Monday, February 6, 2023

Death Tourism has come to Oregon

This article was published by National Review online on February 5, 2023.

By Wesley Smith

Assisted-suicide activists always promise that strict guidelines will protect against abuse. It’s a big con. The guidelines are not really strict. They rely primarily on self-reporting. And they are meant to be temporary: As soon as political conditions permit, the access to doctor-prescribed death expands.

Article: Bills to remove assisted suicide residency requirements in Oregon and Vermont (Link).

Witness Oregon. When Measure 16 passed, assisted suicide was limited to state residents. That requirement was recently deemed inoperative by the state’s ever-flaccid suicide regulators after a lawsuit was settled and is expected to soon be repealed.

Article: Assisted suicide activist promotes Oregon for suicide tourism (Link).

That threatens to open a floodgate and transform Oregon into the U.S. equivalent of Switzerland, where suicide clinics flourish. Already, people from out of state who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness — something very loosely defined — are traveling to Oregon to find a death doctor willing to help make themselves dead in just over two weeks. From the Daily Mail story:

Oregon has become America’s first ‘death tourism’ destination, where terminally ill people from Texas and other states that have outlawed assisted suicide have started travelling to get their hands on a deadly cocktail of drugs to end their lives, can reveal.

In the liberal bastion Portland, at least one clinic has started receiving out-of-staters who have less than six months to live and meet the other strict requirements of the state’s Death with Dignity (DWD) law.

Dr Nicholas Gideonse, the director of End of Life Choices Oregon, recently told a panel that he was advising terminally ill non-residents on travelling to Oregon to end their lives, despite a legal gray area.

Remember, suicidal people who qualify for assisted suicide are not usually offered prevention, meaning some suicidal people receive efforts to save their lives while others are abandoned to facilitation.

Activists also promised that assisted suicide would only occur in the context of a close doctor/patient relationship. But Oregon permits doctor-shopping. If one doctor says no, suicidal patients can merely ask an advocacy group to recommend an ideologically predisposed doctor willing to prescribe death. And suicide prescribers don’t even need to practice in the specialty that treats the patient’s underlying medical condition.

Other states are also loosening “strict guidelines.” For example, Vermont permits virtual assisted suicide, meaning the consultation can be over Zoom or Skype. California has attempted to compel doctors to participate in the assisted-suicide process — after promising MDs, in order to get the law passed, that they would not have to do any of that. The new anti-conscience law is on hold after a lawsuit. Other states where assisted suicide has been legalized have similarly loosened waiting times and procedures.

The ultimate goal — or, at least, the consequence — of allowing assisted suicide/euthanasia is death on demand. Some jurisdictions are getting there faster — Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Canada — and some slower, such as Oregon, Vermont, California, and Colorado. But that tide only flows in one direction.

Canada's Ministry of Death

The following article has written by Alexander Raikin been reprinted without edits. This article: Canada's Ministry of Death was published by National Review online and will be published in the National Review print edition on February 20, 2023.

Raikin also wrote the article: No Other Options: An exposé on euthanasia in Canada, that was published in the New Atlantis on December 16, 2022.

By Alexander Raikin

It was supposed to be easy. If journalists asked the Honourable David Lametti, Canada’s minister of justice, a difficult question about euthanasia, he simply needed to read his talking points for February 24, 2020. A senior civil servant from his department prepared the lines; the prime minister’s staffers approved them. All that was left was to kill the messenger.

Publicly, Lametti said that the rate of change in public attitudes toward euthanasia had surprised even him. Barely five years earlier, prosecutors had called euthanasia “culpable homicide.” Now the government of Canada calls it “MAiD” — Medical Assistance in Dying, or, in other words, killing as medical treatment. Lametti, standing with other cabinet ministers, was to announce a further expansion of MAiD that, as Bill C-7, would come partially into effect in 2021. This March, the two-year sunset clause in that bill expires and the list of acceptable reasons for MAiD will be expanded once again, this time to mental suffering unaccompanied by physical ailment.

I filed a freedom-of-information request to find out what Lametti knew when he introduced the bill. While Lametti, like other cabinet ministers, was told to stress that there is “a consensus” among the public behind the plan, his own notes belie the point.

Some questions were never meant to be answered. Question 43 in the memo: Why did the government of Canada not appeal a lower-court decision in Truchon v. Canada, which, contrary to the government’s earlier promises, will expand euthanasia to people with essentially any chronic illness or disability? The answer, in its tautological beauty, is that “the Government of Canada announced in October 2019 that it would not appeal.” Want to know — Question 37 — how many euthanasia deaths there have been so far? The answer is that there has been “a consistent and gradual increase” as the practice of euthanasia “gains greater comfort and acceptance by Canadians.” No need to worry about any numbers — more is better anyhow.

But the most notable question was the one that was never asked at the press conference. It clearly was more important, as it was on the second page of the talking points. It was the Canadian equivalent of a jeremiad, accusing the government of forsaking some of the most important documents of civil liberties that a card-carrying member of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party could believe in. “Q6: Advocates for persons with disabilities are saying that this Bill violates the equality rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the Liberal Party of Canada’s Disability Equality Statement. Does this Bill put the lives of persons with disabilities at risk as advocates claim?”

The prepared answer was another nonanswer. The government would address “stigma and bias”; it would bring about “a culture change to ensure that the important contributions made to Canada by persons with disabilities are recognized and valued on the [same] basis as those of other Canadians.” What the government would not do is slow down a program that offers suicide-prevention services to most people but assisted suicide and euthanasia only to the disabled, terminally ill or not.

Behind the scenes, even on the day of the cabinet minister’s press conference, bureaucrats from the central agencies who had worked on the memo worried about the toll of the government’s policies. One email talked about how “from a comms perspective, I wonder if it might seem like the increase [in MAiD deaths] is buried if it isn’t there and others will report on it rather than the Govt.” The increase wasn’t included in the accompanying media deck, and the media didn’t report on it, not really.

Since Trudeau was elected in 2015, his government has single-handedly created the largest, most permissive euthanasia program in the world. “You can kinda yell till you’re blue in the face that there are problems, but people aren’t listening,” John Maher, a psychiatrist in Ontario specializing in treatment-resistant mental illnesses, told me. When MAiD was first implemented, in 2016, a CBC article claimed that 90 percent of requests for assisted deaths were being refused in Toronto. But by 2021, only 4 percent of requests were deemed ineligible nationwide. “There isn’t a slippery slope,” said Timothy Stainton, a professor of social work at the University of British Columbia. “This is Mount Everest in a snowstorm.”

The daily death toll is staggering, even more so because it is unreported. Every day in Canada, in 2021, more than 27 people died by the hands of their physicians or nurses. It’s double the suicide rate, and there isn’t any sign of its stopping or slowing down. The world’s “euthanasia capital” is no longer Brussels or Amsterdam. It is now Ottawa. Canada euthanizes more people than any other country in the world — and its death toll is growing at a faster rate than that of any other voluntary system of euthanasia anywhere. (So much for Lametti’s description of “gradual increases.”)

To put this in context: When the number of Dutch deaths from euthanasia doubled in six years, a Dutch official in charge of reviewing euthanasia deaths warned that the Dutch model of euthanasia should be avoided. But after Canada’s legalization, the number increased tenfold in six years. At any rate, it will be impossible for any similar Canadian watchdog to warn about Canada. That is because no such watchdogs exist: Unlike in the Netherlands or Belgium, Canada has no mandated review process for potential stories of abuse.

That people with disabilities would be at a unique risk of an early death by MAiD is not an accident, as Lametti’s office knew. In fact, it was predicted well in advance. Before Bill C-7 passed, over 140 disability groups claimed that Trudeau’s plan “put their very lives at risk.” A petition of Indigenous doctors and politicians demanded that it “not be forced on our peoples.” Three United Nations human-rights experts, including the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, decried the legislation as riddled with “ableist assumptions about the inherent . . . ‘worth’ of the life of a person with a disability.” “Under no circumstance should the law provide that it could be a well-reasoned decision for a person with a disabling condition who is not dying to terminate their life with the support of the state,” they wrote. Lametti’s response was to talk about stigma.

How did Canadian institutions become so bullish on euthanasia in the face of such opposition? It’s an important question. A simple answer is that Canada’s descent into death-on-demand is because of its supreme court or its culture. But both explanations seem weak.

It is, of course, fair to say that the court has played an outsized role in creating a “right to die.” In 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada, in Carter v. Canada, unanimously overturned nearly a century and a half of common law to strike down the federal prohibition on “physician-assisted death,” declaring it contrary to the “life, liberty, and security of the person” as guaranteed in Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But the exact same section of the Charter had been used two decades prior to keep medically assisted suicide illegal in the split supreme-court ruling in Rodriguez v. British Columbia that “human life should not be depreciated by allowing life to be taken,” especially by a physician. Why did an already activist court change its mind? Jocelyn Downie, a law professor who was part of the legal team that argued in the Supreme Court for euthanasia to be decriminalized, told me that she is nonetheless “surprised” at the “massive change” that Canadian society — and the courts — had to accept. It couldn’t have happened any sooner.

The court wasn’t responding to any change in law; it was responding to a perceived change in the mood around assisted suicide — conducting a vibe test for euthanasia. “Despite the Court’s decision in Rodriguez, the debate over physician-assisted dying continued,” the court said, arguing the need for it to revisit its earlier ruling, citing failed parliamentary bills in Canada, “recent reports” by Canadian academics, and a changing “legislative landscape” in other jurisdictions such as Colombia and Luxembourg. But this change in mood, as shown by the examples the court cited (which included no polls or surveys), was not the result of some bottom-up change in society.

The culture argument is lackluster too. Earlier attempts to force Canadians to accept euthanasia or assisted suicide as a form of medical treatment failed rather decisively. As late as 2010, a three-quarters majority of the House of Commons wanted to keep physician-assisted death a criminal offense. No major national party supported legalizing euthanasia, which explains why half a dozen bills to introduce euthanasia between 1991 and 2010 failed to pass.

Canadians outside the legislature were unconvinced, too. It’s one thing to support the idea of assisted suicide in the abstract and another to put it into practice. A national 2010 poll by Environics found that if you asked Canadians whether the government should focus on legalizing euthanasia, improving end-of-life care, or both, the response was overwhelmingly (71 percent) for improving end-of-life care. Only 19 percent said euthanasia and 5 percent said both. Two-thirds of Canadians expressed concerns that the elderly would feel pressured to die because of financial concerns, a fear that is already coming true. Although “MAiD providers,” physicians or nurses who perform euthanasia, have long argued that no one is requesting MAiD because of poverty or lack of medical care, I wrote for the New Atlantis that the situation is common enough that the leading organization of MAiD providers held multiple seminars on it. “It is rare for assessors to have patients who have unmet needs, but it does happen. Usually these unmet needs are around loneliness and poverty,” admitted Ellen Wiebe, one of the most prolific “MAiD providers” in Canada.

If it wasn’t the courts and it wasn’t the culture, the answer must lie elsewhere. To understand how we really got here, to promoting the assisted deaths of the most vulnerable people in society and calling it progress, it is necessary to look past Lametti’s talk about a supposed “consensus” and see a multimillion-dollar PR campaign to persuade the public and elites to stop worrying and love MAiD.

The signs of its success are visible to the naked eye, often in the quick marginalization of dissenters. Yves Robert, the secretary of the Quebec College of Physicians and a previous supporter of assisted dying, warned in 2017 that euthanasia in Canada was turning into “death à la carte.” The warnings were almost self-evident, because of “the paradoxical discourse [by the media and Parliament] that calls for safeguards to avoid abuse, while asking the doctor to act as if there was no abuse.” “Let us take the time to properly reflect before going further,” Robert urged. “There’s no urgency to die.” But five years later there apparently is.

Now the same Quebec College of Physicians has sent another representative — not Yves Robert — to clamor for Parliament to expand euthanasia still further, this time to minors and even babies less than a year old. Just don’t call it “infanticide,” please. (Inclusion Canada, a leading disability-rights group, said in a response that “this isn’t MAiD, it’s murder.”)

The same push is evident in other medical groups. The Canadian Psychiatric Association, under the presidency of Sonu Gaind in 2015–16, explored the potential impacts of suicide contagion through the legalization of euthanasia. Yet the following leadership squashed any further “evidence-based study” of contagion risks — and then issued a public statement on behalf of the organization saying that it would be “discrimination” if patients who applied for MAiD because of a psychiatric condition were treated any differently from those with a physical illness. But what the leadership believes is not what the group’s members believe. Ontario psychiatrists, according to an internal survey conducted by the Ontario Medical Association Section on Psychiatry, opposed by a nearly three-to-one margin (63 percent to 23 percent) the proposition that “patients with [only] a psychiatric illness . . . should have available the same options regarding MAiD as available to all patients,” without issues of irremediability in mental illness having been examined.

The impact of this pseudo-consensus is evident in news reports: People are getting desensitized. A completely routine caption from a local newspaper last year was “Randy Obenauer, 74, cries as he tries to clean his own catheter.” When Randy’s friend tried to get him help, local health authorities asked him whether Randy was interested in MAiD instead. But the story didn’t go viral. No one was reprimanded for asking such a callous question. Disability groups added another name to their growing “List of Cases of Concern,” and otherwise life went on.

The national media prefer to report, for instance, on how an Ontario police officer donated his lungs from a euthanasia performed at home, a world first, or how a couple married for 73 years could die together through MAiD at home even though only one of them had a terminal illness. The moral nuances were not discussed; the bias was not new. When it came time for the 2015 election, shortly after the Carter decision, the only person with visible disabilities who was chosen by the journalist moderators to ask a question in the election debate between Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau assumed that a right to die was owed to disabled persons and asked the candidates how their platforms would grant it. This “showed the media complicity” and “the political complicity” in pushing assisted suicide, remarked a matter-of-fact Amy Hasbrouck, the director of Toujours Vivant–Not Dead Yet, a grass-roots disability advocacy group against euthanasia.

International media are not much better. Justin Trudeau’s government is frequently described without any mention of his policy on euthanasia. Until 2021 — years into Canada’s headfirst descent into euthanasia — virtually no major media mentioned MAiD when discussing Trudeau. Instead, the media were seized by “Trudeaumania.” Trudeau was on the cover of Rolling Stone, Attitude (“an international LGBT magazine”), GQ (don’t ask), and even Sky Delta (“Delta Airlines’ popular in-flight magazine”). Just months before Lametti’s press conference, the Atlantic described Trudeau’s government as “the most successful progressive government in the world.”

In every interview that I did with disability advocates or physicians skeptical of euthanasia-on-demand, I asked why they thought euthanasia in Canada had become such an industry. The answer was always the same: “Dying with Dignity Canada,” said one insider who wished not to be named, referring to the largest pro-euthanasia lobbying group, founded in 1980. “I mean, they haven’t come up in all of this, but they’re a very, very powerful, well-funded lobby.”

It was, indeed, Dying with Dignity Canada (DWDC) that created and marketed the public and lobbying campaign for euthanasia, largely through stories of individuals demanding to die. It was highly effective. Whenever parliamentary committees would debate safeguards for MAiD, the organization would arrange for a chosen cadre of individuals to testify in front of the committee; they only needed one activist to balance out the concerns of disability groups, despite the latter’s near-unanimity in opposition to MAiD. Moreover, DWDC could spend millions on promoting a single story online and in the media. There were many groups opposing MAiD, but there was only one national group in support of it. And they were always on script.

Disability advocacy groups couldn’t compete with the slick media campaign featuring almost nothing but white women with terminal illnesses clamoring for suicide (so much for Canadian multiculturalism). It’s the motte-and-bailey rhetorical strategy: Canadians, like Americans, largely support assisted suicide for terminal illnesses, so those were the stories that advocates shared. But the policy of euthanasia was expanding far beyond terminal illnesses: People were dying from hearing or vision loss; treatable illnesses; diabetes or arthritis; loneliness, poverty, old age. Their stories were not told.

Harper Schipper, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, told me that after Rodriguez, Death with Dignity Canada was run in a way that was “absolutely brilliant strategically.” He knows this because he believes he was on the receiving end. In the opening session of the Council of Canadian Academies’ panels on MAiD, it was announced that he would chair an important panel. The event was sequestered and barred to the media in order to maintain the integrity of the proceedings; the panelists were told not to reflect on the proceedings publicly until after the panels’ conclusion. But as Schipper’s panel convened the next day, a coordinated campaign created negative publicity about him. Even before his appointment was announced, a “gotcha” article came out impugning Schipper’s objectivity by noting that he had warned that a slippery slope in euthanasia could lead to a replay of Nazi Germany. It was an open secret on who pulled it off.

“I am called out of the meeting,” Schipper recalls, “because Dying with Dignity has found a reporter, a stringer for the Globe and Mail who writes a piece basically saying Dr. Schipper is a shrill opponent of assisted dying. He’s been named chairman of this group. And while we’re not asking him to step down, we asked that he be fair in his chairmanship. And at the same time, two voices pop up in the Commons, making the same kind of comments.” Ultimately, he was forced to resign from his chairmanship

DWDC’s media savvy isn’t a surprise: Its first major donor was a media mogul, Moses Znaimer. In 2008, Znaimer set his sights on seniors. He created a for-profit company, ZoomerMedia, which he used to buy outright the CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) magazine. Then he leveraged this financial partnership into becoming the president of CARP’s board.

The maneuver was strategic. When the longtime executive vice president of CARP, Susan Eng, said that she had a neutral position on euthanasia — neither supporting nor criticizing it — Znaimer fired her. Her replacement was the former CEO of Dying with Dignity Canada. “The only reason he fired me,” Eng has said, “was so that they can put out an official position for CARP saying that they want to insist on assisted dying on demand.” Znaimer also used his position to hire at least four pro-euthanasia lobbyists and arranged a personal meeting with David Lametti to persuade the government to expand assisted suicide further.

In 2010, DWDC raised just $90,000 and, according to a civil discrimination suit, was on a path to bankruptcy. Yet it continued to spend so much on lobbying, public relations, and other forms of activism that in 2015 the Canada Revenue Agency (Canada’s IRS) stripped it of its charity status. DWDC was then revitalized by big donors. A $7.75 million bequest from a supporter who had died through MAiD, and another bequest of $500,000, transformed the organization’s capacities in 2018. It could now do so much more.

Canada has another pro-dying group, one specifically geared to physicians: CAMAP, the Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers. Its purpose, its president Stefanie Green told me, is to be “the support for people that do the work.” I’ve written before in the New Atlantis on how CAMAP has kept hidden from the public and the Parliament stories of MAiD’s being offered as an alternative to poverty and inferior medical care. We know little about CAMAP except that it was founded shortly after the Carter decision. In 2021, CAMAP became a registered charity, revealing some curiosities in its financing. Unlike most charities, it spent $0 on fundraising, yet it had an astonishing $780,000 in near-liquid capital in the bank. Where did this money come from? It’s unclear. But much of CAMAP’s resources, training briefs, and studies show that its activities are funded by Dying with Dignity Canada.

Sometimes CAMAP crosses the line into activism. Green told me (and Parliament) that her organization does not advocate for any position on MAiD, but rather that CAMAP impartially reports what is happening on “the front line” to interested parties. But in a seminar, Aaron McKim, a MAiD provider in Newfoundland, hinted at actions that MAiD providers take to counteract other professional associations. “Our nursing association and social-work association have both put out practice advisories that their members aren’t really supposed to even bring up MAiD unless the patient specifically asks about it,” said McKim in a CAMAP seminar on “lack of resources” in May 2021. “And so we’re, we’re trying to kind of figure out ways to counteract that.”

“It’s clear that people associated with Dying with Dignity have been unusually influential in the policy-making in Canada related to [MAiD],” Trudo Lemmens, a law professor from the University of Toronto, told me. “It contrasts sharply with how disability-rights organizations and Indigenous organizations have been ignored in this debate.” Heidi Janz, a disability scholar and activist, said in an email interview with me that “proponents of the so-called ‘right to die’ and the federal Liberals — who are often one and the same — have consistently framed the expansion of eligibility for MAiD as advancing the autonomy rights of people with disabilities, but this claim is blatantly false.”

Lobbying records indicate that Lemmens and Janz are right. Dying with Dignity Canada has met ten times with staffers for the Ministry of Justice, including once with David Lametti himself. Every senator but one that their lobbyists spoke to was appointed by Justin Trudeau. Every vote to pass and then amend MAiD succeeded because of Liberal members. There are no records that David Lametti met with any lobbyists from disability groups.

The connection between DWDC and the Liberal Party is now even familial. James Cowan, the former leader of the Independent Liberal senators who made possible the passage of the first MAiD legislation in the Canadian senate, is now in political retirement as chairman of the board of DWDC. His daughter is Suzanne Cowan, the president of the Liberal Party.

In sum, euthanasia advocates dominated the political and media conversation and have finally come to control the expert panels and their power of imprimatur. The experts now chosen are able de facto to shape euthanasia policy as they wish while giving the Trudeau government a veneer of supposed scientific legitimacy (as if medical expertise were sufficient to resolve what is at root an ethical question). The most recent example was the expert panel formed to study safeguards for euthanasia in cases of mental illness. The panel reported that current safeguards around MAiD work well and recommended no additions. Unsurprisingly, the chairperson of that panel was an enthusiastic MAiD supporter and others had already argued for the expansion of MAiD to mental illnesses. Two board members resigned in protest, but the needed conclusion was reached.

It has been a proven strategy from the beginning of the euthanasia boom. When the Royal Society of Canada issued a report in 2011 on “end-of-life decision-making,” the chosen “expert panel” included only supporters of euthanasia. It wasn’t even subtle: The chairman publicly wrote his thoughts on the topic beforehand, while two other commissioners had published books that argued for the legalization of permissive euthanasia. The panel of course reached the desired conclusion. It was even more unsubtle that the panel thanked Peter Singer for editing the philosophical section that justified euthanasia. (Singer is a philosopher who argued in Practical Ethics [1979] that it is moral to kill “defective infants.”) When the time came for the Supreme Court to revisit the legality of euthanasia in 2015, it cited this report as proof that Western mores around death were changing.

At some point, historians or judges will lay blame for all the lives thrown away. Many major institutions in Canada will bear responsibility: the Supreme Court for failing to abide by its precedent in Rodriguez protecting the right to life; political leaders, for failing to safeguard the same right; the medical system, for failing to see people with disabilities as people with lives worth living; and the media, for failing to cover the debate with objectivity. What they should not blame is “a consensus.” There never was one.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Alberta euthanasia deaths increased by more than 40% in 2022 while Manitoba euthanasia deaths decreased.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alex Schadenberg
According to Alberta Health Services, in 2022, the number of (MAiD) euthanasia deaths increased by more than 40% to 836 deaths up from 594 in 2021. There were 205 euthanasia deaths in 2017, the first full year of euthanasia in Canada.

A Global News report by Shane Gibson indicates that in 2022 there were 223 Manitoba (MAiD) euthanasia deaths which is down from 245 in 2021. Gibson reported that Shared Health Manitoba indicated that formal requests for euthanasia also went down from 387 in 2021 to 341 in 2022.

I recently reported that The Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario released the December 2022 MAiD data which  indicates that there were 3934 reported euthanasia deaths which increased by 27% from 3102 in 2021.

On December 9, 2022 the seventh annual report from Québec’s Commission on end of life care was filed in Québec’s National Assembly. The report covered the 2021-2022 period (April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022). The Commission reported 3,663 euthanasia deaths declared by doctors during the fiscal year which was up by 51% over the previous year. The number of euthanasia deaths reported by facilities was 3,629 and the report from the Collège des Médecins du Québec totalled 3,952 leaving a discrepancy of 289 deaths

The Québec Commission does not provide an explanation for the discrepancy of 289 deaths, but it appears that some doctors are not reporting euthanasia deaths. The same problem may exist in other jurisdictions but it is impossible to prove since Québec is the only province that collects data from more than one source. 

Clearly, there are different approaches to euthanasia in each province. More provinces need to assert their constitutional authority and prevent euthanasia for mental illness and the indiscriminate use of euthanasia.

United Church of Canada approves euthanasia prayer.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On March 9, 2022, Churchill Park United Church in Winnipeg Manitoba hosted the euthanasia death of Betty Sanguin (86).

Link to our petition opposing the United Church of Canada's pro-euthanasia prayer (Link).

As euthanasia becomes widely prevalent in Canada and available to an expanding list of people living with physical or mental illness, the United Church of Canada approved a prayer written by cleric David Sparks and Sheila Noyes, former co-president of the euthanasia lobby group, Dying with Dignity Canada.

Prayer in the Midst of Fear

I am afraid. I feel fear penetrating my mind and my heart. I feel fear in my gut.

I am afraid to die. I do not know what lies beyond the barrier of death. I am afraid to release myself to the great unknown.

I am heartbroken and afraid to leave my family. I am still needed!

I have let go of hope for healing, and I hold on to hope for the next life.

I am afraid that my family and loved ones, children and grandchildren will be troubled when I tell them I plan to die using medical aid in dying (MAID).

(Prayerfully speak of other fears)

But, in the midst of my fear, I have hope that my family and loved ones, children and grandchildren will understand the choice to end my suffering.

I hope they will be proud of my decision and will understand that MAID is consistent with the love and compassion of Jesus. I have such peace in knowing this is my choice. My family loves me but they cannot feel my suffering, they cannot comprehend my helplessness.

I have hope and assurances that my death will be gentle. I am grateful that I can make this choice, for I am terrified of dying in pain and being helpless.

This choice to determine when I have had enough gives me peace even in the midst of the fear.

I feel that fear throws up a barrier between you and me, Loving God, a barrier so hard to penetrate, and I want that barrier down.

Come to me, Compassionate God, come to me as fear weighs me down and gets in the way of the joy and peace I want to feel and share around. Come to me and embrace me with your Eternal Love.

In the deepest part of me, I believe it will be your love that casts out fear for this waiting time and for my final journey through death.

I pray in the name of the suffering Jesus. Amen

People should always have compassion for people who are living with physical or mental illness, but the United Church is praying for and approving the act of killing.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Canada to delay euthanasia for mental illness until March 2024.

This is not a victory. The government is only delaying the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

David Fraser reported for The Canadian Press that Justice Minister David Lametti introduced Bill C-39 to delay the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness (for one year) until March 17, 2024.

Bill C-7, which was passed on March 17, 2021, among other things, legalized euthanasia for mental illness with a two-year moratorium. Therefore euthanasia for mental illness alone was to be implemented on March 17, 2023. The latest government plan delays the implementation for one more year.

This is not a victory since it only delays the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness. 

Further to that, I do not trust the government. As stated by Peter Zimonjic for CBC news:

If Bill C-39 is not passed by March 17 of this year, MAID for people solely suffering from mental illness will become law in Canada. The legislation cannot be passed after that date because the two-year time limit will have ended.

It is possible that the bill to delay implementation of euthanasia for mental illness will be held up or defeated in the Senate and thus permitting euthanasia for mental illness on March 17, 2023.

David Lametti
According to the Canadian Press report:

Canadians whose sole condition is a mental disorder will not be eligible for a medically assisted death for another year under legislation introduced in the House of Commons Thursday.

Justice Minister David Lametti introduced the bill seeking to delay extending the eligibility until March 17, 2024.

“We need to be prudent. We need to move step by step, making sure that people within the profession, Canadian society at large, has internalized this step,” Lametti told reporters.

“To be honest, we could have gone forward with the original date, but we want to be sure. We want to be safe. We want everybody to be on the same page.”

The Liberal government backed off from implementing euthanasia for mental illness this year because most psychiatrists are stating that it is impossible to determine if a person with a mental illness has an irremediable medical condition, as required by the law. 

There have also been many sad stories of people with disabilities who died by euthanasia based on poverty, homelessness or an inability to receive medical treatments.

People with mental illness are often living in poverty, experiencing homelessness or unable to get the necessary treatment for mental illness. Permitting euthanasia for people with mental illness is not about autonomy but rather abandonment of people in need of care.

Yesterday I reported that Alberta Premier Danielle Smith objects to expanding euthanasia to include mental illness. Québec has already objected to euthanasia for mental illness. Provinces must assert their constitutional authority and prevent euthanasia for mental illness.

Further reading:

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Alberta Premier, Danielle Smith, objects to expanding euthanasia to include mental illness.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On December 15, Canada's Liberal government announced that they are delaying the implementation of euthanasia for mental illness alone. Euthanasia for mental illness alone was approved by Bill C-7 in March 2021, but a moratorium was placed on it until March 17, 2023 to provide enough time for the government to establish rules for killing people with mental illnesses.

The December 15 announcement to delay implementation of euthanasia for mental illness alone did not include a new time-line.

Premier Danielle Smith
An article by Arthur Green for the Western Standard quotes Alberta Premier, Danielle Smith as stating:
"We are consulting with legal and mental health experts regarding the proposed legislation and its impact on those with mental health challenges," said a statement from Smith's office on Monday.

"Given the Government of Alberta’s responsibility to deliver health care services and to regulate the health care profession, we object to the federal government moving forward with expanding MAiD eligibility without agreement from the province."

Alex Schadenberg
Green also interviewed me (Alex Schadenberg) and reported:
negative press pushed back the government’s timeline for the time being.

“The overwhelming pressure on the government was to hold back now,”

Schadenberg said the Liberals may have delayed the implementation because of a possible election in the spring. He expects the final guidelines will probably require a year’s effort of mental health supports and a psychiatrist’s additional approval, similar to what is done in the Netherlands.
I actually stated that the final guidelines could require a year of mental health supports before the psychiatrist approves the death, as is required by protocols in the Netherlands.

Canadian provinces have the right to decide whether or not they will permit euthanasia for mental illness. Québec has already decided not to permit euthanasia for mental illness alone. Hopefully Alberta will open up the debate by declaring that they will not implement euthanasia for mental illness.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Ontario 2022 euthanasia (MAiD) deaths increase by 27% to 3934.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario released the December 2022 MAiD data which indicated that in 2022 there were 3934 reported euthanasia deaths up by 27% from 3102 in 2021.

The Ontario euthanasia data indicates that have been 13,732 (MAiD) deaths since legalization in June 2016. For clarity, there were 13,729 euthanasia deaths and 3 assisted suicide deaths.

According to the data, of the 3934 euthanasia deaths in 2022, 121 were people who were not terminally ill, 20 of the deaths were followed by organ donation and the final consent was waived in 190 deaths. The final consent is waived when a person has become incompetent.

A 27% increase in Ontario euthanasia deaths is significant but less than the 51% increase reported in Québec. (Link to article).

The seventh annual report from Québec’s Commission on end of life care was filed in Québec’s National Assembly on December 9, 2022 covering the (April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022) period. The report declared that there were 3663 reported euthanasia deaths representing 5.1% of all deaths.

Unlike Ontario, Québec has a multiple reporting system. The Québec report indicated that a discrepancy of 289 euthanasia deaths were reported when comparing the practitioner reports to the Collège des Médecins du Québec reports.

The Ontario data may not be accurate because it only relies on the voluntary reports submitted by the practitioners who cause the death.

The trends in Ontario mirror the national trends.

Health Canada released the Third Annual Report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada (2021) in July 2022. According to the Third Annual report there were:       

10,064 assisted deaths in 2021 up from 7603 in 2020, 5661 in 2019, 4480 in 2018, 2838 in 2017 and 1018 in 2016. The report indicated that in 2021  the number of assisted deaths increased by 32.4% representing 3.3% of all deaths with the total number of reported (MAiD) assisted deaths in Canada from legalization until December 31, 2021 at 31,664.

Is there enough killing yet?

In April, 2022; CTV news story reported on a euthanasia death in February 2022 of a 51-year-old Ontario woman who had multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). According to report, the woman was not terminally ill but living with a chronic condition that made her highly sensitive to chemicals and environmental allergies. This woman was killed not because of an “irremediable medical condition” but because she couldn't afford appropriate housing.

Soon after CTV news reported on a 31-year-old Ontario woman with MCS who was also approved to be killed by euthanasia. These reports of euthanasia for MCS created awareness that euthanasia was becoming a “treatment” for people with disabilities who were living with poverty or issues related to housing or other social conditions. The good news was that this story resulted in a GoFundMe campaign that raised money to enable this woman to afford a clean place to live.

There was the story in September 2022 of a mother who started a campaign to prevent the euthanasia death of her 23-year-old son with diabetes. EPC launched a petition campaign and the mother successfully challenged the euthanasia doctor, who then cancelled the death.

There was the October 2022 story of a disabled Ontario man who was seeking death by euthanasia to avoid homelessness. He was unable to find a new place to live after the building he was living in was sold. This man relied on a disability benefit and he was unable to find an affordable place to live. He said that he would rather die than become homeless. Thankfully a  GoFundMe campaign raised enough money to enable him to find a place to live.

I was very pleased by the recent news that Portugal's Constitutional Court rejected a euthanasia bill for the second time based on the imprecise language of the bill.

Canada's euthanasia law employs imprecise language that has been loosely interpreted. Sadly the deaths by euthanasia continue to increase exponentialy in Canada.

More information:

Portugal's Constitutional Court rejects another euthanasia bill.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Portugal's Constitutional Court has once again rejected, a euthanasia bill that was passed by Portugal's parliament. President Marcelo de Sousa vetoed another euthanasia bill last year before the election.

André Ventura, who is the leader of the Chega party, is calling for a referendum on euthanasia.

The Portugal News reported:
The Constitutional Court considered that “an intolerable lack of definition as to the exact scope of application” of the decree on medically assisted death had been created, noting that the parliament went “further”, changing “in essential aspects” the previous bill.

This was the third decree approved by parliament to decriminalise medically assisted death in a period of about two years.

The first was also declared unconstitutional by the TC, in March 2021, following a request for preventive inspection by the President of the Republic, due to insufficient normative densification.
In November of the same year, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa used the political veto in relation to the second parliamentary decree on this matter, as it contained contradictory expressions.
The current bill passed on December 9. Similar to the previous two bills, the bill uses vague language, as the Constitutional Court stated, the bill had "an intolerable lack of definition as to the exact scope of the application."

The European Institute of Bioethics reported on January 12 on the concerns with the text of the bill (google translated):
In the new text adopted at the end of 2022 by the parliament, the “intolerable” character of the suffering is no longer required in the patient; henceforth, only “great intensity” suffering would suffice. This condition is not, moreover, required in the case of “permanent damage of extreme gravity”. In addition, the term “fatal disease” is removed in favor of “serious and incurable diseases”, thus positioning the act of euthanasia as a means of causing death and not of accelerating it.

More broadly, the Portuguese law in itself raises serious ethical concerns, because it entails, in the words of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, a "considerable change from the point of view of the balance between the value of life and the right to self-determination", authorizing euthanasia even when the patient is not at the end of life.
On January 29, 2021, Portugal's parliament passed the first euthanasia bill. On February 19, President de Sousa referred the bill to Portugal's Constitutional court for evaluation. President de Sousa stated that the bill was:
"excessively imprecise," potentially creating a situation of "legal uncertainty."
On March 15, the Portuguese American Journal reported that the Constitutional court rejected the first bill and stated:
“the law is imprecise in identifying the circumstances under which those procedures can occur.” The court stated the law must be “clear, precise, clearly envisioned and controllable.” The law lacks the “indispensable rigor."
On November 30, 2021, President de Sousa vetoed the second euthanasia bill because of contradictions in it's language. The Associated Press reported:
This time, the president is returning the reworded law to the national assembly, according to a statement posted on the Portuguese presidency’s website late on Monday, arguing that further clarification is needed in “what appear to be contradictions” regarding the causes that justify resorting to death with medical assistance.

Whereas the original bill required “fatal disease” as a pre-requisite, the president’s argument followed, the renewed version mentions “incurable” or “serious” disease in some of its formulation. No longer considering that patients need to be terminally ill means, in De Sousa’s opinion, “a considerable change of weighing the values ​​of life and free self-determination in the context of Portuguese society.”
The Associated Press reported in June 2022 that the new euthanasia bills, that were being debated, did not fulfill President de Sousa's concerns. According to the article:
...none of the four new bills addresses Rebelo de Sousa’s specific concerns. Instead, they attempt to simplify circumstances where euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are justified by referring to “a situation of intolerable suffering, with a definitive injury of extreme seriousness or a serious and incurable disease.”
A new concerns is that André Ventura, the leader of the Chega, has called for a referendum. The Portugal News quoted Ventura as stating:
"this process can only be resolved with a referendum", maintaining that "an issue of this importance, twice declared unconstitutional by the TC, can only be resolved with the direct participation of Portuguese citizens."
All three euthanasia bills were either declared unconstitutional or vetoed based on the imprecise language of the bill. The euthanasia lobby appear to be following Canada's lead by passing euthanasia bills that lack definition. Legislation that are not sufficiently defined will naturally expand over time.

Euthanasia directly and intentionally causes the death of a person by lethal injection. Portugal needs to commit to a culture that cares for its citizens in need, not kills.

Alzheimer’s Association Terminates Partnership with Assisted-Suicide Advocacy Group

This article was published by National Review online on January 30, 2023.

By Wesley Smith

Alzheimer’s disease runs in my family. My mother and uncle both died from it, so I have intimately witnessed the worst that the disease can inflict.

I also know how much people with the condition need love, understanding, and patience. They are still the persons they have always been, just compromised and dependent.

I also know how vulnerable people with dementia are and how easily they can be manipulated. I am also aware that too many denigrate them as less than human — so-called non-persons — and view their lives as no longer worth living.

People are understandably terrified of the disease. Consequently, as the Catholic bioethicist Charles Camosy has written, people with dementia are targets of the euthanasia movement. That is why I was appalled when Compassion and Choices — the country’s most prominent assisted-suicide advocacy organization — bragged that it had partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association to advocate on behalf of Alzheimer’s patients. C & C talks a good game about end-of-life care, but their primary mission is to push suicide as an answer to serious illness.

An association dedicated to the care of people with the disease had no business affiliating in any way with a group that advocates assisted suicide.

Now, the Alzheimer’s Association has seen C & C for what it really is and has terminated the relationship. From the AA press release:
Alzheimer’s disease, the Alzheimer’s Association entered into an agreement to provide education and awareness information to Compassion & Choices, but failed to do appropriate due diligence. Their values are inconsistent with those of the Association. We deeply regret our mistake, have begun the termination of the relationship, and apologize to all of the families we support who were hurt or disappointed. Additionally, we are reviewing our process for all agreements including those that are focused on the sharing of educational information.

As a patient advocacy group and evidence-based organization, the Alzheimer’s Association stands behind people living with Alzheimer’s, their care partners and their health care providers as they navigate treatment and care choices throughout the continuum of the disease. Research supports a palliative care approach as the highest quality of end-of-life care for individuals with advanced dementia.
Right. Care — not killing! Good for the Alzheimer’s Association. I just wish more such organizations understood that the activists of C & C are suicide pushers. They are not the friends of the ill and afflicted.

Monday, January 30, 2023

EPC February 9 Webinar: Where can we go from here?

Join the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Zoom webinar on Thursday, February 9 at 7 pm (Eastern Time) with Gordon Friesen and Alex Schadenberg titled: Where can we go from here?

The webinar will include an update on Canada's euthanasia law and provide some direction related to Canada's healthcare system and the need for creating Compassionate Community Care.

Register in advance: (Registration Link)

Gordon Friesen is the President of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and a disability leader. He has studied and followed the euthanasia issue since the 1990's.

Alex Schadenberg is the Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition since 1999 and the International Chair since 2007.

The webinar will include up-to-date information and direction while providing an opportunity for people to share questions and concerns.

Register in advance: (Registration Link)