Monday, May 31, 2010

Ozzie Osbourne – Latimer’s Mercy

Disability researcher, Dick Sobsey has written a blog comment on the Ozzy Osborne song about the killing of Tracy Latimer.

Please read his blog comment at:

We the People - Montana Patient Protection Act

Senator Greg Hinkle, Montana State Senator, announced the introduction of the Montana Patient Protection Act, an Act that includes the reversal of the Baxter decision by the Montana Court. Baxter didn't legalize assisted suicide in Montana but created a defense of consent.

Senator Hinkle has been working for many months to refine the Montana Patient Protection Act.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition congratulates Senator Hinkle on his work and we will urge the Montana State Senate to support the Montana Patient Protection Act.

The following is the article that was written by Senator Greg Hinkle and published in The Clark Fork Chronicle:

Montana Patient Protection Act

The Clark Fork Chronicle - Sunday, May 30 2010

by Sen. Greg Hinkle

I have introduced the Montana Patient Protection Act which prohibits physician-homicide and physician-assisted suicide ("aid in dying"). The Act is in response to the Supreme Court decision Baxter v. State of Montana. This Act is based on Montana's public policy to prevent elder abuse and to value all citizens.

Baxter holds that a patient's consent to physician-assisted suicde "constitutes a statutory defense to a charge of homicide against the aiding physician." In Baxter the court overlooked elder abuse. The court stated the only person "who might conceivably be prosecuted for criminal behavior is the physician who prescribes a lethal dose of medication." The court overlooked criminal behavior by family members and others who may benefit from a patient's death, for example, due to an inheritance. Although an aiding perpetrator faces a charge of homicide, "aid in dying" is commonly referred to as "assisted suicide". The term "aid in dying" is also used to describe euthanasia.

There are two states that allow physician-assisted suicide, Washington and Oregon. The vast majority of states that have consided such laws have rejected them. In 2010, a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicde was defeated in the New Hampshire House of Representatives in a bi-partisan vote of 242-113. A similar law was recently defeated in the Canadian Parliment by 228-59.

In Montana, there has been "rapid growth" of elder abuse. Nationwide, elder financial abuse is a crime "growing in intensity" with perpetrators often family members, but also strangers and new "best friends". Abuse of the elderly and other vulnerable adults is often subtle and difficult to detect. Victims are often unwilling to report due to embarrassment or a desire to protect family members.

Allowing a victim to consent to physician-assisted suicide creates another path of abuse. For example, a perpetrator could encourage an older person to request a lethal dose and then administer the dose without his consent. The older person's prior request, voluntary or not, would provide the alibi. With the difficulty of detecting and proving homicide, generally, and the difficulties in preventing and detecting abuse specifically, considering the unwillingness of victims to report, it is against public policy to allow a victim to consent to his own homicide.

The Baxter decision applies to "terminally ill" patients. Doctor progonoses of life expectancy can be wrong. I have a close relative, who at age 52 had a serious heart attack and was given a prognosis of no more than eight years to live. That was over thirty years ago and many grandchildren, great grandchildren later he is still enjoying life. Allowing physician-assisted suicide will thus result in some Montanans, with many good years left, cutting their lives short. This situation will be even more evident if the proponents' definition of "terminally ill adult patient" is adopted by the authorities. This defintion is broad enough to include a young person dependent on insulin or a young man with stable HIV/AIDS, who could have "decades to live". Encouraging Montanans to shorten their lives is contrary to Montana public policy, which seeks to "improve and protect the health and well being, and self reliance" of all Montanans.

Allowing physician-assisted suicide will open the door to the "Barbara Wagner" scenario. Wagner was a resident of Oregon with lung cancer. The Oregon Health Plan refused to pay for a drug to possibly prolong her life and offered to pay for "aid in dying" instead. Unable to afford the drug, she was steered to suicide. Wagner stated, "I am not ready, I am not ready to die". Will young persons with diabetes or HIV/AIDS be the next Barbara Wagners? Montana already has one of the highest suicides rates in the nation. It is a state priority to reduce the suicide rate for persons "of all ages". Steering citizens to kill themselves is contrary to this policy.

Montana values all of its citizens, including those who are older or may have chronic conditions or other disabilities. Baxter overlooked elder abuse. It is against public policy to allow consent to homicide; to encourage Montanans to cut their lives short or steer them to suicide. Montanans should reject "aid in dying."

Readers interested in my source materials can view them in my "Report to the Senate for LC0041, The Montana Patient Protection Act". My contact email is or phone 406-827-4645

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

5 Reasons Why People Devalue the Elderly

This is a guest column by Kitty Holman, who writes on the topics of Nursing Schools.

All around us in modern Western society is evidence that elderly adults who cannot care for themselves on their own are being abused and neglected. I believe that much of this is a result of a general social disregard for this vulnerable population group. This broad disregard is such that many of them—especially those with disabilities and those living with chronic pain—would rather have their lives ended for them than go on living in a world where they perceive they are not valued. Yes, we can certainly see the evidence. But have we ever stopped to consider why it is that so many in our society think treating the elderly this way is acceptable? Here I will attempt to answer the great "why" question.

1. Us-versus-them mentality. In the early 1980s, a German-born American scholar named Wolf Wolfensberger proposed his relationship theory called Social Role Valorization. The theory suggested that society tends to categorize certain groups of people (them) as fundamentally "different" and of less value than everyone else (us). This theory is not only evident in how many regard the elderly who cannot entirely care for themselves, but it is also evident in the way many people routinely ignore the homeless, do not make eye contact with people with disabilities of all ages, and do not feel entirely at ease with people of a different race. Society has a habit of stacking up reasons why someone is different from them and using those reasons to place a lower value on that person.

2. The tendency to "shoot" our weak and wounded. The theory of evolution suggests that only the strong survive. The danger here is taking the theory to the point where it becomes an ideology—that only the strong should survive. However, evidence of this concept is apparent in a number of social groups. Many religious groups routinely ostracize and shun those among them who are "spiritually weak" and commit more visible "sins," rather than reaching out to pull them back into fellowship. In the business world, instead of working to improve weak performers, many bosses cut their losses, and hire new talent. Some part of human nature sincerely believes they will be considered weak—and fail socially—if they associate themselves with weak people; they believe if they rescue someone from drowning, they too will drown. For the elderly who need our help, this can mean their needs go ignored. After all, only the strong survive.

3. Lack of compassion. Compassion and respect for the elderly don't always come naturally—they are most often learned character traits. These traits must be instilled in us as children or demonstrated to us in some other way in our adult life. Parents do not always teach their children from an early age to treat the elderly with the utmost respect.

4. The idea that one's value is based on what one can contribute to society. The subtle undercurrent here is that the elderly no longer have the ability to "repay" the "debt" of care that is given them. Even if they recover and their pain is adequately managed, they are still knocking on death's door—why waste efforts on someone who will only be around for a short time? A child or younger adult, if he or she is cared for, may yet recover and go on to contribute to society. Therefore, we devalue the elderly.

5. Youth-centric culture. Western culture, especially the U.S., is obsessed with youth, unlike other cultures who respect and even revere older individuals for their wisdom. Society as a whole believes our children are worth fighting valiantly for when they are ill or in pain, but does not generally fight as hard for their elderly, who have already lived their lives and are no longer part of society's warped ideal—young, vibrant, and beautiful.

This guest post is contributed by Kitty Holman, who writes on the topics of Nursing Schools at:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Attacks on the Schindler family are unfounded. The real question is what did Michael Schiavo do with all the money?

Standing in solidarity against an evil and unfounded attack.

A recent attack news program by a television station in Florida has created a controversy over the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation. They have accused the Schindler family of lining their pockets with foundation money.

Wesley Smith reported the complaint in his article that was published in the National Review online. Schiavo was reported as saying to the attack news program:
Schiavo’s widower, Michael Schiavo, says the family should be ashamed of what they are doing. He adds if Terri ever knew this was happening she’d be horrified. Michael Schiavo is talking about the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation. While Terri Schiavo’s brother Bobby says the organization is set up to help families in similar situations, Michael Schiavo says he doesn’t believe it. Instead Schiavo says they are using their deceased sister’s name to make money.
Smith destroyed the accusations in his article when he stated:
"And as for profiteering–Bobby Schindler’s salary is $37,500 annually, and all speaking fees he receives go to the foundation. His sister Suzanne, makes less and is 14 months in arrears in receiving her compensation. It is also worth noting, that after receiving complaints, the IRS investigated the foundation and gave it a clean bill of health in 2008."

An article written by Pamela Hennessy that was published in the North County Gazette reveals even more about the false accusations in the attack news program. She stated:
the Foundation provided the reporter with their latest 990 income and expense filing, a letter from the Internal Revenue Service (giving the Foundation notice of compliance and approval for the continuance of their tax-exempt 501(c)3 status) and a letter from their attorney, asking that the report be tabled in light of the Schindlers’ good standing with the authorities.

Care to guess which one of those documents were posted to WTSP’s website? Yes. Just the letter from the attorney. Deeson kept the other, rather pertinent, information from viewers.
Mark Mostert, from the Institute for the Study of Disability and Bioethics stated:
All innuendo and spin. Why would we expect anything else? Even all these years after her death, Bobby, Suzanne, and Mary spend countless hours trying to correct misleading reporting about the circumstances of Terri’s death. This is just one more media attack in a long string of animus posing as “news” and comes just a few weeks after Fox’s The Family Guy made horrible fun of Terri and her disabled condition.
Concerning the attack by Michael Schiavo, the man who used the money that was awarded by the courts to care for Terri for the rest of her natural life, that the Schindlers are not even fulfilling the goals of the Foundation. Smith correctly stated:
Had the reporters wanted to find out the kind of help the foundation offers others, producers could have called me or a myriad of others active in this field, who are quite aware of the selfless giving and effort each surviving member of Terri’s family offers to others. Indeed, I have personal knowledge of case after case in which the Schindlers worked selflessly–and without financial compensation of any kind–to assist family members save their cognitively disabled loved ones from suffering the same dehydration fate as Terri. The Lauren Richardson food and fluids dispute and the Andrea Clarke futile care case are just two that come to mind.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition arranged to have Randy Richardson, the father of Lauren Richardson, speak at the Second-International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide that we had co-hosted near Washington DC. Like Wesley, I can attest to the fact that the Schindler family has been incredibly successful in helping families prevent a similar fate to their loved ones, as had happened to Terri.

The Schindler family have been operating the Foundation on a tight budget. The reports prove that the charitable money they received in 2008 was less than $100,000 and yet they have done an incredible service with that budget.

The real question is: What did Michael Schiavo do with the money that was awarded for the care of Terri for the rest of her life?

Article by Wesley Smith in the National Review online:

Article by Pamela Hennessy in the North County Gazette:

My blog article about dehydration deaths:

The original article attacking the Schindler family: