Thursday, August 15, 2019

Australia's Dr Death is watching his clients die by suicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
 
Nadia Kajouji
In September 2014, a former Minnesota nurse, William Melchert-Dinkel, was convicted of assisted suicide in the death of Mark Drybrough from England and attempting to assist the suicide of Canadian teenager Nadia Kajouji. Melchert-Dinkel was a suicide voyeur who preyed upon suicidal members of a chat-room and counselled them to die by suicide on front of a web-cam.

William Melchert-Dinkel
Now, an Australian euthanasia leader, Philip Nitschke, known as Dr Death, has created a private live streaming service to enable him to watch his suicidal clients die by lethal drugs.

According to Tom Place, writing for the Australian Associated Press and Daily Mail Australia, Nitschke used the private live streaming to watch two clients die in May by his new suicide method. He claims that other clients have also agreed to let him watch their suicide deaths.

Nitscke says that his motivation is to ensure that his new suicide method will provide a "good and timely" death.


Protest of Philip Nitschke.
Nitschke, who has been involved with many controversial suicide deaths, lost his medical license in 2015 for his involvement in several controversial suicide deaths. At that time he was being investigated for his role in 20 deaths.

 

Recently Nitschke was challenged by a woman whose father died after receiving suicide advice from him.

In 2010, I wrote an article asking the question: Is Philip Nitschke different than Melchert-Dinkel? It seems more clear than ever that Nitschke has a suicide fetish that he is feeding with his new life streaming death service.

Father with ALS Euthanized after being denied sufficient care in Canada

This article was published by National Review online on August 14, 2019.

Wesley J Smith
By Wesley J. Smith


A Canadian man disabled by ALS didn’t want to die now. He wanted to be cared for at home so he could be with his son.

Nope. The government’s socialized health-care system refused to pay for all the care he needed. But it sure paid to kill him by euthanasia. From the story:

Sean Tagert with his son.
Relocation was not an option as that would have taken him away from his son, of whom he had partial custody. . . .


“Ensuring consistent care was a constant struggle and source of stress for Sean as a patient,” read the Facebook post in his honour.

“The few institutional options on hand, Sean pointed out, would have offered vastly inferior care while separating him from his family, and likely would have hastened his death,” the post read.

Tagert pieced together a suitable care facility in his own home, which included an expensive saliva-suction machine that was needed to prevent him from choking, according to the post.
“We would ask, on Sean’s behalf, that the government recognize the serious problems in its treatment of ALS patients and their families, and find real solutions for those already suffering unimaginably,” read the post.
Because euthanasia is about “choice.”
Those with eyes to see, let them see.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Court order temporarily stops assisted suicide in New Jersey.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


I have amazing news.

Smith and Associates, a New Jersey law firm, obtained a temporary restraining order preventing the New Jersey assisted suicide act from going into effect. 


The New Jersey assisted suicide law passed on March 25 and was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy on April 12.

The assisted suicide law went into effect on August 1, but due to the 15 day waiting period, no one could legally die by assisted suicide until Friday August 16. Smith and Associates stated:

The Act (which should be more properly called the “New Jersey Physician-Assisted Suicide Act”), provides for, among other things, the self-infliction of death by way of fatal “medication”, i.e. pharmaceutical poisons; compelling even non-participating physicians to transfer patients’ medical records for the purpose of furthering the Statute’s aims against many of such physicians’ beliefs and duties; allowing for the disparate treatment of patients; allowing for the transfer of unused fatal pharmaceuticals to persons not otherwise authorized; and amending the statutory duty to otherwise warn of harm to others. Moreover, the Act provides that in advance of the effective date of August 1, 2019, no fewer than six (6) regulatory bodies were to have issued required rules and regulations. However, no such required regulations or rules have been issued, rendering the entire death process wholly unregulated. If the Act is not immediately enjoined, New Jersey citizens can actually begin dying pursuant to its provisions as early as August 16, 2019.
The Superior Court of New Jersey, Justice Paul Innes, signed the temporary restraining order this morning. The New Jersey Attorney General, Gurbir Singh Grewel will have until September 13th to respond to the order.

U.S. Government Report Shows Hospice Abuse. Sacrificing Patient Care for Profit.

By Mark Hodges.

Groups opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide have been advocates of good hospice care. Stories about hospice abuse have created great concerns as we recognize that good care will reduce the demand for assisted dying while hospice abusive feeds the demand to legalize assisted suicide. Promoters of assisted suicide will often compare hospice care to assisted suicide and refer to hospice abuse to advocate for "more options" at the end of life.

The Trump Department of Health and Human Services’ Inspector General has released two scathing reports concerning the Hospice end-of-life-care industry, with the hope of cleaning up hospice abuse. These reports include stories of maggots in stomach feeding tubes; failing to clean wounds which ultimately became gangrened requiring leg amputations; ignoring pelvic injuries from sexual assault and giving wrong treatment that put patients in the hospital.

The reports specify “significant vulnerabilities” and “deficiencies” which put patients at risk and “jeopardize safety.” Patients were seriously harmed when hospices showed gross negligence or failed to report patient abuse.

Eighty-seven percent of hospices had at least one deficiency. One-third of hospices had complaints filed against them. Over 300 hospices (18%) had at least one “serious” deficiency or at least one “substantiated severe complaint” in 2016 alone. Most of those had a history of deficiencies or substantiated complaints.

Medicare, which pays for almost all hospice treatment, looks to state agencies and accrediting organizations to make sure hospices maintain quality of care for patients. Inspectors review clinical records, visit patients, investigate complaints, and report any deficiencies discovered.

The new government report includes both state and accrediting agencies’ findings. Nearly all hospices were surveyed.

Deficiencies included mismanagement, lack of quality control, improper vetting of staff, inadequate assessments, and poor care planning. As a result, patients suffered.

Horror stories abound. One woman was repeatedly abused by her caregiver/daughter, who literally chained her to her bed, and would “leave her mother in a wheelchair in the bathroom with the lights off and would spray her with water when she called out for help,” according to the government report. Hospice was told of the abuse, but did nothing --not even visit the patient for several weeks.

Another patient had an abusive neighbor, who frequently burst into his apartment “naked, high, and drunk” stealing the patient’s prescriptions. Hospice knew this was going on, yet did nothing to protect the patient, the government reported.

“These hospices did not face serious consequences,” the report says, because Medicare “cannot impose penalties, other than termination, to hold hospices accountable for harming beneficiaries.” Medicare’s only enforcement power is to take the offending hospice out of the Medicare program. It cannot levy fines, or issue sanctions, or close a facility.

One of the report’s recommendations is for Congress to give Medicare “enforcement tools” and “statutory authority...to effectively protect beneficiaries from harm.”

Medicare began dispersing tax dollars for hospice in 1982. As medicine advanced, hospice promised tax savings, with terminal patients cared for at home rather than in hospitals under ever-more-expensive and almost-always-futile medical procedures.

“At the first meetings of our national hospice organization, we were nearly all women, mostly volunteers working on making our communities better,’’ Dr. Joanne Lynn told the Washington Post.

As soon as government money for hospice was unleashed, for-profit companies began invading the industry. For-profit hospices have exploded twice as fast as non-profits.

The industry has quadrupled since 2000. That year, 70 percent of hospices were run by nonprofit organizations or government agencies; by 2012, the percentages were nearly reversed.

Today, hospice cares for more than 1.5 million patients.

“Once Medicare started paying for hospice, it was more men in suits, and the focus shifted to administration and sustainable financing,” Dr. Lynn lamented.

In other words, Big Business horned in, and with it came bottom-line-only concern and its inevitable corruption.

A Washington Post analysis found per-patient profit rose from $353 in 2002 to $1,975 in 2012. A Huffington Post investigation found for-profit hospices charged Medicare nearly 30 percent more per patient than nonprofits.

Medicare doled out $18 billion to hospices in 2017. A company’s profit is capped, on average, at $25,000 a patient.

With that kind of money at stake, sales became a top priority. Hospice salesmen, dubbed “Outreach Specialists,” aggressively sought customers from doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and Meals on Wheels groups. “Community Education Representatives” went to “health fairs” at senior centers with blood pressure testers and pitched families caring for an elderly loved one.

Whistleblowers from leading hospices testified that recruiters were told to stress the urgency of committing to hospice. Bonuses were given to reps who met new patient goals.

It gets worse. Ben Hallman’s 2014 exposé, “How Dying Became A Multibillion-Dollar Industry,” found for-profit hospices pressured staff to illegally enroll unqualified patients, and falsified health records to get more tax dollars. Hospices also illegally-obtained hospital records, submitted insufficient documentation and did not adequately train caregivers.

Hospices even admitted patients who were not dying. The whole idea of hospice is to comfort the terminally ill --rules are two doctors have to certify the patient has only six months to live.

But healthier patients require fewer visits and stay longer, making for-profit companies more money.

“A longer length of stay is going to be more lucrative,” one hospice marketer explained. “If they come in very sick and die right away, it’s difficult to run a business that way.”

Medicare pays by the day, not the visit. Hospice companies can charge the government nearly $200 a day per patient ($6000 a month) for the first 60 days, then about $150 a day --regardless of how much care the patient needs, or how often hospice visits.

“They’re paying for a day of hospice with no accountability for what was done on that day,’’ Icahn School of Medicine Professor Melissa D. Aldridge said, “with a payment mechanism that is completely opaque as to what is being done.’’

Not surprisingly, average length of stay at for-profits is far longer than at non-profits (105 days/69 days).


The number of patients who didn’t die in California hospices jumped 50 percent from 2002 to 2012. At one Mobile AL hospice, 78 percent of “terminal” patients left alive.

A 2014 study found one woman who refused to take her cancer medicine, yet she kept getting better. After a year of hospice, she was finally tested. It turns out she never had cancer.

Multiple allegations from former employees charge hospices with enrolling patients who weren’t terminal --wasting well over $1 billion in tax dollars. Lawsuits also allege that patients received expensive care they didn’t need. The Trump Justice Department has joined several of those lawsuits.

According to the rules as they are now, hospices help determine whether a patient is terminal. At the start, two doctors certify a patient’s diagnosis. But re-approvals are routinely done by hospice physicians.

And corruption is made easy by Medicare’s acceptance of overly vague diagnoses, such as “debility” and “failure to thrive.” Next year, Medicare will prohibit such generalization in primary diagnoses.

“It is important that an initial step toward payment reform be taken as soon as possible,” industry watchdog MedPAC understated to Congress.

Hallman’s six month investigation also revealed over a thousand hospices hadn’t been inspected for more than seven years. The legal minimum was six years, until Congress under the Trump administration increased inspections to every three years.

Additional problems include “rogue” and false front hospices stealing tax dollars. Over billing, patient referral kickbacks, unneeded treatment, charging for therapies never administered, underqualified (lower paid) staff, and other methods of theft plague the industry.

From 2006 to 2014, the U.S. government charged that nearly every major for-profit hospice company committed billing fraud.

And there are even more serious charges.

Deaths from lethal doses of morphine and sedatives while under hospice care were brought to light by Peter Whoriskey in the Washington Post. Patients who were not dying when they started hospice, died from excessive doses of painkillers.

In 2009, the New York Times ran a story about “terminal sedation.” The article explained that a strong sedative, typically lorazepam, and a strong pain killer, typically morphine, are administered by an IV drip until heart rate and breathing are slowed until the patient can no longer eat or drink.

Patient overdosing “can intentionally hasten death,” the NYT article stated. A national survey found 83 percent of doctors said this is ethically permissible.

It is not known how often slow murder under the guise of palliative care is perpetrated. No data is collected about such lethal abuses.
 

Sandra writes, about the death of her father:
“I am absolutely certain that my father died because of the medication he was administered by hospice ...particularly the various forms of morphine he was given... These opioids caused the respiratory failure he went into as soon as hospice administered them to him. He was eligible for hospice with the diagnosis, ‘Failure To Thrive’ and ‘Debility’ after breaking his hip... He was just as alert (after the hip injury) as he had always been until hospice ‘snowed’ him... I didn’t hire hospice to push along my father’s demise.”
The new government report concluded with recommendations to begin righting the hospice industry. The Trump Inspector General urges 
  • tighter, more extensive oversight of hospices, 
  • changing laws to allow Medicare to enforce violations, and 
  • public posting of reports finding deficiencies and violations on Medicare’s website, “Hospice Compare.”  
President Trump’s 2020 budget includes a proposal to allow disclosure of survey reports from accrediting organizations.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition believes good hospice care eliminates the falsely-perceived “need” for “mercy killing” (an oxymoron). “The principles and practice of good palliative hospice care already developed and utilized, makes it abundantly clear that there is no need to die in pain, loneliness and anxiety.”

We believe in caring, not killing


But we are deeply concerned about the abuses and fraud that the U.S. government’s new report reveals. “Hospice abuse leads to a greater demand for the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide,” EPC Executive Director Alex Schadenberg explained.

We applaud the Trump administration’s Inspector General for a thorough investigation, support its recommendations as a start, and urge the strictest compliance to ethical standards throughout the hospice industry.


The only way to effectively "save hospice" from abuse is to return it to its roots, as expressed by Cicily Saunders. Good caring people who care for the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of a person as they approach a natural death.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Disturbing trends revealed in latest Washington State assisted suicide stats.

This article was published by HOPE Australia on August 9, 2019.

The most recent statistics for Washington State’s assisted suicide laws demonstrate what we have seen in jurisdiction after jurisdiction that have passed these laws: a dramatic increase in assisted suicide deaths, the emergence of “specialist” assisted suicide doctors, the lack of psychological care… it’s an all-too-familiar story.


An increase in assisted suicide deaths

In the ten years since the law has passed, the number of assisted suicides has increased by 300 per cent. It is a similar trend to what we have seen in other jurisdictions where assisted suicide has been legalised. What begins as promised “limited use” expands to become a much more common cause of death.
Inadequate pain control or concern about it does not motivate requests

As we see consistently in the statistics from Oregon, inadequate pain control or concern about it is not in the top 5 reasons patients requested assisted suicide. In Washington in 2018, the top five reasons that a patient requested assisted suicide were:

  • A loss of autonomy;
  • Being less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable;
  • A loss of dignity;
  • Being a burden on family, friends and caregivers; and
  • Losing control of bodily functions.
Assisted suicide advocates often claim that these laws are needed to avoid pain that cannot be relieved, but consistently, pain is not a motivating concern for patients.

Financial considerations play into the decision

Almost one in ten patients cite the financial implications of treatment as a reason for requesting assisted suicide. If governments were committed to providing genuine end-of-life choices, then we would not be seeing a significant number of patients asking for lethal drugs because they cannot afford treatment.

Almost no psychological treatment is provided

According to the data, only 4 per cent of patients were referred for psychological or psychiatric evaluation before being given lethal drugs. Despite the significant psychological impact of being diagnosed with a terminal illness, and the evidence which shows the positive impact that treatment for depression can have on a patient’s acceptance of treatment options, it is alarming that only a tiny percentage of patients are referred for psychological or psychiatric assessment.

The rise of “specialist” assisted suicide doctors

In 2018, in 50 per cent of deaths, the doctor who prescribed the lethal drugs had known the patient for less than six months. The majority of cases, it seems, do not involve a long-term relationship between the doctor and patient.

Even more alarming, in some cases (the number of which was not reported), the length of the doctor-patient relationship was less than one week. Less than one week. This is evidence that there are doctors available who are willing to sign off on lethal drugs without having any meaningful relationship of care with the patient involved.

The latest data from Washington State is a reminder that assisted suicide laws follow a similar theme… expansion of use, lack of psychological and even medical care, and a true lack of end-of-life “choices.”

Australian euthanasia promoter, Philip Nitschke, challenged by woman whose father died after receiving suicide advice.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

As reported by Gary Adshead with News9.com.au, a woman, whose father died by suicide after being assisted Dr Philip Nitschke, challenged Nitschke at a pro-euthanasia Exit meeting.

Adshead reported that a woman named Candice confronted Nitschke, during the pro-euthanasia meeting stating:

"There are young people who have died, people with depression," she argued back. "It's wrong, it's totally irresponsible, he's a doctor, it's wrong."
Candice continued:
"Apologise for what happened to my father,"

"The information you put out kills people who are not in a rational state of mind to make that decision."
Candice then spoke to the media afterwards and stated:
her father was in his 60s when he took his life two years ago, after seeking advice from Mr Nitschke's Exit International group that advocates legalising voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide. 
She said her father was suffering from depression, but he had no terminal illness.
Nitschke has been involved with many controversial suicide deaths. Nitschke lost his medical license in 2015 for his involvement in several controversial suicide deaths.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Suicide is never elegant or stylish. It is always a tragic loss.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Nick Goiran, a Liberal MLC from Western Australia, responded to an article published by The Sunday Times on August 4, that accused Goiran of being cruelly indifferent to Western Australians taking their life.

Goiran was published in The Sunday Times on August 11, clarifying what he actually said, concerning suicide, and his position opposing euthanasia.

Goiran, who was a member of the Western Australian End of Life Choices committee, stated that he does not encourage or endorse suicide but suicide is a choice that is available to Western Australians.


Goiran wrote:
the report went on to say: "While the final choice, of suicide, is a choice that is available to Western Australians, it is certainly not a choice which the State encourages or promotes. In fact suicide prevention policies and programs have had long standing bipartisan support, as every life in this State matters.
Those who follow Goiran's political career will know that Goiran not only part of the End of Life Choices committee, he wrote a 248 masterful minority report, undermining the support for legalizing euthanasia in the "official" report.

Goiran commented on the antics of euthanasia campaign Philip Nitscke, who promotes suicide with his new suicide machine. Goiran writes:
We have a significant suicide problem in WA and this is no time for dangerous mixed messages. The world's first 3D-printable suicide machine has been on show in Australia. Exit International's director and suicide machine inventor, Philip Nitschke, said he hoped the machine will appeal to those seeking an "elegant and stylish" death under Victoria's new euthanasia laws.
He then quotes Dr Michael Gannon, the past president of the Australian Medical Association who said:
"I have serious concerns about a community where we make arbitrary decisions about whose life is valuable enough to continue and whose should be ended under the law."
Goiran then concludes:
Suicide is never elegant and stylish. It is always a tragic loss.
Thank you Nick.

This is a link to the minority report written by Nick Goiran titled: License to care not to kill.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Schadenberg celebrates 20 years opposing euthanasia.

This article was published on August 9, 2019 by Convivium under the title MAiD In Canada.

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition stands unsurprised at this week's news of Dr. Ellen Wiebe's exoneration after she administered death to a patient in a facility where Medical Aid in Dying is prohibited.
 
Peter Stockland
By Peter Stockland

After 20 years leading Canada’s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Alex Schadenberg is unsurprised by news a B.C. doctor has been exonerated for sneaking into an Orthodox Jewish nursing home and terminating an elderly resident.
“What Dr. (Ellen) Wiebe did was completely wrong, but it was completely expected she’d be cleared of any wrongdoing,” Schadenberg told Convivium this week. “She was welcomed into that home to kill someone, and that’s what she did.”
Last month, the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons dismissed a complaint against Dr. Wiebe for taking the life of 83-year-old Barry Hyman at the Louis Brier Home and Hospital in Vancouver. The College ruled Hyman had asked for so-called Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD) and was entitled to it despite the hospital administration prohibiting termination of patients on the premises. The decision was made public only this week when Dr. Wiebe shared it with the lobby group Dying With Dignity and The Globe and Mail.

Schadenberg said Dr. Wiebe could apparently kill Hyman with impunity because his hospital room was considered his home. The termination required that she and a nurse smuggle drugs and equipment into the nursing home to inject the octogenarian cancer patient with the toxins that ended his life in June 2017.

“She intentionally went into a nursing home where it had been made very clear that (the administration) did not want euthanasia going on because some of the residents had lived through (the Holocaust). I think it was unethical. I think she broke the trust of other people living their Jewish faith in that institution. But as much as I think it’s wrong, she had no problem being exonerated.”
Schadenberg, who celebrated 20 years as executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition in August, noted Dr. Wiebe has become a “celebrity” euthanizer for her commitment to delivering medical death and pushing the boundaries of what Canada’s 2016 euthanasia law allows at least on paper.
“This is a person whose whole focus is on killing people. It’s what she does. You have to think about what that means we’ve become,” he said.
He stressed, though, that if Dr. Ellen Wiebe hadn’t taken on the role, it would almost certainly have fallen to another of her medical colleagues. The outcome was virtually inevitable given how sloppily the 2016 law was written, and how far it strayed from the Supreme Court of Canada’s narrower decision in the 2015 Carter judgment.

Wiebe’s clearance will ratchet up pressure on Canadian medical facilities, especially faith-based institutions, to offer MAiD service, Schadenberg predicted.

“Say you’re running a Catholic institution now where you’ve said, ‘We do not want this on the premises; this is a euthanasia-free zone.’ Well, Dr. Wiebe has basically told people ‘too bad, we’re going to do it anyway.’ The (euthanasia lobby) has been pressuring governments to change policies and pressuring hospitals to change policies. One of my fears is that all this is going to be leading to forced change.”
He is not without forecasting success. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition wasn’t able to prevent euthanasia coming to Canada in 2016, but it wasn’t for lack of foresight, warning and activist advocacy on the part of Schadenberg and his colleagues over the past two decades. In fact, he became engaged in the issue in the very early 1990s because of Robert Latimer’s gas chamber execution of his daughter.
What moved Schadenberg to action was a poll showing more than a third of Canadians thought Latimer should be acquitted, or at least not serve jail time, for putting his pre-teen child in the cab of his farm pickup truck, sealing it to make a chamber and pumping it full of gas from the vehicle’s exhaust pipe.
“People were saying he was loving father, and what he did was fine. I interpreted that as showing a very strong eugenic attitude within the culture. It wasn’t just that she was disabled, as bad at might seem to many people for a young girl. It was the fact they thought she was better off dead. That is highly eugenic because it says that certain lives are considered not worth living, that Tracy was less human than other people. I thought then that was a serious problem, and I see the same thing in the culture today.”
Schadenberg says he was troubled by the assault on the sanctity of life that Tracy Latimer’s killing represented, but also by the way it undermined basic human equality. The eugenics and euthanasia mindsets are both threats to equality rights, he says.
“People say, ‘Oh, I have equality through freedom of choice to do what I want with my body.’ No. Euthanasia destroys equality. Certain people are seen as so much less worthy that their lives should be ended. It’s not just about you ending your own life. Someone else is ending your life because someone else is deciding what your life is worth. They are deciding your life isn’t worth living.”
As he moved toward leadership of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Schadenberg was surprised by how few of those in his community were able to see the juggernaut of medical killing bearing down on Canada. He recalls a conversation with a doctor friend who assured him it would never happen here.
“His response was ‘Oh, Alex, we’ve already won. The Canadian Medical Association has held its position (against medical killing). We’re not going to follow the Netherlands. We’re not the Dutch.’ And I’m thinking, ‘What makes you think we’re any different? We’re human just as they are.’ But he was quite convinced.”

Schadenberg was fully convinced of exactly the opposite and, despite the stress it placed on his family, took on the EPC leadership role to, at least, slow down the medical killing future he saw coming. He has since become an international expert on MAiD, most recently travelling the globe to warn jurisdictions as diverse as Croatia, India, Australia and New Mexico against going down the assisted suicide-euthanasia-medical-aid-in-dying path. The EPC also worked in association with filmmaker Kevin Dunn last year to produce the documentary Fatal Flaws, which dissects the arguments propounded by, and the calamitous outcomes of, the worldwide MAiD industry.

Intriguingly, although a person of deep personal faith, Schadenberg has long argued the case against MAiD first from a secular perspective. You don’t have to believe in God, he says matter-of-factly, to believe it is wrong to kill people, especially the sick, the weak, the vulnerable, the unwanted and less than worthy.

“It’s not about being religious or not religious. It’s about living my life as a human being. It’s about answering the question of how I help and protect other human beings. You don’t have to believe in God. You can believe in whatever you want. But you have to look at the real nature of the human person, how we live our lives creating interdependent community with others.”
After 20 years of watching the MAiD juggernaut gain increasing power until it has the means to exonerate from even professional impropriety a doctor who terminates an elderly Jewish man in a hospital where Holocaust survivors live, does he still have the drive to create that kind of community, to keep the euthanasia prevention battle going long after it seems well and truly lost?
“I started doing this because I looked around and didn’t see anyone else doing it. I have to keep involved, whether at this level or not I don’t know. But the reality is, you can’t be silent. You can’t be silent about a law that allows physicians and nurse practitioners to kill people. I have no fear of death. I do fear a country that allows people to kill me.”
The truly surprising thing is that only 20 years ago, Schadenberg’s final sentence would have surprised absolutely no one.

Peter Stockland is Senior Writer with Cardus, and publisher of Convivium.

Marketing Death and Alzheimer’s Disease

This article was written and published by Nancy Valko on August 9, 2019.

Nancy Valko
By Nancy Valko


An April, 2019 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association titled “Attitudes Toward Physician-Assisted Death From Individuals Who Learn They Have an Alzheimer Disease Biomarker” found that approximately 20% of cognitively normal older adults who had elevated beta-amyloid — a biomarker that is thought to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease — said they would consider physician-assisted suicide if they experienced a cognitive decline. Not everyone with amyloid plaques goes on to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Although no state with legalized physician-assisted suicide currently allows lethal overdoses for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, Emily Largent, JD, PhD, RN (one of the authors of the study) said that:

“Our research helps gauge interest in aid-in-dying among a population at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease dementia and grappling with what they want the end of life to look like”
And
“Public support for aid-in-dying is growing…Now, we are seeing debates about whether to expand access to aid-in-dying to new populations who aren’t eligible under current laws. That includes people with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.”
Choosing Death

As the US birth rate declines to a 32-year low while people are living longer, now there are more people older than 65 than younger than 5. This has major economic and cultural implications, especially with diseases such Alzheimer’s that usually affect older people.

Back in 2012, I wrote about a Nursing Economic$ Summit “How Can We Afford to Die?” that had an 8 point action plan. One of the points discussed the importance of getting everyone over the age of 18 to sign “living wills” and other advance directives that also included the caveat: “if many patients have advance directives that make positive, cost-conscious systemic change impossible, most of the other efforts discussed as part of our action plan will go for naught”. (Emphasis added).

It should not be a surprise that the latest Oregon physician-assisted suicide report shows that 79.2% of those people dying by assisted suicide were age 65 or older and most reported concerns such as “loss of autonomy” and “burden on family, friends/caregivers”.

With Alzheimer’s disease routinely portrayed as the worst case scenario at the end of life for a person (and their family), there are now programs to “help” people plan their own end of life care.

Such programs include Death Cafes where “people drink tea, eat cake and discuss death” and the Conversation Project that is “dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care”. The Conversation Project was co-founded by journalist Ellen Goodman after years of caring for her mother, who had Alzheimer’s.

Compassion and Choices (the former Hemlock Society) is the largest and best funded organization working for decades to change laws and attitudes about assisted suicide and other deliberate death options. Compassion and Choices now has a contract rider for people in assisted living facilities that:

“will respect Resident’s end-of-life choices and will not delay, interfere with nor impede any lawful option of treatment or nontreatment freely chosen by Resident or Resident’s authorized healthcare proxy or similar representative, including any of the following end-of-life options” which include:

“Forgoing or directing the withdrawal of life-prolonging treatments

Aggressive pain and/or symptom management, including palliative sedation,

Voluntary refusal of food and fluids with palliative care if needed.
Any other option not specifically prohibited by the law of the state in which Facility is located.” (Emphasis added)

Conclusion

I have both a professional and personal interest in Alzheimer’s disease.

Having taken care of a mother with Alzheimer’s until her death, I treasure many of the moments I had with her. It is possible to both begin the eventual mourning and still appreciate the special moments that indeed do come. My mom was a very high-strung woman who constantly worried about everything. The Alzheimer’s calmed her down somewhat and especially blunted her anxiety about the presence of a tracheotomy for her thyroid cancer.

One of my favorite memories is sitting on a couch with my mom on one side and my then 2 year-old daughter on the other. Sesame Street was on and I noticed that both Mom and my daughter had exactly the same expression of delight while watching the show. A friend thought that was sad but I found it both sweet and profound that their mental capacities had intersected: One in decline, one in ascension. Perception is everything.

Also, I often took care of Alzheimer’s patients as a nurse and I enjoyed these patients while most of my colleagues just groaned. Even though such patients can be difficult at times, I found that there is usually a funny, sweet person in there who must be cared for with patience and sensitivity. I found taking care of people with Alzheimer’s very rewarding.

And although I might be at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease myself because of my mother, I won’t be taking a test for biomarkers to try to predict the future.

Instead, I will spend my time living the best life I can and hopefully helping others. I believe that life is too precious to spend time worrying about things that might happen.

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