Friday, October 28, 2011

Not Dead Yet Applauds PBS Documentary "Lives Worth Living"

Media Release
Not Dead Yet, a national disability organization that opposes legalization of assisted suicide, applauds the documentary “Lives Worth Living” which begins airing October 27 on PBS.

Rochester, NY (PRWEB) October 28, 201

Not Dead Yet, a national disability organization that opposes legalization of assisted suicide, applauds the documentary “Lives Worth Living” which begins airing October 27 on PBS. Produced and directed by Eric Neudel, “Lives Worth Living” combines rare historical footage with interviews of individuals with disabilities who led the development of the disability rights movement.

Canadian Lawsuit Demands Right to Commit Euthanasia by Non Doctors

Wesley Smith published the following blog article today concerning Carter case in Canada that would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. The following is a reprint of Wesley Smith's article.

The euthanasia agenda is not–and never has been–limited to the “terminally ill for whom nothing else can be done to alleviate suffering.” Some still pretend that is so as a political expedient, but many are becoming increasingly forthcoming about the radical scope of their actual goals.

Take a lawsuit filed in British Columbia and fast-tracked by Justice Smith (think you can detect which way the wind is blowing?). The BC Civil Liberties Association is not asking for the court to create a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide, but also for active euthanasia–even when administered by non doctors. From the Amended Notice of Civil Claim, Carter v. Attorney General of Canada:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Petition Campaign

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) gained intervention standing in the Carter v Attorney General of Canada case (Carter case), a case that intends to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada through the court. This case will begin to be heard by Justice Lynne Smith of the BC Supreme Court on Monday, November 14, 2011

Since the Carter case is likely to go to the Supreme Court of Canada, EPC has designed a petition campaign to the Attorney General of Canada (AG) supporting the AG’s strongest possible opposition to the legalization of euthanasia and/or assisted suicide in Canada.

The petition is available in two formats, a downloadable PDF format and an online petition. Both formats will be sent to the AG.

The printed petition is available in French and English and can be downloaded from the EPC website at. Link to the PDF petition for printing.

The online petition is available at: Link to the online petition.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Carter v. Attorney General of Canada Assisted Suicide case. A legal review.

Bradley Miller who is an Associate Professor of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario has written an interesting legal review of the legal precedents related to the Carter case that will be heard by Justice Lynne Smith in British Columbia beginning on November 14.

Link to the article.

Miller's article was published by the UK Constitutional Law Group, examines the Carter case based on their Statement of Claim and the fact that to be successful the Carter case will require the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn the Rodriguez decision from 1993.

Miller concludes that if the Supreme Court of Canada overturns the Rodriguez decision and thereby legalizes assisted suicide and/or euthanasia, that the Court would likely make that decision with the expectation that Parliament would create a legal framework to protect vulnerable Canadians. He then states that the court must take into consideration that history has proven that Parliament may not be politically capable of creating a legal framework leaving Canada in a legal vacuum, without legal protections.

Quebec committee on assisted suicide will promote palliative care and may disguise euthanasia as medical treatment.

The Canadian Press (CP) has reported that the Quebec government assisted suicide committee will likely promote increases in support for palliative care and for the training of doctors, and I assume medical professionals, who are caring for the dying.

The Quebec committee is running behind schedule. The report was originally anticipated for release in November 2011 and now it is likely to be released in February 2012.

The CP press article also stated that suggestions to amend physicians' codes of ethics will be made and that information be provided for Quebecers concerning their rights, including the right to refuse treatment.

The French report is a little different than the english version. It states that the Dying with Dignity committee is developing a "new model".

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is concerned about the suggestions to amend physicians' codes of ethics. Euthanasia and assisted suicide is sometimes hidden within imprecise language. The prime example is the bill that is currently being debated in the South Australian parliament that reports to concern the provision of end-of-life treatment and care, but includes specific language that allows a physician to intentionally kill a patient.

Vermont writer states: don't waste time on assisted suicide

A Vermont citizen, wrote the following letter to the Times Argus paper stating: Don't waste time on assisted suicide. The letter said:
Proponents of doctor-prescribed suicide recently (Oct. 6) held a pep rally at the Pavilion Auditorium as part of their ongoing effort to pressure legislators into taking up their cause when the Legislature returns in 2012. Reporter Dirk Van Susteren covered the event for Vt Digger and described it as a pep rally without much pep, and went on to note that the rally was attended by a mere 20 gray-haired supporters. 

I hope the Legislature ignores the demands of so few and focuses instead on the huge financial and personal losses caused by Tropical Storm Irene, the need to repair our infrastructure, create jobs and answer legitimate concerns about the new healthcare law.  

Legislative leaders would do well to avoid a repeat of the 2007 House debate over a doctor-prescribed suicide bill that ended in its defeat — but only after a drawn-out, emotionally divisive debate. Now is the time for Vermonters to work together and get our state back on track. 

Brenda Pepin Montpelier
Link to a previous article - assisted suicide bill unlikely to pass in Vermont.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Assisted Suicide being proposed in Vermont - Again!

If there is one thing you can count on in Vermont it is that there will be an assisted suicide bill introduced in the Legislative session.

How many times does the Vermont legislature need to defeat a bill or determine that the "supposed safeguards" are not sufficient to protect Vermont citizens?

Assisted Suicide in not legal in Hawaii.

An article written by Jennifer Popik, J.D. who is a lawyer with the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics confirms that assisted suicide is not legal in Hawaii. Popik wrote:

Jennifer Popik
Earlier this month, Hawaii Death With Dignity, a group which promotes doctor-prescribed death, held a meeting at their state capital announcing Hawaii was the 4th state to legalize assisted suicide. This is flat-out incorrect on several grounds.

First, assisted suicide has been specifically legalized in only two states – Oregon and Washington. In addition, due to a 2010 court decision in Montana, a physician there who aided in a suicide would, at a criminal or civil trial, be allowed to try to claim that the victim consented.  

Second, despite well over one hundred legislative efforts, pro-assisted suicide forces have yet to be successful in any state legislature. They have come close to victory many times, even in Hawaii, but have thus far only been successful using two ballot initiative campaigns. So why would Hawaii Death With Dignity announce the state had suddenly legalized doctor prescribed death?

The abuse of "Do Not Resuscite Orders" in the UK

A letter to the editor - Hits the Nail on the Head when the writer challenges concept that assisted suicide will be "safe" in the UK when stories abound concerning the inappropriate use of "Do not Resuscitate" orders

The following letter was published in The Telegraph in response to an article concerning a report that outlined medical abuse of seniors in the UK.
Sir - In an age when we hear endless calls for a “right to die”, you reveal that in many hospitals the obligation to die is being imposed on elderly patients without their knowledge, and without the consent of their relatives, by doctors writing “do not resuscitate” in their notes (report, October 16).

Let us beware campaigns for “assisted suicide”, sugar-coated with reassurances that no one would dream of imposing it on vulnerable patients, backed up by pledges of “strict safeguards”.
Ann Farmer
Woodford Green, Essex
This letter reminds me of the hollow call by the Quebec College of Physicians and Surgeons stating that we need to legalize euthanasia because it is happening already. The fact is, that if it is happening already it is because physicians are abusing the proper use of medical techniques.

We don't legalize killing because of abuse, we make sure that killing is not legalized in order to prevent the ultimate abuse.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Carter case seeks to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

By Alex Schadenberg, executive director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On November 14, the BC Civil Liberties (BCCLA) Carter case, a case that intends to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada will begin to be heard in Vancouver by Justice Lynne Smith.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) obtained intervenor status in the BCCLA Carter case. EPC intends to defend the right of people with disabilities, those with chronic conditions and mental illness and the elderly from having euthanasia or assisted suicide imposed upon them.


Press Release                                   For Immediate Release

Thursday, October 20, 2011

BC Supreme Court Justice Lynne Smith ordered that the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) and EPC - BC are granted standing to intervene in the euthanasia and assisted suicide case of Carter et al. v. Attorney General Canada which is presently scheduled for a four week trial to begin on November 14, 2011 in the BC Supreme Court. The case seeks to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

EPC Executive Director Alex Schadenberg states as follows:
“The decision granting our organization standing will enable us to represent our constituency of people with disabilities, seniors, healthcare practitioners and members of different cultural and religious backgrounds in order meet our mandate to preserve and enforce social, legal and medical safeguards prohibiting euthanasia and assisted suicide and promoting compassionate healthcare respectful of the lives, dignity and autonomy of vulnerable people.”
 Schadenberg notes that:
“This issue was debated last year in the Canadian Parliament and consistent with earlier Senate Committee reports, Parliament rejected Bill C-384 overwhelmingly a bill which would have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.”

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Massachusetts: Assisted suicide is a recipe for elder abuse; do not be deceived.

This article is a reprint of the article that Margaret Dore published yesterday on her blog. Link.

Margaret Dore
By Margaret Dore

A ballot initiative to legalize physician-assisted suicide via a "death with dignity" act is now in the signature-gathering stage in Massachusetts.[1]

Physician-assisted suicide is legal in just two states: Oregon and Washington.[2] In both states, acts to legalize the practice were enacted via sound-bite ballot initiative campaigns.[3] No such law has made it through the scrutiny of a legislature. Just this year, bills to legalize assisted suicide were defeated in Montana, New Hampshire and Hawaii.[4] Just this year, Idaho enacted a statute to strengthen its law against assisted suicide.[5]

The proposed Massachusetts act is a recipe for elder abuse. Key provisions include that an heir, who will benefit financially from a patient's death, is allowed to participate as a witness to help sign the patient up for the lethal dose. See Section 21 of the act, allowing one of two witnesses on the lethal dose request form to be an heir. This situation invites undue influence and coercion. See act here.

Once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, there is no oversight. The act does not require witnesses when the lethal dose is administered. See act here. Without disinterested witnesses, an opportunity is created for an heir, or another person who will benefit from the patient's death, to administer the lethal dose to him without his consent. Even if he struggled who would know?

In Massachusetts, proponents are framing the issue as religious. In Washington state, proponents used a similar tactic and even religious slurs to distract voters from the pitfalls of legalization. What the proposed law said and did was all but forgotten.
Do not be deceived.

* * *
Margaret Dore is an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. She is also President of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted suicide. Her publications include Margaret K. Dore, "Physician-Assisted Suicide: A Recipe for Elder Abuse and the Illusion of Personal Choice," The Vermont Bar Journal, Winter 2011.
* * *
[1]  To view the proposed Massachusetts initiative, click here.
[2]  In Montana, there is a court decision that gives doctors who cause or aid a suicide, a potential defense to criminal prosecution for homicide. The decision does not legalize assisted suicide by giving doctors or anyone else immunity from criminal prosecution and civil liability. To learn more, go here.   The assisted suicide promotion group, Compassion & Choices, has a new campaign claiming that assisted suicide is "already legal" in Hawaii. This is an odd claim given that bills to legalize assisted suicide in Hawaii have repeatedly failed, most recently this year. See the most recent bill in Hawaii.
[3]  Oregon's physician-assisted suicide act was enacted via Ballot Measure 16. Washington's act was enacted via Initiative 1000.
[4]  In Montana, SB 167 was tabled in Committee and subsequently died on April 28, 2011. In New Hampshire, HB 513 was defeated on March 16, 2011. In Hawaii, SB 803 was defeated on February 7, 2011.
[5]  On July 1 2011, Idaho's new statute strengthening Idaho law against assisted suicide went into effect.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition requests intervention status in Carter case

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) has requested to become an Intervener in the BC Civil Liberties Association – Carter case. The Carter case seeks to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide through the court.

The EPC is a broadly based national coalition of groups and individuals that exists to build a social barrier to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Our primary positions include that:
* The current laws are a necessary safeguard to protect people with disabilities, the elderly and other vulnerable people from euthanasia and assisted suicide.
* The current laws are constitutional based on the decision of the Rodriquez case.
* On April 21, 2010, parliament defeated Bill C-384 by a vote of 228 to 59, a bill that would have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

For further comment contact:
Hugh Scher - EPC legal counsel at: 416-816-6115
Alex Schadenberg – EPC national Executive Director at: 519-851-1434
Dr Will Johnston – EPC – British Columbia President at: 604-220-2042

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition –

Links to previous articles concerning the Carter case.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Writing a blog on a contentious issue will naturally get responses from people who agree and disagree with the blog comment. I have never had a problem with disagreements with my comments, but I have been faced with the dilemma of whether or not to print comments from people named Anonymous, who make defamatory statements while opposing my position.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Assisted Suicide bill unlikely to pass in Vermont.

Last Friday I wrote a blog article titled: Vermont Assisted Suicide bill being pushed AGAIN.

Today I am reporting that it is unlikely that the assisted suicide bill will be debated in Vermont in 2012 because the majority of the Vermont Senators do not giving doctors the right to prescribe suicide.

An article from the True Dignity Vermont site states:

Despite the continuing campaign to make assisted suicide legal in Vermont, the Burlington Free Press reported yesterday that the Vermont legislature is unlikely even to consider the issue in its 2012 session. The reason: the votes are not there in the Senate to pass the bill introduced last February. If this bill dies, its passing will mark the ninth failed effort to pass assisted suicide legislation in Vermont. The people who want assisted suicide are nothing if not persistent. So far, they have not been able to wear us down. It is up to the people of Vermont to keep it that way.
Below in italics are the relevant paragraphs from the article, which can be read in its entirety.
Will the Vermont Legislature take up the issue next year? It doesn’t seem any more likely than this year, when the bill never surfaced because of a lack of support in the Senate. House Speaker Shap Smith, D-Morristown, on Monday reiterated, “We’re not going to move the bill of there’s not support in the House and Senate. It’s not clear that there’s support in the Senate.” 
Smith said he and Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell, D-Windsor, have not had any new conversations about reviving the bill next year. 
Campbell indicated Monday nothing has changed from last session. He said though he personally opposes the legislation, he wouldn’t block it from coming up if others in the Senate wanted to. That’s not likely to happen.
True Dignity Vermont and its allies, have done an incredible job at informing Vermont politicians - Why assisted suicide should not be legalized.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) requests intervener status in BCCLA Carter case.

EPC legal counsel, Hugh Scher, indicated that the EPC application to be granted intervener standing by the BC Court has been filed. EPC is awaiting the response from the court.

On April 21, 2010, Bill C-384, a bill that would have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada, was defeated in parliament by a resounding vote of 228 to 59. The suicide lobby has now taken their case to the BC courts because they were unable to convince their elected representatives to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The BCCLA - Carter case seeks to legalize assisted suicide, whereby doctors prescribe suicide, and physician directed euthanasia, where physicians approve the administration of a lethal injection.

We consider the BCCLA Carter case to be dangerous to public safety and a recipe for elder abuse and the abuse of people with disabilities and people with chronic conditions.

The language used by the BCCLA in the Carter case, if accepted, would not limit euthanasia or assisted suicide to people who are terminally ill, and it would not restrict the acts of euthanasia or assisted suicide to physicians. People with disabilities and those with chronic conditions could be offered euthanasia or assisted suicide instead to the provision of systems and supports that enable these people to live with equality.

The scourge of elder abuse has become a national concern and the prevention of elder abuse has become a national priority. Elder abuse is significantly under-reported with research indicating that up to 70% of the abuse being done by family members or people to whom the victim is dependent upon.

The language used by the BCCLA case will open new avenues for elder abuse and abuse of people with disabilities because it would enable family members and care givers to subtly pressure or coerce a vulnerable people into "choosing" death by lethal dose. For many, the choice of euthanasia and assisted suicide will be an illusion in a life that is related to abuse and neglect.

The EPC rejects the idea that it is somehow necessary to legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide to have a dignified death. A parliamentary committee that has investigated and is making recommendations for improvements in Palliative care, Elder Abuse prevention, Suicide prevention and the needs of Canadians with disabilities, is due to release its report in November 2011. The BC court needs to reject the legalization of "assisted death" and instead it needs to demand that the government improve the quality and availability of care that is provided to its citizens.

In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, the suicide rate has steadily climbed since 2000 with Oregon's suicide rate now being 35% higher than the national average. This corresponds with other trends that suggest that the social acceptance of assisted suicide creates a suicide contagion effect.

The EPC is particularly concerned with the language of the BCCLA - Notice of Application which indicates a particularly negative attitude to the lives of people with disabilities. Living with a disability is not a life not worth living but rather a challenge to society to enable people with disabilities to live with equality and acceptance.

For more information contact the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at:
Alex Schadenberg, executive director: (519) 851-1434 (cell) or (519) 439-3348 (office)
Dr. Will Johnston, President - EPC - BC: (604) 220-2042

Suicide lobby is spinning the truth about assisted suicide in Hawaii.

Compassion & Choices, known by Not Dead Yet researcher, Stephen Drake as Conflation & Con Jobs is once again spinning a lie, this time in Hawaii.

Barbara Coombs Lee claims in an article in the Huffington Post that physician assisted suicide is legal in Hawaii.

This is an interesting claim considering that in the past few years there have been several bills to legalize assisted suicide in Hawaii, that were all defeated. During the most recent legislative session a bill to legalize assisted suicide was defeated in the state Senate Health Committee by a 4 to 0 vote.

It seems that Compassion & Choices, and a few assisted suicide lobby cronies, held a meeting in Hawaii to find approval for their theory that assisted suicide is somehow legal in Hawaii.

Coombs Lee's argument seems very similar to the failed attempt to have the Connecticut court agree that assisted suicide is already legal and the failed attempt in Idaho to have assisted suicide declared legal.

Coombs Lee and her Conflation & Con Jobs team seem to follow the philosophy
"If you say it enough, people will believe you."
Margaret Dore, the incredible legal researcher and Washington State elder law attorney has written a response to Coombs Lee that definitively proves that assisted suicide is not legal in Hawaii.

Vermont assisted suicide bill being pushed again.

A political pep rally was held on October 5 in Montpelier Vermont to once again promote a bill to legalize assisted suicide in Vermont.

Governor Peter Shumlin
During the 2010 election campaign, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who had received political donations from the "Death with Dignity Action Fund" ran on a platform that included a promise to legalize assisted suicide in the New England state. In the 2011 legislative session, a bill to legalize assisted suicide did not get the support it needed and basically "died a dignified death".

True Dignity Vermont celebrated the defeat of the bill by pointing out how a coalition of people from all parts of the political and social perspective have been able to defeat the suicide lobby who have been well-financed.

Three years ago, a coalition of groups and individuals soundly defeated a bill to legalize assisted suicide by a vote of 82 to 63. That bill was co-sponsored by Shumlin.

The "Pep Rally" for a new assisted suicide bill had everything but the pep. An article in the Vermont Digger reported that 20 people came out to hear suicide advocate Nancy Niedzielski from Washington state promote assisted suicide. The article stated:

Seniors need Safe Havens from Elder Abuse.

Mike King, the national president and CEO of Volunteers of America wrote an important advocacy article that was published in the Huffington Post on October 4, concerning the need for Safe Havens for Elderly Americans.

King wrote about the recognized growth in the scourge of elder abuse within our culture and the fact that seniors who are stuck within an abusive family relationship need a safe haven to protect them and give them an opportunity to become free from abuse.

King wrote about his recent experience in Sacramento where a new Senior Safe Haven has been established. He states:
On a recent trip to Sacramento, I was introduced first-hand to the rising need among the frail elderly to have access to safe places where they can escape abusive situations. Leo McFarland, Volunteers of America's chief executive in the region, showed me their new Senior Safe House -- a residential home providing shelter and support for abused seniors who previously had been showing up at homeless shelters.
King introduces us to Beverly, a retired army nurse, who was abused by her daughter. He states:
as shocking as these stories is the fact that the Sacramento Senior Safe House is one of only a handful of places nationwide established specifically to help older people escaping abusive situations.
King then tells the readers about the problem of elder abuse.
While we all would agree that elder abuse is dreadful and should be stopped, we have failed to dedicate the necessary resources to actually combat it in an effective way. In March 2010, Congress passed the first comprehensive federal elder abuse prevention law. This was an important victory for those of us advocating on behalf of seniors, but more than a year later, the law is now pointless because no money has been dedicated to enforce it.

To this day, elder abuse remains the only form of family violence for which the federal government provides virtually no resources. What resources are dedicated come from cash-strapped cities and states. Abused dogs and cats in our society receive more attention and money.

By many measures, elder abuse in this country is getting worse. According to a recent National Institute of Justice study, almost 11 percent of people ages 60 and older (5.7 million Americans) faced some sort of elder abuse in the past year. A 2009 study estimated that 14.1 percent of non-institutionalized older adults nationwide had experienced some form of abuse in the previous year. A 2009 report by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse estimates that seniors lose a minimum of $2.5 billion each year from financial exploitation.
King then explains how the growing demographic of elderly citizens will effect the care and attitude towards seniors. King writes:
Today's elderly also come some a generation that values quiet dignity and would rather "remain calm and carry on" than complain. Because of this, many victims of abuse suffer in silence rather than seek help. Since they're not complaining -- and because our society over the past generation has adopted an out of sight, out of mind mentality toward care for the elderly -- this problem doesn't register in the minds of most people. It certainly wasn't on my radar until recently.

We need places like the Sacramento Senior Safe House in every community in the United States." ...

The number of seniors in abusive, and even life-threatening, situations will only get worse as our population ages. The time is now to build the infrastructure to support their needs and provide a safe place for them to call home.
I share the concerns of King and I agree that seniors, and other vulnerable people need "Safe Havens" and other types of societal protections. I also recognize how societal attitudes that lead to the scourge of elder abuse will also, if legalized, lead to people being killed by euthanasia or assisted suicide, under the guise of "choice".

When mom is being constantly told that she is a burden, or that her death could not come soon enough, or that she should end the "suffering" that she calls life, then the supposed "choice" or euthanasia or assisted suicide becomes the social obligation that is being imposed on her.

The practical reality for many is that choice is an illusion once euthanasia and assisted suicide becomes a common practice.

Protect our seniors, oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide.

BCCLA Carter case will include many sad experiences

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Associated Press wrote an article concerning the affidavit from Susan Bracken, a woman from Barrie ON submitted as evidence to the BCCLA Carter case that will begin to be heard on November 14, 2011.

The BCCLA Carter case is attempting to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide through the court. There have been several very upsetting stories that have been submitted to the court as evidence that euthanasia and assisted suicide should be legalized to allow people to die a dignified death.

I have read Susan Bracken's, story concerning the death of her husband, and my heart is torn by it, but I fail to understand how her story is a good reason to legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide.

The question to me is why did her husband need to suffer in this manner? There are many things that are being done to enable a comfortable death, without intentionally causing that person's death. Excellent end-of-life and chronic care must be provided in Canada, and other countries before we consider legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide. Excellent end-of-life care exists, but it needs to be more readily available.

The concept of giving a physician or medical care-giver the right to lethally inject or provide a lethal dose to a person to supposedly eliminate suffering is confusing when we further learn how it is often a lack of training or the neglect of the medical care-giver that led to the uncontrolled suffering in the first place.

Bracken also writes about the concerns that she, and others have, related to the aging population.

I share her concern with how we care for people who live with chronic conditions, elderly dependent people and people with disabilities. There is a growing prevalence of elder abuse and abuse of the vulnerable within our society. Governments are taking action to mitigate the scourge of elder abuse but the abuse of the elderly and other vulnerable people is related to societal attitudes. These are the same societal attitudes that lead to the abuse that will occur if doctors, and others, are given the right to intentionally cause death.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition believes in the importance of societal change and improvement. We are looking forward to the November 2011 release of the report from the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassion Care. This all-party parliamentary report is written in response to consultations from leaders and people from across Canada. The report will reportedly, make recommendations concerning the effective changes that relate to the concerns that Susan Bracken is expressing with respect to the death of her husband and the type of deaths that we will all experience in the future.

We need to provide the necessary care. We do not need to give physicians, and possibly others, the right to cause our deaths.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Morphine kills the pain, not the patient.

A recent article that was published in Medical News Today, quotes Dr. Nigel Sykes, of the St. Christopher's Hospice in London UK referring to the proper use of morphine and how Morphine kills the pain not the patient. Morphine, even when abused, is not an effective killer and it is not used for euthanasia by doctors in the few countries that have legalized euthanasia.

The article states:
Professional and public anxieties about the effects of morphine continue to hinder adequate prescribing of this vital painkiller for genuine pain relief, claims a Comment in this week's edition of The Lancet
Nigel Sykes, of St Christopher's Hospice, London, UK, says that the notorious Dr Harold Shipman's* use of morphine as a murder weapon has further increased disquiet among UK medical professionals.

Dr Sykes claims that the best known fact about morphine among the public and physicians is that it can be addictive, when in fact less than one in 10 000 patients prescribed the drug as part of treatment becomes addicted.

He adds: "For physicians, the second best-known fact is that morphine can precipitate respiratory depression. As a consequence, if offered enough confidentiality, clinicians can be readily found who will confess to having shortened the life of their patients to achieve pain control."

The Comment goes on to say that it is hardly surprising in light of these points that the media view everyday medical practice for severe pain control as increasing the dosage of morphine until the patient dies.

Dr Sykes welcomes the recent study from the US National Hospice Outcomes Project, which studies morphine/opioid use and survival at the end of life - as it provides facts with which to explode the myths about morphine.

The study assessed 725 patients with end-stage cancer, lung disease or heart disease, and found that length of survival was not linked to either absolute or percentage change in dose of morphine or other opioids.

No combination of factors was capable of explaining a variation of more than 8% in survival time, which points to an overwhelming influence of the individual's disease severity.

Only patients who have no experience of opioid treatment are at significant risk of respiratory depression.

Dr Sykes says: "A patient with moderate-to-severe chronic pain, malignant in origin or not, who is given the incremental dose-titration practised in pain and palliative care centres is not at such risk. A physician who truly is killing his or her patient in the name of pain relief is not merciful, just incompetent."

He adds: "This problem matters because underprescribing of opioids remains a major barrier to effective pain control."

Dr Sykes also expresses his concerns for pain relief in developing countries, saying: "If ineffective pain management is still an issue in high-income countries, it is nearly universal in low-income countries where access to morphine is limited or absent, but where most people dying from cancer or AIDS reside."
It is important that we always maintain that the proper use of opioids does not cause death and should not be confused with acts of euthanasia, which do intentionally cause death. It is not necessary to legalize euthanasia but it is necessary to increase the level of training and support for good palliative care practices.

Legalized Assisted Suicide Would Make Elder Abuse Epidemic Worse

Wesley J Smith
Wesley Smith, one of the leading bioethicists in the United States, recently wrote a blog article concerning Elder Abuse and Assisted Suicide. Smith quotes from The New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence phone survey. Considering the increased incidence of Elder Abuse within society and the growing push for assisted suicide, the comments that are published by Smith are incredibly important.

Link to Wesley Smith's original blog comment.

Legalized Assisted Suicide Would Make Elder Abuse Epidemic Worse

By Wesley J Smith - October 2, 2011

In Euthanasialand–the fantasy world depicted by assisted suicide advocates–every family is loving and caring of their ill and elderly members.

In the real world, elder abuse is a very real and growing problem. Indeed, a new MacArther Genius Grant Award recipient warned in Congressional testimony earlier this year, that elder abuse is a present and growing problem. From “Testimony of Marie-Therese Connolly Before the Senate Special Committee on Aging, hearing on Justice for All: Ending Elder Abuse, Neglect and Financial Exploitation. March 2, 2011:
The New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence phone survey estimates that 7.6% of people over 60 have experienced elder abuse, neglect or financial exploitation in the past year. A nationwide study using a similar random digit dialing methodology found a one year prevalence rate of about 10 percent for abuse and neglect. The human toll these numbers represent is vast: 3.35 to 4.41 million of phone-answering, community dwelling Americans who passed a basic capacity screen have experienced some form of abuse, neglect or exploitation in the last year.
The situation is even bleaker for seniors with dementia:
People with dementia suffer staggering rates of mistreatment. A 2010 study by University of California, Irvine researchers found that 47% of people with dementia who were cared for at home by family members were mistreated. These findings are echoed in several other studies. Many of these studies find high rates of verbal, psychological or emotional abuse. Although physical abuse would seem to be more detrimental than verbal abuse, a 2010 Howard University study found that verbal abuse took an even worse toll on the mental health of women age 50 – 79 than physical abuse, indicating that we should take it just as seriously as other types of mistreatment. The phone surveys also do not include the approximately 2.5 million people who live in facilities, and the prevalence of abuse, neglect, and exploitation in these settings is especially difficult to ascertain.
Connolly concluded her testimony with a warning:
With 77 million baby boomers aging, dementia on the rise, and caregiver shortages looming, experts agree that “the growing crisis of elder abuse” has significant implications for the health, well-being and economic security of millions of Americans. Elder abuse is not just an aging issue. It’s a baby boomer issue too, for the millions of people struggling to promote the safety and well being of both their parents and their children. By not meaningfully acknowledging, let alone addressing elder abuse, we are sending an insidious message that suffering in old age is somehow less worthy of our best effort.
This is all very sobering. Anyone who would legalize assisted suicide in the face of the these hard truths believes in Euthanasialand. But the rest of us, who live in Realityland, should heed this warning and reject legalizing assisted suicide out of hand. Even if it could work in theory–which I reject–in the here and how, assisted suicide would just become another way of abusing seniors. The Myrna Lebov assisted suicide–facilitated by her husband, George Delury to put her out of his misery– serves as an apt example of how easy it is to hide abuse behind a false mask of “compassion.”