Friday, February 26, 2010

Peter Fonteece to be sentenced in May

An article published in the Thunder Bay Ontario Chronicle Journal is reporting that Peter Fonteece who pleaded guilty to criminal negligence in connection with his wife‘s suicide in a Thunder Bay hotel room is to be sentenced in May.

As you may remember, when the Fonteece case was first reported, media from across Canada were trying to turn this case into a reason to legalize assisted suicide in Canada. Now the case has ended with Fonteece pleading guilty to a lesser charge of criminal negligence.

Link to my previous blog comment about the Fonteece case:

The important quote in this article is:
“Rather, the Crown‘s case is that Peter Fonteece did nothing when, in law, he was required to act.”

The court must, impose a sentence that takes into account the duty family members owe to one another, and shows that society “will not tolerate the inattention or disregard for another family member‘s life, even in circumstances as tragic as those in the life that Peter and Yanisa Fonteece had made for themselves.”

The article stated:
Superior Court Justice Helen Pierce heard sentencing submissions Wednesday from the Crown and defence, then adjourned the matter to May 13, saying she needed time to consider the case.

Crown lawyer David MacKenzie asked for nine months of incarceration, with 18 months of probation to follow. A 10-year weapons prohibition would be “mandatory” under the law given the nature of the offence, he said.

Defence counsel Gil Labine said time served, plus probation, was suitable.

Fonteece‘s 38-year-old wife Yanisa died in February 2009.

According to an agreed statement of facts read into the record in December, Yanisa, who was depressed and had harboured thoughts of suicide for a lengthy period dating back to before she met Fonteece, and Fonteece had left their Waterloo home and headed west in search of a better life.

She had lost her job just before Christmas, while Fonteece has a vision impairment that keeps him from working.

Having no prospects, and estranged families back home, they arrived in Thunder Bay Feb. 2, 2009.

But car trouble prevented them from going any further. The heater malfunctioned and they didn‘t have the money to repair it. Nor did they wish to continue driving without heat in February.

Yanisa rented a room at a hotel, and with her husband at her side committed suicide by ingesting 40-60 sleeping pills.

They had a pact that he wasn‘t to notify anyone, as she wanted to die in peace. Then, he would take his own life.

Fonteece tried no less than five times to kill himself, Labine told court. Having failed, he took it as a sign that he wasn‘t supposed to die.

On Feb. 6, he called 911 and informed the dispatcher that his wife was dead.

Labine told court Wednesday that Fonteece spent about 70 days in custody at Thunder Bay District Jail after his wife‘s death.

He underwent a psychiatric evaluation which revealed no mental health issues. Since his release, Labine said, Fonteece has been living at the John Howard Society in Thunder Bay under conditions, and he‘s not only “lived by the rules,” but has done a great deal of volunteer work for the agency. Labine called him a “poster boy” for the society.

In addition, Fonteece has no criminal record, nor were there any indications he posed any danger to anyone, Labine said.

“His character is that of a very gentle soul,” Labine told court, adding that his wife, too, was of such character.

The pair, he said, was simply trying to make their way through life, and had encountered difficulties which took their toll.

But, Labine said, under the law, Fonteece did commit a crime in allowing his wife‘s suicide to take place.

MacKenzie agreed.

“In rhetorical terms, Mr. Fonteece is not Dr. Kevorkian,” MacKenzie told court. “This is not a case where the Crown can establish that Peter Fonteece did anything either by way of physical act or encouragement or persuasion that led to his wife‘s demise.

“Rather, the Crown‘s case is that Peter Fonteece did nothing when, in law, he was required to act.”

The court must, MacKenzie said, impose a sentence that takes into account the duty family members owe to one another, and shows that society “will not tolerate the inattention or disregard for another family member‘s life, even in circumstances as tragic as those in the life that Peter and Yanisa Fonteece had made for themselves.”

Fonteece, when asked if he had anything to say, told court that his wife did not ask him to call for help or otherwise intervene as she died.

Link to the article in the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal:

Assisted Suicide guidelines in the UK are a dangerous because they are a murderer's charter

The assisted suicide prosecution guidelines from the director of public prosecutions in the UK have released. The guidelines are listed at the end of the comment.

The prosecution guidelines are dangerous. They establish the rules that people will follow to be directly and intentionally involved with killing another person. The guidelines falsely

When considering the increase in the incidence of elder abuse and the purpose of the assisted suicide law, which is to protect people from others, it is clear that these guidelines are a recipe for elder abuse that will lead to further abuses of the law.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition would consider these guidelines helpful if they were sentencing guidelines. Since there is no minimum sentence for assisted suicide in the UK (or Canada), therefore guidelines, such as these, would help the judge determine the factors that should be considered when sentencing a person who was convicted of assisted suicide.

The assisted suicide prosecution guidelines list 16 factors that would favour prosecution for assisted suicide in the UK and 6 factors that are deemed to not be in the public interest for prosecution.

Dr Robin Mackenzie, from the University of Kent, stated that rules have to distinguish clearly between assisting someone to die and taking the life of someone in a so-called mercy killing.

Dr MacKenzie argued that under the six factors outlined in the new guidelines there could be problems in finding evidence to justify non-prosecution.

“It is likely to be problematic insofar as the evidence will be provided by the person who claims they assisted suicide,” she said.

While introducing the assisted suicide prosecution guidelines Starmer stated:
"Assessing whether a case should go to court is not simply a question of adding up the public interest factors for and against prosecution and seeing which has the greater number. It is not a tick-box exercise. Each case has to be considered on its own facts and merits."

"As a result of the consultation exercise there have been changes to the policy. But that does not mean prosecutions are more or less likely. The policy has not been relaxed or tightened but there has been a change of focus."

Link to the Prosecution Guidelines:

As much as he is stating that these guidelines will not prevent a person from being prosecuted, he is certainly explaining to lawyers in the UK the line of defense that they will need to follow, if and when prosecutions occur.

Dr Peter Saunders, the director of the Care Not Killing Alliance, said the final rules were an improvement on those published in September. But he added: 'How will a prosecutor decide if someone's motives are wholly compassionate?

The Care Not Killing Alliance stated in their media release:
The guidelines also make clear that no one who assists a suicide must expect to be prosecuted. It states that “a prosecution will usually take place unless the prosecutor is sure that there are public interest factors tending against prosecution that outweigh those tending in favour”. In other words, unless there are clear and compelling reasons not to prosecute, you will end up before the courts.

The new guidelines are not without their weaknesses. For example, it is not at all clear how it is to be established in any case of assisted suicide that “the suspect was wholly motivated by compassion” (one of the six factors against prosecution). But their general tenor is one of good sense and they show greater concern for public safety than did the earlier 'interim' version.

Publishing final guidelines is not, however, the end of the matter. It remains to be seen how they will be implemented. The CPS has shown recently, in the case of Kay Gilderdale, that it will not hesitate to prosecute where necessary. What is needed now, to maintain public confidence in the protection of the law, is total transparency of CPS prosecution decisions in cases of assisted suicide.

Link to the response by the Care Not Killing Alliance in the UK:

George Pitcher who comments in a blog that is published in the was more upbeat about the new assisted suicide prosecution guidelines. He stated:
It's a dark day for the assisted-death lobbyists at Dignity in Dying. Lord Falconer, whose attempt to get assisted suicide legalised in the House of Lords failed last year, will be wobbling with rage that Keir Starmer QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, has turned out not to be the Law Lords' poodle by undermining the Suicide Act 1961, with his assisted-suicide prosecution policy.

Link to George Pitcher's blog comments:

The disability perspective was clearly stated by Clair Lewis in her blog under the title: Getting away with murder: Discriminatory how-to guide is a national disgrace. Stephen Drake from Not Dead Yet republished Lewis's blog comments and stated - There are many reactions and lots of commentary out there, but by far the best I've read so far is from Clair Lewis:
In an unprecedented move, the Director of Public Prosecutions will release his special guide on how British citizens can aid and abet suicides with his approval.. as long as they only do it to the people he's selected as fit for death.

Helping end someone's life is a crime, which usually carries a 14 year prison sentence, but not so if the corpse is one of someone who was very sick and they were 'asking for it'. In which case, judging by recent news and the killers walking free among us, you get freedom and national hero status.

Now we will all have a neat little guide to help us kill our loved ones right.. to CPS standards. State approved Assisted Suicide Kits aren't available, but then, it takes time to organise given how many hundreds of thousands of very sick people must need their family's 'help'.

A fundamentally ridiculous, contradictory and terrifying belief has taken over society which suggests people can have better equality, or lives by being dead.. or even killed through a discriminatory law made just for us. Impressive work, but very dangerous. Several times lately I have wanted to pinch myself to check if I was dreaming. But no, the DPP is really producing this guide and the public really do think it is different and more acceptable to kill someone who is sick, or to 'assist' their suicide than it would be if it were anyone else. All other suicidal people in this country are entitled to HELP and killings and suicide facilitators are prosecuted heavily.

It's not nice being a disabled person today looking around me, wondering which four in every five citizens is happy to kill a relative.. wondering which four of my five relatives would be happy to kill me. I am living in a country which is happy to make it easier to kill the old and sick, whilst absolutely not caring what the majority of people this law would put at risk have to say on the matter. Even though the scientific evidence (as opposed to the imaginings of most of the British non-disabled public) shows that people concerned don't want or need this law - apart from a very few poster children whose fear, misery and internalised oppression the euthanasia movement are taking advantage of.

Link to the blog comments by disability leader Clair Lewis:

Alison Davis, the national co-ordinator of the disability rights group in the UK, No Less Human, commented on the case of Kay Gilderdale who pled guilty to aiding the suicide of her daughter Lynn. Davis, who had attempted suicide in the past, stated:
Twenty-five years ago, like Lynn, I decided I wanted to die. It was a settled wish.

Unlike hers, however, my wish to die lasted ten years. During those years I attempted suicide more than once. On occasion, I was treated against my will by doctors, who saved my life. Then, I was angry with them. Now, I’m grateful.

If I had died, I would have missed the best years of my life, though I still have pain, worse now than it was when I wanted to die.

Additionally, no one would ever have known that the future held something better for me, not in terms of physical ability, but in the support and love of friends.

My experience shows that it’s possible to come out on the other side and to demonstrate that life is worth living.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition realizes that the euthanasia lobby will exploit the weaknesses in the prosecution guidelines. We expect that the euthanasia lobby will attempt to undermine the guidelines by exploiting the "hard cases" by supporting "courageous" members to intentionally break the law to test the Prosecution Guidelines and the legal system.

The assisted suicide prosecution guidelines have left the justice system exposed. The guidelines use vague and misleading terminology to define factors, such as, *the victim had reached a voluntary, clear, settled and informed decision to commit suicide (someone can be subtly pressured) or the perpetrator *was "wholly motivated by compassion" (how could that ever be determined). A good defense lawyer will be able to use these guidelines to further underline the purpose of the law which is to protect people from others who either think they know better, or are carefully taking advantage of a relationship that brings them benefit.

The assisted suicide prosecution guidelines in the UK:

The sixteen public interest factors in favour of prosecution are:

* The victim was under 18 years of age.
* The victim did not have the capacity (as defined by the Mental Capacity Act 2005) to reach an informed decision to commit suicide.
* The victim had not reached a voluntary, clear, settled and informed decision to commit suicide.
* The victim had not clearly and unequivocally communicated his or her decision to commit suicide to the suspect.
* The victim did not seek the encouragement or assistance of the suspect personally or on his or her own initiative.
* The suspect was not wholly motivated by compassion; for example, the suspect was motivated by the prospect that he or she or a person closely connected to him or her stood to gain in some way from the death of the victim.
* The suspect pressured the victim to commit suicide.
* The suspect did not take reasonable steps to ensure that any other person had not pressured the victim to commit suicide.
* The suspect had a history of violence or abuse against the victim.
* The victim was physically able to undertake the act that constituted the assistance himself or herself.
* The suspect was unknown to the victim and encouraged or assisted the victim to commit or attempt to commit suicide by providing specific information via, for example, a website or publication.
* The suspect gave encouragement or assistance to more than one victim who were not known to each other.
* The suspect was paid by the victim or those close to the victim for his or her encouragement or assistance.
* The suspect was acting in his or her capacity as a medical doctor, nurse, other healthcare professional, a professional carer (whether for payment or not), or as a person in authority, such as a prison officer, and the victim was in his or her care.
* The suspect was aware that the victim intended to commit suicide in a public place where it was reasonable to think that members of the public may be present.
* The suspect was acting in his or her capacity as a person involved in the management or as an employee (whether for payment or not) of an organisation or group, a purpose of which is to provide a physical environment (whether for payment or not) in which to allow another to commit suicide.

The six public interest factors against prosecution are:

* The victim had reached a voluntary, clear, settled and informed decision to commit suicide.
* The suspect was wholly motivated by compassion.
* The actions of the suspect, although sufficient to come within the definition of the crime, were of only minor encouragement or assistance.
* The suspect had sought to dissuade the victim from taking the course of action which resulted in his or her suicide.
* The actions of the suspect may be characterised as reluctant encouragement or assistance in the face of a determined wish on the part of the victim to commit suicide.
* The suspect reported the victim's suicide to the police and fully assisted them in their enquiries into the circumstances of the suicide or the attempt and his or her part in providing encouragement or assistance.

Link to the prosecution guidelines in the UK:

Previous blog comments about the assisted suicide prosecution guidelines in the UK:

Kajouji case goes to U.S. prosecutor

Harold Albrecht MP
Lee Greenberg wrote an excellent update on the case of Nadia Kajouji, the Carlton University student who died by suicide in March 2008 after being counselled via the internet by an internet suicide predator.

The case of Nadia Kajouji has captured the concerns of her family, friends, university students and even Harold Albrecht, a Member of Parliament, who steered a motion through the Canadian parliament asking the Canadian government to clarify why Kajouji was not charged under section 241 (assisted suicide act) of Canada's criminal code.

The article states that:
Minnesota police have handed prosecutors their case against William Melchert-Dinkel, a 47-year-old father and former nurse who tried to talk a Carleton student into hanging herself in front of a webcam while he watched.

Sgt. Paul Schnell, a spokesman for the St. Paul police department said that after nearly a year, the case has been submitted to their county prosecutor for a decision on charges.
Nadia Kajouji
The difficulty in prosecuting the Kajouji case is as Sgt. Schnell stated:
“It’s an unusual case,”

“There’s certainly been a range of issues. Part of this is forensic, part of this is assessing as many victims as possible, part of it is looking at jurisdictional issues and where this case is best charged.”
The article explains the Kajouji case as follows:
Police first identified Melchert-Dinkel last February as the man behind a series of disturbing online chats with Nadia Kajouji, an 18-year-old Carleton University student.

Police said the two met in an online suicide chat room, where Melchert-Dinkel was posing as a 20-something woman who, like Kajouji, was in the depths of depression.

They quickly formed a suicide pact, with Melchert-Dinkel playing the role of leader.

Through several chat sessions ­ transcripts of which were released by police and obtained by the Citizen ­ Melchert-Dinkel attempted to persuade Kajouji to hang herself while he watched.

Throughout the chat, he tried to ease her guilt and countered her ambivalence ­ all while offering hands-on advice.

He told her what type of store to go to to buy rope, and what length and diameter of rope would work best.

In the chat, he also counselled Kajouji to examine her apartment to find the best place from which to hang herself, adding that he could help with the camera placement at that time.

Kajouji did commit suicide in March 2008, when she jumped off a bridge into the Rideau River. Her body was not discovered for more than five weeks.
The Kajouji case has led to other questions:
Kajouji’s case first ignited a controversy over the role of university administrators and health officials, who knew about the young woman’s deteriorating mental health, but declined to tell her parents.

A second controversy still surrounds the decision by Ottawa police not to charge Melchert-Dinkel under Canada’s assisted suicide law, which is similar to Minnesota’s
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition urged the Ottawa police to charge Melchert-Dinkel. Canada has extradition laws with the United States that would have allowed us to bring him to trial in Canada.

The article explains that there are more victims of Melchert-Dinkel:
Meanwhile, it appears what Schnell called an “exhaustive search” by U.S. law enforcement has netted more possible victims than originally suspected.

Schnell said before releasing the latest development to the public, police had been in touch with victim families in Canada, the United States and Britain.

Melchert-Dinkel was reportedly also under investigation in the suicide of Mark Drybrough, 32, who hanged himself at his home in Coventry, England, in 2005.
Deborah Chevalier
Kajouji's mother has been consistently pushing for action on this case. The article stated:
Kajouji’s mother said Minnesota investigators called her Wednesday to let her know the case had been handed over to prosecutors.

“It’s definitely positive,” said Deborah Chevalier. “But this really hasn’t changed anything except I know it’s moving forward. I want to see the charges laid and have him have his day in court.”
It is now up to Paul Beaumaster to decide whether or not to prosecute:
It will now be up to Rice County attorney Paul Beaumaster to decide whether to proceed with charges under Minnesota’s assisted suicide statute, a rarely used piece of legislation that provides penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment or as much as $30,000 in fines for anyone who “intentionally advises, encourages, or assists another in taking the other’s own life.”
William Melchert-Dinkel
Melchert-Dinkel reacted to the charges:
Following his unusual public outing by police last February, when he was identified as the man behind the chats (but not charged), Melchert-Dinkel was stripped of his nursing license. He practiced as a Minnesota nurse for more than 15 years.

Lawyers at that hearing showed Melchert-Dinkel checked himself into hospital in January 2009, complaining of being “addicted” to suicide chat rooms.

“4 yrs suicide fetish offered medical advice for assisted suicide x2,” a hospital intake document states. “Posed as 28 yo female formed suicide pacts with some that he had no attention [sic] of following thru ­ wanted to be caretaker or nurturer ­ feels worthless, guilty.”

Hospital notes say he complained of “feeling guilty because of past and present advice to those on the Internet of how to end their lives.”

Over that time, he accumulated a disturbing disciplinary record for, among other things, beating, yelling and swearing at patients.

In one particularly haunting episode ­ one of literally dozens cited in his public disciplinary history ­ Melchert-Dinkel watched silently as a patient at a nursing home died.

“Licensee failed to document the residents condition or update physician as instructed,” the record states. “Resident MD’s condition continued to decline during the shift and Resident subsequently died en route to the hospital.”

Melchert-Dinkel has been diagnosed with adult learning disability, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and adjustment reaction with anxiety, according to his nursing file.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is concerned that the law does not adequately protect vulnerable depressed people, like Nadia Kajouji, from predators like William Melchert-Dinkel. We have been asking that parliament change the assisted suicide law to specifically focus on charging people like Melchert-Dinkel.

Link to the article:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Assisted suicide: law to be decriminalised 'by back door' from next week?

Martin Beckworth and Heidi Blake were published yesterday in the Telegraph paper in the UK suggesting that the assisted suicide prosecution guidelines that will be published next week by Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, will effectively decriminalised assisted suicide by the back door.

Previous blog comments about the assisted suicide prosecution guidelines:

Alison Davis challenges assisted suicide prosecution guidelines:

The article predicts that the Final rules set out by the Crown Prosecution Service will make it clear that those who are directly and intentionally involved with causing the death of a family member, etc are unlikely to face court if they "acted out of compassion." yet the "factors against prosecution are likely to be altered from existing draft guidance, after it was claimed that they would leave the most vulnerable members of society at greater risk while providing immunity to spouses regardless of their motives."

Link to the previous blog comment: Prosecution guidelines may open the door to assisted suicide:

The concept that someone is acting "out of compassion" is vague and misleading. We need to remember that everyone needs to be concerned about the suffering of persons, but to suggest that it is compassionate to allow a person to be involved with killing a person is false, misleading and dangerous.

According to the article, the same concern was stated by The All Party Parliamentary Group on Dying Well which said the guidelines “could have the unintended effect of leading potential law-breakers to believe they will secure immunity from prosecution if they assist suicides in certain prescribed ways or circumstances”.

If the article is correct I would share the concerns brought forward by Legal experts that said:
"this unprecedented step “in effect decriminalises” an offence on the statute book and in so doing “infringes the supremacy of Parliament”."

When prosecution guidelines don't interpret the law, but change the law, then we need to become concerned about the nature of our democratic institutions and the effects this has on other moral concerns.

The article does indicate that Starmer listened to the disability community. The article stated:
Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy, told the DPP that this factor would be considered discrimination on the grounds of disability.

On behalf of a campaign group called Not Dead Yet, she wrote: “This ‘understanding’ of a disabled or terminally ill person’s wish to die is deeply demeaning to other disabled people and sends out entirely the wrong message to those newly disabled or diagnosed with a terminal illness.”

The article also predicts that the guidelines will not simply exonerate spouses. It stated:
"respondents said it was “naïve” to assume their motives in helping their husband or wife die were honest, and were not influenced by money or the desire to free themselves from caring responsibilities."

It is interesting to note that:
"The Royal College of Physicians has demanded that doctors are specifically included in the list of professionals whose involvement in an assisted suicide would increase the likelihood of prosecution, amid fears that the draft rules could open the door to allowing euthanasia."

If Starmer publishes assisted suicide prosecution guidelines that defacto legalise assisted suicide, then those guidelines will need to be legally challenged or parliament will need to intervene, even if the primary reason for challenging the guidelines is to protect our democratic institutions.

Link to the article in the Telegraph paper in the UK:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Legalizing euthanasia - There will be casualties

This article was written by Michael Cook and published on Everyone needs to read this articleThe Article: Euthanasia activists in Australia, the UK and the Netherlands have lost touch with reality was published on February 19, 2010.

By Michael Cook, February 19, 2010

Australian euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke loves publicity. But whenever he opens his mouth, even the most progressive journalists avert their eyes in squeamish embarrassment. This week’s gaffe was to defend his barely legal promotion of a suicide drug for the elderly and terminally ill. It turns out that nearly two-thirds of the Australians who died after quaffing Nembutal – at least 51 over the past 10 years -- were under 60, and quite a few were in the 20s and 30s. This suggests that mental illness or depression, not unbearable pain, was the reason for the suicide. So how did Nitschke respond?

"There will be some casualties," he said with the tenderness of General Haig sending troops over the top at the Somme, "but this has to be balanced with the growing pool of older people who feel immense well-being from having access to this information," [about suicide drugs].

The notion that young people are just collateral damage in a war to defend their grandparents’ inalienable right to make a quick getaway outraged many Australians. There were calls for Dr Nitschke to be hauled into a court for putting lives at risk.

But after tracking the increasingly outrageous suggestions from advocates for assisted suicide and euthanasia, I feel that jail is not the place for people like Nitschke. They belong in a straitjacket. It is becoming increasingly clear that euthanasia advocacy is an illness characterised by an unwillingness to take responsibility for one’s actions, an inability to empathise with normal people, and a morbid desire to help others die. Like mad cow disease, it lies dormant for years. Its victims look normal, but eventually the spongy degeneration of the brain becomes evident.

Philip Nitschke
Nitschke is a classical case. An intelligent man with a PhD in physics and a qualified doctor, he entered the public debate by decrying the cruelty of forcing the terminally ill to die in excruciating pain. Autonomous adults should have the right to die at a time and place of their choosing, surrounded by their loved one, he argued. It sounded vaguely plausible to the media and to his doddering but increasingly numerous groupies, it was a new gospel. But bit by bit, it became clear that his goal was death-on-demand, even for troubled teenagers. He seems incapable of grasping that most of us want teenagers to stick around for a few more years rather than kill themselves over a cruel Facebook post.

In England, the latest case of euthanasia madness is a 70-year-old veteran BBC broadcaster and gay rights campaigner, Ray Gosling. He confessed in the middle of a TV show that he had smothered an unnamed gay lover suffering from AIDS some 20 years ago.
"In a hospital one hot afternoon, the doctor said 'There's nothing we can do', and he was in terrible, terrible pain. I said to the doctor 'Leave me just for a bit' and he went away. I picked up the pillow and smothered him until he was dead. The doctor came back and I said 'He's gone'. Nothing more was ever said."
Mr Gosling sobbed a bit, but was adamant that killing someone and concealing the murder was the right thing. "If there's a heaven and he's looking down, he'd be proud of me," he told the BBC. He was oblivious to all the safeguards promised by euthanasia advocates. A right to smother someone, anywhere, anytime, without consulting doctors, without notifying the police, without proving your disinterestedness, and without even consulting the victim raises questions in most sane minds about the possibility of widespread collateral damage. Perhaps only BBC journalists would be allowed to do mercy killings, but some sane people might even object to that.

In the Netherlands euthanasia loopiness has become epidemic. It is legal there and every year about 2,500 acknowledged cases of doctor-administered death take place.

But amongst the numerous Dutch victims of spongy-brained euthanasia syndrome some are more affected than others. Recently a distinguished group called "Out of Free Will" has complained that there are too many restrictions on euthanasia in the Netherlands. Even in the mercy-killing heartland, people are required to have some sort of terminal illness. But the new lobby group wants the right for to anyone sane over the age of 70 to die with a professionally-trained expert’s assistance. They have already begun collecting signatures to lobby for improvements to the legislation.

Part of their scheme is a completely new profession: specialist suicide assistants. These people will need to pass a "Completed Life" training program and to join a professional association which will maintain standards of professional, transparent and safe conduct.

The age limit of 70 is arbitrary. “Whether it should be 65 or 90 is a good question,” says legal scholar Eugene Sutorius. “We think that once someone has reached old age, he has proved abilities at living. He can then choose to leave this life in a procedural, medicalised manner.”

Eugene Sutorius
Three spokesmen told the NRC Handelsblad that collateral damage by "angels of death" in nursing homes – rogue doctors and nurses who enjoy killing people -- was unlikely to be a problem, especially in view of the country’s positive experience with euthanasia. "It was thought to be the first step on a slippery slope that would lead the medical profession to lose its integrity," says Mr Sutorius. "But I have seen nothing of the kind happen."

That last sentence is a tell-tale symptom of spongy-brain euthanasia disease. Before euthanasia was legalised, Dutch doctors were already doing it enthusiastically. It was legalised for consenting adults in pain from a terminal condition, and now it is permitted for non-consenting infants. Dutch doctors routinely lie on their official reports. If they are squeamish about lethal injections, they kill patients through the lingering death of terminal sedation – which is not counted as euthanasia. All these facts are well known. Yet Mr Sutorius sees no slippery slope, no loss of medical integrity. Mr Sutorius belongs in a straitjacket, not in a comfy chair giving interviews. (If you speak Dutch, he explains his position here in a YouTube video.

What is happening here? How can intelligent, well-educated people be so obtuse about the dangers of legalising the killing of innocent, infirm human beings? Perhaps the conviction that some killing is permissible is so morally corrupting that it infects the intellect and distorts reality. And arguing with them is futile. As Chesterton wrote:
If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgement. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by charity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet. Link to the article.

Baby Isaiah will remain on ventilator until at least March 11

Justice Michelle Crighton has decided that Baby Isaiah will remain on the ventilator until at least March 11 to provide time for Dr Richard Taylor from Victoria BC to examine Isaiah.

Baby Isaiah was born last October after a 40 hour labour with the umbilical cord around his neck. He experienced oxygen deprivation and the doctors stated that he was brain dead. Baby Isaiah has physically thrived and is trying to breath on his own. He is likely to be significantly cognitively disabled, but he is not brain dead and he is not dying.

Isaac and Rebecca May have been searching for a paediatric neurologist to examine Baby Isaiah.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition opposes the withdrawal of the ventilator from Baby Isaiah May because the ventilator is beneficial for the child, the child is thriving, and the legal precedents that may be set by removing the ventilator from a child who is not brain dead and who's parents wish the care to continue.

A precedent that allows the removal of the ventilator from a person who is benefiting from its use, not dying and not brain dead, and against the wishes of the person or the family could allow the courts to end treatment for people with dementia or Alzheimer disease.

We also oppose futile care theory that has changed in the last few years from mandating that futile treatment be stopped to establishing which patients are considered futile and mandating that treatment be stopped.

Link to article about Baby Isaiah:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hoarding Death Drugs

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Australian reported Philip Nitschke, Australia's Dr. Death, to have stated that approximately 300 people have hoarded a lethal drug that they have obtained from veterinary clinics and through mail orders.

Philip Nitschke
The article proves that Nitschke has an irresponsible attitude towards people who are living with depression or others including troubled teens who are thinking of suicide but really crying out for help.

Nitscke stated to the Australian that:
"About 250 to 300 people have accessed the drug over the past decade, mostly in the past five years,"

"They're people who are generally not unwell, but might have seen someone unwell and don't want it to happen to them."
The article continues by stating that:
According to a report published this week by the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, 50 Australians, some in their 20s and 30s, have used Nembutal to commit suicide.

The report used data from the National Coroners Information System and of the 38 cases fully investigated by coroners, only 11 involved chronic physical pain or a terminal illness.
Nitschke, the founder of Exit International stated:
That the number reported by the institute is closer to 125.

He said that Exit occasionally provided information to people in their 20s on how to obtain the drug from Mexico.
In a National Review article written by Kathryn Lopez in 2001, Lopez prints an interview with Nitschke who supports anyone dying by lethal overdose, even troubled teens. Nitscke stated:
My personal position is that if we believe that there is a right to life, and then we must accept that people have a right to dispose of that life whenever they want….  
I do not believe that telling people they have a right to life while denying them the means, manner, or information necessary for them to give this life away has any ethical consistency. So all people qualify, not just those with the training, knowledge, or resources to find out how to 'give away' their life. And someone needs to provide this knowledge, training, or resource necessary to anyone who wants it, including the depressed, the elderly bereaved, the troubled teen. If we are to remain consistent and we believe that the individual has the right to dispose of their life, we should not erect artificial barriers in the way of subgroups that don't meet our criteria.
Nitschke has consistently promoted suicide as an answer to the problems that people experience. At the World Federation of Right to Die Societies Conference in Toronto (2006) he stated that someone who is "Tired of Living" should simply be given a lethal overdose. This is a very callous way to view human life.

Is the person "Tired of Living" simply because we have made them feel like their life is not worth living. Society can abandon people to suicide or society can value all of its citizens, whether they are people with disabilities, elderly and lonely, or a troubled teen who needs support at a difficult time of life. 

Kathryn Lopez's 2001 interview with Nitschke:

Link to my previous blog comment about Nitschke's promotion of Nembutal:

Mercy killing? Never. I'll always fight like a lioness for my darling boy

Victoria Moore from the UK's Daily Mail wrote an article about Elisabeth Shepherd who has been caring for her 36 year-old son James since he was 8 years old.

Shepherd contacted the Daily Mail after they published articles supporting Kay Gilderdale, who was acquitted of attempted murder in the death of her daughter Lynn.

Shepherd stated to the Daily Mail:
"Your admiration for the mother of Lynn Gilderdale frightens me. Across the hall from me is a young man. His name is James and he is my son. Quadriplegic since the age of eight, he has no controlled use of any limbs, nor even a finger tip. If his nose itches, he has to holler for help.

Like Lynn Gilderdale, he envies those who roll over in bed with ease. Sadly, we've had the "who will ever love me?" talk more than once, and when my dear daughter gave birth to her first child there were tears of sadness for James's lost opportunities mixed in with those of joy at new life."

The article explains the concerns that Shepherd has for the life of her son. The article states:
Her account of the ups and downs of life with James was immensely moving. But there was something else, too: an impassioned desire to provide a balancing voice against those whom she felt may -- following coverage of the Gilderdale case and the impassioned support that a number of personalities have shown for assisted suicide, such as actress Brenda Fricker who revealed in an interview this month that she was one of the 29 Irish people who have signed up to end their lives at Swiss clinic Dignitas -- be viewing this matter too lightly.

Shepherd then explained why she is concerned for her son. She said:
'been at the place where I've considered helping James and myself to die. It's this close involvement in his care that convinces me that we must maintain the protection of the courts for people like my son, even from me, his mother'. ... 'My fear, ' she says, 'is that if people begin to think of assisted suicide as an option then the balance will change. As a society, we will shift towards a different mindset. A mindset in which people like James begin to appear expendable.

'I also fear it may mean that people like James begin to feel that being such a burden on a carer, who is very often a close relative, is a choice they are actively making by not committing suicide. That guilt may be enough to tip the balance into them taking their life.'

The article explained that:
James was an ordinary, healthy boy until November 29, 1981, when he went out with his father and older brother, Paul, to buy some sweets. He was standing at a crossing when a driver leaned across to the passenger seat of her car to add an item to her shopping list, mounted the pavement and hit James.

To care or not to care:
Doctors warned Elisabeth that the chances of her son ever regaining enough consciousness to recognise her were virtually zero.

They kept trying to tell me how severely handicapped he was. They told me he would never speak again.

They advised me to put him into ward care where they thought he would last about a year. All I knew was, all of a sudden, I had really become a mother. I was a bit like a lioness. I couldn't leave my young. He was warm and pink and I could touch him. He still felt like my child.

AND three-and-a-half months after the accident, a miracle occurred: Elisabeth noticed James moving his head and then, when a disbelieving doctor came to examine him, James reached up with an arm, pulled the man towards him, and gave him a kiss.

Elisabeth's marriage broke down
'James's father left not because he didn't love him, but because he did, and he was in so much pain'. Family life, of sorts, slowly recommenced and two-and-a- half years after the accident, on a visit to a safari park ('we used to prop James up in the back of the car between sandbags and the other children') he uttered his first word: 'zebra'.

Today James and Elisabeth share a home. She works parttime as a ceramics restorer ('I do not claim income support') and is his principal carer.

James lives an active life:
But it's clear Elisabeth ensures he has as active a life as is possible. Despite his restricted movement, he recently swam a length to raise money for charity.

She takes him bowling, to archery, for rides on a specially designed bike. In his room there are Harry Potter books, shelves of ceramics he has made using a mouth-stick, a photograph of him sitting proudly beside the vivid mauves, cerises and pinks of a shock of sweet pea plants he exhibited in a local flower show.

They're much healthier than any I've ever managed to grow. 'Did you use tomato feed?' I ask, as he watches from his wheelchair, proudly wearing a red Liverpool FC shirt. 'My grandma always says that's the secret.'

He animates immediately. 'I used tomato feed,' he confirms haltingly and then, bringing us back to the point, 'I had an accident when I was eight.'

What does it mean to be human?
Elisabeth worries that in the debate about assisted suicides we are in danger of corrupting our idea of what it means to be human. 'I do believe in a God, but my instinct that life is precious is not just grounded in that. It's partly from watching doctors fight so hard to preserve the least glimmer of life.

'It's also because I feel we're sold an ideal and people feel that if they don't have it they're not enough. But if we become a tickbox society, where we say no because someone can't have sex or cannot feed themself, where will that leave us?

'What is a human being? Is my son any less of a human being? Am I, because having done a law degree I didn't pursue my legal career and became a carer?

'Does that make me, or James, any less of a contributor to society? We all want something. But my aspirations and James's are different. Others might long to be an air hostess; we just want to see him flex a finger.'

Attitudes toward people with disabilities.
Elisabeth once had to call an ambulance out to resuscitate James and was horrified when the woman on the phone said to her: 'You do know he's a DNR? [Do Not Resuscitate]' 'Do you know you're speaking to his mother,' was Elisabeth's retort, who had, in fact, not known. The DNR instruction has now been removed, but the incident makes a powerful point.

James's life has value:
Elisabeth is adamant that her son's life does have value -- not only to him, but also to the rest of the family and to those who meet him and come up to her to say: 'Your lad's all right, he is.'

Yet for all this maternal ferocity, Elisabeth still feels her son -- and those like him -- needs protecting from her, his mother and primary carer.

This is partly because of what she calls the months and years of 'insanity' and 'mental chaos', in the aftermath of the accident, in which state she says it would be close to impossible to make a fair decision on whether you should help your child to end their life. It is also because Elisabeth fears the breaking points you encounter on such a hard journey can make an unreliable carer of even the most devoted parent.

Shepherd has also felt overwhelmed:
Her toughest point came four years ago when she was rundown, ill and emotionally exhausted, and James wet the bed. 'I got him up and put him in the wheelchair, lifted his mattress and the mess went all over me.

'And I hit him. I was just so exhausted. I tapped him across the shoulders with my fingertips and in that moment I crossed a line. I felt I became untrustworthy. The shame was utterly overwhelming.'

SHE told her GP, and the social services. She also, for the first time, began to feel that if James asked her, it might be better to help him end his life, and hers, too.

'This violence is a dark secret. We need to be more open about it, because we need to get more help for carers -- not just physical support, but a way to rebuild mental confidence in yourself.'

James is not a burden, his life has value.
'Sometimes I see my son watching me out of the corner of his eye. How easy might it be for people like James to begin to feel they were a burden, and to want to give up?'

Like Kay Gilderdale, Elisabeth says she would like those who are seriously ill to have access to a panel of experts who could provide a more balanced support system, and a more open, rounded debate than any carer could be expected to give, should the person express a wish to kill themselves.

Most of all, though, she wants to give voice to all those whose lives are no longer what they intended them to be.

'I have my son and I can put my arms round him, and he's still pink and warm and I'm still grateful.' This is not only about a mother's love, though -- it's about James, too.

Elisabeth wants those like him to realise their lives have worth. 'My son is like a celebration. I'm so very proud of him.'

There are over 160,000 carers in Ireland, but of these only 27 per cent are in receipt of some level of carer's allowance.

Link to the article in the Daily Mail:

Choosing to die with dignity

A letter in the Ottawa Citizen that argues in favour of legalizing euthanasia also offers the reasons why it should not be legalized.

N Ann Smith states with reference to the story of Kay Carter who went to Switzerland to the Dignitas Suicide clinic that:

Over the last two decades Canada has taken tentative steps toward legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia, only to be halted and deflected by groups such as the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and individuals such as Dr. Margaret Somerville, who present strong cases of their own.

When, in 15 or 20 years' time, our already overburdened health-care system will be staggering under the economic and social weight of a disproportionately aged population, these and many others will perhaps remember Kay Carter's wonderful confident smile and her certain readiness to die.

I promise them that there will be many of us, and not necessarily terminally ill, who will be ready to follow her example.

I agree that the Canadian health-care system is facing greater demands as the population ages, but is euthanasia an answer to health care costs or will it create the duty to die that many people with disabilities predict will eventually become the reality?

Further to that, Smith comments that many people who are not terminally ill will be ready to follow the example of Kay Carter. The fact is that when Canadians are asked about whether or not they support the legalization of euthanasia, it is always assumed that it is only for the terminally ill. But Smith's comments are actually the same as the reality concerning Bill C-384, meaning the bill will allow euthanasia for people with chronic physical or mental pain, (ie depression).

Remember the concept of choice is an illusion when speaking about legalizing euthanasia because the person who actually carries out the act is usually a physician. This is not about people commiting self-suicide, it is about giving physicians the right to directly and intentionally take your life. The only question is under what circumstance, but even that is subjective.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Association of Quebec Medical Specialists say they support euthanasia, but remain confused about what it really is.

The Quebec National Assembly established a committee that began its consultation into the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide on February 15th.

Before reading this article you need to know that - Euthanasia is when one person (usually a physician) directly and intentionally causes the death of another person (often their patient) to eliminate suffering. It is dealt with under section 222 (homicide) of the criminal code of Canada.

The first presentations were made by Gaétan Barrette, Yves Lamontagne and Yves Robert from the Quebec College of Physicians and the Federation of Quebec Medical Specialists.

The presentations by the Quebec physician groups was not surprising. I continue to wonder if they are either deliberately misleading the public concerning euthanasia or they just don't understand the issue?

For instance, the Quebec Physicians groups continue to compare the use of analgesics, such as morphine, for the control of pain or management of symptoms as euthanasia. This is not true.

The abuse of the use of analgesics may be euthanasia, but the proper use of analgesics is never euthanasia.

They are also arguing that the use of sedation techniques is the same as euthanasia. This is not true.

The use of sedation is rarely necessary, but when properly used it is not euthanasia. Sedation can be abused and used as a form of euthanasia, but it is never necessary and it is wrong.

Another false and misleading statement was made at the commission hearings. Yves Robert, secretary of the College, told the committee that:
"Quebec is the only jurisdiction in Canada where patients can refuse medical treatment, which can lead to death.

"It doesn't exist elsewhere in Canada," Robert said. "We are ahead. Can we go farther?"
This is an outright lie. All Canadians have the right to refuse medical treatment. To refuse medical treatment is not euthanasia, but rather it results in a natural death. It is interesting that Robert is oblivious to the fact that the practise of medicine in Quebec is almost identical to the practise of medicine in the rest of Canada.

We must not confuse the right to refuse medical treatment with the act of euthanasia.

It is interesting that But Barrette and Yves Lamontagne of the Quebec College of Physicians told the committee that doctors do not want to perform assisted suicides.

"We are not there to execute people, Euthanasia, the decision to end life when death is imminent and inevitable, is extremely complex and emotionally charged," Lamontagne added.

When I read this comment I wonder, what do the Quebec physicians actually want. They say that they favour euthanasia but they do not want to perform assisted suicides. Are they saying that they want to have the right to lethally inject their patients but they don't want to have the right to prescribe lethal overdoses or are they saying that they want to withdraw treatment and use large doses of analgesics and sedatives but they don't want to lethally inject their patients? More information is necessary before I can answer this question.

Link to the article in the Montreal Gazette:

Link to a previous article concerning the position of the Quebec Physicians:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Assisted suicide petition gets 40,000 names

An article that was published in the stated that a lobby group got 40,000 signatures in one week demanding that the Dutch government allow euthanasia and assisted suicide for people who are over the age of 70 for any and all reasons "tired of living".

The Dutch euthanasia lobby has been pushing for euthanasia for those who are "tired of living" as their "final solution" for many years. When I attended the World Federation of Right to Die Societies Conference in Toronto in September 2006, the leader of the NVVE - Dutch euthanasia society, stated that he was concerned that activism on the part of the euthanasia lobby should be discouraged because it would prevent them from achieving their final goal - euthanasia for those who are "tired of living." At the same conference Philip Nitschke asked the question, why should we not have euthanasia available to those who are "tired of living."

First of all, my mom turns 70 this year. She is a great dutch woman and she has always put others first in her life. Women like her should never be told that they are "better off dead".

Secondly, I am not alone in this fact, but my father passed away many years ago. When you visit a retirement home you will notice that women live longer than men. Very few men live in retirement homes because men die on average 6 years earlier than women.

When one considers the dynamic that exists within society, we find that many elderly people live alone, they feel abandoned, and they have financial resources that some of their children are quietly thinking are "wasted by the elderly" that could be passed to the next generation through death.

The reality is that society is experiencing an incredible growth in elder abuse and now we will tell the elderly, mainly our mothers, - Oh by the way, you could access your "freedom", your "choice" by through euthanasia - hint, hint, nudge, nudge.

What about the person who resents their mother because she has significant needs. It doesn't matter that mom changed their dirty diapers and fed and cared for her children and often delayed a career in order to care for her children, now that she needs care it is perceived as terrible that she expects so much of us.

Often our mothers continue to want the best for us, even after we have grown up. Would it not be easy to convince them that death is preferable than living with needs. These women will feel that by agreeing to euthanasia they are doing "what is best for her children". Choice, what a joke.

The 40,000 people who signed the petition urging the government to allow "doctors" to lethally inject or provide lethal doses to our elderly mothers should be ashamed of themselves. They represent the most uncaring, self-centred, group of people that have ever lived.

Oh by the way - It would be a free choice for these elderly women. Bull - this is the prime example of how choice is a lie and assisted suicide and euthanasia are a "recipe for elder abuse."

This whole concept is based on a few academics who philosophically believe that death is the ultimate freedom. They really don't care that their philosophy threatens the lives of the many so the few white wealthy academics can say - "I am free".

It is bad enough that they allow euthanasia in general, but to simply say - "Oh by the way I am tired of living, give me the Kool-Aid" is ridiculous at best.

The article stated:
A lobby group hoping to win support for assisted suicide for the over 70s has raised the necessary 40,000 signatures to force a parliamentary debate on the issue.

The organisation, which is supported by tv personalities and academics, says thousands of elderly people have had enough of life and would like professional help to commit suicide. The campaign was launched last week.

Under Dutch law, euthanasia can only be practised if the patient is suffering 'unbearable pain'. The doctor must be convinced the patient is making an informed choice and a second doctor must also give his or her opinion.

Link to the article:

Previous blog comment on this story:

Friday, February 12, 2010

When a Living Will becomes a Killing Will

Recently we received three Power of Attorney/Living Will legal documents that appear to be designed as Killing Will documents.

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care is a legal document whereby you assign a person to make medical and care decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so for yourself. These are important legal documents because the wording of the document can either protect your life or cause your death.

My concern is that many people have their lawyer draw up a Will and Power of Attorney document without understanding how the language in the Power of Attorney document may be neutral, may protect their life, or may actually hasten their death.

Last week a supporter contacted us to read his Power of Attorney for Personal Care document. He was shocked that he had signed a document that instructed the physician to dehydrate him to death if he were terminally ill or living with a chronic condition.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition distributes the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care to protect you from being abandoned, when you need care. We only charge $25 for this document. Order the document here: Link.

Recently, a supporter sent me their Power of Attorney document that is the worst one. It stated:
If and when it becomes clear beyond any reasonable doubt that I am afflicted with or suffering from an irreversible injury, disease, illness or condition that is terminal, then:(a) I direct that I be allowed to die, and that I not be kept alive by artificial means or invasive measures of any kind. Measures of prolonging life that are to be avoided, withheld, withdrawn or discontinued include:(i) electrical or mechanical resuscitation of my heart;(ii) nasogastric tube feedings, gastric tube feedings or parentral nutrition;(iii) artificial mechanical respiration when my brain can no longer sustain my own breathing;(iv) radiation treatment and chemotherapy, unless used strictly as palliative measures;(v) any treatment for any other illness or disease (such as pneumonia) which I contract when already afflicted with a terminal disease, illness or condition (such as Alzheimer's Dementia); and(vi) dialysis when my kidneys fail.(b) I request that a "Do Not Resuscitate" ("DNR") notification be kept with me at all times - whether I am at home, living with family or friends, or in a hospital or other health care facility.(c) I desire that medication be mercifully administered to alleviate pain and suffering, even though the result may be to hasten the moment of my death.(d) If I am under the care of a physician whose moral, religious or personal professional beliefs are not in sympathy with the directives set out herein, I direct my attorney for personal care to ask that physician to withdraw from my care and to arrange for me to be cared for by another physician whose beliefs and views accord more closely with my directives, and, if necessary, to transfer me to a different hospital or health care facility to better ensure that my wishes as expressed herein are respected.
The problem I have with this document is that it not only orders the physician to not provide any medical treatment, other than palliative care, but it also orders the physician to dehydrate the person to death, even if they are not in the dying phase. Read section (a), subsection (ii).

Further to that, the person who sent me this document was a suppoorter of our work and this was the document that his lawyer was suggesting that he sign.

The fact is that many unsuspecting people have obtained, legally signed, and put-in-place, similar power of attorney for personal care documents without knowing how the document will be interpreted.

Further to that: Power of Attorney for Personal Care documents are only legally binding when the person is incapable of making legal decisions for themselves. At that point the document can't be amended.

The Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care will protect you from being killed. We charge $25 for this document. The information for ordering the document is at: link.

Poll: Sharp divisions on euthanasia

Joel Connelly from the Seattle PI online news wrote this article concerning an Angus Reid poll that shows once again that Americans are divided on allowing physicians to directly and intentionally cause the death of a person. What is important is that a majority (52%) agreed that legalizing induced death would leave vulnerable people without sufficient legal protection.

I am convinced that when the issue is presented based on people with disabilities expressing that legalizing assisted suicide makes them feeling threatened, or based on the reality of elder abuse, that we win the on the issue.

The article:
A new Angus Reid poll find that 42 percent of American adults are in favor of making euthanasia legal in the United States, although 52 percent feel legalizing induced death would leave vulnerable people without sufficient legal protection.

The survey steered clear using such deliberately non-threatening terms as "Death With Dignity" favored by supporters of assisted suicide. In the 2008 election, by a 58 percent to 42 percent vote, Washington became the second U.S. state to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

In its poll of 1,001 American adults, taken Feb. 4 and 5, Reid asked:
"Generally speaking, do you support or oppose legalizing euthanasia in the United States?"

The results: 14 percent answered "Strongly Support," 28 percent "Moderately Support", 14 percent "Moderately Oppose," and 23 percent "Strongly Oppose." A total of 22 percent were not sure.

A near-majority of Democrats (47 percent) support euthanasia, while a bare majority of Republicans (51 percent) oppose it. A total of 47 percent of Independents backed legalized euthanasia.

Still, the public has reservations about induced and assisted death.

The poll asked if people felt that legalizing euthanasia "would leave vulnerable people without sufficient protection." Fifty-two percent agreed, 32 percent disagreed, 15 percent were unsure.

As well, Reid asked if legalizing euthanasia "would send the message that the lives of the sick or disabled are of less valued. The poll's respondents split down the middle, 44 percent in agreement, 44 percent disagreeing, with 12 percent unsure.

A contrasting opinion came when the pollster asked if legalizing euthanasia "would give people who are suffering an opportunity to ease their pain." Seventy percent agreed, only 19 percent disagreed.

The public seemed compassionate toward those making life-or-death choices.

"Do you think people who help a person to commit suicide should be prosecuted?" Reid asked.

Thirty-seven percent said "Yes," 34 percent answered "No," with 28 percent "Not Sure." Independent voters were strongest in saying those who assist suicide should not be prosecuted.

The poll put a related question more bluntly:

"If a parent is found guilty of assisting a terminally ill son or daughter to die, what do you think should be the appropriate punishment."

Just 6 percent opted for life imprisonment, and only 21 percent for any prison sentence, with 12 percent favoring a fine. Thirty-five percent opted for "No Penalty at All", while 26 percent were unsure.

Advocates of Washington's assisted suicide measure, led by former Gov. Booth Gardner, spent $4.8 million on their successful 2008 campaign.

The Washington vote gave momentum to a movement stalled for more than a decade after Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

Link to the article: