Friday, August 12, 2022

‘Disturbing’: Experts troubled by Canada’s euthanasia laws

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Maria Cheng published an investigative report for the Associated Press on August 11 titled: 'Disturbing': Experts troubled by Canada's euthanasia laws.

Cheng interviews the family of Alan Nichols, Marie-Claude Landry, Tim Stainton, Theresia Degener, Trudo Lemmens, Heidi Janz, and others.

Cheng opens the article by writing about the euthanasia death of Alan Nichols. Cheng writes:
Alan Nichols had a history of depression and other medical issues, but none were life-threatening. When the 61-year-old Canadian was hospitalized in June 2019 over fears he might be suicidal, he asked his brother to “bust him out” as soon as possible.

Within a month, Nichols submitted a request to be euthanized and he was killed, despite concerns raised by his family and a nurse practitioner.

His application for euthanasia listed only one health condition as the reason for his request to die: hearing loss.

Nichols’ family reported the case to police and health authorities, arguing that he lacked the capacity to understand the process and was not suffering unbearably — among the requirements for euthanasia. They say he was not taking needed medication, wasn’t using the cochlear implant that helped him hear, and that hospital staffers improperly helped him request euthanasia.

“Alan was basically put to death,” his brother Gary Nichols said.
Alan & Gary Nichols
Trudo Lemmens, the chair of health law and policy at the University of Toronto, referred to the Nichols case as disturbing. Lemmen states:
“This case demonstrates that the rules are too loose and that even when people die who shouldn’t have died, there is almost no way to hold the doctors and hospitals responsible,”
Marie-Claude Landry, the head of Canada's Human Rights Commission tells Cheng that 
Nichols' euthanasia death is not unique. Landry states that:
she shares the “grave concern” voiced last year by three U.N. human rights experts, who wrote that Canada’s euthanasia law appeared to violate the agency’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They said the law had a “discriminatory impact” on disabled people and was inconsistent with Canada’s obligations to uphold international human rights standards.
Tim Stainton, director of the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship at the University of British Columbia, told Cheng that Canada's euthanasia law is
“probably the biggest existential threat to disabled people since the Nazis’ program in Germany in the 1930s.”
Cheng then tells the story of Sean Tagert, who died by euthanasia in August 2019. Cheng writes:
Some disabled Canadians have decided to be killed in the face of mounting bills.

Before being euthanized in August 2019 at age 41, Sean Tagert struggled to get the 24-hour-a-day care he needed. The government provided Tagert, who had Lou Gehrig’s disease, with 16 hours of daily care at his home in Powell River, British Columbia. He spent about 264 Canadian dollars ($206) a day to pay coverage during the other eight hours.

Health authorities proposed that Tagert move to an institution, but he refused, saying he would be too far from his young son. He called the suggestion “a death sentence” in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Before his death, Tagert had raised more than CA$16,000 ($12,400) to buy specialized medical equipment he needed to live at home with caretakers. But it still wasn’t enough.

“I know I’m asking for change,” Tagert wrote in a Facebook post before his death. “I just didn’t realize that was an unacceptable thing to do.”
Heidi Janz, an assistant adjunct professor in Disability Ethics at the University of Alberta, tells Cheng that: 
“a person with disabilities in Canada has to jump through so many hoops to get support that it can often be enough to tip the scales” and lead them to euthanasia.
Cheng continues by telling the story of Roger Foley, who was urged by hospital staff to request euthanasia:
Roger Foley, who has a degenerative brain disorder and is hospitalized in London, Ontario, was so alarmed by staffers mentioning euthanasia that he began secretly recording some of their conversations.

In one recording obtained by the AP, the hospital’s director of ethics told Foley that for him to remain in the hospital, it would cost “north of $1,500 a day.” Foley replied that mentioning fees felt like coercion and asked what plan there was for his long-term care.

“Roger, this is not my show,” the ethicist responded. “My piece of this was to talk to you, (to see) if you had an interest in assisted dying.”

Foley said he had never previously mentioned euthanasia. The hospital says there is no prohibition on staff raising the issue.
Catherine Frazee, a professor emerita at Toronto’s Ryerson University, referred to Roger Foley's case as a "tip of the iceberg. " Frazee told Cheng the story of Candice Lewis in Newfoundland:
Candice Lewis, a 25-year-old woman who has cerebral palsy and spina bifida. Lewis’ mother, Sheila Elson, took her to an emergency room in Newfoundland five years ago. During her hospital stay, a doctor said Lewis was a candidate for euthanasia and that if her mother chose not to pursue it, that would be “selfish,” Elson told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Cheng ends the article by quoting from Marie-Claude Landry who stated:
leaders should listen to the concerns of those facing hardships who believe euthanasia is their only option. She called for social and economic rights to be enshrined in Canadian law to ensure people can get adequate housing, health care and support.

“In an era where we recognize the right to die with dignity, we must do more to guarantee the right to live with dignity,” she said.
Canada's government has been committed to expanding its euthanasia law and is now debating expanding euthanasia to children ("mature minors"), incompetent people who requested it in their power of attorney for healthcare document, and for reasons of mental illness alone.

Canada needs to re-evaluate its euthanasia law and reverse its current permissive legal euthanasia law.

Links to more articles on Canada's euthanasia law:
  • Shopping for a death doctor in Canada (Link).
  • Canada: More than 10,000 euthanasia deaths in 2021 (Link).
  • Canada's ever-expanding euthanasia law (Link).
  • Euthanasia for disability and poverty (Link).
  • Euthanasia for Long-Covid and poverty (Link).
  • A message to the world. Don't legalize euthanasia (Link).
  • Canada's euthanasia law is the most permissive in the world (Link).

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Support Alex Schadenberg running a half marathon fund-raiser on September 24.

Support Compassionate Community Care (CCC) or the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) as Alex Schadenberg runs a half marathon (21.1 KM) at Hamilton Bay on Saturday September 24, 2022. 

This is the third year for Alex running a half-marathon fund-raiser for CCC and EPC. This run is organized for this purpose and is not combined with another event.

Similar to previous years, Alex will be running with Marcel Lemmen and a few others. If you are interested in joining the run email: alex@epcc.ca

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition informs, educates, and lobbies in opposition to killing by euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Donate to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, which is not a charity, at: (Donation Link).

Compassionate Community Care is a charity that operates a help-line, it provides a training program for visiting seniors and others, it has developed an advocacy training program and it is currently doing a survey of seniors experiences with loneliness and isolation.

Charitable donations are made to Compassionate Community Care at: (Donation Link).


Monday, August 8, 2022

Ireland is establishing a committee to examine euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In July 2021, an Irish euthanasia bill passed in the Irish Dáil ant then stopped by the Oireachtas Committee on Justice based on the language of the bill. The bill was sponsored by People before Profit TD Gino Kenny.

The Journal reported on July 15
that a special Oireachtas Committee will likely begin in October to examine the issue of euthanasia.

The Journal reported that:
The Oireachtas Justice Committee recommended the formation of a special committee on the issue earlier this year, after finding that the proposed legislation had “serious technical issues” and warranted more detailed examination.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition urges the Oireachtas Justice Committee to analyze the Canadian experience and then reject euthanasia. Legalizing euthanasia abandons people to death at a vulnerable time of their life.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Man who shot a Spanish police officer will avoid trial and die by euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An article by Stephen Burgen for the Guardian reports that Marin Eugen Sabau, a 46-year-old Romanian man who is awaiting trial for injuring 5 people after shooting them at a Securitas office in Tarragona Spain last December will avoid his trial because he has been approved to die by euthanasia. Sabau was shot in the spine by a police sharp-shooter.

Burgen reports:
The national court in Tarragona upheld an earlier court ruling that, given his condition, Sabau had a right to euthanasia under a law passed last year. The court said the law had not anticipated a situation in which a person facing criminal charges might request assisted dying.
Sabau requested euthanasia based on the fact that his injury from being shot in the spine enabled him to qualify for euthanasia in Spain.

The lawyer for Jose Antonio Bitos, one of the injured officers, argued that Sabau should not avoid his trial or conviction by euthanasia. The lawyer appealed the lower court ruling permitting Sabau's death by euthanasia. The national court upheld the lower court decision.

I am very concerned with the direction of the Spanish euthanasia law. The court stated that euthanasia is a fundamental right. If euthanasia is a fundamental right, then all of the restrictions in the law will someday be removed from the law. You cannot limit a fundamental right.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Shopping for a death doctor in Canada.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A CBC news report suggests that Canadians who are turned down for MAiD (euthanasia) three times, just need to find another doctor or nurse who is willing to kill them.

Priscilla Ki Sun Hwang reported for CBC news on August 3, 2022 that Margaret Bristow was declared ineligible for (MAiD) euthanasia by assessors in Ottawa three times but then approved for euthanasia in Brampton. According to the report:
Bristow said she applied for medical assistance in dying, also called MAID, three times since the procedure was decriminalized in 2016 — twice prior and once after the recent legislative changes in 2021 broadened the eligibility criteria for patients.

All three times, she said, her Ottawa assessors declared her ineligible.
Bristow said that her family doctor got her in contact with (MAiD) euthanasia assessors in Toronto this Spring. The CBC report states that she is now scheduled to die by euthanasia on August 10 in Brampton and she chose to have it done in a hospital so that she could donate her organs.

Priscilla Ki Sun Hwang interviews Dr. Chantal Perrot, a Toronto family physician and (MAID) provider who explains that many people travel across Ontario or even to another province to die by euthanasia. Perrot states:
Each assessor comes to a clinical decision regarding a patient's eligibility on a case-by-case basis, based on their interpretation of the legislation, the patient's history and conditions, she explained.

"It happens not infrequently that a person will be found ineligible by one assessor, but found eligible by somebody else,"
Shopping for a death doctor is not uncommon in Canada. If one doctor or nurse decides that a person is ineligible another doctor might find them eligible for death.

The 2021 Health Canada euthanasia report stated that only 487 (4%) of the euthanasia requests were declared to be ineligible that year and yet Bristow was turned down three times. There may be more to this story.

When Canada was debating euthanasia legislation in 2016 I recognized that the law lacked clear standards or definitions and I predicted that people could shop for a death doctor. Sadly this CBC report will encourage other people who have been declared ineligible for euthanasia to seek an assessment from a doctor or nurse who will approve their death.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Ontario euthanasia deaths continue to rise in 2022.

Alex Schadenberg
Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Yesterday I reported that Health Canada released the Third Annual Report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada (2021)The report stated that there were: 10,064 assisted deaths in 2021 up from 7603 in 2020. Approximately 1740 euthanasia deaths were based on loneliness and isolation.

The 2021 federal report indicated that the number of reported assisted deaths increased by 32.4% and represented 3.3% of all Canadian deaths.

Euthanasia continues to increase.

The Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario released the June 2022 MAiD data which indicates that there were 1822 reported assisted deaths in the first six months of 2022 and 11,620 reported assisted deaths since euthanasia was legalized. The Ontario data is important because it is regularly released and Ontario represents 39% of Canada's population.

The June 2022 Ontario monthly data also showed a significant increase with 334 reported assisted deaths as compared to 281 in June 2021.

The growth in killing by lethal injection continues. According to the data: 
Jan 1 - June 30, 2022 (1822 reported assisted deaths),
July 1 - Dec 31, 2021 (1739 reported assised deaths),
Jan 1 - June 30, 2021 (1363 reported assisted deaths), 
July 1 - Dec 31, 2020 (1251 reported assisted deaths),
Jan 1 - June 30, 2020 (1127 reported assisted deaths).
 
Is there enough killing yet?

Canada's federal government established a committee to discuss further expansions of euthanasia in Canada. This committee is considering euthanasia for incompetent people who requested death in their advanced directive, euthanasia for children and the rules to implement euthanasia for people with mental illness alone. Bill C-7 already approved euthanasia for mental illness alone but the government has not established the killing guidelines yet.

Further to that recently there have been many media stories indicating that Canadians are now dying by euthanasia for reasons of poverty, disability, and mental illness. The world wonders why Canada is euthanizing the poor.

We need your help. Thousands of deaths means that there are thousands of stories. We need you to tell your story. Some of the people were depressed and had questionable competency. Some of these people were subtly coerced. Some of these stories are known by you. We can effectively challenge the culture but we need your stories. 

Contact Alex Schadenberg at the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at: info@epcc.ca or 1-877-439-3348.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Health Canada releases 2021 euthanasia report. More than 10,000 deaths representing 3.3% of all deaths.

"At least 1740 people died by euthanasia (2021) for loneliness and isolation"

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Health Canada recently released the Third Annual Report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada (2021). The data is gathered from the reports submitted by the medical or nurse practitioners who carried out the euthanasia death. There is no requirement that a third party or neutral person submit the reports to ensure their accuracy.

Canadian euthanasia data.

Comparing the Third Annual report (2021) to the Second Annual Report (2020), the report states that there were: 10,064 assisted deaths in 2021 up from 7603 in 2020, 5661 in 2019, 4480 in 2018, 2838 in 2017 and 1018 in 2016.

The report indicates that the number of assisted deaths increased by 32.4% representing 3.3% of all deaths in 2021.

When all data sources are considered, the total of number of euthanasia (MAiD) reported assisted deaths in Canada from legalization to December 31, 2021 is 31,664.

Regional differences.

The report indicates that euthanasia represented 3.3% of all deaths, which was up from 2.5% in 2021. The data indicates a big difference in the percentage of euthanasia deaths between provinces. According to the data the percentage of all deaths that were euthanasia increased in all provinces notably:
  • British Columbia: 4.8% in 2021 up from 3.8% in 2020,
  • Quebec: 4.7% in 2021 up from 3.0% in 2020. 
  • Prince Edward Island 2.9% in 2021 up from 2.8% in 2020. 
  • Ontario: 2.7% in 2021 up from 2.1% in 2020. 
  • Newfoundland was the lowest with 1.2% in 2021 up from 0.9% in 2020.

The report indicated that due to the passing of Bill C-7 in March 2021, 2.2% of the assisted deaths were people whose natural death was not reasonably foreseeable.

How did Bill C-7 expand eligibility for euthanasia in Canada?

This is the first Health Canada MAiD report since the federal government expanded eligibility for euthanasia (MAiD) in March 2021 by passing Bill C-7.

  1. Bill C-7 removed the requirement that a person’s natural death be reasonably foreseeable to qualify for assisted death. Therefore, people who are not terminally ill could die by euthanasia. 
  2. Bill C-7 permitted a doctor or nurse practitioner to lethally inject a person who is incapable of consenting, if that person was previously approved for assisted death. Therefore, incompetent people can die by euthanasia in Canada. 
  3. Bill C-7 waived the ten-day waiting period if a person's natural death is deemed to be reasonably foreseeable. Thus, a person could request euthanasia on a "bad day" and die the same day. 
  4. Bill C-7 created a two-track law. A person whose natural death is deemed to be reasonably foreseeable has no waiting period, while a person whose natural death is not deemed to be reasonably foreseeable has a 90-day waiting period before being killed by lethal injection. 
  5. Bill C-7 approved euthanasia for mental illness alone, but established a two-year moratorium on euthanasia for mental illness alone to create guidelines.

The data indicates that there were 12,286 written requests for MAID in 2021 representing an increase of 27.7% over the number of written requests in 2020. The majority of the written requests (9,950 or 81.0%) resulted in an assisted death. There must be some missing reports. The data states the 9,950 written requests resulted in euthanasia, but there were 10,064 reported euthanasia deaths.

There were 2,336 requests (19.0%) that resulted in an outcome other than MAID.

  • 231 individuals withdrew their request (1.9% of written requests); 
  • 487 individuals were deemed ineligible (4.0% of written requests); and  
  • 1,618 individuals died prior to receiving MAID (13.2% of written requests).

It is concerning that only 4% of the written requests were deemed ineligible. The Netherlands and Belgium have higher rates of people being deemed ineligible.

Reasons for requesting euthanasia.

The main reasons for requesting euthanasia were

  • the loss of ability to engage in meaningful activities (86.3%), 
  • loss of ability to perform activities of daily living (83.4%), and 
  • inadequate control of pain, or concern about controlling pain (57.6%).

It is concerning that approximately 1740 people (17.3%) died by euthanasia based on loneliness and isolation. Many people with significant medical conditions also live with loneliness and isolation. Social isolation and loneliness require a compassionate caring community, not death by lethal injection.

Inadequate control of pain or concern about controlling pain were reasons for 57.6% of the requests for euthanasia, and yet the report states that 80.7% of the people who requested euthanasia were "receiving palliative care." Being enrolled in palliative care and receiving palliative care are different. A study needs to be done to determine how many people who died by euthanasia were actually receiving palliative care.

The federal euthanasia report essentially provides basic data that is not analysed.

Québec is the only province that provides an analysis of the euthanasia reports, and has a multiple reporting system that may uncover discrepancies in the reports.

Amy Hasbrouck, the past President of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, examined the Québec report data (April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021). Hasbrouck reported that since Québec has a multiple reporting system, the data indicates a discrepancy between the 2426 euthanasia reports submitted by doctors and the 2688 euthanasia reports submitted by hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities. A discrepancy of 262 deaths.

Since Québec reviews the euthanasia reports, the Québec report indicated that at least 7 of the euthanasia deaths did not fit the criteria of the law. Canada's federal report does not analyze the reports; it only provides data from the reports. Research needs to be done to ensure compliance with the law.

Sadly, Canada has quickly become the most permissive euthanasia regime in the world. Further to that, a Canadian government committee is examining expanding the law to include euthanasia for children, "mature minors," and euthanasia for incompetent people.

Recent stories indicate that Canadians are now dying by euthanasia for reasons of poverty, disability, and mental illness.

It appears that the horse has already left the barn, but I have hope that Canadians will recognize that the slope we have chosen is very slippery and the direction needs reversing, not accelerating.

We need a caring community, not a killing community.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Canadian Virtual Hospice promotes euthanasia book for children

 The Canadian Virtual Hospice (virtualhospice.ca) has published an "activity book" aimed at normalizing euthanasia (MAiD) for children.

A web-based resource launched in 2004 to be a “platform [that] could address some of the national gaps in palliative care,” the Canadian Virtual Hospice was the first attempt at connecting Canadians with an array of health specialists online to help them face the daunting task of accompanying their ill and dying loved ones at the end of their lives. As reported on its website, “visits to Virtual Hospice continue to climb – from 34,000 in 2004 to 2.3 million in 2020,” which bespeaks the desperate need to shore up this crucial yet often-overlooked segment in healthcare.

On July 26th, 2022, The Canadian Virtual Hospice, which gets funding from such organizations as the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Health Canada, and Veteran Affaires Canada, announced its newest children's resource available on its website:

The activity book is replete with vibrant colours, graphics, and a juvenile font, and includes a section that explains the three "medicines" taken to kill a human being. On page 4, Step number 3 states:

The third medicine makes the person’s lungs stop breathing and then their heart stops beating. Because of the coma, the person does not notice this happening and it does not hurt. When their heart and lungs stop working, their body dies.

Meanwhile, some doctors have actually been frank in their admissions that they have no idea whether euthanasia “does not hurt,” since, as reported in a recent National Post article, during the euthanasia procedure: 

Monitors aren’t used. There are no monitors measuring brain waves or heart activity. Doctors say it would take away from the intimacy of the experience for the person and the family. 

This reassurance has also been challenged by Dr. Joel Zivot, an anesthesiologist and critical care doctor at Emory University School of Medicine who has studied how lethal injections impact prisoners' bodies; he has called both for autopsies to be done on MAiD deaths to see exactly how the poison impacted the body, and for paralyzing agents to not be used in the procedure in order to have a more realistic assessment of the MAiD recipient’s experience (link).

While the activity book contains “helpful” exercises such as suggested questions the child can ask the would-be MAiD recipient and a feelings chart, Twitter user Dr. Christopher Lyon (@ChristophLyon) pointed out the inability of the activity book to address the fundamentally flawed premise behind assisted death – the fact that doctors cause a death instead of stopping it – and thus, it can't help the child process the trauma of a betrayal of their trust in healthcare providers:

Even more disturbing, the MAID to MAD initiative (@VulnerableC7) pointed out the similarity in branding between the “Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) Activity book” and the “Me and My Illness” activity books that The Virtual Hospice provides, both aimed at children:

If the message being sent with this colourful and engaging activity book is that euthanasia is a normal, innocuous act that *doesn’t hurt* and is appropriate for anyone who is in pain, how can a sick and/or suffering child escape the conclusion that it may be an appropriate solution for them - especially once MAiD is extended to mature minors?

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Gwen is seeking euthanasia (MAiD) because she can't access medical treatment.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


Canadians are seeking death by euthanasia (MAiD) because they are not able to access medical treatment, or they are living with a disability, or a mental illness and/or poverty.

Moira Wyton wrote an article on July 26 that was published in the Tyee concerning Gwen, who is seeking death by euthanasia because of her problem accessing treatment for her medical condition. Whyton reports that "Gwen wants to live and care for her daughter. But the system makes it easier to seek MAID than treatment."

Whyton wrote:
...Gwen is considering a medically assisted death if she cannot access essential treatment for her chronic pain and disabilities, which make it impossible at times to eat, sleep, move or play with her child.

Government support and health coverage don’t fund the treatment that Gwen says her doctors recommend to vastly reduce her pain, or to provide enough income to live with a little one.

Gwen tells Whyton that she is desperate to be with her three-year-old daughter. 

Canada's medical system makes it difficult for Gwen to receive treatment but easy for her to receive MAiD (euthanasia).

Whyton continues:
While MAID was intended to give people broader personal choice and autonomy in health care, Gwen says recent eligibility expansions make it easier for those with chronic conditions to die instead of live.
Gwen is not the only one facing this dilemma.

On April 17, I wrote about the euthanasia death of a 51-year-old Ontario woman who had chemical sensitivities. The story was reported by CTV National News Medical Correspondent, Avis Favaro who reported that the woman was not terminally ill but living with chronic chemical sensitivities and environmental allergies.

In late April, Favaro reported on a case of a 31-year-old Ontario woman who was approved for MAiD (euthanasia) for chemical sensitivities. Favaro stated that Denise (not her real name) was diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), which triggers rashes, difficulty breathing, and blinding headaches called hemiplegic migraines that cause her temporary paralysis. At least in this case, money was raised to enable this woman to temporarily find a clean place to live.

A June 8 report by Penny Daflos for CTV News Vancouver concerned a chronically ill woman in her 30's who was approved for euthanasia even though she has been unable to obtain the medical treatment that she needs to live. Daflos wrote that "Kat" wants to live, but she had an easier time accessing death care (euthanasia approval) rather than health care.

Hannah Alberga reported for CTV news on July 11 that Tracey Thompson, a Toronto resident who is in her 50's, requested MAiD (euthanasia) because she is living with Long Covid and is approaching poverty since she is unable to work. Alberga explains that Thompson doesn't want to die, but she cannot live without an income or support.

Hannah Alberga also reported for CTV news on July 11 that Mitchell Tremblay (39) is planning to request MAiD (euthanasia) in March 2023 based on mental illness and poverty. According to Alberga, Tremblay is considering euthanasia because he doesn't receive enough money to survive.

On July 12, Christina Frangou wrote an article that was published by Chatelaine concerning a 54-year-old Vancouver woman who has amassed $40,000 in debts trying to treat myalgic encephalomyelitis and other ailments. When her money runs out, she says a medically assisted death may be her only option.

Whyton wrote that Gwen is experiencing suicidal ideation, but she doesn't want to die.
“I don’t want to die, but when you’re in that much pain, these intrusive thoughts come up,” she said. “The suffering is so far beyond what anyone can fathom.”
The Canadian government is currently debating further expansions to the euthanasia law. Canada needs to recognize how its euthanasia law threatens the lives of people with disabilities and other chronic conditions and reverse its killing direction.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Delta Hospice Society under attack again.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Today I learned that the Delta Hospice Society will be audited by the BC Provincial government.

In February 2021, the Delta Hospice Society (DHS) was defunded by the British Columbia Ministry of Health because they refused to kill people by euthanasia (MAiD). The battle over the existence of the DHS has continued since them.

Last April, the DHS held a board election whereby euthanasia (MAiD) supporters ran against a group of people who oppose euthanasia in their hope of taking over the board. Thankfully 76% of DHS members voted for board members who oppose euthanasia.

The DHS is once again under attack. A July 18 article published by the Delta Optimist reported that MLA Ravi Kahlon released a list of Delta region organizations that received money from the Community Gaming Grants program. According to the list, the DHS received a $36,000 grant.

In response, Ian Jacques wrote an article published on July 20 by the Delta Optimist reporting that MLA Ian Paton was demanding an investigation into the grant to the DHS. The article reported Nathan Cullen, the NDP government minister who is responsible for the grant program, as stating:

“The Delta Hospice Society received a small grant from the Community Gaming Grant program. Our government has been clear that we do not agree with the views advanced by this organization,” Cullen said. “It has come to our attention that there are concerns regarding funding provided to this organization and whether information provided by the organization was accurate and therefore fully met eligibility criteria.

“I’ve asked staff to review the application. We have a thorough audit processes in place to investigate claims and will be looking into this matter immediately. We will explore all corrective options including the possibility of recovering the funds.”

What Cullen, Paton, and Kahlon are wrong about is the DHS did not apply or receive funding from the Community Gaming Grants program this year. 

Angelina Ireland
Angelina Ireland, the President of the DHS wrote in a letter published by the Delta Optimist on July 23:
Delta Hospice Society did not apply to the Community Gaming Grants program for this year. We have not been notified by the program regarding a grant. I cannot speak to whose error this is. However, I’m dismayed at the response of our politicians.
Ireland then states:
These government attacks are not new to us. In an open letter last April, Delta Mayor George Harvie urged the provincial government to seize our thrift shop. Failing that, he revoked our tax-exempt status. Therefore, not only will we not be receiving “$36,000”, but we have also actually paid $35,000 in tax to the City of Delta this July. Now the government is riled up again, and seeks to rile up the community, by inaccurate reporting.

I encourage your readership to arm themselves with the facts: that true palliative care affirms life to its natural conclusion and does not hasten death. It is our right as a privately funded organization to affirm this classic principle of palliative care that is accepted world-wide.
Now the DHS has been informed that they will face a forensic audit from the government. The DHS is continuously under attack because they refuse to kill people.

Alex Schadenberg is a board member of the Delta Hospice Society.

Register for the next Being With - Visitor Training Program - August 3 and 4.


Kathy Matusiak Costa
Register for the free online visitor training program and becoming involved with visiting people in your community who are elderly and/or living alone.
 
Caring for people. Gain the confidence to journey with those who are lonely, socially isolated, sick, or dying, to renew their hope and purpose in living until they die.
 
FREE Online Training – Live on Zoom!

The Training Workshop is composed of two sessions, each session is two hours on:
Wednesday August 3 (7 pm - 9 pm) (EST) and Thurday August 4 (7 pm - 9 pm) (EST)

With Kathy Matusiak Costa, Executive Director of Compassionate Community Care, and Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. 

Register Now: Meeting capacity is limited.

Click on this link to register in advance

Compassionate Community Care: 
383 Horton St. E, London, ON N6B 1L6
Office tel. 519-439-6445 
info@beingwith.org • www.beingwith.org

CCC Helpline: 1-855-675-8749 
Charitable registration # 824667869RR0001

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Swiss assisted suicide groups concerned that "stricter" rules will discourage suicide tourism.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An article by Kuoru Udo published by Swissinfo.ch on July 26 explains that Switzerland's new assisted suicide guidelines may lead to fewer suicide tourists.
 

Udo introduces the issue with the story of Alex Pandolfo who lives in the UK with early onset dementia.

Sixty-eight-year-old Pandolfo lives in the UK. When he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer disease in 2015, Lifecircle, an assisted suicide organisation in Basel, gave him the green light and accepted his request for assisted suicide. He plans to go to Switzerland when “the time has come”.

Under the old rules, he would have had to stay in Basel for just a few days to complete his plan, but the new ‘two-week-rule’ makes it a lot more expensive. “People who don’t have enough money will be put off by it,” Pandolfo told SWI swissinfo.ch.
Udo explains that last May the Swiss Medical Association agreed to a new set of guidelines for assisted suicide that state: 

  • The physician must – other than in justified exceptional cases – conduct at least two detailed discussions with the patient separated by an interval of at least two weeks.
  • The symptoms of the illness and/or functional impairment must be unbearable, the severity of which is to be substantiated by a legitimate diagnosis and prognosis.
  • Assisted suicide for healthy persons is not medically or ethically justifiable.

Previous guidelines did not require a two week interval and they permitted assisted suicide for otherwise healthy people.

Swiss assisted suicide groups are opposed to the new guidelines. Lifecircle president Erika Preisig opposes the ‘two-week-rule’ which she thinks is especially difficult for suicide tourists. Udo reports:

Even though Lifecircle offers the first meeting online, Preisig thinks it could still be a problem for some people. “Most of our patients are elderly who may not know how to conduct an online meeting. Some don’t even have a smartphone,” she notes. That means they would be obliged travel to Switzerland two weeks before their scheduled assisted suicide. And this would be particularly expensive for people with disabilities as they would have to cover the cost for their special care during the two weeks between consultations.
Dignitas, who specialize in foreign suicides, told Udo that:
“the new guideline shifts from putting weight on the patient’s personal view as justification for a physician to support the request for assisted suicide towards a more medical-diagnosis-classification of suffering.”
Switzerlands largest assisted suicide group, Exit, told Udo that:
psychosocial problems can also be a legitimate factor in wishing to end one’s life.
Udo reported that EXIT spokeswoman Muriel Düby said:
neither the Swiss medical fraternity nor the patients and assisted suicide organisations were given the chance to react to the new guidelines. “Even after the draft was approved by the highest authorities of SAMS, it was still classified as secret.”
The Swiss Medical Association appears to be wanting to curtail assisted suicide for people who are not sick or dying and yet the language of the guidelines are open to interpretation. Since the decision is based on "intolerable suffering" which is not objective, therefore assisted suicide for healthy people may continue under these guidelines. The requirement that there be at least two discussions no less than two weeks apart will slow down the assisted suicide approval process, even though one of the assisted suicide groups stated that the first discussion is done online.

There is nothing civilized about assisted dying.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Kevin Yuill
Historian and author, Kevin Yuill, wrote another great article that was published by Spiked on July 25 titled: There is nothing civilized about assisted dying.
Not Dead Yet UK comment: The Mansfield case should never be a reason for changing the law on assisted suicide (Link).
Yuill is responding to the Mansfield case (UK) which concerns Graham Mansfield who killed his wife Dyanne in a suicide pact, but failed to kill himself. The UK assisted suicide lobby claim that this is a good case for legalizing assisted suicide.

Yuill writes:
In March 2021, Graham Mansfield, a retired baggage handler, had agreed a mutual suicide pact with his 71-year-old wife, Dyanne, who had terminal cancer. He proceeded to slit his wife’s throat in their back garden, and then made a serious attempt to take his own life. When he woke up 12 hours later, he called the police in desperation. He pleaded with paramedics to let him die and admitted in his first 999 call that he had killed Dyanne.
Yuill explains that the jury found Mansfield not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. Yuill writes:
Though manslaughter can be punished with a maximum of life in prison, Mr Justice Goose imposed a two-year suspended sentence on Mansfield, ruling that the killing was ‘an act of love, of compassion, to end her suffering’.
Based on Justice Goose claiming that Mansfield acted out of love and compassion to end his wife's suffering, Mansfield's legal team and pro-assisted-suicide organisations like Dignity in Dying and Humanists UK are using this case to argue that the UK needs to legalise assisted dying. Yuill responds:
But the case of Graham Mansfield, as disquieting as it is, is not a reason to change the law on assisted suicide.
Yuill comments on how rare suicide pacts are in the UK, and how the law actually works properly by allowing the judge to determine a proper penalty for a conviction. Yuill continues:
But perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the case is the implication from assisted-suicide proponents that cutting the throat of a terminally ill person should be treated differently to cutting the throat of a person in good health. In law – for good reason – all are protected against wrongful killing, regardless of the state of their health.

Campaigners will claim that Mansfield’s act was justified because it was born of compassion for his suffering wife. This is understandable, but it also shows that the line quickly blurs between an assisted suicide and a mercy killing. Ultimately, legalising assisted dying treats the lives of the terminally ill as less valuable than other lives.
Yuill concludes by stating that he agrees with the two-year suspended sentence given to Mansfield but he also agrees that people who slit their wife's throat should be prosecuted.

This is a difficult case and many people will disagree with Mansfield receiving a two-year suspended sentence; nonetheless, if this case represents a precedent as to why assisted suicide should be legalized in the UK, then this precedent will open the floodgates to others who are living with a sick or disabled spouse.

The Mansfield case should never be a reason to change the law on assisted suicide in the UK.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Phil Friend posted the following comment on the Not Dead Yet UK Twitter page. The Mansfield case (UK) concerns Graham Mansfield who killed his wife Dyanne in a suicide pact, but then failed to kill himself. The UK assisted suicide lobby claim that this case is a good reason to legalize assisted suicide. Friend wrote:

A man who slit his wife’s throat “in an act of love” and tried to kill himself has been found not guilty of murder after a judge accepted the couple had made a suicide pact.

Mr Mansfield called for a change in the law on assisted dying: “I’d just like to say, the law needs to change. Nobody should have to go through what we went through. Unfortunately, today, my wife is not here. She shouldn’t have had to die in such barbaric circumstances. That was what we had to resort to.” Guardian Story link

Not Dead UK says, “The Mansfield case (Guardian, 23 July) should never be a reason to change the law on assisted suicide in the UK. This was not an act of compassion, it was an irrational and horrific response of someone who desperately needed mental health support. The current system works as an effective deterrent to some who may want to end the life of a vulnerable person for reasons which are currently unlawful. It is crucial to protect and support all people in that situation. What this story tells us is that Mr Mansfield and his wife did not receive this help.

Unfortunately, those who support assisted suicide are using this horrific tragedy to promote a need for a change in the law. But this will not help those people and their loved ones who are in desperate need of both timely physical and mental health care, not an assisted death. We at Not Dead Yet UK find using this tragic case to promote assisted suicide is disturbingly unethical”.

More articles on this case:

Downie urges Québec physicians to expand interpretation of euthanasia law.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


An article by Jocelyn Downie, Canada's leading pro-euthanasia academic, that was published by Policy Options on July 25 asks the question: Who is actually eligible for medical assistance in Dying in Quebec?

Many people are not aware that Canada has two euthanasia laws, the federal law and the Québec law.

There are several differences between the two laws, such as the Québec law does not permit euthanasia for mental illness alone.

Downie avoids the issue of euthanasia for mental illness alone and states:
The recent Quebec CSFV guidance on the meaning of “serious and incurable illness” under the Quebec law says that to be eligible, a person needs to be “on a death trajectory, predictable or not.” 
It says that the following do not meet the eligibility criterion of “serious and incurable illness”:
  • “A symptom or set of symptoms”
  • “Pathologies or conditions frequently associated with ageing, particularly in very old age, which can lead to an advanced and irreversible decline in capacity as well as significant suffering”
  • “Imminent death, if no serious and incurable disease could be identified”
  • “Disability unless it is caused by a serious and incurable disease (for example, the sequelae of a stroke caused by a cerebrovascular disease”
In other words, Québec has stricter euthanasia guidelines than the rest of Canada.

Downie's purpose for writing the article is to urge Québec euthanasia doctors to go ahead and follow the federal, not the provincial guidelines. Downie writes:
So what does this mean for eligibility in Quebec? What are clinicians and patients to do in the face of the inconsistency between the federal and Quebec laws (as recently interpreted by the CSFV)?

Well, thankfully, despite the recent statement from the CSFV, and despite the appearance of MAiD eligibility being narrower in Quebec than in the rest of Canada, the Collège May 2021 statement, makes it clear that clinicians are actually free to rely upon the federal criteria, and patients can ask for that. Patients in Quebec can receive MAiD if they have a serious illness, disease, or disability, and the CSFV’s list of excluded conditions need not restrict access to MAiD. Clinicians and patients need to know this so that patients are not wrongfully denied access to MAiD.
Downie side-steps the issue of euthanasia for mental illness alone, but in fact it is this issue that will provide the greatest difference between the Québec law and the federal law.

Québec's euthanasia reporting system is better. 

Québec's euthanasia report is compiled with data from multiple sources, thereby uncovering possible infractions of the law but also possible under-reporting. As stated by EPC's past President Amy Hasbrouck, the recent Québec euthanasia report contains a reporting discrepancy. Hasbrouck wrote:
Table 4.1 also shows the number of euthanasia reported by hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities (2,415) added to the number reported by the College of Physicians (273) for a total of 2,688, which is 262 more than the official figure of 2,426.

The most recent Québec euthanasia report also uncovers 7 violations of the law.

The federal euthanasia report only collects data from the reports submitted by the medical practitioner who carries out the death. Only collecting data from those who do the act does not enable the federal government to uncover possible abuses or under-reporting.

In conclusion, the Québec euthanasia law is somewhat tighter than the federal law. Downie, who strongly promotes euthanasia, is urging Québec euthanasia practitioners to follow the federal and not the Québec guidelines.

In March 2023, when the federal law will permit euthanasia for mental illness alone and the Québec law will continue to prohibit it, Downie will likely urge Québec euthanasia practitioners to follow the federal guidelines and ignore Québec's prohibition of killing people with mental illness.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Spain: Where the right to die trumps the right to justice

This article was published by Mercatornet on July 25, 2022.

Should a murderer escape his day in court by asking for euthanasia?

Michael Cook
By Michael Cook, the editor of Mercatornet

Catalonia’s capital, Barcelona, successfully bid for the Olympics in 1992. Thirty years later Catalonia is making a bid to be the world capital of euthanasia fundamentalism.

A recent case in a court in the city of Tarragona, about 100 kilometres south of Barcelona, is a prime exhibit for the loopiness of a pro-euthanasia mentality.

In Catalonia, euthanasia is far from uncommon. Since euthanasia was legalized in Spain in June last year, 60 of the country’s 172 cases have taken place in this region — more than a third, although Catalonia has only 16 percent of the total population.

The man at the centre of this controversy is Marin Eugen Sabau. He wants to die. “I am paraplegic. I have 45 stitches in my hand. I cannot move my left arm well. I have screws in my body and cannot feel from the chest down,” he says. If anyone had a right to end their pain and die with dignity, it was Marin Eugen Sabau. Two doctors and two representatives of the regional government, a doctor and a lawyer, agreed. Mr Sabau’s application was processed with unusual haste. A date was set – July 28.

However, a judge recently issued a temporary stay and Sabau’s death has been delayed.

Why? Mr Sabau’s case is exceptional, even unprecedented — because he is awaiting trial for attempted murder and a host of other charges. If he were euthanised, he would never be tried for those crimes.

On December 14 last year, Mr Sabau, a 45-year-old Romanian security guard, donned a goofy woman’s wig, walked into his workplace in Tarragona, and shot three of his co-workers. Then he fled the scene and barricaded himself in an abandoned farmhouse. In a gun battle with police, two of them were wounded. Eventually snipers put Mr Sabau out of action, shooting him in his back, his arm and his leg. He ended up a paraplegic and one of his legs was amputated.

Feeling none too chipper after the sudden changes in his life, Mr Sabau asked for euthanasia. The police were horrified. Where was justice for the victims? They objected in a court in Tarragona. The judge, Sonia Zapater, backed Mr Sabau.

Ms Zapater acknowledged that there was a “collision of fundamental rights”. But she ruled that Mr Sabau’s right to an autonomous decision must prevail over the right of victims to justice. Under the law only minors and mentally impaired patients who cannot give informed consent are ineligible for euthanasia. She dismissed the victims’ appeal.

This was euthanasia fundamentalism at its most fanatical. Only one thing mattered: the autonomous will. The individual owes nothing to other human beings or to society. The only thing that counts is his pain; woolly notions like justice or responsibility are meaningless.

Fortunately for the victims, Ms Zapater took her holiday leave, and another judge agreed to grant a stay. What happens next will be a test of Spain’s commitment to the rule of law – and to common sense.

Euthanasia fundamentalism at its most extreme is at work in Catalonia. Mr Sabau’s presumed right to a “death with dignity” has so far trumped all claims that society has upon him. He tried to kill several of his fellow citizens, breaching the most fundamental norm of the law in a civilised society – Thou shalt not kill. Doesn’t society have a right to declare that his actions were destructive, dangerous, and wrong? Don’t his victims have a right to have their pain recognised?

No, not in Catalonia.


A local newspaper interviewed María Jiménez, a bioethicist at Universitat Rovira i Virgili, in Tarragona, about the case. Yup, the judge was right, she said. The victims of the crime have no say in whether or not Mr Sabau “escapes justice”. Her reasoning is worth recording:

“For me there is a fundamental issue, which is the management of emotions. On the one hand, there is the right of this person, but on the other, the right to compensate the moral damage that other people have, emotionally, this weighs heavily, and society expects a protective response towards the victims. It is a difficult problem to solve, since whatever decision is taken, it will probably not satisfy both parties because they are two completely extreme points.”
In her autonomy-driven vision of law, justice – giving each party his due – has disappeared. All that remains are competing emotions. But this is false. Law is not about rage and vengeance but about restoring the moral balance which a criminal has upset. That’s why there was such an uproar when paedophile Jeffrey Epstein avoided his trial by committing suicide. As a lawyer for the victims said: “[They] deserved to see Epstein held accountable, and he owed it to everyone he hurt to accept responsibility for all of the pain he caused.” There speaks 2500 years of Western culture. The normalisation of euthanasia threatens to undermine this.

Mr Sabau intended to kill people and almost succeeded. He grievously wounded several of them. Ideally, he should acknowledge his crime and be reconciled with his victims and society. If he escapes his appointment with justice, euthanasia will not bring him death with dignity. Only a man who takes responsibility for his actions truly has dignity.