Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Defence wants suicide predator to go free in Kajouji case

Nadia Kajouji
Lee Greenberg published an article in the Ottawa Citizen today explaining that the lawyers for William Melchert-Dinkel are trying to have the charges dropped against their client who was charged with assisting the suicide of Nadia Kajouji, an 18 year old first year Carlton student who died by suicide in March 2008

Terry Watkins, the lawyer for Melchert-Dinkel, the former nurse, who admitted to counseling via the internet several people to commit suicide. Yesterday's hearing was postponed as Watkins plans to challenge some of the evidence that was gathered against Melchert-Dinkel. Watkins also indicated his intention to petition to have the charges dropped.

The article described the case this way:
William Melchert-Dinkel
In April, Melchert-Dinkel was charged with assisted suicide for his involvement in the deaths of Nadia Kajouji, an 18-year-old Brampton girl who killed herself in March 2008, and Briton Mark Dryborough, who hanged himself in 2005 when he was 32.

Melchert-Dinkel, a former nurse with a disturbing disciplinary history, has admitted to trolling online suicide chat rooms in search of severely depressed people to talk into suicide.

In conversations with police, he likened the activity to hunting, admitting he was motivated by "the thrill of the chase."

He told police his interest in death and suicide had become "an obsession," something he'd had to confront when certain of his morbid online chats had been discovered by his teenage daughters. He admitted to forming false suicide pacts with at least 10 depressed people contemplating suicide.

According to his statements to police contained in a criminal complaint, Melchert-Dinkel offered his victims psychological encouragement, "telling them it was OK to let go, that they would be better in heaven."

He is charged with two counts of assisted suicide. Each charge of the Minnesota statute, which targets anyone who "intentionally advises, encourages, or assists" in suicide, comes with a punishment of up to 15 years imprisonment and as much as a $30,000 fine.
The article also quoted Michelle Goodwin, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who stated:
"These cases when it comes to a jury and what a jury is going to buy, it's a much easier conviction when you have physical evidence rather than virtual evidence,"
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition advocates an amendment to the criminal code of Canada in a similar manner to Australia. The Australian government made a minor revision to the criminal code to ensure that the assisted suicide statute included cases that were counseled via the internet or other communications devices.

Harold Albrect, MP - (Kitchener-Conestoga) sponsored Motion 388 that passed unanimously through Canada's parliament. Motion 388 called on the Federal Government to ensure that the law protects people, such as Nadia Kajouji, from internet predators, whether the suicide predator was a Canadian or not.

In the meantime, Melchert-Dinkel is trolling the highways as a long-haul trucker. The judge is expected to rule on whether the trial will go forward on August 27.

Monday, June 28, 2010

No appeal by Compassion & Choices in their legal defeat in Connecticut

Recently the Connecticut court rejected an attempt by Kathryn Tucker, the legal counsel for Compassion & Choices, to strike down the Connecticut law that prohibits assisted suicide. The Compassion & Choices case was based on a word game. It stated that since "aid in dying" is not suicide therefore "aid in dying" is not prohibited by the Connecticut law that prohibits assisted suicide.

The court considered the case to be rediculous. Surprisingly Compassion and Choices is not appealing the Connecticut court decision. Maybe that is because the court was very clear that "aid in dying" is assisted suicide. Further to that, if you read the Compassion & Choices definition of "aid in dying" it is also euthanasia.

I am reprinting the blog comment by Wesley Smith. Smith was absolutely right.

No Appeal on CT Court Refusal to Redefine Assisted Suicide

Wesley Smith
Compassion and Choices has decided not to appeal their ridiculous lawsuit that sought to legalize assisted suicide by redefining it as “aid in dying.” From the story:
In a statement Thursday, Kathryn Tucker, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the decision not to appeal was based on Connecticut’s “unusually strict” sovereign immunity laws. “But the question posed in this case remains,” said Tucker, legal director of Compassion & Choices, a national end-of-life-care advocacy group that backed the lawsuit. “It is essential for Connecticut physicians to know whether providing aid in dying subjects them to criminal prosecution. At present, patients are unsure if they will be able to access aid in dying should they confront an unbearable dying process.”
Tucker is pitching her usual baloney. First, assisted suicide legalization isn’t about “an unbearable dying process,” which can be alleviated by expert palliative care experts even if it requires in rare cases, sedation. Moreover, experiencing an unbearable dying processes are not the reasons why people are committing assisted suicide in Oregon and Washington, rather it is losing the ability to engage in enjoyable activities, fears of being a burden, and worries about loss of dignity, matters that are serious but which expert hospice professionals can address. So, that’s just the sales pitch to scare people into agreeing to legalization. Third, Connecticut doctors know they can’t legally assist sucides of anyone–terminally ill or non terminally ill–just like everyone else in the state. Tucker will now look for a jurisdiction where a judge can be found who is ideological enough to engage in legalization by redefinition. She has been paying a lot of attention to Idaho lately…

But this is good news. Add in the big defeats legislatively handed to assisted suicide advocates in the last year in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Canada, and after a shaky 2008, the anti forces are again doing pretty well holding back the tide.

Link to the Wesley Smith's blog comment:

Link to my previous blog comment concerning the Connecticut case:

Link to the story from Connecticut:,0,3189219.story

Elder abuse: nearly half of the people with dementia who participated had been mistreated.

A study done by the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect at the University of California, Irvine, that was published in the Journal of the Geriatrics Society found that of those participating in the study, 47% (61 of 129 participants) had been mistreated by their caregivers.

The study specifically found that: 42% (54) experienced psychological abuse, 10% (13) physical abuse and 14% (18) caregiver neglect.

The study determined the information in this manner. An expert panel met monthly throughout the study, considered the evidence, and decided on occurrences of psychological abuse, physical abuse, and neglect. The pairs of people with dementia and their caregivers were assessed for evidence of mistreatment as well as factors that might be related to mistreatment. Most of the data was provided by the caregivers.

Link to the study from the University of California, Irvine study, from the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect:

What will it take for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) actually to prosecute someone for assisted suicide?

Peter Saunders, the director of the Care NOT Killing Alliance in the UK is wondering what it will take for the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute someone for assisted suicide? Last year, Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, released new prosecution guidelines. The Care NOT Killing Alliance would like to see the wording in the Prosecution Guidelines tightened in order to protect vulnerable people from assisted suicide.

I have reprinted his blog:
What will it take for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) actually to prosecute someone for assisted suicide?

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Keir Starmer, whose job it is to prosecute people who break the law, announced last Friday that he did not consider it to be in the public interest to bring a case against former GP Michael Irwin, for assisting the suicide of pancreatic cancer sufferer Ray Cutkelvin in 2006.

It was not that he lacked evidence to do so. Irwin had literally begged the DPP to put him away so that he could become a martyr for the pro-euthanasia movement. He had even provided documentary evidence of his involvement in terms of a £1,500 payment towards paying for Cutkelvin's visit to the Dignitas Suicide facility in Zurich.

In fact, Irwin, previously chairman of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society (now euphemistically rebranded Dignity in Dying) has helped no less than nine people kill themselves, and had even been struck off by the General Medical Council in 2005 for a past attempt.

But nonetheless, the DPP judged that although he had clearly done the deed, it was not in the public interest to make him stand trial.

His justification for this was that Irwin’s case did not fulfil enough of the 22 ‘prosecution criteria’ that he had made public at the request of the Supreme Court ruling on the case of Debbie Purdy last July.

Assisted suicide remains illegal in Britain and still carries a custodial sentence of up to 14 years for convicted offenders. But of over 130 British citizens who have so far travelled to Switzerland to be helped to kill themselves, none have even been tried, let alone convicted.

And the three most recent cases (Downes, Bateman and Rees) have all been let off on the grounds that they were ‘wholly motivated by compassion’ – a mitigating factor seemingly open to liberal interpretation and not easily testable in court (especially given that the key witness in all cases is dead and unable to give evidence).

It appears a pattern is emerging. The police seem reluctant to investigate. The DPP looks to be unwilling to prosecute. Juries are reticent to convict and judges, for those very few cases that do reach this stage, are giving light sentences.

This sort of ‘legal sanction’ is exactly what first happened in the Netherlands and led eventually to an eventual change in the law in that country - legalisation by stealth.

Holland now reports over 1,000 cases of involuntary euthanasia a year, an annual increase in cases of voluntary euthanasia and dozens of disabled children being ‘put down’ under the so-called Groningen protocol.

No wonder that disability rights leaders in this country have just launched a Resistance Campaign asking MPs to sign a charter supporting better care and services for elderly and disabled people and no change in the law.

So far Parliament has stood firm, as have professional groups like the British Medical Association, believing that any change in the law would be a threat to public safety.

One wonders however what it will take for the DPP, the very person appointed to uphold the law, actually to prosecute someone. If he wants the current law to act as an effective deterrent against abuse he will at some point have to be willing to show some teeth.

But the impression he has given with this latest judgement, is that any would-be assisters may go at least as far as Dr Irwin has thus far, without any fear of legal repercussion.

Link to Peter Saunders blog:

Link to my previous blog comment on the Prosecution Guidelines in the UK:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

No dignity in euthanasia

This is a letter to the editor that was published in the Montreal Gazette. This letter explains in a short and clear fashion how the survey that is being conducted by the Dying with dignity commission in Quebec is in fact one-sided. Barbara Bagshaw explains in her letter that in the survey there is no where that she can state that she absolutely opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Then the commission will tell everyone that after consulting with the Quebecois they have found that no one opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide. What a joke.

Thank you Barbara for writing this letter.

P.S. In case you are wondering, I have never had any contact with Barbara in my life. This is a letter from her, even though I am sure that it represents the views of the silent majority, silent because they have not been given a voice.

No dignity in euthanasia

The Montreal Gazette June 27, 2010

As I read the June 20 Gazette, I was struck by some bold type in the middle of an article by Joe Schwarcz which read as follows: "Sometimes there are unseen forces at work behind the scenes in the battle to shape public opinion."

This put me in mind of the current survey titled General Consultation on Dying with Dignity that appears online. The questions are posed in such a way that it is simply impossible to state clearly total opposition either to euthanasia or assisted suicide, the only other choice being "undecided."

Whoever tabulates the statistics arrived at from this survey will be able to say: So many favoured assisted suicide; so many favoured euthanasia, and the rest were undecided. This is a biased survey designed to arrive at a specific conclusion.

Since by answering the survey I did not have the option of stating total opposition to either euthanasia or assisted suicide, I am doing it here: There is no dignity in deliberately ending a human life, but there is a great deal of dignity in alleviating the pain of those who are suffering, and taking care of them with love and compassion to the end.

Barbara Bagshaw Beaconsfield

Link to this letter to the Editor:

When doctors kill instead of heal

The Calgary Herald published this excellent editorial on June 27. I am simply reprinting it for your enjoyment.

When doctors kill instead of heal

Calgary Herald - June 27, 2010

Perhaps Dutch health officials are now going to learn how to spell "slippery slope." The Dutch health ministry has launched an inquiry into the law which sets out the guidelines for euthanasia to be performed in the Netherlands, now that a 13 per cent increase in cases in one year has been duly noted.

In 2009, 2,636 Dutch people were euthanized by doctors administering a fatal drug potion, as compared to 2,331 whose deaths were reported in 2008.

The reasons for the increase are uncertain, with Jan Suyver, who chairs the government's euthanasia monitoring commission, claiming the taboo that used to be associated with euthanasia is easing, and suggesting that doctors are also "more likely to report it." Those opposed to euthanasia are blaming a corresponding decrease in the quality of palliative care available to patients.

However, another reason might be that, as the country has become accustomed to euthanasia as an accepted way to die, the guidelines are not being strictly adhered to.

The law says that patients must be suffering intolerable pain and that two doctors must be convinced the patients have given their informed consent. This has been documented to be utter nonsense, of course. Dutch law states anyone over the age of 16 who is in mental anguish or is depressed can request physician-assisted suicide, and in 2005, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that Dutch doctors were euthanizing infants born with spina bifida and cleft palates. An infant cannot give informed consent -- and a teenager, or anyone else, who is depressed needs talk therapy and medication, not death, to resolve the crisis.

There are a number of reasons why reports of euthanasia might be on the increase. Doctors might be killing people without their consent -- and a 1990 report into this phenomenon found that more than 1,000 Dutch people who underwent euthanasia had not given their consent, with about 72 per cent of those having never indicated to anyone that they wanted to die. The number of babies, young children and depressed teens who were killed might have risen, due to broadening latitudes in interpreting the law.

There appear to be two separate inquiries with which the Dutch health ministry should concern itself -- the rise in euthanasia cases and the state of palliative care in that country. The two are not necessarily related, as it is always possible that, regardless of how good the quality of palliative care is, it may be very tempting for physicians to save health-care dollars and find reasons either to encourage their patients to opt for assisted suicide or perform it without their consent.

The Dutch are skidding down the very slippery slope to becoming a culture of death, rather than one that values life and nurtures it tenderly to the very end. Those in Quebec -- and the rest of Canada -- who have voiced enthusiastic support for Bloc Quebecois MP Francine Lalonde's right-to-die bill might want to watch events unfolding in the Netherlands and give sober second thought to whether this is what they want Canada to look like. The answer should be a resounding no.

Link to the article:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

German court makes the wrong decision by approving death by dehydration.

Germany's federal court of justice overturned a conviction yesterday against a lawyer who advised his client to remove the feeding tube of her 72-year-old mother in 2002.

This decision is wrong because the court wrongly defined fluids and food as medical treatment, rather than basic care.

The court approved the direct and intentional dehydration of people who are not otherwise dying. This case was of a person who could not have consented to dying by dehydration, meaning this would be considered a death without explicit request or consent. This decision opens the door to dependent and incompetent people being killed by dehydration, a death that lacks dignity and compassion.

Terri Schiavo died by dehydration in March 2005.

The Irish Times reported:
Five years earlier, shortly before Erika Küllmer suffered a brain haemorrhage and lost consciousness, her daughter Elke Gloor said she had insisted she did not want to be kept alive artificially.

After consulting her lawyer, and with her own brother present, Ms Gloor cut the cable with a scissors only to have care facility staff reconnect it. Ms Küllmer died shortly after of natural causes.

The state prosecutor pressed charges against her daughter and the lawyer, Wolfgang Putz. Charges against Ms Gloor were dropped because the court ruled she had followed “mistaken” legal advice, while Mr Putz was given a nine-month suspended sentence for attempted manslaughter.

The federal court yesterday upheld the lawyer’s appeal against his conviction.

In its ruling, the court argued that cutting the feeding tube made possible a “natural” death because it ended treatment that was being carried out against the patient’s will.

“A person’s free will must be respected, in all stages of life,” the judges ruled, insisting that “death on demand” remained a crime.

Germany’s federal justice minister welcomed the verdict.

“The ruling gives legal clarity on a fundamental question in the conflict over assisted suicide, namely what is permissible in the passive sense and prohibited in the active sense,” said Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, the federal justice minister. “This is about a person’s right to decide, and hence touches upon a key question of how to live with dignity.”

Hospice groups spoke of a “black day” for patients’ rights while the German doctor’s union warned of “arbitrariness” in future medical treatment.

The case made headlines in 2002 after Mr Putz reached agreement with Ms Küllmer’s care facility to remove feeding tubes, only for the facility staff to change their mind at the last minute.

After her daughter cut through the feeding tube, Ms Küllmer was removed to a clinic but died two weeks later. Four months later, her son took his own life.

Yesterday’s ruling legalises active measures as well as passive measures to help end a person’s life if it is their wish. It is intended to work alongside a law introduced last year allowing people to make a written declarations for or against treatment to prolong their lives. The German doctors’ union remains concerned that this contradicts their Hippocratic oath to patient care.

Germany’s hospice association criticised the ruling yesterday, saying it opened the door to abuse by not clarifying what was active and what was passive assistance in suicide. It pointed out that Ms Küllmer’s wish not to be kept on life support was given verbally to her daughter and not in written form.

Assisted suicide is particularly controversial in Germany because of memories of the forced euthanasia programme in the Nazi era.

Yesterday a former Hamburg politician was acquitted of manslaughter after aiding an elderly woman to kill herself in 2008 because she didn’t want to move into a home.
To withdraw hydration from a person who is not otherwise dying is ethically a form of euthanasia because the direct and intentional cause of death is dehydration and not a natural death. The distinction is clear, that when a person is dying and nearing death, it is proper care to provide hydration and nutrition until the person cannot physiologically benefit from it. It is important that the care givers not provide too much hydration and nutrition, but to continue providing what the person requires.

Did Hans and Sophie Scholl, who were executed for their leadership of the White Rose Resistance, die in vain? The first method of euthanasia in the German hospitals was euthanasia by dehydation. Then the German doctors perfected the method of killing people with disabilities and others who were determined to be "useless eaters" by gas. Once the technique of killing with gas was perfected by killing people with disabilities, the method was then moved to the death camps. History appears to be repeating itself

The court should have upheld the conviction and stated that medical treatment, is always optional, but food and fluid, even when medically assisted, do not represent a medical treatment but rather a form of basic care. Basic care must be treated as necessary so long as it is needed.

Link to the article in the Irish Times:

Link to the article in Reuters:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dignitas founder, Ludwig Minelli, is making millions

Who says that assisted suicide is about compassion and choices?

Ludwig Minelli
Ludwig Minelli has become a millionaire in the ten years since he set up his Dignitas suicide clinic in Switzerland.

An article that was published in the Telegraph examined the real motivation for the Dignitas founder, Ludwig Minelli. They reported that he has become wealthy by selling memberships, assisting suicides and getting donations from his vulnerable clients.

The Telegraph newspaper reported:
A newspaper investigation has raised new questions about Dignitas and whether Ludwig Minelli, its founder and director, makes profit from his “mercy killings”.

Previously a human rights lawyer and an attorney at the Zurich bar, Mr Minelli had no taxable personal fortune registered when he set up his suicide clinic in 1998.

A decade later, the Beobachter investigation found, he had an annual taxable income of £98,000 and a personal fortune of over £1.2 million, wealth that includes a luxury villa.

Mr Minelli, who said he would take no salary from Dignitas when opening the clinic 12 years ago, has insisted that his wealth comes from an inheritance, left by his mother.

But the cost of a simple suicide at Dignitas has risen from £1,800 in 2005 to £4,500, fuelling suspicions that the clinic may not be sticking to Swiss laws that are supposed to prevent people “selfishly” profiting from assisted suicide.

The cost of the clinic’s full service, including funerals, medical costs and official fees, is as high as £7,000.

Andreas Brunner, a Swiss prosecutor, has accused Mr Minelli, and Dignitas, of hiding behind Swiss privacy laws to refuse publication of their accounts for the last five years.

Soraya Wernli
”We have never had a good look at their book-keeping but in order to demand that we need a good reason and a concrete example that there is something suspicious to investigate,” he said. “He has promised for years to make the accounts public but it has never happened.”

Dignitas has faced criticism for accepting donations from suicide clients, one patient is said to have signed over more than £60,000.

Soraya Wernli, a nurse employed by Dignitas between 2003 and 2005, has accused the organisation of being a “production line of death concerned only with profits”.

In April this year, police divers found over 60 cremation urns dumped in Lake Zurich. Each of the urns bore the logo of the Nordheim crematorium used by Dignitas.

Mr Minelli, in an interview in March, insisted that Dignitas did not make profits for personal gain but claimed that Swiss law did not prevent money being made from euthanasia.

”If you are helping and abetting without selfish motives, this is quite legal,” he told the American PBS broadcaster.

”If you would take a lot of money for this service, then it might be selfish. But if somebody would do it for normal profit, it would even still be legal. But Dignitas is not working for profit. We are an association, and the association does not make profit. If we make profit, we will take this profit in order to have a higher quality of our services.”
At the same time Stuart Weisberg, a psychiatrist, announced plans to open a Dignitas style suicide clinic in Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal. The Oregon Medical Board has temporarily stopped Weisberg by suspending his license to practise medicine in Oregon. Nonetheless, the law in Oregon does not prevent doctors from competing with Compassion & Choices by setting up lucrative suicide clinics.

At the same time Compassion & Choices has also been able to turn assisted suicide into a lucrative fund raising business with reported income from donations and services in the millions.

Link to a previous article about the Dignitas Clinic:

Suicide Psychiatrist has medical license suspended in Oregon

Yesterday, an article,from Oregon Live reported that Dr Stuart Weisberg, the psychiatrist who planned to open a Dignitas style suicide clinic in Oregon, had his medical license suspended by the Oregon Medical Board.

The article in Oregon Live stated:

A Portland psychiatrist who plans to open a private facility where people could end their lives under Oregon’s assisted-suicide law was suspended from medical practice Thursday amid a second investigation for improperly prescribing drugs.

The Oregon Medical Board voted 8-0 to suspend Stuart G. Weisberg, 37, a solo practitioner in Northwest Portland specializing in treating addictions.

Weisberg did not return phone calls Thursday for comment.

Kathleen Haley, the board’s executive director, said the suspension means Weisberg “cannot practice, period.”

In 2006, the board gave Weisberg a five-year reprimand for improperly prescribing psychoactive drugs to seven patients who were recovering drug addicts or suffering chronic pain. Last year, the board lifted the reprimand but put Weisberg under the watch of another doctor.

Haley said Thursday the “practice mentor” recently informed the medical board that Weisberg had terminated the relationship. The board learned that during the mentoring, Weisberg had wrongly authorized a medical-marijuana card for a drug addict and had improperly prescribed a different drug for another patient.

This week, Weisberg invited local physicians and politicians to a July 21 dinner at which he was to unveil his plan to open a “Dignity House” in Portland where the terminally ill could end their lives under his care in accordance with Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act.

In the invitation, Weisberg said he had been inspired by Michigan pathologist Jack Kevorkian, who claims to have ended the lives of 130 people who asked for his help in dying.

Weisberg’s website for his venture, End of Life Consultants LLC, listed a host of charges that would apply for anyone wanting to use “Dignity House” for catering, security, music or flowers.

As much as I found it disgusting that Weisberg planned to set up a Dignitas style suicide clinic in Oregon, he probably would have been more transparent than Compassion & Choices in providing relevant information about the assisted suicide deaths that he would have caused.

Link to my previous blog article on this story:

Link to the article:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Death with Dignity house or Dignitas suicide clinic

Dignitas comes to Oregon.

It appears that Dr. Stuart Weisberg, a Portland psychiatrist, intends to open a Death with Dignity house that is similar in scope to the Dignitas Clinic in Switzerland.

A recent article in the Atlantic monthly magazine interviewed supporters and detractors of Ludwig Minelli, the founder of Dignitas, including Soraya Wernli, a former Dignitas employee.

Link to a commentary to the Atlantic monthly article:

Dignitas is known for pushing social limits, dumping Urns of ashes from their dead clients into Lake Zurich, experimenting with helium and exit bags on their clients, selling the left-over items from their dead clients to pawn shops, charging large fees for their suicide service, etc. The Zurich government has been unsuccessful in their attempts to stop the Dignitas suicide clinic.

Recently Dignitas opened a new home in Zurich called the "Blue Oasis" which seems very similar to the proposed Death with Dignity house. Weisberg is simply introducing a similar suicide system in Oregon, where assisted suicide has been legal since 1998.

Weisberg has invited Jack Kevorkian to join him on July 21 to announce the opening of their Death with Dignity house.

I am sure Jack will make an incredible edition to the project, especially considering his fascination with experimenting with death and on the dead.

Similar to Dignitas, people can purchase extra services for their dying enjoyment. An article stated:
They include catering, security, video taping, music, flowers and -- for an additional $1,200 -- three hours with the psychiatrist and his therapy dog. The total package carries a price tag of $5,000.

Does the dog know about the incredible fees that are being collected by its service?

Not everyone is happy in the suicide promotion lobby. George Eighmey from Compassion and Choices, the group that last year facilitated 97% of all assisted suicides in Oregon, stated:
"Never heard of him,"

"I don't think his setting up a business to do it -- in my opinion is not appropriate, and even the taking of the photographs and videos is ghoulish,".

But then again, Eighmey is also concerned about the potential for competition and about losing control of the law. Compassion and Choices has developed a monopoly on assisted suicide in Oregon to control the information flow about the assisted suicide law and to enable them to convince people that there are no problems with the Oregon law.

Cornering the market on physician-assisted suicide is worth reading:

It is much easier to promote the legalization of assisted suicide when the only real information that is known about the law comes from the suicide promotion lobby. But Eighmey does correctly recognize that Weisberg is planning a Dignitas type death clinic. Eighmey said:
the only place akin to what Weisberg proposes is Dignitas in Switzerland.

Like Kevorkian, Weisberg doesn't appear to have a great record with the medical board. The article in the Oregonian stated:
Weisberg, 37, is a solo practitioner with an office in Northwest Portland. In 2006, the Oregon Medical Board disciplined him for improperly prescribing psychoactive drugs to seven patients who were recovering drug addicts or dealing with chronic pain.

The board's order said Weisberg, who earned his medical degree at the Medical College of Wisconsin in 2000, was terminated from his four-year residency at OHSU several months before he was to finish. No explanation was given.

On July 9, 2009, the board ended Weisberg's probation a year early and put him instead under the wing of an unnamed "practice mentor," another doctor who was to meet twice a month with Weisberg and file quarterly reports with the board.

Before reading further, I suggest you google Dr. Michael Swango. He was also terminated from his residency program, experienced similar medical complaints, and had a fascination with death and killing.

The reality is that now that assisted suicide is legal and socially accepted in Oregon, it should not surprise anyone that someone would decide to make the practise of killing into a business. By the way, there is nothing in the law to prevent Weisberg from setting up his suicide clinic

Link to the article in the Oregonian:

Link to the article in

US Senate Confirms Autism Self-Advocate To National Disability Council

Ari Ne'eman
An article that was published a few days ago from is about Ari Ne’eman who has officially become a member of the National Council on Disability.

I know Ari to be a great advocate for people with disabilities. I have a son who is diagnosed with Autism and from my understanding of Autism, I wonder why Ari is considered controversial.

The article stated that Ari was nominated last December but his nomination process was held up. The article stated:
Speculation swirled about the reason for the hold, with some suggesting that Ne’eman’s sometimes divisive views on autism could have been behind the delay. In particular, Ne’eman’s belief that autism should not be cured, but instead should be accepted and accommodated has drawn ire from parents of some individuals who are more adversely affected by the disorder.
Essentially Ari believes that Autism is a different way of experiencing the world. He believes that people with Autism do not need to be fixed, but rather need to be accepted. I think he is right.

Ari is not saying that someone should not have speech therapy to communicate effectively, he is saying that society needs to accept the diversity of individuals and not look to change people because they react to the world a little different. I also think it is not valid to attach other political causes to Ari's position.

When one considers what Autism actually is, we need to realize that it is really a different way of experiencing the world around us.

Congratulations Ari.

Link to the article in Disability Scoop:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Idaho imposes rationed care on its citizens.

On July 1, Idaho health care workers will gain the right to refuse end-of-life care that the worker considers objectionable. People with disabilities and the frail elderly need to be concerned.

There are huge ethical problems with futile care treatment decisions especially considering how modern bio-ethics are defining futile care treatment decisions.

David Irwin, spokerperson for the AARP stated to the media:
"Our members contacted their legislators by the thousands, and they moved forward with it anyway," Irwin said. "For our members to have their issue fall upon deaf ears was extremely problematic."

Heading into election season, Irwin said Idaho AARP has surveyed its 180,000 members (90 percent of whom vote regularly) to see which issues matter most to them.

Repealing the health care conscience bill is near the top of the list.

The only issue more important to Idaho AARP members is resolving Idaho's state budget problems."
I believe that health care workers should have the right to conscientious objection, but the new law in Idaho will create an inequality of care that will result in people with disabilities or other vulnerable people dying from a lack of care based on the discriminatory attitudes of individual health care workers.

Many people believe that the way to control the rising cost of health care, and the way to stop the practise of providing extra-ordinary, excessive and burdensome medical treatment is to ration it, whether the patient desires to receive it or not.

Governor Otter
Idaho Governor Butch Otter expressed reservations about the bill to Senator Brad Little. He stated:
"Forcing health care professionals to provide services they find morally objectionable is unacceptable; however, negatively impacting patients' rights - especially when it comes to end-of-life decisions - is equally problematic," Otter wrote. "I encourage the Legislature to revisit these issues and the definition of heath care service to ensure patients receive the care they may need with dignity and respect, and without imposing on the morals of a provider."
I agree with the Governor Otter, but I wonder why he didn't send the bill back for revision before signing it into law?

I believe that to always provide futile, extra-ordinary treatment or to withhold treatment based solely on the whether or not the medical care giver considers it objectionable represent two extremes. The ethical answer lies somewhere between both extremes.

I would suggest that medical treatment should be provided to someone unless the benefit of the treatment is minimal or the burden of providing the treatment is excessive. Further to that, any case, such as the Golubchuk case from Winnipeg, whereby the family has religious objections to withholding or withdrawing a particular medical treatment, that their religious freedom should be respected.

Terri Schiavo
Also, hydration and nutrition should never be considered to be medical treatment, but rather normal care. Therefore people should never have fluids withheld or withdrawn with the intention of causing that persons death by dehydration.

We have a lot to learn from our medical ethics heritage. The Hippocratic Oath stated: "Do No Harm". So long as we uphold the Hippocratic Oath we will be able to respect the needs of all patients while respecting the limits of medical treatment.

Link to the article in the CDA Press in Idaho:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vivre dans la Dignité - Living with Dignity

A new grassroots movement has been formed in Quebec to take action against the legalization of Euthanasia.

The Government of Quebec appear to have established the Dying with Dignity committee to examine options related to turning a blind eye to acts of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Quebec.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is celebrating the launch of Vivre dans la Dignité a group who are completely focused on activating a grassroots movement who oppose the legalization of euthanasia in Quebec.

Director, Linda Couture stated:
"Euthanasia and assisted suicide are killing, plain and simple. We cannot allow killing to be confused with health care in Quebec. The provincial government must direct its efforts and resources to offering Quebecers the best possible end of life care, including ready access to palliative care, rather than encouraging euthanasia and assisted suicide just to save money."
Dr. André Bourque, the president of the group stated:
"Living with Dignity is aware the hearings may be a public diversion to rubber stamp a decision the Charest government has already made to permit euthanasia and assisted suicide in Quebec hospitals.

The Charest Liberals could effectively legalize both forms of medical killing by directing Crown prosecutors not to lay charges against doctors who extinguish the lives of the terminally ill, elderly or profoundly disabled."
For more information contact: or call: (514) 639-6814

Press Release in French:

Press Release in English:

Nitschke announces his North American tour dates.

Philip Nitschke
This is not an advertisement for Philip Nitschke's second tour of North America but rather a concern for everyone who knows about the work of Nitschke, Australia's Dr. Death, and understands how his suicide promotion has led to the death of many people who are depressed or mentally ill.

It is bad enough that Nitschke promotes suicide by selling his books, devices and information online to anyone and everyone.

Further to that, are not Nitschke's tactics even worse than those of William Melchert-Dinkel, the nurse in Minnesota who has being prosecuted for being an online suicide predator, for directly and intentionally counseling and abeting Nadia Kajouji to commit suicide in March 2008.

Did not the parliament of Canada debate Motion 388, that was introduced by Harold Albrecht MP, Kitchener - Connestoga, that asked the question whether Canada's assisted suicide act was broad enough to prosecute Melchert-Dinkel in Canada? Motion 388 unanimously passed in the House of Commons

Authorities in Canada and the United States need to challenge Nitschke. Why should he be allowed to come into Canada and the United States and hold meetings that encourage the participants to break the law? Further to that, if it is only medical advise, the last I noticed Nitschke is not a licensed physician in any jurisdiction in North America.

Oh by the way, Nitschke does have safeguards to assure that only people who need his advice can attend. The rule is that you must be 50 years old. Either this is age discrimination or he thinks that 50 is a good age to end it all.

The dates are as follows:
Vancouver Canada - Thursday, October 7, 2010 from 11 am - 4 pm.
(Public meeting 11 am - noon; Workshop 12:30 pm - 4 pm)
Unitarian Church, West Vancouver

Toronto Canada - Wednesday, October 13, 2010 from 11 am - 4 pm.
(Public meeting 11 am - noon; Workshop 12:30 pm - 4 pm)
Location to be announced.

New York City - Wednesday, October 20, 2010 from 11 am - 4pm.
(Public meeting 11 am - noon; Workshop 12:30 pm - 4 pm)
Community Church of New York

Orlando Florida - Saturday, October 23, 2010 from 11 am to 4 pm.
(Public meeting 11 am - noon; Workshop 12:30 pm - 4 pm)
Orlando Unitarian Church

San Francisco California - Saturday, November 6, from 11 am to 4 pm.
(Public meeting 11 am - noon; Workshop 12:30 pm - 4 pm)
Location to be announced.

Nitschke continues to promote lethal veterinary drugs via the internet

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Philip Nitschke, Australia's Dr. Death, continues to promote the purchase of Nembutal, a drug used by veterinarians for euthanasia, through his website and "chatroom" to people who purchase his peaceful pill book.

In the June - July, 2010 version of the Exit International newsletter Nitschke published an article - Nembutal by Mail: Online Trade in Barbituates.

In March I commented on a report from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine of 51 people in Australia who died from lethal veterinary drugs.

My blog report stated that:
... of the 51 people who were known to have died from Nembutal, 6 people were in their 20's, 8 people were in their 30's, 5 people were in their 40's, 14 people were in their 50's, 3 people in their 60's, 10 in their 70's, and 5 people were over the age of 80.

Further to that, the report found that of the 38 known deaths that were investigated by a coroner, only 11 had a significant physical illness or chronic pain with the remaining 27 cases showing no signs of physical problems.

The report suggested that the 27 otherwise healthy people who died from Nembutal use were most likely depressed or mentally ill.
Link to the blog comment:

The recent article in Exit International Newsletter reports that some people have ordered and received lethal veterinary drugs while others have sent money and been ripped off by the online veterinary clinic.

Nitschke continues to be completely irresponsible in his promotion of lethal drugs. He refuses to acknowledge that the colateral damage associated with his escapades threatens the lives people who live with depression and mental illness, who need caring, professional support and not death.

Further to that, his concept that he is somehow forwarding the cause of a human right is particularly disturbing. A human right to die is a misnomer at best.

The fact is that Nitschke recklessly abandons vulnerable people who deserve social, and psychological support, excellent care, effective pain management and a caring community. We do not need a "cowboy" who promotes lethal doses of drugs for anyone and everyone.

It is about time that the world community establish protocols for shipments of lethal doses. This is not about freedom, this is about direct and intentional killing of people at the most vulnerable time of their life.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dutch euthanasia deaths up 13%

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Last week I commented on the increase of deaths by euthanasia in the Netherlands at:

The National Post reprinted an article by Simon Caldwell from The Daily Telegraph. Caldwell's points are: euthanasia is up by 13% compared to last year, it is up significantly since 2003, the social taboo to not kill someone by euthanasia appears to be waning and finally, even Els Borst, the Dutch leader who had guided the euthanasia law through the Dutch Parliament has acknowledged that palliative care should have been developed first, before euthanasia become legal, the article follows:

Dutch Euthanasia cases up 13%

Euthanasia cases in Holland have increased by 13% in the past year, according to new figures, and Dutch medics have been accused of applying a liberal interpretation of the law and sometimes killing people who cannot properly consent.

Last year, 2,636 Dutch people were killed by euthanasia, with 80% of the cases involving people dying at home after their doctors administered a lethal dose of drugs. This compares with 2,331 reported deaths in 2008.

In 2003, the year after Holland became the first country since the fall of Nazi Germany to legalize the practice, there were 1,815 cases.

Euthanasia is usually carried out by administering a sedative, followed by a drug to cause death. To qualify, patients must be in unbearable pain and their doctor convinced they are making an informed choice.

The opinion of a second doctor is also required. Jan Suyver, chairman of the Dutch government's euthanasia monitoring commission, said the rising number of cases came as the "taboo" once attached to euthanasia began to fade. "It could also be that doctors are more likely to report it," he said.

Dr. Els Borst
The increase in cases in 2008 has prompted the Dutch health ministry to open an inquiry into the law. Dr. Els Borst, the former deputy prime minister who guided the law through the Dutch parliament, said in December that she regretted that euthanasia was effectively destroying palliative care. The British campaign group Dignity in Dying has acknowledged that euthanasia was open to abuse but said assisted suicide could work in practice.

Link to the article in the National Post:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Group backs death under guise of 'choice'

This is an excellent reply by Dr. William Reichel concerning the claims by Jerry Dincin of the Final Exit Network. This short comment is worth reading.
June 15, 2010

I am a physician who has studied assisted-suicide and euthanasia since 1988, especially in the Netherlands. I was very concerned to see the June 12 guest column by Jerry Dincin, president of Final Exit Network, whose members are currently facing criminal charges. His thrust is the apparent elimination of large numbers of people in the name of purported "choice" ("Respect Choice of Suicide for Those Who Are Suffering").

In the Netherlands, assisted suicide and euthanasia are also promoted as providing a "choice." Moreover, Dutch law calls for performing these practices with the patient's consent. This is not, however, always done.

2005 is the most recent year for which we have an official report from the Dutch government. The report is written to defend its law, but nonetheless concedes that 550 patients (an average of 1.5 per day) were actively killed by Dutch doctors "without an explicit request."

Final Exit Network and other suicide promotion groups hold out the carrot of "choice" to induce the public into believing that assisted suicide and euthanasia are somehow benign. Those who believe that these practices will assure their "choice," or the "choice" of their family, are naive.

William Reichel, M.D., Affiliated Scholar, Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, D.C.

Link to the article in the Desmoines Register:

End-of-life guide a risk, MPs told

Jim Derksen
The following story appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press today. Rhonda Wiebe and Jim Derksen made a presentation in Ottawa to the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care yesterday. The focus of the presentation was the direction Canada needs to go to ensure dignity and equality for people with disabilities in relation to medical treatment and end-of-life care.

Wiebe and Derksen focused on the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons policy that gives the physician the right to determine the level of medical treatment or when treatment will be withheld. This policy has significant ramifications for people with disabilities.

The article stated:
End-of-life guide a risk, MPs told

By Jen Skerritt - June 17, 2010

Giving Manitoba doctors the power to pull the plug on a patient discriminates against disabled people who may fall short of the minimum standards to remain on life-support, local advocates told a Parliamentary committee Wednesday.

Jim Derksen and Rhonda Wiebe, Winnipeg members of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, said certain policies -- including Manitoba's end-of-life guidelines -- put disabled patients at risk of improper treatment because of common attitudes that "it's better to be dead than disabled." They spoke out in front of a federal palliative and compassionate care committee in Ottawa, and voiced their concerns about legalizing assisted suicide and other inequities in end-of-life care.

Manitoba's medical regulatory body is the first in Canada to introduce guidelines for physicians to follow when dealing with end-of-life issues. They say the minimum goal of life-sustaining treatment is for patients to recover to a level in which they can be aware of themselves, their environment and their existence.

In the event families and physicians don't agree life-support should be withdrawn, doctors have the final say.

Derksen said some patients with cognitive impairment or conditions such as dementia may not be able to articulate that awareness, forcing doctors to make a judgment call. He said there is no objective test or brain scan performed to determine whether a person meets the minimum standard to remain on life-support.

"In other words, if there's too much disability, the patient (does not) meet the minimum goal," Derksen said. "That, to me, is pretty wrong and probably unconstitutional."

His concerns over Manitoba's College of Physicians and Surgeons end-of-life guidelines come just shy of the second anniversary of Samuel Golubchuk's death. The 85-year-old man died in Grace Hospital on June 24, 2008, at the centre of a controversial debate over who should decide when a person is pulled off life-support. Golubchuk's eight-month battle to remain alive pitted a patient's right to continue treatment against Winnipeg physicians who argued continuing to care for the elderly man was "tantamount to torture." They said Golubchuk had no self-awareness and that their decision to terminate support is in no way biased against disabled persons.

The court injunction Golubchuk's children sought to keep him alive died with him, and the question of who gets to decide when someone dies hasn't been fully answered.

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority officials conducted a review of Golubchuk's case to shed light on how to better handle conflict between patients and physicians, but the report is still in draft stages.

A spokesman from the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Wiebe said she's concerned some medical professionals could be swayed by a common stereotype that living with a disability is "miserable." She said there should be more supports in place within the medical system to ensure disabled patients aren't treated differently. Wiebe said she wants the public to know a disabled person's quality of life is as good as anyone else's.

"We see that as a human rights violation because if you are a person with a cognitive disability you may not meet that standard," Wiebe said. "It shouldn't be a medical decision."
Link to the article in the Winnipeg Free Press:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The media appears to be trying to create an assisted suicide story in Canada?

I was just watching the CBC national news (June 16, 2010). They were reporting on a sad and unique story of a retired Quebec Judge who has been charged with the murder of his wife.

Jacques Delisle
Retired Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Jacques Delisle (75) was charged yesterday with homicide and unlawful possession of a loaded firearm in the November 12, 2009 death of his wife Nicole Rainville.

The report stated that the police had responded to a 911 call on November 12 where they found Rainville dead from a reported suicide. The report stated that Rainville had a stroke several years earlier.

The CBC report then stated that the case is suspected of being an assisted suicide case. This comment confused me since it is clear that euthanasia is a type of homicide in Canadian law and assisted suicide is prosecuted under Section 241 of the Criminal Code, the assisted suicide statute. The report also suggested that a careful review of the case occurred before Delisle was charged with homicide.

It appears clear to me that the CBC reporter has made an error in the report because the Director of Public Prosecutions would not charge Delisle with homicide if the act was in fact an assisted suicide.

Homicide occurs when someone kills another person.

Assisted suicide occurs when someone aids, abets (encourages) or counsels someone to commit suicide. Therefore the person commits suicide with the direct and intentional involvement of another person.

I thought, how could CBC make such a clear error in their reporting?

I found an article from today's National Post that also referred to assisted suicide. The article stated:
Martine Berube, a spokeswoman for Quebec's office of public prosecutions, said the murder charge has "sent shockwaves" through Quebec's legal community. "We checked, and this is the first time in Canada that a judge has been charged with murder," she said.

She noted that the Criminal Code makes no distinction between murder and assisted suicide. "Causing the death of someone is a homicide, and when it has been planned it is premeditated murder," she said. "Assisted suicide is not yet recognized in Canadian law."
The context of the statement by Martine Berube is not clear but it appears that she is responding to a question by a reporter. It is also likely that the comment was made in french and then translated incorrectly into english.

The Criminal Code makes no distinction between homicide and euthanasia in Canadian law. The Criminal Code clearly differentiates homicide from assisted suicide.

Homicide is Section 222 of the criminal code and Assisted Suicide is Section 241 of the criminal code.

This reminds me of the calls I received when the Fonteece case became known. Peter and Yanisa Fonteece were travelling west to find work when their car broke down in Thunder Bay. When Yanisa was found dead at the Super 8 motel in Thunder Bay, the media assumed it was an assisted suicide case and contacted the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition for a comment. Peter Fonteece was charged with criminal negligence in connection to his wife's suicide death. There was no evidence that Peter assisted her suicide in any manner.

Basically the media was prematurely refering to the Fonteece case as an assisted suicide when one didn't exist.

Is the media jumping to conclusions in order to create an assisted suicide case to stoke the fires of the assisted suicide debate in Quebec and Canada or is this simply an error by a reporter who doesn't understand the law?

Further to that, how did the CBC editors not catch the error in the story before it went to air?

The news story stated that there will be a discovery hearing on June 21. Hopefully the truth becomes known and is reported with the same vigour as the non-assisted suicide story.

Link to the article in the National Post: