Monday, March 30, 2009

Murder-suicide rarely equates to assisted suicide - suicide

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Donna Cohen
An article that was published in the Minnesota Star Tribune on March 27, 2009 and written by Warren Wolfe looks at the sad phenomenon of murder-suicide. The article entitled: Desperate act from a weary caregiver looks at how older men will often falsely associate the act of murder-suicide with an act of mercy, but in reality it is rarely the case.

Donna Cohen, a researcher and expert in suicide recognizes that a pattern exists in the 500 murder-suicides that are now happening every year in the United States. Cohen stated in the article:

"Some older men try so hard to hold their heads high, to not ask for help with the stress of caregiving,'' said Donna Cohen, a researcher and expert on murder-suicide among older couples. "They cope as best they can with a depression they feel but can't acknowledge."
Although each murder-suicide among older people is different, researchers say there is a typical pattern:
• The man kills the woman in their bedroom with a gun -- an act he has thought about for weeks or months.

• The woman has Alzheimer's disease or another illness, and the man is depressed, often exhausted, perhaps sick himself, and under strain as the primary caregiver.

• The woman is rarely a willing or knowing participant. She usually is killed in her sleep.

• The man almost always mistakenly believes he is acting with mercy, putting the woman out of her misery. Instead, he is ending his own misery.

• There may be warning signs that can help families prevent the tragedy.
When people read reports of a murder-suicide they will often ask the question, was this an Act of love, or desperation? Cohen who has researched this question tries to find answers. She stated in the article:
That notion is common in murder-suicides, said Cohen, who has testified before Congress, written extensively and helped train families and physicians. She is a professor of aging and mental health at the University of South Florida and heads its Violence and Injury Prevention Program.

"If they were consulted, families usually would try to stop it,'' she said. "In fact, murder-suicide almost always is not an act of love. It's an act of desperation."
Cohen also recognizes that murder-suicide does not equate with assisted suicide. She said:
Some people equate murder-suicide with assisted suicide and the right to control when you will die, Cohen said. "It usually is not the same. This is suicide and murder.''
Cohan is developing answers to the problem of murder-suicide. The article states:
"Homicide-suicide is rare among older people,'' she added. "They've been through a lot and have developed ways to cope with a lot that life throws you."

But sometimes, she said, "the problems -- often real or perceived health problems -- seem insurmountable."

That can be especially true for older men who are caregivers, Cohen added. "Women are more likely to ask for help. Men try to focus on the tasks, to press on, to do all they can on their own -- and that can take a huge toll."

Recognizing that, the Alzheimer's Association in Minnesota, which sponsors 94 caregiver support groups, will add two more in May -- for older men. "We know that's a group that needs help, and we are trying to figure out how to reach out to them," said Jan Mueller, advocacy manager at the Edina office.

The association also supports legislation sponsored by Rep. Steve Gottwalt, R-St. Cloud, and Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, DFL-Minneapolis, for an Alzheimer's work group to assess needs of people with dementia and their families.
Cohen has identified risk factors for murder-suicide and ways that families can help prevent these horrific incidences. The article states
Within weeks before a murder-suicide, the man often has seen a physician -- sometimes escorting his wife, Cohen said. "Health professionals should screen patients routinely for depression. Medications and other interventions do work."

Sometimes families can prevent a murder-suicide if they recognize signs such as a health change in a long-married couple, more social isolation, exhaustion or talk of a move to a nursing home -- especially in cases where the husband has a dominant personality.

"Get Dad talking," Cohen said. "This can be frightening for families, but they can address [it] directly. Acknowledge the good work he has been doing, and ask him if he sometimes wishes his spouse or he were dead. You won't be putting a new idea in his head. It's OK to tell him those ideas are normal. They are."

"The lesson is to be aware, take the signs seriously, start talking and try to get help," she said. "You still may fail, but you will never regret trying."
The lesson is that murder-suicide is a preventable social problem.

Secondly, legalizing assisted suicide or creating special exemptions in the law for "compassionate homicide" will not lesson the social problem of murder-suicide or make the circumstances less tragic.

Link to the original article:

Link to a previous commentary on murder-suicide:

Link to a previous sad case of murder-suicide:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Australia's 'Dr Death' (Philip Nitschke) is selling euthanasia kits in the UK for £35

An article in the Gaurdian paper today (March 29) in the UK explains how Philip Nitscke, Australia's 'Dr Death' and the president of Exit International is selling euthanasia kits to his contacts in the UK for £35.

Link to the article in the Gaurdian:

The article states that:
Dr Philip Nitschke, an Australian physician known as Dr Death for his enthusiastic promotion of a person's right to take his own life, believes the UK is a suitable place to run a trial of the kits, which he has been developing in his laboratory. But Nitschke's actions have revived concerns that healthy elderly and vulnerable people will end up killing themselves in the belief that they have become a burden to their families.

Last autumn, Nitschke's organisation, Exit International, provoked uproar in the UK when it held workshops giving people advice on how they could end their lives. One workshop in Bournemouth was cancelled after the council stepped in. However, a similar event went ahead in central London and was reported to have been well attended.

But now Exit is provoking further controversy with its plans to sell the barbiturate-testing kits here. In the latest issue of its magazine Deliverance, Exit explains how it created a purpose-built laboratory to test "end-of-life options". The article continues: "Calibration of the chemicals involved is essential so that those using the test will be certain that the drugs they test will give them a peaceful and reliable death.

"The kit is scheduled for release in the UK in May and will be available internationally shortly after that."

Nitschke said he was launching the kit in response to growing demand. Exit's website carries links to a Mexico-based supplier of lethal barbiturates that are delivered in the post without labels. "These drugs don't come with labels, so people want to have confidence in what they are buying," Nitschke said. "They want to be sure they have the right concentration."

Nitschke plans to sell the kits, which have chemicals that change colour when mixed with lethal barbiturates, for about £35 when he holds his next series of British roadshows, starting in Eastbourne in May. He will also promote Exit's new online DIY suicide workshop.

"We decided to launch in the UK because of its enlightened attitude; many of the things we can do in the UK are banned in Australia," said Nitschke, whose guidebook, The Peaceful Pill Handbook, co-written with Dr Fiona Stewart, is banned in his native country.

What is interesting is that it appears that groups that oppose and groups that promote euthanasia are wanting to stop Nitschke from selling his kits in the UK. The article quotes Sarah Wootten from Dignity in Dying as saying:
"The answer is not DIY kits or books, but a fully safeguarded law that protects the vulnerable and gives terminally ill adults the choice of an assisted death," said Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, which campaigns for a change in the law on euthanasia. "Regrettably, without such a law, activism like this is likely to continue."

I may be wrong, but in my opinion Sarah Wootton from Dignity in Dying is opposing Nitschke because of his radical appearance rather than his intention of providing anyone and everyone suicide assistance.

Dignity in Dying in the UK and the Euthanasia Research and Guidance Organization (ERGO) are members of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies. ERGO works closely with Exit International as well as other groups such as the Final Exit Network, which is also a member of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies.

I am convinced that the distance Dignity in Dying appears to be placing between themselves and Nitschke is more about strategy than an actual difference in ideology.

When I attended the World Federation of Right to Die Societies Conference in Toronto (September 2006), Philip Nitschke was a speaker and a participant. I did not notice the delegates from Dying in Dignity or the other groups disagreeing or walking out of the room when Nitschke spoke about the "peaceful pill" or when he suggested that people should receive assisted suicide when they are "tired of living"

At the same conference, I didn't notice the delegates avoiding the display table where Nitschke was explaining how to properly use a turkey bag (Exit Bag) and Helium to assist the suicide of a client (victim).

The article then quoted Peter Saunders from the Care Not Killing Alliance in the UK as saying:
"Nitschke is an extremist and self-publicist who has gained notoriety from conducting how-to-commit-suicide classes," said Peter Saunders, of the Care Not Killing Alliance. "His plan is pushing the outermost boundaries of the law and will exploit and endanger vulnerable British people." An invitation to Nitschke to participate in a debate on euthanasia at Oxford University has been withdrawn amid concerns about his activities.

Saunders is absolutely right about Nitscke, the fact is that similar claims can be made about Dying in Dignity and their goals.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

'Hero' unable to stop legalized killing

Charlie Butts from OneNewsHour called me the other day after I posted my blog comment on Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg who is our Hero for refusing to sign the legislation to legalize euthanasia in Luxembourg into law. In fact the Grand Duke was willing to give up his historical monarchial power in order to conscientiously object to the legalization of euthanasia in his tiny nation.

Since then I have received a plethora of emails from people wishing to thank the Grand Duke for his courage.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has decided to formally thank the Grand Duke for his fortitude and strength by sending him an official acknowledgment of his courage and by including with our official acknowledgement the comments by the many supporters who have sent us their comments.

Please send your comments thanking our Hero, the Grand Duke, for his fortitude and courage and his willingness to stand up against the direct and intentional killing of the most vulnerable by euthanasia.

You can do this by emailing the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at: or mailing us at: Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Box 25033, London Ontario Canada, N6C 6A8.

To link to the original blog comment about the Grand Duke Henri:

The following is the text from OneNewsHour:

Luxembourg has become the third nation to legalize doctor-assisted suicide. While that isn't good news to pro-lifers, there is a pro-life hero in the story.

The vote on the bill was 30-26, but it was stalled for some time. Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition explains. "The fact is that they've now gone to extreme measures even to carry this out because the Grand Duke of Luxembourg originally refused to sign the bill into law," he says.

That forced Parliament to take drastic action to make it legal. "They went as far as to change their constitution in order to make sure that he didn't need to sign the bill into law for it to become law," says the pro-life activist.

Schadenberg believes Grand Duke Henri deserves recognition for standing his ground.

"I think the Grand Duke is a hero," Schadenberg shares. "And we've been thinking a lot about this and we've been discussing maybe we should be instituting a 'Grand Duke award' that would be awarded yearly to the person who has done their greatest effort to try and stop further promotion of euthanasia/assisted suicide on a worldwide basis."

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition provides information for people who want to send a communication directly to the Grand Duke for taking such a strong moral stand.

Link to the original article:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

UK Member of Parliament pushes to approve suicide tourism.

Patricia Hewitt a Labour MP in the UK is pushing to make suicide tourism a legally protected act for UK residents.

The Care Not Killing Alliance in the UK has responded to Hewitt's legislative push by commenting:
“The result would be a law that discouraged suicide with one hand and encouraged it with the other. That would be farcical as well as tragic”
The BBC article states:
Sarah Wootton, chief executive of the Dignity in Dying group, said: "Currently the Coroners and Justice Bill fails to distinguish between maliciously encouraging a suicide and compassionately assisting a terminally ill, mentally competent adult who wants to die.

"Clearly the law should protect vulnerable people from abuse, but at the same time it should not criminalise people who accompany those who make rational decisions to end their suffering."

But Peter Saunders, director of Care Not Killing, said: "The government is, commendably, trying to protect vulnerable people by tightening up the Suicide Act to outlaw internet websites that encourage suicide.

"And yet here we have the euthanasia lobby trying... to encourage suicide by removing any risk of prosecution for anyone assisting someone to go abroad for euthanasia or assisted suicide.

He added: "Make no mistake: this amendment is just a precursor to a more general euthanasia law."

The UK government is proposing to change the assisted suicide law by tightening it up to specifically give the government the power to outlaw suicide counseling via the internet. The euthanasia lobby is attempting to co-opt the good intentions of the UK government by creating an exception in the law for suicide tourism.

The article does suggest that:
The amendment, which may be debated but not voted on at this stage, is not thought to have much chance of success.

Link to the article in the BBC news:

Final Exit Network proves that they are not concerned with terminal illness or depression

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A recent FOX 5 Special: Inside Final Exit Network examined some of the people the Final Exit Network had assisted suicides or planned to assist their suicide.
The first case was that of Kurt a 26-years-old, one Chicago man who has an incurable neurological disorder known as Charcot Marie Tooth or CMT. CMT is not fatal, but Kurt suffers from a rare form of the disease that causes severe respiratory problems which can make breathing feel more like suffocating.
Kurt is not terminally ill, he is not dying, but he does have a significant disability. He needs support and help to live a full-life. He needs pain and symptom management for his chronic conditions, but he is not terminally ill.

Dr. Jerry Dinkin, a retired clinical psychologist and the current president of the Final Exit Network said:
the Final Exit Network limits its services only to those with terminal, irreversible or intolerable health problems. The group's president insisted exit guides only offered clients information and emotional support.
The important point is that Dinkin does not limit assisted suicide to terminally ill victims but rather includes people with irreversible and intolerable health problems.

My friend Alison Davis who is a disability rights advocate in the UK and the leader of the group No Less Human, was born with irreversible and intolerable health problems. Does that mean that her life is not worth living. Those who have not read Alison's story need to know that Alison attempted suicide at a low point in her life. She is very happy that a member of the Final Exit Network didn't come and visit her.

People with disabilities realize how cults like the Final Exit Network will prey on people at the most vulnerable time of their life. We need to maintain laws against assisted suicide to protect us from the Final Exit Network types who insist that they are only offering freedom when they should be offering the freedom to live.

Becky Rumage Tuttle, a member of the disability rights group Not Dead Yet was right when she said to the Fox reporter.
"How can putting a plastic bag over your head with no air not be a horrible way to die? I don't buy it,"

Tuttle said groups like Final Exit Network do a disservice to disabled people who could benefit from therapy, medical advances or support groups.

"You're not just standing back and saying, 'I understand how you feel, it must be really tough right now,' they're saying, 'Here's a way out,'" said Tuttle.

Tuttle applauded the arrest of four Final Exit Network members in February on assisted suicide charges. The members are accused of helping 58-year-old John Celmer of Cumming take his own life in 2008.

"What options are they giving them if the sole purpose of their organization is to give the resources to end your life," asked Tuttle.
Link to the Fox Special - Inside Final Exit Network

An article in the Arizona Daily Star casts further doubt on the concerns that the Final Exit Network had for their victims. The article by Earl Wettstein, the first president of the Final Exit Network refers to John Celmer, the man who had recovered from cancer and who's assisted suicide death led to the investigation into the Final Exit Network.

Wettstein writes:
The man who killed himself had cancer of the throat, his jaw had been removed, he could not swallow and was facing two more major surgeries. He decided he no longer wanted to endure this.

The dead man's mother, 85, said her son had suffered from cancer of the throat for years. She said he was extremely depressed about his condition and the additional operations planned.

She said, "If they helped my son to die, I would never find them guilty for helping him."

But Wettstein's supposed quote from Celmer's mother does not represent the sentiment of Celmer's family.

In an interview with Sue Celmer, the widow of John Celmer who died by assisted suicide after the Final Exit Network members took advantage of his depression, she stated that:
The last year-and-a-half of her husband's life was difficult. John Celmer endured surgery and radiation to rid him of oral cancer. That left him with a deteriorating jaw that required more surgery. Then there was also the constant pain from an arthritic hip.

"But there was tremendous hope. He had no cancer. He was not terminal. There were many things we were looking forward to do."

"I think they're misguided, I think they lack the insight of truth."
Sue Celmer also stated:
"His physical condition was curable. Any depression he had was treatable, and death is not."

The family is contemplating a civil suit against the Final Exit Network.

Link to the article from February 28 that interviewed Sue Celmer:

Link to the article in the Arizona Daily Star:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ted Goodwin defends the deaths of people with disabilities

Stephen Drake
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An article published in the AP Press on March 17 written by Greg Bluestein and Lindsey Tanner and titled: AP Interview: Leader of suicide ring defends work exposed the Final Exit Network's support for aiding, abeting and counseling suicide for people with disabilities who are not dying.

Stephen Drake, the research director for Not Dead Yet a disability rights group, has been attacked for suggesting that the Final Exit Network supports assisted suicide for people who have disabilities, but not dying. I wonder if all the critics of Stephen Drake have apologized to him yet?

The AP Press interview with Ted Goodwin, the former President of the Final Exit Network and the Vice-President of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies, a group that includes Compassion & Choices in its membership.

Ted Goodwin
The interview with Ted Goodwin in the AP Press states:
A former assisted suicide network leader being prosecuted in a Georgia man's death is defending his group's practice of guiding people who want to kill themselves because they're suffering but not necessarily dying.

At least three of the people known to have commited suicide through the Final Exit Network were not terminally ill. In his most extensive remarks since his arrest last month, Ted Goodwin told The Associated Press Tuesday that people with just months to live aren't the only ones who should be able to seek help committing suicide.

"These people who are terminally ill are blessed in a small way — there's a finite time for their suffering," said Goodwin, who stepped down as president of the network after his arrest. "But there are many, many people who are doomed to suffer interminably for years. And why should they not receive our support as well?"
The article exposes three cases where the suicide victim was not terminally ill. The article states:
Georgia authorities say John Celmer, the 58-year-old man whose suicide led to charges against Goodwin and three others, was making a remarkable recovery from cancer when the group sent exit guides to his home to show him how to suffocate himself using helium tanks and a plastic hood. And police say that in 2007, the group helped an Arizona woman named Jana Van Voorhis who was depressed but not terminally ill.

The third person, Kurt Perry, a suburban Chicago resident who was to have been the group's next suicide, has a debilitating neurological condition that is painful but usually not fatal. The 26-year-old said frightening breathing lapses prompted him to seek support from the network.
Goodwin disputed the claim by the investigators that he showed them how he would hold down the hands of his suicide victim to prevent the person from removing the "Exit/Suicide" Bag while being gassed with helium. The article stated:
Goodwin, who is not a physician and founded the group in 2004 after his father died of emphysema, says the network helped guide nearly 200 people across the country die to but never actively assisted suicide. He says he was personally involved in 39 deaths.

Goodwin would not comment on the suicide process, but disputed Georgia authorities' contention that guides held down members' hands to prevent them from removing the hoods they placed over their heads while they breathed helium.

"We do not hold hands down. We do not cause them to suffer," he said. "And this will be proven in a court of law — I promise you."
Goodwin realizes that if it is proven that Final Exit Network "Guides" are holding down the hands of their victims then they will be found guilty of homicide and not assisted suicide.

The article also indicated that there are concerns that some of the suicide victims were experiencing mental illness or chronic depression. Goodwin did admit knowledge of one case. The article stated:
Authorities have also questioned how carefully the group, which claims 3,300 members and donors and about 100 volunteers, screened people who want to commit suicide.

Goodwin says the vetting process was tightened in 2007, after questions about Van Voorhis' death.

Goodwin defended the group's involvement, saying Van Voorhis suffered from other illnesses, but people who sought help after her were asked to detail their complete mental history.

About 30 percent of the applications the group received each year were from mentally ill people who wanted to die because of a lost job, lost spouse or other anguish. Those applications were immediately set aside, Goodwin said.

If an applicant's mental history raised a concern, which happened occasionally, one of 10 psychiatrists or psychologists working with the group visited to assess the situation.

But if it didn't, Goodwin said, the applicant got help, even though the group knew its work could one day lead to prosecution.

"We believe that it is the right of every mentally competent adult to determine whether he or she is suffering," Goodwin said. "We do not believe this should be left to the physicians, church leaders or politicians. This is the right of every mentally competent individual to make this decision themselves."
The fact is that the Final Exit Network stated on their website on the day after the passing of the I-1000 assisted suicide Initiative in Washington State that their group would assist the suicides for the people who do not qualify for assisted suicide under the Washington State law. The Final Exit Network was founded to assist the suicide of people who may not be terminally ill.

It doesn't matter how they 'dress it up' the Final Exit Network considers people with disabilities as qualified candidates for assistance with suicide.

Stephen Drake, should not only be receiving apologies from his critics but he should be demanding that every media outlet that has covered the Final Exit Story print an article that exposes all of the truth behind the Final Exit Network.

Link to the article from the AP press:

Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg - Hero

Grand Duke Henri
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg is a Hero. Very few world leaders have had the fortitude and personal strength to stand up for justice and oppose euthanasia. Even though the Grand Duke could not stop the legalisation of euthanasia in his nation, he did take a courageous stand by forcing the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies to change the constitution before it could enact into law the direct and intentional killing of its most vulnerable citizens by euthanasia.

In his December statement to the people of Luxembourg the Grand Duke said:
Nevertheless, in an issue dealing with life’s end, I made use of my right to freedom of conscience. To answer a fundamental question “en âme et conscience" basically means passing judgement on oneself. In this I sought only to stay true to myself.

The response that this brings is in no way a judgement on citizens who harbour a different opinion, on people who have other feelings or on those who have had other life experiences.

Above all I deeply sympathise with those who are facing the end of their lives and who are undergoing great suffering.

Nobody can accept this, especially since the means for avoiding it are indeed available.
For those who wish to congratulate Grand Duke Henri please write or email to the following contact address:
Maréchalat de la Cour - Palais grand-ducal
17, rue du Marché-aux-herbes, L-1728 Luxembourg
Adresse postale : B.P. 331 L-2013 Luxembourg
Service Communication :

You can link the the website for the Luxembourg Royal Family at:

To complain to Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg Minister of State
Adresse: 4, rue de la Congrégation, L - 1352 Luxembourg Europe
Adresse électronique:

On March 13, 2009, the tiny european nation of Luxembourg amended section 34 of its Constitution to remove the historical power of the monarch. According to the Luxembourg constitution, the Grand Duke was required to sign a bill before it became law.

On 2 December 2008 Grand Duke Henri announced that he would refuse to sign into law the act on euthanasia that had been voted on earlier in the year by the Chamber of Deputies. The vote to legalise euthanasia in Luxembourg passed by a (30 to 26) margin. After the final vote the signature of the Grand Duke would have been necessary to approve and enact the law. The Minister of State Jean-Claude Juncker decided to amend the Constitution, whereby the signature of the Monarch would no longer be necessary for a law to take effect. The Luxembourg royal house has tried to block a decision by parliament only once before, when the Grand Duchess Marie-Adelaide refused to sign an education bill in 1912. (With information from Wikipedia)

Link to the Wikipedia article:,_Grand_Duke_of_Luxembourg
On March 17, 2009 the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies declared that the Euthanasia law had now passed making Luxembourg the third european nation to legalize euthanasia.

It is a very sad day for Luxembourg. The nation of Luxembourg has now approved the direct and intentional killing of its citizens at the most vulnerable time of their life. Whatever good intentions that may be related to the elimination of suffering, cannot justify the removal of the basic protection of a citizen to be free from lethal coercion, and the protection of life.

After many years of euthanasia in the Netherlands, it has now become very apparent that the euthanasia experiment is a failure. Children born with disabilities can be killed if the doctors and the family follow the Groningen Protocol. People with chronic depression can be killed and in the last government report in 2005 it stated that 550 people were killed by euthanasia without consent.

Now Luxembourg is following the path of the Netherlands. I lament the decision and I hope that other national leaders will have the fortitude, like the Grand Duke, to oppose the direct and intentional killing by euthanasia of their vulnerable citizens.

Link to the Luxembourg constitution:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Luxembourg legalises euthanasia

Luxembourg has become the third European country to legalise euthanasia. I have included in this email the article from the AFP Press and two articles from the Luxembourg media explaining the constitutional crisis that was created by legalising euthanasia.

Luxembourg's Grand Duke Henri refused to sign the bill into law. His actions held up the bill which had passed in the Luxembourg parliament by a vote of 30 to 26.

The result was that the Luxembourg parliament unanimously voted to remove the power of the Grand Duke by changing article 34 of their constitution.

We are saddened that Luxembourg has decided to legalise the direct and intentional killing of its residents through euthanasia, but we are thankful that the Grand Duke had the fortitude to stand his ground and temporarily hold off the legalisation in his nation.

The Grand Duke has lost all his constitutional power because he attempted to stop an unjust law in his country.

For further comments contact Alex Schadenberg at the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at: 1-877-439-3348.

Link to the article: Luxembourg becomes third EU country to legalise euthanasia

Link to the article on March 17 - Bill Enacted on Euthanasia

Link to the article on March 13 - Article 34 of state constitution changed:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Assisted Suicide in Oregon - Is not what it looks like.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Compassion & Choices, the leading assisted suicide lobby group in the America is telling people throughout the world that the assisted suicide law in Oregon is working perfectly fine. They are lobbying other states and nations to legalize assisted suicide based on their statistics.

What is actually happening in Oregon?

People in Oregon should be very concerned about the actual practise of assisted suicide in their state. Oregonians are being lulled into a sleep while the assisted suicide lobby group is also operating the law.

George Eighmey
In the report issued by George Eighmey, Executive Director - Compassion & Choices of Oregon, the group claims they are the stewards of the Oregon law.

When the group that lobbied to change the law is also the steward of the law, then we need to be concerned that the fox is in the hen house. How can anyone feel assured that vulnerable people are not being pressured by family members, heirs, or Final Exit type volunteers when the group that has a vested interest in maintaining a "rosy" annual report is also the group carrying-out the assisted suicide deaths.

Since there are no "third-party" investigations and no Department of Human Services follow-up's. Since the reports that are required by the Department of Human Services are submitted by the physician who wrote the prescription - often on behalf of Compassion & Choices, will it ever be possible to know the real truth concerning the practise of assisted suicide in Oregon.

Consider the following graph that compares the Compassion & Choices assisted suicide’s to the Total assisted suicide’s

Year -- Reported C&C Deaths -- Non-C&C Deaths -- DHS-Report Deaths
  • 1998 -- 16 -- 11 -- 5 -- 69% 
  • 1999 -- 27 -- 18 -- 9 -- 67% 
  • 2000 -- 27 -- 21 -- 6 -- 78% 
  • 2001 -- 21 -- 17 -- 4 -- 81% 
  • 2002 -- 38 -- 31 -- 7 -- 82% 
  • 2003 -- 42 -- 34 -- 8 -- 81% 
  • 2004 -- 37 -- 29 -- 8 -- 78% 
  • 2005 -- 38 -- 25 -- 13 -- 66% 
  • 2006 -- 46 -- 31 -- 15 -- 67% 
  • 2007 -- 49 -- 32 -- 17 -- 65% 
  • 2008 -- 60 -- 53 -- 7 -- 88% 
  • Total -- 401 -- 302 -- 99 -- 75% 
  • (1998 - 2008 - 11 years)
Compassion & Choices has been directly involved with 75% of all assisted suicide deaths in Oregon and in 2008 they facilitated 53 of 60 assisted suicide deaths or 88% of the total reported deaths.

Further to that it should be concerning that the group that promotes assisted suicide is also the group that controls the information concerning assisted suicide in Oregon. It must be pointed out that the 401 total deaths over 11 years in Oregon are the reported deaths. The Oregon Department of Human Services has created no mechanism to assure people that all of the assisted suicide deaths are reported.

Since the physician who writes the prescription in conjunction with Compassion & Choices is also the physician who files the assisted suicide report, therefore, it is likely that transgressions of the law are not reported?

William Toffler
During the Washington State I-1000 assisted suicide debate a great article on this topic was published in the Oregonian (September 24, 2008) by Kenneth R. Stevens, Jr., M.D. and William L. Toffler, M.D., entitled: Assisted suicide: Conspiracy and Control (Link).

The article stated:
The group controlling assisted suicide in Oregon is also the group controlling what the public is told.

The [Oregonian] editorial board correctly also noted "a coterie of insiders run the program, with a handful of doctors and others deciding what the public may know".
The reality is, the experience with assisted suicide in Oregon is a story of a group of death activists who control the information and the spin. We will never know the truth unless the Department of Human Services agrees to do an - independent, indepth investigation into deaths in Oregon. Until this has been done, we simply will not be able to know the basic truth about assisted suicide in Oregon.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Suicide by mail

Alex Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg

Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr Philip Nitschke, Australia's Dr. Death, has once again proven that he is not concerned whether or not a person is terminally ill, he is not concerned whether or not a person is depressed or otherwise vulnerable, he is only concerned with promoting suicide.

A recent article published in The Australian on March 14, 2009 and written by Julie-Anne Davies is entitled: Suicide drug of choice in mail

It appears that Nitschke found a source for the illegal lethal veterinary drugs from a Mexican supplier who is willing (for a price) to ship by mail order to desperate followers of Nitschke. Nitschke was so confident of his source that he put the information in his "Peaceful Pill" book.

The Australian authorities are right to try to stop the import of the lethal veterinary drug, used to euthanize animals. Nitschke is busy operating a suicide counseling service whereby he is encouraging people to commit suicide and he is helping people plan their suicide.

The article states:
The buyers had learnt about his service from euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke's latest version of his banned book, The Peaceful Pill Handbook, published by Exit International.

Dr Nitschke said he did not expect the mail order option to last for long. "We heard about this guy who's down south of Mexico and we decided to tell people about him in our latest book because he seemed to be offering a reliable service and a good product," he said.

"But it won't last once word gets out."
Assisted Suicide must remain illegal. Out-of-control death gurus such as Nitschke will continue his "ministry" so long as nobody shuts him down. At least the Australian authorities are trying to limit his influence by keeping a watch on his activities.

The article states:
Dr Nitschke's book, The Peaceful Pill Handbook -- the title of which uses a euphemism for a veterinary drug -- was banned in Australia after a special federal law was passed in 2005 making it a crime to use a telephone, fax, email or the internet to discuss or research assisted suicide.

That offence carries a $110,000 fine. An Australian Federal Police spokesperson said no one had been charged with downloading Dr Nitschke's book.

Importing the veterinary drug into Australia carries a maximum penalty of 25 years' imprisonment or a $550,000 fine.
Notice the amount of money the Mexican veterinary supply shop that sells the drug who are willing to cash in on the desperation of people who are being counseled by Nitschke to commit suicide.

The article states:
"I have sent to Australia, like, eight times with success; the Customs have never stopped any of my ships," Gerardo Aviles Navarro said in an email from Mexico. "I'm very serious; the reason of Exit International to make public my email direction is because they know my seriousness."

One bottle of the drug costs $US350 or $US450 for two bottles, he said.
Nitschke has also been accused by families of taking advantage of people when they were emotionally down. The case of Erin Berg the 39 year old mother of four is a prime example of his lack of concern for people who are emotionally unstable. It was reported at the time that Berg was undergoing psychiatric treatment.

The article states:
The botched suicide of Australian woman Erin Berg in Tijuana, which was revealed in The Australian last year, is blamed for this. The 39-year-old mother of four died in a Mexican hospital a fortnight after drinking a veterinary drug in a Tijuana hotel room.

Her sisters blamed Dr Nitschke in part for their sister's death, after finding she had underlined passages in his first book Killing Me Softly relating to the veterinary drug and obtaining it in Mexico.
My previous blog posting on the Berg family concerns:

Link to the article in The Australian:,25197,25184478-5013404,00.html

In case you are thinking that legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide would put people like Nitschke out of business, think again. The leading Dutch "Right to Die" organization has decided that their new goal is the legalization of the "Last Will Pill." They are a mainstream right to die group and once again they are not concerned about the vulnerability of people at the most difficult time of their life.

Finally, let's be brutally honest. Legalizing assisted suicide is not going to put Nitscke out of business, but rather give them credibility.

If assisted suicide becomes legal, you will find out that your mother died but you won't know that your sister pressured her, a sister who may have selfish motivs. If it is legal you will be told she wanted to die, and its legal. It won't matter whether the doctor is like Nitschke, or that your sister pressured her, your mother will be dead.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Longer Psychiatric Assessment for man charged with assisted suicide

The Waterloo Record is reporting that Peter Fonteece will undergo a longer psychiatric assessment than first anticipated. Fonteece was charged with assisted suicide and criminal negligence causing death, in the death of his wife Yanisa.

Peter & Yanisa Fonteece were going from the Waterloo area to British Columbia to start a new life, when their car broke down in Thunder Bay. Several days later the police were called and Yanisa was found dead.

The first calls I received from the media were asking me questions concerning the law and attempting to use this story to create a precedent for changing the law prohibiting assisted suicide.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has not commented directly on the case because we lack the necessary information to make a proper comment.

Nonetheless, this case is not about a terminally ill woman who was killed by her husband for reasons of mercy or compassion.

Link to the article in the Waterloo Record:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Final Exit Advisory Board Members Supporters of Parents Who Kill -- Their Disabled Kids

Stephen Drake, the research analyst for Not Dead Yet is exposing the leaders of the Final Exit Network (FEN) through his research. Drake is exposing leaders of FEN by there comments about cases in the past whereby a child with a disability was killed by a parent.

He specifically refers to Ruth von Fuchs who supported Robert Latimer who was convicted of second degree murder for killing his daughter Tracy. Tracy had cerebral palsy. He also refers to Faye Girsh who as the executive director of the Hemlock Society released a press release concerning the David Rodriguez case in 1997.

Stephen Drake made these comments on his blog:
In case you thought that the so-called "right to die" movement was limited to support for voluntary euthanasia, we have some info on related activities of two of the advisory board members of the Final Exit Network. In addition, these two FEN advisors have cosigned an appeal for donations to a defense fund for the arrestees from FEN.

First up is Ruth von Fuchs, whose creds are listed this way on the FEN website:
Ruth von Fuchs, MA
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Founding Network Board Member
President, Right to Die Society of Canada
Member of Network Training Faculty
Board Member, ERGO (Euthanasia and Research Guidance organization)
Canadian disability activists are familiar with Ms. von Fuchs. She has been a vocal defender of Robert Latimer, convicted twice of 2nd-degree murder of his daughter Tracy. Tracy had cerebral palsy and cognitive disabilities. Part of her defense has entailed treating the parental murders of children as "compassionate" and subject to lesser penalties - or to no prosecution at all. Here is a sample of her "advocacy" in the Latimer case:

Proponents of euthanasia say that, until proper legal and social supports are in place, many people, like Latimer, have to take the law into their own hands. "This law is being written unofficially in emergency rooms and intensive care wards every night," says Ruth von Fuchs, a member of the Right to Die Society in Toronto. Von Fuchs views Tracy's death as part of a "continuum" that begins with brain-damaged infants, some so severely handicapped that doctors quietly remove life support within hours of birth. It is unfortunate, she adds, that because mercy killing has been "criminalized," Latimer felt he had to act alone, without the help of a social worker or medical expert. von Fuchs, and other members of the euthanasia movement, is calling for a change in attitude to mercy killing. "In our society, we forbid people to give up," she argues. "We say, 'Never say die,' but sometimes you have to stand back and realize that really is a cliché. We cannot fix everyone every time forever."

Faye Girsh is another advisory board member of FEN - and one with a history of defending NONvoluntary killing of kids with disabilities and elderly people with alzheimers. Here is the info for Girsh as it's featured on the FEN website:
Faye Girsh, EdD.,
Sr. Advisor LaJolla, CA
Founding Network Board Member
Exit Guide and Network spokesperson
Board member/editor, World Federation of Right to Die Societies
Former president of The Hemlock Society USA
Those of us who have been in the euthanasia struggle for over a decade are very familiar with just how wide an agenda Girsh advocates. On December 3, 1997 the Hemlock Society (now Compassion and Choices) issued a press release titled: "Mercy Killing: A Position Statement Regarding David Rodriguez." The release is almost entirely composed of one long statement by Girsh, who was executive director of the Hemlock Society at the time. I don't have a link to the press release. After reading it, no one will be surprised that the Hemlock Society and its successor organization (Compassion and Choices) prefer to pretend this document never existed. Those of us who received the press release in our electronic newsfeeds made sure to save our copies. Here it is below, in its entirety (with portions emphasized by me):
Mercy Killing: A Position Statement Regarding David Rodriguez

DENVER, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The following statement is issued to Louisiana media by Faye Girsh, executive director of the Hemlock Society USA, the nation's oldest and largest right-to-die society, regarding the David Rodriguez case:

"The Hemlock Society USA advocates that a suffering person at the end of life should be able to receive compassionate help from a physician to end his or her life if that is the wish. This should be done lawfully and under conditions which ensure that the diagnosis is correct, the request is an enduring one, and that the person is mentally competent."

"Unfortunately, our proposal has been enacted as law in only one state -- Oregon. Even with such a law, there are many people suffering from chronic and terminal illnesses who either beg to have their lives ended or who are not competent to make this decision and are in those instances assisted to die by a loved one. In a few rare instances death has come this way with the help of a friend, family member, or physician. In Louisiana, David Rodriguez shot his father who had repeatedly begged to be killed so that he would no longer suffer. Cases such as this are prosecuted either under murder or assisted suicide statutes. Juries, who see these as crimes of compassion, are at a loss to render a just and appropriate verdict under existing law."

"We suggest that, if these cases are to be prosecuted, they should be treated as special crimes of compassion and evaluated separately. The criteria might include the person's wishes to die, the person's medical condition, the family's concurrence, the alternatives available, and the motives of the person being tried. In many of these cases the person who did the killing is a distraught family member who is put through the horrors and expense of a humiliating criminal process that eventuates in probation or a suspended sentence. There should be a way which would still protect innocent people from being murdered but also take into consideration that mercy killing is not a cold-blooded, malicious crime but one in which the motivation is kindness and relief of suffering."

"In the case of a minor or an incompetent adult, the law now allows life or death decisions to be made by a designated health care agent and/or a family member in most jurisdictions. If the Rodriguez death had been the result of a decision to forego life-sustaining medical treatment no criminal liability would have ensued. In such instances, the person "dies naturally."

Some provision should be made for a situation in which life is not being sustained by artificial means but, in the belief of the patient or his agent, is too burdensome to continue. It is pathetic that a son should have to shoot a suffering father. Death should come in a more humane and less violent way."

"A judicial determination should be made when it is necessary to hasten the death of an individual whether it be a demented parent, a suffering, severely disable (sic) spouse or a child. Consultants should evaluate what other ways might be used to alleviate the suffering and, if none are available or are unsuccessful, a non-violent, gentle means should be available to end the person's life."

"As life expectancy increases, chronic diseases proliferate and medical science can lengthen life almost indefinitely. We must find ways to provide help to people who wish to hasten the dying process. Clearly the popular sentiment is not to punish and incarcerate but to provide merciful alternatives for those who act out of love."

SOURCE Hemlock Society USA
12/03/97 /CONTACT: Don Blake of Hemlock Society USA, 800-247-7421
So if anyone thought that the latest episode with FEN and its advocacy of "facilitating" deaths of NON terminally ill people was as far out as this movement goes - you ain't seen nothing yet. Not only is the "advocacy" of zealots of Girsh and von Fuchs broader than terminal -- the idea of "voluntary" is somewhat quaint in that weird mental world they live in. --Stephen Drake

Link to the original blog comment: