Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rasouli case may be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada

Rasouli Family
 The Globe and Mail has been featuring articles on end-of-life care and decisions in Canada. An article, written by Lisa Priest on November 29, focused on the Rasouli case, a case which concerned who has the right to withdraw life-sustaining treatment. The doctors, in this case, are argueing that they have the unilateral right to withdraw life-sustaining treatment and the family was arguing and the courts agreed, that the doctors require consent before they can withdraw life-sustaining treatment.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition intervened in the Rasouli case at the Ontario Court of Appeal. We argued that doctors are required to obtain consent before withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, and when a disagreement occurs between the family and the doctors, both parties have the right to have their case brought before the Consent and Capacity board. Link to an article on the case.

The Cost of Taking a Life

I was going through my emails and found this excellent letter to the editor by Winnipeg citizen Anna Desilets. This letter was printed in the Winnipeg Free on November 19, 2011 as a Letter of the day.

The letter stated:
The cost of taking a life

Re: Ottawa begged to decriminalize euthanasia, (Nov. 16). Those seeking the "right" to die are in fact seeking a so-called right to be killed at a time of their own choosing.

The argument used is a familiar one: "It's my body and I can do with it what I want." Yet by the time a person wishes to die, they are unable to take their own lives and must oblige others to kill them. Their dying thus becomes not a mere personal question, but one for the society, which must supply both the killer and the means.

How much must a person, be it a doctor or other, have to harden him or herself to take another's life? What does this killing do to the killer? At a time of increasing older and ill populations and decreasing health-care dollars, how long will it take for the ill to feel the subtle message that their living is a burden to be disposed of?

I am a volunteer at a long-term health-care facility and am in awe at the courage of people living with long-term illnesses. They deserve our help to live well in spite of illness. They deserve our compassionate care, our love, our palliative care. Killing negates all positive thinking and acting. We would, as a society, be well-advised to mark the cautionary words of John Updike: "Death, once invited in, leaves its muddy boot prints everywhere."

International Day of Persons with Disabilities marked by conflicting messages

News Release

Beaumont, Alberta, November 30th 2011

Mark Pickup
The United Nation’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities will be observed globally on December 3rd 2011. Canadian advocate for disability inclusion, Mark Davis Pickup applauds UN initiatives to give people with disabilities a voice in their communities and countries as well as inclusion and afforded full equality rights. Pickup observed that although Canada has made strides in areas of accessibility, citizens with disabilities are getting mixed messages. He stated:  
“This past October the House of Commons gave its unanimous support to a National Suicide Prevention Strategy and now in November the British Columbia Supreme Court is considering a challenge (Carter case) to whether Canada’s law against assisted suicide should be overturned for the terminally and chronically ill and disabled.”
Pickup is chronically ill with aggressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and is electric wheelchair dependent. He continued:
“Let’s understand the message people like me will hear if the BC court rules in favour of the assisted suicide lobby. The healthy population should receive suicide prevention when suicidal. The old, sick and disabled get help committing suicide.”
Mark Pickup supports the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition’s intervener standing in the Carter case to protect people with disabilities, the chronically ill and elders. Their efforts to preserve Canada’s laws that protect people from euthanasia and assisted suicide must be supported. Pickup believes that laws and public policy must promote life with dignity for people with disabilities through supports for Canadians with disabilities to reach their full potential as individuals and citizens. Ensuring access to education, transportation, appropriate housing, recreational opportunities and other forms of reasonable accommodation can help full inclusion in society.

Mark Davis Pickup
4417-51 Street,
Beaumont, AB
Tel: (780) 929-9230    

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Canadian Assisted Suicide case sparks dueling letters on Disability

Diane Coleman, the founder of the disability rights group Not Dead Yet, has written an excellent blog article concerning attitudes and articles about people with disabilities in relation to the Carter case. The article that was published today on the Not Dead Yet blog is titled: Canadian Assisted Suicide Case Sparks Dueling Letters on Disability. The article starts by explaining what the Carter case intends to do. Diane quotes an article that was partly written by myself she writes:

Diane Coleman
The public debate is well underway.  On November 13, the Calgary Herald published an op ed by three opponents of legalization entitled “Why we should be afraid of assisted suicide.”  The authors describe the case as follows:
Carter vs. Attorney General of Canada brings a constitutional challenge to Canada's laws prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia. The case also seeks to legalize these practices as a medical treatment. Last year, a bill in Parliament seeking a similar result was overwhelmingly defeated…. The vote was 228 to 59.

Carter seeks to allow a medical practitioner or a person "acting under the general supervision of a medical practitioner" to assist a patient's suicide. … In the context of traditional medical treatment, "a person acting under the general supervision of a medical practitioner" would include a family member.

The Eyeless "I" of Assisted Suicide

Disability Rights Activist, Mark Pickup, wrote this response to a woman who asked for his thoughts on the legalization of assisted suicide or euthanasia.

Mark Pickup
A Canadian court is considering a challenge to the nation’s law prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia. Consequently the topic is in the news. I received an email from a woman who doesn’t know what to think as the assisted suicide camp is pulling out all their compassionate sounding euphemisms to promote death. She wanted my thoughts. Below is the text of my comments to her: 
Assisted suicide is not about pain control. Palliative care in the 21st Century has come so far as to be able to eliminate virtually all physical pain. Assisted suicide is about the illusion of personal control even over death.
Death is not a right, it is an eventuality that will visit us all regardless of what any law may state. It is life that must be protected. All the great human rights documents such as the American Declaration of Independence, the UN’s Declaration of Universal Human Rights and even Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms place the Right to Life as the first legal right. Why? Without the Right to Life assured all other rights become arbitrary and uncertain.

A truly progressive and compassionate society is concerned about life with dignity – especially for those who do not have it. Death with dignity is not an event, it is the natural conclusion of having lived with dignity. Dignity is not achieved by withholding water and food or injecting poison into a person’s bloodstream when they are at their lowest point. That is not dignity: it is profound abandonment! We have a right to expect the best palliative care and pain management.

Ask yourself how assisted suicide acceptance serves the Common Good? It doesn’t. It will put vulnerable people at risk.

The push for assisted suicide is the natural conclusion of personal autonomy gone amuck.

Gloria Taylor wants assisted suicide for herself which is different from suicide because it obviously requires assistance — a coarsening of some other person’s conscience. The eyeless “I” of assisted suicide1 does not consider the consequences to others.

Autonomy is diametrically opposed to community. The natural conclusion to unfettered autonomy is the right to even self-destruction. That is what is being considered in the BC Supreme courtroom as I write these words. Acceptance of the autonomy of suicide (assisted or otherwise) is to reject the interconnectedness of community. It proclaims with a final shout and sneer, “I am my own island!”

Canada is not 33 million little islands entire unto ourselves. As the 17th Century poet and divine, John Donne wrote “No man is an island entire unto itself. Every man is a part of the continent, a part of the main. … any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Only independence and autonomy — the eyeless “I” — sees self and self alone. Interdependence and the interconnectedness of community call for consideration for others — especially the weakest.

You see, I do not have a right to ask or demand something that may hurt others. The independence of the individual must only exist within the interdependence of the community. If the desire of the individual threatens the security of whole then individual desires must give way to the greater interest of the community. Otherwise we are only left with 30-million little islands without the whole of a continent, a nation, a community that protects the interests of the weakest against the interests of the powerful.

And so the choice before us is stark: Independent and autonomy versus interdependence and community. Laws must protect the weakest and that’s what Canada’s law against assisted suicide does.

Monday, November 28, 2011

United States Overview

By Margaret Dore - Choice is an Illusion. Link to the original article.
There are two states where physician-assisted suicide is legal: Oregon and Washington. In these states, statutes give criminal and civil immunity to doctors and others who participate in a qualified patient's suicide.  Oregon's act was enacted via a ballot initiative in 1997. Washington's act was enacted via a ballot initiative in 2008 and went into effect in 2009.  Washington's act is modeled on Oregon's act. 

In Oregon and Washington, assisted-suicide laws apply to "terminal" patients, defined in terms of having less than six months to live. Such persons are not necessarily dying. Consider, for example, Jeanette Hall, alive 11 years after her terminal diagnosis. More recent proposals to legalize assisted suicide have included people who are clearly not dying. See here, here and here.   

In MontanaBaxter v. State gives doctors who assist a patient's suicide a potential defense to prosecution for homicide. Baxter does not legalize assisted suicide by giving doctors or anyone else immunity from criminal and civil liability although proponents argue that this is the case. This year, a bill to reverse Baxter's potential defense was defeated. In Montana, the leading group against assisted suicide is Montanans Against Assisted Suicide & For Living with Dignity.

This year, Idaho enacted a statute strengthening its law against assisted suicide. This was after proponents falsely claimed that assisted suicide was already legal. For more information, click here.

This year, bills to legalize physician-assisted suicide were defeated in Montana, Hawaii and New Hampshire. In Vermont, identical legalization bills were introduced in the House and Senate, but not put on for vote before the legislative session ended.

In Hawaii, where a bill to legalize assisted suicide was defeated this year as well as in prior years, proponents claim that assisted suicide is legal. For more information, click here. See also Hawaii Against Assisted Suicide & For Living with Dignity.

In Connecticut, a lawsuit to legalize physician-assisted suicide was dismissed in 2010.

In Massachusetts, there is a pending ballot initiative to enact an Oregon/Washington style act that applies to "terminal" patients defined as having less than six months to live. For more information, see The Massachusetts Assisted Suicide Initiative:  "Choice" is an Illusion.

In the US, no assisted suicide/euthanasia law has ever made it through the scrutiny of a legislature despite more than 100 attempts.

It's too dangerous to allow others to kill us

An interesting article by Brian Purdy, a freelance writer and former Crown Prosecuter, was published today in the Calgary Herald titled: It's too dangerous to allow others to kill us. Brian wrote about the death of his mother and examines the questions of who would make the decision to end her life and why?

Purdy begins his article by stating:
The debate about the legalization of assisting suicide is in the news again, with another court case approaching the Supreme Court of Canada. 
There are two points of view. The first is that every person has a right to end one's own life, so why should it not be legal to assist someone to do so? A person at the end of life can get help to end suffering and an unbearable dwindling away to an inevitable end. Why should a doctor or anyone else be made a criminal for an act of mercy? 
The second view is that legalizing assisting a suicide is a dangerous slippery slope. Lord Acton, who famously said "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," also said something else about power. He said, "do not grant powers on the assumption they will not be abused."

Friday, November 25, 2011

TV Ontario show debated the one-sided report from the Royal Society of Canada.

I was on the TV Ontario - The Agenda show - with Steve Paikin last night (November 24, 2011).

It was interesting that Udo Schuklenk, who was the chair of the Royal Society of Canada End-of-Life Decision Making panel, was uncomfortable with the one-sided membership of the panel. 

After the show he stated to the rest of us that:
"he would have assembled the panel differently."
Read the comment by John Coppard on the TV Ontario website concerning this show. (Link).

To find the video of the show go to (link) and scroll down to the November 24, 2011 program on euthanasia and assisted suicide. If not try this (link).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands increased by 19% in 2010.

Recent news articles concerning the push by the euthanasia lobby in the Netherlands to create mobile euthanasia teams to make euthanasia more accessible to people with disabilities and the frail elderly, also reported that the 2010 Dutch euthanasia statistics indicate that there were 3136 reported euthanasia cases which represents an increase of 19% since 2009.

It is important to note that the reported cases of euthanasia rose 13% in 2009.

The Dutch are very careful reporting their euthanasia statistics. here were 3136 reported euthanasia deaths, approximately 100 of those deaths wre assisted suicide deaths. The latest reports indicate approximately 500 deaths without consent. Approximately 10% of all deaths involve involve terminal sedation, that is done by intentionally dehydrating the person to death. We also know from the most recent Dutch euthanasia reports that approximately 20% of all euthanasia deaths are not reported.

It is important to note that the Dutch Medical Association has also recently approved euthanasia for people with dementia and alzheimer's and even for lonliness. So much for euthanasia requiring consent and capacity.

Recently the Royal Society of Canada released a report on - End of Life Decision Making. This report suggested that there was nothing to be concerned about in the jurisdictions where euthanasia is legal.

Too bad the Royal Society of Canada report was a one-sided sham that was written by leaders of the euthanasia lobby, whereby 5 of 6 of its "experts" were well known euthanasia advocates.

Euthanasia in the Netherlands is out-of-control.

Let's protect our citizens by keeping euthanasia illegal.

Help with depression, not assisted suicide.

Dr Charles Bentz
Dr. Charles J. Bentz, who is a physician in the department of General Medicine and Geriatrics at the Oregon Health & Sciences In Portland Oregon responded to the series of articles and letters that have been published in the Victoria Times Colonist. His letter was printed today.

Bentz refers to a depressed patient of his who died by assisted suicide in Oregon. This is what he said:

I am a physician practicing medicine in Oregon where physician-assisted suicide is legal. I disagree with a writer's assessment that Oregon's law has worked well. 
As one example, a few years ago, my patient, a 76 year-old man presented with a sore on his arm which turned out to be cancer. I referred him to an cancer specialist for evaluation and therapy. He was an avid hiker and as he went through his therapy, he became less able to do this activity and became depressed, which was documented in his chart. 
He expressed a wish for assisted-suicide to the cancer specialist, but rather than taking the time and effort to address his depression, or to contact me as his primary physician and as someone who knew him, she asked me to be the "second opinion" for his suicide. I told her that I did not concur and that addressing his depression would be better than simply giving him a lethal prescription. 
Unfortunately, two weeks later my patient was dead from an overdose prescribed by this doctor.
In most jurisdictions, suicidal ideation is interpreted as a cry for help. In Oregon, the only help my patient got was a lethal prescription intended to kill him. 
Don't make Oregon's mistake.
Charles J. Bentz, MD
It appears that depressed people are dying by assisted suicide in Oregon.

Royal Society of Canada - Euthanasia report was fixed from the beginning.

Wesley Smith

This is a reprint of the blog comment by Wesley J Smith that he published on Wednesday, November 16 under the title: I Told You The Fix Was In On Canadian Euthanasia Panel.

It is interesting that, even though Smith and Schadenberg both identified the Royal Society of Canada commission as fixed from the beginning, that the media continue to refer to them as an "expert panel."

I Told You The Fix Was In on Canadian Euthanasia Panel.

The in-the-tank media is huffing and puffing, trying to make something important out of an entirely predictable recommendation by the Royal Society of Canada commission to legalize euthanasia.  But commissions can be created to obtain a specific result, as this one was and did.

In fact, I told you this very thing would happen two years ago, to be precise, on October 28, 2009.  Here’s theSecondhand Smoke post, “Stacking the Deck for Euthanasia in Canadian ‘End of Life’ Commission” in its entirety:”

“Expert commissions” to advise on contentious issues of public policy are usually political tools designed to come to a predetermined conclusion in order to pave the way for a desired  policy changes.  Remember that as we take a look at a new commission being appointed by the Royal Society of Canada to look into end of life issues.  From the story:
Queen’s Philosophy professor Udo Schuklenk has been selected to head a prestigious new international panel on “End-of-Life Decision Making” in Canada. Appointed by the Royal Society of Canada, the expert panel will investigate key aspects of this critical issue – including voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide – and prepare a public report.
Stories such as this never seem to look deeper than the job titles of the panelists, as if they come to their work with no preexisting positions. So, I decide to check, starting with Udo Schuklenk.  What a surprise: He’s a pro euthanasia philosopher. How do I know?  He’s said so.  For example, in an essay explaining why he is an atheist, he wrote:
No matter how unbearably patients suffer due to illness or injury toward the end of their lives, the world’s monotheistic religions stand as one in their rejection of many dying patients’ requests to end their lives in dignity. That we may well be of sound mind, and that there is no prospect of our condition improving, makes no difference to their stance. Our own considered judgment that life is not worth living any longer counts for nothing to organized monotheistic religions. According to them, we are not ethically entitled to ask for physician assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia. This is surprising, given that at the end of our natural lives churches have promised us that we would be going to heaven – or hell, as the case might be. If at the end of a decently lived life we would go to heaven and enjoy eternal life, why are they fighting our earthly death so vigorously? None of this makes any sense at all if we take religious beliefs about our afterlife seriously. Once again substantial, avoidable human suffering is a direct consequence of religious interference with our end-of-life decision-making.
I don’t care about his religious views, but to chair a panel with such a clear view in favor of assisted suicide, indicates the direction in which the commission’s recommendations are expected (designed) to go.

But perhaps I am being too cynical.  Let’s see who else is on the commission:  Ah, Scot philosophy professor Sheila McClean who wrote The Case for Assisted Suicide, a book described as arguing fervently in favor of legalization.  Hmm, I wonder how she will vote?

Another commissioner is a Dutch euthanasia researcher.  Cute.

Then there’s Jocelyn Downie, author of Dying Justice, a book urging the decriminalization of both euthanasia and assisted suicide.  The bias isn’t even subtle.

I spent some time researching the views of the two remaining members, but neither seemed to be particularly involved in the issue.  So let’s count them, at least for now, as neutrals. No matter: Even assuming both are as adamantly opposed to assisted suicide as their co panelists appear to be for it, the deck is stacked, the fix is in, 4-2 for permitting assisted suicide in at least some cases.

The next step in this Kibuki Theater will be for the media to trip over themselves to report breathlessly that “the experts” have deeply pondered, and determined–after much hand wringing, there is always hand wringing–that assisted suicide should be allowed.  It is all so scripted and predictable.

Gee, I was right.  But then, on these matters, I usually am.

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide - Ugly issue back again.

Jean Echlin is a nurse consultant and adjunct associate professor at the University of Windsor Faculty of Nursing and the founding VP of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition 

Jean wrote an article on the current euthanasia and assisted suicide debate in Canada that was published in the Windsor Star today under the title: Ugly issue back again.

The following is an edited version of the article by Jean Echlin.
Ugly issue back again.

With the advent of Carter versus the Attorney General of Canada, Canada's laws prohibiting euthanasia and assisted suicide are being challenged again. This despite the fact that our federal Parliament vetoed Bill C-384 that sought to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia by an overwhelming vote of 228 to 59 in 2010.

Included in the British Columbia appeal is an effort to legalize these practices as "medical treatment," meaning that a medical doctor or "a person operating under the general supervision of a medical practitioner" will be allowed to assist a patient's suicide. This could be a family member and could be done at home.

If the pro-killing side gets its way, five people on the Supreme Court can overrule Parliament and demand change in the Criminal Code that forbids euthanasia and assisted suicide. What would this scenario do to our democratic process and the rights of a majority of Canadians?

Who would be at risk? You are. So is everyone in this country.

To paraphrase many knowledgeable authorities within the Euthanasia Prevention Coalitions worldwide, the request for a change in our Criminal Code is an invitation to elder abuse.

Many of our elderly population feel abandoned and burdensome to our society and healthcare system. If assisted suicide is legalized, it will empower the health-care system and family members to pressure older people to shorten their lives.

Persons with disabilities are equally at risk. The elderly and those with disabilities are groups that society often discriminates against and fails to respect or protect. Rather, these groups are looked upon as costly burdens.

Another significant health issue is suicide prevention. A change in the criminal code would foster the idea of suicide for those with depression and anxiety. It's called: "suicide contagion." In other words, one suicide encourages others. Persons with mental health is-sues are at increased risk and can be easily manipulated.

My own list of those at high risk includes partners in scenarios of domestic violence, especially when there is a power imbalance. It would be exceptionally easy for the powerful partner to quietly kill the "offensive partner" and just claim he or she "was so depressed and pleaded for assistance in dying."

Children must be included in the risk groups since the Netherlands has developed a protocol for killing children with even minor disabilities up to the age of 12.

The "Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care" will be releasing its research and recommendations regarding pain management, palliative care, elder abuse and suicide prevention. 
It is imperative that Parliament and all Canadians follow and adhere to the profoundly important message from this non-partisan committee.

Glad to be alive - Alison Davis responds to Calgary Herald article.

Alison Davis
Alison Davis, the founder of the disability rights group, No Less Human, responded to the editorial that was in the Calgary Herald on November 20, 2011 entitled: "No right to be killed; Doctor assisted suicide should not be allowed." Her response was printed in the Calgary Herald today under the title of "Glad to be Alive." This is what Alison Davis stated:
Re: "No right to be killed; Doctor assisted suicide should not be allowed," Editorial, Nov. 20. 
I was glad to see your excellent editorial stating the case against euthanasia. If it had been available to me some years ago, I wouldn't now be writing to you. I have several severe disabling conditions. I use a wheelchair full time and a vent at night. I have severe pain, which even morphine can't control. 
I wanted to die for more than 10 years, at a time when doctors thought my life expectancy was very short. I attempted suicide seriously several times, and was saved, only because friends found me in time and took me to the emergency room, where I was treated. 
At first, I was angry with them for thwarting my wishes. Now, I'm eternally grateful. I want to live now, even though my pain is worse than it was when I wanted to die. What changed my mind is friends who refused to accept my view that my life had no value, and a group of very poor children, who loved me wonderfully and overwhelmingly. I found a reason to live in reaching out to help others, rather than turning the negativity on myself. If assisted suicide had been available then, no one would ever have known the doctors' prognosis was wrong, or that I'd be missing the best years of my life.
Alison Davis, Blandford Forum, U.K.

Suicide Prevention - Not Dead Yet opposes assisted suicide

Diane Coleman
Diane Coleman, the founder of the disability rights group - Not Dead Yet, wrote a response to the letter by James Swanson. Swanson advocated that euthanasia or assisted suicide be legalized for people who he described as "Trapped Alive". Coleman's letter was published in the Calgary Herald today. She responded this way:
Re: "Trapped alive," Letter, Nov. 21. 
James G. Swanson's letter demonstrates the profound devaluation that too many feel toward those of us with severe physical disabilities. Swanson describes his father and a friend, disabled by an accident and ALS, respectively, as "trapped" and "condemned to a life in hell." Social messages that one is "better off dead than disabled" permeate society, including our families. 
Swanson's solution to the so-called problem of disability is assisted suicide. Like most, he hasn't noticed the difference between suicide and assisted suicide. Apparently, he doesn't think it matters if someone's family views their life as devoid of quality. There's no sign of concern that we might feel that our existence is a burden to those closest to us. The Council of Canadians with Disabilities rightly opposes assisted suicide. A society that not only agrees with a disabled person's suicide, but guarantees that our suicide attempt results in death, is not treating us as equals. We deserve the same suicide prevention as everybody else, not a streamlined path to death.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Elder Abuse a Hidden Crime

Bruce Campion-Smith, wrote an article that was published in the Toronto Star on November 17 concerning the release of the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care report in Ottawa Canada last week. The article titled: Elder Abuse: A 'Hidden Crime': MP says - looked at the recommendations in the Parliamentary committee report and the comments made by Frank Valeriote (Lib) MP Guelph.

The article states:

A criminal crackdown and greater public awareness are needed to combat the growing problem of elder abuse in Canada, which leaves thousands of seniors “wounded and frightened” every year, a new study says.
Just as society turned a blind eye to child and spousal abuse decades ago, abused seniors are suffering from the same neglect today, warns an all-party committee of MPs.
Their report issued Thursday calls for a “cultural transformation” to ensure that elder abuse is seen as “absolutely unacceptable.”

The report estimates that 400,000 seniors have been abused in Canada, often by someone they know — a family member, caregiver, neighbour or landlord.

Not Dead Yet: Articles concerning "mobile euthanasia teams" is inaccurate

Stephen Drake, the research analyst for the Disability rights group, NOT DEAD YET, published an excellent commenary on their blog, last Thursday, about the article in the Associated Press concerning the new push in the Netherlands for "mobile euthanasia teams." It appears that the Dutch euthanasia lobby believes that people with disabilities would benefit from "mobile teams" coming to a persons home and lethally injecting them.

NOT DEAD YET not only comments on the concept of "mobile teams" that will euthanize the unfortunate people with disabilities, but they also commented on the clearly false statements by the Associated Press. Please read the following article that is reprinted for your pleasure.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Canadian Cancer Society Welcomes Caregiver Support and Palliative Care Recommendations in Report Released by Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care

TORONTONov. 17, 2011 /CNW/ - The Canadian Cancer Society applauds recommendations about family caregiver support and palliative care in a report released today by the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care (PCPCC) and urges the federal government to take action.

The report - Not to be forgotten: care of vulnerable Canadians - focuses on elderly, dying and vulnerable Canadians and provides recommendations for improving palliative care, family caregiver support, elder abuse and suicide prevention. The PCPCC is an ad-hoc, all party group of federal MPs who formed the committee on their own initiative. The report reflects testimony from hundreds of people at 24 hearings and local round tables across Canada.

"The spirit of non-partisan collaboration shown by the MPs on this committee is a great example of Parliament working at its best - MPs working across party lines on issues of concern to Canadians," says Dan Demers, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Professor Tom Koch responds to Royal Society of Canada one-sided report.

Professor Tom Koch, a consultant in bioethics and gerontology in Toronto and Vancouver and works in chronic care and hospice, responded to the Royal Society of Canada pro-euthanasia propaganda report, in an article that was printed in the Toronto Star on Wednesday, November 16, 2011.

The article follows:

Confusing the issue

By Tom Koch
Forget issues of terminal illness and the end of life. The court case that began Monday in the B.C. Supreme Court is not about the right to die (you will die) or a right to life (you’ve got that). It is not about the right to be free of pain in the midst of an illness. Palliative care, all agree, is the basis of good chronic care medicine.

One of the confusions in the case and in the Royal Society of Canada’s report on end-of-life decision-making released Tuesday is that they pretend to concern termination by physicians in the late stage of inevitably terminal illness. They are, however, framed to include potentially anyone who, dissatisfied by life, seeks state approval for a medically assisted termination.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Doctor-assisted suicide is dangerous for us all

Licia Corbella

The following article was written by Licia Corbella and published in the Calgary Herald on November 19, 2011.

It’s been a sickly couple of weeks for life. This past Monday, a B.C. Supreme Court case kicked off in which five people are seeking the right to choose to be killed by a physician. The very next day, the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) released a report that urges the federal government to legalize assisted suicide in Canada. A summary of the End of Life Decision Making report states:
“The evidence from years of experience and research where euthanasia and/or assisted suicide are permitted does not support claims that decriminalization will result in vulnerable persons being subjected to abuse or a slippery slope from voluntary to non-voluntary euthanasia.”
Wow. The RSC panel members must be really lousy researchers. At the very least, someone should teach them how to use Google. Why? Because on Nov. 9, it was announced that a woman with advanced Alzheimer’s disease was euthanized in the Netherlands in March. In Holland, this was not even big news.

The horror stories in the Netherlands, where euthanasia was legalized in April 2002, but where it was practised for years prior to that without censure, go way back and prove that there is not just a slippery slope, but a veritable vertical skating rink. Two comprehensive studies, headed up by the Attorney General of the High Council of the Netherlands — Prof. J. Remmelink — reveal utterly shocking examples of abuse, or rather, murder.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care offers great hope to Canadians.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition 

A great gift was given to Canada yesterday. The Report of the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care was released yesterday in Ottawa. The report titled: Not to be Forgotten: Care of Vulnerable Canadians, focusses on improving palliative care for all Canadians, suicide prevention strategies and protecting people from elder abuse.

The Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care is an all-party committee that grew out of a common goal of identifying concrete ways to improve the care and protection for all Canadians when they are experiencing difficult circumstances.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) stated in our media release that we endorsed the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care. Our legal counsel, Hugh Scher, stated:
"Implementation of the recommendations of this Parliamentary report should eliminate any further call for legalized assisted suicide or euthanasia in Canada by vastly improving care for every Canadian, especially those who are vulnerable."
At the press conference, in Ottawa, for the release of the report, Joe Comartin (NDP) - Windsor Riverside, Harold Albrecht (CPC) - Kitchener Conestoga, and Frank Valeriote (Lib) - Guelph, spoke on the different areas within the report.

Joe Comartin
Joe Comartin spoke on the palliative care recommendations in the report. He stated that only 16 - 30% of Canadians have access to palliative care. Palliative care services are a patch-work quilt with varying levels of care within every region. Even within Toronto there are regional disparities of access to palliative care.

Joe Comartin emphasized the need for: 

* a new palliative care secretariet, 
* the need to improve chronic care for people who live with pain and 
* he emphasized the need for greater flexibility in the provision of compassionate care benefits,
* the importance of building a greater infrastructure of local palliative care services to enable people to receive care and support in their own communities.

Harold Albrecht
Harold Albrecht spoke about the suicide prevention section within the report. He explained how suicide is almost always preventable but that the resources, information and support is simply not available in Canada. Canada does not have a national suicide prevention strategy, even though the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention has developed a national strategy for suicide prevention, the resources to implement the strategy have not been provided.

Harold Albrecht emphasized that * a coordinating body would be required to implement a National Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Frank Valeriote spoke on the recommendations related to elder abuse. He spoke about the fact that 4 - 10% of elders experience abuse and some recent studies are suggesting that the rate of elder abuse may be as high as 20%. Most elder abuse is carried out by care-givers, family members and friends. The reason elder abuse remains under-reported is the fact that the person is often dependent on the abuser.

Frank Valeriote
Frank Valeriote emphasized the need for * an elder abuse awareness and prevention office, * an elder abuse prevention strategy that would focus on prevention and intervention.

Rene Ouimet from the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) spoke next about the progress that is being made towards implementing a  suicide prevention blueprint. She stated that CASP supports the recommendations in the report.

Dan Demers from the Canadian Cancer Society stated that they supported the recommendations within the report. He spoke about how some patients are still suffering needlessly. He emphasized that people, at the end of life, are vulnerable and must not be abandoned. He decried the fact that less than 30% of Canadians have access to excellent palliative care.

Jean Guy St. Gelais from the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse spoke next. He supported the need for an elder abuse prevention strategy and thanked the committee for the report.

Dr John Haggie
The final speaker was Dr John Haggie who is the current President of the Canadian Medical Association. He stated that the improvement in palliative care required urgent attention. He spoke in favour of the emphasis on patient centred care that the report promotes. He suggested that fixing palliative care can be used as a model for transforming health care in Canada.

The media then asked a series of questions.

The first question concerned the fact that many of the areas that the report was concerned with were within provincial jurisdiction. Joe Comartin answered the question by emphasizing the importance of the report being implemented by all levels of government. He then emphasized how some of the recommendations would lead to significant cost savings. He stated that too many people were dying in acute care hospital settings. If there were palliative care placements available, the cost would be significantly less. He also stated that excellent pain management will provide significant savings for the economy. Frank Valeriote then emphasized the need to share information especially to serve the needs of minority communities.

The second question concerned the decriminalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Dr Haggie, the President of the CMA stepped forward and stated that euthanasia is a complex issue but access to good palliative care would change the euthanasia debate. Dr Haggie then stated:

"requests for euthanasia usually reflect a failure to access adequate palliative care." 
Dr. Haggie then stated that Canada needs a national palliative care strategy. We need to transform the medical system with best practises and we need innovation funds to improve care.

The next question concerned the national suicide prevention stragegy. Harold Albrecht spoke about the fact that CASP has developed a blueprint strategy and he stated that government leadership is needed. He then mentioned his private suicide prevention members bill that is before parliament.

It was then stated that the blueprint strategy that was developed by CASP has been implemented in other countries resulting in the lowering of suicide rates in their countries.

Harold Albrecht then mentioned how progress is already occurring. The #10 recommendation in the palliative care section of the report has already been inserted in the current government budget.

EPC would like to thank the 55 MP's who supported the Palliative and Compassionate Care committee. We would like to thank Michele Simson, who was the Liberal co-chair of the committee but was defeated in the last election. We would like to thank George for writing the report.

Anti-suicide laws have served him well

John Coppard

By John Coppard, Times Colonist - November 18, 2011

The editorial "Time to talk on right to die" asserts the time is now right to discuss this critically important topic (Nov. 16).

I submit that the time passed a little over a year ago, when parliamentarians overwhelmingly rejected private member's bill C-384 seeking to legalize physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia by a vote of 228 to 59.

Representatives of all parties recognized the dire risks to public safety of giving physicians the legal right to take their patients' lives, and our health-care system, and even friends and relatives, the legal right to steer ill people toward suicide. Our democratic representatives correctly saw this as open to abuse, and bad public policy.

The "Carter case" now ongoing in Vancouver is an attempt to end-run Parliament.

As a person who is "grievously and irremediably ill" with Grade IV brain cancer, I would be affected should this case succeed. Two and a half years after being given a 20 per cent chance of surviving five years, I am doing very well on a medication approved by Health Canada only a year ago, within a week of my cancer coming back.

Had I been given the legal choice of assisted suicide when I first received my terrible prognosis, or when my cancer returned, when I felt hopeless, I don't know what I would have done.

Now I'm doing very well, thanks to medical advancements that are coming faster than at any time in our history. Our anti-suicide laws protected me and gave me a chance for a long and happy life, just as they were intended to do.

John Coppard
Victoria BC

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Endorses Recommendations of Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee

TORONTO, Nov. 17, 2011 - CanadaNewsWire

The Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care released its report entitled: NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN: CARE OF VULNERABLE CANADIANS.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition endorses the recommendations made by the committee in respect of improved palliative and end-of-life care, suicide prevention strategies, and the prevention of elder abuse.  EPC executive director Alex Schadenberg states:

  The Parliamentary report represents a blueprint of proactive positive steps that will improve end-of-life care for all Canadians.

EPC-BC chair Dr. Will Johnston states:

          I see elder abuse in my family medical practice.  There is a clear need for action and the Parliamentary report sets out a blueprint for action. 

EPC legal counsel, Hugh Scher states:

          Implementation of the recommendations of this Parliamentary report should eliminate any further call for legalized assisted suicide or euthanasia in Canada by vastly improving care for every Canadian, especially those who are vulnerable.

For further information:
Alex Schadenberg, EPC Executive Director: 519-439-3348,
Dr. Will Johnston, EPC-BC Chair: 604-220-2042,
Hugh Scher, EPC Legal Counsel: 416-816-6115,

Link to the report.