Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bill to prevent assisted suicide in Georgia passes in committee.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that Susan Celmer, the widow of John Celmer (the man who died from assisted suicide after being counselled and encouraged by the Final Exit Network) testified in favour of Bill HB 1114, a bill that would protect Georgia citizens from assisted suicide.

The article stated:
"Susan Celmer told lawmakers her husband John could be living a productive life if it wasn't cut short. She testified this week before the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, saying her husband was on powerful medications that prevented him from making a rational decision about ending his life."
John Celmer
John Celmer was in remission from cancer but he was experiencing significant depression related to the toll the cancer had on him. He was awaiting reconstructive surgery on his face.

An article written by Jeanne Bonner and published yesterday in the GPB News stated that a Georgia state house committee passed Bill HB 1114 after hearing testimony from those in favor and those opposed to the bill to protect Georgia citizens from assisted suicide. The article states that:
Rep. Ed Setzler, an Acworth Republican, the bill’s sponsor says its goal is: 
“To ensure some of our most medically-fragile citizens can’t in a state of desperation be subject to out of state or in-state actors who make it their business to assist people in killing themselves,” he said. 
Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam is a Clayton County Democrat who voted against the measure.
“I’m kind of questioning prolonging life right now," she said after the committee meeting. "I have a family member who’s 101 years old. When she’s ready to go, she’s ready to go.”
The comments by Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam and other assisted suicide advocates show how a concept of assisting the suicide of a dying person will transform into death for the frail elderly and people with disabilities. When we consider the rate of elder abuse in America, people should shiver when they hear comments that identify an elderly person as "better off dead."

Georgia needs to pass Bill HB 1114 to protect people, such as John Celmer, who require protection from those who promote assisted suicide and euthanasia. These are people and groups that promote death for people, out of a misguided compassion.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Swiss assisted suicide deaths continue to increase.

An article by Jared Yee and published by explains the rapid expansion of assisted suicide by assisted suicide organisations in Switzerland. The article titled: Assisted Suicide booms in Switzerland states that:

The number of people who died by assisted suicide in Switzerland by assisted-suicide organisations rose significantly in 2011, new figures show. Exit, which assists the suicides of Swiss residents only, announced that it assisted the suicide of 416 people last year up from 348 the previous year. Of those deaths, 305 occurred in the German-speaking region, up from 257 in 2010, and 111 occurred in the French-speaking areas, up from 91 in the previous year. The organisation also saw a boom in new memberships. It now has 75,000. In 2011, Dignitas, Switzerland’s other major assisted-suicide organisation, assisted the suicide of 144 people, a 35% increase as reported by the Sonntag Zeitung.

Dignitas, which is operated by Ludwig Minelli, assists the suicides of foreigners. Reports of “suicide tourism” have sparked fiery debate both domestically and internationally, increasing pressure on the Swiss government to tighten assisted-suicide laws. Last June it ruled out introducing new legislation to regulate the practice, but the government has since proposed a set of measures to bolster suicide prevention and improve palliative care options. The Swiss Federal Court has ruled that a person has a right to end his or her life provided he or she is of sound mind. ~, Feb 20

Bill to protect Georgia citizens from Assisted Suicide.

Wesley Smith, a bio-ethicist and expert on issues related to euthanasia and assisted suicide, reported in his blog that a bill to protect Georgia citizens from assisted suicide was introduced.

A bill to prevent assisted suicide was introduced in response to a recent Georgia Supreme Court decision that struck down a poorly written law that prevented advertising assisted suicide. The Georgia Supreme Court was correct to strike down the previous bill as an affront to free speech.

Smith stated that Bill HB 1114 proposes to do the following:
(3) ‘Suicide’ means the intentional and willful termination of one’s own life. (b) Any person who knowingly and willfully assists another person in the commission of such person’s suicide shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years. 
(c) The provisions of this Code section shall not apply to any otherwise lawful withholding or withdrawal of medical or health care treatment pursuant to, without limitation, a living will, a durable power of attorney for health care, an advance directive for health care, a Physician Order for Life-sustaining Treatment developed pursuant to subsection (l) of Code 36 Section 29-4-18, or a written order not to resuscitate.
Smith stated that HB 1114 also permits survivors to sue the person who breaks the law. Smith pointed out that the bill states:
a) The decedent’s surviving spouse, child or children, either minor or sui juris, parent, sibling, or guardian appointed pursuant to Title 29, or the administrator or executor of the decedent, may recover for the homicide of the decedent the full value of the life of the decedent, as shown by the evidence, and for the funeral, medical, and other necessary expenses resulting from the injury and death of the deceased person.
When the Georgia Supreme Court struck down the previous poorly written law I suggested that a bill would soon be introduced to protect Georgia citizens from assisted suicide. I hope this bill passes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Did Rick Santorum exaggerate the euthanasia experience in the Netherlands?

Rick Santorum has made some very strong comments concerning the euthanasia experiment in the Netherlands and it is reported that the "Dutch are outraged", so what did he say that has supposedly outraged the Dutch.

What did Rick Santorum say?
1. Dutch people wear a bracelet that says - "Do not euthanize me."
2. 10% of elderly people die by euthanasia.
3. Half of the euthanasia deaths are involuntary.
4. Many Dutch people go to another country for medical care, rather than a Dutch hospital.
Rick Santorum

What are the facts.
1. There is a group in the Netherlands that distribute cards to people who are opposed to euthanasia that states something like: do not euthanize me. No it is not a bracelet. It is possible that a similar group is distributing bracelets, but I only have knowledge of the card.

2. The Dutch are very specific concerning what euthanasia is, and what it is not. The Dutch define euthanasia as a voluntary act that is done on request. More recently the NVVE (Netherlands euthanasia lobby) has announced that they will begin to implement "Mobile Euthanasia Units" that will be oriented to euthanizing people who have dementia, who have disabilities, or who have been turned down by other doctors. It is also considered acceptable for Dutch Psychiatrists to euthanize their patients for "lonliness".

The number of official euthanasia deaths has increased significantly over the past few years. In 2010 it is reported that their were 3136 official euthanasia deaths which was up by 19% over 2009 and 2009 increased by 13% from 2008.

The 3136 official euthanasia deaths do not include the assisted suicide deaths, it does not account for the approximately 20% under-reporting, and it does not include the deaths of people who were not otherwise dying but died by intentional dehydration. Nonetheless, how did Santorum come up with the 10% number?

A 2005 study of End-of-Life Practices in the Netherlands that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that death by dehydration had increased significantly from 2001. In 2005, 7.1% of all deaths in the Netherlands were done by deep-continuous sedation followed by dehydration. Recent reports suggest that death by deep-continuous sedation followed by dehydration has risen to approximately 10% of all deaths in the Netherlands. Some of the 7.1% of deaths by deep-continuous sedation followed by dehydration are cases of euthanasia by dehydration.

When a person, who is not otherwise dying, is intentionally sedated and dehydrated to death, that death is clearly an act of euthanasia (euthanasia by dehydration or slow euthanasia), even though the definition used in the Netherlands, and most of the world, does not recognize euthanasia by dehydration as euthanasia.

Santorum numbers may be high, but they also may be close to the reality.

3. Santorum stated that half of all euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands are involuntary.

The 2005 study of End-of-Life Practices in the Netherlands that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that in 2005 there were 550 deaths without explicit request or consent in the Netherlands. This does not represent half of all euthanasia deaths.

Where did Rick Santorum come up with the idea that half of all euthanasia deaths are involuntary? I am not sure, but three studies that were recently published concerning euthanasia in Belgium found that:
1. 32% of euthanasia deaths that were done by physicians in the Flanders region of Belgium were done without explicit request or consent.
2. A similar study that analysed euthanasia deaths that were done by nurses in Belgium found that 45% were done without explicit request or consent.
3. The third study concerning the reporting of euthanasia in Belgium found that only 52.8% of all euthanasia deaths were reported.

Therefore Santorum was wrong about the Netherlands and almost right about Belgium. A euthanasia advocate has challenged the conclusions of these three studies and my response has been, even if these studies are not completely accurate they clearly indicate that the Belgium euthanasia law is seriously abused.

4. Santorum stated that people in the Netherlands go outside of the country for medical treatment. I have read an article that stated that some people who oppose euthanasia have gone to nursing homes in Germany rather than take the chance of living in a nursing home in the Netherlands. As for the issue that Santorum raised, I have not been sent anything that would prove that this is true. It doesn't mean that some people have not gone out of the country for medical treatment out of fear of dying by euthanasia, but it does mean that I do not have information to confirm this statement. Maybe someone will send me an article that states otherwise.

Finally, there are very few experts on the issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The Netherlands is constantly trying to justify there euthanasia experiment. The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland need to stop the euthanasia and assisted suicide experiment.

Euthanasia does not create greater human rights, in fact it eliminates certain human rights.
There is no new "right to die" but created by legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide only a right of the physician to be directly and intentionally involved with causing your death.

Whether Santorum exaggerated or not is simply a diversion from the real truth. Euthanasia threatens the lives of many people. It represents a form of elder abuse and in a social fabric that has an ingrained discrimination towards the lives of people with disabilities it reinforces a message that "some lives are not worth living."

Society needs to be committed to caring for people and not killing them.

Link to Wesley Smith's response to this issue.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Suicide Prevention - Bill C-300 passes second reading in parliament.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition applauds Harold Albrecht MP (Kitchener-Conestoga) for successfully steering Bill C-300 through second reading in Canada's parliament. C-300 is a bill that intends to launch a national suicide prevention strategy or plan in Canada.

Albrecht, who has been working for several years to create greater awareness of the need for the Canada's federal government to take a larger role in the prevention of suicide, successfully steered Bill C-300 through second reading with only 3 Members of Parliament opposing the bill on Wednesday February 15.

The difficulty with creating a national suicide prevention strategy is that it will require provincial governments to also support its direction. Albrecht has established a clear direction through Bill C-300 that will open the doors to the type of cooperation that will be necessary to create an effective national suicide prevention strategy.

Jack Hicks, a social science researcher in Iqaluit said to CBC News that the bill is a step in the right direction, especially since Canada is one of the only developed countries without a national suicide prevention strategy in place. Hicks stated:
“My hope is that everything this bill mentions will be done as quickly as possible, as effectively as possible, and Canada goes into catch-up mode,”
Albrecht is also the co-chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care that released a report last November that outlined the necessary direction for effectively reducing suicide through national and provincial cooperation.

Bill C-300 will now go to committee for further debate and then return to parliament for its final reading, sometime later this year.

Your Life Counts, a national suicide prevention group has been very involved with building the infrastructure for a national suicide prevention strategy.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Suicide Prevention Bill - Overwhelmingly passes in Canadian parliament

Bill C300 passes in the House of Commons

OTTAWA, ON (February 15th, 2012) — Today the House of Commons passed Bill C300, an Act respecting a Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention, at Second Reading, by a vote of 285 in favour, and 3 opposed.A bill that was brought forward by Harold Albrecht (MP) Kitchener-Conestoga.

Link to the Your Life Counts media release.

Many good people and organizations over many years have worked tirelessly across Canada towards establishing a national framework for suicide prevention. The approval of Bill c300 in Parliament is a victory for all who have worked to this end. Let us not forget the immense human cost and suffering that continues each and every second as families devasted by their loss of a loved one seek to find hope and meaning for their future. May they find hope and know that they are not alone and that this victory is also theirs – as hollow as the victory may seem for them, let this new and exciting step forward be a good thing that has come out of the pain and the suffering.

YLC Founder Rory Butler is very grateful to Harold Albrecht MP for his tenacity and perseverance to see Bill c300 passed and followed through to law. We must also be thankful for Megan Leslie MP – for her steadfast support and also Bob Rae MP among others.

This has been a major, non partisan effort and the task is far from over. For Rory Butler this is a huge encouragement in the work of YLC. Rory has been working tirelessly on the frontline towards Bill C300 and much more for well over a decade.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Death on Wheels - euthanasia 'home delivered' in the Netherlands

Paul Russell
Paul Russell, the leader of HOPE in Australia, wrote this blog titled Death on Wheels. He makes some interesting comments about the plan by the Netherlands euthanasia lobby (NVVE). I thought is was worth sharing.
Late last year we reported that the Dutch Minister of Health, Edith Schippers was considering a move to create mobile euthanasia services in the Netherlands. Home delivery – Dutch style!

In early February, media reports confirmed that the Netherlands Right-to-Die Association (NVVE) plan to open the first of six ‘clinics’ to expedite an expected additional thousand deaths per year. Operating under the Orwellian title Levenseinde kliniek (Life Clinic), this ‘door-to-door’ service will be offered for those who ‘can’t convince their regular doctor to kill them’ or for those who ‘have been refused help from doctors for “ethical” reasons.’

The clinics will be funded from NVVE membership and donations which are tax deductable. Their website suggests that the mobile teams will take a ‘multidisciplinary approach’ and interview the patient with ‘multiple conversations’ over some time. The NVVE stresses that it will abide by the ‘Dutch Guidelines’, the World Federation of Right to Die Societies spokesman adding: “doctors will have to comply with the same ‘due care criteria’ as ‘regular’ doctors.”

Yet, the Federation of Dutch Physicians sounded a warning saying that, “In the worst cases, people could die who perhaps could have received some other help.”

Even if we were to concede the possibility that this new move is motivated by an erroneous sense of compassion or, perhaps, the false notion that a right-to-die does exists (which even the European Court of Human Rights denies), there still remain many questions.

Is it likely that anyone will be refused access to the services of this clinic given the fact that it’s sole raison d’être is to kill?

How can the ‘process’ possibly guard against coercion when the appointments take place in the home setting and the only possible contrary view, being that of the family doctor, is dismissed by the very modus operandi of this death peddling outfit?

Might it also be the case that the local doctors refusal to kill on ‘ethical grounds’ may have more to do with factors such as depression, anxiety or other treatable problems than an ideological or religious taboo?

How likely is it that, given its private funding by right-to-die supporters, that success in terms of a business model will be measured primarily by the number of deaths? Dutch statistics point clearly to an almost routine flaunting of the euthanasia ‘guidelines’. It would be naive in the extreme to think that a privately funded outfit would report its own medicos for abuse of the law.

What we are seeing here is a rapid deterioration of medical ethics. Only a nation immersed in a death culture could fail to see this development as anti-human, as detestable and undignified. It is a sinister form of discrimination based on age and disability; a callous utilitarian view of human existence - privatised and tax deductable! And just in case you’re tempted to think this is a free service to a grateful nation, the website does muse over the possibility of charging customers – in advance one assumes!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Mobile Euthanasia Units are planning to kill 1000 people per year in the Netherlands.

The Telegraph paper - UK published an article today that confirms that the Netherlands euthanasia lobby (NVVE) will begin sending out the mobile euthanasia units in March. The article also estimates that the six mobile euthanasia vehicles will lead to 1000 more euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands per year.

The article in the Telegraph stated:
The Right to Die Association in the Netherlands said the unit would be the first of six to handle borderline cases in which family doctors decline to help.

It is thought it will deal with those with mental illnesses or early dementia.
But according to the Federation of Dutch Physicians, some patients who could be treated might end their lives unnecessarily.
The fact is that people with disabilities, or mental illness, or people living with dementia are, at times, being refused for euthanasia because their doctor is convinced that something can be done to allow them to live with dignity and not die with dignity. The NVVE will now save these people from life.

Remember, even though in some ways euthanasia is - out of control - in the Netherlands, the one safeguard for vulnerable people is that two doctors must agree to cause the death. When a doctor refuses to euthanize a person, a "good son or daughter" will simply contact the NVVE who will rush over and take care of it.

Lets consider some facts about the euthanasia experiment in the Netherlands:
1. The number of euthanasia deaths increased by 19% in 2010 to 3136 euthanasia deaths.
2. The most recent five year update from the Netherlands stated that 80.2% of all euthanasia deaths are reported and there are approximately 550 deaths without request or consent per year in the Netherlands.
3. The NVVE is pushing the government to permit euthanasia for people who are "tired of living." Basically people who are 70 years old could die by euthanasia for any or no reason.
4. Psychiatrists in the Netherlands are permitted to euthanasia a patient with mental illness who is not otherwise dying.
5. The Groningen Protocol continues to be followed for the euthanasia of infants born with disabilities.

It brings me very little comfort that Dr. Rob Jonquière, the Communications Director for the World Federation of Right to Die Societies and former leader of the NVVE stated to the Huffington Post:
"However, the doctors will have to comply with the same ‘due care criteria’ as ‘regular’ doctors,"

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Melchert-Dinkel appealing his conviction in death of Nadia Kajouji

Nadia Kajouji
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An article that is written by Samantha Bushey and published yesterday in the Faribault Daily News explains that William Melchert-Dinkel, who was convicted for his part in the death of Canadian teenager Nadia Kajouji, has appealed his conviction.

The article states:
Oral arguments could be heard within the next 75 days in the appeal of a former nurse from Faribault who was convicted of encouraging and advising at least two people to commit suicide.
William Melchert-Dinkel, 49, was sentenced in Rice County District Court last May for aiding the suicide deaths of Mark Drybrough, of Coventry, England; and Nadia Kajouji, of Ottawa, Ontario. He filed a notice of appeal days before he was due to report to the Rice County Jail last June, and remains free while it is pending. 
Prosecutors say Melchert-Dinkel posed as a young, kind, sympathetic woman who worked as an emergency room nurse, and encouraged people to commit suicide. 
According to a criminal complaint filed in Rice County District Court April 23, 2010, during one visit with police Melchert-Dinkel said he visited websites which people used to find suicide methods. He said he acted as an advocate and accessory to someone ending their life, and estimated he had assisted up to five individuals in committing suicide, saying it was "the thrill of the chase." 
Drybrough’s sister found him hanging by a rope in his residence on July 27, 2005. Hanging was the method Melchert-Dinkel encouraged, and, according to the complaint, he had advised Drybrough on what rope to buy, how to tie the knot, and how to position the rope. 
Melchert-Dinkel found Kajouji on a suicide message board where she was looking for a suicide method with the "highest chance of success" because she was "terrified of failing" and wanted her suicide to "look like an accident." 
Melchert-Dinkel repeatedly advised and encouraged Kajouji to commit suicide by hanging, and even entered into a phony suicide pact with her. On March 9-10, 2008, Kajouji jumped into an icy river wearing ice skates; her body was found one month later.
The article explains that Melchert-Dinkel has based his appeal on the contention that counselling suicide is protected by a right to free speech.

The fact is that he took advantage of vulnerable people who were depressed and suicidal. Instead of discouraging them from suicide, he encouraged them. It is similar to pushing someone off an edge.

Mobile euthanasia teams in the Netherlands - update.

Last year the Netherlands euthanasia lobby (NVVE) decided to establish Mobile euthanasia teams in order to euthanize people with dementia and people with disabilities, who doctors sometimes hesitate to euthanize. Not Dead Yet reported on this decision last November on their blog.

Wesley Smith has now reported that the NVVE is moving forward on their plan to establish six mobile euthanasia teams. It is anticipated that the NVVE will begin mobile killing on March 1, 2012.

Wesley Smith
One of the supposed protections of euthanasia is the doctor saying no when, as one example, when killing isn’t warranted.  (Doctors also say know if participating in killing of a patient is against conscience, of course). Ditto assisted suicide in Oregon and Washington.

But that has always been a false premise. If a patient’s own doctor says no, just go death doctor shopping.  If you go to an assisted suicide/euthanasia advocacy group for a referral, chances are you will get your death wish granted.

And now, in the Netherlands, mobile euthanasia clinics! Link to the original story from Radio Netherlands.
De Volkskrant and Trouw report on a new development in euthanasia practice. De Volkskrant reports that, beginning in March, people who have been refused euthanasia by their own doctor will be able to call in one of six travelling teams. The groups, consisting of a doctor and a nurse, will be based in The Hague but will deal with cases throughout the country. The legal criteria that the patient must be in a situation of unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement will still apply. 
Trouw reports that the association behind the plan, Right to Die NL, is “doing everything it can” to allay fears and objections. One such fear is that dedicated teams will develop a kind of tunnel vision and will focus too strongly on meeting the patient’s desire for euthanasia at the expense of other options. But the association tells the paper “It can just as easily turn out that the patient’s doctor was right to refuse euthanasia. It won’t be a case of ‘your wish is our command’.”
I don’t believe that for a second, but if the death wish is not a command, why not?  If someone wants to be made dead, who are these mobile euthanasia purvayors to say no?  Fear not, they mostly won’t.  They are running mobile homicide clinics for a reason.

I stated was reported to have stated to a media outlet:
“The mobile euthanasia teams are a direct effort to eliminate the lives of people with disabilities,” 
 “This is also a specific form of elder abuse because frail, elderly people who are unable to request euthanasia will be dying by euthanasia through these mobile teams.”

The Mobile Euthanasia teams are a direct outcome of a society that allows one citizen to kill other citizens. Once a society opens the door to allowing its citizens to have the right to cause the death of another citizen, then the only question is - what reasons will permit the killing. There are no surprises here. Killing is killing is killing, whether it be done to a terminally ill person, or a person with a disability or a person with dementia. 

Choice and autonomy are the slogans, but in the end, these slogans are meaningless, because it becomes once it is acceptable to kill for one reason, soon their are many reasons to kill.

The current political push for the NVVE is the "tired of living" campaign. The NVVE have decided that 70 year old people, who are otherwise healthy, should be able to be given a lethal dose, simply because they are "tired of living". 

Have they not thought that people with depression are often difficult to diagnose?

Satire - Brain Dead teen euthanized.

brain dead teen
 Not Dead Yet blogged this satirical video on euthanasia.

The video is about a twelve year old girl who only rolls her eyes, texts on her phone and logs onto facebook. She is referred to as "brain dead" and her parents decide to euthanize her. Link to the video.

The video is worth watching. The video isn't as far fetched as some people would think if you consider the implications of the Dutch euthanasia lobby starting these mobile euthanasia teams. The comments about organ donation are sadly accurate, if you consider the fact that in Belgium, protocols enable a person to donate their organs / euthanasia.

This is what Not Dead Yet wrote about the video:
I'm pretty sure that the writers aren't taking a position on euthanasia here, but doing what satirists do best; they've taken a well-known, overused, emotionally manipulative and predictable script - and then twisted the context. 
I apologize for the lack of captioning, but I couldn't pass this up. If there's a good transcriptionist reading this, I promise you gratitude and credit if you want to transcribe this and send the transcript for posting. 
So - for those of you who've followed NDY and enjoy satire, enjoy the video. For pro-euthanasia advocates who've checked in to see what we're up to, prepare to be offended by the video story below.
Link to the U-Tube video.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Oregon state report details abuse of the elderly and people with disabilities.

An article written by Michelle Cole and published in the Oregonian yesterday examines the statistics.

The Oregon Department of Human Services released its first report tracking abuse of the elderly and adults with physical disabilities. A snapshot of the findings for 2010:
Totals: More than 27,000 reports received, 11,998 investigated, 2,608 confirmed victims.

Place of abuse: 85 percent of victims were abused in their homes; 15 percent in state-licensed care settings, such as nursing homes.

The victims: Women were nearly twice as likely to be reported victims as males; elderly more often than disabled adults.

The abusers: In care settings, the direct caregiver was the most common abuser. At home, it was relatives.

Financial abuse: More than 850 cases of financial exploitation were confirmed.

Other abuse: Investigators confirmed 1,619 cases of neglect, 411 reports of physical abuse and 32 cases of sexual abuse.

Toughening the law: Two bills in the 2012 Legislature would create a new category of assault for "intentionally or knowingly causing physical injury to elderly person."

It is clear that many people are being bullied, pressured and abused by family members, friends, care-givers, etc. Sadly many people are willing to take advantage of vulnerable people.

It is also clear that assisted suicide can become the ultimate form of elder abuse.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Georgia's high court strikes down assisted suicide restriction.

Georgia's high court unanimously decided to strike down the state's ban on advertising suicide but it did not decide that assisted suicide could not prohibited and it did not decide that the state could not ban suicide counseling or all communication for the purpose of assisting suicide.

Georgia's high court did unanimously decide to strike down a law that the state passed in 1994 to prevent a person like Jack Kevorkian, from going to Georgia to promote assisted suicide. The law had banned advertising suicide, and the court stated that this was an infringement on the "free speech" of the four members of the Final Exit Network who were charged in the 2008 death of John Celmer, a man who was in remission from cancer, but who was experiencing significant depression. The Final Exit Network is a suicide assistance club who have been involved in the suicide deaths of hundreds of people throughout the United States.

The story of John Celmer reinforces how a person who is living with depression can be influenced by others and die by assisted suicide. He was in remission from cancer and was awaiting reconstructive surgery on his face. Celmer's wife stated soon after the arrest of the four Final Exit Network members that:
"His physical condition was curable. Any depression he had was treatable, and death is not."
Stephen Drake, the research analyst for the disability rights group, Not Dead Yet, referred to this decision in this way:
At least in the short term, this is a victory for the Final Exit Network. But it's not an exoneration. 
What the court decision really includes is a harsh condemnation of the Georgia legislators for putting together a sloppy statute covering assisted suicide.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported on the decision by writing:
The state Supreme Court said Georgia's law is unconstitutional because it does not prohibit all assisted suicides and, instead, criminalizes only those in which someone advertises or offers to assist in a suicide and then takes steps to help carry it out. 
"The State has failed to provide any explanation or evidence as to why a public advertisement or offer to assist in an otherwise legal activity is sufficiently problematic to justify an intrusion on protected speech rights," Justice Hugh Thompson wrote for the court.
"Had the state truly been interested in the preservation of human life .... it could have imposed a ban on all assisted suicides with no restriction on protected speech whatsoever," Thompson wrote. "Alternatively, the state could have sought to prohibit all offers to assist in suicide when accompanied by an overt act to accomplish that goal. The state here did neither."
The article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution then quoted Forsyth District Attorney Penny Penn:
...if the law had survived the constitutional challenge, she was confident she could have won convictions against the four defendants for Cellner's suicide. 
"They behave irresponsibly and prey on people who are vulnerable," Penn said. "John Celmer wasn't terminally ill. He had cancer, but it was in remission." 
Penn noted that another key provision of the law that makes it a crime to prey on someone's fears, affections or sympathies to get them to commit suicide is still on the books. But she called on state lawmakers to try once again to write a new statute that criminalizes the work of organizations like the Final Exit Network. 
"They weren't discouraged or deterred when there were laws in place, so think what they'll do now," Penn said.
Drake concludes his commentary by stating:
Right now, Georgia legislators have a choice. They can draft a law that proves they believe that all suicides are preventable tragedies. Or they can just let the open season on despairing people contemplating suicide stand.
Ted Goodwin, the former leader of the Final Exit Network, is also the past Vice-President of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies. In an article that was published in the Associated Press in March 2009, Goodwin defends assisted suicide for people with disabilities.

The article in the Washington Post today reported that:
The decision left open a route for state lawmakers to explicitly outlaw all assisted suicides, as long as the law doesn’t infringe on free speech rights. Legislative leaders haven’t ruled out introducing legislation that would do just that, and the Georgia Attorney General’s office said it’s ready to help lawmakers if they bring forward legislation in response to the ruling.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition expects that the Georgia legislature will bring forth a bill to ban assisted suicide. Many Georgia citizens will need to demand that their elected representative votes in favor of a complete and total ban to assisted suicide.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

W5 produces exposé on the Rasouli case.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

CTV W5 produced an exposé on the Rasouli case and other cases where the doctors have unilaterally and without consent decided to withdraw treatment from a patient.

The Rasouli case is heading to the Supreme Court of Canada to decide - "Who has the right to decide." The doctors are claiming that they have the unilateral right to withdraw life-sustaining treatment from a patient without consent of the patient or the substitute decision maker, who are usually the family.

Joy Warwrzyniak
The W5 show also spoke to Joy Warwrzyniak who launched a case after witnessing the doctors at Sunnybrook hospital in Toronto withdraw the ventilator from her father Douglas DeGuerre against his wishes and against her consent. Warwrzyniak was legally the substitute decision maker for her father.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition successfully intervened at the Ontario Court of Appeal in the Rasouli case. We argued before the three judge panel that withdrawing life-sustaining treatment represented a change in the "treatment plan" and according to the Ontario law, consent is required in order to change the "treatment plan."

When reading the unanimous decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal it is clear that they agreed with the position of EPC when they stated that consent is required before life-sustaining treatment can be withdrawn.

Hassan Rasouli
The Rasouli case will determine whether or not doctors are required to obtain consent before withdrawing life-sustaining treatment.

The W5 examined the issues concerning - who legally has the right to decide to withdraw life-sustaining treatment. It was interesting that the doctors and the hospital were unwilling to make any comments on the show.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Canada Update - Court cases seek to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide

On January 27, 2012, EPC legal counsel, Hugh Scher, was in Trois-Rivières Quebec requesting co-intervener standing for EPC and Vivre dans la Dignité in the Leblanc case. The Leblanc case seeks to have Canada’s assistedsuicide law (Section 241b of the Criminal Code) declared unconstitutional and to decriminalize euthanasia.

Even though Duval may have intended to limit the challenge to the assisted suicide act, Section 11 of the Leblanc Notice of claim states:
“Due to her physical limits, the plaintiff will not without the help of a healthcare 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 requires another person to do the act, which is euthanasia.

At the preliminary hearing for the Leblanc case, Rene Duval, the lawyer for Ginette Leblanc, and the lawyers for the Attorney General, did not object to EPC and Vivre dans la Dignité being granted intervener standing, the only question was what rights will be given to their intervention.

In the past year, EPC intervened at the Ontario Court of Appeal in the Rasouli case, intervened in the Carter case at the Supreme Court of British Columbia (BC), and we are now seeking to intervene in the Leblanc case in Quebec.

EPC also intervened in the Carter case which was heard from November 14 - December 16 in
Vancouver BC. The co-intervention by EPC and EPC - BC was heard by Justice Smith on December 14.

The Carter case clearly intends to decriminalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

In the Carter case Notice of Claim, language was inserted that might become the framework for a law to allow the direct and intentional killing of people by euthanasia or assisted suicide.

The Carter case did not restrict actsof euthanasia or assisted suicide to physicians. The Statement of Claim says: a person acting “under the general supervision of a medical practitioner.” Family or other care-givers can act under the general supervision of a medical practitioner. The Carter case would allow a family member to cause the death.

The Carter case did not restrict euthanasiaor assisted suicide to people who are terminally ill. Carter defines eligibility based on people who are “grievously and irremediably ill.” Carter does not define grievously or irremediably ill but provides examples: “cancer, chronic renal failure and/or cardiac failure, and degenerative neurological diseases such as Huntington’s disease and multiple sclerosis.” The definition includes people who are not terminally ill but living with chronic conditions or disabilities.

John Coppard
John Coppard, a military veteran from Victoria BC, became involved with opposing assisted suicide for these reasons. He wrote 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 Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, the Oregon law limits assisted suicide to people with “six months to live.” Jeanette Hall, from Oregon, was terminally ill and wanted to die by assisted suicide. Eleven years later she wrote 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.”
The Carter case has been argued and we are waiting for a decision from Justice Smith. Based on her reputation as an activist judge, we are concerned that Smith may legislate from the bench.

If Smith legislates from the bench and in some way legalizes euthanasia and/or assisted suicide, the Hon Rob Nicholson (Attorney General of Canada) must immediately appeal the decision to the BC Court of Appeal. From there, the case would go to the Supreme Court of

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

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

You can make a difference.

The petition campaign to the Attorney General of Canada has been incredibly successful. Since we are waiting for a decision from Justice Smith in the Carter case, and since the Leblanc case has been launched in Quebec, you can collect signatures for the petition by downloading the petition online or sign the online petition.

Hon Rob Nicholson
You can write a hand-written letter to the Hon Rob Nicholson, Attorney General, urging him to immediately appeal any court decision that weakens the laws protecting us from euthanasia and assisted suicide. The letter should use a similar introduction plus one or both of the following talking points, with a similar conclusion.

As a Canadian, I ask that you do whatever possible to uphold our laws that protect me from Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.
*I am concerned that legalizing euthanasia and/or assisted suicide will lead to pressure being placed on people with disabilities. Some deaths may occur without request or consent, as has happened in other jurisdictions.

*I am concerned that legalizing euthanasia and/or assisted suicide will lead to new paths for elder abuse which is already a serious social problem in Canada.
Dependent elderly people or people with disabilities may die by euthanasia or assisted suicide because of pressure from abusive relationships that they are already experiencing.
I ask you to appeal any court decision that would in some way weakens our laws that protect people from euthanasia and/or assisted suicide.
Send the letter to: 
Hon. Rob Nicholson (Attorney General of Canada); 
House of Commons; Ottawa Ontario  K1A 0A6
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition needs your financial support to protect you from euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. The cost to intervene in the Carter case was $53,000. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition  needs your financial help to continue.

Netherlands Churches express concern over assisted suicide proposal

An article in the Netherlands paper Reformatorisch Dagblad entitled: Churches express concern about the initiative on Free Will, concerns a joint letter written to the Government house in the Netherlands concerning proposals to allow assisted suicide for people who are “tired of living.”

The letter to the government was sent on behalf of seven denominations of various Reformed Churches in the Netherlands.

The church leaders point out in their letter to the government that the current initiative by the Dutch Euthanasia Society (NVVE) is much wider than the current euthanasia law that was passed in 2002. This new proposal would approve assisted suicide for people who have passed the age 70 years and who are not living with a medical condition related to hopeless and unbearable suffering. The person requests assisted suicide is simply “tired of living.”

The church leaders reminded the government of their call to protect human life. The letter stated that: The protective value of life is a central value, even when life is marked by ill health. The churches emphasized that society is better served by valuing people at every age, instead of legalizing assisted suicide.
Insurmountable objections can be raised against the initiative of "Free Will." The letter stated: Life is not available to man, but has received from God. Therefore we believe it is not lawful to hasten the death for ourselves or for our others.

The letter was also concerned with the psychological pressure that be placed upon many people who are over 70 who want to live. The authors warned that it should not be underestimated how these people will be made to think that they are a burden to their families. The churches were also concerned about the moral pressure on those caring or nursing older people who may be called to assist a suicide.

The Netherlands euthanasia society (NVVE), is preparing advance directives, that will include the request for assisted suicide for "tired of living."