Tuesday, January 31, 2012

4 people die of dehydration/malnutrition everyday in UK hospitals

Terri Schiavo
An article by Sophie Borland and published on January 22 in the Daily Mail online reports that in 2010 - 1316 people died of dehydration/malnutrition in hospitals and care facilities in the UK which was up from 1292 in the previous year. The article titled: Four patients die thirsty or starving EVERY DAY on our hospital wards show damning new statistics states a report from the Office of National Statistics.

According to the article in the Daily Mail, the 2010 statistics break down this way:
* 155 people died in hospital from dehydration.
* 48 people died in hospital from malnutrition.
* 812 people died from other causes, but were found to be dehydrated.
* 301 people died from other causes, but were found to be malnourished.
Officials pointed out that people who die of cancer or Alzheimer's disease often have difficulty taking nutrition or hydration near the end of life.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association stated:
‘These figures are a terrible indictment of our precious National Health Service.
‘They represent avoidable deaths. These people needed our care when they were at their most vulnerable.’
Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, said:
‘There must be systematic monitoring of malnutrition in older patients. From the hospital ward to the hospital board, everyone needs to take responsibility and help stop this scandal.’
Early this month Prime Minister Cameron announced that nurses would have to undertake hourly ward rounds to check whether patients are hungry or thirsty, need help going to the lavatory or are in pain or discomfort.

The article stated that:
Reports by the Care Quality Commission, the Health Service Ombudsman and the Patients Association have all highlighted poor care. In October, a review by the CQC watchdog found that half of 100 hospitals visited by its inspectors were not doing enough to ensure elderly patients had enough to eat or drink. 
In Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, Worcestershire, doctors had resorted to prescribing patients with drinking water to ensure nurses did not forget.
Many of the deaths by dehydration / malnutrition are the result of the poor care from indifference, neglect and elder abuse. Some of these deaths are due to the abuse of the proper use of palliative care techniques.

It is common knowledge that when a person is dying and nearing death, often a they loose the ability to eat or drink or they are unable to assimilate fluids and food. These circumstances are signs that death is nearing.

But today, many medical professionals are using dehydration as a way to cause death. People who are difficult to care for, or people with difficult symptom management issues, or people who are, for some reason, not otherwise dying are dehydrated to death.

This is another form of euthanasia. The person is directly and intentionally killed by dehydration. Many people call this "slow euthanasia" and others call it euthanasia by dehydration.

If euthanasia or assisted suicide became legal, these cases would represent the difficult cases that show that 32% of euthanasia deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium, died by euthanasia without request or consent.

Council of Europe states: Euthanasia must always be prohibited

On January 25, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a non-binding resolution titled: Protecting human rights and dignity by taking into account previously expressed wishes of patients concerning Advanced Directives, Power of Attorney, and Living Wills.

The resolution did not concern the issue of euthanasia, nonetheless, to eliminate confusion concerning the Living Wills, Article 5 of the resolution stated:
"Euthanasia, in the sense of the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit, must always be prohibited."
An article published in the Daily Telegraph (UK) on January 30 under the title: Assisted suicide should be illegal throughout Europe, human rights body rules, provided more information concerning the debate that  created article 5.

The article stated:
“The resolution had originally simply focused on the human rights questions of so-called living wills, in which people set out how they wish to be treated should they become mentally incapacitated.

But members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe argued that living wills, which became legal in Britain under the 2005 Mental Capacity Act, were inextricably connected to euthanasia. They successfully moved an amendment forbidding euthanasia by 34 votes to 16 with six abstentions.”
Quoting the debate in the Council of Europe the article stated:
Among those fighting for the amendment was Edward Leigh, the Tory MP for Gainsborough and a member of the assembly. He referred to the case of Kerrie Wooltorton, a 26 year-old from Norwich who died from poisoning in 2007 after her living will prevented doctors from resuscitating her.
He said: “Can my fellow delegates here in Strasbourg imagine how they would feel if they received a phone call informing them that one of their children had drunk poison and that ambulance and hospital staff who had everything necessary to save the child’s life stood by not helping instead as the child lay dying? That is a situation that advanced directives or living wills allow.”
He added: “This is not alarmist talk – this is the historic fact, the track record.”
The principles in the resolution are designed to guide European nations in establishing legislation related to Living Wills, Power of Attorney’s and Advanced Directives.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Euthanasia or eugenics of newborns with Disabilities

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Gulf Times is reporting that at a workshop in Doha organized by the Qatar Foundation for Child and Women Protection (QFCWP) that parents of newborns with disabilities stated that euthanasia needs to be legal for their circumstances. The workshop was organized under the theme of: child protection.

The report in the Gulf Times stated:

  • One doctor suggested that life-support can be withdrawn from the child with a disability, with the consent of the family and two doctors who agree that life-support is futile.
  • QFCWP’s director general, Farida al-Obaidly told the story of a child who was born with disabilities and whose parents wanted treatment. The child is now seven years old and unique in his own way.
  • QFCWP legal advisor, Noor al-Hor stated that the sanctity of life supersedes.
  • Hamad Medical Corporations’ chief legal adviser, Abul Qasim Midwi pointed out that those who resort to objectionable conduct are punishable under the penal law of Qatar.
  • It was then stated that these cases should be immediately reported to the police.
Discussions concerning the euthanasia or neglect of newborns with disabilities shows how deep attitudes towards disability exist within many cultures.

In Canada, children are often intentionally neglected, enabling them to die, rather than providing basic medical care. These decisions are not being made based on the best interests of the child, but rather the decision was made that the child should die.

If society legalizes euthanasia and allows doctors or parents to intentionally inject children or others with disabilities, then existing prejudices that exist will lead to some lives being eliminated.

The cover-up will suggest that the child or the person with a disability was suffering.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

HOPE begins letter writing campaign in South Austalia

HOPE, the young and effective group that opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide has launched a letter writing campaign in South Australia. Those who follow the issue would remember that two bills to legalize euthanasia were initiated and debated in South Australia in 2011. The euthanasia bill that was sponsored by Steph Key, last year, was promoted as a palliative care bill but it clearly legalized euthanasia.

It appears that both bills have been changed and are being re-introduced in the South Australian parliament.

At the same time, Cate Faehrmann MLC, a member of the Upper House in the New South Wales legislature in Australia indicated her intention of introducing a private members bill under the title: Rights of the Terminally Ill to legalize euthanasia in New South Wales. Ms. Faehrmann introduced a similar bill in 2010, that did not receive time for debate in the legislature.

It is also expected that a bill to legalize euthanasia will be introduced in the Tasmanian legislature this year.

Alex Schadenberg is scheduled to go to Australia to speak and build opposition to the euthanasia bills in late June. Alex will be speaking in Melbourne on June 23. Alex will be in Adelaide South Australia from June 24 -26, and he will be in Tasmania from June 27 - 29. More information will be available soon.

Paul Russell
Paul Russell, the founder and leader of HOPE, posted the following article on the HOPE website.

At it again in 2012!

The South Australian Parliament has been besieged by euthanasia & assisted suicide bills over the last decade and more. In the current parliament, there have been no less than four bills introduced across both houses.

In December 2011, the Premier formally prorogued parliament which effectively wiped out all bills still under debate at that time. It remains to be seen how the pro-euthanasia MPs, Bob Such and Steph Key will respond once parliament resumes in 2012. Steph Key has the option of reinstating her ‘medical defences’ bill. (see Advertiser 4th Jan)

At the close of parliament in 2011, The Criminal Law Consolidation (Medical Defences – End of Life Arrangements) Amendment Bill (read more on this bill HERE) was close to a final resolution in the House of Assembly (Lower House).

Letter writing information.

Friday, January 27, 2012

MacDonald proposes new bill to legalize assisted suicide in Scotland

Another year, another attempt to legalize assisted suicide or euthanasia. A couple of weeks ago we learned that the euthanasia lobby in South Australia was planning to try to legalize euthanasia again, and now we learn the new strategy by Margo MacDonald and the euthanasia lobby in Scotland.

Margo MacDonald
On December 1, 2010; the Scottish Parliament stunningly defeated by a vote of 85 to 16, a bill that was proposed by Margo MacDonald to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide.

MacDonald has has made it clear that she intends to introduce a new bill under the title: Assisted Suicide (Scotland) bill. She is circulating a consultation document until April 30, 2012.

When reading my assessment of her previous bill, you will notice that MacDonald used imprecise language to cover-up her intention to legalize wide-open access to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The current consultation document is an outline of the bill, but not the actual bill. It is difficult to assess her actual intentions until we see the actual legislation. MacDonald claimed that her previous bill did allow euthanasia and yet it clearly did allow euthanasia.

MacDonald is "consulting" with the Scottish people so that when she introduces the actual bill she can say that her bill represents the "will" of the Scottish people.

The Care Not Killing Alliance in Scotland is developing a strategy to defeat the upcoming attempt by Margo MacDonald to legalize assisted suicide in Scotland.http://www.carenotkilling.org.uk/?category=12

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Leblanc case in Quebec - Further thoughts.

On October 31, René Duval, the lawyer for Ginette Leblanc submitted the notice of claim in Trois-Rivières Quebec, asking the Quebec Superior Court to overturn Section 241b of the Criminal Code in order for Mme Leblanc to die by assisted suicide. Ginette Leblanc lives with ALS.

The Notice of Claim in the Leblanc case stated that it was challenging the constitutionality of Section 241b of the Criminal Code, which is the assisted suicide act. It did not indicate openly indicate that it was challenging any other section of the Criminal Code. After reading the Notice of Claim, I was convinced that the Leblanc case was limited to Section 241b of the Criminal Code, but after speaking to Margaret Dore and after reading her commentary on the Leblanc case, I am convinced that the Leblanc case quietly seeks to legalize euthanasia.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) and Vivre dans la Dignité are seeking to co-intervene in the Leblanc case.

The Leblanc case appeared to be taking a less aggressive approach than the Carter case in British Columbia that is clearly trying to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. Carter Talking Points. Carter was heard by Justice Lynn Smith in Vancouver BC from November 14 - December 16, 2011. EPC and EPC - BC co-intervened in the Carter case and made its legal presentation before Justice Smith on December 14.

Margaret Dore, the fabulous lawyer and elder abuse advocate from Seattle Washington, pointed out that Section 11 of the Leblanc Notice of Claim states:
11. Due to the physical limits, the plaintiff will not without the help of a health care professional and / or that of a person acting under the supervision of such business, obtain and / or administer medication and / or the necessary treatment (s) to end her life.
To administer medication, would constitute an act of euthanasia and not an act of assisted suicide.

The other point that Margaret makes, which was not missed by myself, is that Canada's assisted suicide act does not refer to physicians, therefore striking down Section 241b of the Criminal Code would grant anyone the right to assist the suicide of another.

The Leblanc case went further by stating in Section 11 that: "a person acting under the supervision of a health care professional" could assist the suicide. This traditionally includes family members.

In conclusion, it appears that if the Quebec court accepts the pleadings in the Leblanc case, that in fact they would be decriminalizing assisted suicide and they would be, under the cover of imprecise language, decriminalizing euthanasia.

If I am wrong, please make your case.

The Leblanc Case in Quebec: A Recipe for Elder Abue and a Threat to the Individual

"Those who believe that legal assisted suicide/ euthanasia will assure their autonomy and choice are naive."

William Reichel, MD
Montreal Gazette, May 30, 2010[1]
By Margaret Dore
January 26, 2012

A. Introduction

Leblanc vs. Attorney General of Canada brings a constitutional challenge to Canada's law prohibiting aiding or abetting a suicide. Leblanc also seeks to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia as a medical treatment. In 2010, a bill in the Canadian Parliament seeking a similar result was overwhelmingly defeated.

Legalization of assisted suicide and/or euthanasia under Leblanc will create new paths of elder abuse. This is contrary to Canadian public policy. Legalization will also empower the healthcare system to the detriment of individual patients. There will be other problems.

B. Parliament Rejected Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia

On April 21, 2010, Parliament defeated Bill C-384, which would have legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada.[2] The vote was 228 to 59.[3]

C. The Notice of Civil Claim

In Leblanc, the Notice of Civil Claim seeks to strike down § 241(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada as contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[4] § 241(b) states:
"Every one who . . . (b) aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years."[5]
If § 241(b) would be struck down, it appears that any person, without restriction, would be allowed to assist another person's suicide.

The Notice of Claim also seeks to allow a healthcare professional, not necessarily a doctor, and/or a person acting under the professional's supervision, to "obtain and/or administer medication and/or the necessary treatment to end [the plaintiff's] life."[6] This request, to allow someone to actively administer a lethal modality to another person, is a request for euthanasia. The Canadian Medical Association states:
"Euthanasia means someone taking active measures to end life."[7]
In the context of traditional medical treatment, a person acting under the "supervision" of a healthcare professional would include a family member.[8] An example would be an adult child who administers medication to a parent under the supervision of a doctor who is not present.[9] This would typically be in a home setting.[10]

The Notice of Claim does not define any particular eligibility for assisted suicide/euthanasia other than a description of the plaintiff.[11] She is a disabled woman with ALS.[12]

D. A Comparison to the United States

In the United States, there are two states where assisted suicide is legal: Oregon and Washington.[13] The laws in these states were enacted via ballot initiatives, which are similar to a referendum in Canada.[14] No such law has made it through the scrutiny of a legislature despite more than 100 attempts.[15]

The Oregon and Washington laws apply to patients predicted to have less than six months to live, who are typically age 65 or older.[16] The statutes have safeguards, for example, two doctors are required to approve a lethal prescription; there are also waiting periods.[17] These laws nonetheless leave patients unprotected against elder abuse, coercion and even murder. Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, states:
"With assisted suicide laws in Washington and Oregon, [elder abuse] perpetrators can . . . take a 'legal' route, by getting an elder to sign a lethal dose request. Once the prescription is filled, there is no supervision over the administration. . . . [E]ven if a patient struggled, 'who would know?'" [18]
E. Elder Abuse

Preventing elder abuse is official Government of Canada policy.[19] Elder abuse includes physical, psychological and financial abuse.[20] Financial abuse is the most commonly reported type.[21] Elder abuse is, however, largely unreported and can be very difficult to detect.[22] This is due in part to the reluctance of victims to report. The Government of Canada website states:
"Older adults may feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell anyone that they are being abused by someone they trust."[23]
Will Johnson, MD, echoes these themes as follows:
"I see elder abuse in my practice, often perpetrated by family members and caregivers. A desire for money or an inheritance is typical. To make it worse, the victims protect the perpetrators. In one case, an older woman knew that her son was robbing her blind and lied to protect him. Why? Family loyalty, shame, and fear that confronting the abuser will cost love and care. . . .

Under current law, abusers take their victims to the bank and to the lawyer for a new will. With legal assisted suicide, the next stop would be the doctor’s office for a lethal prescription. How exactly are we going to detect the victimization when we can’t do it now?"[24]
If assisted suicide and/or euthanasia are legalized via Leblanc, new paths of abuse will be created against the elderly, which is contrary to Government of Canada public policy. For this reason alone, the relief requested in Leblanc should be denied.

F. Empowering the Healthcare System

In Oregon, where assisted suicide has been legal since 1997, patients desiring treatment under the Oregon Health Plan have been offered assisted suicide instead.[25] The most well known cases involve Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup.[26] Each wanted treatment.[27] The Plan offered them suicide instead.[28]

Neither Wagner nor Stroup saw this scenario as a celebration of their "choice." Wagner said: “I'm not ready to die.”[29] Stroup said: “This is my life they’re playing with.”[30]

Wagner and Stroup were steered to suicide. Moreover, it was the Oregon Health Plan, a government entity, doing the steering. If assisted suicide and/or euthanasia are legalized in Canada, the Canadian health care system will be similarly empowered. Indeed, even the plaintiff could find herself pushed to her death before she is ready. She could be a Canadian "Barbara Wagner." Her "choice" would be compromised and/or denied.

F. Suicide Contagion.

Oregon's suicide rate, which excludes suicides under its physician-assisted suicide law, has been "increasing significantly" since 2000.[31] Just three years prior, Oregon legalized assisted suicide.[32] This increased suicide rate is consistent with a suicide contagion.[33] In other words, legalizing one type of suicide encouraged other suicides. In Canada, preventing suicide is a significant public health issue.[34]

G. Conclusion

In Leblanc, the relief requested should be denied.


Margaret Dore
Margaret Dore is President of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia with a focus on the US and Canada. In November 2010, she appeared as an expert witness before the Select Committee on Dying with Dignity of the National Assembly of Quebec, Canada. She was an amicus curie in Baxter v. Montana, which is similar to Leblanc v. Attorney General of Canada.

Ms. Dore has been licensed to practice law in Washington State since 1986. She is a former Law Clerk to the Supreme Court of the State of Washington. She worked for the United States Department of Justice for one year. She has published multiple articles on elder abuse topics and against assisted suicide and euthanasia.

For more information, see: http://www.choiceillusion.org/ and http://www.margaretdore.com/.

Council of Europe states that: "Euthanasia must always be prohibited."

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair: Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Yesterday, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a non-binding resolution concerning Advanced Directives, Living Wills, Power of Attorneys and Consent to Treatment under the title: Protecting human rights and dignity by taking into account previously expressed wishes of patients. This resolution did not specifically concern the issue of euthanasia, nonetheless Article 5 of the resolution states:
"Euthanasia, in the sense of the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit, must always be prohibited."
The resolution is comprised of a list of principles already elaborated in three documents previously adopted in the Council of Europe, including the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (Oviedo Convention), which legally binds the majority of member States.

This statement follows a similar decision on January 20, 2011 by the European court of Human Rights which found that the state has no obligation to provide citizens with the means to commit suicide.

Even though this is a non-binding resolution, it does make it clear that euthanasia is an act that must always be prohibited.

Read the commentary about this resolution by the European Center for Law and Justice

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Convicted killer in British Columbia tried using "assisted suicide" defense

It has taken several days to think through the issues surrounding the second-degee murder conviction of Thomas Elton in the stabbing death of his wife Brenda Turcan/Blondell. Elton was convicted last week in Surrey BC.

Elton claimed that Blondell's death was a suicide pact gone wrong, meaning that he completed the her suicide but he didn't die by suicide himself.

His defense was that this was an assisted suicide and not a homicide.

1. Elton is on parole for the stabbing death of a fellow prisoner who he murdered in 1975.
2. Blondell, who also used the name Turcan, was on parole for a 1987 murder that she committed in Burnaby BC.
3. Elton claimed that Blondell was living with terminal cancer and that his act was part of a murder-suicide.
4. Elton claimed that he found Blondell unresponsive so he finished her suicide by first strangling her, and then stabbing her, to make sure that she had died.
5. Elton claimed that he then gave the dog pills and he took pills himself, in order to commit suicide.
6. The autopsy showed that Blondell did not take any pills and that she died from strangulation.

A story written by Jennifer Saltman in the Vancouver Province actually gave credibility to Elton's claims.

There are many problems with Elton's story.
1. Even if Elton had a suicide pact, Blondell died from strangulation. Assisted suicide is defined as an act that one does to oneself with the assistance of another. Clearly this is not an assisted suicide.
2. When you do a google search concerning Thomas Elton, you come across another case in 1998 where Elton attempted to kill a man by stabbing. In that case, Elton also claimed that the attempted murder was a murder/suicide and at the trial in 1999, Elton was acquitted of murder. In other words, Elton has used this defense before. (It is likely that the court was unable to consider the fact that Elton had used this defense before).

Finally, if assisted suicide or euthanasia was legalized, then cases, such as this, will be harder to decide, especially if the person has hired an accomplished lawyer.

It appears that Elton has been given significant leniency considering the fact that he was convicted of second-degree murder and not first-degree murder.

Poll finds that people in France prefer improving palliative care over legalizing euthanasia.

A poll published today in France by Génèthique.org found that 60% of the respondents would like to focus on the development of palliative care over the legalization of euthanasia.

The Poll stated:
According to a BVA poll, conducted in particular by the Chamber of Notaries of Paris and published January 24, 2012, French public opinion has shifted on the ethical and social issues related to surrogacy and euthanasia.

As for the "right" to euthanasia, 84% of respondents declare that they recognize a "right" to euthanasia for people with incurable, terminal, and the claimant. In a similar survey in 2009, they were a little more, 86%, share this view. Moreover, the opinion poll of 2011 Way of Opinion found that 60% of French people would like to focus on the development of palliative care over the legalization of euthanasia.
It is important to note that a similar poll in Canada found that 71% of the respondents thought that the government should focus on improving palliative care over the legalization of euthanasia and only 5% thought the government should legalize euthanasia and improve palliative care.

People state that they support the legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide out of the fear of dying a bad death. This fear is often related to personal experience. Our polling has found that very few people strongly support the legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide while the majority of people want to reduce their fears with improvements to end-of-life care.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Case Against Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Brescia University College
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition co-sponsored a speaking engagement featuring Professor Margaret Somerville.
When: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm.
Where: Brescia University College - 1285 Western Rd. London, ON (Western University) the Mother St. James Memorial Building Auditorium.
Topic: The Case Against Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.
Cost: This is a free event - Everyone is welcome.

Margaret Somerville
Professor Margaret Somerville holds professorships in both the Faculty of Law - where she holds the Samuel Gale Chair - and the Faculty of Medicine (McGill University - Montreal). She was the founding director of the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law.

Professor Somerville is a world-renowned speaker, consultant and researcher on many topics including euthanasia and assisted suicide. She has written about the role that scientific and medical research and technology play in the formation of societal values.

Somerville consulted for international organizations such as the Global Programme on Aids of the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, and law reform commissions in Canada and Australia.

She was the key-note speaker at the First International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.

This is a Free Event - Everyone is welcome.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Don't legalize assisted suicide

Yesterday, The Salt Lake Tribune published the following letter from Dr. Charles Bentz from Portland Oregon. The article was entitled: Don't follow Oregon.

Dr Charles Bentz
I am a doctor in Oregon, where physician-assisted suicide is legal. I disagree with the implication in “Do Utahns have the right to choose how they die?” (Tribune, Jan. 8) that Oregon’s assisted-suicide law is a good thing.

A few years ago, a 76-year-old patient presented with a sore on his arm. I referred him to a cancer specialist for therapy. As he went through that therapy, he became depressed, which was documented in his chart.

During this time, he expressed to the cancer specialist a wish for assisted suicide.

Rather than making the effort to address his depression, or to contact me, his primary physician who knew him, she asked me to be the second opinion for his suicide. 

I did not concur; addressing his depression would be better than simply giving him a lethal prescription.

Unfortunately, two weeks later my depressed 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 prescription intended to kill him.

Don’t follow Oregon’s lead.

Charles J. Bentz, M.D. Clinical associate professor of medicine Oregon Health and Sciences University - Portland Oregon

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Assisted Suicide is not legal in Montana

Bradley Williams
 Yesterday, The Salt Lake Tribune published a letter by Bradley Williams, the coordinator of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide. Williams explains why assisted suicide is not legal in Montana. The letter was titled: Suicide in Montana. Williams stated:
I am the coordinator of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide and for Living with Dignity. I disagree with Patty Henetz that assisted suicide is legal in Montana, or, as she wrote, to “allow doctors to legally write such prescriptions for the terminally ill, under certain circumstances” (“Do Utahns have the right to choose how they die?” Tribune, Jan. 8)
For the past five years, Montana has been targeted for legalization of assisted suicide by the Denver-based suicide promotion organization deceptively named Compassion and Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society). In 2007, Compassion and Choices initiated litigation that resulted in the 2009 Baxter decision that gives doctors, and only doctors, a potential defense to criminal prosecution for causing or assisting a suicide.

Assisted suicide is not legalized by giving doctors or anyone else criminal or civil immunity.

In 2011, Compassion and Choices tried again, backing a bill, SB167, that would have legalized assisted suicide in Montana. The Legislature did not pass it.

Legal assisted suicide is a recipe for elder abuse. It has multiple other problems as we discuss on our website (http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/).

Bradley D. Williams
Hamilton, Montana

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kidney Transplant denied to girl with disability

Dick Sobsey
Dick Sobsey, the past director of the JP Das Centre on Developmental and Learning Disabilities at the University of Alberta, has brought to my attention the discrimination case concerning Amelia, a young child with Wolf-Hirschorn syndrome, who has been denied a kidney transplant because of her disability.

It clearly appears that this is a case of discrimination, where Amelia is being denied equal access to healthcare, not because the kidney transplant would be less efficacious for Amelia, but because she has a significant disability and is perceived to be, less than equal.

Kidney Transplant Denied- January 19, 2012 — dsobsey

The parents of a young girl with Wolf-Hirschorn syndrome claim that she was denied a kidney transplant solely on the basis of her intellectual disability at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The mother’s account of her interaction with the social worker and physician is very specific. There seems to be little room to conclude maybe there was some other reason for the denial. Medical Ethicist Art Kaplan’s poll goes right to the heart of this. While Kaplan concludes, “But those reasons, to be ethical, have to be linked to the chance of making the transplant succeed. Otherwise they are not reasons, they are only biases,” the poll on the page asks simply, “Do you think a mental disability is a valid reason to deny a transplant?” If you have an opinion consider responding to the poll.

Discrimination and negative eugenics are still a part of our world.

Of course, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 says that no Federal Funds of any kind shall be paid to an entity that discriminates on the basis of disability:
Sec. 504.(a) No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 7(20), shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service. The head of each such agency shall promulgate such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the amendments to this section made by the Rehabilitation, Comprehensive Services, and Developmental Disabilities Act of 1978. Copies of any proposed regulation shall be submitted to appropriate authorizing committees of Congress, and such regulations may take effect no earlier than the thirtieth day after the date on which such regulation is so submitted to such committees.
and the Convention on The Rights of Persons with Disabilities says:
Article 25 – Health

States Parties recognize that persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities to health services that are gender-sensitive, including health-related rehabilitation. In particular, States Parties shall:
a. Provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes;
…maybe it is time we started taking these things seriously.

In 2006, an article published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases studied the outcomes for 25 individuals with multiple disabilities who had kidney transplants (American Journal of Kidney Diseases Volume 47, Issue 3, Pages 518-527, March 2006). The group included many with genetic syndromes including some with severe and some with severe intellectual disabilities. 23 got kidneys from living donors and 2 got kidneys from cadavers.The success rate was 100%. to quote the authors: “Surprisingly, the graft survival rate in the handicapped in this series is superior to that of patients with normal intellectual capability.” In other words, those with intellectual disabilities actually fared better than those without.

In addition, another 2006 article published in Pediatric Transplantation, reported 3-year survival rate results from a different sample of kidney transplant recipients and concluded excellent outcomes for individuals with intellectual disabilities. These may not have had as severe disabilities as the previous study. Surprisingly, the sample included 6 cases from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The one-year and three-year survival rates for these individuals was 100%.

Martens MA, Jones L, Reiss, S. Organ transplantation, organ donation and mental retardation. Pediatric Transplantation 2006:10:658–664.

Kidney Transplantation in Pediatric Recipients With Mental Retardation: Clinical Results of a Multicenter Experience in JapanToshiyuki Ohta, MD, Osamu Motoyama, MD, Kota Takahashi, MD, Motoshi Hattori, MD,Seiichiro Shishido, MD, Naohiro Wada, MD, Yoshimitsu Gotoh, MD, Tosh. American Journal of Kidney Diseases Volume 47, Issue 3, Pages 518-527, March 2006

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide – Canadian Update – The battle is in the courts.

By Alex Schadenberg,
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On April 21, 2010, Bill C-384, a bill that would have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada, was resoundingly defeated in parliament by a vote of 228 to 59. Many Canadians wrote letters or signed post-cards to Members of Parliament urging them to vote against Bill C-384 and to maintain the protections in law from euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The euthanasia lobby in Canada reacted to their massive defeat in parliament by turning their attention to the courts.

In February 2011, the Farewell Foundation, a group in British Columbia that exists to aid their members suicides, launched a case in the BC Court to challenge the constitutional validity of Canada’s assisted suicide act. The Farewell Foundation case was challenging a ruling by the BC Registrar of Companies who denied the Farewell Foundation corporate status. The law does not permit organizations that exist solely to break the law to given corporate status.

In early April 2011, the Farewell Foundation launched a second case in the BC Court that stated that the laws that protect Canadians from assisted suicide are unconstitutional. The Farewell Foundation stated that five of their members wished to die by assisted suicide and the law unconstitutionally infringed upon their “right to die” by assisted suicide.

BC Supreme Court Justice, Lynn Smith, was assigned to the Farewell Foundation case.

In late April 2011, the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) launched the Carter case to overturn the laws protecting Canadians from euthanasia and assisted suicide. The BCCLA representing the Carter family, stated that the rights of Kay Carter were infringed upon because she had to go to Switzerland to die by assisted suicide. The BCCLA also stated that the Carter family broke the assisted suicide law, by arranging and bringing their mother, Kay, to die by assisted suicide in Switzerland.

The BCCLA, in Carter, did not limit their challenge to the assisted suicide statutes of the Criminal Code. The definitions used in the case includes a challenge to the laws that protect Canadians from euthanasia.

Justice Smith asked to have the Farewell Foundation case and the Carter case heard together. At a pre-trial hearing Justice Smith indicated that the Carter case would be heard but the case lacked urgency, since Kay Carter had already died in Switzerland and the Carter family had not been prosecuted for their part in their mother’s death.

In response to Justice Smith stating that the Carter case lacked urgency, on June 28, the BCCLA amended their notice of claim by adding Gloria Taylor, a woman who is living with ALS.

On August 3, Justice Smith accepted the amended notice of claim. Due to the health condition of Gloria Taylor, Smith decided to fast-track the Carter case. At the same time Smith questioned the relevancy of the Farewell Foundation case and a few weeks later she rejected the Farewell Foundation case, while encouraging the Farewell Foundation to intervene in the Carter case.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) and EPC – BC received intervener standing in the Carter case. EPC asked to intervene and to have the right to introduce evidence in the court. The court granted EPC and EPC – BC intervener standing but denied them the right to call evidence.

In early November, the Leblanc case was filed by lawyer René Duval in Trois-Rivières Quebec. Duval seeks to have Canada’s assisted suicide law declared unconstitutional on behalf of his client, Ginette Leblanc, who lives with ALS. The Leblanc case is written in a tighter manner by limiting its challenge to the assisted suicide act and not challenging the law pertaining to euthanasia.

The Carter case was heard from November 14 to December 16 in a Vancouver courtroom. The intervention by EPC and EPC - BC was heard by Justice Smith on December 14.

The Carter case is difficult to define because the BCCLA, on behalf of the Carter family and Gloria Taylor, made it appear that they were seeking to legalize assisted suicide but in fact they were seeking a wider decision that would grant the plaintiffs euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The Carter case also included within the Notice of Claim language that might become the framework for a law that allows the direct and intentional killing of people by euthanasia or assisted suicide.

This framework in the Carter case does not restrict the acts of euthanasia or assisted suicide to physicians. Carter defines who carries out the acts as: a person acting “under the general supervision of a medical practitioner.” Family members or other care-givers may be able to act under the general supervision of a medical practitioner. Therefore a family member could cause the death under the language in the Carter case.

The Carter case does not restrict acts of euthanasia or assisted suicide to people who are terminally ill. Carter states that eligibility for death should be based on people who are “grievously and irremediably ill.” Carter does not define the terms grievously or irremediatebly but provides these examples: “cancer, chronic renal failure and/or cardiac failure, and degenerative neurological diseases such as Huntington’s disease and multiple sclerosis.” The definition does not exclude people with chronic disabilities and it is not limited to terminal conditions.

John Coppard
John Coppard, from Victoria British Columbia, became involved with opposing assisted suicide for similar reasons. He stated in a letter to the editor:
“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 percent chance of surviving five years, I am doing very well on 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-assisted suicide laws protected me and gave me a chance for a long and happy life, just as they were intended to do.”
In the state of Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, assisted suicide is limited to people with a terminal prognosis of having six months to live. Jeanette Hall, who lives in Oregon, had a terminal prognosis and she wanted to die by assisted suicide. Instead, her physician convinced her to accept further treatment for her cancer. Eleven years later she stated in a letter to the editor:
“I wanted to do what our [assisted suicide] law allowed, and I wanted my doctor to help me. Instead, he encouraged me not to give up, and ultimately I decided to fight my disease… If my doctor had believed in assisted suicide, I would be dead.”
Carter has now been argued before Justice Smith and we are waiting for her decision. Based on other decisions that Smith has made and her reputation as an activist judge, we are concerned about the potential of a bad decision by Smith.

If Smith decides, in some way, to legislate from the bench and to legalize euthanasia and/or assisted suicide, then the Attorney General of Canada will need to immediately appeal the decision to the British Columbia Court of Appeal. From their, the case will end-up at the Supreme Court of Canada.

On January 27, 2012; the preliminary hearings are starting in Trois-Rivières Quebec on the Leblanc case. The Leblanc case may be more dangerous than the Carter case because Leblanc limits its challenge to assisted suicide and it does not attempt to impose a wide-open regime of assisted suicide on Canada. If the judge in Quebec decides to overturn our assisted suicide law, then the case will need to also be appealed to the Court of Appeal.

Rene Duval, the lawyer representing Ginette Leblanc, hopes to have their case join the Carter case at the Supreme Court of Canada.

The difficulty with battling issues within the court is:
* It is very hard to predict what a Judge will decide.
* It is very expensive to hire lawyers and argue before the courts.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) and EPC – BC co-intervened in the Carter case in British Columbia. EPC and Vivre dans la Dignité in Quebec are seeking to co-intervene in the Leblanc case in Quebec.

This is a very difficult undertaking and we will keep you up-to-date on the progress of these cases.

Meanwhile, you can make a difference by writing a hand-written letter to your Member of Parliament and the Hon Rob Nicholson, Attorney General, urging the Attorney General to immediately appeal any court decision that weakens our laws that protect us from euthanasia and assisted suicide.  Link to the information about the letter writing campaign.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition needs donations towards the cost of the court interventions. Link to donate. http://www.euthanasiaprevention.on.ca/Donations.htm

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dutch Psychiatrists euthanizing patients

Wesley Smith
Yesterday, Wesley Smith wrote an interesting article on his blog about the fact that Dutch Psychiatrists are now euthanizing their patients. You should be saying, no way, the issue of euthanasia is about "free choice" and psychiatric patients are often lacking in the ability to "freely choose".

If you read my article from yesterday titled: Euthanasia for any and no reason in the Netherlands it will not surprise you that mental pain and even dementia are becoming acceptable reasons for a lethal prescription.

What is interesting about the developments of euthanasia in the Netherlands is that the euthanasia lobby still states, with a straight face, that there is no "slippery slope".

Wesley's article is titled: Dutch Psychiatrist To Get in on Euthanasia Action. I am reprinting it for you here.

On to the mentally ill! That is the message of a new article in the Dutch language tijdschrift voor psychiatrie 53 (2011) 8 (Journal of Psychiatry). I’ll skip the nonsense about great care being shown, and “hopeless” conditions–which the article doesn’t say is the same as untreatable, by the way, and skip right to the chase. From the Conclusion (English translation):
Assisted suicide, as a last resort in psychiatry, legally admissible since 2002, recently legitimized in practice. The midwife [of] Death is now appropriate for psychiatric reach patients, representing an emancipation of the psychiatric patient and psychiatry itself.
Emancipation! Both of the patient and the need for psychiatrists to try and save the lives of all suicidal patients!

And no psychiatrist had better refuse based on beliefs. Those refusing assisted suicide will have to explain themselves!
Categorical rejection of help-zelfdo thing in psychiatry represents a failure the autonomy of psychiatric patients and the scope of the legislation a duty to state reasons in the case of not honorring of requests for stervenshulp may lead [in the future] to the autonomy of the patient in more cases being honoured.
The name should be changed to “validated suicide,” once the imprimatur of a psychiatrist is put on the deed.

And so the last line of defense against the assisted suicides of mentally ill and other patients–a good mental health professional fighting for the life of despairing patients–slips away. Now, psychiatrists will help people make “rational” decisions to kill themselves in the Netherlands on an increasing scale.

Pushing Euthanasia as the Rule in Belgium

Wesley Smith
Yesterday, Wesley Smith published this blog post entitled Pushing Euthanasia as the Rule. I thought his comments needed to be shared with you.

Pushing Euthanasia as the Rule
The Belgian medical establishment’s enthusiastic embrace of euthanasia has been breathtaking and appalling to behold. Now a study is out stating that a euthanasia counseling service is being underutilized by Belgian doctors. From "Implementation of a service for physicians’ consultation and information in euthanasia requests in Belgium," (Abstract only linked), published in Health Policy:
In the year following the enactment of the Belgian euthanasia law in September 2002, a special non-governmental service called the Life End Information Forum (LEIF) was created in Flanders by individuals (physicians, psychologist) with experience in palliative care together with the association Right to Die With Dignity.
Of course. Pro euthanasia types. But according to the study, not enough doctors have referred euthanasia questioning patients to the persuasion counseling service:
With over three quarters of those physicians who are potentially involved in end-of-life care and who work in the region covered by LEIF knowing of its existence, and almost 90% indicating they would consult a LEIF physician in future euthanasia requests, the implementation of LEIF can be considered to be relatively successful. The figure of 35% of those having received a euthanasia request since the founding LEIF and who had actually used the LEIF service, however, can be considered on the low side.
Oh no! What to do?
In order to encourage physicians to make use of the LEIF service for consultation, LEIF should continue promoting its services as widely as possible. Promoting LEIF in hospitals to specialists who are used to consulting with colleagues from within the hospital would also be helpful in order to guarantee the legal requirement of independence. Support from the government, e.g. in the form of reimbursement for the consultation, would formalize LEIF as a consultation service and would therefore also increase the use of the service.
What are we to make of this? Clearly, there are powerful forces in Belgium and elsewhere that hope one day euthanasia will become the rule in human dying rather than the exception. Indeed, I could see in a few decades-if it takes that long–that the expectation will be for terminally ill, frail elderly, and permanently seriously disabled to take the euthanasia way out.

Why might this be? I can think of many factors, but I’ll only suggest a few:
•An aggressively secular outlook that sees no intrinsic value in human life and sees eliminating the sufferer as a splendid way to prevent suffering. Lest you doubt me, recall the celebration of the joint euthanasia of an elderly couple who were not ill and the Belgian bioethicist calling it as a “normal way of dying.”

•Financial concerns mixed with a quality of life ethic that would direct medical resources away from caring for expensive and dependent patients to those who can “benefit” from treatment. What “treatment” is cheaper than killing? One can imagine expensive treatments being rationed and counseling to push euthanasia as the proper approach for patient, family, and society–accompanies by societal expectation.

•The hope to make utilitarian use of suicidal patients, such as in organ harvesting which is already happening in Belgium.

•A metastasizing nihilism that breeds the culture of death.
As I look back over my nearly 20 years of anti euthanasia advocacy and see how far matters have slipped–and imagine what it would be had we not continued to stand against the agenda–I keep hearkening back to the words of Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne who was appalled at the popular support for Robert Latimer after he murdered his daughter Tracy because she had cerebral palsy:
A society that believes in nothing can offer no argument even against death. A culture that has lost its faith in life cannot comprehend why it should be endured.

Alas, Coyne’s warning is turning into a prophesy.