Friday, May 18, 2018

Fatal Flaws Screening in Channel Islands (Guernsey) Helps Defeat Assisted Suicide proposal.

Kevin Dunn with Dr Carmen Wheatley
During the government debate there was a moving moment when Deputy Graham McKinley, after announcing he had seen the Fatal Flaws film on Alderney, and how moved he was by it, bravely explained why he was abandoning the Requete.” – Dr. Carmen Wheatley, Executive Director, Assisted Living, Guernsey (UK)
By Kevin Dunn
Director of Fatal Flaws

I had always hoped this film would be a game-changer. Looks like it’s happening.

I’ve just returned from The Channel Islands, UK where we had two screenings of Fatal Flaws: Legalizing Assisted Death. One in Guernsey and another in Alderney. These screenings happened just prior to a three day debate and vote on assisted suicide. According to The Guardian, “if the Requete had passed, Guernsey would have become the first place in the British Isles to offer euthanasia for people with terminal illnesses.” Instead they voted to improve palliative care on the island.

Newspaper ad promoting Fatal Flaws
The sponsor of the screening, Dr. Carmen Wheatley, Orthomolecular Oncology Medical Researcher and Executive Director of Assisted Living, Guernsey, reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked me if I would come to the Island before the vote. 

In an email Dr Wheatley sent me today, she told me that during the debate, a Deputy for Alderney revealed to all that he had seen your film there, had become very moved by the content, listened to the Alderney folk, and changed his mind. The other Requeteers were not expecting this final coup de grace. In a more formal statement, she wrote 
“In spite of misrepresentations of the film by campaigners, who refused to view it, and a mysterious blockade on TV and radio interviews from the one person on Guernsey, Kevin Dunn, who not only lives in a country, Canada, with such death legislation, but has been to no less than 6 jurisdictions/countries, interviewing doctors, patients, families on both sides of the divide, this documentary deeply impressed those few Deputies and the larger public who saw it.”
She went on to say, 
“To the extent that the 1 of 2 Alderney representatives, who had originally, – and probably against his better judgement, been one of the signatories of the Requete, found the courage shortly before the decisive vote to publicly and dramatically renege on his allegiance to the Requete, thus adding to the strength of the decisive final No vote.”
In the film, I asked journalist Gerbert Van Loenen from The Netherlands, “who is telling the other side of the story?” He said, “I’m afraid no one.” 
Through the testimonies of so many brave and passionate people in this film, we were able to do just that: tell stories of a highly underrepresented group of people and shine a light on a dark corner of the political and medical landscape. 

What could be more important than saving the lives of the vulnerable?

Kudos to the entire FF team.

Kevin Dunn, Director

Swiss assisted suicide clinic founder charged with profiteering

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Minelli at the Dignitas clinic
udwig Minelli, the founder of the Dignitas assisted suicide clinic, has been charged for profiteering in the deaths of his clients. Accusations that Minelli charges inappropriate fees at the Dignitas clinic have circulated for years.

The Swiss media have reported that prosecutors are basing their case on two key cases. According to the Swiss Local:
In one of the cases, Minelli allegedly in 2010 charged a mother and daughter pair around 10,000 francs each instead of the usual cost of some 5,000 to 6,000 francs. 
In the second case, Minelli is alleged in 2003 to have taken advantage of an 80-year-old woman who was sick but not terminally ill. He approached four doctors before finally finding one who was willing to aid to woman to commit suicide. 
Prosecutors argue his persistence in this second case was based on the fact the woman had promised a 100,000-franc donation to Dignitas on her death. They also argue the woman gave power of attorney to Minelli, allowing him to transfer 46,000 francs to a Dignitas account when she died.
Swiss law permits assisted suicide as long as it is not done for “self-serving” motives. Breaking the law could result in a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Soraya Wernli
Several years ago, Soraya Wernli, a former Dignitas employee, told the Daily Mail that  Minelli was selling the personal effects of his dead clients at pawn shops and he was charging some of his clients exorbitant fees. Wernli also told the Daily Mail about the horrific death of Peter Auhagen. 
According to the article:
The gruesome 70-hour death of Peter Auhagen was the case that ended Wernli’s career with Dignitas and caused her to agree to be a secret informer for the police who were investigating Minelli. 
Usually Minelli used a lethal dose of barbiturates to assist suicides but in the case of Auhagen, Minelli decided to test a “suicide machine” that the patient controlled the administration of drugs. Wernli said that: ‘the machine had a fault which meant it couldn’t pump all the poison into his system. The man was partially poisoned, in agony and thrashing around in a coma, frothing at the mouth and sweating. ... It was a terrible thing to witness, and I knew it could not go on. 
Wernli recounts that Auhagen was still alive. She called Minelli who then came by and after a heated discussion he told the family to go for a walk and then someone administered the drugs by injection. Wernli claims that Minelli kept a supply of drugs in his personal office in case of an emergency.
Pietro D'Amico
In April 2013, Pietro D’Amico, a 62-year-old magistrate from Calabria Italy, died by assisted suicide at a suicide clinic in Basel Switzerland. His autopsy showed that he had 
a wrong diagnosis.

In February 2014, Oriella Cazzanello, an 85 year-old healthy woman died at a Swiss suicide clinic. The letter she sent her family stated that she was unhappy about how she looked.

Minelli also accused of dumping human remains into Lake Zurich.

Sadly, if convicted, prosecutors appear to be only seeking a fine.

Assisted suicide bill overwhelmingly defeated in Guernsey

Guernsey Parliament
Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

More incredible news: The Guernsey parliament, today, defeated a proposal to legalize assisted suicide in the British Island state by a vote of 24 to 14.

This is incredible news considering the resources that the assisted suicide lobby invested into passing assisted suicide in Guernsey, that they viewed as a possible "opening" to the legalization of assisted suicide in the UK.

Guernsey newspaper ad.
According to the Guardian the assisted suicide proposal was based on the Oregon model.

The proposal sought to adopt the Oregon model, meaning that euthanasia would be restricted to people with a diagnosis of terminal illness with less than six months to live and full mental capacity.
A coalition of groups formed to defeat the bill included disability rights groups - Not Dead Yet UK, and the Guernsey Disability Alliance, also the British Medical Association, and the Care Not Killing Alliance in the UK. 

Carmen, from Assisted Living in Guernsey booked Kevin Dunn, producer of the film - Fatal Flaws - to address a audience after the screening of Fatal Flaws in Guernsey. We are happy to state that several members of the Guernsey parliament attended the screening of Fatal Flaws and one member changed their position on assisted suicide after watching Fatal Flaws.

Dr Peter Saunders
Peter Saunders, campaign director for the Care Not Killing Alliance was reported in the Shropshire Star as stating:

“We welcome this strong rejection of this dangerous proposition by the elected Deputies on the Island. 
“Parliamentarians across the UK have rightly rejected attempts to introduce assisted suicide and euthanasia ten times since 2003 out of concern for public safety, including in 2015 when the House of Commons overwhelmingly voted against any change in the law by 330 votes to 118. 
“We know the Deputies in Guernsey will now turn their attention to the real issues facing disabled people and the terminally ill on the island, ensuring equality of access to the very best health care available and how to fund this.”
Recently the Finland parliament rejected euthanasia and a California court struck down the California assisted suicide law as unconstitutional.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Lawyer: Canada's euthanasia law is unconstitutional.

Ken Berger: "persons with disabilities are being assisted to their death rather than being assisted with life"
Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Roger Foley
Ken Berger, the lawyer representing Roger Foley, a man who is stuck in a London, Ontario hospital for two years, told CTV news that has urged Canada’s justice minister to halt all medically assisted deaths until the government can ensure that all necessary services are first proved to patients to live.

  • Canadian man wants assisted life not assisted death.

  • According to CTV news, Berger sent a letter to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, requesting the “immediate moratorium” and a public inquiry on all assisted deaths provided in the country so far. Berger wrote:

    “Persons suffering with severe disabilities require necessary health care, assistance and compassion, 
    These crucial services are not always provided at times of most need or in such a way that relieves suffering; instead, persons with disabilities are being assisted to their death rather than being assisted with life.”
    Foley lives with cerebellar ataxia, an incurable neurological disease, recently filed a landmark lawsuit against a London hospital, several health agencies, the Ontario government and the federal government. He alleges that health officials will not provide him with an assisted home care team of his choosing, instead offering, among other things, medically assisted death. CTV news reported that:
    according to his statement of claim, the only two options offered to him have been a “forced discharge” from the hospital “to work with contracted agencies that have failed him” or medically assisted death. Refusing to leave the hospital and unwilling to die by a doctor’s hand, Foley claims he has been threatened with a $1,800 per day hospital bill.
    Berger told CTV news that he believes that his client is not alone in his suffering and frustration.
    “There are many individuals that are not being offered alternatives 
    They are not being supported or not having the necessary services put in place in a way that relieves their suffering.”
    According to CTV news, Berger wrote in his letter to the Justice Minister that: 
    “all necessary health services are provided before persons are misled into premature and inappropriate deaths because of their belief that they are a burden to society with no alternative to death.”
    The CTV news continued:
    Berger and Foley argue the current assisted death legislation violates the Charter’s right to “life, liberty and security of the person” when assisted death is offered before other care options. 
    “(Foley) is substantially suffering,” Berger said. “He is going to fight this, not only to protect his own constitutional rights, but also the constitutional right of all Canadians.”
    Trudo Lemmens
    Trudo Lemmens, a professor and Scholl Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, told CTV news by email that Foley’s case should be taken seriously.

    “We focus too much on stories of empowered people who want to use medically assisted death, often with the message that access should be easier,”  
    “We rarely hear stories about (often unconscious) pressure and inappropriately conducted MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying), but that doesn’t mean this doesn’t happen.” 
    “People who are dead don’t complain,”
    According to CTV news, Lemmens wants to see governments and other regulators institute clear procedures, better legal guidance, and greater oversight to ensure patients receive proper treatment and are not pressured into choosing death.

    The Push Is on For Elderly Assisted Suicide

    The following article was published by National Review online on May 14, 2018

    Wesley Smith
    By Wesley Smith

    The assisted suicide in Switzerland of the aged scientist David Goodall — and the media swoon over the event — has pushed the assisted-suicide advocacy envelope beyond the dying to the elderly.

    A notable example is an article published at the Center for Science and Health, where an MD named Jamie Wells pushes the idea that elderly people should have access to assisted suicide even if they are not diagnosed with a terminal condition. From the article:
    Traditionally, arguments to enact these laws are fashioned around the notion of liberating a patient from terminal usually insufferable disease. But, the recent intentional death by 104-year-old scientist David Goodall via euthanasia brings to the forefront whether to deem deterioration from advanced aging as another reasonable consideration.
    This was always the plan: Get people softened up to the idea of assisted suicide with fear-mongering about excruciating terminal illnesses — generally a false premise and not the reason why the vast majority of assisted suicides are actually carried out — and then, once enough of society had accepted the idea, push the envelope to people who are not dying. It’s all been a big scam.

    Of course Wells thinks we should go there!
    In his final act, David Goodall challenges how we see aging and leaves a legacy that may not immediately change American laws but certainly starts an important conversation. The discussion, in general, has considerably advanced since the days of Jack Kevorkian. Society and the empathetic lens by which we see the world seems to be progressing, and that’s a good thing. . . . 
    Whether we view aging as a terminal disease is up for debate; but, the question remains, if we choose how we live, some freely opting for daily imperilment while others are risk averse consumed with fear, then who is to say how we die?
    They always say, “start a conversation,” and when they win, they insist the conversation must stop.

    Think about this. We have a terrible elder-abuse crisis. Geriatric depression is a severe problem, which is often untreated or given short shrift. Then, there are the problems of loneliness and isolation. Legalizing assisted suicide for the elderly would be a disaster.

    Think about this too: If they are beginning to push elder assisted suicide before doctor-prescribed death for the dying is generally legalized throughout the U.S., imagine what will happen if it ever is. It won’t take long before those eligible for termination include people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and the mentally ill — as now occurs in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada — all places where euthanasia and assisted suicide have been popularly embraced.

    That is why we must prevent this agenda from advancing beyond the six states and D.C. that have legalized assisted suicide for the terminally ill. Lives are at stake — people who may want to die today for a wide variety of reasons, but who in weeks or months — given proper interventions — will be very glad they are still alive.

    P.S. The ACHS touts itself a “pro-science consumer advocacy organization.” Assisted suicide has nothing whatsoever to do with “science.” It is a question of ethics, morality, and determining public policy that best protects the general welfare.

    Brain death court cases becoming more common.

    Alex Schadenberg
    Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

    Taquisha McKitty's daughter
    As the family of Taquisha McKitty await the decision in the "brain death" case in Brampton Ontario, it is shocking to read how common brain death court cases are becoming.

    Based on the immenent release of the McKitty decision, CBC News interviewed Hugh Scher, the lawyer for the McKitty family. According to CBC news Scher stated:

    "It raises a serious question as to what is death in Ontario and in Canada. There is no statutory legal definition," said Scher on Metro Morning Tuesday. "We're hopeful this case will provide some guidance." 
    Scher and the McKitty family say that beyond breathing and having a heartbeat, Taquisha shows other signs of life — like moving her legs — that prove she's still biologically alive. 
    "She eats, she drinks, her organs function," said Scher, comparing her to "many other people with a severe neurological impairment."
    Hugh Scher was also the lawyer in the Shalom Ouanounou case in Toronto. 

    Areen Chakrabarti with mother
    Meanwhile a New Jersey hospital is embroiled in two cases. 

    Areen Chakrabarti, who is on the autism spectrum, ran upstairs during the confusion of an April 14 fire suffered severe smoke inhalation, Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia state that Areen is brain dead but his mother says that her son responds to her. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:
    When Areen was admitted to CHOP on April 15, physicians urged his mother to consider removing him from life support. After more than a week, the hospital told her the boy would be removed from life support if tests revealed a complete lack of brain activity. 
    Banerjee, who has maintained a near-constant bedside vigil at the hospital, says her son remains aware of her presence. She said when the boy’s blood pressure becomes elevated, it falls again when she speaks to him.
    Jayden Auyeung with mother
    Sadly, there is a second case occurring at the same hospital. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

    Anna and Jonathan Auyeung, the parents of Jayden Auyeung, filed for a temporary restraining order in Common Pleas Court on Wednesday, their child’s 10th birthday. The Edison, N.J., boy, has a genetic motor neuron disease, couldn’t breathe after a mucus plug developed in his throat while he was at home on May 4, his mother said. Despite efforts to revive him, he had to be taken to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., where he was placed on life support. Two days later he was transferred to CHOP, which had treated him for ye. 
    His mother does not accept that there is no hope of her son’s recovering. 
    “When we touch him or talk to him, he moves his finger and moves his leg and moves his mouth,” Anna Auyeung said, but she was told not to see these as positive signs. “Doctors said it was spinal reflex,” she said.
    All of these cases are incredibly difficult but the question of brain death creates confusion. These people are biologically alive, are moving and reacting, and have been declared dead.

    There must be a better way to deal with these situations.

    Wednesday, May 16, 2018

    California Assisted-Suicide Law Unconstitutionally Enacted

    This article was published by National Review online on May 16, 2018

    Wesley Smtih
    By Wesley Smith

    A California judge has invalidated the state’s assisted-suicide law as unconstitutionally enacted.

    Here’s the story. Opponents of assisted suicide had successfully blocked legislation in committee during the regular 2015 session. That was that for the year — until Jerry Brown called a special session to deal with Medicaid financing and related issues.

    Sensing an opportunity to pull an end run, the speaker of the Assembly had a new bill introduced to legalize assisted suicide during the special session — which was not germane to the purpose for which the special session had been called.

    To ensure it passed, he pulled the “no” votes out of the pertinent committee and stuffed it with known “yes” votes. The thing was then rushed through in two weeks — a dirty deal wholly lacking in honor and circumventing the usual democratic processes. Jerry Brown signed it anyway, saying he might want to to kill himself someday during a final illness.

    Life Legal Defense Foundation and others filed suit, claiming that the subject of the special session had nothing to do with assisted suicide, and hence, was wrongfully enacted under the California Constitution. The trial judge agreed. From the L.A. Times story:
    Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia said Tuesday that the California Legislature violated the law by passing the End of Life Option Act during a special session dedicated to healthcare issues, according to the plaintiffs in the case as well as advocates for the law . . . 
    “This ruling affirms that assisted suicide advocates circumvented the legislative process,” Matt Valliere, executive director of the New York-based Patients Rights Action Fund, which opposes legalizing physician-assisted suicide, said in a statement. “It represents a tremendous blow to the assisted suicide legalization movement and puts state legislatures on notice regarding the political trickery of groups like Compassion and Choices.”
    Yes. An all too unusual affirmation that the rule of law still matters and that legislative procedures are not mere “technicalities” as Compassion and Choices (formerly, the Hemlock Society) groused in their instant fund-raising letter after the ruling — but crucial to our system of ordered liberty.

    What will happen now? I assume that the ever-more-radical legislature will try and pass a new law, if the current ruling stands on appeal. It would also not surprise me if an appeals court stays the ruling as many judges are results oriented.

    But doctors should pause in their lethal prescription writing, at least for now. Moreover, it allows opponents of assisted suicide the rare opportunity to present their arguments in a media that often ignores or misstates their views.

    Finally, this stumble for the suicide forces illustrates that their death agenda isn’t inevitable. Opponents will never stop fighting through every possible peaceful, legal, and democratic process. Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ’till it’s over.” As far as we are concerned, it will never be over.

    The judge has not yet issued his written ruling. When he does, I will report on it here if there is any news to tell beyond what was reported above.

    Me? I’m drinking a toast to Judge Ottolia!

    Tuesday, May 15, 2018

    Judge strikes down California's assisted suicide law.

    Alex Schadenberg
    Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

    Judge Daniel Ottolia, of the Riverside County Superior Court, struck down California's assisted suicide law. Justice Ottolia agreed that the state legislature violated the state constitution by passing the assisted suicide law during a special session that was limited to healthcare issues.

    Harris Meyer reporting for Modern Healthcare news stated:
    Two groups and several physicians opposed to physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients had filed the suit to block the 2016 law, the California End of Life Option Act. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia issued an oral ruling saying the Legislature acted illegally in passing the law.

    He gave the state attorney general five days to file an emergency petition to stay his order while the ruling is appealed.
    Alexandra Snyder, with Life Legal Defense was also arguing that the assisted suicide law violates the right to equal protection under the law. Meyer reported:
    ...the California assisted-suicide law violates state equal protection provisions because people who are deemed terminally ill lose critical legal protections. Normally when there is a suspected suicide, authorities investigate the cause of death to see if the person was coerced, she said.

    "But that doesn't happen when someone requests aid in dying," Snyder said. "Then everything is considered above board and the doctors were acting in perfect faith. That's simply not true. The law doesn't provide adequate safeguards, and it doesn't require any mental health evaluation."
    It is tragic that the legal system moves so slow. This case was launched when the assisted suicide law came into effect and yet it took nearly two years to have this case heard by the court.

    Judge Rules California’s Assisted Suicide Law Unconstitutional

    This media release was sent out by Life Legal Defense on May 15, 2018

    NAPA, Calif., May 15, 2018 — A California judge overturned the state’s assisted suicide law this morning, ruling that the legislature acted outside the scope of its authority when it enacted the End of Life Option Act.

    The Act’s sponsors introduced the bill in a special session of the legislature convened by Governor Jerry Brown to address Medicaid funding shortfalls, services for the disabled, and in-home health support services.

    Life Legal attorneys appeared in court this morning to argue that the End of Life Option Act, which decriminalizes physician-assisted suicide, is not related or even incidental to the stated purpose of the special session. Suicide is not health care.

    Riverside Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia agreed, holding that “the End of Life Option Act does not fall within the scope of access to healthcare services,” and that it “is not a matter of health care funding.”

    Life Legal filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings in March 2018, arguing that the law should be overturned because the manner in which it was passed is unconstitutional. We have argued from the outset that suicide has nothing to do with the provision of health services.

    California Attorney General Xavier Becerra opposed our motion, stating that legislation passed during special sessions is presumed to be constitutional. The Attorney General also argued that Life Legal’s plaintiff physicians do not have standing to challenge the End of Life Option Act.

    Alexandra Snyder
    Judge Ottolia ruled that doctors do have standing to bring challenges on behalf of their patients, especially in this case, as terminally ill patients would face significant difficulties filing their own lawsuits against the Act.

    “We are thrilled by today’s ruling, which reinstates critical legal protections for vulnerable patients,” said Life Legal Defense Foundation Executive Director Alexandra Snyder. “The court made it very clear that assisted suicide has nothing to do with increasing access to health care and that hijacking the special session to advance an unrelated agenda is impermissible.”

    Stephanie Packer, who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, was present at the hearing. After the End of Life Option Act was implemented, Stephanie’s insurance company denied coverage of life-saving chemotherapy treatment, but said it would pay for “aid-in-dying” drugs, which would cost $1.20.

    Stephanie has spoken out against assisted suicide in California and other states, saying, “I am so grateful that California’s assisted suicide law was overturned today. The bill’s proponents tout dignity, choice, compassion, and painlessness. I am here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. Choice is really an illusion for a very few. For too many, assisted suicide will be the only affordable ‘treatment’ that is offered them.”

    It is anticipated that Attorney General Becerra will appeal today’s ruling.

    Court invalidates California assisted suicide law.

    Alex Schadenberg
    Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

    Incredible News:

    The California assisted suicide law was invalidated this morning by Judge Daniel Ottolia of the Riverside County Superior Court. 

    Judge Ottolia agreed with the Attorneys from Life Legal Defense that the California state legislature violated the state constitution by passing the assisted suicide law during a special session that was limited to healthcare issues.
    According to their media release  Alexandra Snyder, Executive Director of Life Legal Defense Foundation argued that:
    California's assisted suicide law—the End of Life Option Act—should be declared unconstitutional because the state legislature acted outside the scope of its authority when it enacted the Act. 
    In June of 2015, Governor Jerry Brown convened an extraordinary session of the legislature to address Medicaid funding shortfalls, services for the developmentally disabled, and in-home support services. While the California Constitution permits the Governor to issue proclamations to convene extraordinary legislative sessions, the Legislature is prohibited from enacting bills that are not the specific subject of the proclamation.

    The California Supreme Court has held that "The duty of the Legislature in special session to confine itself to the subject matter of the call is of course mandatory. It has no power to legislate on any subject not specified in the proclamation." 
    The purpose of the End of Life Option Act is to decriminalize physician-assisted suicide, which is not related or even incidental to the stated purpose of the extraordinary session. Suicide does not improve health.

    Alexandra Snyder
    The sponsors of the Act knew the Act would never pass through the normal legislative process, so they unlawfully exploited the extraordinary session to advance their agenda behind closed doors. Legislation allowing doctors to prescribe lethal drugs is highly controversial and opposed by many members of the state legislature, as well as disability rights groups, hospitals, physicians' groups, and the Life Legal Defense Foundation. 
    "This flagrant and unlawful abuse of the legislative process cannot be permitted to stand. If the Attorney General has his way, virtually any special interest bill could be enacted by a select handful of legislators," said Life Legal Defense Foundation Executive Director Alexandra Snyder. "The California Constitution expressly prohibits such an outcome, as it violates the democratic process, which requires legislation to be approved by the full body of elected representatives."
    Congratulations to Life Legal Defense who have successfully protected California citizens from being abandoned by physicians who are willing to prescribe lethal drugs to a patient at the lowest time of their life.

    The Judge gave the state of California five days to appeal the ruling. This decision may go as far as the United Supreme Court.