Thursday, May 21, 2015

Care Not Killing Scotland presents petition rejecting assisted suicide bill

Alex Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Scottish media have reported that the Care Not Killing Alliance presented a petition with 15,300 signatures opposing the assisted suicide bill. The assisted suicide bill is scheduled to go to a vote next Wednesday in the Scottish parliament.

Last month the Scottish government health committee concluded that the assisted suicide bill contained "significant flaws" with the majority of the health committee opposed to the "general principles" of the bill. The committee stated that the assisted suicide bill lacked clarity in language and undermined suicide prevention efforts.

Dr Gordon Macdonald
According to The Extra:
Dr Gordon Macdonald, convenor of Care Not Killing, the campaign group opposed to assisted suicide, said he expected the Bill to be defeated when it is debated and voted on next week. 
Speaking as he handed over the group's petition, he said: "The Bill is wrong in principle, but it's also wrong in a lot of the detail, and I think that has become clear from a couple of the committees that have scrutinised it that that's the case. 
"We would argue that it should be rejected on a point of principle, but even for those who might be minded to support the principle, they should still vote against it because this Bill is so badly written." 
He added: "We have got a fairly good idea of what the Parliament thinks about this Bill and we would expect that it will be defeated next Wednesday."
The assisted suicide bill in Scotland will likely be defeated next Wednesday.

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Compassionate Community Care protect the right of a woman to receive medical care.

Alex Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


We won a case and we protected the rights a woman to receive medical treatment without going to trial.

Two weeks ago, I received a phone call from a woman (niece) who is the legal Power of Attorney for her Aunt. The Aunt was in the hospital.

The niece needed advise and support after a doctor placed a DNR order and the hospital refused to provide oxygen assistance for her Aunt. The doctor and the hospital did not consult the niece who is the legal Power of Attorney. 

The niece said that the doctor claimed that her Aunt (who had been considered incompetent) agreed to have treatment withdrawn even though her Aunt had clearly stated in the past that she wanted medical treatment and did not want a DNR.

The niece wanted to know how to protect the rights of her Aunt and her right to fulfill the wishes of her Aunt. 

I advised the niece to hire a competent lawyer, but the niece did not have the financial ability to do so.

What happened.

With the approval of the niece, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Compassionate Community Care contacted the most experienced lawyer in Ontario to handle the case.


The doctor and the hospital brought the case to the Consent and Capacity Board (Board) of Ontario. 

At the pre-trial hearing there was doubt that the Aunt was competent when the doctor said that the Aunt agreed to have treatment stopped. The niece was represented by the experienced lawyer and EPC was paying for the legal costs.

Due to the upcoming Board hearing, the hospital agreed to provide treatment for the Aunt until the Board made a decision. Now that the Aunt was receiving medical treatment, she began to recover. 

At the same time Compassionate Community Care (CCC) maintained contact and support and helped the niece prepare for the Board hearing.

Yesterday, the Aunt had improved to the point where she was assessed as mentally competent. After being questioned, with lawyers present, it was determined that the Aunt wanted to receive medical treatment, that the niece was acting properly on her behalf, and the Aunt wanted her niece to continue as her Power of Attorney for Personal Care.

We won the case, we protected the right of the Aunt to receive medical treatment, and we upheld the right of the niece to make medical care decisions on behalf of the Aunt (if the Aunt becomes incompetent) without having to go to trial.

The donations that we have received, so far, are not sufficient to pay for the legal expenses. Please donate to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

EPC sells the Life Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care for $25 to protect your rights. Order the Life Protecting Power of Attorney at: 1-877-439-3348 or info@epcc.ca.

The Life Protecting Power of Attorney protects you from euthanasia and assisted suicide, it defines the treatment decisions that you would want, it enables you to appoint someone to be your "Power of Attorney for Personal Care" and it determines how these decisions are to be made.

The Life Protecting Power of Attorney also gives you the piece of mind that the EPC will help you if your expressed wishes are ignored or if a hospital or doctor decides to impose decisions upon you.

EPC works with CCC to offer practical advice and support when you or a loved one is faced with difficult medical decisions, or if you are concerned that a friend or a loved one is being denied basic care or is being euthanized.

Contact CCC at: 1-855-675-8749. 

Selling assisted suicide in California. Wordplay is not enough.

This article was published by the National Review online on May 20, 2015.

Jacqueline Harvey
By Dr Jacqueline Harvey


Suicide is hard to sell. After 23 years of failed attempts to legalize assisted suicide in California, lawmakers and lobbyists may have finally found a strategy that works: They just won’t call it suicide. And on the death certificate, they’ll simply lie.

Entitled the “End of Life Option Act,” California Senate Bill 128 mandates that “the cause of death listed on an individual’s death certificate who uses aid-in-dying medication shall be the underlying terminal illness,” not the lethal dose of poison that actually caused the individual’s death. Advocates of assisted suicide coined the term “aid in dying” and concocted the rationalization that killing oneself does not qualify as suicide if you have a life expectancy of six months or less. Yet it appears that it is not palatable enough to list the preferred misnomer, “aid in dying,” as the cause of death and that the only way lawmakers and lobbyists feel they can sell self-destruction is to falsify public records. 

Suicide, Stigma, and Branding 

In 1992, California became the second state to place the assisted-suicide issue directly before the voters, a year after a similar ballot initiative was defeated in Washington State (but two years before an initiative narrowly passed in Oregon). In these early case studies on the power of wordplay, assisted-suicide proponents found that the word “suicide” was deadly to their cause. People recoil from it. Polls show that support for assisted suicide decreases by as much as 20 points when the word “suicide” is used, even though the substance of the question being asked remains unchanged. When we consider that California Proposition 161 failed by a margin of 54 to 46, it is clear how important semantics are.   

Six previous legislative attempts, from 1994 to 2007, failed. It seems that taking care to control language does not by itself distract people from the truth that a person taking poison to hasten her death is practically the very definition of suicide. Proponents of assisted suicide feel the need to call it anything but suicide and to rationalize it, because suicide is a deeply disturbing act, which we combat through suicide-prevention programs, even going so far as to physically detain persons until they are deemed to be no longer a threat to themselves. We talk suicidal people down from ledges. Assisted suicide asks these vulnerable people if they need a push.

That the End of Life Option Act tries to hide what really happens when a patient chooses to end his own life echoes the shame inherent in suicide. It also highlights the downright sanctimonious double standard in discussions of the physically and the mentally ill. When media applaud physically ill persons like the late Brittany Maynard for choosing self-destruction, or “aid in dying,” this points the finger at persons who take their own lives even though they do not have terminal physical illnesses. To euthanasia advocates, those poor mentally ill people committed suicide, but yet there is no attempt to spare them the posthumous shame of whitewashing their death certificates. The cause of death for these persons will not be listed as “depression” or “schizophrenia” or whatever underlying anguish led them to suicide. 

To be consistent, of course, rationalizations for self-destruction cannot stop with the physically ill. Many argue that, while a terminally ill person may prefer death to continuing to live even a few more months with his physical affliction, they fail to see how those who suffer with mental illnesses may prefer death to living for years with their affliction. In the Netherlands, after many years, legal assisted suicide for the dying has evolved into death on demand, with six out of ten doctors admitting to killing a patient who was simply “tired of living.” California is approaching that slippery slope. 

When Terminal Illnesses Are Not Terminal 

Assisted-suicide advocates insist that a terminal diagnosis with an arbitrarily projected life expectancy of six month is the difference between assisted suicide being sanctioned as “aid in dying” or condemned as suicide. They fail to consider that some patients with terminal illnesses do not die from their diagnosed disease. 

Consider this woman who, nine years ago, was given just two months to live after receiving the same diagnosis as Brittany Maynard. She continues to thrive. Had she chosen “aid in dying” on receiving her diagnosis, would that have been suicide? It certainly would have been a tragic, unnecessary loss of a human life. 

Then there is Jeannette Hall, who was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in 2000. She rejected assisted suicide at the last moment and continues to speak out against assisted suicide. Had she decided differently back then, Jeannette would not have committed suicide, under the terms of Senate Bill 128: She would have died of squamous cell carcinoma, according to her death certificate, not the lethal dose of poison she ingested. This law not only has the potential to take years from people’s lives, it has the potential to pressure them into taking their own lives when they could have beaten their illness. 

California lawmakers think that even “aid in dying” is an undignified cause of death and that it should be kept out of public records. Clearly they recognize the truth of what assisted suicide is and are trying to hide it. Suicide is suicide, no matter how California lawmakers attempt to sanitize and sell it. 

Jacqueline C. Harvey, a public-policy scholar with Euthanasia Prevention Coalition International, has a Ph.D. in public administration and policy and focuses on end-of-life legislation at the state level. Follow her on Twitter @drjcharvey. 

British nurse sentenced to life for killing two patients and poisoning 20 more.

Alex Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A British nurse was sentenced to life in prison (35 years before parole) for killing 2 people and poisoning 20 others.

Victorino Chua, a nurse from Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport UK, was convicted on Tuesday of killing Tracey Arden (44) and Derek Weaver (83) and poisoning 20 more people by intentionally putting lethal amounts of insulin into Saline bags to poison patients. Grant Misell, who was one of the 20 poisoned patients who survived was brain damaged from the insulin poisoning.

Investigators also learned that Chua was not a qualified nurse.

Tracey Arden, Derek Weaver and Grant Misell
According to the Daily Telegraph Justice Oppenshaw stated in sentencing Chau that:

"It is a striking, sinister and truly wicked feature of the case, he did not personally administer contaminated products directly to most of these patients but having left saline bags contaminated with insulin he did not know which nurse would unwittingly collect them and still less to which patient the nurse would then unwittingly administer the poison. 
"It is as if he left it to fate to decide who would be the victim."
The euthanasia lobby claims that legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide decreases the number of deaths without request by physicians. The facts do not back up their claim.

Cases where a doctor or a nurse intentionally cause the death of a patient is not uncommon.

A recent NEJM study on the practice of euthanasia in the Flanders region of Belgium found that 1.7% of all deaths (more than 1000 deaths) were hastened without explicit request in 2013.

The Lancet study analyzing the Netherlands euthanasia experience found that there were 310 hastened deaths without explicit consent in 2010 in the Netherlands.

Several cases have been reported in the media in the past such as the death of David Gray, in which the doctor received a nine month suspended sentence for negligence causing death.

Several medical professionals have intentionally killed patients, such as: Dr. Harold Shipman, Charles Cullen, Dr Virginia Soares de Souza, Aino Nykopp-Koski and Dr. Michael Swango.

It is not safe to give doctors, or others, the right in law to cause death of their patients.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Assisted suicide: How about a few second thoughts?

This article was published in the Anglican Journal on May 19, 2015.

By Adrian Rhodes

Archbishop Fred Hiltz is correct in saying Anglicans should “…exhibit an unwavering resolve to include those most affected by our deliberations.” In response, I am writing my impressions.

I have three chronic disabilities. I have experienced substandard care; misdiagnoses, been accused of being a drug user and have been told I am not doing enough to look after myself. Now there’s another option: instead of caring, a doctor can offer to help me end it all.

I noted with sadness that one commentator was “ecstatic” and another “overjoyed” at the Supreme Court of Canada’s February ruling. I have a database with approximately 318 names of people killed by doctors, nurses, or family because they were ill, dying or disabled. Is that something to be ecstatic about?

Unbearable suffering, not defined, was mentioned. That suffering can be interpreted to the lowest common denominator. What is the minimum suffering that someone has to have in order to demand death?

One article quotes the decision directly: 
“The historic ruling limits doctor assisted suicides to ‘a competent person who clearly consents to the termination of life and has a grievous and irremediable medical condition, including an illness, a disease or disability, that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.’”
Define limit; define competent; define clearly consents; define grievous; define irremediable; define enduring suffering. These are very flexible statements. This is an invitation to include everyone, especially the disabled, in the net of potential death.

In Canada we have instances of elder abuse. We have silent “Do not resuscitate” orders. We have the Rassouli case where doctors decided to arbitrarily end his life support. We have “slow” code blues where it looks like people are trying to save a patient when they are going through the motions. We also have increased cost-cutting and financial pressures on the medical system.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Australian Social Services Minister will never support euthanasia.

Scott Morrison
By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An article published today in the Australian states that Scott Morrison, the federal Social Services Minister in Australia says that he will never support euthanasia.

The Australian reported that Scott Morrison made the statement after Victoria's parliament, last week, voted to have an inquiry into end of life issues and palliative care.

According to the article the inquiry will report back in March 2016.

This is more great news as I leave to speak at the 2015 HOPE International Symposium in Adelaide South Australia.

Why disability rights advocates oppose assisted suicide.

By Diane Coleman, President of the disability rights group - Not Dead Yet.

Diane Coleman
This past Monday, the Syracuse Post Standard published an op-ed I wrote that gives a bit of the history behind the position that so many national disability groups have taken in opposing assisted suicide laws. Our position often surprises people because we are also such strong supporters of self-determination by people with disabilities, but we also oppose discrimination, especially medical discrimination. Here’s part of the discussion:
Those of us with serious disabilities have good reasons to be skeptical about the mantra of choice being used to market assisted suicide in our profit-driven health care system. Anyone could ask for assisted suicide, but the law gives doctors the authority to decide who is eligible. 
Doctors used to exercise near-total control over the lives of people like me with significant disabilities, discouraging parents from raising such children at home, sentencing us to institutions, and imposing their own ideas about what medical procedures would improve our lives. 
Disability groups started paying attention to the problem of doctors making life and death determinations in the 1980s in high-profile court cases involving the right to refuse treatment. One involved Elizabeth Bouvia, a 26-year-old woman with cerebral palsy who had a miscarriage and marriage breakup and wanted a hospital to make her comfortable while she starved herself to death. Other cases involved men on ventilators stuck in nursing facilities like Larry McAfee, who wanted the right to live in apartments or real homes, or else “pull the plug.” The doctors, courts, media and public all viewed these severely disabled individuals as the equivalent of terminally ill. They did not get suicide prevention equal to that offered non-disabled people, nor the right to live in real homes instead of facilities, but courts uniformly granted them a “right to die.” 
Then the 1990s brought Dr. Jack Kevorkian, conducting assisted suicides using lethal drugs, with two thirds of his body count being people who were not terminally ill. As before, the difference between being disabled and dying was not recognized or considered relevant. As before, the difficulties disabled individuals faced in living – community access, getting a job, getting married – were not considered, or worse, accepted as rationales for ending their lives.
To read the whole op-ed, go here. We were told that the piece would also appear in the print edition sometime this past week. And there are a number of comments, including two from me and two from Stephen Drake in response to others.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Harvey Chochinov, Steven Fletcher, Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr Harvey Chochinov

The National Post has published an insightful article by Dr Harvey Chochinov, concerning Steven Fletcher, Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.

Chochinov, who is Canada's Research Chair in Palliative Care begins the article by stating how much he admires Steven Fletcher. He continues by offering an explanation of why the leaders of the disability community oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide. Chochinov states: 

According to a recent IPSOS Reid poll, nearly 70 per cent of Canadians support the availability of death hastening alternatives for people living with significant disabilities that might impair their quality of life. In other words, Canadians find it inconceivable to imagine themselves confined to a body that even remotely approximates the one Fletcher now permanently resides in. While the majority of Canadians admire him, at some level I suspect they are afraid of the abject vulnerably his life proves is possible within the repertoire of human experience. This fear is so deeply seated that they imagine themselves preferring death. For anyone wondering why physician-hastened death makes disabled people feel vulnerable, wonder no more.
Chochinov continues the article by comparing the personal experience of most people with significant disabilities to that of Fletcher:
Human beings are not good at predicting how they will react in circumstances that have yet to unfold. While Fletcher argues that death should sometimes trump disability, studies of people who become disabled due to spinal injuries, head trauma or strokes, offer a strikingly different perspective. Just under 10 per cent of these patients become suicidal and the majority relinquish their wish to die within a year or two. In his biography, What Do You Do If You Don’t Die?, Fletcher recounts suicidal thoughts that lingered long after his catastrophic accident. He says that had doctor-assisted suicide been an option after his 1996 car accident, he would have considered signing up and checking out. Thankfully it was not. His recovery took determination and strength, but such is the stuff that Steven Fletcher is made of. It also took the support of family and friends, the unwavering commitment of medical professionals and it took time.
Chochinov then explains how legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide will change medicine:
Those of us working in healthcare understand that life-altering illness, trauma or anticipation of death can sometimes sap will to live. In those instances, health-care providers are called upon to commit time; time to manage distress, provide unwavering support and to assuage fear that patients might be abandoned to their hopelessness and despair. That is the essence of how medicine has traditionally responded to suffering. Stopping time by way of arranging the patient’s death has never been part of that response. In light of the decision by the Supreme Court, we must now contemplate Canada’s future euthanologists. ...
Chochinov continued by recounting his responses to Fletcher at a recent debate in Ottawa:
Fletcher said he did not want to die drowning in his phlegm and in pain. I assured him, on behalf of Canada’s palliative care community, that we would not let that happen. He said that he did not want to be reliant on machines to keep him alive. I told him that competent Canadians, under our current laws, are entitled to refuse or discontinue treatment, including life-sustaining measures. He described autonomy as a core Canadian value. I reminded him that autonomy has its limits, particularly when it causes others to feel more vulnerable and implicates the physician’s role in response to suffering.
Chochinov concludes by quoting from that same recent debate with Fletcher:

Spousal homicide: another reason why euthanasia and assisted suicide must be prohibited.

Alex Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The recent case of an elderly man who plead guilty to killing his wife is an example of why assisted suicide must be prohibited.

Robert Edgar (83) was sentenced to 10 years for second degree murder after admitting to smothering to death Zdenko Sekora (79), his wife of 32 years.

An Ottawa Citizen article reported that Teresa Sernets, his daughter-in-law, was afraid of Edgar and was upset that she didn't warn her mother. The article reported:

Tereza Sernets, said she had been afraid of her stepfather, Robert Edgar, since she met him when she was 19 years old. He often chased her and taunted her, she told court. 
“How can I continue living happily when I couldn’t protect her, didn’t warn her?” Sernets said. “Why didn’t I share my fear?”
There have been many cases of spousal homicide where the perpetrator claimed that the act was an assisted suicide or euthanasia/"mercy killing."

Last year, in Montecello New York, Andrew Moore claimed that he strangled to death his mother, Margaret Regalia, as part of an assisted suicide pact.

In 2010 I wrote an article titled: Homicide or "Mercy Killing" in response to another spousal homicide case in New York.

Dutch court approves family assisted suicide.

This article was originally published on May 13 by Wesley Smith on his blog.
Wesley Smith

By Wesley Smith

Any media story about Dutch euthanasia is generally accompanied by the blithe and false assurance of medicalized killing being governed by “strict guidelines.” What a joke, given that death doctors kill disabled babies in their cribs, the elderly “tired of life” and the mentally ill, along with the dying and disabled. 

One of the guidelines that has actually been enforced is the requirement that doctors do the deed and be present for the homicide/suicide.  

But euthanasia activists always want more. In recent years, there has been political agitation to allow families to help kill their relatives. And now a court has apparently okeyed the practice. From the New York Times story
A Dutch appeals court has cleared a man of any criminal responsibility for helping his 99 ­year ­old mother take her own life — a case that aimed to create precedents for assisting suicide in a country where euthanasia already is legal under certain circumstances.  
Judges in Arnhem said Albert Heringa should not be prosecuted for helping his mother die in 2008. They said Wednesday he had to make a decision between obeying the law against assisting suicide and his “unwritten moral duty” to help his mother achieve her wish for “a painless, peaceful and dignified death.” 
Oh, and here’s the mandatory baloney media assurance about strict guidelines: 
While euthanasia has been legal in the Netherlands for years if carried out under strict conditions by a physician, assisted suicide by a friend or relative of the person who wants to die remains illegal.  
Media malpractice aside, this is precisely how doctor-administered death started in the Netherlands–with a court ruling allowing a doctor to disobey the law. 

As I always say: The culture of death is never satiated, it never says “enough.”