultural invisibility, organizations that see assisted suicide as a civil right have a history of ignoring disabled people. For instance, I do not know what President Biden’s position on assisted suicide is; I hope that he does not support it. However, Xavier Beccerea, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services does support it and Biden’s healthcare equity team recently tried to prevent the inclusion of disability in its health equity research, because including it would “overwhelm its resources” (Article Link).

The Center for American Progress, which in the past has signalled support for “aid in dying,” (Article Link) finally created a disability rights division in 2018 (Article Link). That leaves me feeling respect and admiration for the disability rights advocates who founded that project, but not much trust in the CFAP.

Similarly, after decades of generally ignoring serious human and civil rights violations against disabled people since its founding in 1920, the assisted suicide supporting ACLU finally created a disability rights division in 2012 (Information Link). Yet, in 2021 the able bodied director of the New York ACLU had the audacity to brag that her organization had been fighting for disability rights “for decades,” so trust her, assisted suicide will turn out fine (Article Link). Well, that’s not true, other then a very small sprinkling of cases here or there, her organization has a horrible record on disability rights. The fact that organizations like that, and able-bodied interlopers from groups like the Death With Dignity National Center are trying to gain inroads into disability rights groups, have started talking about ableism practically yesterday isn’t terribly impressive. 

Assisted suicide is part of a pattern where groups are getting into disability rights when they feel like it helps their cause, with grave consequences for people with disabilities. 

They need to apologize for ignoring disabled people and advocate strenuously for disability justice, then maybe it will be reasonable to trust that you care.

New York assisted suicide lobby members arrested for civil disobedience.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Assisted suicide lobby members in New York were arrested for disorderly conduct on Tuesday May 21 as they conducted a civil disobedience protest in the New York Assembly. Clearly the assisted suicide lobby is becoming desperate as New York State Assembly members continue to prevent debate on assisted suicide Bill A995 and S2445.

The assisted suicide lobby stated in their recent article that:
Corinne Carey, Compassion & Choices’ Senior Campaign Director for NY/NJ, and terminally ill Bronx resident Jules Netherland, issued the following statements in conjunction with their arrest Tuesday for civil disobedience and the arrest of nine other advocates in support of New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act.
Corinne Carey stated:

"As campaign director for the last decade and a lawyer who prides herself on not getting arrested – other than that one time in the U.S. Senate gallery protesting so-called welfare reforms in 1996 – this is the last thing I wanted to do. But the lack of movement on the bill so far has sadly left us no other choice."

We know that the New York assisted suicide lobby was in trouble last December, when Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, who is the sponsor of Assembly Bill A0995 stated on a video (starting at 18:40) that 'they need to get the assisted suicide bill passed first and then amend it later.'

I will not comment on the historical success of civil disobedience, but I will suggest that the civil disobedience is related to the desperation of the assisted suicide lobby in New York and several other states.

The assisted suicide lobby has failed to legalize assisted suicide in new states in the past two years and this year they have currently failed to legalize assisted suicide in any new state.

The most recent success in stoping assisted suicide was in New Hampshire where assisted suicide Bill HB 1283 passed in the House by a vote of 179 to 176 but failed in the Senate when a 17 - 7 vote referred the bill to further study.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has focused on defeating the New York assisted suicide bill assisted suicide Bill.

In February we contacted New York State representatives and sent them this letter that clearly explains why they need to reject assisted suicide (Link). We also contacted our New York supporters urging them to contact their elected State representatives with the following message (Link).

Recently we contacted New York State representatives again with a similar message that proved to be very successful in New Hampshire, titled: A Libertarian call to defeat New York Bill A995 and S2445 (Link).

We must remain vigilant. The fact that the assisted suicide lobby is becoming desperate, may lead to the assisted suicide lobby becoming even more active.

We hope that the desperation of the assisted suicide lobby back-fires on them.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Private Members Bill would allow euthanasia by advanced request.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Two Bloc MP's are sponsoring Bill C-390 which would expand Canada's euthanasia law.

Sylvie Bérubé BQ MP (Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou) and Luc Thériault BQ MP (Montcalm) held a press conference on May 22 to announce that they have introduced Bill C-390 to expand Canada's (MAiD) euthanasia law to, among other areas, permit euthanasia by advanced request.

Bill C-390 would expand Canada's euthanasia law by adding to each section of the law - the words:
"or an applicable provincial framework."
In June 2023 Québec expanded their provincial euthanasia law by passing Bill 11  expanding euthanasia in Québec by:
  • creating an obligation for palliative care homes to offer MAID;
  • offering MAID in cases of serious physical disability;
  • offering MAID by advance request*
Amending Canada's federal euthanasia law based on Bill C-390 would expand euthanasia enabling it to be decided by an advanced request, by causing federal legislation to be changed when a Province changes it's provincial legislation.

The federal report by the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying (AMAD) that was tabled in the House of Commons on February 15, 2023 called for an expansion of euthanasia (MAiD) in Canada. The report recommended that children "mature minors" and patients with mental illnesses be eligible for euthanasia and that patients with illnesses such as dementia be permitted to make advanced requests by advanced directives for euthanasia.

Euthanasia (killing) is bad enough, but killing by advanced request changes the nature of consent, meaning, someone can be killed without a clear and present consent. When consent becomes secondary, it changes the question of who can be killed by lethal injection.

Provincial governments have the ability to amend the practise of euthanasia in their jurisdiction. Bill C-390 would allow provinces, such as Québec, to change their provincial law with it resulting in an immediate change to the federal law.

Reaction to the Bloc Québécois federal euthanasia bill


The Boundary of incapacity: must not be crossed. (Link to the original release)

Montreal, May 23, 2024 – The Bloc Québécois announced today that it will table a Federal Bill that “would allow advance requests for medical assistance in dying (MAiD) for people suffering from neurodegenerative disorders such as Dementia."

This was presented during a Press Conference in Ottawa, in collaboration of a Coalition made up of the Quebec Association for the Right to Die with Dignity (Association Québécoise pour le droit de mourir dans la dignité, AQDMD), the Quebec Bar (Barreau du Québec), the Chambre des notaires du Quebec (CNQ), the College of Physicians of Quebec (CMQ), the Order of Nurses of Quebec (OIIQ), the Order of Pharmacists of Quebec (OPQ) as well as the Order of Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists of Quebec (OTSTCFQ) (see their press release in French) + Dying with Dignity Canada.

Given the tone of the Press Conference, which was very critical of the Liberal government, this maneuver has little chance of finding an attentive ear.

A thorough review is required before expanding access to medical assistance in dying by advance request. Crossing the boundary of incapacity and contemporaneous consent to administer MAiD would have serious and unprecedented consequences.

Here is an excerpt from the Brief from Living with Dignity presented last year during the examination (in Quebec) of Bill 11, An Act to amend the Act respecting end-of-life care and other legislative provisions:
The limits of advanced and substituted consent, the numerous practical issues concerning the administration of MAiD, the possible conflicts of interest (numerous cases of abuse and neglect of elderly individuals) and the major impacts of this new access on a network of already fragile geriatric care, strongly questions the merits of this expansion which we also consider to be marked by ableism.
It is important to remember that the opponents of this expansion were not invited to testify in a parliamentary committee concerning Bill 11 last year at the National Assembly of Quebec.

Webinar by Professor Theo Boer


To reflect on the issue of advance directives, the citizen network Living with Dignity invites interested people to follow a webinar organized by Doctors Say No International. At 4 p.m. (Montreal time), Friday, May 24, Professor Theo Boer, Professor of Health Ethics (PThUniversiteit Groningen, Netherlands) will present (in English) during this webinar on Assisted dying and its impact on culture: 40 years of Dutch experience with euthanasia.

Zoom link (password: 089934).


Holland is the only country in the world that allows the death of a person by advanced request when they are Incapable of decision-making and conscious (Belgium only allows it when a person is Incapable and unconscious). Professor Boer's contributions in French during the International Meeting on the End-of-Life are now also available in print (in French), as are those of all the speakers at this gathering held in Paris on February 28, 2024.

-30-

Jasmin Lemieux-Lefebvre
Coordinator
Living with Dignity citizen network
info@vivredignite.org
438-931-1233

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

A libertarian call to defeat NY Bill A.995/S.2445 “The Medical Aid in Dying Act”

Gordon Friesen
Honorable Senators and Assembly Members,

It is a widely shared principle that, as long as our actions cause no harm to others, we might all be allowed to do as we please. And so it is that many principled people of a libertarian leaning --and many, even, who are personally repulsed by the idea of assisted death-- feel a visceral duty to support the right of others to choose the manner of their own passing.

Contrary to much public perception, however, A.995/S.2445  does not simply propose a liberty of permission for this purpose. Not at all!

At the heart of A.995/S.2445 lies the radical concept of "medical assistance in dying", whereby assisted suicide is redefined as medical care; which is to say: as an objectively positive benefit and human right. Hence, the real effect of this Bill (in keeping with the logical requirements of that definition) will be to create sweeping new entitlements, obligations and mandates 

Entitlements and mandates, to be sure, have nothing to do with freedom of choice. They are public policy instruments --the flip side of prohibitions-- meant to promote some choices at the expense of others. In the present case (whether intended or not) the effect of medical mandates is to maximize the incidence of assisted death, and thus to compromise (in equal measure) those treatment options available to the non-suicidal majority.

To take one key example, § 2899-M (section 2-A) states that institutional non-participation will be permitted for private facilities only, and only upon moral or religious (meaning essentially arbitrary) grounds. It is thus assumed that "normal" medicine --and especially publicly funded medicine-- must include assisted death as a matter of course.

Unfortunately, however, this principle disagrees with both majority patient choice, and that of their doctors. 

Let us pass quickly over the embarrassing fact that doctors, worldwide and in keeping with a stunningly successful 2,500 year tradition --established not in Christian Europe, but in the permissive moral climate of earlier Greece and Rome-- widely reject the medical normalization of assisted death ; and that the American Medical Association also remains opposed to any such practice.  

Let us focus, rather, on the serious harms which any mandated clinical inclusion, of assisted death, must force upon that overwhelming majority, of typical patients, who remain resolutely non-suicidal.

It is impossible, I submit, to believe that physicians (or nurses) who participate in any form of medical homicide might still be considered as appropriate caregivers for that patient majority. Clearly, we are in the presence of two mutually exclusive clinical visions. Assisted death cannot be "added" to traditional medicine, any more than meat can be "added" to a vegetarian diet! Any rash insistence on doing so, through legislative action, can only weaken the core mission of our medical industry.

Indeed, among our Northern neighbors, where the MAID concept first appeared in legislation (Quebec 2014 , Canada 2016 ), the effect of such entitlements and mandates has been to normalize the use of assisted death, to such an extent, that the vast non-suicidal majority of eligible patients must now navigate a clinical environment which has become objectively indifferent (if not openly hostile) to their continued survival.  

Very obviously, no coherent system of individual liberty might ever have produced such a result.

Most certainly, also, a principled defence of death-by-choice does not require liberty-minded citizens to espouse this extreme theory of death-as-care. Both Switzerland  and Germany, recognize a general right to suicide (including assisted suicide) but also refuse to accord such actions any objective validation (medical or otherwise), and this: precisely in order to honor sovereign subjective freedom, and to avoid the effects of entitlements, mandates and obligations as described above. 

In conclusion, therefore: Although I am personally opposed to any assisted death whatsoever, I also recognize that a sincere philosophy of "live-and-let-live" might indeed inspire principled support for death-by-choice. But not with just any Bill. And certainly not with this one! For whereas all recourse to assisted death involves exposure to recognized social harms, the pseudo-medical logic of Bills like A.995/S.2445 carries that damage to an entirely new, and truly industrial level.

In the end, we must decide whether New York's medical industry will be structured to prioritize the satisfaction of typical patient choice, or that of a small suicidal minority; and above all: whether a radical new paradigm of utilitarian death-medicine, as now seen in places like Canada --and so clearly echoed in A.995/S.2445-- will be allowed to high-jack the freedom agenda entirely.

With the greatest respect, I urgently request the defeat of this legislation.

Gordon Friesen, 
President,Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Notes:

  1.  Assembly Bill A995C, 2023-2024 Legislative Session, "The medical aid in dying act" (Article Link) accessed May 17, 2024
  2. Constitution of the World Health Organization (1946) as amended (2005)    accessed April 17, 2024 (Article Link)  accessed April 17, 2024
  3. World Medical Association: Firmly opposed to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (Article Link) accessed December 28, 2022
  4. American Medical Association, Code of Medical Ethics: Caring for Patients at the End of Life (see opinion 7, assisted suicide and opinion 8, euthanasia) (Article Link) accessed May 17, 2024
  5. Quebec: s-32.0001 - Act respecting end-of-life care, 2014, as amended 2023 (Article Link) accessed Nov 7, 2023
  6. STATUTES OF CANADA An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make related amendments to other Acts (medical assistance in dying) 2016. (Article Link) ammended by: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying) Bill C-7 2021 accessed May17, 2024
  7. Lessons from the Canadian Euthanasia Experiment, G. R. Friesen, April 4, 2023 (Article Link) accessed April 17, 2024
  8. Swiss criminal code art. 115 (Article Link)  accessed Nov 4, 2023
  9. German High Court decision February 26, 2020 (Article Link)  accessed Oct 28, 2023
  10. Fundamental Considerations in the Creation of a Minimally Intrusive Liberty of Assisted Death (produced for the Irish Joint Committee on Assisted Dying), G.R. Friesen, November 12, 2023, (Article Link). accessed May 17, 2024.

Home care and support group are keeping Michal Kaliszan from turning to MAID.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Michal and Yolanta Kalisan (past)
Meagan Gillmore wrote an excellent article that was published by Canadian Affairs on May 14 on How home care and a support group are keeping Ontarian resident Michal Kaliszan from turning to MAID.

The story about Kaliszan is excellent since it explains why many people with disabilities are dying by euthanasia (MAiD) in Canada under the Track 2 approval system.

When Canada expanded euthanasia to people who are not dying, it created a two track system for approving death. Track 1 allowed a same day death (no waiting period) for people whose "natural death was deemed to be reasonably foreseeable" (not defined). Track 2 allowed a 90 day waiting period for people who had a "grievous and irremediable medical condition" (not defined) but whose natural death is not deemed to be reasonably foreseeable. Since most people with disabilities qualify to be killed under Track 2, therefore these people are being approved for death based on their disability but they are asking to be killed based on their personal circumstances.

Gillmore explains:

Kaliszan does not have a terminal illness and is not dying. Technically, one could argue he is not sick. Kaliszan has spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic condition that causes muscles to weaken over time. He was diagnosed as a baby; he has never known life without a disability.

He uses an electric wheelchair and needs 24-hour assistance for all daily living tasks: getting out of bed; showering; toileting; dressing; cooking; eating; house cleaning. A software developer, he works from home. Once someone helps put his hands on the keyboard, he can work independently.

He has cobbled together funding from different home-care programs in Ontario to give him round-the-clock home care.
It was difficult for Kaliszan to arrange for the support that he needed. Gillmore writes:
Getting this care was not easy. In the fall of 2022, he tried to crowdfund the costs. He estimated then that home care cost about $800 a day and pegged his yearly caregiving costs at $285,100. Even with his job, he could not afford it on his own.

At the beginning of 2023, when he was 39, he was told the only place he could get constant care was in a long-term care facility. He did not want to live in what he calls a form of incarceration, so he was prepared to turn to medical assistance in dying.
Today, a medically assisted death is not in his plans.
“It feels amazing that I’ve been able to carry on this long,” he said in December. “I’m still in the community. I’m still living a dignified, meaningful life. Yes, there are challenges. There’s still stress and work to be done. But it’s far, far better than having made that final decision to carry through with MAID.”
Gillmore explains the background behind Kaliszan's story. Gillmore also explains that without the support that he needed that Kaliszan would be forced to sit in his soiled diaper, which was disgusting. Gillmore writes:
“I don’t want to be sitting in a soiled diaper because that’s the status quo,” Kaliszan said in February 2023 — a few weeks after he had asked about applying for MAID.
Kaliszan sought out a referral for a MAiD (euthanasia) assessment on February 13, 2023. Based on Canadian law, he qualified under the Track 2 requirements. Gillmore wrote:

Kaliszan was interested in what is often called Track 2 MAID. This is MAID for people who have an incurable illness, disease or disability and are experiencing suffering they consider intolerable — but whose deaths are not reasonably foreseeable. The Criminal Code says there must be a minimum of 90 days between the beginning of the first assessment that finds a person eligible and the medically assisted death.

So, if Kaliszan’s first assessment began in March, he could be dead in June.

But Kaliszan didn't want to die. He told Gillmore:

“If my choices are between sitting in a soiled diaper, whether that means at home or in an institution, then I don’t think that’s the kind of life that I want to live,”


“Even if I am in the comfort of my own home and able to work from home, I don’t think I’m going to be OK with sitting in a soiled diaper [and] trying to focus on work … It’s not realistic. It’s not dignified. … That’s what’s driving the MAID decision.”
Kaliszan turned his attention to finding a solution. Gillmore states:
“I still have a rather strong desire to live,” he said. “It’s just that I think, at some point, everyone has their breaking point.”

He was reaching his. Normally healthy, he was diagnosed with hypertension. He stopped sleeping. He could not relax. Time once spent reading or watching Netflix was better used finding alternatives to MAID.

Kaliszan had not previously thought about MAID much. After watching his mother’s cancer progress, he understood why MAID is legal in terminal cases, he says. But he did not think it was a good option for disabled people who are not dying.

“We’ve created a system where it’s just easier for disabled people to die than it is to keep on living,” he said.
Kaliszan never applied for MAiD, but Gillmore explains that it is easier to apply for MAiD than to receive home care funding to live.
Finding information about MAID — and applying for it — is often easier than applying for home care.

For example, individuals that want to obtain home care through Ontario’s Family-Managed Home Care program must apply to one of the province’s 14 Home and Community Care Support Services organizations. The program — which is separate from the Direct Funding program Kaliszan has used since he was 18 — allows eligible individuals or their substitute decision makers to hire, train and schedule workers to provide medical services, therapy or help with household tasks.

The application process is long. It involves several meetings with Home and Community Care Support Services staff. The policy manual is 50 pages.

People “often do not understand it,” said Danielle Turpin, founder of the Home Care Workers Co-operative, whose members often provide home care through the program. She often helps clients complete the applications. Some give up because it is too complicated, she says.

She also helped a client apply for MAID. It was much easier. The application form was three pages; applicants needed to write only their name and check off five boxes confirming they meet eligibility criteria. (After an individual fills out a request for MAID, two independent nurses or doctors must ensure they meet the eligibility criteria.) The differences between the two processes “blew my mind,” said Turpin.

On principle, she supports MAID. But she never understood the process until she helped someone apply.

MAID applications are “way too simple,” she said, especially when compared with home-care applications.

“We can do some of these proactive, preventative things as a society to help people stay in their homes and get the care that they choose to get when they want it,” she said. But the way the system is set up means home care is not a viable option for many.
Kaliszan has a solution to his needs but it was a group effort. Gillmore reports:

When Kaliszan was looking for help getting home care, he contacted the Disability Justice Network of Ontario. The non-profit advocacy group connected him with Megan Linton, an Ottawa-based disability researcher and the organization’s policy lead. She found others who could help him, and soon a group of four was formed with the goal of keeping Kaliszan at home.

The group helped Kaliszan secure his current funding.
Kaliszan hires, trains, schedules and manages payroll for his staff. Turnover is common. By fall 2023, Kaliszan was getting used to the systems, but life was far from carefree.

“It’s not clear whether or not accessing multiple programs simultaneously is something that is going to be allowed on an ongoing basis,” he explained last October.

“You never know which day somebody might call up and say, ‘Remember that temporary agreement we agreed to? Well, we’ve changed our mind.’”
It would be better if his needs were covered by a single program.

It would be simpler, he said, if a single program could cover all his needs. Each program has different requirements for what workers earn, what insurance is needed and what tasks workers can do.

His support group has provided constant help and encouragement. At first, Kaliszan was skeptical that the group could work. The idea sounded great in theory, but seemed a little utopian and impossible to make work practically. He thinks differently now.

“I would have been so much better off had I met the support group while Mom had been alive and healthier,” he said “[Fighting for support] alone, you’re just a lone voice in the night.”

Although Kaliszan’s life has improved, he is concerned about how close he came to dying.

He says he feels there was an insidious social pressure inducing him to consider MAID, although no one told him explicitly to apply for it.

Even with a full-time job and a home, he felt choosing death was easier than living. “I can only imagine how much stronger an inducement might be for somebody who doesn’t come from a position of privilege,” he said.

“I think in hindsight, I was giving up a little too soon,” he said about his request for a MAID assessment. At the time, he was exhausted, physically and emotionally — and grieving his mother’s death.

“There is hope,” he said. “It just requires perseverance and staying in the fight long enough.”
Thank you Michal for sharing hope for you and for others.

Friday, May 17, 2024

A Mother's warning about her sons death by assisted suicide in Switzerland.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An 82-year-old mother in the UK is warning people about assisted suicide after her 47-year-old son died at a Swiss assisted suicide clinic.

Judith Hamilton
Paul Brand reported for ITV.com on May 16, 2024 that the Pegasos assisted suicide clinic which assists the suicides of hundreds of people every year, assisted the suicide of Alastair Hamilton, who had an undiagnosed condition. 

Following an ITV News investigation, Pegasos said it would change its procedures to ensure that relatives were always informed in future. Brand reported:

The chemistry teacher had dramatically lost weight and complained of stomach problems in the months leading up to his death, but did not have a diagnosed illness.

His family had been supporting him in seeking medical help and had no idea he was really travelling to Switzerland to end his life.

When he failed to return to the UK and stopped answering his phone, his mother reported him missing.

Bank records eventually revealed that he had paid £11,000 to Pegasos to access what's known as a 'voluntary assisted death' in Switzerland.

ITV News travelled with his family to trace his final journey and confront the clinic which accepted his online application form, which has been seen by ITV News.
Pegasos approved Alastairs death even though they knew that he had an undiagnosed condition. Brand reported:
Limited to 300 word answers, Alastair told them that his undiagnosed condition was causing him "pain, fatigue and discomfort" which had "devastated my life".

However, he admitted that "there is no current, definitive medical explanation" for his illness and that his family did not know he had decided to take his own life.


Despite that, Pegasos accepted his application and within several days of arriving in Switzerland he was helped to die.
At first Pegasos did not respond to the Hamilton family but after ITV got involved they agreed to meet with the family. Brand stated:
Eventually, with the involvement of police and the British embassy, the clinic responded, confirming Alastair's death and returning his ashes to his family in the post.

We persuaded a representative from Pegasos to meet with Judith and Bradley in Switzerland to answer their questions.

At an anonymous office in central Basel, we were greeted by Sean Davison, who had spoken repeatedly to Alastair before he died.

Sean Davidson
Sean Davidson is a past President of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies and a former leader of Dignity South Africa who completed three years (house arrest) in South Africa for his conviction in the deaths of Anrich Burger (in 2013), Justin Varian (in 2015), and Richard Holland (in 2015). Sean Davidson was also convicted in the death of his mother in 2010 and he lost his medical license in New Zealand in 2020.

Brand ended the article by stating:

"In 2022, the Swiss Medical Association revised its guidelines regarding assisted dying. It is important to understand that these guidelines are not legally binding for the associations but are policies for the medical professionals. Several organisations for assisted dying, including Exit, Dignitas and Pegasos, publicly spoke out against the revised guidelines, because they are putting at risk the self-determination of people planning a voluntary assisted death and the freedom of choice in Switzerland."

Previous articles about Switzerland's assisted suicide law:

  • My husbands death made me more opposed to assisted suicide (Link). 
  • Swiss study: Legalizing assisted suicide does not lessen the number of common suicides (Link).

New Hampshire Senate Kills Assisted Suicide Bill

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

New Hampshire's 2024 assisted suicide bill is dead (Link)

The New Hampshire Senate killed Assisted Suicide Bill HB 1283 by a vote of 17 to 7 by referring it to an interim study on the bill.

Sruthi Gopalakrishnan reported on May 16, 2024 for the Concord Monitor that:

New Hampshire’s bill also did not have a residency restriction, which was a point of worry for senators who voted against the bill during the Senate session.

“We’ve discussed in this chamber passing legislation to prevent us from becoming magnets for crime, drugs, human trafficking and more,” said Sen. Regina Birdsell, asking the Senate to refer it to an interim study. “This bill because it has no residency requirements would make our state a magnet for a much more tragic purpose.”

The question of whether this law is assisted suicide or a humane way to die has dominated the debate in New Hampshire for the past few months and this was evident in Thursday’s senate session.
Gopalakrishnan reported that Canada's experience affected the New Hampshire debate:
Other concerns about the bill stem from Canada’s decision to extend medical aid in dying to even individuals without a terminal illness. While New Hampshire’s legislation imposes safeguards, includes provisions for self-administration of medication to prevent potential abuse among the disabled population, critics fear future expansions. They worry that similar to developments in Canada, eligibility criteria could be broadened beyond the original scope.
The assisted suicide lobby will try again next year. Gopalakrishnan reports
Although medical aid in dying won’t reach the governor’s desk this year, advocates emphasize that the push to legalize it in New Hampshire will persist, asserting that the decision to conclude one’s life with dignity should remain within the individual’s control.

The President of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Gordon Friesen, sent members of New Hampshire's Senate his article titled: A call to defeat New Hampshire assisted suicide House Bill 1283 (Link).

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Sponsor Alex Schadenberg's June 9th Half-Marathon run.

Alex Schadenberg will be running in the Forest City Road Races Half-Marathon run in London Ontario on June 9, 2024.

Sponsor him by making a donation to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

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Sponsor Alex and help the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition continue it's life-saving work.

New Hampshire assisted suicide bill is dead in 2024.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

On March 21, 2024, the New Hampshire House passed assisted suicide House Bill 1283 by a vote of 179 to 176 based on support from Libertarian Republicans. The assisted suicide bill was referred to the Senate where it was stopped on May 16, 2024 by a vote to 17 to 7 to send the bill for further study.  

Adam Sexton reported for wmur.com that:

After an emotional floor debate on Thursday morning, New Hampshire state senators voted 17-7 to further study a bill that would legalize "medical aid in dying," or assisted suicide, in New Hampshire.

The legislation, which already passed the New Hampshire House by a narrow margin, would allow a terminally ill adult patient of sound mind with fewer than six months to live to be prescribed a lethal cocktail of drugs, which they would self-administer to die by suicide. But now, the bill will be sidelined, likely until the next legislative session.

The President of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Gordon Friesen, sent members of New Hampshire's Senate his article titled: A call to defeat New Hampshire assisted suicide House Bill 1283 (Link).

Finnish Medical Association maintains opposition to euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

At their recent meeting, the Finnish Medical Association upheld their opposition to euthanasia.

The Helsinki Times reported on May 16 that:
In a recent meeting on May 16, 2024, the Finnish Medical Association's (FMA) council upheld its opposition to the legalization of euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide, reinforcing that physicians should not be compelled to perform procedures primarily intended to hasten a patient's death.

The FMA articulated that introducing legislation to permit euthanasia would represent a profound shift in values and could lead to unpredictable developments in medical practice.

The organization emphasized that the primary role of physicians is to protect life using current medical knowledge and to alleviate suffering, rather than addressing healthcare system deficiencies through euthanasia.

This decision follows an extensive period of research, international comparison, and consultation, including a survey conducted in collaboration with the University of Tampere. The survey gathered around 9,000 responses from Finnish physicians, revealing a slight increase in support for euthanasia over the years but also significant division among the medical community. Notably, doctors with specialization in palliative care tend to be more critical of euthanasia, and a majority are not personally prepared to perform it, with only 13.5% expressing full agreement that they would practice euthanasia if it were legal.

The FMA also raised concerns about the impact of legalizing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide on public trust in healthcare, which is currently declining. Only 58% of respondents in a recent "Citizens' Pulse" survey reported high confidence in the healthcare system. The association argued that an irreversible procedure like euthanasia demands exceptionally high levels of trust in the healthcare system's ability to assess and fulfill patients' end-of-life wishes.

In conclusion, the FMA reaffirmed its position against the legalization of euthanasia, citing ethical concerns, the potential effects on physician well-being, and the equality of patient treatment. The organization believes that Finnish healthcare is not ready to incorporate euthanasia into its practice, highlighting the complex and multifaceted nature of the issue.
In May 2018, the Finish parliament rejected a bill to legalize euthanasia by a vote of 128 to 60 (Link).

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Donna Duncan was fast-tracked for euthanasia even though she wasn't terminally ill

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Liz Carr is an actress, comedian and disability rights activist produced a documentary titled; Better off Dead? that was aired on May 14 by BBC1.

Alicia Duncan
In the documentary, Carr interviewed Alicia Duncan, the daughter of Donna Duncan, who died by euthanasia in October 2021

Alicia explains that her mother was fast-tracked for euthanasia after experiencing depression and mental issues related to a concussion acquired in a car accident.

Elmira Tanatarova reporting for the Daily Mail on May 15, 2024 writes:

The daughter of a Canadian woman who was 'fast tracked' for euthanasia after she 'starved herself' - because she was 'depressed' following car accident complications - broke down in tears as she recounted being given 48-hours' notice that her mother was going to die.

Alicia Duncan spoke to Liz Carr for Tuesday night's BBC documentary, Better Off Dead?

Donna Duncan, 61, from Abbotsford, was involved in a minor car accident, resulting in concussion. Her health declined in the months that followed, but the exact cause remained a mystery.

However, she was 'not terminal', nor was she 'facing imminent death' - but rather was suffering from mental health issues, Alicia stressed.
Alicia Duncan explains that her mother was experiencing mental health problems. Tanatarova reports:
'What we we didn't know was that she was restricting her diet. She would say that it would hurt to eat solid foods so she was pureeing everything, having soups.'

Alicia also explained how her and her sister's worries for Donna escalated.

'She was very paranoid, she worried that if she left the house, she might be shot by a sniper at any moment.

'And I think that's when we really started becoming extremely concerned that this might be a mental health issue.'

She said the behaviour was 'completely uncharacteristic' of her mother, who 'was a highly educated psychiatric nurse'.

Alicia and her sister were shocked when learning that their mother was approved to be killed. Tanatarova reports:

Alicia tearfully revealed how little time she was given to process her mother's signing up for Canada's controversial euthanasia programme - called MAiD.

'I received a text message from my mom's common law partner he wanted us to know that my mom was in the beginning stages of looking into MAiD,' she told the documentary.

'We just thought there was no way - there was no way - she would be approved.

They were given a 48 hour notice for her death

'And my sister went to go see her and asked, "how did the assessment go". And she said "do you want to know". And my sister said yes, and she said "I've been approved".

'So we had less than 48 hours' notice that my mom was going to die.'

Alicia and her sister unsuccessfully attempted to prevent the death:

Donna was approved for track one of MAiD - the 'fast track' - on the grounds that her condition was terminal.

She and her sister managed to then 'gather enough evidence to have Donna taken into custody under the Mental Health Act'. 

Alicia 'pleaded with a doctor' because 'her mom was a psychiatric nurse who knew all of the right things to say'.

'At the end of the 48 hour hold they did another assessment,' she continued. 'We received a text message from my mom's partner that evening that my mom was dead and her body had been taken to a crematorium.'

Alicia told Tanatarova that her mother wasn't terminally ill and therefore didn't qualify under "track 1" but since she had stopped eating and drinking, she was immediately deemed to be terminally ill. Tanatarova then reports on the irregularity in her mother's death.

Alicia said that her mother had been approved by the head of the MAiD programme and a nurse practitioner.

'The second assessment, it was done over the phone,' she added. 'He never saw my mom. 

'And her general practitioner, who had been her GP for 20 years, would not approve her to die.'

Tanatarova reports that Alicia and her sister Christie launched an investigation into their mother's death that concluded without any arrests.

It is impossible for medical practitioners in Canada to be prosecuted for euthanasia since the law says that the medical practitioner only has be "of the opinion" that you fit the criteria of the law.

The Canadian law is not designed with effective oversight, as long as two doctors or nurse practitioners agree that a person qualifies under the law, then they qualify, even if many doctors and nurse practitioners say they do not qualify.

Previous articles about Liz Carr:
  • Canadian euthanasia doctor giggles about killing (Link).
  • Liz Carr: I'm fighting for the right to live (Link).
  • Better off Dead? documentary to be aired on BBC1 on May 14 (Link).
  • Laws against assisted suicide provide equal protection (Link).
  • Liz Carr address to Victoria Australia parliament on assisted suicide (Link).
  • Disability activists say no to euthanasia bill (Link).