Thursday, July 19, 2018

Tracy Latimer: my sister in spirit

This article was published by Toujours Vivant - Not Dead Yet on July 19, 2018.

By Taylor Hyatt
Policy Analyst & Outreach Coordinator, Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet

Taylor Hyatt
On July 11, 2018, a number of news outlets revealed that Robert Latimer was seeking either a new trial or a complete pardon for the second degree murder conviction in the 1993 death of his daughter, Tracy. The conviction and life sentence he received (with a mandatory minimum of ten years before parole could be considered), were upheld by the Supreme Court in 2001. Latimer “was granted day parole in February 2008 and full parole in November 2010.”

Most Canadians are aware of his crime: in October 1993, Mr. Latimer put 12-year-old Tracy in the cab of his truck and piped in exhaust fumes. His motive? He “loved his daughter,” who was thought to be in severe pain, and “couldn’t bear watching her suffer.”

Tracy Latimer
The cause of Tracy’s alleged pain and suffering was her cerebral palsy. I was born with the same disability in May 1992, about a year and a half before Tracy’s death. As a result, I’ve always felt a connection when I’ve heard her name in the news. I can’t remember how old I was when I finally understood what had happened to her – probably around age 10 or 11. (For reference, I was 18 when Latimer was granted full parole in 2010. Among my fondest memories of high school law classes are the discussions my classmates had about how sickening his actions were!) Hearing about Tracy’s fate sent shivers down my spine…and years later, it still does. The sense of kinship I felt with her, and the disgust I felt at the thought of her murder, has stayed with me. If I had to put it all into words, it would read something like “She’s like me, and her father resented having to care for her and feared for her future so much that he killed her.”

There are at least two major differences between Tracy’s life and my own. Like all families, mine has had its share of squabbles and drama. Yet as intense as some of these conflicts have been, none would have put me in physical danger. As well, a medical label is just about the only thing our conditions have in common. Because my speech and cognition are unaffected by CP, it would have been easier for me to reach out to others if I were in a dangerous situation at home. Authorities would also be more likely to take my complaints seriously. Due to deep-rooted biases in our legal system, accounts of crimes put forward by people who communicate using assistive technologies or who have cognitive disabilities are more likely to be disbelieved.

As I wrote a few years ago, life with a disability does not seem too strange to the Canadian public right now. Walkers and wheelchairs like the ones used by Tracy and I are common sights. However, the internalized prejudice and fear surrounding disability that played a role in her murder is just as prevalent now as 25 years ago. Legal euthanasia and assisted suicide now offer a socially-sanctioned escape from those negative messages; the procedures are prompting a startling shift in our country’s view of disability, death, the definition of “suffering” and how much of it someone can live with. Just as some physicians have begun to view suicidal behaviour as “an expression of refusal of medical treatment,” Robert Latimer’s lawyers are now arguing that society’s new acceptance of assisted suicide makes his actions more understandable. Therefore, the case against him should be re-examined.

However, the lawyers are missing a few important points. First, as a minor, Tracy would not have been able to consent to her own death. Her father had a responsibility to protect his daughter, care for her, and help her to thrive – a task which he clearly rejected. Second, Tracy’s own thoughts about her life were not taken into account. At best, no one asked Tracy what she thought about her life because they lacked a consistent way to communicate with her. At worst, the obvious joy that she found in life with family and friends was dismissed – in part because she was disabled, young, and female.

The questions remain: does Canada value its citizens with disabilities less than it did 25 years ago? Will my sister in spirit continue to get the justice she deserves?

Tracy Latimer's killer does not deserve to be pardoned.

Carmela Hutchinson, the President of the Disabled Women's Network (DAWN) Canada wrote an excellent article that was published in Rabble on July 17, 2018.

Hutchinson points out that woman and girls with disabilities face greater levels of abuse than other groups. Hutchinson wrote:
Tracy Latimer
I would be deeply concerned for the protection of women and girls with disabilities if Tracy Latimer’s killer is pardoned.

Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which Canada ratified in 2010, calls for Equal Recognition under the law. Yet Tracy’s killer, believing he was acting out of “mercy”, acted as judge, jury and executioner. And now, thinking he is being victimized by society, is appealing to those very courts for a mercy of his own, still without any remorse, and continues to maintain he has done the right thing. 
Article 10 of the CRPD affirms the right to life of every human being. Yet, in the intervening years, Tracy was denied her Right to Life.

Tracy, 12-year-old a girl with disabilities who lived with cerebral palsy, was identified under the same Convention to be at particular risk for violence and abuse in extra need of protection as outlined in Article 6 -- Women with Disabilities and Article 7 -- Children with Disabilities.

She was murdered on her family farm by her father on Oct. 24, 1993.

Tracy’s murder is an example of ableism in its most heinous form. Feminist disability scholar Fran Odette cautions that ableism, the idea that disabled bodies are inferior, combined with sexism, place women and girls with disabilities at risk for unique types of violence and more violence.
In March 2018, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics released a report --Violent Victimization of Women with Disabilities-- which lets us know women and girls living with disabilities like Tracy still live at risk. Specifically, the report notes that: 
- In 45 per cent of all incidents of violent victimization involving women, the victim was as woman with a disability.

- Women with a disability are more likely to experience multiple victimization. 
- Nearly two in five (36 per cent) women with a disability who were victimized reported two or more incidents, twice the proportion among women without a disability (20 per cent). 
- Almost one in three (30 per cent) incidents of violent victimization of a person with a disability occurred in their private residence, 
- One-quarter (26 per cent) of women with a disability were victimized in their own home. 
Clearly, Canada has failed to adequately protect and support women and girls with disabilities.

Funding needs to be provided for women and girls with disabilities to be empowered to live safe and effective lives.

In its comments to Canada in May 2017, the Committee on the CRPD called on Canada to ensure that its federal strategy on gender-based violence included specific benchmarks to address all forms of violence against women and girls with disabilities. 
It is impossible to think that in a country that places so much emphasis on addressing violence against women, that we could consider pardoning Tracy’s killer.
Robert Latimer does not deserve to be pardoned for killing his daughter Tracy.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Please Protect Conscience Rights for Health Professionals in Ontario

Petition ToHon. Christine Elliott, Ontario's Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Premier Doug Ford:

Sign the petition: Please Protect the Conscience Rights of Ontario Health Professionals.


Medical Aid in Dying (MAiD), also known as euthanasia, was legalized in June, 2016 by Canada’s federal government (Bill C-14). 

Since then, Health Professionals in Ontario have been required to participate in euthanasia by providing an “effective referral” i.e. a referral for the purpose of the act.

Bill C-14 did not require Health Professionals to participate in MAiD.

Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms states in Section 2 that:

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: 
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;…
Health Professionals who conscientiously object to MAiD (causing the death of their patients) in Ontario are being pressured and often forced to participate in an act they consider to be fundamentally wrong.

In November, 2017 the Manitoba Legislature unanimously passed Bill 34: The Medical Assistance in Dying (Protection for Health Professionals and Others) Act.

We, the petitioners, require Hon. Christine Elliott, Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, to bring forth legislation identical to Manitoba’s Bill 34 to protect the conscience rights of Health Professionals in Ontario.

If the Ontario government does not protect the conscience rights of Health Professionals, they will be denying a Charter Right to a group of people who are vitally needed for the medical care of its citizens and Ontario will risk losing many of these Professionals who will leave to practice medicine in jurisdictions that do respect their fundamental human rights.


Sign the petition: Please Protect the Conscience Rights of Ontario Health Professionals.

A pardon for Latimer could have consequences for disabled Canadians

Shafer Parker wrote an excellent article that was published in the Calgary Herald on July 16.

By Shafer Parker

Tracy Latimer
When I read the Herald’s report that Saskatchewan farmer Robert Latimer is seeking a federal pardon for taking the life of his 12-year-old daughter Tracy, who from birth had lived with cerebral palsy, I knew I had to speak up.

Why? Because his application for a pardon is simply a continuation of the injustice Tracy has suffered ever since Latimer propped her up behind the wheel of his pickup truck in October 1993 and piped in exhaust until she was dead.

It isn’t enough for Latimer to somehow justify the second-degree murder he committed back in 1993 (a conviction unanimously upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2001).

Part of the injustice Tracy continues to suffer stems from her father’s inability to face the facts of her life, and a compliant media’s willingness to accept his version of her story (more on that in a moment). The larger issue is that Latimer and Vancouver lawyer Jason Gratl are seeking to employ Canada’s two-year-old medical assistance in dying legislation as part of their plea.

Currently, the legislation does not apply to minors. Nor does it justify euthanizing Canadians simply because they are in some measure disabled. Nevertheless, if Latimer succeeds in getting federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to pardon him based on this argument, he will have endangered the lives of many.

A
Dr Heidi Janz
s Heidi Janz, chair of the ending of life ethics committee of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, has written: “contrary to the claim of Latimer’s lawyer that, ‘granting a pardon to Mr. Latimer does not detract from any value or principle,’ pardoning Tracy’s killer would, in fact, signal an abandonment of the government’s commitment to equality, justice and ending discrimination against disabled Canadians.”

It might make a difference if Wilson-Raybould takes the time to review transcripts of court testimony by Tracey’s mom before she decides whether to grant Latimer a pardon.

Instead of the “incessant agony” claimed by her father, her mother’s testimony reveals a girl who was enjoying her life. She loved music; she had a pull-switch on the canopy of her chair that would activate toys, and if a caregiver got too close, she would grab his or her glasses with her one useful hand and smile broadly.

She also smiled while playing a clapping game with her peers and would try to start again after others had grown tired.

In cross-examination, her mother also admitted in court that thanks to Tracy’s back surgery, in which steel rods were inserted into her spine, so much pressure had been taken off her abdomen, that for the first time in years, she could breathe easily and digest her food properly.

Yet Latimer has repeatedly cited this particular surgery as a cause of Tracy’s chronic suffering.

Moreover, instead of the pain-wracked, non-communicative sufferer described by Latimer, the record reveals that right up until her last weekend, Tracy continued to ride the bus to the developmental centre in Wilkie, Sask., five days a week, 45 minutes each way.

And in the caregiver’s communication book that was permanently attached to Tracey’s wheelchair, her mother included frequent descriptions of her as a “happy girl” who, for example, was “all smiles” when her cousins came for a visit.

And when her younger sister Lindsay invited friends for a sleepover, she was fully involved in their hijinks. “Tracy was the worst girl,” her mother wrote, “up at 10 to seven, laughing and vocalizing. She was really good the rest of the day.”

A major frustration for many observers, is Latimer’s absolute confidence that he did the right thing in taking his daughter’s life.

“This is not a crime,” he told reporters after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction. “Almost everything that’s happened have been things that ordinary humans would do.”

In light of the impact Latimer’s self-justifications may have on Canada’s assisted suicide law, it is worth noting that after the Supreme Court upheld his conviction, University of Saskatchewan law professor Donna Greschner declared that his actions “met the definition of first-degree murder.”

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Euthanasia drug Execution drug controversy.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


I have always wondered why the same drug cocktail can be both controversial and promoted at the same time. We are shocked when a drug cocktail is used for capital punishment or suicide but promote the same drug cocktail when used for euthanasia.

The first story concerns a drug company that filed a lawsuit to stop the use of a drug that it produces being used for executions in Nevada.

The ACLU wrote, concerning this drug cocktail that Nevada was planning to use a risky and experimental drug cocktail to execute a prisoner. The article explains the side-effects of using this drug cocktail and it concludes:

A government that would risk torturing someone to death is not dispensing justice or serving the public good. It is deeply troubling that Nevada government officials are barreling ahead with execution when the chances of torturing Dozier are so high.
It is important to know that the same or similar drug cocktails are used for euthanasia and the ACLU supports euthanasia.

For clarity, I oppose capital punishment and I believe that the state should not have the right to kill, or be involved with killing its citizens. At the same time I believe that medical professionals should not have the right to kill or be involved with killing their patients.

Another article concerns a probe into euthanasia drugs that may have been illegally imported into the United States. The article states:

The solution in question, called "...," contains ..., which is used in lethal injection cocktails. The trade of ... is highly regulated by European Union anti-torture directives and is subject to strict export restrictions. 
(I omitted the name of the drug to prevent promotion of these drugs)
Don't get me wrong, it is very concerning that euthanasia drugs may have illegally entered the United States, but the concern from the drug company is that these drugs may be used for capital punishment. The fact is that this type of drug is being used for euthanasia.

Everyday I receive euthanasia related news stories. Tragically, stories about veterinarians who use euthanasia drugs to die by suicide are not uncommon. There have also been stories about euthanasia drugs being stolen from veterinary clinics. One euthanasia activist promotes buying euthanasia drugs from veterinary suppliers in the third world.

Suicide is always a tragedy. Sadly veterinary workers have one of the highest suicide rates. Some studies indicate that the euthanasia of animals is a contributing factor to the high suicide rate.


I ask the question, how can drugs be considered risky, experimental and a form of torture in one circumstance, and a human right when it is used for euthanasia?

Every human person deserves to be treated with dignity, care and respect, but the state should never have the right to kill its citizens. At the same time medical professionals should never have the right to kill their patients. 

Current attitudes toward euthanasia are delusional. Killing people or encouraging people to self-kill is wrong.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Your help is needed to stop assisted suicide in California.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The California assisted suicide law is being successfully challenged through the courts and the outcome may depend on you.

Life Legal Defense Foundation is successfully arguing that the California assisted suicide law is unconstitutional, but they are being challenged by the assisted suicide lobby and California Attorney General (AG), Xavier Becerra. Life Legal Defense Foundation needs your financial support to prevent this case from turning into a David and Goliath story.

On May 15, 2018 Judge Daniel Ottolia declared that the California assisted suicide law was unconstitutional when it enacted the assisted suicide law during a special session dedicated to health care funding. Life Legal Defense stated in their media release:
Judge Ottolia found that the End of Life Option Act “does not fall within the scope of access to healthcare services” and “is not a matter of healthcare funding.” Moreover, the court ruled that, “The legislation decriminalizing assisted suicide cannot be deemed a matter incidental to the purpose of the emergency session.”
The California AG appealed the decision to the 4th District Court of Appeal, who upheld the decision of Judge Ottolia and since the court of appeal refused to stay the decision assisted suicide was once again prohibited in California.

The California AG then went back to the 4th District Court of Appeal to request a stay of the decision and on June 15, the court of appeal granted a stay of the decision, once again permitting assisted suicide in California.

Alexandra Snyder
The most recent article, published in Valley News, explains that the fate of the California assisted suicide law will be decided by the appellate court later this summer. The Valley News article states:
Life Legal Defense Foundation Executive Director Alexandra Snyder said her organization remains dedicated to seeing the law permanently invalidated to protect “citizens from being ‘helped’ to commit suicide.” 
The foundation has underscored in literature what it describes as troubling aspects of the law, including that a “family member can initiate the request for assisted suicide ... not the person seeking suicide;” “an interested ‘witness’ – someone who will benefit financially from the person’s death – can sign off on the suicide drug request” and “any doctor or osteopath can write the prescription” without a history of interaction with the patient.
The reality is that Life Legal Defense has proven that the California assisted suicide law is unconstitutional but they are facing mammoth opponents who have infinite resources to promote assisted suicide in California. 

Life Legal Defense Foundation needs your financial support to ensure that the lives of Californians are protected from assisted suicide.

According to the assisted suicide lobby 504 people have died by assisted suicide in California since June 2016.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Not Dead Yet: Tracy Latimer Must Not Be Erased; Her Murder Must Not Be Pardoned.


Media Release

Contact: Amy Hasbrouck 450-921-3057 12 July 2018

TRACY LATIMER MUST NOT BE ERASED; HER MURDER MUST NOT BE PARDONED.

Multiple news outlets are reporting that Robert Latimer has submitted a letter to the Minister of Justice seeking a pardon or a new trial following his conviction for the murder of his daughter Tracy in 1993.

Latimer has been free on parole since 2010. Contrary to some media reports, Latimer has been able to travel outside Canada since 2015, according to the Globe and Mail.

Disability rights activists are concerned that the pardon request is a “symptom and effect of the continuing devaluation of disabled people” as shown by the legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia in 2016, according to Amy Hasbrouck, director of Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet. She notes that individual choice is supposed to be key to the suspension of homicide laws in cases of assisted suicide and euthanasia. “Yet Tracy was not given a choice.”

Hasbrouck says public policies that favour institutional care over home-based supports, and failure to fund such supports, as well as palliative care, deprive disabled people of any real choice in where and how they live. “Under those circumstances, how can the choice to die be truly ‘free’?” she said.

Though Hasbrouck agrees that Tracy Latimer should have received effective pain relief, she finds the statement that ‘Tracy Latimer's life should have ended 'unintentionally' as a secondary consequence of her physicians' administration of opiates to alleviate her pain,” to be “ignorant, insulting, and offensive.”

Hasbrouck also points to a claim made by Latimer’s attorney Jason Gratl that "[g]ranting a pardon to Mr. Latimer does not detract from any value or principle.”

“Pardoning Tracy’s killer would signal a failure of the Government’s commitment to equality, justice, and ending discrimination against disabled Canadians,” said Hasbrouck.

She noted that the Latimer conviction was “the exception to the rule” that parents who kill their disabled children receive more lenient treatment from the criminal justice system than do parents who kill their non-disabled children.

Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet (TVNDY) is a nonreligious and nonpartisan organization established in 2013 by and for people with disabilities as a project of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. Our goal is to inform, unify and give voice to the disability rights opposition to assisted suicide, euthanasia, and other life-ending practices that have a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities.


TRACY LATIMER NE DOIT PAS ÊTRE EFFACÉ; SON MEURTRE NE DOIT PAS ÊTRE EXCUSÉ.

Contact:  Amy Hasbrouck 450-921-3057                                         12 July 2018

Plusieurs médias rapportent que Robert Latimer a envoyé une lettre au ministre de la Justice pour demander la grâce ou un nouveau procès pour le meurtre de sa fille Tracy en 1993.

Latimer est en liberté conditionnelle depuis 2010. Contrairement à certains reportages dans les médias, Latimer a pu voyager à l'extérieur du Canada depuis 2015, selon le Globe and Mail.

Selon Amy Hasbrouck, directrice de Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet, les militants des droits des personnes en situation de handicap craignent que la demande de grâce soit un « symptôme et effet de la dévaluation continue des personnes avec déficiences ». Elle note que le choix individuel est censé être la clé de la suspension des lois sur l'homicide dans les cas de suicide assisté et d'euthanasie. « Pourtant, Tracy n'a pas eu de choix. »

Hasbrouck dit que les politiques publiques qui favorisent les soins institutionnels plutôt que les soins à domicile, et le manque de financement de tels soutiens, ainsi que les soins palliatifs, privent les personnes avec des incapacités de tout choix réel quant à où et comment elles vivent. « Dans ces circonstances, comment le choix de mourir peut-il être vraiment "libre"? » A-t-elle dit.

Bien qu'Hasbrouck convienne que Tracy Latimer aurait dû recevoir un soulagement efficace de la douleur, elle trouve l’énonce « la vie de Tracy Latimer aurait dû se terminer "involontairement" comme une conséquence secondaire de l'administration d'opiacés par ses médecins pour soulager sa douleur, » être ignorante, insultant et offensant. "

Hasbrouck fait également allusion à une affirmation de l'avocat de Latimer, Jason Gratl, selon laquelle « le fait de gracier un pardon à M. Latimer ne porte atteinte à aucune valeur ou principe. »

« Pardonner l'assassinat de Tracy signifierait un échec de l'engagement du gouvernement envers l'égalité, la justice et l'élimination de la discrimination contre les Canadiens avec déficiences, » a déclaré Hasbrouck.

Elle a noté que la condamnation Latimer fait « l'exception à la règle » que les parents qui tuent leurs enfants ayant des incapacités reçoivent un traitement plus clément du système de justice pénale que les parents qui tuent leurs enfants non handicapés.

Toujours Vivant-Not Dead Yet (TVNDY) est une organisation non religieuse et non partisane fondée en 2013 par et pour les personnes handicapées dans le cadre d'un projet du Conseil des Canadiens avec déficiences. Notre objectif est d'informer, d'unifier et de donner une voix à l'opposition aux droits des personnes handicapées contre le suicide assisté, l'euthanasie et d'autres pratiques qui mettent fin à la vie et qui ont un impact disproportionné sur les personnes handicapées.
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90 des Ceminots Valleyfield QC J6T 2V2, www.tvnyd.ca / info@tv-ndy.ca /450-921-3057

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Winnipeg man (Ron Siwicki) sentenced to three months in horrific elder abuse case.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


Ron Siwicki (left)
Elizabeth Siwicki (right)
Ron Siwicki, the Winnipeg man who left his mother to die over 3 weeks, was sentenced to three months in jail, after pleading guilty to negligence causing death last January.

This is a horrific case of elder abuse neglect. It was also a story that euthanasia activists used to promote euthanasia in Canada.

According to a July 10 CBC News report by Erin Brohman Elizabeth Siwicki, who died in December 2014, was living with dementia. The report states:
She fell out of bed in November 2014 and couldn't get up. 
Siwicki, who was her caregiver, cried as he said his mother did not want to go to a hospital. 
She was left in the spot where she had fallen for more than three weeks, covered in her own excrement. 
She died of sepsis after the bed sores covering her body from the prolonged immobility became infected. An autopsy found that the bed sores were so severe, they went down to her bones. 
Siwicki said he tried to care for his mother after her fall by giving her nutritional supplement drinks and water. He waited until his mother died before he tried to clean her or call an ambulance. 
There was so much human waste around her that the carpet underneath had buckled, court was told.
Siwicki claimed that he was following the wishes of his mother but based on the statement of facts, it seems very hard to believe him.

This is a tragic case of elder abuse. Even if his mother refused to go to the hospital leaving her for three weeks to lay in her own excrement is inhumane. 

The fact that a euthanasia activist used this case to promote euthanasia, shows the mentality of those who push death upon our culture rather than recognizing how Elizabeth Siwicki was neglected and abused.

Germany Grapples With Assisted Suicide In Courts and Parliament

The following article by Sarah Carver was published by Not Dead Yet on July 9, 2018

By Sarah Carver

This hasn’t previously been on NDY’s radar (h/t to Euthanasia Prevention Coalition), but Germany has been grappling with assisted suicide since at least 2005, when a woman disabled by paralysis, Bettina Koch, sought to purchase suicide drugs domestically. She was denied, and then travelled to Switzerland and committed suicide “with the help of the Dignitas euthanasia association.”
*Recently Germany's Health Minister decided to stop providing euthanasia drugs.
In 2012, after a years-long legal battle, her surviving husband received a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights. Although it did not rule broadly on individuals’ rights to assisted suicide, the Court did state that “German courts were negligent in refusing to hear [his wife’s] case,” sending it back to the German courts.

According to DW.com, a German news outlet, the European Court of Human Rights — “decided not to issue a ruling on the right to assisted suicide, saying this duty fell to individual countries. . . . [T]he court said it would not issue a binding ruling on the matter, especially as only four of the 42 comparative states the court examined allowed active assisted suicide. Only three EU member countries – the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg – currently permit active assisted suicide, when someone agrees to a request from the patient to help them end their life. Switzerland is not in the EU.” (As of 2013, there are 28 countries in the EU.)

In a 2015 article, DW.com reported that, “In Germany, assisted suicide is not illegal under criminal law, but the doctors’ own professional code of ethic prohibits it.”

However, in 2015, the German Parliament voted against allowing commercial associations to help people to commit suicide. This criminalized the practice for such groups. At the same time, Parliament rejected other bills to fully legalize assisted suicide. Nevertheless, family members or close associates were reportedly still exempted from punishment in assisted suicide cases.

The after-effects of the 2012 “special case” were again keenly felt in 2017. After subsequent proceedings, on March 2, 2017, DW.com reported that Germany’s federal court ruled that people:

. . . “in extreme circumstances” should have legal access to drugs to end their own lives.
The federal administrative court in Leipzig ruled in favor of “the right for a patient who is suffering and incurably ill to decide how and when their life should end” provided the patient “can freely express their will and act accordingly.”

Reportedly, the purchase of deadly drugs in Germany is forbidden (though not criminal except for commercial associations), but the court found that the right of self-determination meant there should be exceptions for extreme cases “if, because of their intolerable life situation, they had freely and seriously decided to end their lives” and if there were no palliative-medical alternatives.

The “extreme cases” concept based on Mrs. Koch’s case of paralysis is extremely objectionable from a disability perspective, and the absence of a definition of what constitutes an extreme and exceptional case meriting assisted suicide is more than troubling.

In the same year, German Parliament strengthened palliative care to require greater insurance coverage of hospice care for patients in the country.

Then, in January of 2018, the 2017 ruling was called into question by former German Supreme Court judge Udo di Fabio. Also an attorney for Germany’s Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM), di Fabio asserted that the state providing drugs to individuals is unconstitutional, as it means the state intervening in some of an individual’s most personal choices. Since 2017, the BfArM had “not only [been] ordered to supply the pill, but also to decide on its own which cases effectively warranted suicide and which didn’t.”

Among other things, the shadow of the Holocaust renders Germany especially sensitive to state intervention in the lives and deaths of its citizens. The BfArM fears the possibility of enacting similar levels of state violence if it continued to be granted the power to give suicide drugs to patients. Although the outcome of di Fabio’s challenge remains to be seen, he has influential people such as Germany’s Federal Health Minister, Hermann Gröthe, on his side; as well as organizations like the German Foundation for Patient Protection. We hope that these and other actors will continue to stand in opposition to state involvement in assisted suicide in Germany. But frankly, if families are permitted to assist suicide, one wonders if these opponents have ever heard of elder abuse, because from Not Dead Yet’s point of view they’ve certainly left a gaping hole in patient protections.

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