Monday, September 26, 2016

National Post: Doctors conscience rights must be upheld.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The National Post editorial column, today, provides arguements to uphold conscience rights for medical professionals and to reject turning medical professionals into automatons. The editorial column, written by Marni Soupcoff, replies to the opinions promoted by two radical pro-euthanasia bio-ethicists, Udo Schuklenk and Julian Savulescu. Soupcoff argues that she is troubled by the rejection of conscience rights.
It’s a radical and troubling notion: that the field of medicine should be open only to people who hold religious and ethical views consistent with the majority, or who can easily set their personal views aside and act against their beliefs. Those with the wrong opinions — those whose moral compasses point in directions not deemed acceptable — need not apply. 
Will anyone take this argument seriously, given how strongly it infringes on a doctor’s right to his or her individual beliefs? Given how it creates a de facto prohibition on members of certain religions from ever becoming physicians? It might appear self-evident that medical professionals have just as much right to personal beliefs as any other Canadian, including others who interact with the public in an influential way, such as police officers, politicians or teachers.
Canadian letter writing campaign: Protect conscience rights for medical professionals.

Soupcoff then points out the radical nature of Schuklenk and Savulescu's proposal:
Taking concrete steps to make doctors and lawyers less morally sensitive is a curious way to try to make our society a better place. Is it really such a good idea to strive to ensure medical, legal or other professionals act as impersonal automatons able to block out any of the sentiments or personal beliefs that make them human? Messrs. Schuklenk and Savulescu’s assessment is that yes, it is not only a good idea, but also a step that is necessary to provide optimal patient care; screening out medical students who aren’t morally comfortable taking part in an assisted dying scenario is no worse, or more controversial, than a South African medical facility screening out a racist med student, says Schuklenk. 
This comparison betrays a fundamental problem with the authors’ argument: their conclusion rests on putting a serious and sensitive moral or religious concern about, say, the ethics of a doctor taking a life — a concern that a good portion of the population shares to one degree or another — on par with the narrow-minded bigotry of a white supremacist. The fact that a medical procedure or practice is legal does not, and should not, make it immune from legitimate, respectful and respectable personal questioning or opposition, including by physicians.
Soupcoff finishes the editorial by argueing in favour of equal rights for all Canadians, including medical professionals
The imposition of ethical requirements of doctors, lawyers and others aims to put patients, and clients, in better hands. But being in better hands doesn’t require a professional who has checked his or her sense of right or wrong at the door. There is room for the same diversity of beliefs in health care and the law as there is in the rest of Canadian society.
Conscience rights provide patients with the right to have a physician who shares their values. Conscience rights provide protection and equality for all Canadians.

Indiana Medical Association opposes assisted suicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Indiana State Medical Association formally opposes assisted suicide after a debate at their annual convention last weekend. According to ABC 21 Alive in Indiana:
The Indiana State Medical Association says the topic was debated at the annual convention. The association says this was by far the most debated resolution discussed. So much so the meeting went well over the scheduled time due to the many physicians that wanted to speak out against the practice.
The ABC news report continued:
... proponents of the practice said it would decrease healthcare costs at the end of life. They also said it would help patients who commit suicide to die in a more peaceful manner. 
Opponents of the practice said medical professionals should focus on providing care and comfort, not be a source of lethal drugs. They also suggested the practice might lead insurance companies to lean towards lethal drugs over treatment due to cost.

The American Medical Association (AMA) policy on assisted suicide states:
Physician-Assisted Suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physicians role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.
Sadly many physicians consider a cost/expense analysis when making life and death decisions. 

Thank you to the Indiana State Medical Association for deciding to provide care and comfort for their patients and not prescriptions for lethal drugs.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

NDY Statement On Mourning the Death of Jerika Bolen

This statement was published by the disability rights group Not Dead Yet on Sept 23, 2016.

Diane Coleman
By Diane Coleman, President - Not Dead Yet.

Today disability advocates mourn the death of Jerika Bolen, a 14-year-old black, gay teen with spinal muscular atrophy type II (SMA), who died in hospice after requesting help to end her life. Earlier this summer, a call for donations to support her dream of a “last dance” prom in her honor focused national media attention on her request to die, which was characterized in the media as “brave” and “inspirational.”

SMA Type II is not a condition that is typically fatal in children and teens. In fact, while some people with SMA die in younger adulthood due to respiratory complications, people with type SMA Type II often live into their 60s and beyond. Certainly, SMA would not result in the death of a fourteen-year-old who is receiving appropriate medical care. Our experience as disability rights advocates, many of whom have SMA and similar neuromuscular conditions, is that people with Type II SMA and the level of function that Jerika had as a teenager live long into adulthood.

While some media have attacked disability advocates who called for an investigation of the extremely questionable medical care provided to Jerika, it would appear that no authorities felt it necessary to obtain answers to the many questions the reported facts raise. In the midst of our shock, grief and despair at a system that would so callously throw away the life of a beautiful disabled girl, we have asked, and continue to ask, those questions.

Regarding physical pain . . .

Jerika Bolen
What was the cause of Jerika’s reported extreme physical pain? Contrary to media misinformation, pain is not characteristic of SMA Type II, so what caused her pain?

Did Jerika have any competent doctors who specialized in SMA Type II or neuromuscular disabilities?

What explains the reported 30-38 surgeries that Jerika experienced between ages 8 and 14? This number of surgeries is highly unusual for people with SMA Type II. Were these surgeries the source of her pain?

Were pain relief experts ever consulted to address Jerika’s pain? Why did she wait to take medication until her pain was at a level 8 or higher on a scale of 10, while pain management physicians advise taking medication much earlier, “nipping it in the bud” to prevent pain from reaching that level?

Regarding depression and emotional pain . . .

Given the well established ways that suicidal ideation in teens is addressed to prevent tragedy, what forms of counseling or support were enlisted to address Jerika’s desire to die?

Was any qualified professional trained in teen suicide prevention brought in to counsel Jerika? Were any professionals working with Jerika aware of studies finding that quality of life is not correlated with physical impairment or use of non-invasive breathing support?

From whom did Jerika get the idea that she could go into hospice and get assistance to end her life? She had reportedly spoken of this off and on for a few years. What were the motivations of any adult who gave such an idea to a child?

Was any qualified professional with a similar disability, someone familiar with the emotional issues facing a black, disabled, gay teen, brought in to counsel Jerika?

Regarding the systemic medical and legal issues . . .

Why do Wisconsin governmental authorities allow children with non-terminal disabilities to have their lives ended based on adult decisions to withhold medical care, while this is not permitted for non-disabled children?

What were the qualifications of the doctor who ordered hospice for Jerika? Was it the same doctor or facility that conducted the extreme number of surgeries?

Why would a hospice provider participate in ending the life of a child who is not terminally ill? Besides discontinuing Jerika’s nightly bipap breathing support, what additional steps resulted in her death after only 18 days from her scheduled entry into hospice?

Disability advocates who mourn Jerika’s untimely death would like these questions to be answered, but we’ve seen the media frenzy in almost exclusively one-sided applause for her suicide, no questions asked. Our grief at the tragedy of her loss is exponentially magnified by the certainty that the story told in the press will inspire others with disabilities and their parents to repeat this tragedy.

Those of us with disabilities dream of equality and justice. Jerika Bolen deserved better quality health care and the same suicide prevention that a non-disabled teen would receive. We ask one last question: What might have happened if Jerika’s request for a “last dance” had been met with overwhelming public and media encouragement to live instead of a massive thumb on the scale in support of her death?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Canadian letter writing: Protecting conscience rights for medical professionals

Dear Friends:

The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons has decided that physicians, who refuse to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide, must refer their patients to a physician who will kill their patient. They have decided that physicians do not have conscience rights.

Other provincial Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons are also debating forcing physicians to participate in assisted death by requiring them to refer patients for euthanasia or assisted suicide.

A recent article by two bioethicists argues that medical professionals do not have conscience rights.

Some physicians are saying that they will move to a jurisdiction that upholds conscience rights or retire from medicine, if they are forced to refer patients to death.

The Coalition for Healthcare and Conscience responded by launching a court case to protect conscience rights for medical professionals in Canada. We need to support our physicians.

Doctors in the Netherlands and in Oregon, where assisted death is legal, are not being forced to refer their patients for assisted death. Read: My personal story - The importance of trust between patient and doctor by an Oregon doctor.

We need you to write a letter about your concerns, fears or personal reaction to the attack on conscience rights for medical professionals.  
  • Are you concerned that you might be encouraged to die by assisted death when you are at a low time of your life?
  • Are you concerned that a friend or family member may die by assisted death, when they are at a low time of their life, even though they would normally not consider death by lethal dose?
  • Based on your health condition, do you fear subtle or overt pressure to assisted death?
  • Do you feel safer if your physician is not complicit with assisted death?
  • Do you believe that physicians conscience rights should be protected?
Other important points to consider:
  • Conscience rights for healthcare workers protect patients when they are living with depression and experiencing challenging health conditions.
  • Conscience rights provide health professionals with the legal and moral ability to provide caring options rather than killing their patient.
The letter needs to be simple and straight forward: 

To whom it may concern. 
(Sample Letter) 
I am an elderly Canadian who is concerned that with the legalisation of assisted dying that I may someday be subtly pressured to die a premature death. 
My physician told me that he/she will not participate in euthanasia and assisted suicide. This comforts me.
Please protect my right to have a physician who shares my values.
You must sign the letter with your address, your phone number and your email address.

Send your letter to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. We will share them with the legal team who are working to protect conscience rights for medical professionals in Canada.

Send your letter to:
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Box 25033, London Ontario N6C 6A8

You can also save signed letter as a PDF and send it to

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Child euthanasia - The year they did the unthinkable.

This article was written by Paul Russell and published on the HOPE Australia website on September 20, 2016.

Paul Russell
Paul Russell is the director of HOPE Australia.

Hot upon the heels of the news that the first reported case of euthanasia for a minor took place recently in Belgium, comes the news from Holland that a 'centre for euthanasia in children' is expected to open in that country within 12 months. Dutch Health Minister, Edith Schippers earmarked 400,000 Euros in May this year for a study on the matter.

What is it they say about an inquiry? Never start one unless you know the answer beforehand?

The case in Belgium was announced to the world by Wim Distelmans who is head of the Belgian Euthanasia Evaluation Commission. Distelmans seems to be involved in all of the 'ground breaking' cases and is certainly something of a rockstar in his own country.

The initial reports did not mention the age of the minor concerned. Later reports said that the person was 17 years of age. Not that far from reaching his or her majority, one might say. But, prior to the law change in 2014, this euthanasia would have been entirely verbotten.

But even at that time, the initial wedge was beginning to widen further with at least one Dutch pediatric oncologist admitting that the pending changes would simply legalise what was 'already happening informally'.

There's a little more to the history of the question of child euthanasia that is sobering and worth considering.

Trudo Lemmens
Canadian Belgium-born Professor, Trudo Lemmens, notes that consideration was given in Belgium to the inclusion of euthanasia for children in the initial legislation in 2002. He says that, ‘children were explicitly excluded from the ambit of the original law because “it was deemed so controversial that including it may have threatened approval of the Euthanasia Bill.”’ He follows by noting that even the amendment to allow euthanasia for children that passed in 2014 was considered so controversial that it was amended at the last minute to also require parental approval so that its passage into law could be secured.

Loading even more here, euthanasia for dementia cases was also mooted along with the 2014 Child Euthanasia discussion but also dropped, presumably because the debate in that area had not been sufficiently explored or, like in 2002, its inculsion may have jeopardised child euthanasia becoming law.

But wait! There's more. The Dutch have also been engaging in a public debate about extending euthanasia to people who consider themselves to have 'completed life'. Frustratingly, the debate has not been so much about whether or not this kind of category of people is acceptable for the lethal dose, but, rather about where the line should be drawn. Should it be at 80, 75 or 70 years of age? If any of this euthanasia history is anything to go by, those who write the bill will err on the side of caution for the sake of gaining the numbers on the floor of the parliament.

And so, any child in Belgium can request euthanasia - no age restriction, only parental consent required. One wonders, as many dissenting pediatricians and oncologists in Belgium also did, what that consent looks like and whether a small child can really understand the gravity of such a decision.

It remains to be seen what formula the Dutch will adopt. They already have a tiered approach with children over the age of 12 able to die by lethal injection with parental consent and children over the age of 16 with parental notification.

Neonates are also covered under the Groningen Protocol which allows for newborns with a disability to be euthanased. To my knowledge, this protocol has never been formally approved by the Dutch lawmakers and, in recent years, the number of children being killed this way has fallen significantly - mostly due, one suspects, to the advent of universal prenatal screening.

I wrote at the time of the Belgian child euthanasia debate about what I saw as the insurmountable difficulties inherent in a conversation with a child about euthanasia. If the Dutch media report is correct and the new approach will be accompanied by the creation of a 'centre for euthanasia in children', this adds significantly difficulty, in my view, to any child's ability to process the idea of being made dead and to express his or her reservations.

Are we talking about what we would call a 'walk up' clinic where a sick child can be brought by his or her parents for a consultation? Are we talking about a facility with beds that a child may be moved to ahead of the 'procedure'? Who knows. Either way informed consent without coercion - implicit or explicit - cannot be guaranteed and, I believe, is not actually possible at all.

But consent has not been a primary concern in recent years in either country. It really is all about the elimination of suffering by eliminating the sufferer.

Monday, September 19, 2016

First reported Belgian euthanasia death of a minor.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

News stories about the first reported euthanasia death of a "child" in Belgium emphasize that this lethal injection case was an exceptional circumstance. 

Once euthanasia becomes accepted in society, it is normal fir it to expand to include children, people with dementia and other people with conditions where consent is questionable.

In the interview for the Euthanasia Deception documentary, Lionel Roosement (above) spoke about a time when he was walking in the park with his daughter in a wheelchair, that a stranger came up to them and said: Why have you not euthanized that child?

Legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide creates a belief that some lives are not worth living. 

Purchase The Euthanasia Deception documentary from the Euthanasia Prevetion Coalition for: $30 for 1 copy, $100 for 4 copies or $200 for 10 copies. You can pay online (link) or email EPC at: or call toll free: 1-877-439-3348.

The documentary is also available for rent or purchase online through Vimeo On Demand by going to the web site and click rent or download.

The 2015 Belgian euthanasia data indicates that the number of euthanasia deaths continue to increase. According to the Belgian media, in 2015, there were 2021 reported deaths by euthanasia, up from 1924 reported euthanasia deaths in 2014.

But Wim Distelmans, the chairman of the euthanasia commission reminded the media that they cannot say for certain the actual number of euthanasia deaths. Distelmans stated:

"Remember, there could be some euthanasia cases carried out but which are not declared so we cannot say for certain what the number is,"
Distelmans remarks are confirmed by research published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in March 2015 concerning the euthanasia practice in Belgium found that: 
  • 4.6% of all deaths in 2013 in the Flanders region were euthanasia. 
  • 1.7% of all deaths in 2013 in the Flanders region were hastened without explicit request.
According to the study nearly half of the euthanasia deaths were not reported and more than 1000 assisted deaths occurred in 2013 without request. 

More information:

Friday, September 16, 2016

Oregon doctor: My Personal Story – The importance of trust between patient and doctor

Dr. Kenneth R. Stevens, Jr. MD, Radiation Oncologist,
Professor Emeritus and former Department Chair, Radiation Oncology
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon
President, Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation
I have been following the experience with legalized physician-assisted suicide in Oregon since 1994. I have been a cancer doctor for 49 years in Oregon, where physician-assisted suicide is legal. I am Professor Emeritus and former chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Oregon Health and Science University. I continue to care for patients. 

My Personal Story – The importance of trust between patient and doctor

Dr Kenneth Stevens
I first became involved with assisted-suicide in 1982, shortly before my first wife, Shannon, died of cancer. We had just made what would be her last visit with her doctor. As we were leaving the office, he said that he could provide her with an extra-large dose of pain medication. She said she did not need it because her pain was under control. As I helped her to the car, she said “Ken, he wants me to kill myself.”

It devastated her that her doctor, her trusted doctor, would suggest that she kill herself. Six days later, she peacefully died in our home without pain, and with dignity. I learned how assisted suicide destroys the trust between patient and doctor. Patients want support from their doctor, not encouragement for them to take their life, or have the doctor or others cause their death.

Physician’s Role

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. [AMA Principles of Medical Ethics.]
Dr. Leon Cass, MD, wrote: 
“Even the most humane and conscientious physicians psychologically need protection against themselves and their weakness and arrogance, if they are to carefully for those who entrust themselves to them. A physician-friend who worked many years in hospice caring for dying patients explained it to me most convincingly: ‘Only because I knew that I could not and would not kill my patients was I able to enter most fully and intimately into caring for them as they lay dying.’ My friend’s horror at the thought that he might be tempted to kill his patients, were he not enjoined from doing so, embodies a deep understanding of the medical ethic and its intrinsic limits.” 
[Cass, LR: “I will give no deadly drug”: Why doctors must not kill. In The Case Against Assisted Suicide, For the Right to End-of-Life Care, Edited by K Foley and H Hendin, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002, p 30.]


When a person expresses a desire to take their own life, society generally acts to protect him/her from committing suicide. However, when assisted suicide is legalized, society acts to assist that person in committing suicide. This is especially true for those who are seriously ill or have disabilities – they have lost society’s protection against suicide. The legalization of assisted suicide legally protects doctors who write prescriptions for lethal drugs, and family members who are involved. It is not designed to protect patients from others causing their death.

Assisted Suicide is Suicide – Beware of Deceitful & Dishonest Euphemisms

The strategies and methods of pro assisted suicide organizations are to use euphemisms. But assisted suicide is suicide. Both the Connecticut State Superior Court (June 2, 2010) and the New Mexico Supreme Court (June 30, 2016) have clarified that so-called “physician aid in dying” is assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Assisted suicide death certificates are falsified by assisted suicide doctors
In Oregon, doctors are instructed to put the underlying disease as the cause of death. But the reality is the person died from an overdose of drugs resulting in an assisted suicide. Doctors are directed to falsify the death certificate. This undermines transparency in the record and the ability to investigate suspicious overdose deaths.

Pain is Not the Issue

Both opponents and proponents of legalization of assisted suicide agree that pain is not the issue. Pain can be controlled. Uncontrolled pain in the terminally ill rarely occurs. In Oregon only a very small minority or patients dying of assisted suicide chose it because of fear of pain in the future. This was not because they were having current pain.

Assisted suicide encourages patients to throw away their lives. Assisted suicide is not necessarily for only those who are dying. Some patients with a prognosis of living less than six months may live much longer.

Photo of me with Jeanette Hall, 15 years 
after I talked her out of assisted suicide in Oregon
In Oregon, the assisted suicide law applies to patients predicted to have less than six months to live. This does not necessarily mean that they are dying.

In 2000, Jeanette Hall was my cancer patient. At our first meeting, Jeanette told me that she did not want to be treated, and that she was going to “do” our law, i.e., kill herself with a lethal dose of barbiturates. She had previously voted in favor of the law, and that was what she had decided. I informed her that her cancer was treatable and her prospects were good. She was not interested in treatment; she had made up her mind for the assisted suicide.

Her surgeon had previously informed her that without cancer treatment, she had only six months to a year to live, making her eligible for Oregon’s law. I asked her to return for weekly visits. On the third or fourth visit, I asked her about her family and learned that she had a son. I asked her how he would feel about her plan. A short time later she decided to be treated.

Five years later, Jeanette and I happened to be in the same restaurant. Excitedly, she came over to my table exclaiming, 
“Dr. Stevens you saved my life.”
For Jeanette, the mere presence of legal assisted suicide had steered her to suicide. She has now told me repeatedly that if I had believed in assisted suicide, she would be dead. (Link to article).

Patients may become eligible for assisted suicide by discontinuing treatment. For instance, a person with insulin-dependent diabetes may become eligible by discontinuing taking insulin.

I have treated many cancer patients who were told they had only a few weeks to a few months to live, who have lived much longer; some patients as long as 20 years after a “terminal” brain tumor diagnosis. See my paper: “Terminal Illness, What Does it Mean?” (Link to article).

Financial Incentive for Assisted Suicide

Barbara Wagner – “They will pay for me to die but won’t pay for me to live.”

In Oregon, the combination of legal assisted suicide and prioritized medical care based on prognosis has created a danger for my patients on the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid). First, there is a financial incentive for patients to commit suicide: the Plan will cover the cost of assisted suicide. Second, the Plan will not necessarily cover the cost of treatment. The story of Barbara Wagner was publicized in Oregon in 2008. She was informed that the Oregon Health Plan Insurance would not approve and pay for her lung cancer medication, but they would pay for Comfort Care, which included assisted suicide. She told the TV reporters, “Who do they think they are? They will pay for me to die, but won’t pay for me to live.” (Link to report).

As medicine becomes more politicized, you will lose your choice. Insurance companies and government bureaucracies will decide what treatments you may receive. You may not qualify for the treatment that you want and that may benefit you.

Depression is the leading cause of suicide

Depression is the leading cause of suicide. Depression needs to be diagnosed and properly treated with counseling and medications. Oregon researchers (Ganzini – British Medical Journal) in 2008 reported that 25% of Oregonians requesting assisted suicide were depressed. Yet, in the past 7 years less than 2% (14 of 574) of Oregonians dying of assisted suicide had a psychiatric evaluation.

Oregon has a real problem with its High Suicide Rate

Oregon's government pays for assisted suicide, but does not pay for adult suicide prevention

Oregon has a regular suicide rate that is 140% of the national average, and has increased 20% since 2000 (assisted suicide started in 1998). In spite of a recognized need in prior years for an adult suicide prevention program, the Oregon Health Authority reported in 2015 that they do not have funding for, or support for, an adult suicide prevention program. Oregon state government is paying for assisted suicides (like Barbara Wagner), but is not paying for adult suicide prevention. How do you justify suicide prevention in a state that has legalized assisted suicide? What message does legalization of assisted suicide send to those who are considering suicide because of life’s problems? (Link to article).

Legalization of physician-assisted suicide does not result in a decrease in regular suicides.
Researchers have reported last year that “legalizing physician assisted suicide has been associated with an increased rate of total suicides relative to other states and no decrease in nonassisted suicides.
(Jones DA, Paton, D. How does legalization of physician-assisted suicide affect rates of suicide?, South Med J. 2015; 108(10):599-604)

Lack of Oversight by Oregon Health Department

There is a serious problem with the Oregon Department of Health’s oversight of assisted suicide. Following a failed assisted suicide attempt in 2005 (David Pruiett), the Department of Human Services (DHS) stated that they had:
“no authority to investigate individual Death with Dignity cases – the law neither requires nor authorizes investigations from DHS“
Press Release from DHS on 3/4/2005”

The problems with the Oregon information is exemplified by the following: The 2011 year report (released in 2012) listed the underlying illness as “Unknown” for 3 patients. How can an “Unknown” diagnosis be terminal? Residence was “Unknown” for 3 patients. How can two doctors confirm that a patient is terminal when the diagnosis in “Unknown”. In the past 5 years (2009-2013) the prescribing doctor has been present for only 65 of the 574 (11%) assisted suicide deaths in Oregon. Yet, doctors are asked to describe what happened at that time. They have no knowledge. Doctors are not required to care for the patient once the prescription for lethal overdose has been written.

Abuses and Complications

When it is reported that there are no or few complications from assisted suicide in Oregon, the truth is that we don’t know the complication rate. The Oregon Health Department reported that of the 132 assisted suicide deaths in 2015, the complications were “unknown” for 105, two patients regurgitated (vomited), two had other complications (type not stated), and 23 had no complications. But complication information was “unknown” for 105 of those who died, because the physician or other health care provider was not present at the time of death.

Coterie of Insiders Runs the Program

The Compassion & Choices organization are associated with three-fourths of Oregon’s assisted suicide deaths. In Oregon in 2009, 57 of the 59 assisted suicide deaths were their clients. They know and control the information released to the public. The Oregonian newspaper editors correctly stated:
“A coterie of insiders runs the program with a handful of doctors & others deciding what the public may know.” 
The Oregonian newspaper editorial 9/20/2008.

As reported in The Oregonian newspaper in 2008, “The group promoting assisted suicide, so-called Compassion & Choices, are like the fox in the proverbial chicken coop; in this case the fox is reporting its version to the farmer regarding what is happening in the coop”, (Stevens, KR, Toffler, WL, Assisted Suicide: Conspiracy & Control, The Oregonian newspaper, 24 September 2008)

In Oregon patients are not getting the lethal prescriptions from their own doctor. They usually obtain the doctor information from Compassion & Choices doctors. Most of the prescriptions are concentrated in a small number of doctors.

From 2001 to 2007, 109 doctors (1% of Oregon doctors) wrote 271 fatal prescriptions for assisted suicide. Three doctors wrote 62 of those prescriptions (23% of prescriptions). Seventeen doctors wrote 165 of the 271 prescriptions (61% of prescriptions).
Hedberg, J Clin Ethics 2009:20:123-132

George Eighmey, C&C Exec Director, reported in The Oregonian newspaper in 2007 that he had been present and involved in over three dozen assisted suicide deaths; he is an attorney, he is not a doctor.

No safe harbor for patients

What is ahead for assisted suicide? What do proponents want? One of the things they want is no safe harbor for patients. They believe that doctors should be required to participate, or to have a duty to refer a patient to a doctor who will write a lethal prescription. They want no choice for doctors. Sue Porter, a leader of Compassion & Choices, has written in support of this policy. When I asked her why that “duty to refer” requirement was not written into the Oregon or Washington assisted suicide laws, she told me that the voters would not have voted in favor of the assisted suicide law. They use language to get the law passed, then they campaign to have the language changed to require doctors to participate, or to require them to have a “duty to refer” to a doctor who will write a prescription for lethal drugs.

In Summary

Physicians who care for patients should not order and direct their death through assisted suicide.

  • It is against medical ethics: “Give no deadly drug”.
  • It is too dangerous to give the power to kill patients to the medical profession
  • It is dangerous because of insurance company and government financial incentives.
  • It destroys the inherent trust between patient and physician.
  • It devalues the inherent value of human life.
  • It desensitizes us towards any type of suicide.
The American Medical Association

Thank you for the opportunity to testify in opposition to the legalization of assisted suicide.

Dr. Kenneth R. Stevens, Jr., MD

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Everyone to be organ donors in euthanasia Netherlands

This article was written by Wesley Smith and published on the National Review Corner on September 13, 2016.
Wesley Smith

By Wesley Smith

The Netherlands, along with Belgians, permit organ harvesting to be conjoined to euthanasia.

But now, Netherlands is moving to a system in which everyone is an organ donor unless they specifically opt out. From the Dutch News story
MPs on Tuesday gave a surprise thumbs up to a motion to establish a ‘yes unless’ system for donor organs in the Netherlands. 
If the draft bill goes on to become law, everyone in the Netherlands will be considered a donor unless they specifically request to be taken off the list.  
Non voluntary euthanasia is not unheard of in the Netherlands. It even has a name: “Termination without request or consent.” Technically against the law, it is almost never punished.

Now, consider a doctor–who has completely swallowed the euthanasia hemlock point-of-view–looking upon a “suffering” patient, believing his life to be not worth living, and thinking that he has some perfectly good and usable kidneys, liver, and heart available for other patients who could make better use of them. 

What could possibly go wrong?

New Zealand Medical Association states: Euthanasia - The risk is too great and the consequences are final.

Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The New Zealand government Health Select Committee is currently gathering evidence as it considers the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

According to Newshub the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA), representing 5500 medical professionals, stated that it opposes changing the law to allow euthanasia.

Stacey Kirk with Stuff New Zealand reported that Dr Stephen Child, chair of the NZMA said:
"the scope for error was too large when weighed against the outcome." 
"This is an irreversible decision in which the consequences are final."
Dr Child argued that doctors are not always right in forming a patient's prognosis. According to Newshub Dr Child said:
10 to 15 percent of diagnoses are incorrect, and three percent of diagnoses of cancer are incorrect," 
"We're not always right in diagnosis, and we're not always right in prognosis. 
"In principle and in practice, the association does not support a change in the legislation."
Dr Child told Stacey Kirk of Stuff New Zealand:
"We also believe in the right of the administration of... pain relief and other medications, for the purpose of relieving pain and suffering, even if the secondary consequence of that treatment may hasten death," 
"Decisions however are often influenced by circumstance, by fear of what the future might hold, by concern for loved ones and by societal expectations, which can cause direct and indirect coercion in decison-making."
Radio New Zealand, reported that Not Dead Yet Aotearoa stated to the health committee that:
people with disabilities suffered from negative attitudes, and voluntary euthanasia would add to that.
The New Zealand Parliament's Health Select Committee is hearing oral submissions based on receiving more than 1800 responses form New Zealanders and organisations on the issue of euthanasia, out of a record of 21,435 submissions.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Belgian study finds euthanasia deaths are continually increasing. Researchers fail to look deeper into the data.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Journal of the Canadian Medical Association (CMAJ) just published the most recent study concerning Belgian euthanasia data titled: Euthanasia in Belgium: trends in reported cases between 2003 and 2013.

According to the study, researchers examined all reported euthanasia deaths in Belgium from Jan 1, 2003 to Dec 31, 2013 representing 8752 euthanasia deaths. The study found that the number of euthanasia deaths increased yearly from 235 in 2003 to 1807 deaths in 2013. The study concluded:
The practice of euthanasia in Belgium has increased year by year since the introduction of legislation in 2002. An increase in cases often considered as more controversial, such as those involving neuropsychiatric conditions, has also occurred, although such cases remain a small minority. 
One would assume that a "comprehensive" study, such as this one, would uncover new data and information. Sadly this study rehashes the same data by researchers who are known as the "official" Belgian euthanasia researchers.

This study lacks depth in research and analysis.

For instance, there were 1807 reported euthanasia deaths in 2013 in Belgium, and yet the study Recent Trends in Euthanasia and Other End-of-Life Practices in Belgium that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) (March 19, 2015) found that 4.6% of all deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium were by euthanasia and an additional 1.7% were assisted deaths without request.

This study does not examine facts the unreported assisted deaths, that represented almost half of the assisted deaths in 2007 and 2013 in Belgium and the study does not examine the clinical circumstances or the reasons for requesting euthanasia. The study states:
The data provide insight into only those euthanasia cases that were reported. Previous research, conducted in 2007, showed that about half of all euthanasia cases in Belgium were reported to the committee and that unreported cases were generally dealt with less carefully than reported cases. In addition, this study was based on an analysis of secondary data collected as part of the mandatory notification procedure. Details about the patients’ clinical circumstances and the precise nature of the suffering that caused them to seek euthanasia were not recorded in the database.
The study admits that the unreported euthanasia deaths are "generally dealt with less carefully". A study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) concerning unreported assisted deaths in Belgium (2007) determined that unreported assisted deaths represented a different demographic group than the reported assisted deaths. The study states:
"However, in a bivariate analysis there was a significant relation between reporting euthanasia and the patient's age, with deaths of patients aged 80 years or older reported significantly less often than deaths of younger patients."
A study published in the CMAJ found that 32% of all assisted deaths in Belgium (2007) were done without explicit request. That study indicates that the assisted deaths without request are rarely reported and were more likely done to:
"patients 80 years or older who were mostly in a coma or had dementia."
The CMAJ study concludes:
"this fits the description of "vulnerable patient groups at risk of life-ending without request."
We need research that uncovers new information, not rehashing the same data.

We did not need another study examining the same basic data concerning the reported euthanasia deaths in Belgium. We need a study that examines the unreported euthanasia deaths and we need a studies that examine the clinical circumstances and the reasons for requesting death by lethal injection. 

We know that people requesting euthanasia are often depressed. We need studies examining these cases. We need to determine when or if euthanasia has become a form of abandonment of people at the most vulnerable time of their life.

We already know that there has been a continuously expanding number of deaths and reasons for euthanasia. We need to know how certain groups, such as people with dementia and other people who are incapable of requesting euthanasia are treated and we need to know if they have become vulnerable in a culture that believes that some lives are not worth living.

For a thorough examination of the data related to the assisted deaths without request and unreported euthanasia deaths in Belgium and the Netherlands purchase the book: Exposing Vulnerable People to Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide written by myself.

Further reading on this topic: