Monday, March 31, 2008

Death for hire - suicide machine lets you push final button

Comment by Alex Schadenberg

From American euthanasia crusader Jack Kevorkian to Roger Kusch the promoter of the suicide machine in Germany, the concept of causing death has become the new social problem to be solved by a technological innovation.

Kevorkian began his campaign with the death-machine, therefore it is nothing new to notice that Kusch is beginning his death campaign by copying Kevorkian. Nothing new.

Meanwhile Dignitas in Switzerland has decided to use the Plastic Bag and Helium method to assist the suicides of their death tourists. In case that isn’t enough for Ludwig Minelli, the director of Dignitas, Minelli has written a book on how to commit suicide. The advantage to the plastic bag method is that it doesn't require a physician to prescribe death drugs and therefore is free of any regulations.

The general public is constantly told that euthanasia needs to be legalized to allow people to die with dignity. Since when did dying by donning a plastic bag over one’s head become a dignified death? Since when did a suicide machine become a social innovation?

Society needs to recognize that the death purveyors are becoming desperate to gain acceptance for killing. They claim to be concerned about "compassion" and "mercy" but are really looking for death on demand.

They are willing to accept laws that legalize euthanasia with a veneer of safeguards in order to create societal acceptance for killing people at the most vulnerable time in their life.

But as Dr. Rob Jonquiére, the chief executive officer of NVVE - the Right to Die Society in the Netherlands stated at the World Federation of Right to Die Society conference in Toronto in 2006, the final goal of their organization is to gain approval for the "last-will-pill" that would be available for people who are not suffering but who are "tired of living".

The death culture also likes to juxtapose itself to "religious fundamentalism". The reality is that people with disabilities, who are the strongest opponents to euthanasia, tend not to be religious fundamentalists. This is just another ploy to label the opposition of the culture of death.

Whether it be a last-will-pill, a suicide machine, a suicide bag, the death movement has become a radical ideology that worships death.

Remember, this is not about terminal illness, it is not about compassion for the dying, this is not about ending suffering. This is about having someone end your life at the time of your choosing or to for society to allow someone to end the lives of vulnerable people who do not realize that they are better off dead.

End of comment

March 29, 2008
Death for hire - suicide machine lets you push final button
Roger Boyes in Berlin
From The Times
Find this article at

Councillor suggests euthanasia to reduce children in care

Whether it was meant as a joke or whether Councillor Hugh Jackson was serious, it appears that negative comments related to the lives of vulnerable people are becoming a regular news-making item in the UK.

In response to the issue of the cost of housing and caring for children in the care of the government Councillor Hugh Jackson suggested that euthanasia might be the way to cut the number of children in care.

Thankfully, other councillors and most of the public have responded to the remarks with outrage.

Considering the acceptance of the Groningen Protocol in the Netherlands and the fact that Belgium legislators are considering extending euthanasia to newborns in their country, sadly Jackson's comments aren't far from reality.

Last week a prominent Church of Scotland minister suggested that too much money was spent in Britain on old people who are clinging to life.

Once again, the cost of caring for the most vulnerable people in society, whether they be people with disabilities, children in care, some of whom have disabilities, or the frail elderly, is being questioned within the context of their cost to society.

My concern is due to an aging population that there is a growing negative trend toward vulnerable persons in society, that is fueling a push to legalize euthanasia. Even-though the promotion of euthanasia will be sold to the public as a “freedom of choice” issue, it will in fact result in the euthanasia deaths of many vulnerable people who are already deemed to be too costly for care.

Remember, euthanasia is not about personal autonomy, it is about giving the right to another person (usually physicians) to kill a person for reasons that are defined by the government.

Councillor suggests euthanasia to reduce children in care
News Guardian - March 28, 2008
Find this article at

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Teenagers and parents of infants may be given the right to choose euthanasia in Belgium

The following article presents a seemingly rational idea, that opens the door of euthanasia and assisted suicide to essentially everyone.

Once a society has accepted the killing of one group of people for a set of circumstances then what will stop that society from accepting the killing of all groups of people for similar circumstances.

The only factors that will hold the Belgium government back from making euthanasia more widely available is the ability of a person to consent to their death, and how far do they wish to extend the concept of suffering? But when did euthanasia or assisted suicide have anything to do with consent? It is about having the right to "choose" to end your life, or giving someone else the right to kill you when you would have "rationally chosen" to do so. If people with a certain condition have the right to end "suffering" through euthanasia, then why would it be wrong to end the suffering for someone in a similar condition who cannot consent? In fact consent only stands in the way of providing "release of suffering" that may someday be seen as a human right.

The issue of suffering also relates to infant euthanasia. The problem is that it is difficult to access to what degree an infant is suffering. But why let current suffering be the criteria, when an infant with disabilities is bound to suffer in the future. Why not end a life to pre-empt the child from suffering.

In the recent review of the Groningen Protocol by Lindemann and Verkerk in the Hastings Center Report - Jan/Feb 2008 the authors refer to the Groningen Protocol as allowing euthanasia based on the idea of future suffering. The authors state: "The protocol thus leaves room for cases in which the suffering will take place in the future. This forward-thinking feature of the protocol is justified on the grounds that it is inhumane to keep a baby alive until it begins to experience intolerable suffering."

Remember, the issue of euthanasia is not about terminal illness, it is not about individual autonomy, it is not about suffering. It is about ending life based on individual autonomy or ending lives that are not worth living.

In other words. You can't have a little bit of euthanasia because if it is deemed to be a "good action" then why wouldn't it be "good" for everyone.

Teens need right to 'medically assisted suicide'
By Bruno Waterfield in Brussels - March 26, 2008
Find this article at

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Definition of euthanasia

While writing the previous post I realized that a proper definition of euthanasia is necessary before one can effectively evaluate the moral decision making in relation to deep sedation.

Euthanasia is an intentional action or omission of an action that causes the death of the person for reasons of "mercy." That action or omission of an action is also the intentional cause of the death.

The concern with deep sedation is only minimally related to the sedation itself, but primarily related to the withdrawal of fluids and food with the intention of causing death. People need to demand that fluids and food not be withheld during sedation, unless that person is very near to death.

When someone is very near to death, and their body is shutting down, fluids and food can be ethically withdrawn because they do not benefit the person and their withdrawal will not intentionally cause death.

Deep Sedation is often "slow euthanasia"

The question of the use of deep sedation in the Netherlands as the alternative form of euthanasia is an important question.

In the case of deep sedation, a person is usually sedated and then fluids and food are withdrawn resulting in an intentional death by dehydration or "slow euthanasia"

Intentionally killing someone by injection (or as Dignitas Clinic in Switzerland now use, a plastic bag and helium) usually takes several minutes and usually not more than one hour.

To intentionally kill someone by dehydration usually takes 10 - 14 days.

The problem with the moral assessment of deep sedation is that not all acts of deep sedation are related to decisions to intentionally kill the person. Sometimes, a person is very near to death and experiencing intractable pain. The person is sedated and dies within a few days. This is not euthanasia but in fact good palliative care.

Deep sedation can also be used in other cases when someone is not near to death but also experiencing intractable pain. These people can be sedated for several days, fluids and food should be continued, and after the short period of time the person comes out of the sedated state. These people are sometimes relaxed from their time of sedation and can be effectively treated for pain and symptom management without re-sedating them.

The point is: deep sedation can be used as a form of "slow euthanasia" or it can be effectively used as a form of good palliative care.

We must point out that when deep sedation is used as a form of euthanasia that this is an abuse of medical ethics and often an imposed death, whereby the family is not informed that the reason for the deep sedation is to cause the death of their family member.

Like all acts of euthanasia, deep sedation can be abused and is a direct threat to the lives of the most vulnerable people in our society who are not given the care and respect that is due a human person.

For more information contact Alex Schadenberg at: 1-877-439-3348.
Study signals Dutch switch to drugs from euthanasia
Fri Mar 21, 2008
(Reporting by Michael Kahn; Editing by Maggie Fox and Matthew Jones)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Oregon Death With Dignity Act report

Once again the Oregon Death With Dignity Act is more about numbers than actual information. It is important to note that there are no case reports connected to the annual report and there is no guarantee that all the cases have been reported.

The number of reported deaths has risen in 2007 to 49 from 46 reported deaths in 2006. More interesting was the fact that the number of prescriptions rose to 85 in 2007 from 65 in 2006. 3 of the 49 deaths in 2007 received their prescription in 2006.

Out of the 85 prescriptions in 2007, 46 died from assisted suicide, 26 died of their underlying disease, 13 were alive at the end of 2007.

The most frequently mentioned end-of-life concerns were: loss of autonomy (100%), decreased ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (86%), and loss of dignity (86%). (33%) stated that they were concerned about inadequate pain control in 2007, which is up from (26%) in 2006. It must be noted that their is no differentiation in the report between a patients lack of adequate pain control at the time of asking for the prescription from a patients fear of inadequate pain in the future.

There were complication reported in 3 patients. They all regurgitated some of the medication. One person lived 3.5 days. The question is not answered as to how the complications were dealt with. We also must question the total number of complications knowing that the physician was present at the assisted suicide only 22% of the time.

None of the people who died by assisted suicide were referred for a psychiatric or psychological evaluation in 2007. It appears that the "safeguards" in Oregon are either being ignored or every physician who prescribes death for their patients are also experts at detecting symptoms of depression.

Since 1997 - 341 patients have been reported to die from assisted suicide in Oregon.

By: Alex Schadenberg
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

For a summary of the Oregon Death With Dignity Act annual report for 2007, issued 18 March 2008, go to:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Response to: The College of Physicians & Surgeons of Manitoba

Response to: The College of Physicians & Surgeons of Manitoba
Statement on "Withholding and Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Treatment"

By: Alex Schadenberg,
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, February 8, 2008

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is a national coalition of groups and individuals who support measures that will create an effective social barrier to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba announced on January 30, 2008 a Statement on Withholding and Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Treatment [henceforth referred to as the Statement. see]. The Statement came into effect on February 1, 2008 , and is binding on all Manitoba physicians.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is concerned that the Statement will result in patients having basic medical care, including fluids, food and the respirator, withheld or withdrawn against a patient’s consent or personal values.

Euthanasia by omission includes the intentional withholding or withdrawal of fluids and food from a person who is not otherwise dying.

Post-modern bioethicists have falsely redefined fluids and food as medical treatment even though the provision of fluids and food do not constitute a treatment of a medical condition, but rather provide a basic necessity of life. Medical treatment is always optional whereas basic care is a necessity that must be provided based on need.

The Statement claims to: "assist physicians, their patients and others involved with decisions to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment by establishing a process for physicians to follow when withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment is being considered. It stipulates the ethical obligations of physicians, open communications aimed at achieving consensus and provides for conflict resolution in circumstances consensus cannot be reached." [No. 1602, 15-S1]

In reality, the Statement establishes that the physician has the final decision pertaining to the withholding or withdrawal of Life-Sustaining Medical Treatment. When the family disagrees with the physician, the physician must attempt to achieve consensus, but when consensus is not reached, the family will receive notice before Life-Sustaining Medical Treatment is withheld or withdrawn.

The Statement does not promote open communication between families and physicians, but rather defines the rights of the physician and informs the family that whether they agree with the physician or not, the final decision on withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatment is made by the physician.

Definitions are paramount:

Life-Sustaining Treatment is defined as: "Any treatment that is undertaken for the purpose of prolonging the patient’s life and that is not intended to reverse the underlying medical condition." [No. 1602, 15-S3]

This definition of Life-Sustaining Treatment includes basic care provisions such as fluids and food (provided by any and all means) and respiration.
Traditionally, fluids and food were considered basic care and not medical treatment. Fluids and food provide a basic human need and should be considered basic care and obligatory until the point when the patient is imminently dying and unable to physiologically benefit from its provision or until the burden of its provision exceeds the benefit.

It is important to note that the definition of Life-Sustaining Treatment in the Statement is not the withholding and withdrawal of medical treatment in general but rather treatments that are not intended to reverse the underlying medical condition. Medical treatment that is intended to reverse the underlying medical condition, most likely, will have already been withheld or withdrawn.

Therefore, the Statement is not based on withholding or withdrawing futile medical treatment but rather decisions concerning patients that are deemed to be futile.

"Minimum goal of life-sustaining treatment is clinically defined as the maintenance of or recovery to a level of cerebral function that enables the patient to:
• achieve awareness of self; and
• achieve awareness of environment; and
• experience his/her own existence.
For pediatric patients, the potential for neurological development must be factored into the assessment." [No. 1602, 15-S6]

The Statement says that: "Where a Physician concludes that the minimum goal is not realistically achievable and that life-sustaining treatment should be withheld or withdrawn and there is no consensus with the patient/proxy/representative, the physician is not obligated to continue to reach a consensus before withholding or withdrawing treatment, but must meet the implementation requirements ... before treatment can be withheld or withdrawn." [No. 1602, 15-S11]

Therefore, the physician is not obligated to reach a consensus before withholding or withdrawing fluids and food which may result in the person dying of dehydration. To intentionally cause the death of another person is a very serious decision. It is even more serious when it is done without the consent of the patient.

The Statement also says that: "Where the physician concludes that the minimum goal is realistically achievable but that treatment should be withheld or withdrawn, and the patient/proxy/representative does not agree and/or demands life-sustaining treatment." that a second physician must be consulted. If the second physician agrees that "treatment should be withheld or withdrawn and there is no consensus reached with the patient/proxy/ representative then the physician must provide at least 96 hours advance notice to the patient or proxy. [No. 1602, 15-S12]

Therefore, even in cases where the person is expected to reach the "minimum goal of life-sustaining treatment" as described above, the person can still be dehydrated to death, if two physicians agree that the patients life is futile or lacks a subjective quality of life.

The authors of the Statement must have understood that this part of the Statement would be criticized and therefore it states under the heading of communication that: "the concerns in these circumstances may not relate to clinical assessment or care and may involve values and judgements regarding quality of life."(emphasis is ours) [No. 1602, 15-S12]. By admitting to the reality of subjective quality of life assessments they are trying to deflect criticism by acknowledged these concerns ahead of time. When did doctors become the arbiters of who has the right to live and who must die?

Once again, the Statement is not about withholding surgery or cancer treatment from someone who is unconscious or nearing death. This is about withholding and withdrawing basic care measures.

It is interesting to note that when the "Physician offers life-sustaining treatment but the patient/proxy declines treatment or the representative advocates withholding or withdrawing treatment" the Statement says:
• "If the physician has satisfied him/herself of the matters referred to in the Communications section ... he/she must withhold or withdraw treatment in accordance with the patient/proxy’s wishes." [No. 1602, 15-S10]

In other words, the physician cannot provide life-sustaining treatment, when it is of benefit to the patient, against the expressed wishes of the patient or the consent of the proxy/representative. But it doesn’t work both ways. The physician can withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment/care against the expressed wishes of the patient and without the consent of the proxy/representative.

In Ontario, the Consent to Treatment Act recognizes that consent is paramount. The same Consent to Treatment Act defines a ‘Plan of Treatment’ as being comprised of various treatments or courses of treatment and may provide for the withholding or withdrawal of treatment. In both cases consent is necessary.

The Ontario model recognizes that a plan of treatment includes a consent for treatment and non-treatment.

In conclusion the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition opposes the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Manitoba Statement on Withholding and Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Medical Treatment because it directly threatens the lives of vulnerable persons and approves acts which may result in euthanasia by omission.

We recognize that medical treatment may become futile and may need to be withheld or withdrawn under certain conditions. Futile treatments are those that offer little to no benefit based on the condition of the person or where the burden of the treatment exceeds its possible benefit. We do not approve of decisions to remove basic care provisions, such as fluids, food and respiration because the patient has been deemed as futile.

There is a difference between letting a person die and intentionally causing a person’s death by action or omission. The Statement equates omissions that lead to the death of people who are not otherwise dying, with that of omissions that allow a natural death for those who are dying.

Patients depend on physicians who are willing to protect them and give them basic care, as deemed by their human need. Medical decisions must not be made based on supposed "quality of life" arguments that threaten the rights of people with disabilities and demean the value of each individual person.

In Canada medical professionals must be very concerned about safeguarding the trust relationship that exists with their patients. Canadians have a right to quality end-of-life care. Due to our medical system, patients are not free to purchase medical care. Therefore, there needs to be a recognition that the values of individuals should be upheld and protected.

The future of medical care and the confidence Canadians have in our medical system depend on rejecting policies such as the Statement on Withholding and Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Medical Treatment by The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba.