Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Euthanasia deaths increase by one third in Ontario from 2019 to 2020

This article was published by the Australian Care Alliance on January 19, 2020.

Reported deaths by euthanasia in Ontario jumped by one third (32.95%) from 1789 in 2019 to 2378 in 2020 according to statistics published by the Office of the Chief Coroner. 

Article: Euthanasia deaths continue to increase in Canada (Link).

There have been 6694 reported cases of euthanasia (and just 2 of assistance to suicide) in Ontario since it became legal throughout Canada on 17 June 2016. 

The youngest person to die by lethal injection in Ontario was 20 years of age and the oldest was 106 years old.

Although 63% of the cases involved people with a "cancer-related" condition just 2% of providers of euthanasia were oncologists, with 72% being family medicine or general practitioners.

In the whole of Canada in 2019 of the 81,913 deaths attributed to cancer-related conditions (neoplasms) 3,784 deaths (4.62%) were caused by euthanasia.

One supposed safeguard under the Canadian law is a "reflection period" of 10 clear days between a first request and the actual administration of the lethal substance to cause death. However, this was waived in more than one of four cases (26%) in Ontario in all cases of euthanasia through to December 2020.

In 736 cases (11% of all cases) the justification included "imminent death". If death is imminent why not just keep the person comfortable until they die naturally? Why administer a lethal poison?

A chart in the official report on euthanasia in Canada sets out the nature of the "suffering" cited by those who were requested to be killed by a lethal injection.

The official data shows that nearly half (46.1%) of Canadians who were killed by euthanasia in 2019 were not suffering due to any inadequacy in control of pain or even any concern about this. Of the 53.9% who said they were suffering in relation to the inadequacy of pain control the data does not distinguish between those (if any) who were were actually experiencing inadequate control of pain and those who were "suffering" - pscyhologically rather than physically - from worrying (probably quite unnecessarily) about it.

However, 82.1% were said to be "suffering" from "loss of ability to engage in meaningful life activities". And 34% were "suffering" from perceiving themselves as a burden on family, friends or caregivers.

Applying these percentages to the Ontario cases where the 10 day reflection period was waived, 604 people were killed by a lethal poison within 10 days of their expected death from natural causes because ... they couldn't get in a round of golf anymore ... and 250 people were killed to relieve them of feeling they were burdening their family, friends or caregivers by taking a few more days to die naturally.

And 234 were killed prematurely because they were distressed by incontinence.

In 1004 cases (15%) of euthanasia in Ontario since it was legalised people who were not imminently dying were killed within less than 10 days of first requesting euthanasia based on a claim - by the medical or nurse practitioner administering the lethal poison and one other medical or nurse practitioner neither of whom need any special expertise in either the underlying condition or assessing capacity to provide informed consent - that the person was imminently losing capacity to give informed consent.

How can a person be judged at the same time to certainly have that capacity but just as certainly be about to lose it? This allows same day euthanasia by request by people not imminently dying and with rapidly diminishing capacity to consent.

When the Canadian Senate resumes on 2 February 2021 debate on Bill C-7 will continue. The Bill will repeal the current provision that requires a person’s natural death be reasonably foreseeable in order for them to be eligible for euthanasia.

The number of cases of euthanasia in Canada is expected to rise even more steeply each year if this change is made.

Assisted dying legislation affects us all.

This article was published by Mercatornot on January 18, 2021.

There is a fundamental difference between assisted dying and palliative care 

Dr Helen Lord
By Dr Helen Lord

Tasmania, Australia’s smallest state, like many other jurisdictions, is currently considering legalising voluntary assisted dying (VAD). It is of great concern that legislators are seeking to incorporate this into palliative and medical care.

Voluntary assisted dying sounds like a description of what should be occurring in normal medical practice: clinicians recognising those who are dying and then assisting them to live comfortably until they die. Such medical practice is currently the domain of palliative care, which can, and does, deliver relief of pain and suffering for those who consent to receive it.

However, in the currently proposed legislation for Tasmania, VAD means no less than the legalisation of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide: the exact opposite of palliative care. As described, VAD is purely a legal process, through which people can access and be given lethal substances which will cause their deaths. In contrast, palliative care is about how each individual patient can be enabled to reach their full potential until a natural death, through the relief of pain, distressing symptoms, and suffering.

The delivery of palliative care is highly personalised; it is not an impersonal process involving the meeting of various legal criteria. Palliative care requires communication by those with the necessary skills and attitudes to assess, enable, ease, and give good holistic medical care. There is no medical condition that has as a treatment the prescription of lethal substances with the intention to kill.
Palliative care

There is an extensive, publicly available evidence base for palliative care. However, there is no publicly available evidence base for the giving of lethal substances to patients — except for that used in the United States for capital punishment.

Modern palliative care arose because many people witnessed the common experiences of dying last century: patients neglected and left alone in windowless small rooms at the end of a corridor with families and friends excluded. The hospice and palliative care movement arose to provide them with a suitable environment and with appropriate patient centred care that valued and respected the dying person. It involved and was concerned with care of the dying person’s family and friends.

The evidence bases for the pharmacology of pain relief and symptom control developed, and Palliative Medicine was recognised as a medical specialty in Australia in 2000.

Palliative care principles are based on respect, valuing the life of each individual patient, and seeking to ensure that the vulnerability of those dying does not lead to a denial of care or abandonment. These palliative care values are constantly being challenged by the increasing corporatisation, bureaucratization, striving for efficiency and fragmentation of modern health care. There continues to be a need for better, more available palliative care services — yet we now see a demand for VAD.  

Fear of pain and suffering

VAD is being driven in Tasmania by those who say they want choice because they fear pain and suffering at the end of life. They claim wide support from the community in general.

Yet experience so far in Victoria, the first Australian State to legalise VAD, is that only a small percentage of people take up the offer. Stories of pain and suffering in dying are repetitively aired by grieving relatives and friends or by treating clinicians who have not known about, or sought access to palliative care for advice. The powerful effect of transference of guilt and grief in these situations is clear, but not widely recognised.

These stories perpetuate the myth that the end of life is associated with pain and suffering, which I know from my experience is not true for the majority, and certainly not the experience of those who are referred to and are able to access palliative care in a timely manner.

There are still many people in Australia who do not have access to palliative care services or an appropriate place of care when they die. It is irresponsible that legislation based on “choice” is being proposed when there are many within society denied choices through lack of access to palliative care.
Effects on vulnerable patient groups

Patients with serious and terminal illnesses are vulnerable to suggestion due to the psychological effects of facing life-threatening disease. There are also many groups within our community who are likewise vulnerable: the elderly; those living in rural areas; those with physical disability; those with mental illness; those in marginalised minorities.

These groups of people will inevitably face increased pressure to accept VAD if such legislation is passed, because of their less privileged access to care.

Once VAD is allowed, although initially in strict circumstances, it will rapidly become normalised and will be seen by the medical profession as an easy option: the options of other care and treatment modalities will be not worth considering. This is already being observed in Victoria with VAD being suggested by clinicians as an option for people surviving suicide attempts.

Disability groups in Canada are reporting that people living with disabilities are asking to access VAD because they cannot afford financially to go on living.
Effects on the medical profession and palliative care

Maintaining the integrity of the medical profession, upon which we all rely when we are ill, should be of paramount importance. Having doctors licenced to assist in suicide or the deliberate termination of life lessens the trust that patients can have in their doctors. Such behaviours go against the long-standing convention that doctors do not harm their patients.

Doctors heal, restore, ease and comfort; they do not kill, even if asked. Being involved with VAD violates a moral code that most doctors rely on for their identity; hence the very existence of VAD creates for all doctors a risk of moral injury, in the same way as is seen in combat troops facing ethical dilemmas over life and death.

The impact of just one case of VAD on a clinician’s psychological health and practice is greater than in any other aspect of medicine. Clinicians in the Netherlands liken the psychological effort required for each case of euthanasia to being like that of “climbing Mount Everest”. It leaves “little else in the tank” for the practice of good medicine or for self-care.

For all the talk in public about VAD being for the relief of pain and suffering, it is known that most people accessing VAD do so because of issues of control or autonomy. Logically, therefore, there should be no need to involve doctors or palliative care services in the procedure of VAD. Survey results suggest most Australian doctors are unwilling to be involved in VAD, and most would refer patients for palliative care involvement. However, the legalisation of VAD places palliative care services in a moral bind.

The effects of legislation similar to Tasmania’s VAD, Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), introduced in 2016, on palliative care practices are starting to become apparent. One Canadian palliative care unit has reported significant staff distress with clinicians being physically sick on the days of MAiD procedures; palliative care staff having to support patients who are ambivalent about MAiD so they can go through with it; patients not having pain relief in case it denies them being able to access MAiD on capacity grounds (perpetuating the myth of painful dying); having just one person considering MAiD causing considerable psychological involvement of all staff meaning that other patients needs are neglected; staff who are unwilling to be involved in MAiD being taunted by comments that they do not really care by patients wanting MAiD; staff being more uncomfortable in discussion of end-of-life matters in case they are misinterpreted.

Palliative care services in Victoria have also reported significant issues arising in their units since VAD was legalised there. Referrals to counselling for palliative care staff suffering from psychological distress because of their involvement in VAD have begun. Increased anxiety in palliative care patients because of the existence of VAD has been noted. In the interests of maintaining the functionality of heath care teams, and because of concern for other patients on their units, patients having VAD are being transferred elsewhere.

For all these reasons as caring communities we should be thinking most cautiously before bringing state sanctioned suicide and euthanasia into the medical and palliative care arenas.

There are fundamental ethical differences between palliative care and VAD procedures; we need to protect the vulnerable in our communities and those who are dying; and we need to support the staff of our palliative care and medical services in their work, not compromise them.

Dr Helen Lord MB BS MPHC FAChPM has worked in palliative medicine and general practice in Tasmania for over 30 years

Monday, January 18, 2021

Euthanasia (MAiD) deaths continue to increase in Canada. Stop the expansion of euthanasia by Bill C-7.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, 
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Ontario Office of the Chief Coroner released new MAiD data (reported euthanasia and assisted suicide deaths). In Ontario from June 17, 2016 to December 31, 2020, there were 6696 reported assisted deaths.

The 6696 reported assisted deaths since legalization represented 6694 euthanasia deaths and 2 assisted suicide deaths.

In 2020, there were 2378 reported assisted deaths in Ontario with 1127 from January 1 - June 30 and 1260 from July 1 - December 31.

Sign the Petition: Reject euthanasia Bill C-7 (Link). 

The number of assisted deaths continues to increase. In Ontario there were 2378 reported assisted deaths in 2020, 1789 in 2019, 1499 in 2018, 841 in 2017, and 189 in 2016.

In July, 2020, Health Canada released the first annual report on (MAiD) euthanasia and assisted suicide. The data was gathered from the reports submitted by the medical practitioners who caused the death. There is no requirement that a third party or neutral person submit the euthanasia reports to ensure accuracy.

The July 2020 report provided information on the 2019 Canadian MAiD deaths. According to the report:

  • In 2019, there were 5,631 MAID deaths reported in Canada, up from 4467 in 2018, accounting for 2.0% of all deaths.
  • The number of cases of MAID in 2019 represented an increase of 26.1% over 2018 with every province experiencing a steady growth in the number of cases of MAID since its introduction into law in 2016.
  • When all data sources are considered, the total of number of medically assisted deaths reported in Canada from legalization until December 31, 2019 was 13,946.

On October 20, I published an article explaining that there were approximately 19,000 euthanasia deaths in Canada since legalization. By December 31, Ontario had done 637 more euthanasia deaths. It is likely that there has now been 21,000 euthanasia deaths since legalization. The data does not include the under-reporting of euthanasia as was uncovered in Quebec and likely occurs across Canada.

On February 24, Canada's federal government introduced Bill C-7 to expand the euthanasia law. Bill C-7 was passed in the House of Commons in early December and will be debated in Canada's Senate in February.

What does Bill C-7 do?

1. Bill C-7 removes the requirement in the law that a person’s natural death be reasonably foreseeable in order to qualify for assisted death. Therefore, people who are not terminally ill can die by euthanasia. The Quebec court decision only required this amendment to the law, but Bill C-7 went further.

2. Bill C-7 permits a doctor or nurse practitioner to lethally inject a person who is incapable of consenting, if that person was previously approved for assisted death. This contravenes the Supreme Court of Canada Carter decision which stated that only competent people could die by euthanasia.

3. Bill C-7 waives the ten-day waiting period if a person's natural death is deemed to be reasonably foreseeable. Thus a person could request death by euthanasia on a "bad day" and die the same day. Studies prove that the “will to live” fluctuates.

4. Bill C-7 creates 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 would have a 90 day waiting period before being killed by lethal injection.

5. As stated earlier, Bill C-7 falsely claims to prevent euthanasia for people with mental illness. The euthanasia law permits MAiD for people who are physically or psychologically suffering that is intolerable to the person and that cannot be relieved in a way that the person considers acceptable. However, mental illness, which is not defined in the law, is considered a form of psychological suffering.

Bill C-7 goes much further than the Quebec Superior Court Truchon decision. 

Canada's Justice Minister, David Lametti, announced on November 24 that, once Bill C-7 is passed, he wants to expand euthanasia to people with mental illness alone.

Sign the Petition: Reject euthanasia Bill C-7 (Link).

The Canadian government must reject Bill C-7 and begin the promised 5-year review of the euthanasia law with an open view to what is actually happening rather than continuing to expand euthanasia, making Canada the most permissive euthanasia regime in the world.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Unexplained variation in regional euthanasia rates in the Netherlands.

Is it underuse, overuse or misuse?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) recently published a study showing that there is an unexplained 7-fold variation in euthanasia rates across the Netherlands

According to the BMJ report, the researchers were not sure if the differences related to "underuse, overuse, or misuse."

The BMJ reported that there were also striking differences between the three largest cities in the Netherlands. The report stated that:
In Amsterdam, in the three districts with highest rates of euthanasia, the proportion of these deaths was between nearly 12% and around 14.5% higher than in Rotterdam, where the proportion remained more or less static at around 6%.

In The Hague the rate of euthanasia in the three districts with the highest rates of euthanasia, the proportion of these deaths rose from nearly 7.5% to more than 11%.

Throughout the five years, the rate in the top three municipalities was 25 times higher than that of the bottom three.
The NL Times based their article on postal codes and reported:
Euthanasia was most often used in postcode area 13, the area around Almere, in 2017. In that area, euthanasia was involved in 7.37 percent of all deaths. Almost the entire Kop van Noord-Holland is in the top 10 of most granted euthanasia requests. Postcode area 91, which includes Ameland, Schiermonnikoog and Dokkum, had the lowest percentage of euthanasia deaths at 2.15 percent.
The NL Times reported researchers Theo Boer and Stef Groenewoud saying:
"If we were to do this research for other medical procedures, say cataract operations, you'd rather think of a factor of two or one and a half,"
Researcher did not find a clear explanation for the differences in euthanasia rates but they suggested to the NL Times that it could be based on regional customs. They said: "it may be that in certain parts of the Netherlands people use euthanasia more."
 
According to research 20% - 23% of the Netherlands euthanasia deaths are not reported. A 5 year study sponsored by the Netherlands government that was released in August 2017 showed continued abuse of the law.

Researchers need to further examine the under-reporting, and the development of lax attitudes towards euthanasia in regions of the Netherlands.

LA Times column calls for the expansion of assisted suicide to include people with Alzheimer's in California.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Nicholas Goldberg, who is a columnist with the LA Times, wrote a column last July calling for the expansion of California's assisted suicide law to include people Alzheimer's.

Isn't assisted suicide about "autonomous" "free choice" decisions that are made by people who are able to "consent"?

Well, other than attacking people who oppose assisted suicide, Goldberg wrote:
I believe that we should make more people eligible to participate in what’s come to be known as “aid in dying,” if they choose to. Alzheimer’s patients and others facing dementia seem like an obvious place to start, although policymakers also could consider people with certain degenerative diseases or those living in chronic pain, even if they aren’t within six months of death.
Goldberg doesn't recognize that people with Alzheimer's/dementia have a questionable ability to consent. Goldberg, who was reacting to the tragic death of his mother, isn't concerned that assisted suicide activists question imposing death on people with Alzheimer's. He wrote:
Yet expanding the law to include Alzheimer’s patients and other dementia sufferers is not yet on the table in most places. Even many advocates of aid-in-dying oppose it, including Monning and Kim Callinan, president of the organization Compassion and Choices.

“One of the threshold qualifiers in our law was that the patient must be mentally competent and must be the decision maker,” says Monning. “Not a family member or a loved one or medical advisor. The conscious choice of the patient to me is so critical to the efficacy and morality of this bill.”

Callinan notes that many doctors might be unwilling to administer life-ending drugs to patients who are not competent to clearly state that it is their preference. 
Still, these are problems that can and must be worked out over time.
Working out these problems over time or ignoring the problems? 

The truth is that choice, autonomy and consent are only phrases that matter when assisted suicide legalization is being promoted. 

For instance, Canada's Justice Minister has advocated extending euthanasia to people with mental illness and in the Netherlands and Belgium, euthanasia for people with mental illness and dementia/Alzheimer's is already permitted.

Really, the only clear line in the sand is to care for people and not kill them.

Once you allow killing, the only remaining question is who will be killed and how it is done.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Reader’s Digest Canada Pushes Euthanasia, Ignores Hospice

This article was published by National Review online on January 15, 2021.

By Wesley J Smith

The push is on in Canada to normalize euthanasia as the best way to die — to save money and emotional turmoil. How hard is the push? Reader’s Digest Canada — no less — has published a guide to end-of-life planning that pushes euthanasia and doesn’t even mention hospice.

The guide advises readers to “pick the right time” to die, i.e., be euthanized — euphemistically known as “medical assistance in dying” (MAID). From “The Ultimate Guide to End of Life Planning”:
A scheduled death can allow people to say goodbye in the way they want. According to Helen Long, a MAID is often like a celebration of life—except the guest of honour gets to be there. “A friend of my dad had a classic car, and he and his son went for one last drive around the neighbourhood,” she says. “Once a person makes a decision, it’s often a very freeing experience for them. It gives them back their control.”
The allusion is to “the guest of honour” is to euthanasia parties, where people attend to say goodbye and watch the patient be killed or — as happens in the U.S.A. — take poison pills. In my view, people who attend such gatherings validate suicide and are morally complicit in the death.

Suicide prevention? Ha! What’s that?

Meanwhile, the guide is notable for what it leaves out. As mentioned above, there is no discussion of the compassionate services available to terminally ill people and their families from hospice, such as pain control, chaplaincy, volunteers, home-care givers, and the like.

Nor is there any discussion about how to access pain and symptom control. Nor of how to overcome the existential fear and anxieties — such as worries about being a burden — that are the primary cause of people asking doctors to kill them, but which can be significantly ameliorated with the proper interventions.

When the Reader’s Digest Canada boosts killing — and gives extremely short shrift to caring — and indeed, leaves out the most important information fearful terminally ill patients and their families need to make proper decisions, you know the culture of death has gone mainstream.

Shame on the Reader’s Digest Canada.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Arizona assisted suicide House Bill 2254

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Arizona State Legislature
Assisted suicide bills have been introduced in Arizona every year since 2016. In 2021, HB 2254 was introduced by Representative Powers Hanley (D) who also sponsored assisted suicide bills in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

HB 2254 is similar to the original Oregon assisted suicide law.

Several states that legalized assisted suicide, such as Oregon, Washington State and Hawaii, are now expanding their assisted suicide laws. If HB 2254 passes the assisted suicide lobby will move to expand it in future years.

Links to important articles:

New York State to debate assisted suicide study bill.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Assembly member Kevin A Cahill (D) has introduced New York State Bill 198 on January 6, 2021. The purpose of Bill 198 is to require the commissioner of health to conduct a study on assisted suicide.

An assisted suicide study bill is not necessary unless someone wants to legalize assisted suicide.

Link to Bill 198.

An Act in relation to requiring the commissioner of health to conduct a study relating to medical aid in dying.

According to the bill the commissioner of health must submit the report including recommendations no later than December 31, 2022.

In May 1994, the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law published a 217 page report titled "When Death Is Sought: Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in the Medical Context." The 1994 effectively explained why assisted suicide and euthanasia should not be legalized. Link to the report.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Conference: Preventing the spread of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and the Physicians for Compassionate Care are offering an informative and directional free online zoom conference on euthanasia and assisted suicide on Saturday January 23, (10 am to 4:30 pm) (EST).

The theme is: Preventing the spread of euthanasia and assisted suicide - What you need to know. 

There is no cost to attend the conference but registration is required. The following link will enable you to register (LINK). 

During the COVID-19 pandemic we have heard about what we need to know to prevent the spread of the virus. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are a cultural virus.

The speakers will provide information and direction for you to stop or contain the spread of the death virus in your state or country.

Speaking schedule:

10 am conference begins. We will introduce the day for the participants.

10:10 am Dr Annette Hanson - Euthanasia and assisted suicide for psychiatric reasons.

11 - 11:45 am Dr Gordon Macdonald. Care Not Killing Alliance - Preventing euthanasia and assisted suicide in the UK.

11:45 - 12:30 pm Wesley Smith - Stopping the spread of euthanasia and assisted suicide. 

Break

1:00 - 1:45 pm Dr Bill Toffler - The experience with assisted suicide in Oregon.

1:45 - 2:45 pm Dr Ramona Coelho and Dr Leonie Herx - MAiD to Mad: How Bill C-7 changes Canada's euthanasia law for physicians.

2:45 - 3:30 pm Amy Hasbrouck - Euthanasia in Canada and the disability community.

3:30 pm Alex Schadenberg, Preventing the spread of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Dr Ramona Coelho
Dr Ramona Coelho (picture on right) is a family physician who's practice focuses on people with disabilities, people who live in poverty, and refugees. Dr Coelho is a founder of the MAiD to Mad initiative  representing more than 1100 Canadian physicians. Dr Coelho will speak about how euthanasia effects physicians who oppose killing. Read her recent article: Why I oppose euthanasia.

Amy Hasbrouck is a lawyer and a disability leader. She is the founder of Tourjours Vivant - Not Dead Yet in Canada and a member of the Not Dead Yet board. She is also the President of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Her research and knowledge on the topic is exceptional. Amy Hasbrouck will speak about the effect of euthanasia legislation upon people with disabilities. Read her analysis of Canada's annual 2019 euthanasia report.


Dr Annette Hanson (picture on right) is a forensic psychiatrist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr Hanson will speak about the push to permit euthanasia for psychiatric reasons. Dr Hanson has published research articles on the topic including the 12 myths about assisted suicide and medical aid in dying.

Dr Leonie Herx is the immediate past President of the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians and chair of the division of palliative medicine at Queen’s University. She is also a founder of the MAiD to Mad initiative  Dr Herx has written articles on these issues as well as spoken in places, including New Zealand. Dr Herx will speak about how euthanasia effects palliative care. Read her recent article about her patient's journey.

Dr Gordon Macdonald is the CEO of the Care Not Killing Alliance in the UK. He has effectively worked with partner groups to keep euthanasia and assisted suicide out of the UK. He has been a leader on these issues for many years and has spoken throughout Europe. Dr Macdonald will speak about how they are keeping euthanasia out of the UK. Link to articles by Dr Macdonald.

Alex Schadenberg
 (picture on right) is the Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. By constantly writing articles and sharing information, he has become a key force, world-wide in preventing the spread of euthanasia and assisted suicide. He is an author who has spoken world-wide on these topics. He has been active on these issues for almost 25 years. Alex Schadenberg will speak about helping people choose to live and changing the cultural paradigm.  The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition works to prevent euthanasia and assisted suicide. Link to articles by Alex Schadenberg.

Wesley Smith (picture on right) is chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to The Corner at National Review and is the author of more than 14 books. Wesley is a lawyer, who then became a writer, has been a leading voice opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide for almost 30 years. Link to articles by Wesley Smith.

Dr William Toffler is a family physician in Oregon who is a leader with the Physicians for Compassionate Care for more than 25 years. Dr Toffler is an expert on the Oregon experience and has spoken throughout the US and Internationally. Dr Toffler will speak about the truth about the Oregon experience and the assisted suicide drug experiments on humans. Link to articles by Dr Toffler.

There is no cost to attend the conference but registration is required. The following link will enable you to register: (LINK).

Assisted Suicide Is Bad Medicine. How Can Legislators Represent Us If They Cannot Talk to Us?

This was originally published by Not Dead Yet.

Press Release - Second Thoughts Connecticut

January 11, 2021 (Manchester, CT) – People with disabilities fear for their lives during the pandemic, and like everyone else must socially distance. At the same time, they are increasingly concerned that assisted suicide legislation—which they also see as a threat to their lives—will be introduced during the 2021 session.

In previous years, the grassroots disability rights group, Second Thoughts Connecticut, has launched an energetic protest against these dangerous bills. Members have started the session by leaving informational flyers for every member of the Connecticut General Assembly and the Governor. They have sponsored press conferences and held lobby days at the Capitol. Perhaps most importantly, they have met with legislators one-on-one or in small groups, and come out in force to participate in public hearings.

Things are very different during the pandemic.

With legislators primarily working from home, there is no opportunity to set up appointments at the Legislative Office Building or drop in to talk with legislators or their aides. In the past, aides’ names and email addresses were listed on the webpage of each legislator. Not this year. Legislators receive a huge amount of email, and without aides to help dig through it, not everything gets looked at or responded to.

Members of Second Thoughts Connecticut started contacting key legislators in early December with almost no response. To date, repeated requests to set up Zoom meetings with various legislators regarding the problems inherent in assisted suicide laws have been met with little or no response, and just one meeting has been scheduled.

Time is of the essence.

On Friday, January 15, the Public Health Committee will start identifying bills to bring to a public hearing. Yes, interested people may watch the proceedings on YouTube, but critical elements will be missing. There will be no opportunity to buttonhole legislators, or to show our concern by being present in the audience.

“How can our legislators represent us if they cannot talk to us?” asked Second Thoughts member Lisa Blumberg. “Access to our elected officials is how our democracy works.”

Cathy Ludlum of Second Thoughts Connecticut offered, “People form opinions about assisted suicide based on what they know. If they see it only as a civil right, and are never told about all the things that can go wrong—from misdiagnosis, incorrect or uncertain prognosis, coercion and abuse; to problems with the suicide drugs themselves—how can they make an informed decision?”

She added, “And this is a BIG decision. If assisted suicide passes, it will forever change the way healthcare is provided. At a time when we are already concerned about disparities in healthcare, it will adversely affect people’s lives, especially those of us who are already societally devalued.”

Second Thoughts Connecticut member Stephen Mendelsohn said, “Assisted suicide legislation codifies lethal disability discrimination into law. Some people will get suicide prevention and others suicide assistance, and the difference will be based on their disability status.”

Mendelsohn further explained, “Even the so-called safeguards of ‘six months,’ ‘terminally ill,’ ‘mentally competent,’ and ‘self-administer’ discriminate on the basis of disability and are vulnerable to court challenge. This would lead to expansion to widespread euthanasia. Assisted suicide would also conflict with the State of Connecticut Suicide Prevention Plan 2020-2025, which acknowledges the right of disabled people to equal suicide prevention services.”

Lisa Blumberg went on to say, “Assisted suicide is a very complex issue. Passions run high on both sides, as we saw by the 12-hour public hearings of previous years. This is not the time to make this decision because there is no way people can meet to fully discuss the ins and outs.” Second Thoughts Connecticut is a grassroots organization of people with disabilities and allies who oppose the legalization of physician-assisted suicide.

Contact:
Cathy Ludlum 860-649-7110 cathyludlum@cox.net
Stephen Mendelsohn 860-827-8003 (best after 5:30) smendelsohn5845@att.net

 

Monday, January 11, 2021

New Mexico legislature will once again debate an extreme assisted suicide bill.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Deborah Armstrong (D) who sponsored two previous New Mexico assisted suicide bills has once again sponsored an assisted suicide bill. House Bill 47, which is also known as the Elizabeth Whitefield End-of-Life Options Act, is her latest assisted suicide bill.

Armstrong's 2019 assisted suicide bill, HB 90, was the most extreme US assisted suicide bill that I had seen. Among other concerns, the bill allowed assisted suicide for psychiatric conditions, to be done to someone with an undefined "terminal prognosis," to be done by nurses and physician assistants, and it even allowed it to be approved via tele-medicine.

Similar to previous years, the New Mexico assisted suicide bill is wider than existing assisted suicide legislation.

Similar to HB 90, HB 47 expands who can approve and prescribe lethal drugs from physicians to "health care providers" that include physicians, or licensed physician assistants, or osteopathic physicians, or nurses registered in advanced practice.

Compared to existing assisted suicide legislation, HB 47 expands the list of who can approve and prescribe lethal drugs which not only increases the availability of assisted suicide but enables lesser trained health care providers to approve and prescribe assisted suicide.

HB 47 also expands the list of who may counsel a person, when a "health care provider" questions the ability of a person to consent. HB 47 permitted counselors to include: state-licensed psychiatrist, psychologist, master social worker, psychiatric nurse practitioner or professional clinical mental health counselor.

Unlike existing assisted suicide legislation, HB 47 does not require a 15 day waiting period but only requires a 48 hour waiting period that can be waived if the health care provider believes that the person may be imminently dying. Therefore HB 47 technically allows a same day death. A person could request assisted suicide on a "bad day" and die the same day. Studies prove that the “will to live” fluctuates.

Unlike existing assisted suicide legislation, HB 47 Section 3 (G) waives the requirement that a person's condition be confirmed by a second health care provider if the person requesting assisted suicide is enrolled in a hospice program.

The hospice provision is confirmed by assisted suicide promoter, Thaddeus Pope who stated:
the EWEOLOA does not require confirmation from a (second) consulting clinician if the prescribing clinician affirms that the individual is enrolled in a Medicare certified hospice program.
HB 47 tramples on the conscience rights of health care providers. The bill states that health care providers who are unwilling to carry out a request for assisted suicide shall inform the individual and refer the individual to a health care provider who is able and willing to carry out the individual's request or to another individual or entity to assist the requesting individual in seeking medical aid in dying.

Therefore a conscientious objector must participate in the act by referring the patient to a health care provider who is willing to prescribe lethal drugs.

Deborah Armstrong is intent on legalizing one of the widest assisted suicide bills for New Mexico.

HB 47 allows lesser trained health care providers to prescribe lethal drugs for the purpose of assisting a suicide, a life and death decision. The bill also allows a same day death and all based on "good faith" which is the lowest level of oversight.

For those who are organizing to stop assisted suicide in New Mexico I suggest the following: 
Defeating assisted suicide bills requires a complete analysis of the bill, outlining the problems with the bill. All of these bills are designed to expand over time.

Emphasize what assisted suicide is and how it is done and discuss how the assisted suicide lobby is conducting unethical lethal drug experiments. They speak about compassion and choices and yet they have caused some horrific deaths.

Work together. All perspectives are important, but stay focused on your goal, that being, protecting people from assisted suicide.

Bill HB 47 must be defeated.

Washington State debates bill to expand assisted suicide law. Say No to Same Day Death.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Washington State legalized assisted suicide in 2009 after an assisted suicide initiative passed during the 2008 election.

Last year, the Washington State legislature debated "study Bill 2419" to examine the elimination of "safeguards" in assisted suicide laws. Bill 2419 passed but it was vetoed by the Governor who was trying to control the 2020 budget. (Link to article on Bill 2419).

In 2021, House Bill HB 1141 is being introduced, not to study, but to expand the assisted suicide law in Washington state. HB 1141 is being sponsored by Representatives Nicole Macri (D) and Skyler Rude (R).

HB 1141 will expand the assisted suicide law by:

  • Expanding the list of who can prescribe lethal drugs by changing the requirement from physicians to "qualified medical provider." A "qualified medical provider" is defined as a physician, or a licensed physician assistant, or a osteopathic physician, or and advanced registered nurse practitioner.
  • Expanding the list of who is legally able to counsel a person, when the qualified medical provider questions the ability of the person to consent. Those who are permitted to offer counseling include: a state licensed psychiatrist or, psychologist, independent clinical social worker, advanced social worker, mental health counselor, or psychiatric advanced registered nurse practitioner.
  • Eliminating the 15 day waiting period within the law and replaces it with a 72 hour waiting period before the second request is made. The 72 hour request period can be rescinded if the qualified medical provider believes that the person may be imminently dying.
  • Allowing the lethal prescription to be delivered to the person, rather than requiring the lethal drugs to be accessed by the person who is approved to die or the physician.

HB 1141 expands the assisted suicide law by eliminating the waiting period, making it possible for a same day death. A person can request and potentially receive lethal drugs on the same day. Studies prove that a person's will to live will fluctuate. Your bad day becomes your last day.

The bill also expands who can prescribe the lethal drugs from physicians to "qualified medical provider," that includes physician assistants and registered nurse practitioners. Expanding the list of who can approve and prescribe lethal drugs not only increases the availability of assisted suicide but it also enables lesser trained medical providers to specialize as "assisted suicide providers."

Last year, study Bill 2419, that was sponsored by the same Representatives, (Section F) of the Bill sought to study the need to self-administer the lethal drugs. Removing the requirement of self-administration would mean that someone else would be allowed to administer. This would change the law from permitting assisted suicide to permitting euthanasia. Euthanasia is when someone else administers the lethal drugs. Euthanasia is a form of homicide.

HB 1141 does not change the requirement of self-administering but the intention of the bills author is to allow euthanasia.

As I have always stated, once we legalize prescribing suicide by lethal drugs, the prohibition on killing has now been crossed. The only remaining question is the rules that are established to kill.

Friday, January 8, 2021

MAiD Muscles into the Delta Hospice.

This article was published by Convivium on January 8, 2021

Peter Stockland
By Peter Stockland

You might think the middle of a global pandemic is less than an ideal time to disrupt the operations of a hospice where palliative care patients receive comfort as they approach death.

If so, you would not share the apparent thinking of the B.C. government or its local Fraser Health Authority, which as of today has forced layoffs of staff at the Irene Thomas Hospice in suburban Vancouver. The dismissals are part of the eviction of the Delta Hospice Society that oversees the facility.

In a conversation yesterday, DHS board President Angelina Ireland confirmed for me that the pink slips were to be given out this morning because the Society refuses to administer Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) on its premises. As of February 24, the DHS will have to relinquish the palliative care centre that it raised $9 million a decade ago to construct on Fraser Health Authority land. Its 35-year lease on the property will be nullified, and its other assets expropriated, Ireland says.

Irene Thomas hospice
She is adamant the takeover has nothing to do with the hospice Society wanting to prolong the debate over whether MAiD should or should not be legal in Canada. It accepts the 2016 change to the Criminal Code that legalized the administration of toxic injections by health care professionals intent on ending the lives of patients. But DHS’ own legally-registered constitution bars it from administering MAiD in the 10-bed Irene Thomas centre. And nothing in the law requires a change to that constitution because nothing obliges the provision of MAiD anywhere, anytime for anyone who requests it.

As Ireland points out, MAiD is readily available for all who seek it at a hospital barely 100 yards from the Irene Thomas Hospice. The centre has also accommodated MAiD-seeking patients by transferring them home or to the hospital. Of the approximately 1000 palliative patients who’ve been cared for at the facility over the past decade, “three or four” have asked to be administered MAiD, she says.

“This is not a debate about MAiD,” Ireland insists. “This is about the B.C. government destroying a sanctuary for dying patients who want the choice to stay in a facility where MAiD is not offered. They now find their rights to equal choice being revoked. They are being disenfranchised by the very system they pay for.”

At the very least, it seems to be about an ideology flourishing within governmental circles (provincial and federal) as well as in the minds of many MAiD proponents that giving fatal substances to the dying must be established as an always and everywhere practice in Canada. We have universal health care. We now need universally directed death.

Certainly, following the trail of tears that has led to the Delta Hospice Society’s eviction gives credence to that suspicion. The Society was founded 30 years ago to provide end-of-life care, and since that time has been hailed as an exemplary organization for its adherence to palliative principles. But in 2017, following the federal legislative change nine months earlier, an edict went out from the B.C. government ordering all palliative and hospice centres excepting those that are faith-based, to provide MAiD.

Pushback was substantial. In the case of DHS, it met with officials from the local Fraser Health Authority and explained its constitutional predicament: its bylaws banned MAiD and to adhere to the government order would put it in violation of its standing under the provincial Society’s Act. The issue seems to have been quietly moved to the backburner by a wise and deft health bureaucrat.

That state of equilibrium-preserving inaction prevailed until 2019 when agitation by local MAiD activists coincided with a change in the bureaucracy. The result was a comply-or-else order, which DHS countered by offering to forego half its publicly funded operating capital – $750,000 – in order to be considered a private palliative facility. Doing so, it believed, would relieve it of the purported obligation to provide MAiD.

The offer did not even get the courtesy of a reply. Instead, DHS was served with a one-year notice of eviction for allegedly having breached its service contract with the local health authority. Months of court action followed until, immediately before Christmas, the eviction notice was reinforced with an order that the Society vacate its building and cease overseeing the Irene Thomas Centre by the end of February.

Today, no one seems to know exactly what will happen to those being laid off. There is talk of an orderly transition to a facility where MAiD will be on tap 24/7. We have, of course, learned a great deal from the COVID pandemic about government and bureaucratic understanding of orderly transition. Apparently, the employees will just have to trust.

And in the midst of that pandemic, political, bureaucratic and activist advocates of MAiD ubiquity will have forced a small suburban palliative care centre to bend to their will. Even as COVID death rates soar, the dream of having a sanctuary for authentic palliation will have died.

As Nancy Macey, Delta Hospice Society founder and former Irene Thomas executive director puts it almost wistfully: “The Society has done all it can to have discussions with Fraser Health. It has done all it can to follow its service agreement and the required legislation.”

You might think in Canada that would be enough. Think again.