Sunday, December 9, 2018

Euthanasia Advocate Backs Convicted Husband

This article was published by HOPE Australia on December 6, 2018

Euthanasia advocates have shown how far they would push euthanasia and assisted suicide laws if legalised in Queensland, giving no weight to financial motivations for helping someone to take their own life.

Last month, a judge sentenced Queensland’s Graham Robert Morant to ten years in prison for counselling his wife to kill herself, and then assisting her to do so.  He found that the motive for the crime was the $1.4 million that he stood to receive under insurance policies he had taken out in her name.

Jennifer Morant
n sentencing Morant to ten years imprisonment, Justice Davis sent a message to the community about the gravity of the crime of counselling a person to commit suicide, commenting that it was even more serious than assisting a person to do so.

Despite the clearly shocking nature of the crime and its motive, euthanasia advocates have sprung to his defence, calling the sentence “totally inappropriate.”

Bizarrely, Exit International’s founder Philip Nitschke argued that Morant’s actions of counselling and assisting his vulnerable wife to suicide in order to inherit $1.4 million an “act of love.”

According to the ABC, Nitschke said:
"Exit staff remember Jenny as being lovingly cared for by her husband, who was considered to be as kind, considerate and as compassionate as any husband could be… The severity of the sentencing for this act of love is totally inappropriate."
Kind, considerate, compassionate.  That’s how euthanasia advocates describe a man who a court found spent years encouraging his wife to take her own life and helping her to do so in order to financially gain from her death.

The real agenda of euthanasia advocates is clear.  That they are willing to hail as a ‘loving husband’ a financially-motivated man who a jury found – beyond reasonable doubt – to have counselled and aided his wife (who was not terminally ill) to take her own life shows how far they are wanting to extend the reach of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Any safeguards included by Queensland legislators won’t be welcomed by euthanasia advocates; they will be constantly trying to undermine them so that the Graham Morant’s of the world not only get through, but are hailed as kind, considerate, compassionate husbands.

Morant will appeal his conviction, using emails allegedly sent from his wife to Exit International as evidence that she was determined to die.  He will also appeal the length of his sentence.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Quebec euthanasia deaths increase by 75%

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Caroline Touzin reported for Le Press that the recent Quebec government euthanasia report indicates that the number of euthanasia deaths are increasing quickly.

Quebec legalized euthanasia in December 2015, while the rest of Canada legalized euthanasia in June 2016.

According to Touzin the recent government report stated that there were 1664 reported euthanasia deaths between December, 2015 and March 31, 2018.

A report compiled by the Sean Murphy for the Protection of Conscience Project indicated that there were 454 reported Quebec euthanasia deaths in 2016 and 757 in 2017. He stated that in 2017 1.2% of all deaths were by euthanasia (lethal injection) representing a 67% increase from the number of euthanasia deaths in 2016.

According to an article by Michael Cook for Bioedge there were 845 reported euthanasia deaths for the 9 months from July 2017 to March 2018, compared to 638 for the 12 months from July 2016 to June 2017 representing a 75% increase.

Cook also reported that the recent government euthanasia report states that doctors are often not following the law. According to Cook:

The latest report indicates that 10% of the reported euthanasia deaths were not administered according to the letter of the law. Either the paperwork was incomplete or the law had apparently been broken. The corresponding figure for the previous period was 8%. The report stresses, however, that the “great majority” of the euthanasia deaths were administered according to the law.
Abuse of the law is not new. Last year, Amy Hasbrouck, the EPC President and a Quebec disability rights leader, examined the Quebec government report and reported that:
  • Confusion and inconsistency exists between euthanasia figures offered by the various sources; the “number of forms received and examined“ by the commission, the reports of the institutions, and the reports from the Collège des médecins du Québec.
  • A 5% or 7% error rate (with 3% undetermined) would not be acceptable where lives depended on the effective application of safeguards (e.g. the airline industry).  
  • The three cases in which the safeguards were clearly violated (two where the person did not have a “serious and incurable illness” and one where the person was not at the “end of life”) were not addressed as the crimes that they are.
Similar problems exist in the Netherlands, where a study found that in 2015, 23% of the assisted deaths were not reported and 431 assisted deaths were done without explicit consent.

The Quebec government does report more information than Canada's federal government about the euthanasia practice.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Capital Punishment vs Assisted Suicide

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr Kevin Hay
Dr Kevin Hay, who is a family physician in Alberta, wrote an excellent op-ed titled: It's illogical to ban capital punishment but allow doctor-assisted death that was published on November 28, 2018.

What is most interesting about the article are the comparisons that Hay makes between capital punishment and assisted suicide. Hay wrote:
So is it contradictory for a society to embrace voluntary euthanasia while banning the death penalty? (MAID in Canada is overwhelmingly by voluntary euthanasia rather than the optional assisted suicide). To answer that question we need to take those arguments used to decry capital punishment and apply them to MAID. 
Capital punishment can kill the innocent. Euthanasia can kill the coerced and the incompetent. Both capital punishment and euthanasia are irreversible once enacted in error. Capital punishment is morally wrong because of the intrinsic value of human life; so, too, is euthanasia. 
Capital punishment brutalizes the prisoner, the executioner, society-at-large, the law and human rights. The requirements for MAID can brutalize a suffering patient (e.g. if death is not “immediately foreseeable,” MAID should be refused). After providing euthanasia, some doctors in Ontario “found themselves overwhelmed by the act of killing another human being.” Euthanasia can have devastating effects on friends and family, especially young children. Only a handful of countries allow a citizen to demand death at the hands of another citizen. Most countries believe that the state-sanctioned killing of a citizen is wrong. Rights are universal; if one person has the right to die, then we all have the right to die. 
Capital punishment is more expensive than life imprisonment. MAID is vastly cheaper than treatment or palliative care. It’s barbaric to promote cost reduction through the killing of the sick. (Note the case of 42-year-old Roger Foley in Ontario.)
The death penalty is unique as a punishment. Euthanasia is unique as a “treatment.”
In the U.S., the death penalty is applied unfairly across capital cases. No one can truly ascertain that some MAID applicants — and not others — “deserve” death. 
Capital punishment fails to deter serious crime and can martyr a terrorist. The glamourization of MAID in the media can cause suicide contagion — the Werther Effect. 
The mentally ill offender should be treated, not put to death. Civilized societies strive to prevent suicide in the mentally ill — not collude with delusions. 
The death penalty is inhumane (even by lethal injection, as reported in the Lancet in 2005). There is potential for difficulty with the administration of euthanasia. 
Capital punishment is unnecessary, especially with life imprisonment without parole. Autonomy allows a person to refuse care — that doesn’t commit the state to provide death at the hand of another citizen. 
Misguided compassion has blinded sympathetic people (including the Supreme Court of Canada) to the similarities between voluntary euthanasia and the death penalty. Logical consistency requires a society to have both or neither.
Hay makes it very clear, it's inconsistent to legalize assisted suicide and to outlaw capital punishment. In fact, when the Supreme Court of Canada (45 years ago) rejected capital punishment, they stated that is was inhumane to ask someone to inflict death on another person. I think the Supreme Court of Canada is inconsistent and Dr Kevin Hay is consistent.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Is Child Euthanasia Next in Canada?

Canada legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in June 2016 under the term Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID).

Download the petition to the House of Commons and collect signatures opposing child euthanasia. (Petition Link)

Please sign our online petition to the Canadian government.

In December 2016, the federal government announced that the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) would research and provide recommendations in December 2018 concerning the expansion of euthanasia in three areas:

  1. Mature minors (child euthanasia), 
  2. People who are incompetent but previously requested MAID, and 
  3. For psychological suffering alone. 
This pamphlet concerns the issue of child euthanasia. (Pamphlet Link).

In September 2018, the Journal of Medical Ethics published a paper titled, “Medical Assistance in Dying at a paediatric hospital.” This paper concerns a proposed policy for implementing euthanasia for children that was developed by a committee at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. The paper states that it: intended as a road map through the still-emerging legal and ethical landscape of paediatric MAID.
Based on the influence of the Hospital for Sick Children, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) is concerned that the proposed policy outlined in this paper would impact the direction that the Canadian government follows if it extends euthanasia to children.

What did the Hospital for Sick Children’s committee recommend?

The paper considered several issues of which we will focus on two: 

  1. Is euthanasia (MAID) the same or different than other end-of-life (EOL) medical decisions? Is killing different than a decision to withhold or withdraw medical treatment that may lead to death?
  2. Is the decision-making process the same or different than other EOL medical decisions? 
Is euthanasia the same or different than other EOL medical decisions?
The federal government legalized euthanasia in Canada by defining it as an exception to homicide in the Criminal Code rather than defining it as medical treatment. This means that they intended euthanasia to be different than EOL medical decisions. The government justified restrictions on euthanasia, such as limiting it to competent adults over the age of 18, since euthanasia was seen as an exception in the law.

The Québec government, unlike the federal government, legalized euthanasia by regulating it as a medical act. These divergent euthanasia laws in Canada create confusion.

The Hospital for Sick Children’s committee recognized that euthanasia is seen as different than EOL medical decisions but in its deliberations they rejected this position.

The committee redefined the nature of euthanasia based on the request to die rather than the act of causing death. The committee suggested that when euthanasia is defined by the reason it is requested, it becomes the same as EOL medical decisions. The paper states:

This position shifts attention away from the ethical obligations of the clinician and, instead, towards what is morally at stake for the person who is requesting MAID. Seen in this way, an important point of similarity emerges between MAID and other medical practices that result in the end of life.
Withholding or withdrawing treatment is different than euthanasia. When treatment is withheld or withdrawn, death may occur, and if it does, may take days or weeks. When a person is lethally injected, there is no question if and when the person will die.

Is the decision-making process the same or different than other EOL medical decisions?

By deciding that euthanasia (MAID) is the same as other EOL medical decisions, the committee decided that the decision-making process for euthanasia should also be the same.

Since “mature minors” under the age of 18 already have the right in Ontario to make EOL medical decisions without the consent of parents, a child who is deemed capable of consenting could also decide to die by lethal injection (euthanasia) without the consent of parents. The paper states:

Usually, the family is intimately involved in this decision-making process. If, however, a capable patient explicitly indicates that they do not want their family members involved in their decision-making, although healthcare providers may encourage the patient to reconsider and involve their family, ultimately the wishes of capable patients with respect to confidentiality must be respected.
The committee decided to compromise on the issue of how requests for euthanasia would be made. Since other EOL medical decisions are initiated by medical professionals, the committee thought that the same process should be instituted for euthanasia. But the committee experienced “push-back” from medical staff so they decided to compromise, for now, deciding that discussions about euthanasia would only be initiated by the patient. The paper states:
In light of these concerns, our drafted policy makes discussing MAID permissible when patients express suffering and request information about ending their life, but stops short of a prima facie obligation to inform patients about the existence of MAID. We plan to revisit this issue in future iterations of the policy when some of the contemporary social controversy and uncertainty around the practice of MAID has become more settled.
The EPC is concerned that the committee stated that it may allow physicians to initiate euthanasia discussions when the practice of euthanasia has become more accepted.

We fear that the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto published their proposed policy on child euthanasia to influence the deliberations of the CCA who will be releasing recommendations in December 2018 on extending euthanasia to children.

The Canadian law states that MAID can be done when it is approved by two doctors or nurse practitioners when the person fulfills all of the following conditions:

  • is at least 18 years old, 
  • has a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability,
  • has an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability, 
  • has enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable, and 
  • their natural death is reasonably foreseeable (undefined). 
Canada’s euthanasia law does not permit euthanasia for children.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide and we are concerned that Canada may decide to extend euthanasia to children.

Please sign our online petition to The Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and The Hon. Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minster of Health, opposing the extension of euthanasia to children.
Contact us to request a digital file of the petition and/or to order free copies of this pamphlet. A donation for shipping costs is appreciated. Please mail in all original signed petitions to our address below. 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Belgian euthanasia doctor killed 140 people.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In an interview with Ian Birrell for the Daily Mail, Marc van Hoey, a Belgian physician and President of a Flanders euthanasia group, speaks about the estimated, 140 euthanasia deaths that he has done. In the interview van Hoey speaks of an elderly patient, a friend with pancreatic cancer, an elderly mother of a fellow doctor who had dementia and a 34 year-old woman with chronic depression who all died by euthanasia.

Birrell writes in the interview:

As we sit in his cosy first-floor surgery in Antwerp, surrounded by books and mementos of his life in medicine, I ask this music-loving 57-year-old physician and president of Right To Die Flanders how many people he has personally killed since Belgium made euthanasia legal in 2002. 
‘Maybe 140,’ he concludes after a quick calculation, adding that he has advised perhaps another 500 on euthanasia procedures. ‘But they did not all go through with it and die, of course.’ 
This astonishing toll is even higher than attributed to Jack Kevorkian, the infamous American right-to-die advocate who became known as ‘Dr Death’ after he claimed to have helped 129 ailing people end their lives before being convicted of second degree murder for his 130th. 
Yet the Flemish doctor could – like Kevorkian – end up in prison. He cannot carry out any more mercy killings as he is being investigated by police over the euthanisation of an elderly woman in 2015 who was threatening to commit suicide after the sudden death of her daughter. 
Simona de Moor
van Hoey is being investigated in the death of Simona de Moor, a physically healthy 85-year-old who died by euthanasia on June 22, 2015. The case in question is well known as it was recorded by the Australian SBS TV Network reporter, Brett Mason, in a Dateline documentary aired in Australia in September 2015.

Link to the: SBS Dateline special report: Allow me to die.

van Hoey is no stranger to the controversies associated with the application of Belgium's euthanasia laws. In a 2013 interview with Canada's National Post newspaper, he was candid in his assessment of the law and his approach to it:

"Marc Van Hoey, a physician who performs euthanasia and is head of the Flemish death-with-dignity association, said there has been a shift toward euthanasia of what he called the high elderly. 
“Recently I went to see a lady of 95 years old, sitting in a nursing home all by herself. All her friends and family had died. The only people she had good contact with were the nursing team. She said every evening she goes to bed, she hopes, ‘Don’t let me wake up any more,’ ” he said. He told her she was a candidate for euthanasia. 
“Why do I say that? Because maybe if you say to that kind of person, ‘We are not going to give you euthanasia,’ they open the window on the fourth floor and jump down. And that’s traumatic for everyone.” 
"Dr. Van Hoey is remarkably frank about how flexible the euthanasia law is. It requires a written request for euthanasia from a patient, but it can be written on a napkin, he said. The control commission has even approved euthanasia when there was no written request, taking the doctor’s word that an oral request had been made. 
Tine Nys (center) with her sisters.
Recently three Belgian doctors were informed that they will face a court hearing in the euthanasia death of Tine Nys (38), the first trial to take place since euthanasia was made legal in Belgium. Nys died by euthanasia for psychiatric reasons, but her family contend that she should not have been approved for euthanasia and that the death was carried-out in an amateur manner. According to the Brussels Times:

The case concerns a 38-year-old woman, Tine Nys, who was euthanised in April 2010 at her request, as she suffered from psychological problems. 
According to the patient’s family, Nys was not ill enough to meet the requirements of the euthanasia law as it was at that time. In addition, the procedure was carried out in an “amateurish” fashion, relatives said. A sister of the dead woman made a complaint, and the circumstances of the case were investigated by the Ghent prosecutor’s office.
Tom Mortier's depressed mother
died by euthanasia.
In Belgium there have been many other controversial euthanasia deaths such as:
Another significant problem is the number of assisted deaths without explicit request in Belgium. According to the NEJM study:
In 2007, 1.8% of all deaths were hastened deaths without explicit request while in 2013, 1.7% of all deaths were hastened deaths without explicit request.
Last year, Dr Ludo Vanopdenbosch, a palliative care specialist, resigned from the Belgian euthanasia commission after the commission approved the death of a person who could not have consented to euthanasia. Vanopdenbosch stated in his resignation letter that:
The patient, whose identity was not disclosed, was euthanized at the family's request... There was no record of any prior request for euthanasia from the patient.

Recently the Public Prosecutor in the Netherlands charged a doctor in the euthanasia death of a woman with dementia who previously stated that she wanted to die by euthanasia, but at the time of the euthanasia, she said NO. According to the case, the doctor put a sedative in her coffee and then had the family hold her down while completing the lethal injection.

Belgium has a serious problem with euthanasia law abuse. By normalizing the killing of its citizens by doctors euthanasia has become out-of-control in Belgium and yet the world is just learning of how bad it has become.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Architects of Victoria Australia's euthanasia law publish ‘manual’ on how to push legislation through

This article was published by bioedge on December 1, 2018

By Michael Cook

Victoria Parliament
One year ago, in December 2017, the Australian state of Victoria legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide. This has given new heart to supporters in other states who have been lobbying for years for the “right-to-die”.

The Australian Healthcare Review has just published a review of how supporters were able to break the log-jam in Victoria – essentially a how-to manual for activists written by the government’s former Ministerial Advisory Panel, the brain trust for the process.

Here are a few of the elements which the authors highlight in their article.

1. Victoria passed a Charter of Human Rights in 2006. Its emphasis on autonomy helped to enable passage of a law decriminalising abortion in 2008 and then last year’s euthanasia legislation.

2. Victoria’s Labor government, headed by Premier Daniel Andrews, supported the legislation, although it was eventually decided on a conscience vote. A report from the parliament’s Legal and Social Issues Committee endorsed it. “Government support was essential,” report the authors.

3. As members of its Ministerial Advisory Panel (MAP), the government appointed seven men and women with distinguished professional qualifications, all supporters of a change in the law. The chair, Brian Owler, was a former federal president of the Australian Medical Association.

4. The MAP had extensive discussions with stakeholders in legalised euthanasia, such as health professionals and administrators, legal groups, medical colleges, nursing and allied health groups, consumer and carer groups and mental health providers. Consultative workshops were held throughout Victoria.

5. The support of the Department of Health and Human Services was essential to the process. It provided expert legal and political advice, and administrative support. The Health Minister dedicated “significant departmental resources required, for the process of consultation to develop a high-quality bill.”

6. Skillful media management ensured that messaging was “consistent and accurate”. The members of the MAP were given media training. Journalists were given extensive briefings at each major step “to ensure that the public messaging of a complex model containing strict criteria was clear and that the work was reported accurately. In addition, different lobby groups undertook public campaigns to engage the media and the general public, as well as to directly lobby politicians, which was helpful in balancing the differing arguments.”

The authors conclude that: “This process has been a tangible example of democracy at work at a time when many may feel cynical about political processes.”

It would be interesting to read an account of how the legislation passed from the point of view of its opponents.

Internet scammers make money claiming to sell suicide drugs

This article was published by BioEdge on December 1, 2018.

By Michael Cook:

Internet scammers are using fake endorsements from well-known euthanasia campaigners to bilk gullible people. According to Derek Humphry, founder of the Hemlock Society:
“At any one time there are at least 40 web sites offering to sell the drug Nembutal without the need for a doctor’s prescription. None are known to be reliable. Not only are they fraudulent but sometimes pretend to be part of genuine right-to-die organizations like ERGO or EXIT.

“The latest impersonator has stolen the colored banner and logo from ERGO’s web site. They repeat the words ‘Euthanasia World Directory – Web Site of Hemlock Society Founder Derek Humphry’ at the top of their web site.”
Mr Humphry says that the scammers charge US$500 to $700 for enough Nembutal to end life. “A favorite trick of some thieves is to deliver honestly on a couple of orders, gain a good reputation, then when thousands of dollars roll in, fail to respond and close down the web site.” However, says Mr Humphry, whose blog describes him as “serving the rights of competent, terminally ill adults for 30 years”, neither ERGO nor EXIT sells drugs. They only offer “quality advice” on how to kill people who want to die.

More articles on this topic:

Friday, November 30, 2018

Maine Voices: Don’t sign petition to put flawed assisted-suicide law on state ballot

Signatures are currently being collected for a referendum to legalize assisted suicide in Maine.

This article was written by Mike Reynolds and published by Press Herald on November 28, 2019.
Maine residents are being asked to sign a petition calling for a referendum on legalizing assisted suicide to be placed on the 2019 ballot. The practice was legalized in Oregon in 1997. Since then, there have been far more problematic issues and unanswered questions than any assisted-suicide proponent claims. 
The Maine Legislature has voted down a number of attempts to legalize assisted suicide over the past two decades. The Health and Human Services Committee has never supported any version of this proposal, and an assisted-suicide measure has never passed the Legislature. In fact, the last time such a bill went to a floor vote, in 2017, it failed the House by 61 to 85, a larger margin than in recent history. 
The proponents of this law can’t pass this it in the Legislature, so now they are trying to get it through a statewide referendum. The problem is that the proponents have short memories: In 2000, Maine voters soundly rejected a referendum that mirrored Oregon’s law. Mainers have decided time and again against assisted suicide, and we don’t need another referendum funded primarily by out-of-state interests. 
If asked to sign a petition for the referendum, say “no,” and be firm. Assisted-suicide laws are the most blatant forms of discrimination based on disability in our society today. Does it make sense to tell a person who is battling cancer to consider suicide? Should we not be doing everything we can to support these people in having the best possible health care and home care so they have quality of life for however long they have?
With the experience of the laws in Oregon as a guide, the question of assisted suicide becomes, quite frankly, incompatible with Maine values. Oregon’s doctors have written suicide prescriptions for individuals whose medical basis for eligibility for assisted suicide was listed as diabetes. In Oregon, and in the referendum language, a person is terminally ill if he or she has a condition that could be reasonably considered terminal only if the patient refuses needed medication. By that definition, people could qualify as “terminal” who have epilepsy, ongoing infections and other illnesses that can be managed with medication. This petition is not limited in scope and is actually far more dangerous than the proponents want to admit. 
While much of our state is relatively close to adequate hospice and palliative care, there are huge gaps in northern and eastern Maine when it comes to these services. Before considering a public policy of assisted suicide, Maine must solve the vast disparity of access to hospice services and palliative care. It is not time to even consider a flawed law such as the one this referendum is proposing. Please, decline to sign. 
In Oregon, the rate of suicide is 33 percent above the national average, and the rate of teen suicide is soaring. There is a clear problem of suicide contagion. 
While the proponents claim there are safeguards, there is absolutely no oversight once the pills are prescribed. Under the Oregon law, a friend or relative – even an heir – can “encourage” an elder to make the request, sign the forms as a witness, pick up the prescription and even administer the drug (with or without consent) because no objective witness is required at death, so who would know? 
The method of dying that the referendum is trying to legalize involves taking 100 pills of a barbiturate, emptying the contents of each pill into a sweet solution, then drinking the solution. It can take up to 104 hours for people to die from the solution, and in seven Oregon cases, the person who took the solution woke up. 
This is not “death with dignity” – it’s a desperate effort to further a dangerous law and give it mainstream credibility, with no regard for the harm it causes, and it even gives full legal immunity to any medical personnel or other person who assists in the suicide. The only real protections in the law are for people other than the patient, foreclosing any realistic potential for investigation of foul play. 
For all of the reasons above, please decline to sign.
Mike Reynolds is a Lewiston resident and a member of Not Dead Yet, a disability rights group that opposes the legalization of assisted suicide.

Supreme Court (UK) right to reject "dangerous" attempt to legalise assisted suicide

Press Release issued on behalf of Care Not Killing
November 27, 2018

The Supreme Court is right to reject this dangerous attempt to legalise assisted suicide after Parliament has repeatedly rejected changing the law, says Care Not Killing.

This latest case brought by lawyers acting for Noel Conway was seeking permission for a full appeal. This ruling by Lady Hale, Lord Kerr and Lord Reed upholds the previous decisions by Parliament and judges who held that the current law protects vulnerable and disabled people from being pressured into ending their lives.

The judges, rejected the arguments of Mr Conway's legal team who claimed that the current blanket ban on assisted suicide under the Suicide Act is incompatible with his right to private life.

It upholds the decision by the Court of Appeal, which rejected the same arguments in June this year. In that ruling the judges concluded that the current blanket ban on assisted suicide achieves a fair balance between the interests of the wider community and the interests of people in the position of Mr Conway. They cited the need to protect vulnerable people, the importance of the sanctity of life and the need to protect the doctor patient relationship.

While in 2017, three experienced High Court judges concluded:
'It is legitimate in this area for the legislature to seek to lay down clear and defensible standards in order to provide guidance for society, to avoid distressing and difficult disputes at the end of life and to avoid creating a slippery slope leading to incremental expansion over time of the categories of people to whom similar assistance for suicide might have to [be] provided... we find that section 2 (right to life) is compatible with the Article 8 rights (private and family life) of Mr Conway. We dismiss his application for a declaration of incompatibility.'
Dr Peter Saunders
Dr Peter Saunders, Campaign Director of Care Not Killing, welcomed the ruling saying:
'The judges, parliamentarians, doctors and disability rights groups are all in agreement - that the safest law is the one we currently have. It carefully balances an individual's rights with the need to protect vulnerable people, who could feel pressured into ending their lives. We have seen in the US States of Oregon and Washington that the fear of becoming a financial, or care burden is cited by more than half of those choosing to end their lives. 
'And it is not just in US where we have seen disturbing developments, once safeguards have been removed. In Holland and Belgium, a law introduced to alleviate the suffering of mentally competent adults is routinely used on non-mentally competent adults and even children. This why in this area the blanket ban is the right approach and we welcome the Supreme Court's decision to reject this dangerous change.'

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Are Euthanasia Errors Acceptable?

By Fabian Stahle, a Swedish researcher.
Edited by: Alex Schadenberg, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

When the advocacy for legalisation of euthanasia/assisted suicide approach a new jurisdiction it is always with the assurance that the proposed practise will only be used for extreme cases – persons in extreme pain and on their death bed. The advocates emphasize that strict safeguards will prevent anyone from being killed by mistake.

Dr Johan Andreen
These two speaking points in their sales pitch - only extreme cases and no mistakes – are constantly repeated in the first phase of introducing the idea of medical killing.

Currently the Swedish debate is in the introduction phase. A Swedish opponent of euthanasia, psychiatrist Johan Andreen, recently addressed the allegations about the proposed strict safeguards in an article in the Swedish Psychiatric Magazine, No 3, 2018. See page 54-56, (link) with translated title: "Taking Position In The Question About Euthanasia."

His article is a sharp and in-depth analysis of the weakness of the proponents claims and a passionate appeal for true compassion for the vulnerable.

The author asks the following question to those who propose euthanasia (and PAS) regime and to those who haven't yet made up their mind:
". . . Is it acceptable that any erroneous deaths at all take place in the context of something that should be a care measure?"
He then continues:
"If your answer is yes, the next question is: “why should we accept that when we do not accept it for other care measures?” Furthermore, how big a proportion is acceptable? Finally, how will we be able to establish and ensure safe control of that proportion of error with “assisted death"?

If the answer is no (which it reasonably ought to be), some of the follow-up questions would instead be: How can the law and its application ensure that mistakes and abuse of the law do not result in patients – who should have had care and support in a dignified life – having their lives shortened as well as a dishonourable ending to their life?

We had better watch out and navigate right in this paradoxical context. Because, although the existence and purpose of the act is to bring about death, and that this has been achieved, it will inevitably also have occurred in cases where care and treatment to live a meaningful and reasonably comfortable life should have been given. The assisted death will have the effect that some patients pass away as a result of the medical act, when this was incorrect and not the patient's actual desire and need. In the name of common sense and honesty, we should all be able to assume and agree that this will be unavoidable. In what world are there laws, doctors and healthcare systems that have no shortcomings and risks, or legal institutions that cannot be used for unintended and therefore illegal purposes?
The starting point must be, for empirical and logical reasons, that it will not be possible to introduce a "Swedish improved" version of the Oregon model that will not kill a number of people in error. . . . Let it be clear that this unintentional mortality would take place at a percentage or even permille level. It would also occur in a Swedish model.

Is any such mortality at all acceptable then? In our current situation, it is difficult to see, let alone find the opportunity to talk about this lethal side-effect or risk in the assisted death debate, since the act itself has the purpose of bringing about death!

So, here we need to see before us people who are depressed or just lonely and despondent. People who with pharmacological, psychotherapeutic and other treatment or just good care, compassion and counselling, together with their near and dear ones receive the support they need – but do not believe they can wish for – to be able to live out the time they have left. And no one can know the length of that time. 

There may be individuals who perhaps enter [into] their terminal condition due to the fact that in a state of depression – or sheer resignation – they stop taking or continuing treatment or investigation, or fail to ensure necessary intake of nutrition, fluid and basic activity and therefore become terminally ill. Is an outcome, involving an act that leads to death, acceptable in any or a few cases of these treatable and care-demanding non-terminal conditions? Should not our compassion, our strength and our resources instead be spent on scientifically developing – and with the use of care programs, focus and standardize – the help provided in cases of such suffering, the underlying disease and the social vulnerability?
In order to see with sharp clarity what we are talking about here – in a concrete corresponding care and treatment scenario – we need to begin to make comparisons with scientific pharmacological treatments.

When certain drugs appear to have clearly identified serious side-effects including fatality, severe illness or foetal damage, they are immediately withdrawn (the list could be long and will not here be encumbered with names). It does not matter that they have cost billions to develop and it does not matter that they may have a very good and important effect for the vast majority. It does not matter that these side effects are rare, if they cannot be safely prevented by any possible method. In those cases, we consider that to be enough. Our modern legislation guarantees that we should not have such drugs. The market for that drug will fall as soon as repeated reports of these outcomes occur. The company loses its credibility and status if, when the risk is clear, it does not immediately withdraw the drug before the drug authority in every country does.

In summary, the questions asked here are necessary and sufficient, and therefore crucial, to answer concerning euthanasia – regardless of model. Do we accept that the medical sector will be required to abolish and violate the thousands of years old parameters in our social contract – between individuals, people and the social system/state – that "you/we shall not kill"? Disregarding that a few countries have introduced euthanasia, do we not in the name of health care security and basic ethics have to talk about the fundamental risk to patients that this entails?

Do we accept that a societal change should be made that involves doctors and nurses participating in something that most of us agree is not, and can never be scientific treatment? Do we accept a state-imposed measure performed on the basis of patients' supposedly well-founded requests, following an arbitrary assessment by doctors – no science for this procedure exists – resulting in the death of a patient, a fellow human being, and that the possibilities for giving proper treatment and care are extinguished – forever? When this, apart from a series of risks and consequences for our society that have not been raised here, actually means that people who would have wanted and could have been helped to live will die of "assisted death"?"
As for Sweden we can already anticipate the second phase in the debate when it becomes clear for everyone, even for the proponents – although not admitted – that some collateral damage is inevitable. But the advocates play down the issue just like the Canadian doctor Ellen Wiebe, who in a debate in The Economist Magazine confessed (Link):
”I agree that one day I may make an error in my assessment and not realise that someone has been pressured into a decision to hasten their death. And the other independent assessor might make the same error. That might mean a person would die earlier than she or he may have preferred.”
Dr Wiebe continues with a rhetoric question that clearly demonstrates how the advocates in the implemantation phase shamelessly propagate for a miserable standard for protecting people from being killed.
"Should that error be the reason hundreds or thousands suffer needlessly against their will at the end of life? I am so glad to be Canadian in 2018 and to say, “No, that is not how it is here."
The confession that she "one day may make an error" may be an understatement in the view of her extensive experience of providing about 150 assisted deaths according to another article by her published in the The Economist Magazine (Link). 

Fabian Stahle is a Swedish researcher who, last year, uncovered hidden problems with the Oregon assisted suicide model.

Are doctors in Belgium and the Netherlands getting away with murder?

This article was published by OneNewsNow on November 29, 2018

Doctors accused of illegally euthanizing patients in two countries are being prosecuted for killing mental patients, but they likely will not go to jail – even if they are found guilty.

Alex Schadenberg
Belgium courts have now agreed to hear arguments from a 2010 situation in which three doctors were accused of euthanizing a woman who was supposedly autistic.

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition shared some of his extensive knowledge about the case:
“This case is euthanasia for psychiatric reasons, and the family has been complaining that this euthanasia should never have occurred – that this woman had just broken up from a relationship, and she was not in any way in a situation where she qualified for euthanasia,” Schadenberg explained.
OneNewsNow has reported previously that a public prosecutor in the Netherlands is taking a doctor to court for euthanizing a dementia patient who objected to the lethal procedure. The doctor asked family members to hold her down so she could kill her with a lethal injection:
“These doctors are not going to serve time in jail, but they will be put into a situation where they will be used as the example as to what needs to be done – or not done – if you want to kill someone by lethal injection for psychiatric reasons in their country,” Schadenberg stressed.
By sending the cases to court, a decision will be made as to what is acceptable and what is not – establishing guidelines for terminating the lives of patients who suffer from mental problems.