Friday, July 23, 2021

Netherlands man made money selling lethal suicide powder.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Eindhoven Netherlands
A few days ago I reported that a man was arrested for assisting multiple suicides in Eindhoven Netherlands. Today the NL Times has reported that the Eindhoven man sold suicide powder to 6 people who died. 

The NL Times story reported:

"The suspect sold the drug from November 2018 to June 2021," the OM alleged in a statement. "The criminal investigation started after the death of a woman from Best in May 2021." the OM said in a statement. They found the woman had a "suspicious substance" with her when she died, and they also examined data she had stored on devices.

The circumstances led investigators to the Eindhoven man, who prosecutors said sold the lethal powder along with a prescription drug that would reduce the urge to vomit, the OM continued. He may have sold the one or both medications to "hundreds" of people, the OM said in court, according to RTL Nieuws.
Ximena Kool died in January 2018
The NL Times reported that a 19-year-old woman died from taking the suicide powder.
A 19-year-old woman from Uden died in February 2018 from using the powder. At the time, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said he found it "very worrisome" that the powder was available for purchase. The OM launched an investigation into that case, in part to determine if Cooperatie Laatste Wil helped her obtain the powder. The organization promotes "assisted suicide and self-euthanasia without the intervention of doctors," the group said.

S. was involved with that organization, the OM said in court, according to RTL Nieuws. The OM did not say if the Uden woman's death was part of its case against S. The town of Uden is about a 30-minute drive from Eindhoven and Best.
The attorney for the families commented on the profit made by selling the suicide powder
Attorney Sébas Diekstra said he was horrified that someone could profit by aiding people to kill themselves. He is representing the families of two young women who acquired the powder in 2020, and died soon after. It was not yet known if they bought the powder from the Eindhoven man.

"We understand that it is now being investigated further whether it was this suspect who provided the poisonous and inhumane drug with which these young women were able to end their lives," Diekstra said in a statement sent to RTL Nieuws.
We will continue to follow this story.

Previous articles on similar topic:

Public Prosecutor drops investigation into Dutch assisted suicide group supplying 'suicide powder' in teen's death. (Link).
Dutch prosecutor investigating assisted suicide group after 19-year-old dies. (Link).

Eight questions about the New South Wales 'Assisted Dying' Bill

This article was published by Mercatornet on July 23, 2021

Michael Cook
By Michael Cook

NSW MP Alex Greenwich is circulating a draft bill which would legalise what his supporters call “assisted dying” and what his opponents call assisted suicide and euthanasia. He believes that there is strong support for change in the state Parliament now that “assisted dying” laws have passed in Victoria, Western Australia, and Tasmania. In Queensland a change will come soon.

But even a quick look at Mr Greenwich’s bill reveals that it is full of holes. Here are eight questions that need answers before MPs could possibly vote for it.

Why will doctors be forced to lie when they fill out death certificates?

The draft bill states very clearly: “The medical practitioner must not include a reference to voluntary assisted dying in the cause of death certificate for the person.” In other words, they are required, under law, to falsify the death certificate. If a patient suffering from cancer died after being hit by a truck, would you record the cause of death as “cancer”? If a patient with both Covid and a toothache dies, would you record the death as “toothache”?

Not only will this distort health statistics, one of the principal reasons for death certificates, but it bakes a lack of transparency into the process of “assisted dying”.

How many are going to die?

Like the legislation in Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, the bill proposed by Alex Greenwich for New South Wales is modelled on Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act. “Assisted dying” deaths in Oregon have grown very slowly, from 16 in 1998 to 245 in 2020. Supporters of “assisted dying” in NSW believe that only a few people will take advantage of the law.

But from the time “assisted dying” became legal in Victoria on June 19, 2019 until December 31, 2020, 224 people died. It took more than 20 years for deaths in Oregon to rise to that level. For some reason, “assisted dying” is more popular in Australia, perhaps because euthanasia is included as an option.

Perhaps a better comparison is to the province of Quebec, which has about the same population as NSW – 8 million. From legalisation in 2016 to 2020, there were 6,453 deaths. In 2020, 2,268 people died. Will this be repeated in NSW?

The provisions for gathering statistics are crap. What is Mr Greenwich going to do about it?

In Oregon there have been well-founded complaints about a dearth of information. In Oregon’s figures for 2020, in more than half the cases, complications with dying were “unknown”. In about half the cases, the times elapsed between ingestion and unconsciousness and between ingestion and death are “unknown”. You would expect that a bill written 25 years later would improve on Oregon’s deficiencies. This is no small matter: what isn’t measured can’t be managed.

The proposed NSW bill does not fill these gaps. Doctors are required to gather some of this information if they are present – but, based on the Victorian experience, doctors will only be present in about one in five cases. In any case, the proposed Voluntary Assisted Dying Board is not required to publish even this meagre information in its annual report.

Again, lack of transparency is baked into Greenwich’s bill. Voters in NSW will be worse informed about how people die through “assisted dying” than voters in Oregon – even though they can draw on a quarter-century of experience.

Isn’t it true that residential facilities will be forced to host “assisted dying”?

Many aged-care facilities are run by religious groups which object to cooperating with “assisted dying”. They see their job as caring for people, not killing them. And Mr Greenwich seems to accommodate them. The bill provides that “A health care establishment or residential facility may decide that it will not provide services relating to voluntary assisted dying at the establishment or facility.”

But this is smoke and mirrors. What the bill says is that the facility cannot be forced to provide “assisted dying”. But if a resident requests it, the facility must not stop people from entering to advise them of their options and to administer lethal medications. Section 97 states very clearly that the facility must “allow reasonable access” and may not “hinder access” to doctors and witness when the appointment for the death is set.

The same draconian requirements forced a palliative care hospice in British Columbia to close. Its staff and its residents wanted to have an environment where “assisted dying” was not an option. The government insisted and shut it down.

It was tragic. “This is about the B.C. government destroying a sanctuary for dying patients who want the choice to stay in a palliative care facility where [assisted dying] is not offered,” said the chair. Will NSW hospices which object to “assisted dying” be forced to close their doors?

How can we be sure that people will die quickly and painlessly?

That’s the promise of “assisted dying”, isn’t it: a quick, controlled, and painless death? But in Oregon, they know better.

Its 2020 annual report on its Death with Dignity Act covers the 23 years of the Act’s operation, from 1998 to 2020. In that time 1,905 deaths were reported.

In a substantial number of cases there were complications: 33 people had difficulty in ingesting the lethal drugs or regurgitated them; 3 had a seizure; and 16 had “other” difficulties. In 8 cases, the patient “regained consciousness”. It’s hard to imagine how horrific it must have been for a person who expected to die peacefully – but suddenly found herself alive, awake … and possibly in great pain.

The interval from ingestion of lethal drugs to unconsciousness has been as long as four hours in Oregon – and that was in 2017. The time from ingestion to death has been as long as 104 hours (4 days and 8 hours). In 2020 one person took 8 hours to die.

It’s a huge fudge to promise people a no-fuss death. Is that why the bill gathers so little information?

No one is required to witness self-administered death. How can we be sure that there has been no physical or psychological pressure?

People may choose to die in two ways in this bill: self-administration or practitioner administration. No one is required to be present when a person self-administers the poison. How can we be sure that an impatient relative did not browbeat them to hurry the inheritance along if they haven’t died on time –“within a period of 6 months”?

How can we allow people who are seriously depressed to die?

The bill says that if a person is depressed or showing signs of dementia, a doctor must refer them to someone with professional expertise, such as a clinical psychologist, a neurologist or a geriatrician to see if they have decision-making capacity.

But a seriously depressed person, unlike a demented person, could often pass that test. In Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands, for instance, psychiatrists argue that depression should not disqualify some from seeking “assisted dying” because it does not necessarily rob a person of their autonomy. Even if this were true, depression is hard to diagnose and not predictable. A person might recover enough to want to live.

In any case, the experience in Oregon is that referral is ineffective. According to research published in a leading medical journal, the BMJ, one in six people who died under Oregon’s law had clinical depression. Last year, only 3 out of 245 of those who died in Oregon had been referred by the prescribing doctor for a psychiatric evaluation.

Is the ‘slippery slope’ really a myth?

Supporters of “assisted dying” claim that dire predictions about abuses have not eventuated in jurisdictions where it has been legalized. That’s not true, but in any case, the slippery slope is not about abuses; it’s about gradual changes in the law.

In Canada, where “assisted dying” has been legal for a mere five years, there have already been significant changes to allow people to allow people with chronic but not terminal conditions to be euthanised. Doctors are exploiting the law to combine euthanasia with organ donation.

“The law you enact is the law you get” is a great slogan for supporters, but it’s just a slogan. Laws are amended by Parliament and laws are interpreted by judges. They change. Will a “Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021” survive legal challenges by people who want to access “assisted dying” even if they are mentally ill? Even if they are not adults? Even if they are not mentally competent at the time of their death?

Lawyers will argue that some of the vaunted safeguards are arbitrary, discriminatory, and harmful. That is what has happened in Canada and there is little doubt that it will happen here.

Let me live a happy life with motor neurone disease, no to assisted suicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Dr Peter Scott Morgan
Dr Peter Scott-Morgan, who is a tech pioneer, wrote an excellent opinion article that was published by inews in the UK titled: Pioneering tech lets me live a happy life with motor neurone disease (MND) – I’m wary of assisted dying law changes. Scott Morgan examines the issue of assisted suicide from a personal point of view and as a person who has researched the issue.

Scott-Morgan begins his article by acknowledging that when he heard about the assisted suicide debate, he intuitively supported it, thinking it was reasonable, compassionate and humane. But then he changed his mind:
But as a scientist, I’m trained to question even the obvious. So, I set about researching the bill’s pivotal assumption that it’s possible to ensure informed choice without pressure. And I focused on motor neurone disease (MND) – a cruel, incurable disease often associated with assisted suicide.

Scott Morgan writes that he has spent 30 years analysing complex social systems to predict unexpected consequences and as a person with (MND) who was told he had 6 months to live in 2017, he understands the issue of assisted suicide. He than writes that his research has uncovered three things.

1. His overall quality of life is exceptional. Scott Morgan writes:

Already, my overall quality of life is exceptional. I have love. I have fun. I have hope. I have dreams. I have purpose. And I’ve found the trick to enjoying total paralysis is simply to imagine you’re in a luxury spa hotel and the maître d insisted you put your feet up, and don’t move a muscle.

That isn’t true for everyone with life-limiting conditions, but it should be. It would take a tiny proportion of the NHS budget to ensure people get the support that they need, as well as the help that allows them to live in a way that is rich and fulfilling.
2. It’s impossible to make the choice to live – let alone thrive – if you don’t know about and have access to life-saving procedures. Scott Morgan explains:
Mine is only one instance of rewriting the future of extreme disability. How many doctors tell their newly-diagnosed MND patients that there’s such hope? It’s impossible to make the choice to live – let alone thrive – if you don’t know about and have access to life-saving procedures.

Let’s give an example. To survive with MND long-term, you typically need an operation called a tracheostomy that lets a portable device breathe for you, as well as a cough-assist machine that clears your lungs of phlegm.

In the UK, decisions on whether these options are available to you if you have MND are made by local NHS trusts, not nationally. As a result, some who desperately want to live with MND aren’t able to have the operation – because of where they live. Tracheostomies are commonplace in some health care systems such as Japan. It is rarely used in United Kingdom where it is reported that approximately one per cent of those with MND have one.
3. It’s impossible to ensure people make their decision without pressure when the current system is so unrelentingly negative. Scott Morgan writes:
Just do an internet search of “MND” and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll be slapped in the face by a two-year average life expectancy, heart-breaking descriptions of how the “cruellest disease” translates into “intolerable suffering” – for you, for everyone you love – and a level of negativity that made even me doubt scientific logic.

Avoiding coercion requires people to believe there are serious alternatives. Otherwise, it’s a sham ritual of decision making whose outcome was never really in question.
So Scott Morgan concludes:
So, what do I now feel about the Bill to change the law on assisted suicide? Anguish that some with extreme disability may unnecessarily kill themselves in anticipation of what they believe will inevitably happen and upset at the injustice of protecting an individual’s human right to choose to die, without putting the same effort, education and funding, into their right to thrive.

...Perhaps unknown to its designers (of the assisted suicide bill), these proposals risk unnecessarily culling the very people who would cost the most to keep alive and help thrive. That may be economically convenient. But it’s also cruel and uncivilised.

We’re better than that.
Peter Scott Morgan proves that legalizing assisted suicide does not provide equality or a death with dignity but rather reduces equality and eliminates real choice.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Great news: Dying with Dignity Bill is dead in Ireland

A message from Hope Ireland

We are very pleased to inform you, our supporters, that the Oireachtas Committee on Justice has refused to progress the Dying with Dignity Bill any further, and recommended a special parliamentary committee examine the whole area of "Assisted Dying". This is now the second time that the DWD Bill has failed to progress to completion through the Dáil - first in 2015, and now again in 2021.

This is a significant victory. It means euthanasia/assisted suicide proponents will be back to square one - and their path is less clear now: they could either reintroduce a "narrower" version of the Bill, or else wait for the Government to set up a special committee to examine the issue. We welcome the Joint Committee on Justice report.

It is interesting to note that the Justice Committee already produced a report on the whole issue of "Assisted Dying" in 2018 - and concluded that it was "not in a position to recommend legislative change at this time."

The DWD Bill 2020 passed Second Stage last October, and since then the Justice Committee had been engaged in "pre-legislative scrutiny" on the Bill, in order to determine whether it should proceed to committee stage. Today's report is clear that the Bill will not be progressing any further.

We have attached the Committee's report on the Bill (here) - it is well worth reading to get a flavour of what were the main arguments in the submissions on both sides of the debate. The report is helpfully divided into legal/personal/medical/religious submissions etc.

Many thanks for all the support over the past number of months. There is so much more I could say, but for now, take a moment to be thankful - we have a victory!

For those who are writing about this victory, the following are helpful points to note:
• A majority of individual medical submissions were against the Bill. Nearly all medical stakeholders were against the Bill.

• The report noted that: "A point that was repeated frequently throughout submissions in all categories was concern that this Bill could result in abuse of the sick and vulnerable, who may perceive themselves to be a burden on their family and feel pressured into opting for assisted dying."

• The report noted that: "In some submissions, elderly people expressed their personal dismay, as they felt that after working hard all of their lives, the prospect of this Bill being passed made them feel as if society was demonstrating that they were of little value"

• Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission criticised the lack of "safeguards" in the Bill (here).

• Over 2500 healthcare professionals signed public letter rejecting the Bill (here).

• Experts in palliative medicine strongly criticised the Bill in principle and in practice (here).

• Disability rights advocates strongly criticised the Bill in the Irish Times (Conor Lynott here and Kathleen Rogers here).

• Euthanasia laws are not safe for people who are at a vulnerable time in their lives.
Again, thank you so much for your support over the past year, and we will keep you updated as developments progress. But for now, take a moment to be thankful - and please use our victory today to help generate a bit of momentum, especially in the UK.

Hope Ireland
Promoting positive care pathways at the end of life

hopeireland.org
www.twitter.com/hopeire1
www.facebook.com/hopeirl/

Legalizing Euthanasia: What we can learn from the Netherlands

Alex Schadenberg
Exeuctive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Leo van Doesburg with The European Christian Political Movement (EPCM) and Diederik van Dijk with the NPV-Zorg voor het leven (NPV-Care for life) published a thorough article titled: Legalizing Euthanasia: What we can learn from the Netherlands, in response to the growing number of countries debating euthanasia and the growing practise of euthanasia in the Netherlands. (Link to the article).

Since the article is 20 pages, I have published the conclusion and I encourage people to read the full text (Link to the article).

Conclusion:

When the euthanasia law was adopted in 2001, it focused on persons who were terminally ill. As this publication showed, once the law was introduced, the grounds for performing euthanasia in the Netherlands have been broadened, becoming available to more and more groups of people.The arguments used were: ‘compassion’ (“it is better for him/her to die than to suffer any longer”) and ‘personal autonomy’ (“death is a personal matter; if someone wants to die, they should be helped”). This situation is, in our view, threatening because: 
1. Legal euthanasia undermines the idea that killing another person is bad. The legalization of the act of killing, shows a kind of justification. Particularly for those who are not able to make decisions for themselves, the following question needs to be answered: can we make life or death decisions and judge about the value of life of another human being? 
2. Legal euthanasia undermines the equality of people. Some groups are considered ‘suitable’ for euthanasia, while for other groups, we invest money in suicide prevention. What is the message given to the groups that are seen as ‘suitable’? For example, the discussions about the ‘completed life ending’ may indirectly emotionally press the elderly think about the possibility to terminate their lives. 
3. Vulnerable people become even more vulnerable. Having euthanasia as an option can lead people to harbor ideas of death which might be fanned further by the family, causing (indirect) pressure. Applying euthanasia for incapacitated people ignores the right of life for everyone. It also disregards the prerequisite ‘on request’, which initially was the cornerstone of the Dutch euthanasia law. The role of a government is to protect the vulnerable and to seek solutions to improve the quality of life of those who suffer, not to end their life. 
4. The ‘slippery slope’ has become a reality in the Netherlands. The reasoning “it is not fair that euthanasia is available for that group, but not for another group” is often mentioned (e.g., recently in the discussion for children aged 1-12). This shows that once legalized, euthanasia is difficult to be contained to one group of people. Numbers of euthanasia cases are growing every year, also for ‘special’ groups, like people with dementia or psychiatric disorders. 
5. Euthanasia has become normalized in Dutch culture. 99% of the Dutch citizens know what ‘euthanasia’ is, while only 53% know what ‘palliative care’ is.This has far-reaching consequences: 11% of Dutch citizens are afraid to get euthanasia in a secret way.
As a conclusion, we see that, although human dignity arguments were used to legalize or broaden the provision of euthanasia, in reality the human dignity of the vulnerable is in danger. Death is the opposite of life. We should not use the argument for dignity to assist people in dying, but focus on helping people to live. Therefore, it is imperative to invest in initiatives which alleviate loneliness in the elderly or isolated people and to fund good palliative care. It is our duty to protect the vulnerable among us against the dangers stemming from the expansion of access to euthanasia.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Netherlands man arrested for assisting multiple suicides.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The NL Times has reported that a 28 year old man from Eindhoven Netherlands was charged with assisting multiple suicides with lethal drugs. According to the article:
Prosecutors announced the arrest of an Eindhoven man accused of providing fatal doses of a potentially lethal drug to people who wanted to commit suicide. It was not revealed how many people died as a result. The public prosecutor (OM) said the suspect was paid an undisclosed sum for his involvement.

After giving the lethal drugs, the suspect allegedly "provided them with a drug that reduces the urge to vomit, which can only be obtained through doctors and pharmacists." The OM noted that the suspect is neither by profession, and thus he violated the law prohibiting assisting in someone's suicide, and the law regarding provision of prescription medication.

The article does not indicate whether the man was involved with the euthanasia lobby but the fact that he provided a drug to prevent vomiting indicates that he had some training and experience with euthanasia drugs.

I will continue to follow this case.

 

Elderly California woman charged with murder. Friend claims it was an assisted suicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Sandra Bonertz
Colin Kalmbacher reported for Law & Crime on July 14, 2021 that Sandra Jeannett Bonertz was charged with murder in the first degree in the death of her room mate, Winnie, in Bakersfield California.

According the report Bonertz confessed to the crime and then pleaded not guilty at the arraignment a few days later. Kalmbacher reported:
According to the Bakersfield Police Department, officers responded to a call on July 11th and found the roommate with major injuries lying dead on the floor. Bonertz allegedly confessed to the crime, believed to have occurred the night before, as police arrived and had a gun in her hand–which police say was surrendered without incident.
To complicate the case, Kalmbacher reported that Cheryl Sperry, a friend of Bonertz told ABC affiliate KBAK that:
I do believe that Winnie begged her to kill her. She had said that on many occasions in front of me if I ever can’t walk please kill me. And Winnie was in a car accident a month ago, Winnie and Sandy both, and Winnie broke her ankle and she was unable to walk and she was unable to get into a doctor. It takes three months to get into a doctor these days and she was completely miserable. I talked to them Thursday, she was depressed and distraught, just down in the dumps. I don’t believe there was any malice or anything like that.
Legalizing assisted suicide changes attitudes towards killing people. Bonertz may have killed Winnie and is now seeking a lesser or no sentence by claiming that the death was an assisted suicide.

Whether or not Winnie begged to be killed, if Bonertz killed her it is still murder.

I will continue to follow this case. The next hearing is scheduled for August 9, 2021.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Assisted suicide advocate discusses expanding (in the US) to euthanasia and organ donation by euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

I don't usually write about pro-euthanasia books but Katie Englehart recently published book titled: The Inevitable - Dispatches on the Right to Die (St. Martin’s Press, 2021), merits an exception 

Englehart may be promoting her book by discussing provactive issues but it represents the mainstream of the euthanasia lobby and her writing should be seen as a wake-up call.

We have known for many years that the assisted suicide lobby limited expansion of assisted suicide in the where it is legal in the United States order to claim that their is no slippery slope. So it is not surprising that Englehart questions the "limits" set by assisted suicide laws in the United States. 

She writes the following in her Good Death Society Blog:

Away from the public eye, new questions about the practice of physician-assisted death continue to emerge. Should doctors actively present the option of assisted death to their dying patients – because, of course, doctors are meant to present us with all of our options? Or should they wait until their patients ask about it, lest the simple act of providing information be interpreted as an endorsement or a sign that the doctor has lost hope?
The real question she is asking is should physicians promote assisted suicide to people who they believe are better off dead. She then asks:
Can assisted death ever be something that hospitals advertise? If a doctor refuses to assist in death, should he/she have to refer an inquiring patient to a doctor who will? Is physician-assisted death better carried out by a small number of specialized physicians, or by family doctors? The specialists would quickly become skillful, but the family doctors are more accessible. Also, specialization might ghettoize assisted death – and make it seem like something separate from normal end-of-life medicine.
Forcing doctors to refer, advertising death and creating killing specialists (which already exists) will normalize killing. 

She continues:
should aid-in-dying patients be allowed to donate organs? Of course, that would require that the patients die in a hospital, via injection, to preserve the health of the vital parts – so we would need to change the death-with-dignity rules.
Her point is clear, if doctors can euthanize their patients then organ donation becomes an option. She then follows that up with euthanasia by organ donation:
While we’re at it, why not go one step further to really maximize the chances of successful transplant: Allow organs to be removed from patients who are under anesthesia but still living, in such a way that the surgery itself would kill them? No doubt, some charitable patients would want the option of “death by donation,” as researchers call it. The question is whether the state should allow it: whether death by donation would amount to an odious ethical breach or would just be an efficient way to make the best of a bad situation – for the good of us all.
Englehart is not asking a question, but is offering a proposal. Englehart continues:
As they are, existing Oregon-style DWD laws are defective. They grant rights to some patients but not to others, in ways that can seem arbitrary and unwise. A breast cancer patient who can swallow lethal medication might have the right to end her life with a doctor’s help, but not a brain cancer patient whose tumor has robbed him of his ability to move and to swallow. A person with six months left to live might be declared eligible, but not a chronically ill person in 10 times more pain. Why should someone who is approved to die be made to wait for 15 days, suffering the whole way through? And what do we do about all the people who would rather be dead than have dementia?
Americans who oppose assisted suicide correctly recognized that the Oregon law was only a stepping stone. Assisted suicide leads to euthanasia and homicide by organ donation which will be sold as "a loving and generous act."

Netherlands public prosecutor questions euthanasia rules for people who cannot consent.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Last November I published an article reporting that based on the Netherlands Supreme Court decision in April 2020, concerning the euthanasia death of an incompetent woman with dementia who resisted, that the five regional euthanasia review committee's in the Netherlands agreed to rules to expand euthanasia for people with dementia.

The Dutchnews.nl published an article on July 20, 2021 based on a report in the Trouw news stating that the public prosecutor questions the new euthanasia rules for people with dementia who cannot consent. The article reports that the dispute centres on who has the last word about euthanasia - the courts or the committees - and how are decisions made concerning someone with dementia who can longer ask for euthanasia.

The article reports that the new guidelines state that:

"In giving euthanasia to a patient who is no longer mentally competent as a result of advanced dementia, it is not necesary for the doctor to agree with the patient the time or manner in which euthanasia will be given... (since) this kind of discussion is pointless because such a patient will not understand the subject."
The public prosecution department chief Rinus Otte says this goes too far. Otte told the Trouw that this is not in line with the law and doctors can still face prosecution for murder.

According to the article, Trouw reported that the regional euthanasia review committee's are in talks to revise the code and a new version of the code will be published by the end of the year.

As I have stated before euthanasia for people with dementia justifies non-voluntary euthanasia. If it is lawful to kill someone with dementia who cannot request it, but indicated at some point in the past support for this type of death, then soon it will become cruel to not lethally inject someone with dementia who never asked for it.

This is an important issue since Canada's federal government and the Québec government have both established committee's to discuss the further expansion of euthanasia in Canada

One area being discussed for expansion in Canada is permitting euthanasia for people who are incompetent (dementia) but previously requested it in their advanced directive.

The dispute between the public prosecutor and the regional review committee's will likely cause Netherlands physicians to refuse to do euthanasia for incompetent people with dementia in order to avoid a possible prosecution.

Once euthanasia is legal, there is no limit for its use. Limiting euthanasia to competent people who make a clear request is discrimination for incompetent people who cannot make a request.

The dispute, the paper said, centres on deciding who has the last word about euthanasia – the courts or the committees – and about how far doctors can go to help someone to die who is no longer able to ask for it.

Read more at DutchNews.nl:
The dispute, the paper said, centres on deciding who has the last word about euthanasia – the courts or the committees – and about how far doctors can go to help someone to die who is no longer able to ask for it.

Read more at DutchNews.nl:
The dispute, the paper said, centres on deciding who has the last word about euthanasia – the courts or the committees – and about how far doctors can go to help someone to die who is no longer able to ask for it.

Read more at DutchNews.nl:

Constitutional Challenge Brief Filed in New Jersey Euthanasia Appeal


BELLEVUE, WA, USA, July 20, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/

Attorney Margaret Dore, President of Choice is an Illusion, which has fought against assisted suicide and euthanasia legalization throughout the United States, and internationally, has released the following statement in connection with the filing of a constitutional challenge amicus brief, which seeks to invalidate New Jersey’s Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act. The case, Petro et al v. Grewal, is pending in the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division, A-003837-19.

“‘Aid in dying’ is a euphemism for physician-assisted suicide, assisted suicide and euthanasia. The amicus brief argues that the Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act is stacked against the individual, not limited to people near death and unconstitutional due to the way it was enacted.

“The Act is based on similar acts in Oregon and Washington State. Oregon’s act went into effect in 1997. Washington’s nearly identical act went into effect in 2009.

“All three acts apply to persons with a six month or less life expectancy. Such persons may in fact have years or decades to live.

“A well known example is Jeanette Hall. In 2000, she made a settled decision to use Oregon’s act. Her doctor convinced her to be treated for cancer instead, such that she is alive today, twenty-one years later.

“The New Jersey Constitution protects against the enactment of misleading legislation, which is what occurred here. The Act’s title and findings are misleading with regard to the Act's content, which renders the Act unconstitutional.

“The New Jersey Legislature understood that it was enacting a strictly voluntary law limited to dying people. Per the Act’s title, it was not clear that the Act would legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia.

“Per the Attorney General, the Act applies ‘only to those individuals, both patients and providers, who voluntarily elect to participate in the Act’s provisions.’ As for the trial judge, he was not persuaded that the Act specifically provides for assisted suicide and euthanasia. But the Act is not required to be voluntary. The Act is about assisted suicide and euthanasia.

“The Act's title also uses the phrase, ‘aid in dying,’ which means assisted suicide and euthanasia.

“The Act has no required oversight over administration of the lethal dose. No doctor, not even a witness, is required to be present at the death.

“The drugs used are water and/or alcohol soluble, such that they can be injected into a sleeping or restrained person without consent. Even if the patient struggled, who would know?

"Persons assisting a suicide or engaging in euthanasia can have an agenda. Consider Tami Sawyer, trustee for Thomas Middleton in Oregon where assisted suicide is legal. Two days after his death by assisted suicide, she sold his home and deposited the proceeds into bank accounts for her own benefit.

“Consider also Graham Morant, who was convicted of counseling his wife to kill herself in Australia. His motive: to get the life insurance.

“The New Jersey Act has a formal application process to obtain the lethal dose. Once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, there is no oversight. No witness, not even a doctor is required to be present at the death. If the patient objects or even struggles, who would know?

“Deaths pursuant to the Act, are reported as natural on the death certificate. With this situation, a patient’s heir, who participates in the patient’s death, is allowed to inherit.

“With passage of the Act, New Jersey residents with money, meaning the middle class and above, have been rendered sitting ducks to their heirs and other financial predators. Passage of the Act has created a perfect crime.”

For more detailed information, read Margaret Dore's brief.

Link to the media release (Link).

Margaret Dore
Choice is an Illusion
+1 206-697-1217

Monday, July 19, 2021

Jean Echlin RN: We honour her life. We mourn her death.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


We celebrate the life and mourn the death of Jean Echlin RN MScN, was a past President and founding Vice President of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Jean is a past director of the Hospice of Windsor and was awarded the Dorothy Ley award, in 2005, for excellence in palliative care in Ontario

Jean was an extraordinary woman who I first met through Mark Pickup. Mark is a disability writer and activist who told me, many years ago, that Jean Echlin was the most compassionate woman. After meeting Jean, I had to agree, Jean was the most compassionate and caring woman I have ever known.

When I started to found the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC), I was looking for a few people who would be committed to the cause, who had incredible experience and would be willing to work together. I found those qualities in Dr Barrie deVeber as the founding EPC President and Jean Echin as VP.

Jean was more than just a partner in the cause, she was a speaker, a writer, a leader and a truly compassionate and caring woman. She actually made me feel like I was her son.

Jean believed in caring for people and never killing.

In October 2010, Jean Echlin and Joanne St. Pierre wrote the booklet - Palliative Care Not Euthanasia, as a submission to the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care, an all party committee formed in response to the defeat of euthanasia Bill C-384 by a vote of 228 to 59.

EPC will send you a copy of the booklet Palliative Cre Not Euthanaisa when you make a donation in memory of Jean Echlin (Donation Link).

Jean understood the that the legalization of euthanasia would affect medical professionals. She wrote in October 2008 the following:
Professional health care relationships with doctors, nurses, patients and family members float on a sea of trust. Asking professional health care providers to kill, or give the means to kill, will destroy this trust relationship. I emphatically believe that we have no right to ask our professional care givers to provide us with death. Neither should our health care providers ever feel obligated to comply with this narcissistic request.
In November 2011, Jean wrote about her concerns related to the Carter court case in BC that led to the legalization of euthanasia in Canada. Jean wrote:
With the advent of Carter versus the Attorney General of Canada, Canada's laws prohibiting euthanasia and assisted suicide are being challenged again. This despite the fact that our federal Parliament vetoed Bill C-384 that sought to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia by an overwhelming vote of 228 to 59 in 2010.

If the pro-killing side gets its way, five people on the Supreme Court can overrule Parliament and demand change in the Criminal Code that forbids euthanasia and assisted suicide. What would this scenario do to our democratic process and the rights of a majority of Canadians?

Who would be at risk? You are. So is everyone in this country.
In March 2013, Jean responded to a story of an elderly woman who died by suicide and was being lauded as courageous. Jean wrote:
In February of this year, a national paper printed an extraordinary posthumous letter from a 91 year old woman who died by suicide because she was tired of living. She wanted to end her life with dignity. Though most of the (published) responses thought she was courageous, I disagree. I believe there is more to the issue when anyone contemplates suicide.

Ultimately suicide in the elderly is a failure. We must ask ourselves, is it because pain and suffering were not addressed? Did individuals thinking of suicide, and their families, not have access to help and support? Is it because of societal ambivalence about mental health issues or stigma about the elderly? Is it due to encouragement and even pressure by pro-suicide groups like Dying with Dignity? What is the future of this legacy?

Aging brings challenges. These may include loss of independence, chronic discomfort/ pain, even chronic illness. Do these problems mean our lives are no longer of value?

As someone advanced in years living with chronic pain, and who has been with hundreds of people at the end of their lives, I know that aging is a daily struggle with its own share of joy and hope. I believe advancing in years does not diminish the value of our contributions.
In April 2016, in response to the Bill C-14, the bill that legalized euthanasia in Canada, Jean wrote to the Minister of Justice stating:
How dare we ask our doctors and nurses to put patients to death when a safer option exists. Healthcare providers must never assume the role of killers or refer to another who will provide the "death management." Trust and legal issues will make more problems for our sick and elderly. 
EPC will send you a copy of the booklet Palliative Care Not Euthanasia when you make a donation in memory of Jean Echlin (Donation Link).

Jean Echlin R.N., MScN. was a pioneer in Hospice Palliative Care. In 2005, the Ontario Palliative Care Association (OPCA) recognized her 26 year contribution to hospice palliative care by selecting her for the prestigious "Dorothy Ley Award of Excellence" for her part in "fostering the true spirit of Palliative Care in Ontario." Echlin formerly served on faculty, University of Windsor’s Faculty of Nursing, and was director of nursing at Windsor Regional Hospital’s Metropolitan Campus. As coordinator and clinical nurse specialist, then Executive Director, Jean was instrumental in the development of the Hospice of Windsor & Essex County Inc. which is recognized as exemplary in Canada. In 1988, Jean moved to London, Ontario and established the Palliative Care Consultation Team in the heart of tertiary care at University Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre. She was also recognized as a distinguished public speaker, educator and free-lance writer. Jean was a nurse consultant; former President and founding VP of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition; served on the Advisory Council of the deVeber Institute of Bioethics and Social Research; is a member of the Honour Society of Nursing and member Emeritus of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Disability advocates say Assisted Dying Bill poses significant dangers for disabled people

Press release from the APPG for Dying Well - July 16, 2021

Disability advocates say Meacher’s Bill poses significant dangers for disabled people - Founder of Not Dead Yet UK, Baroness Jane Campbell

Founder of Not Dead Yet UK, Baroness Jane Campbell of Surbiton, leads an organisation of disabled people and individuals with progressive and terminal medical conditions campaigning against a change in the law on assisted suicide. Speaking to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dying Well, Baroness Campbell argued that in countries where assisted suicide has been legalised, disabled individuals who are identified as potential beneficiaries of an assisted death do not receive the equal right to live with dignity and respect. A change in the law, she said, is “far too dangerous” without greater state investment in support for disabled individuals “not only to live or survive, but to thrive”.

Baroness Jane Campbell
Baroness Campbell continued, “We respect, and we understand so well from our own experience, why some individual disabled and terminally ill people want the right for someone to assist them to end their life. But, contrary to popular belief, this is not the general view held by the majority of people with lived experience of progressive medical conditions. They tell me, until such time that disabled and terminally ill people have enough support to thrive with dignity in society, we cannot contemplate a bill that has the opposite effect.”

During the online meeting chaired by Danny Kruger MP and Baroness Campbell, three presenters, all of whom are disabled, questioned whether the proposed assisted dying legislation stands up to public safety standards.

Dr. Miro Griffiths, a Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, discussed the legalisation of assisted suicide in light of the social injustice and marginalisation experienced by disabled people, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. He stated, “My argument is that it is not a safe time to be introducing this bill because of the historical legacy of injustice experienced by disabled people, but also because currently we are going through a pandemic which has exacerbated the marginalisation experienced by disabled people.”

Dr. Peter Scott Morgan, a leading robotics and AI scientist living with late-stage ALS, showcased his avatar which has given him back his ability to speak and express himself. As someone with severe Motor Neuron Disease who was given less than six months to live nearly four years ago, he invited the APPG to question “the apparently self-evident truth that, with an untreatable condition such as late stage Motor Neuron Disease (MND), with someone diagnosed as being within six months of death, there is no reasonable expectation that the patient can not only survive, but thrive, for many years with an increasing quality of life.”

Dr Scott Morgan stated his opposition against the legalisation of assisted dying, referring to “uncertainty between being terminal and simply being disabled, and danger that some with extreme disability may unnecessarily kill themselves in anticipation of what they incorrectly believe will inevitably happen”.

Chair of the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers, Philip Friend, raised further concerns that the Meacher Bill contains inadequate safeguards, opening the door to significant dangers for disabled people. Addressing parliamentarians, he urged, “it is our concern that you should not focus on personal choice or personal morality, but focus on public safety. This has to be the primary consideration in all letters, all legislation. What we want you to do is to help disabled people to thrive, not to die.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The APPG for Dying Well has the support of more than 70 MPs and Peers including: the former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP; disability rights campaigners Baroness Campbell; Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson; and Lord Alton; former Labour Minister Stephen Timms MP; former Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron MP; former BMA president Baroness Hollins and more than 60 other cross-party parliamentarians.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Alistair Thompson Alistair@teambritanniapr.com

Bioethicists Propose Time-Delayed Suicide Implant for Dementia Patients

The following article was published by National Review online on July 16, 2021.

Article: Assisted suicide lobby researchers promote suicide devices for people with dementia (Link).

By Wesley Smith

Bioethicists are looking for ways to eliminate people diagnosed with dementia when they become incapacitated. Belgium and the Netherlands permit advance orders to be euthanized. Another proposal gaining traction in bioethics would force caregivers to starve patients to death.

And here’s a new idea: Writing in the Hastings Center Report — the world’s most prominent bioethics journal — two prominent bioethicists propose the implantation of a time-release suicide device that will cause future death at the time of the patient’s choosing. They call the hypothetical device an “advance directive implant, or ADI” (bioethicists sure love their acronyms). From, “Ending One’s Life in Advance:”

The ADI would require extensive engineering and may not be feasible with current technologies. Still, we suspect it could become feasible in the near future. We imagine the ADI as something like a computerized subdermal implant containing a lethal dose of a medication or combination of medications. Release of these medications would occur rapidly after a predetermined interval or after some specific event had occurred. The ADI would likely require a long-lasting battery, computerized control, and a pump or microfluidic mechanism. . . .

It is crucial that the ADI be easily and immediately removable. After all, even those certain of their wish to obtain it would still like the option of changing their minds, at least prior to the onset of dementia, whether for personal reasons or because an effective treatment for their condition has been developed.
Yeah, good luck with that, guys.

And, of course, the usual sop of safeguards to protect against abuse:
The permissibility of ADIs would, first, depend on reasonable standards of care and preimplantation assessment criteria. One would not want healthy adults with minimal risk of dementia to receive them; one would not want them to be implanted under external pressure, forcibly, or surreptitiously; one would not want them to be implanted in persons whose decision-making capacities are impaired by depression. One possible set of criteria would be those used for physician aid-in-dying in Oregon: that the requestor be an adult; able to make and communicate health care decisions; seen by at least two physicians who concur in the diagnosis, prognosis, and assessment of decision-making capacity; not suffering impaired judgment due to a psychiatric or psychological disorder, not coerced, and informed of alternatives.
I don’t have space to get deeply into it here, but the Oregon safeguards are a joke. If one doctor says no, the suicidal patient can just go doctor shopping. There is no state oversight prior to death, the system relies on doctors’ self-reporting, and there are rarely any referrals to psychologists.

Why engage this supposed “thought experiment” — which is actually much more than that? Here’s a good hint (my emphasis):
Perhaps the greatest advantage of ADIs is that they would reduce the distress that living and dying with dementia imposes on others. This is true in two senses. First, there is the obvious sense that ADIs would tend to shorten the period in which the person living with dementia represents a burden for others. . . . ADIs would also reduce the distress that dementia imposes on others because the device, relatively free of any external input or activity, mostly immune to the judgments, misgivings, and second-guessings of family members, physicians, and friends, would absolve people of many of the burdens of judgment once the patient developed advanced dementia.
In other words, we should let the patient put him or herself out of our misery.

The authors describe the ADI as a means of “getting the better of Alzheimer’s.” No, it is softening the ground for authorizing direct killing of such patients. And no, this proposal isn’t satirical or a form of “what if” musing to start a philosophical salon conversation:
As we said at the outset, whether this consideration of the ADI is understood as a conjecture, as a hypothetical exploration, as a real-life thought experiment, or as a proto-proposal, we think it important to take this seemingly radical idea seriously. We may not currently have the technology to realize it, and perhaps not the social conditions that would allow it to be used without abuse.

It may even be hard to conceive of this idea: “Horrible,” said one friend, “even if I agree with the conclusion.” But we think it is an important idea nevertheless: it makes us see what is so problematic about how we respond to dementia in our current world, forcing some to suffer a future they dread and burdening others with acting for them. No one, really, wants to live with dementia: for most of us, it is bad to lose the memories and cognitive capacities that contribute to who we are and that enable us to do many of the things we care about.
There it is! “No one [they left out the implied “should”] wants to live with dementia.” That’s the dehumanizing message people facing this difficult circumstance constantly hear, stripping them of their intrinsic human equality.

Articles like this — particularly when published in influential journals — are insidious because they normalize the noxious idea that dementia patients’ lives are not worth protecting or living. Instead, we should continually assure those who face this crucible that we love them, want them, and will care for them — no matter what.

And don’t any reader tell me that I don’t know how difficult Alzheimer’s can become. My mother died of the disease, spending the last five months of her life living in my wife’s and my home, with quality hospice care. Was it easy? No! But so damn what? Part of the essence of true humanity is caring and loving each other — no matter how taxing and emotionally devastating — especially when a person is so ill or injured they can’t take care of themselves. That’s the best part of who we should be.

The movement to eliminate suffering by eliminating the sufferer is becoming a cult.