Saturday, September 22, 2018

Case for 'death with dignity' collapses under scrutiny

This letter was written by John Kelly and published in the Berkshire Eagle on September 19.

John Kelly is director of Second Thoughts Massachusetts: Disability Rights Activists Against Assisted Suicide.

John Kelly - Second Thoughts Massachusetts
To the editor:

I write to respond to the oped by John Berkowitz and three Western Massachusetts legislators in support of assisted suicide bill H.1994 (Eagle, Sept. 11).

Unsolvable problems with assisted suicide include the fact that terminal diagnoses are often wrong. Studies show that between 13 percent and 20 percent of people so diagnosed are not dying, and may live years or even decades longer. As examples, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy lived a full year longer than his terminal diagnosis of two to four months, while Florence resident John Norton credits the unavailability of assisted suicide for decades of good life after a mistaken prognosis.

Assisted suicide is a boon to insurance companies, as it instantly becomes the cheapest "treatment." (Search for stories of Californian Stephanie Parker and Nevada doctor Brian Callister.)

Against the writers' claim that there hasn't been one documented case of abuse, I encourage readers to search for Oregonians Thomas Middleton (financial abuse), Wendy Melcher (a trans woman), and Kathryn Judson (physician pressure).

The bill requires no independent witness at the death, so the supposed safeguard of "self-administration" is toothless. Especially vulnerable will be the 10 percent of Massachusetts seniors estimated to be abused every year, almost always by family members. A caregiver or heir to an estate can witness a person's request, pick up the prescription and then administer the lethal dose without worry of investigation — the bill immunizes everyone involved.

The writers say the bill is necessary to prevent "great pain and unrelieved suffering" at the end of life, but official reports from Oregon and Washington show that the top five reasons to request assisted suicide do not include pain, but rather "existential distress" (New England Journal of Medicine) over such issues as dependence on others, loss of abilities and feeling like a burden.

We disabled people reject the prejudice that physical dependence makes our lives undignified. Assisted suicide exacerbates social class distinctions. Support is concentrated in wealthier white communities such as the Pioneer Valley, while opposition is centered in communities of color and the working class. In 2012, black and Latino voters opposed assisted suicide by more than 2 to 1, effectively defeating assisted-suicide ballot Question 2. People historically disrespected and neglected by our health care system are rightly suspicious of the power to prescribe death.

The Legislature should continue rejecting a bill that would push vulnerable people toward early deaths.

John B. Kelly,

Boston

The author is director of Second Thoughts Massachusetts: Disability Rights Activists Against Assisted Suicide.

Association of American Physicians and Surgeons oppose Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act.

Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.
A Voice for Private Physicians Since 1943
Omnia pro aegroto

1601 N. Tucson Blvd. Suite 9
Tucson, AZ 85716-3450
(800) 635-1196 or (520) 327-4885
FAX (520) 326-3529 or 325-4230
www.aapsonline.org

September 19, 2018

Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act (PCHETA), S. 693 / H.R. 1676

Dear Senators,

We write today in opposition to the Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act, S. 693 and the companion bill, H.R. 1676, passed by the House and now before the Senate HELP Committee.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, founded in 1943. Our motto, omnia pro aegroto, means “all for the patient.”

While there is a place for hospice care, it is improper to dedicate $100 million in additional taxpayer dollars to persuade patients to forgo treatment that might prolong life. To the contrary, Congress should consider rolling back existing policies that perpetuate a culture of hastening death at the expense of increasing patient access to life-saving or potentially curative treatment.

For example: Medicare payment arrangements, like Accountable Care Organizations, “have a strong incentive to adopt advance care planning for long term success,” explains a prominent health industry consulting firm. Participants in Medicare’s “Patient Centered Medical Homes” are also required to maintain advance directives.

In addition, in 2016 Medicare began paying physicians (and “non-physician practitioners”) for “end-of-life counseling.” Medicare paid out $43 million in 2016 and $70 million in 2017, to convince seniors to forgo treatment that might prolong life. Further subsidies would be inimical to the best interests of patients.

Another problematic aspect of H.R. 1676 / S. 693 is that it appears to support increased intervention in the patient-physician relationship by outsiders whose interests might not be aligned with a goal of prioritizing patient care. Furthermore, “palliative” care should not be a whole separate specialty. All physicians should be skilled in relieving symptoms in all patients, not just dying ones, and provisions in this bill would exacerbate fragmentation that is harmful to patient care.

We also summarily object to “retraining” physicians to violate the Hippocratic tradition of “do no harm.” Such a policy is indefensible on its face. No taxpayer dollars should be allocated for this unsound purpose.

Instead of passing this harmful legislation, we encourage Congress to seek solutions that will truly empower patients and their families, in consultation with physicians of their choosing, to control decisions about appropriate care without interference from politicians or policymakers in Washington, DC, or others who should not be intervening in the patient-physician relationship.

Thank you for this opportunity to communicate our concerns. Please vote “no” on S. 693 or H.R. 1676.

Sincerely,

Jane M. Orient, M.D.
Executive Director

Euthanasia Society President charged with murder of disabled man - More Information.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


Last week Sean Davison, a member of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies board, was arrested for participating in the murder of Anrich Burger, in 2014. Anich became a quadriplegic following a car.
Euthanasia activist charged in murder of disabled man in South Africa.
In September 2014 I published an article urging police to investigate Davison. I wrote:
Sean Davison, who was previously convicted in New Zealand for assisting his mother’s death, last week admitted to assisting the suicide of a South African quadriplegic man. Davison is now saying that he will never assist in euthanasia again. 
Davison should be investigated for his part in the death of Anrich Burger who became a quadriplegic in a 2005 car accident. 
Davison told the South African media that: “Anrich Burger was a very close friend. I wouldn't want to ever go through that again. It was very stressful”
Adele Redmond and Mandy Te, reporting for Stuff media in New Zealand, provide more information on the Davison case. According to the article:
He (Davison) has often spoken publicly about Burger's death in 2014, acknowledging he was with his friend in his Waterfront hotel room as he died – but said that was not a crime. "Dr Burger committed suicide," Davison said. "He wrote his own prescription; he collected it, he arranged for the hotel. I was at the end with him, but he clearly expressed his wish to die." 
But South African authorities believe the 57-year-old killed Burger – and others as well. Opposing bail, Prosecutor Megan Blows told the Cape Town Magistrate's Court during Davison's bail hearing that "new information has come to light [that] the accused might have committed similar offences". 
Because of evidence collected during a "search and seizure" operation at Davison's R3.5 million Cape Town mansion, Blows requested a postponement so new allegations and items could be investigated.
We also learn from the Stuff article that Davison was planning to move to Australia and only returned to South Africa to resign his job.

Davison is a long-time euthanasia activist. More information will be released on November 16, when he returns to court.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Rabbi's get it right! Jews for Torah Values condemn Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.

This article was published by Euthanasia Prevention Coalition USA.

Psak Halacha

Regarding attempts to pass “Death with Dignity” legislation:
The chiyuv (Torah injunction) of “Lo sa’amod al dam re’echa”, obligates everyone to do what he or she can, to help prevent assisted suicide and/or euthanasia. 
Allowing the legalization of “assisted suicide”, even if this particular law in practice would only result in assisting a suicide and not euthanasia, is to allow shefichas-domim (bloodshed). Furthermore even rendering such actions not being subject to prosecution, is allowing shefichas-domim (bloodshed), al achas kama vekama (how much more so), in cases of assisted suicide leading to euthanasia.
Voting on the basis of this issue. This obligation would include:
1) Thus, when voting for any public official, this issue must be considered as top priority, certainly overriding financial considerations, government programs, etc. By voting for people who support these laws, we become accountable for their actions. This ruling would still apply even if these laws were to be passed, we would still be forbidden to vote for legislators who voted for these laws. This is the most important way to fulfill our obligation. 
2) Urging one’s legislators to vote against these bills, if and when they arise[1] and to urge the governor to veto such bill, were it to pass the legislature. 
3) Helping in efforts to repeal such laws, in areas[2] where such legislation was already passed.

Even a few votes can make a major difference, both by legislators and the public—sometimes the vote of a single legislator can decide the fate of these laws—as is evidenced by the recent vote in the New Jersey State Assembly (in November 2014), where an assisted suicide bill was passed by just one vote. We have seen in several recent races in Jewish neighborhoods, that even a handful of votes can make the difference in the outcome of the election[3]. Furthermore, some legislators keep track of the calls that are made to their offices on particular controversial issues, and vote according to their results.

May the Creator of all life grace us with the merit to save innocent lives, fulfilling our role as an or legoyim (light unto the nations). In that merit, may we help usher in the Final Redemption by Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

Rabbonim are listed alphabetically.

Mordechai Chaim Auerbach, Monsey

Eliyahu Ben-Haim, RIETS/Kehillah Yotzei Mashad

Haim Benoliel, Bnai Yosef/Mikdash Melech

Gad Bouskila, Netivot Israel

Yitzchok M. Braun, Shaaray Zion

Shlomo Breslauer, Bais Tefiloh

Eliyahu Brog, Bais Yisroel

Simcha Bunim Cohen, Khal Ateres Yeshaya

Yitzchok Cohen, Yeshiva University RIETS

Moshe Donnebaum, Hechel Hatorah/Adas Yisroel/Melbourne

Menachem Fisher, Vien Monsey

Noson Yermia Goldstein, mechaber of “Migdalos Noson”

Avrohom Gordimer, Coalition for Jewish Values

Shmuel Gorelick, Mesivta Ohel Torah

Moshe Green, Yeshivah D’Monsey

Yisroel Dovid Harfenes, Yisroel Vehazmanim

Boruch Hirschfeld, Ahavas Yisroel, Cleveland

Zalman Leib Hollander, Khal Nachlas Moshe, Spring Valley, NY

Shmuel Kamenetsky, Talmudical Academy of Philadelphia

Yosef Meir Kantor, Cong. Agudath Israel of Monsey

Elya Nota Katz, Stamford Yeshiva

Eliezer Langer, Cong. Israel, Poughkeepsie, NY

Yeshaye Gedalye Kaufman, Hisachdus Moetz, Kruleh Dometz

Amram Klein, Ungvar

Shloime Ben Zion Kokis, Zichron Mordechai

Grainom Lazewnik, Khal Adar Gbir

Philip Lefkowitz, Jackson, NJ; mult. congregations in US, UK & Canada

Moshe Tuvia Lieff, Agudath Israel Bais Binyomin

Shmuel Miller, Yeshiva Bais Yisroel

Avrohom Yaakov Nelkenbaum, Mirrer Yeshiva

Yechiel Perr, Yeshiva of Far Rockaway

Steven Pruzansky, Bnai Yeshurun, Teaneck

Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff, YU Gruss Kollel

Avrohom Reich, Hatzolas Yisroel

Dovid Ribiat, mechaber “The 39 Melochos”

Yosef Yitzchok Rosenfeld, Monsey Dometz

Chaim Schabes, Knesses Yisroel

Dovid Schustal, Bais Medrash Govoha, Lakewood

Yaakov Shulman, Talmud Torah of Flatbush

Moshe Silberberg, Shuvu/mechaber “Zichron Tzvi Meir”

Moshe Soloveitchik, Chicago

Yitzchok Sorotzkin, Mesivta of Lakewood

Tzvi Steinberg, Kahal Zera Avraham, Denver

Shlomo Stern, Debreciner Rov

Elazar Mayer Teitz, Chief Rabbi of Elizabeth, NJ

Elya Ber Wachtfogel, Yeshiva of South Fallsburg

Boruch Hersh Waldman, Siach Yitzchok, Suffern

Moshe Weissman, Ohel Moshe

Benjamin Yudin, Shomrei Torah, Fair Lawn, NJ

Yeruchum Zeilberger, Stamford Yeshiva

Gavriel Zinner, Nitei Gavriel

Institutions are listed for identification purposes only.

[1] as is currently in New Jersey [2] such as Washington state and Oregon

[3] most noticeably (demonstrated) in the Senate election between David Storobin and Lew Fidler, where Storobin won by less than 20 votes.

Sponsored by Jews for Torah Values

jewsfortorahvalues@gmail.com

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Quebec Political party pledges to extend euthanasia to Alzheimer's patients.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) says that if they are elected on October 1, they will increase provincial funding for Alzheimer’s research by $5 million a year and host public consultations on advanced consent for medically assisted deaths for those with Alzheimer’s and related diseases.

René Bruemmer reporting for the Montreal Gazette that CAQ candidates Marguerite Blais and François Bonnardel announced in St-Sauveur on Monday morning the parties intention to increase funding for Alzheimer's research and extending euthanasia to people with Alzheimer's. The article states:
Bonnardel’s mother suffers from Alzheimer’s, and he has said he would support a law that would allow a person to request a medically assisted death through prior consent in a living will.
“I see my mother, today, it’s 15 years (that she has had Alzheimer’s). Do I want to die like her? No... I want the choice to decide. I think a large majority of Quebecers want this choice.” 
... we want to open this debate for the 125,000 families who live with Alzheimer’s daily,” Bonnardel said. “We will do it because we have to do it. It’s a question of dignity.”

The doctor secretly placed a soporific in her coffee to calm her, and then had started to give her a lethal injection.
Yet while injecting the woman she woke up, and fought the doctor. The paperwork showed that the only way the doctor could complete the injection was by getting family members to help restrain her.
It (the paperwork) also revealed that the patient said several times 'I don't want to die' in the days before she was put to death, and that the doctor had not spoken to her about what was planned because she did not want to cause unnecessary extra distress. She also did not tell her about what was in her coffee as it was also likely to cause further disruptions to the planned euthanasia process.
Canada's federal government announced in December 2016 that they had commissioned studies into the issues of euthanasia for children, euthanasia for people with psychiatric conditions alone and euthanasia for people with Alzheimer's/Dementia if they request euthanasia for this condition while competent.

If you permit euthanasia for people who had previously stated that they wanted to die by lethal injection, but who are now incompetent, you are denying these people the right to change their mind. 

Similar to the case in the Netherlands you cannot assume that the previous wishes of a person remain the current wish of the person.

Australia man accused of killing his wife for her Life Insurance says that his wife wanted to die.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Jennifer Morant.
Three days ago I reported that Graham Robert Morant was charged with assisting the suicide of his wife, Jennifer Morant, in Australia, to receive 1.4 million dollars in Life Insurance.

Two days ago, I reported that Morant told the court that he was innocent.
Yesterday, Jennifer Morant's best friend said that she didn't want to die, but she expressed that her only hope was to win the lottery.
Today Morant told the court that his wife wanted to die by suicide, and yet her doctor stated that she never said to him that she wanted to die.

An article written by Warren Barnsley for the Sydney Morning Herald explains:
Mr Morant told police Jennifer did not want to continue suffering chronic back pain and had attempted to kill herself three times previous.
"I had such a zest and zeal to live. She had such a zest and zeal to die," Mr Morant told police in an interview played in Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday. 
He said he tried to talk her out of it but became desensitised to her attempts. 
"That's horrendous, but she that's just what she wanted to do. 
"She actually forbid me from stopping her taking her life." 
Mr Morant also lamented Jennifer's extravagant spending, saying she had a "gift for spending money".
The article then reports on the statements by her doctor. The article stated:
But while she had been treated for back, weight, thyroid, blood pressure, dental and mental health issues, her doctor Mariusz Zielinski told the court she suffered no terminal illness. 
Dr Zielinski said she had never made a comment to him about wanting to end her life.
The trial continues.

The Anonymous Three: Child euthanasia in Belgium and Elsewhere.

This article was published by the disability rights group Not Dead Yet on September 19, 2018

By Lisa Blumberg


The Belgium Federal Commission on the Control and Evaluation of Euthanasia in its most recent report of Belgium euthanasia statistics stated that between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017, three children died by lethal injection under the country’s euthanasia law. They was a nine year old with a brain tumor, an eleven year old with cystic fibrosis and a seventeen year old (probably a boy) with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. (1) 

We know nothing else about these persons. We don’t even know whether each of them had involved parents or if one or more had guardians. In both life and untimely death, they are reduced to age and general diagnosis. As individuals, they are given no backstory. They are profoundly anonymous.

It calls to mind that in 1980s America, infants who were denied basic medical care and nourishment due to disability were called “Baby Does”. (2)

Belgium’s euthanasia law, as amended in 2014, allows children of any age to opt for a lethal injection provided certain criteria are met. A doctor must state that the child is “in a hopeless medical situation of constant and unbearable suffering that cannot be eased and which will cause death in the short term.” Another doctor who is a psychiatrist must opine that the child understands what euthanasia is and is not “influenced by a third party”. Parental consent must be obtained.

These rules have been characterized as very strict (3) but they implicitly allow the two doctors and the parents to drive the process. A child can be killed if his doctor judges that he is embroiled in hopeless suffering and will die soon, the parents agree that the child would now be better off dead, and the child buys into this enough that the second doctor – who knows the judgment of the first doctor – can attest the child is acting of his own free will. (I call this the domino theory). Did something like this happen to any of the anonymous three? We just don’t know.

All the criteria are subjective. For example, what is the dividing line between a child being influenced in her decision and not being influenced? The Conversation Project in the U.S. suggests that one way to elicit a “seriously ill” child’s views on end-of-life care is to discuss heaven. (4) Will bringing up heaven when speaking about options influence a nine year old who may view heaven as Disneyworld? Might an eleven year old be influenced if she reads an article about how much it costs to treat kids like her? Would knowing that your parents would consent to euthanasia if you wanted it influence a seventeen year old? It is enough to make a psychiatrist’s head spin. What underlines a finding of constant suffering? Would a doctor ever equate the disability associated with a condition with suffering? Would suffering associated with a lack of pain management or with treatment delivered in a needlessly invasive way ever be erroneously attributed to the child’s condition rather than to a deficiency in medical practice? Until quite recently, babies were operated on without anesthesia in the United States.

Luc Proot, a member of the Belgian Commission, said in regard to each of the anonymous three, “I saw mental and physical suffering so overwhelming that I thought we did a good thing.” (5)

Some things are strange about this statement. It suggests that Proot met each of the kids. Instead, as part of his official role, he read the case file on each child after they died – case files written by the doctors involved in the euthanasias and whose identities like the identities of the children were withheld. (6)

Proot said “we did a good thing.” This seems like an acknowledgment that the children, rather than being beneficiaries of children’s rights and in charge of their destinies, were acted upon.

Lastly, there is no mention of the kids being close to death.

In Belgium, euthanasia is available to a wide swath of the adult population. To be sure, those with terminal illness can request the needle but so can people with two or more incurable conditions, neither of which is life threatening, as well as people with dementia or psychiatric disorders. In 2017 there were 375 cases of reported euthanasia of people whose deaths were not expected in the near future or 16.2% of all cases of reported euthanasia. (7)

With children though, euthanasia is supposed to be restricted to cases where death is near. There is no way to speculate on how far along the 9-year-old’s brain tumor was but there is a good chance that the 11-year-old and 17-year-old were not inevitably dying. Today, cystic fibrosis and Duchenne muscular dystrophy are chronic, disabling diseases but with proper medical management, they don’t tend to be fatal in childhood. The median life expectancy of a child born in the United States with cystic fibrosis is now 43 years and that doesn’t factor in the scientific advances that are likely to occur. (8) Guys with Duchenne often live through their 30s and sometimes into their 40s and 50s. (9) To put this into context, the average life expectancy for men and women in the United States in 1917 was 48 and 54 years respectively and this was before the great influenza epidemic where average life expectancy really plummeted. (10)

Were their special circumstances leading the doctors of the eleven-year-old and the seventeen-year-old to conclude they were both close to death? We just don’t know. Had the children had access to reasonable and empathetic care for their condition? We just don’t know. Were these instances where the doctors conflated ongoing disability with a terminal state? We just don’t know.

Parents usually want the best for their offspring but it is naïve to assume that the need for parental consent is a foolproof safeguard. Doctors are authority figures. They steer parents just as parents steer their children. When Stephen Drake was born, the doctor who injured him through improper use of forceps told his parents that the odds were 100 to 1 against him living through the night, and the odds were a million to one against him not being a “vegetable” if he did survive. Stephen has written, “The odds the doctor cited for my survival and recovery were almost certainly made up on the spot and were aimed at getting my parents to ‘accept’ my death as a good, if not clearly inevitable, thing”. (11) Fortunately for us all, his parents rejected the suggestion but there may well have been other cases where this doctor succeeded in using a speculative prognosis to convince the parents to “let nature take its course.”

In the 1980’s, the groups who opposed any legal protections for disabled infants in hospitals -mainly medical groups – argued that parental autonomy was paramount. Nevertheless, one pediatrician told me that as long as she evidenced enough concern for child and family, she could generally get parents to agree to almost anything. She felt that parental autonomy was quite often a sham.

Of course, there have been cases like the Charlie Gard case in Britain where parents have indeed wanted life sustaining care for their child and have been opposed by doctors and hospitals.

Why was parental or guardian consent given for the euthanasia of the anonymous three? We just don’t know.

In the last analysis, all that can be said about the fate of the anonymous three is what Charles Lane said in his opinion piece in the Washington Post, “the Belgian public’s support for euthanasia remains undiminished. The precedent for euthanizing children has been established, and more will almost certainly receive lethal injections this year, next year and the year after that.”(12)

As for the Baby Doe controversy, it was never resolved, just submerged. Food, water and antibiotics in hospitals have been redefined as life support and extraordinary care, depending on the circumstances.

As a young professional woman in the 1980s, I had the wind knocked out of me when I learned there was no social consensus about the right of people with disabilities to survive early childhood. I would like to say to the young people with disabilities of today, there is a resistance. Older people with disabilities are working hard to make you safe in medical settings. We will be passing the torch to you.

FOOTNOTES
  1. http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2018/08/euthanasia-in-belgium-social-experiment.html?utm_source=Euthanasia+Prevention+Coalition+Contacts&utm_campaign=bc1ff5964a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_08_31_02_01_COPY_03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_105a5cdd2d-bc1ff5964a-198574557
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/children-are-being-euthanized-in-belgium/2018/08/06/9473bac2-9988-11e8-b60b-1c897f17e185_story.html?utm_term=.0310c1b7da8d
  3. http://www.raggededgemagazine.com/0700/0700ft1.html
  4. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/child-dies-by-euthanasia-in-belgium-where-assistance-in-dying-is-legal/
  5. https://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ConversationProject-StarterKit-Pediatric-English.pdf
  6. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/children-are-being-euthanized-in-belgium/2018/08/06/9473bac2-9988-11e8-b60b-1c897f17e185_story.html?utm_term=.0310c1b7da8d
  7. Ibid.
  8. http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2018/08/euthanasia-in-belgium-social-experiment.html?utm_source=Euthanasia+Prevention+Coalition+Contacts&utm_campaign=bc1ff5964a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_08_31_02_01_COPY_03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_105a5cdd2d-bc1ff5964a-198574557
  9. https://www.cff.org/CF-Community-Blog/Posts/2017/Survival-Trending-Upward-but-What-Does-This-Really-Mean/
  10. https://www.mda.org/disease/duchenne-muscular-dystrophyhttps://www.google.com/search?ei=aH2aW-S0Os-izwKWjrrYBw&q=life+expectancy+1918&oq=life+expectancy+1918&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0l2j0i22i30l8.85101.91288..96229…0.0..0.99.366.4……0….1..gws-wiz…….0i71.HU__69ZKIfI
  11. http://notdeadyet.org/2012/03/stephens_story.html
  12. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/children-are-being-euthanized-in-belgium/2018/08/06/9473bac2-9988-11e8-b60b-1c897f17e185_story.html?utm_term=.0310c1b7da8d

Euthanasia Society President Charged with Murder of Disabled Man

This media release was published by Euthanasia-Free New Zealand on September 20, 2018

Media Release

Sean Davison, a New Zealand citizen who was convicted of assisted suicide in Dunedin, appeared in a South African court on Wednesday on a murder charge.

The charge is in relation to the death of Anrich Burger, 53, who became a quadriplegic after a motor vehicle accident in 2005. He was not terminally ill.

In 2014 the accused told News24 how he helped Mr Burger, a close friend of his, end his life with lethal drugs in November the previous year. 

Mr Burger’s fiancé was not present nor informed of the plan, since she did not support assisted suicide or euthanasia.

After pleading not guilty, Mr Davison was released on R20,000 (about NZ $2,050) bail. He is scheduled to appear in Court again on 16 November.

The State alleges that the murder was premeditated and that new information suggests that the accused may have committed other similar offences.

In 2011 Mr Davison was sentenced to five months’ house arrest in Dunedin after pleading guilty to counselling and procuring his mother’s suicide.

Mr Davison, 57, is the president of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, the international organisation of which the New Zealand End of Life Choice Society (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society), is a member.

“Not all quadriplegics want to die, but those who do want to, should have the option,” said Mr Davidson after his speech at the Federation’s Conference in 2014.

On its website the Federation supports euthanasia and assisted suicide for “all competent adults with incurable illnesses” – not only those with terminal illnesses and six months to live.

“Mr Davison’s words and actions demonstrate that ‘assisted dying’ advocates don’t really want a narrow law limited to terminal illness, but one that would eventually allow virtually any competent adult with an incurable condition to be eligible, including people with disabilities,” says Renée Joubert, Executive Officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ.

The End of Life Choice Bill, which is currently before the New Zealand Parliament’s Justice Committee, proposes legal assisted suicide and euthanasia for people with terminal illnesses or other “grievous and irremediable medical conditions.”

“Disabled people would be included under both clauses of David Seymour’s Bill,” says Ms Joubert. “Terminal illness involves disability. So do many other longstanding physical and mental conditions.”

ENDS

Australian man charged with assisting his wife's suicide, her friend said she didn't want to die.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Jennifer Morant
Two days ago I reported that Graham Robert Morant was charged with assisting the suicide of his wife, Jennifer Morant, in Australia, to receive 1.4 million dollars in Life Insurance.
Yesterday I reported that Morant told the court that he was innocent.
Today, the best friend of Jennifer Morant, said that Jennifer didn't want to die, but she expressed that her only hope was to win the lottery. 9News.com reported:
"(She said) I'm afraid and I really don't want to do it," Ms Morant's friend Johanna Cornelia Dent testified in Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday. 
"But I made so many promises to everybody that the only way out would be to win lotto.
Morant allegedly assisted the suicide of his wife because she had 1.4 million dollars in Life Insurance that he wanted to use to purchase a property for a religious commune. According to 9News.com Dent told the court:
Ms Dent said Ms Morant stayed with her the week before she died and when she returned home, she had a "deal with Graham" to end her life. 
"If I hadn't come down here to see you, I would have already been dead," Ms Morant allegedly said. 
When Ms Dent asked her how she would do it, she claims she responded: "Don't worry, darling. I won't feel any pain. Graham says he knows a way I can do it." 
Under cross-examination, Ms Dent said she did not call the police about Morant because Jennifer eventually told her she would not go through with it.
The court case continues tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Australian man denies assisting his wife's suicide for 1.4 million dollars.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Yesterday I reported that Graham Robert Morant was charged with assisting the suicide of his wife, Jennifer Morant, in Australia, to receive 1.4 million dollars in Life Insurance.

Jennifer Morant
According to a report by Warren Beansley for News.com Morant denied assisting the suicide of his wife Jennifer. Morant told the court that:

Morant claimed he found a suicide note after coming home one night in November 2014. 
The note explained Jennifer didn’t want to be a burden on anyone, especially her husband, and it would not be fair on him to care for her “24 hours a day”. 
Morant said she tried to kill herself at least twice previously, the prosecution says.
The Lynette Lucas, the sister of Jennifer Morant told the court that Morant wanted the money to buy a property to establish a religious commune and her sister feared for her life. According to the report for News.com:
Morant wanted to buy a property in the Gold Coast hinterland with Jennifer’s life insurance, worth $1.4 million, to start a religious commune to prepare for biblical rapture, Ms Lucas testified. 
“Jenny was horrified that he had all these plans. She said she didn’t want to be part of the communal environment.” 
Ms Lucas told the court her sister was “fearful for her life”. 
“(I told her) your life’s in danger with these (life insurance) policies,” she said.
Dean Wells, the lawyer for Graham Morant stated:
“I suggest to you Graham is more innocent than anybody you will hear giving evidence against him,” Mr Wells said. 
“Truth is stranger than fiction. There are ... more subplots in this particular case than you will ever see in any courtroom drama on television.”
The case continues in court.

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