Friday, April 16, 2021

Three things most people don't know about physician-assisted death.

This article was published by Rosemary Frei on April 12, 2021

By Rosemary Frei

The cadence is increasing of jurisdictions introducing, normalizing and expanding laws allowing doctors to help people commit suicide.

Is this purely in the service of relieving unbearable physical or mental suffering? Or do other factors predominate?

I used to believe the former, but my recent re-examination of the issue suggests the latter is more likely.

On March 17, 2021, Bill C-7 came into effect across Canada. The new law significantly increases the proportion of the population eligible to undergo physician-assisted death (PAD). C-7 expands PAD eligibility to, for example, people whose death is not reasonably foreseeable.

On March 18, Spain passed federal legislation that for the first time allows PAD there; it goes into effect in June.

The same thing has happened in New Zealand: the federal ‘End of Life Choice Act’ goes into effect in November.

And on April 8 the French federal parliament debated whether to make euthanasia the law of their land. The majority of the parliamentarians favour legalizing euthanasia. However, the law was not passed because there wasn’t enough time for them to go through the thousands of amendments proposed by legislators who oppose PAD.

(Other terms for the act of doctors helping people commit suicide include physician-assisted suicide, voluntary assisted suicide and medical assistance in dying. And the difference between euthanasia and PAD is the latter requires patients to request it.)

Other countries, such as the UK, are similar to France: active euthanasia is illegal but most residents and physicians approve of it. Therefore in these countries many physicians perform euthanasia without being punished and there is a considerable push to legalize it.

Holland and Belgium were the first countries to decriminalize euthanasia and PAD, bringing their laws into effect in 2002. In Luxembourg a similar assisted-death law came into effect in 2009.

All three countries allow people to undergo PAD if they have a serious medical condition, disability or psychiatric disorder, whether their death is imminent or not.

For the last few years years Holland has been moving towards voting on legalizing PAD for people 75 years of age or older who are ‘tired of life.’ And there has been a steady and very significant increase in the overall number of people undergoing PAD in Holland and Belgium.

PAD currently can also be legally performed in five other countries, either across the whole country or in parts of it: Canada, the US, Australia, Germany and Switzerland.

In the US each state can decide whether PAD is permitted there. So far, eight states plus Washington, D.C. have legalized it. Similarly, in Australia it’s a state issue; so far the state of Victoria has brought into effect a law allowing PAD and on July 1 the state of Western Australia will follow suit.

In Canada PAD was first legalized federally in 2016. Now Bill C-7 expands PAD by, among other measures:

  • no longer requiring a 10-day ‘reflection’ period between the time a person whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable consents to PAD and when they receive it;
  • allowing people who have a very serious illness or disability but whose natural death is not imminent to access PAD as long as they meet certain conditions (previously, PAD was only allowed in people whose natural death was reasonably foreseeable);
  • allowing PAD for people who have previously requested it, been found eligible to receive it and their natural death has become reasonably foreseeable but they’ve lost the capacity to consent; and,
  • starting in 2023, no longer banning PAD for people who have a mental illness alone, and no other underlying medical conditions or disabilities.

The government and mass media largely paint all of this as giving more people more right to choose how and when they end their lives.

Pro-PAD groups and opinion leaders refer to it in positive terms such as ‘right to die’ and ‘death with dignity.’

Other institutions have an overt pro-PAD position; among these is the Hastings Center in the US.

And additional influential groups and organizations — Wikipedia, for example — have a more subtle but definitely detectable pro-PAD slant in the information they provide to the public about PAD.

Most of the individuals and groups that oppose PAD do so on religious grounds.

But there are at least three facts that most people don’t know about physician-assisted death.

One: Expanding PAD is a serious potential threat to people with disabilities, dementia and Alzheimer’s.

That’s because what the vast majority of these people want and need is good care and services – but those services are becoming very hard to access, particularly in this era of Covid.

Most countries’ PAD laws require health-care providers to inform people of available services for relieving their suffering as alternatives to PAD and to offer referrals to professionals who can provide these services. But those laws don’t also require that the services be made accessible to all of these people, via increased government funding.

And there already have been documented cases of people with disabilities being pressured to undergo PAD.

That’s why many disability advocates oppose expansion of PAD.

Catherine Frazee, a professor at Ryerson University in Toronto and a leading disability advocate, gave powerful testimony to the Canadian parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights’ Bill C-7 hearing in November 2020.

She told hearing attendees that the Quebec Superior Court’s 2019 decision allowing disabled Quebec resident Jean Truchon to undergo assisted death even though his death was not reasonably foreseeable – which the Canadian federal government used as a springboard to create Bill C-7 — does not in fact translate into the need to make it easier for disabled people to kill themselves.

Frazee said that, rather, “the deprivations of institutional life that choked out his [Truchon’s] will to live [and resultant request for PAD] were not an inevitable consequence of disability.”

Krista Carr, executive vice-president of Inclusion Canada, has voiced a similar sentiment.

“This bill has got to be stopped, or it will end the life of people. It will end the life of way too many people with disabilities who feel they have no other options,” she’s quoted as saying in a February 8, 2021, Canadian Press article.
Two: In 2014, Belgium became the first country to expand PAD to apply to people as young as one year old.

In Holland, ever since its PAD law went into effect in 2002, the country has allowed assisted killing of children — in cases where they’re considered to be incurably ill — of as young as 12. And the Dutch government is now considering following Belgium’s lead and lowering that minimum age to as young as one.

This expansion wouldn’t involve a change in federal law in Holland. Instead, it would be done via changes to the ‘Groningen protocol.’ This set of guidelines was created in 2004 for the killing of newborns and infants with very serious illnesses or deformities such as spina bifida.

Three: There is significant controversy about allowing assisted suicide for people who have a psychiatric disorder alone and no other conditions.

Currently only Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg permit this, as part of their original assisted-death laws.

Under Bill C-7, Canada will allow it in 2023.

The Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) released a position statement last year saying it:
"did and does not take a position on the legality or morality of MAiD [medical assistance in dying] as this is a decision reflecting current Canadian ethical, cultural and moral views.”
This prompted two former CPA presidents to post an open letter to Canadian psychiatrists highlighting that the CPA did not engage its membership in a consultation process before releasing its position statement.

The two past presidents asked the CPA to: "revisit the Statement by temporarily withdrawing it, to allow for a proper engagement process and development of evidence-based recommendations to inform any future Position Statement on MAiD.”

The CPA did not do this.

The American Psychiatric Association released its PAD position statement in 2016. It states, in whole:
The American Psychiatric Association, in concert with the American Medical Association’s position on medical euthanasia, holds that a psychiatrist should not prescribe or administer any intervention to a non-terminally ill person for the purpose of causing death.”
The American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics states, in part, that:
Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks. Instead of engaging in assisted suicide, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life.”
It certainly makes one wonder why the public isn’t given all of this information.

Instead, the rush to expand access to PAD around the world in the name of humaneness is holding sway.

Rosemary Frei has an MSc in molecular biology from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary, was a freelance medical writer and journalist for 22 years and now is an independent investigative journalist. You can watch her June 15 interview on The Corbett Report, read her other Off-Guardian articles follow her on Twitter and read her website here.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) opposes euthanasia for mental illness.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Bill C-7 passed into law on March 17, thereby expanding Canada's euthanasia (MAiD) law to include people with mental illness alone. Passage came in spite of robust opposition from the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Stephanie Davis reporting for CTV News Regina interviewed Phyllis O'Connor, the Executive Director of the CMHA Saskatchewan who stated that they were not in favour of mental illness being a reason for medically assisted suicide. O'Connor continued by stating:

“Mental illness, while we’re not discounting how serious the suffering can be, it’s not a terminal illness. There’s always hope, with proper supports and access to services, for recovery for people.” 

The Canadian Mental Health Association sent a press release on February 24, 2021 opposing euthanasia for mental illness where they stated:

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is deeply disappointed that the government supports allowing those with mental illnesses to seek medical assistance in dying.

The CMHA gave three reasons for opposing euthanasia for mental illness:

First, it is not possible to determine whether any particular case of mental illness represents “an advanced state of decline in capabilities that cannot be reversed.”

Second, we know that cases of severe and persistent mental illness that are initially resistant to treatment can, in fact, show significant recovery over time. Mental illness is very often episodic. Death, on the other hand, is not reversible. In Dutch and Belgian studies, a high proportion of people who were seeking MAID for psychiatric reasons, but did not get it, later changed their minds.

Third is the issue of whether this distinction for mental illness vis-à-vis all other types of illness is inherently discriminatory. Denying access to MAID for mental health reasons alone does not mean those with mental illness suffer less than people afflicted with critical physical ailments. What is different about mental illness specifically, is the likelihood that symptoms of the illness will resolve over time. Because the distinction is being made specifically on the likely course of illness and not the degree of suffering, it is not discriminatory.

More articles on this topic:

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Nevada suicide prevention advocate comments on assisted suicide bill.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Richard Davis, who is a senior and a suicide prevention advocate commented on the Nevada assisted suicide bill in the Las Vegas Review-Journal on April 13, 2021. Davis comments on the Nevada suicide rate by stating:
Currently, Nevada has the highest national rate of senior suicides in the nation. One of the top reasons many seniors give for desiring assisted suicide is not untreatable pain or lack of dignity in dying, but the feeling that they are a burden.

Assembly Bill 351 which would legalize assisted suicide in Nevada, sends the message to seniors who are living with chronic conditions that they are an unnecessary burden to their families and communities.
Davis then comments on the fact that the bill requires the doctor to lie on the death certificate
I think it is particularly pernicious that the bill requires the cause of death be listed as the chronic condition of the patient rather than suicide. Is this a backdoor way for Nevada to artificially lower our highest-in-the-nation suicide rates?
Davis comments on the problem of depression among seniors:
Depression among seniors is a major risk for suicide, and this bill does not require that a person seeking assisted suicide be evaluated for treatable and manageable clinical depression.
Davis then points out that funding for a suicide prevention hotline is being considered alongside the assisted suicide bill:
It is ironic that in the same legislative session in which AB351 is being advanced the life-saving Senate Bill 390 — to establish and fund the 9-8-8 statewide suicide prevention hotline — is also being advocated. The contrast between the two bills shows the moral confusion of our state lawmakers.

More articles on this topic:

Nevada assisted suicide bill denies equal protection under the law.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

When legislators vote on assisted suicide bills they often vote based on the theory of legalizing assisted suicide and not the reality of the bill that they are considering. A prime example is the recent passing of the New Mexico assisted suicide bill that was one of the most extreme and dangerous assisted suicide bills.

The Nevada State Legislature is debating assisted suicide Bill AB 351. AB 351 is similar to the Oregon and Washington State assisted suicide laws.

There are several hidden factors within this and other assisted suicide bills that lead me to wonder what the assisted suicide lobby is trying to cover-up. For instance, AB 351 forbids a coroner from investigating an assisted suicide death. AB 351 states:

Section 1: Chapter 440 of NRS is hereby amended by adding thereto a new section to read as follows:

1. A coroner, coroner’s deputy or local health officer:
(a) Is not required to certify the cause of death of a patient who dies after self-administering a medication that is designed to end the life of the patient in accordance with the provisions of sections 5 to 30, inclusive, of this act; and

(b) Must not investigate the death of a patient who dies after self-administering a medication that is designed to end the life of the patient in accordance with the provisions of sections 5 to 30, inclusive, of this act if the coroner or coroner’s deputy confirms the circumstances of the death with a physician responsible for overseeing the care of the patient or the physician who prescribed the medication.
This bill provision denies equal protection under the law for people who are prescribed lethal assisted suicide drugs. 

AB 351 requires doctors to lie on the death certificate. AB 351 states:

3.The medical certificate of death of a patient who dies after self-administering a medication that is designed to end the life of the patient in accordance with sections 5 to 30, inclusive, of this act:

(a) May be signed by the physician who prescribed the medication or the operator of a facility for hospice care, as defined in NRS 449.0033, at which the patient dies;

(b) Must specify the terminal condition with which the patient was diagnosed as the cause of death; and

(c) Must not mention that the patient self-administered a medication that is designed to end the life of the patient.

Changing death certificates, for political purposes, has long-term consequences on future research concerning life-expectancy for certain medical conditions but it also affects the ability of law enforcement from investigating potential murder.

Similar to other bills, the proposed assisted suicide request letter uses the term may self-administer. I am fully aware that the assisted suicide lobby says that may self-administer means that a person may decide not to take the lethal drugs, but it also means that someone else may administer the lethal drugs (homicide). The term may self-administer protects physicians or others from being charged with homicide, if they administer the lethal drugs.

Assisted suicide laws are designed to protect medical professionals who are willing to be involved with killing their patients by prescribing lethal drugs. Assisted suicide bills are not designed to protect the person who has asked for death, even though the person asking for death may be experiencing depression, feelings of hopelessness, social isolation and fear, all conditions that are properly dealt with by caring interventions and not killing. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

New Mexico passes a dangerous, discriminatory assisted suicide law.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Matt Valliere
Matt Valliere, the executive director of the Patients Rights Action Fund, wrote a scathing review of the New Mexico assisted suicide law that was published in Newsweek today.

Valliere criticises New Mexico for legalizing assisted suicide during the pandemic but he focuses on how these laws are suseptible to abuse, mistakes and coercion. He first focuses on the fact that the New Mexico law permits non-doctors to participate in assisted suicide. He states:

Beyond the fact that every supposed "safeguard" in the New Mexico law and others like it is unenforceable and circumventable, legislators in the state have allowed medical professionals with less training to facilitate patients' suicide. Doctors themselves are not always accurate in their prognostications, and patients could throw away good months, years or even decades over a best-guess mistake. Patients like Jeannette Hall, who would have killed herself with assisted suicide but is, thankfully, still alive decades later.

New Mexico legislators have endangered vulnerable patients by allowing even physician assistants and nurse practitioners to determine that a requesting patient has six months or less to live and provide them with suicide drugs. Medicare clearly prohibits nurse practitioners and physician assistants from certifying a terminal prognosis of six months when it comes to hospice eligibility. Suicide cannot be undone, and no matter who is determining eligibility, medical professionals make mistakes.

As I wrote in the past, Valliere focuses on why the New Mexico assisted suicide bill is the most permissive bill in the nation. Valliere comments on the law:

It defines "adult" as "a resident of the state who is eighteen years of age or older," but repeatedly uses the term "individual" rather than "adult" to delineate who is eligible for assisted suicide. Notably, the term "individual" is not defined, meaning that assisted suicide could be made available to non-residents and even children, potentially making New Mexico not only a destination for irresponsible suicide "tourism," but also the abuse of minors.

Valliere then exposes some of the assisted suicide abuses from Oregon

Assisted suicide laws invite elder and disability abuse while granting immunity to all those participating. For example, Michael Freeland, who had experienced acute depression and attempted suicide multiple times over several decades, received the lethal prescription and was left at home with the suicide drugs, even though medical professionals had previously removed all other means of his taking his own life from his home. So too, an elderly dementia patient, Kate Cheney, was referred for the non-required psychiatric evaluation and denied the lethal dose. Then, her daughter shopped around for a doctor until she found one who would say Ms. Cheney had "capacity" to make this life-and-death decision; that same doctor wrote in the report that Ms. Cheney's "choices may be influenced by her family's wishes and her daughter, Erika, may be somewhat coercive."

Valliere concludes his article by urging other states to reject assisted suicide.

Giving medical professionals immunity to assist in their patients' suicide not only fails to address any of the system's problems, but exacerbates the current disparities. The rest of us can avoid making the same mistake in other states by rejecting dangerous and discriminatory assisted suicide laws.

Previous articles about the New Mexico assisted suicide bill that is now the law

  • New Mexico poised to legalize assisted suicide (Link).
  • I was frustrated by the lies told during the New Mexico assisted suicide HB 47 legislative hearings (Link).
  • New Mexico legislature will once again debate an extreme assisted suicide bill (Link).

Monday, April 12, 2021

France didn't vote on euthanasia bill. Latvia rejected euthanasia.

This article was published by Bioedge on April 11, 2021.

By Michael Cook, the editor of Bioedge

France National Assembly
France: A bill to legalise euthanasia was smothered by delaying tactics in the French Parliament this week.

The bill was a personal initiative of Olivier Falorni, a deputy for the parliamentary splinter group Libertes et Territoires ("Freedom and Territories"). He says that the law would put a stop to a national "hypocrisy" because French residents often travelled to Belgium or Switzerland for assisted suicide. He claims that French doctors are already performing 2,000 to 4,000 euthanasia every year – but secretly.

The bill’s opponents filed about 3,000 amendments ahead of the debate which slowed down proceedings and made a vote in the allotted time impossible.

If it had passed, France would have become the fifth European Union country to permit euthanasia after the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Spain. (Switzerland allows assisted suicide, but not euthanasia.)

Neither President Emanuel Macron nor his government have taken sides, although the president said in 2017: "I myself wish to choose the end of my life".

The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, said he was not convinced that France should have a large-scale debate during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Latvian Saeima
atvia. On March 25, after a long debate, the Latvian Parliament (Saeima) rejected a public petition which had called for the legalisation of euthanasia. A total of 49 members voted for rejection, 38 voted against, and two abstained.

Opponents emphasised that Latvia needed to get its palliative care system in order first, before considering right-to-die initiatives. Deputy Vitālijs Orlovs, who is a doctor, declared in the debate: “I was taught to fight for patients’ lives to the end. I cannot imagine injecting a person with some substance to help them die – not for any amount of money.”

Supporters stressed a need to do away with end-of-life misery. “People think this will open a can of worms,” said Pēteris Buks, the author of the petition, “but Holland has 17 million inhabitants and 6,000 euthanasia cases. This means that in Latvia these could be about 600 cases. We have ten times fewer people.”

Hat tip to Alex Schadenberg.

Doctor responds to Washington State assisted suicide law expansion Bill.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Great news: The Washington State assisted suicide expansion Bill HB 1141 is dead. 

Washington State House Bill 1141, would have expanded the assisted suicide law by:
  • Expanding the list of who can prescribe lethal drugs by changing the requirement from physicians to "qualified medical provider." A "qualified medical provider" is defined as a physician, or a licensed physician assistant, or a osteopathic physician, or and advanced registered nurse practitioner. 
  • Expanding the list of who is legally able to counsel a person, when the qualified medical provider questions the ability of the person to consent. Those who are permitted to offer counseling include: a state licensed psychiatrist or, psychologist, independent clinical social worker, advanced social worker, mental health counselor, or psychiatric advanced registered nurse practitioner.
  • Eliminating the 15 day waiting period within the law and replaces it with a 72 hour waiting period before the second request is made. The 72 hour request period can be rescinded if the qualified medical provider believes that the person may be imminently dying. 
  • Allowing the lethal prescription to be delivered to the person, rather than requiring the lethal drugs to be accessed by the person who is approved to die or the physician.

HB 1141 expands the assisted suicide law by eliminating the waiting period, making it possible for a same day death. A person can request and potentially receive lethal drugs on the same day. Studies prove that a person's will to live will fluctuate. Your bad day becomes your last day.

Dr Sharon Quick
Dr Sharon Quick was published in the Tacoma Tribune telling legislatives to give House Bill 1141 a death without dignity.

Quick who is a pediatric anesthesiologist/critical care physician with expertise in pain management and care for dying patients. Quick comments on the Tribune editorial which questioned the reduction in the waiting period for assisted suicide. Quick points out that all of the provisions in the bill need to be questioned. Quick wrote:
House Bill 1141 would shorten the waiting period to receive lethal drugs from 15 days to 72 hours and eliminate it when life expectancy is less than 72 hours.

Two professionals perform the initial evaluation, but under this bill only one provider, even a non-physician, would need to make the complex determination that a patient has 72 hours to live. It would allow the participation of advanced registered nurse practitioners, physician assistants and osteopathic physician assistants.

Physicians, much less those with less experience, cannot reliably make a 72-hour or a six-month prediction. A 72-hour prognosis indicates a person is in the dying process with failing organs and questionable cognitive capacity to make life-ending decisions. Lethal overdoses are unnecessary and ill-advised.
Quick comments on the reasons why people seek a hastened death:
Patients requesting a hastened death usually do not cite concerns about pain but about loss of abilities or autonomy — issues experienced by everyone at some point. The disability community knows “new normals” can be embraced when given sufficient time and support.

A physician’s role is to value patients’ inherent dignity, regardless of their condition. This benevolent responsibility turns malevolent when physicians offer lethal drugs to terminally ill patients — who may be in reversible, temporary despair —within a short time frame of 72 hours.
Quick then comments on depression and the need for mental health counselling:
Depression is expected in 25 to 40 percent of those desiring to hasten death, yet less than 5 percent are referred for mental health counseling in Washington.

Physicians are likely missing the diagnosis of depression, and patients are inappropriately receiving lethal prescriptions. Yet this bill proposes lowering evaluators’ qualifications?
Quick concludes her article by urging legislators to reject HB 1141 and to focus on better options such as improving the deficient oversight of the current law and ensuring good palliative care.

More articles on HB 1141:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Friday, April 9, 2021

Australian murder trial - woman claims she assisted her boyfriends suicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Matthew Dunbar with Natasha Darcy
A murder trial in Australia shows how assisted suicide techniques can be a cover for murder. I first reported on this case in November 2019.

Natasha Darcy is on trial for allegedly killing her boyfriend, Matthew Dunbar, who died on August 2, 2017. Dunbar had recently made Darcy the sole beneficiary of his multi-million dollar estate.

The in the death of Dunbar began this week. Darcy is arguing that she did not murder Dunbar, her boyfriend of three years, but admits to assisting his suicide.

According to the trial reports Matthew Dunbar died on August 2, 2017 at around 2 am with an exit bag and helium, one of the suicide methods promoted by Philip Nitschke and Exit.

Laine Sainty reported for the Weekend Australian that Darcy called her ex-husband, Colin Crossman, at 1:14 am, 46 minutes before she contacted the 000 emergency line, on the night of the death.

Sainty also reported that Darcy had searched online for information on how to sedate and suicide methods and that she allegedly used a Magic Bullet, the evening of his death, to blend a cocktail of sedatives.

Jenny Noyes reported for the Sydney Morning Herald that Darcy had obtained sedatives from a veterinarian for the purpose of euthanizing her elderly cat. Darcy says that she didn't euthanize her cat because it would have upset the children.

Noyes reported that the court was told that Darcy obtained anti-psychotic drugs to help Dunbar to sleep. Darcy was told that based on the strength of the drugs, to cut the tablets into one quarter of the size.

Noyes also reported that Darcy had asked a nurse at the Walcha Veterinary Clinic for Ram sedative that is used for sheep. When the veterinarian asked Mr Dunbar about the request, Dunbar had no idea what the veterinarian was talking about.

Emma Partridge reported for 9News that Darcy and Dunbar picked up a helium tank, the day before his death. Darcy had specifically ordered high purity helium.

Partridge also reported that Lance Partridge, Dunbar's best friend and executor of his will, had heard Dunbar tell Darcy that he had changed his will and everything was left to her. Darcy originally claimed that she had no idea that she would inherit Dunbar's estate.

Sainty also reported that Darcy may have attempted to kill her ex-husband in 2009. According to the report, a fire was set in Crossman's bedroom in 2009. Drugs were later found in his system that he did not take. The night before, Darcy had made Taco's for Crossman for dinner.

Natasha Darcy has pled innocent to murder in the death of Matthew Dunbar but she has admitted to the lesser charge of assisting his suicide. 

This may be a classic case of murder that is covered up by admitting to the lesser charge of assisting a suicide.

It is important to note the complicity assisted suicide websites have with murder. Darcy gathered information on how to kill from assisted suicide lobby websites. The method of death is the one preferred by Philip Nitshcke and Exit International.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

France debates legalizing euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The French media is reporting that a bill to legalize euthanasia will be debated on Thursday April 8.

The Local news reported that Olivier Falorni, deputy for the parliamentary splinter group Libertes et Territoires (“Freedom and Territories”), has introduced a euthanasia bill that will be debated during the time allotted to the party.

MP's who oppose euthanasia have filed 3000 amendments to the bill. The Local reported:
MPs hostile to euthanasia have filed 3,000 amendments ahead of the debate which will slow down Thursday’s proceedings to the point of making any vote in the allotted timeframe impossible.
France considers itself to be an egalitarian society. Legalizing euthanasia is not about equality but rather it gives physicians the power to cause another person's death. Further to that, there is abuse of the law and deaths based on misdiagnosis.

Before France votes on the euthansia bill they need to consider what has happened in Canada. Less than five years after legalizing euthanasia, Canada has extended the law to people who are not terminally ill, to people with mental illness alone and to people who are not competent at the time of death.

Don't follow Canada's lead.

Euthanasia law is a matter of life and death for people with disabilities.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Bill C-7 passed into law on March 17, thereby expanding Canada's euthanasia (MAiD) law to include people with disabilities or chronic conditions who are not dying, and people with mental illness alone. It's important to remind people of how Bill C-7 undermines Canada's global human rights commitments.

Dulcie McCallum and Steve Estey who were members of Canada’s delegation to the United Nations when negotiating the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, explain in an article published by iPolitics how Bill C-7 is counter to Canada's Human Rights Commitments. McCallum and Estey wrote:
The value of Canada’s stock on the global human rights market is about to plummet. In what could be considered a perverse sense of timing, the House moved for closure on Bill C-7 – which proposes fundamental changes to criteria for medical aid in dying (MAiD) – on the very week that marks the eleven-year anniversary of Canada ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

As the special advisers to, and members of, Canada’s delegation to the United Nations when negotiating the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, we feel compelled to speak out because Canada is on the threshold of committing a serious legal breach.
They then explain why Bill C-7 represented a human rights violation:
Bill C-7 will, if passed, make it entirely legal to end a person’s life simply because they have a disability. The fact that Parliamentarians cannot see that Bill C-7 turns the right to equality and non-discrimination on its head is of grave concern.

This legislative initiative reinforces negative stereotypes and perceptions about people who live with a disability or who are aging, giving us a law that is predicated on discriminatory and harmful ableist and ageist criteria. The legislative drafters have penned a cruel twist into the Criminal Code by deeming ease of access to medical assistance for people with a disability as a benefit.
McCallum and Estey explain that others have warned the government about the violation.
We are not the first to warn the Prime Minister that this legislation is in direct contravention with international law. A cohort of UN Special Rapporteurs and experts have issued a global expression of alarm. Their statement, issued early this year, said in part; “Disability should never be a ground or justification to end someone’s life directly or indirectly.”

The international experts went on to make the specific point that if the law allows this differential treatment, it would “institutionalize and legally authorize ableism” in direct contravention of the Convention.
McCallum and Estey point out that Prime Minister Trudeau considers himself a staunch supporter of human rights and yet his euthanasia (MAiD) law is in direct contravention of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Dulcie McCallum is a human rights lawyer and was special adviser to Canada’s Delegation to the UN Ad Hoc Committee to negotiate the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Steve Estey is a longtime human rights advocate and activist and was a member of Canada’s delegation to the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee which drafted the CRPD between 2002 and 2006.

Further articles on this topic:

  • Disability is not a reason to sanction euthanasia (Link). 
  • UN disability expert concerned about euthanasia, assisted suicide and the new eugenics (Link).
  • UN disability rights envoy urges changes to Canada's euthanasia law (Link).

I will not publish anonymous or inappropriate comments

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

I have received several excellent comments from readers and followers of this blog that I have not published because the person did not put their name on the comment.

A long time ago, I decided that I would not publish anonymous comments from people. I made this decision after receiving comments from people who were attacking others, or attacking me, without the person willing to put their name on their destructive comment.

I also will not publish comments that contain information about ordering lethal drugs via the internet or other inappropriate comments. The euthanasia lobby must think that its funny when they attempt to publish lethal drug ordering information by linking it to one of my blog articles.

I have also received some very good comments from people who have not attached their name to their comment.

Whether the comment is instructive or destructive, I simply will not publish an anonymous comment.

Therefore if you want your comments posted on this blog, please leave your name with the comment.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Peter Singer promotes euthanasia for mental illness.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Peter Singer
Long time euthanasia promoter, Peter Singer, has written a commentary on the expansion of euthanasia to include people with mental illness alone and advanced request for euthanasia. His commentary seems factual and dispassionate but in fact he supports more death by euthanasia.

In his article that was published by Project Syndicate, Singer reports on the expansions of euthanasia world-wide. Singer focuses on Canada, which recently expanded euthanasia, known as MAiD, to people who are not terminally ill and to people with mental illness alone. Euthanasia for mental illness alone is "held" for 24 months as Canada devises protocols for killing.

Singer first comments on the issue of euthanasia by advanced request, which the Dutch Supreme Court recently approved. He states:
The issue of allowing advance requests for assistance in dying will become more pressing as populations age and more people develop dementia. Last year, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that doctors cannot be prosecuted for carrying out euthanasia on patients who have given written consent, but subsequently lost the capacity to consent.
Singer accurately points out how an aging population creates more pressure on a nation, nonetheless he ignores the fact that not requiring consent at the time of death justifies euthanasia without consent. 

Allowing euthanasia without consent undermines the original sales pitch for euthanasia, that being choice and consent. When consent is not required who chooses?

Singer then comments on the issue of euthanasia for mental illness alone. Singer states:
There can be little doubt that some mentally ill people are not helped by treatment, and do suffer greatly. It is hard to see why, if suffering from an incurable but non-terminal physical illness suffices for assistance in dying, suffering that is as bad or worse from incurable mental illness should not also be sufficient. Moreover, for people who are suffering from untreatable depression or other mental illnesses that do not respond to treatment, merely being judged eligible for euthanasia can in itself make life more bearable.
Singer acknowledges that psychiatric assessments may not determine if the mental illness is incurable, but then he suggests that this doesn't matter because only the patient can determine how unbearable the suffering is.

Euthanasia promoters, such as Singer ignore the reality that there is no proof that certain psychiatric conditions are untreatable and secondly they ignore the fact that a symptom of some psychiatric conditions is suicidal ideation.

We kill them because they want to die, but they want to die because they need treatment. Meanwhile Bill C-7 did not require that the person try effective treatments.

Loneliness and isolation. Have you called an elderly friend or family member today?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

I have written about the cultural epidemic of loneliness and isolation and I have explained how loneliness and isolation leads to a higher level of deaths by euthanasia (MAiD). Now that Ontario, and other jurisdictions, have moved back to being "locked-down," will we experience more depression and hopelessness based on cultural loneliness?

CTV medical correspondant, Avis Favaro, reported on a group of teenagers from the Upper Canada College, Bishop Strachan School, Havergal and Bayview Glen who are participating in a virtual pen pal program. Favaro reports:
The program, called Pandemic Pals or Pan Pals for short, has students connect with seniors in long-term care homes via phone and Zoom calls in an effort to combat loneliness brought on by lockdowns in the province.
Pan Pal Sam Shulman states:
“We thought about seniors in long-term care homes who are missing out on this time with their children, their grandchildren their great grandchildren, along with this all encompassing fear of the unknown virus,”

“So we wanted to bring joy to seniors during these trying times,”
Pan Pal Apostolos Zezos points out that many of the seniors have not spoken to anyone in weeks or months.

Long term care resident Irena Caranica told Favaro what the program means to her.
“Like I was talking to a very good friend from my youth. That's how nice it was. I was waiting every week for him to call me so I can talk to him,”
Pan Pal Shulman said:
“Seniors are obviously much older than we are, but we're all humans, and we're all similar and it's another person to talk to you, it's another person to share how our day was… and that relationship kind of transcends age,”
Pan Pal Kate Fitzpatrick recognized how the program has helped with mental health for the seniors who have participated while Pan Pal Justin Lee recognized that loneliness and isolation for seniors is not a new problem. Lee said:
“Senior loneliness isn't something that became real because of a pandemic, it was something that exists before. It just got amplified because of the pandemic. So I think this idea of connection, interaction and building bonds definitely should continue after the pandemic,”

“If I can bring light to someone's day, I really want to take that opportunity,”
Compassionate Community Care provides a training program for visiting and communicating with Seniors and others who live with social isolation.

Contact Compassionate Community Care at:

Thursday, April 1, 2021

I’d be dead if C-7 was law 10 years ago

This article was published in the April 2021 edition of the Interim

Andrew Lawton
Andrew Lawton

Well, this one is personal for me. If Bill C-7 were the law of the land a decade ago, I’d probably be dead.

Bill C-7 is product of the federal Liberal government’s efforts to expand access to assisted suicide. Supporters of the bill argue it’s necessary after the Superior Court of Quebec identified supposed deficiencies in the current assisted suicide regime. While the court’s Truchon decision did raise issues, it’s noteworthy that the federal government opted not to appeal this to the Supreme Court, and has now embraced changes that go far beyond what the court called for.

The most egregious of these is the expansion of assisted suicide access to people suffering solely from mental illnesses. Prohibiting these people from having their deaths facilitated by the state was recognized as an essential safeguard when the existing framework was established nearly five years ago.

Now, this protection is on the way out, along with the mandatory 10-day waiting period and need for two independent witnesses, among other changes.

Inclusion of the mental health provision in C-7 is vile for its own reasons, but all the more so when one looks at the process by which it came to be. The Liberals assured critics it would not be in the bill, which means there was no real study or investigation of it as Bill C-7 made its way through the rigorous committee review stage. It was slipped in by the Liberal-dominated Senate, and summarily accepted by Justin Trudeau’s government with the support of the Bloc Quebecois, despite united opposition from the Conservatives and NDP.

This is precisely what was warned about when Canada was in the process of passing Bill C-14 in 2016, only to be told that concerns about future laxing of the rules amounted to slippery slope paranoia.

As Conservative MP Garnett Genuis said in a recent interview, we’re sliding down that slippery slope right now.

In 2010, I nearly succeeded in committing suicide. My battle with depression was worsening, and I was losing. Miraculously, I pulled through: I count my lack of success in that attempt as my happiest failure, for which I’m grateful to God’s intervention and a team of dedicated healthcare practitioners.

It’s saddening to think that under different circumstances, these practitioners could have been the ones killing me rather than saving me.

C-7 is predicated on the idea that restricting access to assisted suicide is discriminatory. This inherently positions assisted suicide as a right, so it’s not unforeseeable that there will be future challenges if doctors start turning down requests from those with mental illness.

My depression was grievous and, while treatable, technically incurable. I have little doubt I could have rationally and clearly conveyed to a doctor that I wanted out. I had certainly convinced myself that my death was the only sensible outcome – my choice was between death or a life of pain. Recovery and hope were not on the menu.

I was wrong. Here I am living a life I never imagined was possible. This is the tricky thing about mental illness – your mind plays tricks on you, and deprives you of a holistic appreciation for what life can offer.

I was always resistant to the “it gets better” platitude, until I learned in my own recovery that it does. At the same time, I won’t trivialize anyone’s struggles, knowing how hard and long the path is, especially for those whose experiences are worse than my own.

What all mental illnesses have in common is that they exist in the mind. This doesn’t mean they’re not real, but rather that by design they have a way of distorting one’s thinking and sense of reality.

Bill C-7 undermines years of attention and billions of dollars of funding to bolster mental illness treatments and supports, including, ironically, suicide prevention and awareness campaigns and programs.

This bill kills hope and reinforces the flawed belief afflicting those with mental illness, that life is not worth living and that one’s circumstances cannot improve.

This is why lawmakers of all parties previously saw a mental illness exclusion for assisted suicide as not just a good idea, but a given.

Until now, that is.

Previous article by Andrew Lawton.
  • Suicide is a symptom of mental illness. Not a cure for it (Link).