Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Vermont: Repeal Physician-Assisted Suicide, Now.

The following article was published in the Burlington Free Press on July 30, 2014. 

I'm confused. Years ago we did away with the death penalty in Vermont (and rightly so) because we understood that despite the care and precision of our legal system, mistakes could be made and an innocent person could be wrongly put to death. The Legislature wasn't willing to take that chance and so abolished the death penalty.

Now we have Act 39 (physician-assisted suicide), another law whose only purpose is to result in the death of one of our citizens. Yet this law, with shockingly few protections and no oversight at all by our judicial system, passed the Legislature.

What is the difference here? A wrongful death is a wrongful death is a wrongful death.

Does the Legislature honestly believe our health care system is so perfect that there is absolutely no chance for error? It doesn't appear so since the Legislature is spending almost all their time trying to reform health care. That doesn't leave me feeling confident that the system is working 100 percent perfectly.


So, if the death penalty is wrong because an innocent person might die, why does the Legislature magically believe that no one will ever wrongfully die under Act 39?

Physician-assisted suicide is just as bad a law as the death penalty, and the Legislature needs to repeal it.

Now!

Michele Morin lives in Burlington Vermont.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Canadian Medical Association: 71.5% of physicians oppose the legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide. Doctors should be excluded from doing euthanasia.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director: Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) published the results of its online poll and national dialogue concerning euthanasia, assisted suicide and end-of-life care

The CMA consultation report determined that 71.5% agreed with the current CMA policy on euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Death, 25.8% disagreed with its current position and 2.6% were unsure.

The current CMA Policy on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Dying states, in part:

“Physicians, other health professionals, academics, interest groups, the media, legislators and the judiciary are all deeply divided about the advisability of changing the current legal prohibition of euthanasia and assisted suicide.” 
“Canadian physicians should not participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide.” 
“For the medical profession to … participate in these practices, a fundamental reconsideration of traditional medical ethics would be required.” 
“The CMA recognizes that it is the prerogative of society to decide whether the laws dealing with euthanasia and assisted suicide should be changed. The CMA wishes to contribute the perspective of the medical profession to the examination of the legal, social and ethical issues.”
The consultation report indicated that supporters of the current CMA position cited the following main reasons for their position:
  • „„Legalizing medical aid in dying would negatively affect the trust patients have in physicians and would jeopardize the physician–patient relationship.
  • The physician role is to heal, not end life.
  • „„Legalization is “a slippery slope” and would lead to an increase in the scope of conditions and patient populations for which physician-assisted dying can be applied — especially vulnerable populations.
  • „„Legalizing medical aid in dying could be used for economic purposes to save money in the health care system.
The CMA consultation document indicated that physicians should not be involved in the act of euthanaisa. The document stated that since the final decision concerning the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide rests with society, that if society legalizes euthanasia, that doctors should be excluded from doing euthanasia. The document stated:
The perspective of removing physicians from the equation if physician-assisted dying becomes legal in Canada arose at several public town hall and member meetings. 
“We have no training in killing people, quite the opposite” was how one member framed it. 
“I think that if the law is changed they need to pick on someone else to be the euthanologist. It’s not going to be me and I suspect it’s not going to be most of my colleagues,” said an attendee at one meeting. 
Many felt the CMA should advocate for removing physicians from the process of euthanasia and lobby for some other group to provide these services. 
Many called for the CMA, at a bare minimum, to protect the rights of physicians who do not want to provide euthanasia services, a stance that was adopted at the CMA General Council meeting last August.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition opposes concept of doctors becoming killers and we support the call of physicians to never take part in the act of killing.

Lithuanian Health Minister: Euthanize the dying poor.

The article was written by Wesley Smith and published on his blog on July 27, 2014.

Wesley Smith
The new Lithuanian Health Minister–apparently not having yet received her talking points from the Hemlock Society Compassion and Dying–clearly followed this logic in describing why she might support legalizing euthanasia. From the Delfi.It story:
New Health Minister Ilze Šalaševičiūte took an awkward and sensitive topic – it proposes to legalize euthanasia debate… 
According to Salaseviute, Lithuania is not the welfare state, which would be enough to focus on palliative care, euthanasia legalization would help so fatal in patients who do not want to agonize and torture your family members, relatives who care for them. He find an alternative way to get out of life. It would inject medication or another approach, which is equivalent to euthanasia “- television said the Minister.
So, rather than develop a palliative care sector, just open the door to euthanasia to help the poor. That’s the false compassion of euthanasia.

Relevantly, the health system in the euthanasia capital of the world, the Netherlands, has been criticized frequently over the years as having a stunted palliative care sector.

For example, Dr. Bert Keizer, a Netherlander nursing home doctor, wrote in Dancing with Mr. D of angrily warning his colleagues not to talk about trying “cortisone” as he was on his way to euthanize a patient he thought had cancer. Cortisone!? For cancer? He didn’t care enough, apparently, to learn what real pain control can do.

Dame Cecily Saunders, the developer of hospice, told me that she knew of many cases in which people wanted suicide until receiving proper hospice care. I suggest the Lithuanian Health Minister work to improve the quality of care in her country rather than open the door to medicalized killing.

No dignity in a syringe full of poison.

The following letter was published by The Star newspaper in South Africa (Link).

Eusebius McKaiser’s column headlined “Put my dignity first, kindly” (see related articles below) supports euthanasia, particularly in the aftermath of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s recent declaration favouring assisted suicide or euthanasia to ensure death with dignity.

Of course everyone wants to die with dignity. But I cannot understand what is dignified about a doctor terminating (aka killing) a patient’s life, even at the patient’s request.

The point is, quite apart from the serious moral issues involved, such drastic action is unnecessary. I assist in a unit where many patients die from terminal disease, yet they are all counselled, cared for and appropriately medicated, so that their last days are as serene and peaceful as possible. Isn’t that dying with dignity?

It is true that many do die undignified deaths, at home or in hospital. But that only reflects failure to access the care available, such as the involvement of hospice, adequate sedation, good counselling and many other strategies to effectively reduce suffering and preserve dignity.



Please, Archbishop Tutu and Eusebius McKaiser, when you come to the end of life’s road, don’t look for a doctor with a syringe full of lethal poison. There is no dignity in that.

Look instead for a doctor who knows how to fulfil his responsibilities to his patients, and provide a peaceful environment that allows life to slip serenely away. That is the death with dignity you are looking for.

Dr Terry Gilpin
Port Shepstone, KwaZulu-Natal

Saturday, July 26, 2014

People with disabilities feel threatened by moves to legalize euthanasia

This article was written by Audrey Cole and published in the Calgary Herald on July 22 under the title: Living through war made us value life more.

Audrey Cole
I wonder why discussion of end of life options comes mostly from people younger than I am.


Recently, I was on a panel at a meeting of Liberal senators. Their open caucus initiative reaches beyond politics and invites other Canadians to share information and discussion on topics of national importance — an admirable endeavour.

The topic was end of life care choices. The first speaker was the MP whose private member’s bills in the Commons would legalize doctor-assisted dying in Canada. Three of us spoke from personal knowledge of people who have disabilities; another from the perspective of dying with dignity; another about palliative care. Personally, I believe that palliative care should not be considered an option, but as good medical practice. That it is not available to all who need it, is to our collective shame.

After almost 50 years of voluntary effort in the disability community, it is not unusual for me to be the oldest person in a room. On this occasion, most of the others were also seniors. Yet, with mandatory retirement at 75 for senators, there was still more than a decade between our ages. By the birth date of the eldest of Canada’s senators, I had completed my first year in high school.

“With our aging population, the numbers in need of end of life options will only increase,” said the invitation. I was struck by this implied link between the demand for options and aging. I had never considered needing end of life options. I grew up believing life was a precious gift that we should respect as we lived it fully but carefully until, at some time in the future (hopefully far distant), we would die. It is relatively recently that we have been hearing about options in the dying process to which many Canadians believe we are, or should be, entitled.

Conversations about how people with disabilities have died are not unknown in the disability movement. We can tell horrific real-life stories that are unbelievable to citizens unfamiliar with the realities of living with a disability in a society that tends to see such people as “other” or “them” rather than ”us.”

People with disabilities feel threatened by moves to legalize killing by the state of those who request it. They know what it is to be unwanted in an uncaring society and they know that the steps that would further threaten their lives and social image are much smaller and easier to take than most would care to admit or believe.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ohio man charged with fatally drugging his wife.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Jon James Costell

The Marysville Journal-Tribune reported yesterday that Jon James Costell (56) of Milford Center Ohio has been charged with:
one count each of aggravated murder, failing to provide for a functionally impaired person, domestic violence and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of his wife.
The news report indicated that Ohio Medicaid was paying for in-home help for Debra Lynn Costell, who had medical conditions causing paraplegia. The report stated that due to prior domestic violence convitions, authorities were concerned when she Debra died. The report stated that:
Mr. Costell has three prior domestic violence convictions — two in 1998 in the Marysville Municipal Court and a felony conviction in 2002.

Capital Punishment, Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia.

This article was written by Wesley Smith and published on his blog on July 24 under the title: Another Cruel and Unusual Death with Dignity.

By Wesley Smith

The drugs that are used in lethal injection executions are also used in assisted suicide/euthanasia.

Yet, we are told with regard to the former lethal use, that they cause pain and suffering–but with the latter use, it is peaceful, calm “death with dignity.”

Another execution using lethal injection has gone wrong. From the FNN story:
A so-called botched execution in Arizona is reigniting the debate over the death penalty and how lethal injections are administered. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer ordered a review of the state’s execution process after a convicted double murderer gasped and snorted for more than an hour and a half before his death Wednesday.
Studies have shown that euthanasia and assisted suicide killings can also take much time and cause adverse side effects – other than death, I mean–such as vomiting and seizures.

But that fact interferes with the death with dignity narrative, while promoting these problems furthers the cruel and unusual punishment meme.

Which is why I calls stories like this, “cruel and unusual death with dignity.”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Nitschke heads a suicide cult that must be stopped.

By Paul Russell, the director of Hope Australia (Link to the original article).

Paul Russell
Following The Australian's news story about another young life lost that was related to Philip Nitschke and Exit, senior journalist, Angela Shanahan says that Nitschke and Exit must be stopped.

Shanahan opens:
Philip Nitschke, contrary to his claims as an advocate of euthanasia for the terminally ill, is the chief mover of something resembling a suicide cult. 
The case histories of Lucas Taylor, 26, and Joe Waterman, 25, who committed suicide after being in contact with Nitschke’s group, Exit, leave little doubt of that. 
Lucas Taylor was the subject of the other article in today's paper while Joe Waterman's story was covered earlier in the ABCs 7:30 Report that created the original furore leading to the medical board suspending Nitschke's practicing licence today.
Covering the information Judi Taylor found on her son's computer after his death the story adds:
His heartbroken mother realised that her son was not the only young person on this site. Nor was anyone on the site interested in the motivation for his thoughts of suicide, nor in helping Lucas to overcome his feelings. 
“They were only interested in the ‘endgame’,” she said, including detailed advice about where and when and how to go about it.
Again, this destroys any pretence that Nitschke and Exit are only involved in advising sick and dying people about how to commit suicide. This is a macabre and clandestine death industry. 

Hope joins with Angela Shanahan in calling for this organisation to be stopped and is joined now in our call for a National Inquiry into Exit and other euthanasia organisations by the mothers of both of the young men mentioned in this article.

Shanahan closes her article by saying: 
Nitschke’s claim of political persecution is risible. He and his organisation must be stopped.
Links to similar articles:

Andrew Lloyd Weber changes his mind on Assisted Suicide.

By Wesley Smith, published on his blog on July 17, 2014.

Andrew Lloyd Weber might not still be here if assisted suicide had been legal in the UK. He wanted to die and almost was set to go to Switzerland. Now, he’s glad he didn’t. From theTelegraph story:
Lord Lloyd-Webber, the West End impresario, was so convinced he wanted to die last year that he took steps to join Dignitas, the Swiss assisted suicide clinic, he has disclosed. The composer said he now believes that taking such a step would have been “stupid and ridiculous” but that it was all he could think of amid a bout of deep depression triggered by the pain from a series of operations. 
He is among members of the Lords likely to oppose the bill tabled by Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor, to legalise “assisted dying”, which will have its first parliamentary airing today. It came as Dominic Grieve, who until this week’s reshuffle was the Government’s chief law officer, said the proposals could open the door to a form of “legalised execution”. “It is not something that a civilised society should do,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

Nitschke is not fit to practice medicine in South Australia.

Paul Russell
This article was written by Paul Russell, the director of Hope Australia and published on their website on July 24 under the title: SA Health Minister critical of Nitschke and Exit.

While the media attention today was focusing on Exit International and the suspension of Philip Nitschke's medical licence, the South Australian Health Minister launched his own attack in answering a question in the South Australian Parliament today.

QUESTION: 

Minister, what is the South Australian Government’s response to last night’s decision by the Australian Medical Board, to suspend Phillip Nitschke from Medical Practise?

Health Minister, The Hon Jack Snelling MP: I thank the member for this question.

Hon Jack Snelling
Mr Speaker,

Last night, the Australian Medical Board suspended Philip Nitschke from practising medicine in Australia, stating that he "presents a serious risk to public health and safety”. This follows from his conduct in providing advice to Perth man, Mr Nigel Brayley, who then took his own life.

Euthanasia, Voluntary Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide are illegal in South Australia, and while they have debated by previous Parliaments in this place, as far as I am aware, Philip Nitschke’s resolve to provide support to a healthy man, with no terminal illness, in ending his life, goes beyond the scope of any piece of legislation that any house in any parliament in Australia, has ever considered.

Mr Speaker, 

Let me make it clear to the House, any medical practitioner who feels that suicide is an option for depressed and mentally ill people, is not fit to practice medicine in South Australia.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nitschke's website linked to UK suicide death.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In the investigation into the suicide death of Gillian Clarke, the Telegraph Argus news reported that a coroner in Bradford (UK) warned that internet sites that provide suicide advice should be named to allow scrutiny.

In his inquiry, Dr Dominic Bell, the assistant coroner, named Philip Nitschke's organization and book as influencing Clarke to commit suicide. Bell stated that:
"There are potential vulnerable people out there who may well be informed or manipulated by exit organisations and it's only by making this public record that attention can be drawn to such circumstances. It is important that some scrutiny is given to these organisations to limit the adverse possibilities on vulnerable individuals."
Nitschke has just been informed that he is losing his medical license in Australia. 

The article in the Telegraph Argus reported that:
Miss Clarke's death was suicide and that it had been clear from evidence from doctors she had been incredibly troubled by a series of medical disorders, for which there had been no one specific diagnosis or treatment that could restore her well-being. 
Miss Clarke, who had a previous history of depression, had been suffering stomach problems, weakness in her legs, appetite and weight loss yet all medical tests had come back normal - however, she was due to go back to hospital for more investigations because she had grown so thin.
Internet related suicide deaths have sadly become common. Society needs to protect vulnerable people by identifying and monitoring internet suicide sites.

Australia's Dr Death, Philip Nitschke, to lose medical license.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Philip Nitschke, Australia's Dr Death, stated in an email update today that the Australian Medical Board plans to de-register his medical license on Thursday, July 24 at midnight.

The decision by the Australian Medical Board to de-register Nitschke is related to several complaints that were filed against him especially the recent complaints that were filed in relation to the suicide death of Nigel Brayley (45) who was healthy, but depressed after being investigated in the murder of his wife.

The issue related to the death of Nigel Brayley began with an article published by ABC news Australia titled: Families and friends concerned about who's being advised by euthanasia advocate Dr Nitschke which uncovered the controversy related to Nitschke advising Brayley on how to commit suicide.

Paul Russell
The article was followed by a media release from Paul Russell, the director of Hope Australia demanding a national inquiry into the suicide deaths associated to Nitschke's work promoting suicide.

Russell is also the Vice Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition International

published an article comparing the current news stories related to Brayley's suicide death to previous news stories related to other Nitschke related deaths.

Paul Russell followed up with an article, the next day, reporting the response of suicide prevention groups, BeyondBlue and the Black Dog Institute to the comments by Nitschke related to the death of Brayley.


The Chairman of BeyondBlue and former Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett referred to Nitschke's actions as a gross breach of the Hippocratic Oath while stating:
"As a long-time supporter of euthanasia for the terminally ill, for those for whom the dignity of life has been lost, and under special conditions, I believe Dr Nitschke's latest act has crossed the line of decency and professional conduct. ... 
"I trust the appropriate Medical Board or Boards, and Governments will move quickly to investigate Dr Nitschke's latest act. He has done society a great disservice, and in my opinion should no longer be registered to practise as a medical professional."
Jeff Kennett
A few days later, Kennett and BeyondBlue, issued an official complaint to the Australian Medical Board. In the official complaint Kennett stated:
Dr Nitschke has coined the phrase “rational suicide” to attempt to justify his recent action. There is no such thing as a “rational suicide”. 
What he has supported is death. The taking or ending of a life. Some might even say murder of an able-bodied Australian who was in need of professional help. 
Dr Nitschke has also inferred that anyone of sound mind should have the right to end their lives, regardless of age or condition. How totally reprehensible! Unacceptable.
It goes against everything we at beyondblue and like organisations and governments are working to deliver, a much lower suicide rate.On Thursday, July 17, Paul Russell wrote another article announcing that Philip Nitschke had 48 hours to defend being struck off the medical board.

Dutch pediatricians want to legalise euthanasia for children under 12 years old.

This article was originally posted on the Living with Dignity blog on July 14, 2014.

Belgium adopted euthanasia for children a few months ago. Anneke Stoffelen tells us in Volksrant that pediatricians in the Netherlands now suggest legalizing euthanasia for children under the age of 12. This suggestion is particularly worrying because the decision for euthanasia would be made by doctors and parents, without needing the consent of the child. We are talking about legalizing involuntary euthanasia.

The Netherlands currently allows euthanasia of newborns (up to the age of one year old). And children over 12 years old are considered competent to make that decision. If they are between the ages of 12 and 16, they must have the permission of a parent to agree to euthanasia.

Of course, they always talk about euthanasia being only for people who are seriously ill, or who have serious birth defects. But there are many abuses of the rules of legal euthanasia in the Netherlands, such as the case of the 45 psychiatric patients euthanized last year. No safeguard can truly ensure that there will be no abuse.

Dutch Professor of Pediatrics Eduard Verhagen said: 
"We all do it, so why draw the line for children up to 12 years old?"
One can find some logic to his argument. In fact, those who support euthanasia in Quebec have already used a similar argument and asked to include minors and incompetent people in Act 52. They used the argument that to exclude these groups would be discriminatory, and would constitute an incomplete answer to the original question.

This indicates that the expansion of laws permitting euthanasia is inevitable. We must stop it before it starts.

Links to similar articles:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Ethics of Food and Drink: Starvation is not Mercy.

B
Wesley Smith
y Wesley Smith - Published in the Weekly Standard, (Link)

July 28, 2014 edition.

Should the law compel nursing homes to starve certain Alzheimer’s patients to death? This is not an alarmist fantasy, but a real question, soon to be forced by advocates of ever-wider application of assisted euthanasia. The intellectual groundwork is already being laid for legislation or court orders requiring nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities to withhold spoon feeding from dementia patients who, though they take food and drink willingly, once requested the withholding of life-prolonging measures in an advance medical directive.

Consider the Bentley case in Canada. A lawsuit was filed in 2013 in British Columbia by the family of an Alzheimer’s patient named Margot Bentley. Bentley had signed an advance directive instructing that she be refused life-sustaining treatment—or be euthanized—if she became unable to recognize her children.

Bentley is now in that lamentable condition. But she doesn’t need life-sustaining treatment like a respirator or feeding tube, and she willingly takes food and water by mouth. Moreover, euthanasia is illegal in Canada. Thus, there is no legal way of making sure she dies immediately.

Margot Bentley
Bentley’s family thinks this is unjust and asked a court to order her nursing home to starve her to death. The trial court refused, in part because Bentley’s advance directive did not specifically reject spoon-feeding. The case is now on appeal. Of all the current litigation aimed at undermining the sanctity of human life, this may be the most dangerous. If successful, it would open the door to what I call VSED-by-proxy. Let me explain.

Suicide itself is not illegal, and patients have long enjoyed the right to refuse medical treatment, even if their refusal hastens death. For decades, moreover, courts have deemed artificial nutrition and hydration to be medical treatment. Removing or withholding unwanted feeding tubes and respirators is a routine part of contemporary medical practice. But euthanasia advocates want more. They argue that people who don’t require medical treatment to remain alive also have a “right to die.”

Already, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont allow assisted suicide: Doctors may prescribe lethal drugs for patients expected to die within six months. Some activists urge that elderly people who are “tired of life,” those with disabilities, and the chronically ill should also have a legal means of obtaining help to end their lives. Here’s how the assisted-suicide advocacy organization Compassion & Choices makes the case in one of its booklets:

Some call us because they feel overwhelmed by the symptoms of chronic and progressive illnesses that fill their days with misery and suffering. There are also those who may not be seriously ill but are simply “done.” After eight or nine decades of life, they want information about ways to gently slip away in a peaceful and dignified manner.

Regardless of their clinical circumstances, these individuals share a common desire to maintain autonomy over their own end-of-life decisions. They want to die as they have lived, making the important decisions that affect their lives with collaboration and support from trusted healthcare providers, family members and other caregivers.
People like these are prime candidates for suicide by voluntary starvation, known in euthanasia parlance as “voluntarily stopping eating and drinking” (VSED). A person commits VSED by refusing all sustenance. To ensure that death is not impeded, the suicidal person leaves instructions explicitly refusing any medical intervention to nourish them. Because VSED can cause agonizing symptoms, advocates suggest that the suicidal person find a sympathetic doctor or hospice to provide pain relief.

(It is important to distinguish here between VSED and the point in the process of dying when a patient naturally stops taking food and drink. This is not suicide, and starvation is not the cause of death. Indeed, in such cases it is medically inappropriate to force food upon the patient.)

But what about a Margot Bentley —someone suffering from dementia, who eats and drinks willingly, but who once signed an advance directive calling for the withholding of treatment? Some bioethicists—reflecting the mix of utilitarianism and autonomy-worship that predominates in the field—have leapt to support VSED-by-proxy. Writing in the May-June 2014 Hastings Center Report, Paul T. Menzel and M. Colette Chandler-Cramer argue for allowing people to use an advance directive to order themselves starved if they become incompetent:

Such directives are .  .  . arguably already legal. They follow logically from the intersection of two existing legal rights: directives for refusing life support and VSED. The principle behind [advance medical directives] is that people do not lose their rights when they become incompetent; someone else just has to exercise those rights for them. 
The driving element behind VSED is that forcing people to ingest food is as objectionable an intrusion on bodily integrity, privacy, and liberty as imposing unwanted medical treatment. Thus, if incompetent people do not lose their rights to refuse life-saving treatment, then people do not lose their right to VSED when incompetent either.
This is rank sophistry. Even today, the courts do not deem spoon-feeding to be medical treatment. It is basic, humane care—no different ethically from turning a patient to prevent bed sores or providing hygiene. Just as an advance directive instructing that a patient not be kept clean should be disregarded, so should an order to starve a patient.

Second, VSED is suicide. Legally requiring nursing homes to commit VSED-by-proxy would be forcing them to kill—and to kill cruelly. A legal regimen that did this would drive many doctors and nurses out of medicine.

Third, even in the states where assisted suicide is legal, the person being helped by a doctor to die has to be capable of making decisions. Demented patients are incompetent.

Finally, in cases such as Bentley’s, the patient is not being force-fed. She is taking nourishment willingly.

Some ethicists are dismissing this last objection. Thaddeus Mason Pope in the Spring 2014 Journal of Clinical Ethics argues that Margot Bentley should be starved because she is now incompetent and thus is legally unqualified to change her mind about dying.

National Euthanasia Symposium 2014


October 4, 2014 (9:00 am - 5:00 pm)
Registration Fee: $99 regular, $79 for Students/Persons with disabilities.
Registration includes lunch and refreshment breaks.
Register for the Euthanasia Symposium.

Speakers include: 
  • Gerbert van Loenen - author of the book: What happens once euthanasia has become legal, an experience from the Netherlands.
  • Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick - Not Dead Yet UK.
  • Amy Hasbrouck - Toujours Vivant / Not Dead Yet Québec.
  • Nic Steenhout - Vivre dans la Dignité (Living with Dignity) Québec.
  • Michel Racicot - Lawyer, Physicians Alliance Québec.
  • Hugh Scher - Legal Counsel, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.
  • Alex Schadenberg - Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.
  • Diana Ford - A personal story about the death of her father.
At the Best Western Plus Gatineau - Ottawa Hotel 
131 Rue Laurier, Gatineau QC.
(less than 1 km from downtown Ottawa)
Book your room for $120 per night at: 1-800-265-8550. Password: Euthanasia Symposium.

Register for the Euthanasia Symposium by contacting EPC at: 1-877-439-3348 or by emailing EPC at: info@epcc.ca.

A donation of $79 will enable a student / person with disabilities to attend the Symposium.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Baroness Jane Campbell: Assisted suicide could lure me to the grave.

Last Friday, the UK House of Lords debated the Falconer assisted suicide bill, a bill that would legalize assisted suicide in a similar way to the Oregon assisted suicide law in the US.

Jane Campbell
Sign the petition against the assisted suicide bill in Britain.

In an article published in the Daily Mail, it was reported that Baroness Jane Campbell who lives with spinal muscular atrophy told her peers that assisted suicide:
'offers no comfort to me - it frightens me.' 
'I did not ask it and I do not want it, but it is about me nevertheless.'
Baroness Campbell spoke about the difficult times in her life. She told the House of Lords:
that in moments of despair, she might be tempted to ask for assisted dying - and if the law changed, doctors would not stop her. 
'It frightens me because in periods of greatest difficulty I know I might be tempted to use it. It only adds to the burdens and challenges life holds for me.'
In response to the criticism that she would not qualify under this assisted suicide bill, Campbell stated:
'Before anyone disputes this, imagine that it is already law and that I ask for assistance to die. 
'Do your Lordships think that I would be refused? 
Tanni Grey-Thompson
You can be sure that there would be doctors and lawyers willing to support my right to die.'
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, refuted in her speech the comment that only 80 people die each year by assisted suicide in Oregon. Grey-Thompson, a paralympic star stated:
Oregon has only 3million people, if the same trend was replicated in the UK some 1,600 people a year could take their own lives in doctors’ surgeries or Dignitas-style clinics.
The Daily Mail article then reported on the speech by Lord Tebbit, whose wife Margaret was paralysed by an IRA bomb. Tebbit said that in moments of despair his wife has stated:
“I would be better dead so that you could get on with your life.”
Tebbit stated:
“I have no children but I have several vultures awaiting my death.” 
Theo Boer
This Bill will be a breeding ground for vultures, individual and corporate. It creates too much financial incentive for the taking of life.’
Last week, a Dutch ethicist, Dr Theo Boer wrote an article about how he has changed his mind concerning assisted suicide. Dr. Boer stated: 
‘Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely ever to go back in again.’
The House of Lords did not vote on the Falconer assisted suicide bill. The assisted suicide bill will likely receive further debate in the fall.

Links to similar articles:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Why euthanasia pioneers are changing their minds.

This article was written by Licia Corbella and published in the Calgary Herald.

Licia Corbella
By Licia Corbella, Calgary Herald columnist - July 18.


Recently, an influential and vocal supporter of euthanasia in the Netherlands changed his mind.

Theo Boer, who not only supported euthanasia, but was a member of one of five Dutch regional euthanasia review committees for nine years — which approved thousands of deaths — now admits that he “was wrong — terribly wrong.”

"I used to be a supporter of legislation. But now, with 12 years of experience, I take a different view,” writes Boer (whose column was published in the Herald on Friday, but was originally written for the Daily Mail in the U.K.) to urge British people to not head down the same “slippery slope” that the Netherlands has skated down at an alarming speed.

The numbers of Dutch residents who are seeking euthanasia “show an increase of 15 per cent annually, year after year,” complains Boer.
Theo Boer

“Euthanasia is on the way to becoming a default mode of dying for cancer patients,” he wrote.

Most troubling to Boer is the latest development in which the Dutch Right to Die Society, NVVE, has established a network of mobile euthanasia clinics, with the sole purpose of killing people who ask to die. “Doctors of the End of Life Clinic have only two options: administer life-ending drugs or send the patient away,” writes Boer.

In other words, don’t bother to seek anti-depressants or receive some grief counselling. It’s death or nothing. Nice. The new face of compassion.

In the first years after euthanasia became legal in the Netherlands in 2001, “hardly any patients with psychiatric illnesses or dementia were killed by their physicians, but those “numbers are now sharply on the rise,” states Boer.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Public support for Assisted Suicide in the UK drops to 43% when arguments against are heard.

This article was written by Dr Peter Saunders and published on his blog on July 18.

Peter Saunders
By Dr Peter Saunders

There is ample poll data showing that the majority of the British public support legalising assisted suicide (AS) in principle.

The former Voluntary Euthanasia Society (now rebranded Dignity in Dying) claims a figure of 80% although I have previously argued that such levels of support are uncommitted, uninformed and unconvincing.

However, there has been very little poll data gauging public attitudes in light of the various empirical and rational arguments against AS. That is, until now.

An extraordinary new poll has demonstrated that public attitudes change dramatically once some of the key practical implications of AS are considered.


In a new Comres/CARE poll published today and reported by the Daily Telegraph respondents were presented with the following scenario:
‘A new Bill is due to be debated in the House of Lords which is designed to enable mentally competent adults in the UK who are terminally ill, and who have declared a clear and settled intention to end their own life, to be provided with assistance to commit suicide by self-administering lethal drugs. Two doctors would need to countersign their declaration and be satisfied that the person has a condition which cannot be reversed by treatment and is reasonably expected to die within 6 months. In principle would you agree or disagree with this proposal?’
73% agreed (38% strongly), 12% disagreed and 14% were in the ‘don’t know’ category.

So far there’s nothing that surprising. It would be odd for people not to be moved by some of the tragic stories of the ‘hard cases’ and to say they support a means of alleviating such suffering.

But then those who supported AS in principle were asked which of the following arguments would make them change their minds. Each statement below was randomised throughout the survey in order to assess which argument moved opinion the most.

The answers were truly astounding.

Overall 42% of those who originally supported the bill changed their mind on the basis of at least one of the arguments.

When these were added back into the original sample, aggregating all who opposed as a result of the arguments put to them, and incorporating all who still supported AS having heard each argument, they found the following:

43% support AS, 43% oppose it and 14% don’t know.
So hearing the arguments against AS causes support for AS to collapse from 73% to 43% - that is, to less than half!

Here are the arguments with the percentage change each cause on those who initially backed Falconer’s proposals.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Québec - Medical aid in dying: Court challenge.




Montreal, July 17, 2014 – As announced when Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, was adopted, the citizen movement Living with Dignity (LWD) and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia (the Alliance), representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, have today filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal. The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of An Act respecting end-of-life care that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a euphemism used to describe euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.


The Alliance and LWD are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under the Criminal Code. It is a subject-matter which is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

In addition, the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, the Alliance and LWD request an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgement before the expected coming into force of the Act on December 10, 2015.


-30-

Sources: The citizen network Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against euthanasia.

For more information or to organize an interview, please contact: 

Nicolas Steenhout 
Director General, Living with Dignity 
438-931-1233

Care Not Killing Alliance: Falconer bill is a recipe for the abuse of elderly and disabled people

This article was originally published by Peter Saunders on his blog.

On the eve of the House of Lords’ debate on Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill, Care Not Killing, an alliance of 40 organisations, has called on peers to reject the proposed legislation on grounds of public safety.

Campaign Director Dr Peter Saunders said, 

‘This bill is a recipe for the abuse of elderly and disabled people. The pressure vulnerable people will feel to end their lives if assisted suicide is legalised will be greatly accentuated at this time of economic recession with families and health budgets under pressure. It will quite simply steer them toward suicide.’ 
‘Any change in the law to allow assisted suicide or euthanasia would place pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden upon others. This would especially affect people who are disabled, elderly, sick or depressed.' 
‘In Washington, where assisted suicide is legal under a law very similar to that proposed by Falconer, 61% of people opting for assisted suicide give the fear of being a burden to family, relatives and caregivers as a key reason.’

The 85 assisted suicide deaths in 2012 in Oregon would equate with a similar law to 1,232 in England and Wales (14 times that of Oregon) and the Oregon experience raises many other causes for concern:
  1. There has been a steady increase in annual numbers of people undergoing assisted suicide in Oregon.
  2. The Oregon health department is funding assisted suicide but not treatment for some cancer patients.
  3. Patients are living for many years after having been prescribed lethal drugs for ‘terminal illness’ showing that the eligibility criteria are being stretched.
  4. The vast majority of those choosing to kill themselves are doing so for existential reasons rather than on the basis of real medical symptoms.
  5. Fewer than three per cent of patients are being referred for formal psychiatric or psychological evaluation.
  6. More than ten per cent of patients dying under the Act do not have terminal illnesses.
  7. Some doctors know the patient for less than a week before prescribing the lethal drugs.
  8. The fact that almost a third of patients dying under the Act report inadequate pain control or concerns about pain shows that palliative care provision in Oregon is unsatisfactory.
  9. The presence of no independent witnesses in over 80% of cases is a recipe for elder abuse.
  10. According to research 25% of cases of assisted suicide in Oregon involve people who are clinically depressed

Elder abuse and neglect by families, carers and institutions are real and dangerous and this is why strong laws are necessary. Action on Elder Abuse, for example, states that more than 500,000 elderly people are abused every year in the United Kingdom. Sadly, the majority of such abuse and neglect is perpetrated by friends and relatives, very often with financial gain as the main motive. It would be very naive to think that many of the elderly people who are abused and neglected each year, as well as many severely disabled individuals, would not be put under pressure to end their lives if assisted suicide were permitted by law.

Dr Nitschke has 48 hours to defend being struck off by medical board.

This article was originally published on July 17 by Paul Russell on the HOPE Australia blog.

B
Paul Russell
y Paul Russell, the Director of HOPE Australia (Preventing euthanasia and assisted suicide) and the Vice Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition - International.


The head of Exit International, Dr Philip Nitschke held a press conference ahead of an Exit meeting in Melbourne Australia today.

The Age Newspaper is reporting that Dr Nitschke claims that he has 48 hours to mount a defence against the medical board of Australia, AHPRA, whom the report says, wants Nitschke deregistered as a medical practitioner.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), now has a media statement on their website confirming this move, saying:

Immediate action is a serious step. The threshold for the Board to take immediate action is high and is defined in section 156 of the National Law. To take immediate action, the Board must reasonably believe that: 
because of their conduct, performance or health, the practitioner poses a ‘serious risk to persons’ and that it is necessary to take immediate action to protect public health or safety, 
or that the practitioner’s registration was improperly obtained, 
or the practitioner or student’s registration was cancelled or suspended in another jurisdiction.
Read the full press statement HERE:

The ABC News is confirming: Speaking in Melbourne, Dr Nitschke said 
"the Medical Board, under pressure, has suddenly decided that immediate deregistration seems to be the best option. So that's what they decided to do."
This detail comes on the back of an ABC 7:30 Report recently where it was disclosed that Dr Nitschke spoke and corresponded with a Perth WA man who admitted in an email to Exit that he intended to suicide. Suicide Prevention authorites were outraged that Dr Nitschke admitted on television that he did nothing to try and stop the man.

In what is seen by this writer as a very low blow, Nitschke is claiming that the man in question, Nigel Brayley, was a serial killer. As if that is some justification for not acting and for welcoming his death. It is known that Brayley did have an association with the death of two people - one his wife - but no charges had been laid against him and it remains unclear whether he was ever considered a suspect.

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