Thursday, November 16, 2017

New South Wales Australia defeats euthanasia bill.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Congratulations to HOPE Australia and all of the caring people who are standing for the protection of vulnerable Australians.

The New South Wales (NSW) Australia euthanasia bill was defeated by a vote of 20 to 19 in the Upper House of parliament.

ABC News reported that MP's in NSW were given a free conscience vote on the euthanasia bill. According to ABC News:

Christian Democrat Fred Nile said legalisation was a dangerous move. 
"How will such a bill, once passed, impact on how we see value in life?" he said. 
Liberal backbencher Taylor Martin argued euthanasia was comparable to re-introducing the death penalty. 
"One of the main reasons why Australia stopped the barbaric practise of capital punishment is because it is so final," he said. 
"We must consider this bill through a similar lens."
Similar to the experience in the United States, when elected representatives examine the language of the legislation, they will often change their minds and vote against the bill. 

Lawyer, Margaret Dore, from Choice is an Illusion wrote an excellent evaluation of the NSW euthanasia bill.

The euthanasia bill in Victoria Australia is being debated in the Senate. I HOPE that the Senators in Victoria will examine the language of the bill and vote against it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Assisted Suicide Is a Prescription for Abuse

Nancy Elliott
I am a former three-term State Representative in the state of New Hampshire USA. I was alarmed to see that Victoria may be close to passing a bill to legalize assisted suicide.

Four years ago, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted down a similar bill in a bipartisan vote. The vote was an overwhelming 3 to 1 defeat, 219 to 66.*

Many representatives who initially thought that they were for the law, became uncomfortable when they studied it further. Contrary to promoting “choice” for older people, assisted suicide laws are a prescription for abuse. They empower heirs and others to pressure and abuse older people to cut short their lives. This is especially an issue when the older person has money. There is NO assisted-suicide bill that you can write to correct this huge problem.

Do not be deceived.

Nancy Elliott
Amherst, New Hampshire USA

Swiss assisted suicide deaths increase by 30% in 2015

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Swiss statistics office reported that there were 965 reported assisted suicide deaths in 2015 up from 742 in 2014. Earlier media reports suggested that there were 999 Swiss assisted suicide deaths in 2015. There were 86 reported assisted suicide deaths in 2000.

The Swiss statistics indicate that 539 women and 426 men died by assisted suicide compared to 279 woman and 792 men who died by suicide (not assisted). There were 67,606 total Swiss deaths in 2015.

According to news the number of assisted suicide deaths in Swiss nursing homes, by the Exit suicide clinic, increased from 10 deaths in 2007 to 92 in 2015. The news service reported that the Swiss association for ethics and medicine found this trend alarming and stated:
“To end lives in this way gives it [the practice of assisted suicide] an institutional seal of approval.”
In August 2015 a healthy depressed British woman died by assisted suicide in Switzerland.

Pietro D'Amico
In April 2013, Pietro D’Amico, a 62-year-old magistrate from Calabria Italy, died by assisted suicide at a suicide clinic in Basel Switzerland. His autopsy showed that he had 
a wrong diagnosis.

A 2014 Swiss assisted suicide study found that 16% of the people who died at Swiss assisted suicide clinics had no underlying illness.

In February 2014, Oriella Cazzanello, an 85 year-old healthy woman died at a Swiss suicide clinic. The letter she sent her family stated that she was unhappy about how she looked.

In May 2014, the Exit suicide clinic extended assisted suicide to healthy elderly people who live with physical or psychological pain. This decision has led to an increase in assisted deaths.

The Swiss assisted suicide statistics prove that when assisted suicide is accepted then deaths by assisted suicide will continue to increase and the reasons for assisted suicide expand.

Margreet: "She was euthanized without consent (in the Netherlands). They decided."

The Fatal Flaws film (Spring 2018) questions the long term effects of assisted death laws on society.

Australia is currently debating the legalization of euthanasia. Political leaders and decision makers need to see this film clip.

The most shocking story in Fatal Flaws comes from Margreet whose mother was euthanized in the Netherlands without consent. Please watch and share this film clip.

Kevin Dunn traveled to the Netherlands, throughout the United States and Canada to interview people with personal stories concerning euthanasia and assisted suicide laws.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition needs donations to complete this important film project (Donation link).

The first video, The Euthanasia Deception, continues to be an incredible success. We need you to enable Fatal Flaws to also be an incredible success.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Suicide prevention leader opposes legalizing euthanasia/assisted suicide in Australia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Warwich Baines, a board member of a suicide prevention charity in Australia, wrote a letter that was published by Central Western Daily on November 12, 2017 under the title: Euthanasia bill enables killing of adults

Baines writes from a straight forward point of view. He states:
THE euthanasia/assisted suicide legislation currently before parliaments in Victoria and NSW are the latest in a long line of attempts to legalise the killing of adults in Australia. 
If that sounds jarring that’s because it is. 
Irrespective of the euphemism – ‘voluntary assisted dying’ is currently in vogue – what is actually being sought is a dystopian two-tier society: those whose lives we want to preserve and those to whom we are effectively saying ‘you are better off dead’.
Baines then expresses his support for improvements in palliative care, but he states:
Yet high quality palliative care does not satisfy advocates. Why? According to the NSW parliamentary working group “the fundamental principle behind the call for legislating to allow for assisted dying is to provide dignity to people who wish to pass peacefully on their own terms”.
Baines then refers to the cultural trends:
In our increasingly individualistic society, emotional appeals to absolute autonomy over our own lives are attractive. 
But we are not islands. The choices we make have consequences for others. 
It will be the weak – the lonely and the isolated – who will be vulnerable, who will find it difficult to withstand the pressure to relieve others of the burden of their existence. 
That is the reality where euthanasia has already been introduced, despite so-called safeguards. 
I am a board member of an Orange-based suicide prevention charity that seeks to care for vulnerable people. 
Please, let’s not make them even more vulnerable.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Patient's recovery convinces doctor to fight euthanasia laws.

This article was published by The Australian on November 11, 2017, link, for pdf, link.

By Cameron Stewart

Dr. Kenneth Stevens
When American doctor Kenneth Stevens heard about Victoria’s plan to introduce assisted dying for the terminally ill he couldn’t help but recall the story of his patient Jeanette Hall.

Hall, then 55, came to Stevens in 2000 after being diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer in Portland, Oregon, a state that in 1997 introduced laws enabling doctors to prescribe fatal pills to the terminally ill. 
She walked into Stevens’ office and told him she wanted to die, but Stevens, a cancer specialist, disputed the diagnosis of her original doctor.

“I told her that I believed this was potentially curable but she said ‘Dr. Stevens, you don’t understand, I voted for the law and I don’t want to go through all the treatment, I don’t want to lose my hair, I don’t want to go through all that’,’’ Stevens says.

The specialist delayed her ­request to write a prescription for the fatal drugs and instead tried to talk her out of it.

Jeanette Hall
I learned she had a son who is in the police academy and I said, ‘wouldn’t you like to see him graduate, wouldn’t you like to see him get married’ and eventually she realized she really did have something to live for,” Stevens says.

Hall, a bookkeeper and a single mother, agreed to have radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Within months, Stevens says her tumor “just melted away.” “She’s still alive 17 years later with no evidence of any recurrence of the cancer and one of her favourite phrases is ‘it’s great to be alive’,” he says.

Hall’s unusual story turned Stevens from being merely an opponent of assisted suicide into an activist against it. 
A professor emeritus and a former chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland, he has treated thousands of patients with cancer.

He says he came to oppose assisted suicide from his observations as a doctor, rather than from any religious standpoint.

“Actually, my first wife died 35 years ago of cancer so I’ve seen it not only from the professional side but also from the family side,” he says. 
“I continue to be against because I don’t feel that is the role of a doctor to kill a patient or to order them to die.

Hall, now 72, no longer wants to speak to the media about her story because of the attention it has garnered after it was co-opted by campaigners against assisted suicide.

But several years ago she wrote of her experience. “I did not want to suffer,” she wrote. “I wanted to do our law and I wanted Dr Stevens to help me. Instead, he encouraged me to not give up and ultimately I decided to fight the cancer. I had both chemotherapy and radiation. I am so happy to be alive.” “If Dr. Stevens had believed in assisted suicide, I would be dead. Assisted suicide should not be legal.”

When Stevens read about Victoria’s proposed assisted suicide laws he wrote to The Australian in a letter published this week.

“With the legalisation of assisted suicide, Oregon’s health plan has been empowered to offer patients suicide in lieu of treatments,’’ he wrote. “Don’t let legal assisted suicide come to Victoria.”

Victorian politicians say they have closely followed the Oregon model for the state’s voluntary assisted dying scheme, which will go before the upper house for a final vote next week.

The scheme’s authors say they were drawn to the Oregon model because after 20 years it was still regarded internationally as one of the most conservative schemes. 

Cameron Stewart is also US contributor for Sky News Australia.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands increasing quickly.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Guardian News published an article by Daniel Boffey concerning the increasing number of euthanasia deaths at the Levenseindekliniek (euthanasia clinic) in the Hague and in the Netherlands in general. According to the article, the number of euthanasia deaths will exceed 7000 in 2017 representing, at least, a 67% increase in deaths since 2012.
Boffey interviewed Steven Pleiter, the director of the euthanasia clinic who is hiring more staff for his death clinic. From the article:
Steven Pleiter, director at the clinic, said that in response to growing demand he was now on a recruitment drive aimed at doubling the number of doctors and nurses on his books willing to go into people’s homes to administer lethal injections to patients with conditions ranging from terminal illnesses to crippling psychiatric disorders.
Pleiter stated that he has 57 doctors on call and he may soon require 100 doctors.
“It’s the first time,” Pleiter said of the recruitment drive, sitting in his bright and airy office near the centre of The Hague, where the clinic’s neighbours include legal firms and a kindergarten. “Until today we rarely needed to search for doctors. That is changing now. We need a dramatic growth in doctors as the numbers have changed so much... 
“We ask the doctors to work eight to 16 hours a week for this organisation. A full-time job involved in the death of people is probably a bit too much, and ‘probably’ is a euphemism.”
Theo Boer
In response to Pleiter, Boffey interviewed Professor Theo Boer, who is a past member of a regional euthanasia review committee and now believes that the law has gone too far.

“Starting from 2007, the numbers increased suddenly,” Boer said. “It was as if the Dutch people needed to get used to the idea of an organised death. I know lots of people who now say that there is only one way they want to die and that’s through injection. It is getting too normal.” 
“In the beginning, 98% of cases were terminally ill patients with perhaps days to live. That’s now down to 70%.
The Guardian article brought forth interesting information, but the article fails to look deeper into the Netherlands euthanasia law.

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) (August 3, 2017) published the data from a Netherlands euthanasia study entitled: End-of-Life Decisions in the Netherlands over 25 years.
The data from the study indicates that in 2015 there were 7254 assisted deaths (6672 euthanasia deaths, 150 assisted suicide deaths, 431 terminations of life without request) and 18,213 deaths whereby the medical decisions that were intended to bring about the death in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands 2015 euthanasia report stated that there were 5561 reported assisted deaths in 2015 and yet the data from the study indicates that there were 7254 assisted deaths in 2015.

Therefore, according to the data from the study, in 2105, 1693 (23%) of the assisted deaths were not reported and 431 assisted deaths were without request.

Since the Netherlands euthanasia law uses a voluntary self-reporting system, meaning the doctor who lethally injects the patient also submits the report and since people do not self-report abuse of the law, therefore the law enables doctors to cover-up "abuse" of the law.

Is it actually possible to know how many people are dying by euthanasia in the Netherlands? Is it actually possible to determine how many  involuntary euthanasia deaths occur in the Netherlands?

German nurse may have killed more than 100 patients.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Niels Högel
Reuters News article is reporting that Niels Högel's, the German nurse who was convicted of killing 2 patients between 2000 - 2005, is now suspected to have killed at least 102 people. According to Reuters:
He has confessed to some killings, but police said in August that he could not remember all the details of his actions, prompting them to exhume the remains of 134 people with links to Niels H. to identify further victims. 
The investigation has now turned up evidence leading authorities to suspect Niels H. killed 38 people at a clinic in the northern German city of Oldenburg and 62 at one in nearby Delmenhorst, Oldenburg police and the city’s public prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Thursday. 
That is in addition to two counts of murder for which an Oldenburg court sentenced him in 2015.
In August, German police indicated that Högel's was responsible for at least 86 deaths, Reuters suggests that the death count may continue to rise.

If anyone thinks that Högel's murders could have been prevented if assisted death was legal and regulated in Germany, think again.

None of the euthanasia laws have a mechanism to prevent this type of abuse of the law and all of the euthanasia laws require doctor who lethally inject a person to self-report the death.

A recent Netherlands study indicated that in 2015, 431 assisted deaths were done without explicit request while a Belgian study indicated that in 2013, at least 1000 assisted deaths were done without explicit request.

Medical killing is a world-wide phenomenon.

Suspected medical abuse/murder cases are usually not reported since the medical system lacks effective oversight. When abuse is uncovered, they rarely report the problem to the legal authorities based on fear of lawsuits as in the Elizabeth Wettlauffer case in Ontario.

In December 2016, in Italy, an emergency room anaesthetist Leonardo Cazzaniga, 60, and nurse Laura Taroni, 40, were arrested for the deaths of at least five patients but prosecutors were examining the medical files of more than 50.

Charles Cullen, a nurse who was also a medical serial killer in the United States. known as the 'Angel of Death' murdered at least 40 patients to become one of America's worst serial killers spoke from prison to chillingly claim: 'I thought I was helping.'

Dr Michael Swango is believed to have killed 35 - 60 patients, and similar to Cullen, he was simply asked to resign, or moved to another medical center. Aino Nykopp-Koski is a nurse who was convicted of killing 5 patients in Finland. In March, 2013 Dr Virginia Soares de Souza was arrested in Brazil and is suspected of killing 300 patients. Then there is Dr Harold Shipman, who was convicted of killing 15 people in England but is suspected to have killed between 250 and 400 of his patients. Then there is the case of William Melchert-Dinkel, the Minnesota nurse who was convicted of 2 counts of assisted suicide for counselling depressed people to commit suicide.

New study casts doubt on effectiveness of euthanasia regulation in the Netherlands

This article was published by Mercatornet on November 9, 2017
Review committees struggle to judge if patients are eligible

By Xavier Simons

“Strict”, “scrupulous” and “rigid”. These are some of the words that have been used to describe the regulation of euthanasia in the Netherlands. But how closely are doctors actually monitored?

A new study by researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that the Dutch euthanasia review committees (RTE) struggle to judge whether doctors have correctly applied criteria, and are ultimately dependent on the transparency with which physicians report cases of euthanasia.

The study, authored by David Miller and Dr Scott Kim from the NIH’s bioethics department, analyses 33 cases from 2012-2016 in which the RTE committees deemed that doctors had failed to meet due care criteria.

The results are revealing. In light of the “open-ended” and “evolving” nature of the Dutch criteria for euthanasia, the RTE committees focus primarily on whether doctors have followed procedural regulations, rather than whether the patient was actually eligible for euthanasia.

“Evaluating patient’s [euthanasia] requests requires complicated judgements in implementing criteria that are intentionally open-ended, evolving and fraught with acknowledged interpretive difficulties. Our review suggests that the Dutch review system’s primary mode of handling this difficult is a trust-based system that focuses on the procedural thoroughness and professionalism of physicians”.
The study found that out of 33 cases reviewed, 22 failed to meet only the procedural due care criteria (i.e., due medical care and consulting an independent physician). “These criteria are more clearly operationalised than other criteria”, the authors observe.

In seven of the cases, the committee deemed that the consulting physician was not sufficiently independent from the euthanasia physician. In 14 of the cases, physicians were found not to have followed “due medical care”. The authors write that “this criterion was most commonly not met because physicians incorrectly used drugs, dosing regimens (too low), rout of administration (intramuscular instead of intravenous) or order of administration of EAS drugs (eg, paralytic before sedative).”

Even when substantive criteria were at issue, the authors write that: 
“the RTE’s focus was generally not on whether the physician made a ‘correct’ judgement, but on whether the physician followed a thorough process (ie, whether the physicians should have consulted specialists or evaluated the patient further, but not whether the patient should have received EAS)”.
In six of the cases, the RTE found that the euthanasia physician had not been thorough enough in applying the “unbearable suffering” criterion.

Xavier Symons is Deputy Editor of BioEdge, which is also published by New Media Foundation. He is doing a PhD in bioethics at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne. This article has been republished from BioEdge.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Belgium refuses to prosecute doctor who killed depressed woman, son heads to top European court

STRASBOURG, France – ADF International filed an  application with the European Court of Human Rights Tuesday on behalf of Tom Mortier, who wasn’t informed of his mother’s death until the day after a doctor killed her for being depressed. The case, Mortier v. Belgium, focuses on the right to life and the right to family life, which are both protected under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Belgian authorities have refused to pursue Mortier’s case, which opens the door for him to apply to the top court in Europe and is now his only opportunity to obtain justice for the loss of his mother. The court’s findings on doctor-prescribed death will impact 800 million Europeans in 47 countries if the court agrees to take the case.

"The big problem in our society is that we have apparently lost the meaning of taking care of each other,” said Mortier. “My mother had a severe mental problem. She had to cope with depression throughout her life. Psychiatrists treated her for years, and eventually the contact between us was broken. A year later, she received a lethal injection. Neither the oncologist who administered the injection nor the hospital had informed me or any of my siblings that our mother was even considering euthanasia. I found out a day later when the hospital contacted me to ask me to take care of the practicalities.”
When Belgium first legalized euthanasia, officials made promises that it would be well regulated with strict criteria; however, 15 years later, the number of cases each year has increased 780 percent from when it was first legalized. Belgium went further in 2014 by legalizing child euthanasia.

Cases of worsening eyesight, hearing, and mobility have been considered “unbearable suffering” for the purposes of qualifying patients for euthanasia in Belgium. Lawmakers have proposed limiting freedom of conscience and silencing doctors who are opposed to carrying out the killing of such patients. Most recently, in the Netherlands, a proposed bill would allow euthanasia simply for being “tired of life.”

“We will be judged as a society by how we care for our most vulnerable,” said ADF International Director of European Advocacy Robert Clarke, who represents Mortier before the European court. “International law has never established a so-called ‘right to die.’ On the contrary, it solidly affirms a right to life—particularly for the most vulnerable among us.” 
“The slippery slope is on full public display in Belgium, and we now see the tragic consequences,” Clarke added. “More than five people per day are killed in this way, and that may yet be the tip of the iceberg. Belgium has set itself on a trajectory that, at best, implicitly tells its most vulnerable that their lives are not worth living.”
ADF International, a global human rights organization advocating for respect of the right to life and for freedom of conscience, offers more information through a white paper titled “The Legalization of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.” It documents the harmful consequences of existing euthanasia laws and practices, showing that no so-called “right to die” exists in international law. The white paper aims to equip those involved in the debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide across the world and is a part of the Affirming Dignity campaign.

Mortier v. Belgium
Description: Oncologist Wim Distelmans killed Godelieva De Troyer, a Belgium citizen who was not terminally ill, because of “untreatable depression” in April 2012 after receiving consent from three other physicians who had no previous material involvement with her care. De Troyer’s doctor of more than 20 years had denied her request to be euthanized in September 2011, but after a 2,500 EUR donation to Life End Information Forum, an organization that Distelmans co-founded, he carried out her request to die because of the depression. The donation gives rise to an apparent conflict of interest. No one contacted Mortier before his mother’s death even though, Mortier says, her depression was not only largely the result of a break-up with a man, but also due to her feelings of distance from her family.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

South Dakota assisted suicide voter initiative fails.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Great News: The assisted suicide lobby failed to collect 13,781, the number of signatures that were needed to get assisted suicide on the ballot in 2018. This is a great victory for the Citizens Against Assisted Suicide in South Dakota and everyone in South Dakota.

The Citizens Against Assisted Suicide stated on their facebook page that:

The difficulty Ms. Mentele had collecting enough signatures both last election cycle and this one is pretty good evidence the vast majority of South Dakotans don’t support suicide... They didn’t lose by not trying, they lost because they were trying to sell what people didn’t want to buy.
South Dakota citizens will continue to be protected from assisted suicide.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Is euthanasia for psychological suffering changing Belgian medicine?

This article was published by Bioedge on November 4, 2017

By Michael Cook

Belgium’s debate over euthanasia for psychological suffering is heating up. On Tuesday 42 psychiatrists, psychologists and academics published an open letter calling for a national debate on euthanasia and mental illness.
Euthanasia because of unbearable and futile psychological suffering is very problematic. It is about people who are not terminal and, in principle, could live for many years. Therefore, extreme caution is appropriate both clinically and legally. The essence of the case seems to us that in estimating the hopelessness of one's suffering, the subjective factor cannot be eliminated ...
The current law, the signatories say, is far too vague and flexible:
"The law does not indicate the exact criteria for unbearable and psychological suffering. Any complaint about any carelessness in this area will only end in a legal ‘no man's land’. 
"More and more, no matter how many criteria there are, it depends simply on how an individual psychiatrist interprets or tests them, aided by the doctor's own assumptions and the patient's account of his symptoms."
Some people are dying unnecessarily, the signatories claim. To stand silently on the sidelines is a crime of neglect.

Euthanasia for psychological suffering is not a topic which greatly interests the Belgian media. But it was jolted out of its slumber by an exclusive article (in English) from Associated Press which also appeared in the Washington Post. This prompted a number of articles in the local press.

Lieve Thienpont
The article in the Washington Post highlighted a conflict between Wim Distelmans, the head of the federal euthanasia commission, and Lieve Thienpont, a psychiatrist who has processed a number of patients who wanted euthanasia on the basis of psychological suffering. According to the AP’s report, Distelmans believed that she had allowed patients to be euthanised who did not fulfill the criteria set down by Belgium’s euthanasia legislation.

Thienpont denied this and blamed some of her patients for misrepresenting her. “These patients are very desperate, stressed,” she said. “They say things that are not always correct.”

This week Ignaas Devisch, a bioethicist at Ghent University, questioned the argument put forward by Thienpont.

Talk about paternalism! Suddenly, people who were previously able to achieve full self-determination and who just requested euthanasia, were no longer able to articulate their thoughts in an appropriate way. 
This argument reveals a gigantic problem: if a psychiatrist who deals with requests for euthanasia due to a psychiatric disorder doubts at the same time whether those same people can make a clear judgment about themselves, that is so much as saying that their euthanasia request is a highly problematic case.
A long feature in the magazine Knack this week illustrates some of the difficulties that Belgian psychiatrists now find themselves in. One experienced psychiatrist complained that it had changed her relationship with her patients, even though she supports the idea of euthanasia.
"Strangely enough, people with less severe and readily treatable mental disorders – such as borderline personality disorders – request euthanasia more often than seriously ill patients. The offer really creates the question. Euthanasia has become a new symptom. Often it's a cry for help: 'Am I still worth living, or are you giving up on me?' But it is a symptom with particularly dangerous consequences... 
"If you refuse to take the euthanasia question seriously, you put the relationship with the patient at risk and lose your trust... 
"Since the euthanasia law there has been some kind of madness in our work. After the threat of suicide, for which you must be constantly on guard as a psychiatrist, there is now the threat of euthanasia. "

Saturday, November 4, 2017

American Association of Suicidology Betrays some suicidal people.

This article was published by Wesley Smith on November 3, 2017

Wesley Smith
By Wesley J Smith

Assisted suicide advocacy corrupts everything it touches; medical ethics, our views about the worth of the dying–even suicide prevention. 

The latter corruption usually comes in suicide prevention campaigns that ignore assisted suicide advocacy as a cause of some suicides–I believe of some who are not ill as well as those who are. 

But now, the American Association of Suicidology has ideologically determined that when a terminally ill person commits suicide with poison obtained from a doctor’s prescription, it isn’t really suicide. 

The statement gets into different motivations and the like–all of which are highly debatable and refutable–but that would take pages. 

So for here, I want to demonstrate how–a supposedly suicide prevention organization–seems to have begun the process of normalizing suicides of the ill and disabled. From its statement, “Suicide is not the Same as Physician Aid in Dying:” 
Nor does the fact that suicide and PAD [physician aid in dying] are not the same indicate that some cases identified as suicides may not be deaths that have a great deal in common with PAD. especially those in which poor health is a precipitating factor. 
Although such cases are typically labeled ‘suicide’ if the person initiated the causal process leading to death, medical conditions associated with suicide risk in potentially terminal illness—including (among the best studied) cancer, cardiovascular disease, COPD, Huntington’s, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, ALS, Parkinson’s, renal disease, and Alzheimer’s—may arise from the motivation to avoid a protracted, debilitating, and potentially painful bad death. 
Did you get that? Do you see the game that is afoot? 

The AAS statement is softening the ground for expanding supposedly not suicide “aid in dying” laws to include situations that “have a great deal in common with PAD,” e.g., people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and progressive conditions

Which makes sense since advocates never intended to limit assisted suicide to the terminally ill. Indeed, one of the contact persons on the statement, Margaret P. Battin, has been an advocate for “rational suicide” and euthanasia for decades. Frankly, she has as much business speaking for a suicide prevention organization as I do on behalf of a euthanasia advocacy group. 

And get this: 
While many forms of end-of-life care may be helpful, including palliative and hospice care, a patient’s choice of PAD that satisfies legal criteria is not an appropriate target for “suicide” prevention. 
That’s an utter corruption of hospice philosophy! Indeed, the great Dame Cecily Saunders, who founded hospice, believed that suicide prevention was a key hospice service that protected the equal dignity of her patients. 

Indeed, to assert that the dying (for now)–and eventually sick and disabled patients–don’t deserve the same life-protecting suicide prevention services as other suicidal people is a crass betrayal of those the AAS was created to serve and protect. Shame!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Judge grants injunction to continue treatment for Toronto Jewish man.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The family of a Toronto man won a court challenge when a Toronto Judge issued an interim injunction ensuring that Shalom Ouanounou (25) will not have his ventilator withdrawn.
According to the Canadian Jewish News:
Ouanounou, 25, is breathing with the help of a respirator, after suffering a cardiac arrest brought on by an asthmatic attack on Sept. 27. Doctors say he is brain dead and want to remove him from life support. A death certificate has already been issued. 
Ouanounou’s family say he is breathing, his heart is beating and that “Shalom and traditional Orthodox Judaism does not accept brain death as death.” 
“Under Jewish law, and in accord with Shalom’s beliefs, Shalom is alive and the application of the brain death criteria expressly violate Shalom’s religious beliefs and thus discriminate against him based on his religion,” read a statement provided by Max Ouanounou, the young man’s father.
Hugh Scher
Hugh Scher, the lawyer for the Ouanounou family, told the National Post:

Laws allowing loved ones to demand continued treatment of the brain-dead for religious reasons already exist south of the border in New Jersey, New York state, California and Illinois, he said. 
And it does not matter that there is a difference of opinion on the issue among Jewish leaders and scholars; what is important under human-rights law is an individual’s convictions.
Mark Handleman, a lawyer for the Ouanounou family told the National Post:
“We do many things in our multicultural society to reflect the firmly held beliefs of all members,” 
“Now you have a person at his most vulnerable moments. Why is that different than any other accommodation?”
The Judge ordered the hospital to continue providing medical treatment until a full hearing can be heard. The timeline for that hearing is unknown. The hearing will consider the deference that should be granted to a patient's religious beliefs concerning the definition of brain death.

Hugh Scher is also representing the family of Taquisha McKitty (27) who was declared brain dead by doctors at the William Osler Health system in Brampton Ontario. McKitty's family are arguing that Taquisha was prematurely declared brain dead, and is alive.

The Vaad Harabonim of Toronto and the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada are intervening in the case.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Is a Toronto Jewish man dead or alive?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Canadian Press reported that the family of a Toronto man is challenging Ontario's brain death guidelines because based on the Jewish faith, their son is not dead, but alive. The Canadian Press reported:
Shalom Ouanounou’s family is asking the court for an injunction to keep him on a ventilator and feeding tube while it pushes to have his death certificate revoked. 
A notice of application filed by Ouanounou’s father and substitute decision-maker shows he seeks to challenge the Canadian guidelines on brain death on grounds that they do not accommodate religious beliefs. 
The document says those guidelines define death as the irreversible cessation of brain function and of the capacity to breathe. 
It says that Orthodox Judaism, the faith Ouanounou practises, considers death to be complete cardiac and respiratory failure. 
The application argues that disregarding those beliefs would represent a serious assault on Ouanounou’s human dignity and religious liberty. 
It says the matter raises a “serious constitutional issue.”
Shalom Ouanounou, 25, had an asthma attack at home on September 27 and was taken by ambulance to Humber River Hospital, where he was intubated and placed on a respirator. Three days later doctors declared Ouanounou as brain dead and issued his death certificate.
The case is being heard in a Toronto court today. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is considering intervenor standing in this case.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Québec Euthanasia data from the Commission on end-of-life care

This article was written by Amy Hasbrouck and published by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition on October 31, 2017.

The number of euthanasia deaths continue to increase, compliance with the law remains questionable.

Link to the euthanasia report that was submitted to the Québec’s National Assembly on Thursday, October 26, 2017
Summary of information:
  • 37% of forms/reports from doctors, and an unnamed percentage of reports from institutions, needed more information. Some doctors openly refused to provide the additional information requested by the Commission.
  • The most frequent compliance problem is a lack of independence of the second doctor. Québec solved this problem by eliminating the requirement that the second doctor be independent. Footnote a. of table on page 22 (translated) reads: “Since February 2017, the Commission has adapted its assessment of this criterion in the light of ongoing work in partnership with the MSSS [Ministère de santé et services sociaux] and the CMQ [Collège des Médecins du Québec]. These cases would now be considered compliant, as long as the other criteria are met.”  
  • The Commission on End-of-life care has a backlog of 138 cases that have not been examined or ruled on.  
  • Forms/reports are not submitted in a timely manner by doctors.  
  • Confusion and inconsistency exists between euthanasia figures offered by the various sources; the “number of forms received and examined“ by the commission, the reports of the institutions, and the reports from the Collège des médecins du Québec.
  • A 5% or 7% error rate (with 3% undetermined) would not be acceptable where lives depended on the effective application of safeguards (e.g. the airline industry).  
  • The three cases in which the safeguards were clearly violated (two where the person did not have a “serious and incurable illness” and one where the person was not at the “end of life”) were not addressed as the crimes that they are. 
  • If people are not given information necessary to make a “free and informed” decision, this is another serious breach of the safeguards.
Data for the period of June 10, 2016 to June 9, 2017   
Statistics from institutions and the College des médecins
  • Continuous Palliative Sedation - (817)
  • Euthanasia requests - (992)
  • Euthanasia administered - Institutions (618)
  • Euthanasia administered - College des médecins (638)
    [June 10, 2016 - June 27, 2017]
  • Euthanasia not provided - (377)
Reasons why euthanasia was not done
  • Person not eligible/no longer eligible - (159)
  • Person died before euthanasia administered - (107)
  • Person withdrew request - (79)
  • Person was still in the process of being evaluated - (15)
  • Person returned home or transferred to another institution - (10)
  • Person was in distress and had a rapid decline - (5)
  • The request was suspended pending the person's choosing date - (2)
Number of forms/reports Examined - (634)
  • More information was needed on 37% of the forms - (237) 
  • Decisions were rendered on (579) forms  
  • Unexamined and undecided cases – (55)  
  • 92% of cases respected the law.
19 cases (3%) where Commission couldn’t reach a decision on compliance with the law,
  • 12 cases – supplemental information was still insufficient 
  • 4 cases – the commission did not receive the supplementary information requested  
  • 3 cases – the doctor refused to provide the supplementary information requested.
Non-respect of the law = 5% of the cases (31)
  • 20 cases – second physician wasn’t independent 
  • 7 cases – doctor who administered euthanasia did not have a conversation with the person to verify:
    • That the request was free and informed 
    • That suffering was persistent  
    • The consistency of the wish to die
  • 2 cases – the request was signed by a witness who wasn’t a recognized professional 
  • 1 case – person did not have a serious and incurable illness.  
  • 1 case – Person’s health insurance had expired.
Cumulative total data - December 10, 2015 - June 27, 2017
Forms/reports Examined = 786 but total of Institutions + College des médecins = 805

  • Cases ruled on = 648 
  • Unexamined and undecided – 138
  • 19 forms/reports appear to be missing.
90% of cases respected the law 
  • 3% insufficient information to make a determination 
  • 7% of cases did not comply with the law. (43)
Reasons why the case did not comply with the law:
  • Second doctor was not independent (29)* 
  • Doctor who administered euthanasia did not speak to the person to verify that: The request was free and informed, that suffering was persistent, the consistency of the wish to die. (7) 
  • The request was signed by a witness who wasn't a medical professional (2) 
  • The person did not have a "serious or incurable illness" (2) 
  • The person was not at the end-of-life (2) 
  • The person did not have health insurance (1)
* As of February 2017 these cases do not violate the law.

Data from institutions and the College des médecins Dec 10, 2015 - June 9, 2017
  • Continuous Palliative Sedation - (1080) 
  • Euthanasia requests - (1245) 
  • Euthanasia administered Institutions - (784)
  • Euthanasia administered - College des médecins - (805)
    [December 10, 2016 - June 27, 2017]
  • Euthanasia not done - (462)
Reasons why euthanasia was not done
  • Person not eligible/no longer eligible - (195) 
  • Person died before euthanasia administered - (128) 
  • Person withdrew request - (103) 
  • Person was still in the process of being evaluated - (18) 
  • Person returned home or transferred to another institution - (10) 
  • Person was in distress and had a rapid decline - (5) 
  • The request was suspended pending the person's choosing date - (3)
Amy Hasbrouck is the founder of the disability rights group: Toujour Vivant - Not Dead Yet and the President of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition