Thursday, April 26, 2012

Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians oppose the Quebec Dying with Dignity report's call to legalize euthanasia.

The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians (CSPCP) have a adopted a position statement on the Quebec Dying with Dignity report. There position is based on the results from the survey of the members and the need to clarify the issues from the report.

The CSPCP is urging the Quebec government to implement palliative care recommendations in the Quebec Dying with Dignity report and to reject the recommendations related to the legalization of euthanasia in Quebec.

The CSPCP examines the controversy that the Quebec Dying with Dignity committee creates by its support for euthanasia. The CSPCP stated:
By blending palliative care with euthanasia, the Quebec report runs counter to a fundamental tenet of CSPCP and most practitioners of Palliative Medicine. According to the CSPCP position statement "Palliative Medicine does not include the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide... the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians strongly opposes the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide at this time, and most CSPCP members will not participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide." 
Canadian law currently prohibits euthanasia, making it an offense to counsel or assist someone to commit suicide, or to agree to be put to death. This was upheld late last year by the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee, supporting the CSPCP belief that hastened death is not a part of Palliative Medicine. 
Said CSPCP President Ingrid DeKock, "We are concerned that, despite the fact that our members are unwilling to provide these services, this may be mandated if it becomes law in Quebec... The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians will continue to advocate for universal access to good palliative care all across Canada."
The CSPCP position statement:

CSPCP Position Statement: The Practice of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Who we are
The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians (CSPCP) was formed with the vision of promoting the highest quality of palliative and end-of-life care by physicians in Canada. The Society strives to advance the quality of life of Canadians and their families who are living with a life-threatening illness, by advancing the field of Palliative Medicine and representing our discipline at local, provincial, and national levels. Members include medical practitioners with an interest or specialized practice in Palliative Medicine.

Assisted Suicide - "The act of helping someone commit suicide by providing the means or the information on how to proceed, or both." (Quebec National Assembly)

Euthanasia - "An act that consists of deliberately causing the death of another person to put an end to that person's suffering." (Quebec National Assembly)

Palliative Care is defined by the World Health Organization as an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing challenges associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other physical, psychological and spiritual problems. Palliative Care:
* Provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms;
* Affirms life and regards dying as a normal process, and intends neither to hasten nor postpone death;
* Integrates psychological and spiritual aspects of patient care, offering a support system to help patients live as actively as possible, and to help the family cope during the patients illness and in their own bereavement using a team approach;
* Enhances quality of life, and may also positively influence the course of illness and is applicable early in illness, in conjunction with other therapies intended to prolong life, and includes investigations needed to better understand and manage distressing clinical complications.
Palliative Medicine is the study and management of patients with active, progressive, advanced disease for whom the prognosis is limited and the focus of care is quality of life. Palliative medicine does not include the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Based upon a membership survey, the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians strongly opposes the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide at this time, and most CSPCP members will not participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Any questions about the survey or the CSPCP should be directed to Kathy Robberstad: (780) 735-7727

Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians Oppose Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Great News:
The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians (CSPCP) have recently published a position paper opposing the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide, promoting improvements to palliative care in Canada and making clear distinctions between euthanasia, assisted suicide and Palliative Care.

The CSPCP also published the results of a survey of their members that confirms that an overwhelming majority of their members do not support euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Information from the CSPCP explains the survey results in this way:

CSPCA Euthanasia Survey Results

The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians (CSPCP) represents nearly 300 member physicians who provide care to the dying. Our mission is to advance the quality of life of our patients and their families.

The CSPCP acknowledges that euthanasia and assisted suicide are important issues that face Canadians, and currently its legalization is being debated in British Columbia and Quebec.

To enable the CSPCP Board to make a position statement, a survey of our members was conducted in November 2010 to determine whether they favoured legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide, and also if they would be willing to participate in either activity.

The survey used the definitions and glossary of the Quebec National Assembly for clarification and standardization. Definitions are as follows:
Euthanasia - "An act that consists of deliberately causing the death of another person to put an end to that person's suffering."
Assisted Suicide - "The act of helping someone commit suicide by providing the means or the information on how to proceed, or both."
Almost half (46%) of CSPCP members responded to the survey, and the overwhelming majority were OPPOSED to the legalization of euthanasia (88%) or assisted suicide (80%).
* 90% of responding members would not be willing to participate in the act of euthanasia.
* 83% of responding members would not be willing to aid in assisted suicide.
Based upon the survey results, the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians strongly oppose the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide at this time, and most of its members are unwilling to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Any questions about the survey or the CSPCP should be directed to Kathy Robberstad: (780) 735-7727

Apologize to the Severely Disabled, DR. PHIL

Dr. Mark Mostert

By Mark Mostert (link to the original)
Dr. Phil owes more than 50 million people in the U.S. with disabilities an apology. Late last week he ran a segment that was unapologetically pro-death masquerading as an informed serious debate. The topic? Whether people with severe disabilities should be killed because they have no quality of life.

Couched in sympathetic close-ups, Dr. Phil made only the most rudimentary attempt at a balanced argument before showing his hand for what it was – that as a powerful member of the media he tacitly supported the idea that euthanasia is an acceptable and even desirable way to dispose of people who are unable to speak or fend for themselves.
On stage for the entire segment was Annette Corriveau, a Canadian mother with two adult children with severe physical and intellectual disabilities. Normal at birth, the siblings’ condition has deteriorated over time due to a rare genetic disease. Janet and Jeffery, now in their 30s, appear to be largely unable to communicate, see, or hear. They survive by being tube fed. They live in an assisted living facility where Annette visits them every other month or so.
Janet & Jeffrey.
Cue a clip of Janet and Jeffery, confined to wheelchairs and seemingly unaware of their surroundings.
The audience were hooked: A “loving” mother tortured by the horrible existence of her severely disabled children and who, at her wits’ end, sees killing them as the only solution. While it wasn’t so crassly stated, Annette wants to put them out of their misery. Killing as a loving parental act.
Things went downhill from there. Enter Geoffrey Fieger, the pro-death Kevorkian lawyer who eloquently argued that death is what the siblings deserve because it would release them from their existential hell on earth.
Right at the end of the segment, Dr. Phil introduced Ruthi, a mother of several children with disabilities, as the counter argument to all the death talk. In tears, Ruthi argued valiantly against what Corriveau and Feiger wanted to do. She was allowed three or four sentences, and that was that.
Ruthi, by the way, had to make her argument seated in the audience. No stage time for her and her views.
The segment was over except for one more thing: Dr. Phil asked the audience if they agreed with Corriveau and Feiger that Janet and Jeffery were better off dead. Almost everyone raised their hands to agree.
The audience response was not surprising seeing that the drumbeat throughout the segment was to end lives, lives most seemed to agree were not worth living.
Better to discard these creatures unable to reciprocate love and affection that cause their mother increasing emotional trouble. That’s why Annette Corriveau wants them dead more than anyone. She was closely followed, apparently, by the audience whose enthusiastic voting for death was little better than a Roman mob entreating the emperor for a thumbs-down death of a wounded gladiator.
Here was the pro-death monster unveiled: Death is better than life; poison or a needle can end all suffering. If you’re not exactly perfect you can’t possibly want to live in that condition, nor should your loved ones be put upon to visit you. Therefore, the put-upon have the right to get rid of you because they know what’s best for you (and for them, of course).
The pro-death bias lives on at the Dr. Phil Show website.
First, three photos from the segment’s guests, all of equal size (Feiger, Janet and Annette, Ruthi), convey the idea that they were each equally part of the segment. Not true.
Second, there are video clips of Corriveau, Dr. Phil, Janet and Jeffery, and Fieger. Ruthi only rated a brief quote right at the bottom of the story report.
At the very least, given his celebrity status, Dr. Phil should air another segment equally biased but this time on the side of human kindness, human dignity, and with the quite universal understanding that it is how we treat the most vulnerable among us that in time defines us as a society.
Until that happens, people with disabilities and their loved ones should steer clear of the show because pro-death apologists in very influential positions are the last thing we need.
Dr. Mark Mostert is the president of Disability Consultants International and is recognized nationally and internationally as an expert on disability issues. He is a consultant for the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network.

Euthanasia debate in New Zealand examines bill to legalize euthanasia.

New Zealand
Yesterday, a debate on a proposed bill to legalize euthanasia in New Zealand occurred at the public hospital in Dunedin NZ. The debate was between Maryan Street, the Labour MP who is proposing the euthanasia bill and John Kleinsman, the director of the Nathaniel Centre.

An article that was written by Wilma McCorkindale and published in under the title: Right or Duty to Die. The article reported that Maryan Street stated:
The bill aimed to provide end-of-life choices for people with terminal illness and irrecoverable conditions which make life impossible, Street said. She emphasised the inclusion of protections within the proposed legislations for those wanting to die and those involved in the process. 
The patient had to be of sound mind when making the choice and protected from coercion. This would be attested by doctors. There was also protection against the decision being overturned if the person was later unable to express their view.

"Similarly there must be protection against criminal liability-protection for family members who are asked, like Sean (Davidson) to do the unthinkable."

People who had lived autonomous lives should also be allowed to be autonomous during the end of their lives, she said.

The article reported that John Kleinsman stated:

I don't think there is any law that can adequately protect against the risks. In fact the law would remove the most protective barrier," he told a full house at the hospital’s Colquhoun Lecture Theatre.

He launched a scathing attack on the Government's inadequate funding of palliative care,  saying it was driving people to assisted suicide. If people could be assured of death without agony the voluntary euthanasia debate would be redundant, he said.

"Until every New Zealander has access to high quality palliative care I think it’s unethical to introduce euthanasia. Choosing to die can never be fully voluntary in a society that doesn’t provide palliative care options."

Kleinsman also criticised rest home care, saying rest homes needed to "lift their game". 
Other considerations in the debate included societal changes such as the increase in elder abuse, and families living long distances from elderly or disabled relatives who believed they were a burden which encouraged life-ending decisions. 
The proposed legislation also presented a message that people who were ill or disabled were somehow worthy of less respect. The message is subtle but powerful. 
"Relaxing the law is fraught with possibilities for abuse. The right to die would very quickly become a duty to die."   

It is important to note that Street made it clear that family members would be protected from criminal liability. Considering the scourge of elder abuse in society and the fact that Canadian government indicates that approximately 70% of elder abuse is carried out by family members or close friends who the abuser is dependent upon.

Giving the possible abuser protection from criminal liability should concern everyone.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vegetative patient now able to give ‘thumbs up,’ fueling debate over life support

Rasouli Family
An article concerning the Rasouli case that was written by Lisa Priest and published today in the Globe and Mail under the title: Vegetative Patient now able to give 'thumbs up,' fueling debate over life support. The Rasouli case currently scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada in November 2012,

The Rasouli case is based on a dispute between the doctors and the family. The doctors at Sunnybrook hospital claimed that Hassan Rasouli was in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) and they state that they have the right to withdraw the ventilator from Mr. Rasouli without consent.

The Rasouli family objected to withdrawing the ventilator based on two grounds:
1. the Rasouli family are Muslim and they have religious objections to withdrawing the ventilator;
2. his wife, a physician, did not agree that her husband was in a PVS state.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) intervened in the Rasouli case at the Ontario Court of Appeal, because we believe it is not safe to give doctors the unilateral right to withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment. The three judge panel, from the Ontario Court of Appeal, unanimously agreed that doctors were required to obtain consent before withdrawing life-sustaining treatment. The doctors appealed the unanimous decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. EPC has requested to intervene in the Rasouli case at the Supreme Court of Canada.

The article by Lisa Priest that was published in the Globe and Mail indicates that Hassan Rasouli is now giving 'thumbs up' and responding to people's commands. His doctors have determined that he is not in a PVS state and the family has asked the Supreme Court of Canada to quash the case.

The article says:
A hospital patient deemed vegetative is now able to make a “thumbs up” gesture – a sign to family that he is aware, but not yet strong enough to persuade doctors to drop a recommendation to withdraw life support.

The symbol marks a dramatic turn for Hassan Rasouli, 60, who until recently was in a persistent vegetative state. An affidavit filed with Canada’s top court says he’s now minimally conscious, and doctors’ reports say he can “voluntarily control” certain behaviours – suggesting he may be aware but trapped in a paralyzed body.

This new diagnosis seems certain to inflame an already divisive ethical debate about who decides to withdraw life support. And it raises the discomfiting notion – the stuff of relatives’ nightmares – of a patient being aware but unable to communicate when the machines are turned off.

“He is still there,” Mojgan Rasouli, 29, said of her father who has been at Toronto’s Sunnybrook hospital since October, 2010, after sustaining a brain infection after surgery for a brain tumour. “He can feel us and we can feel him.”

The case before the Supreme Court of Canada was begun by two doctors from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Brian Cuthbertson and Gordon Rubenfeld, who saw no medical purpose in keeping Mr. Rasouli on life support and proposed shifting him to palliative care.

The affidavit, filed by Dr. Cuthbertson, chief of critical care at Sunnybrook, spawned activity in and out of the courtroom. Gary Hodder, lawyer for the Rasouli family, filed a motion to quash the appeal as moot. A leading neuroscientist, Adrian Owen, travelled to Mr. Rasouli’s bedside at Sunnybrook on Tuesday, to conduct investigations to determine whether he can communicate.

His investigations come on the heels of a study he published in the medical journal The Lancet, revealing that 19 per cent of patients believed to be in an irreversible vegetative state showed signs of full consciousness when tested with an electroencephalography machine.

This is a murky area. Medicine is as much art as science, and sometimes even the most seemingly hopeless of patients experiences a change in condition. Whether Mr. Rasouli can communicate is a crucial question on which the medical case is expected to turn.

If he can, he “may be able to, or even capable of, expressing end-of-life wishes, such as whether to discontinue life support,” said Mark Handelman, an expert in health-care law.

If he cannot, Dr. Cuthbertson and other treating physicians “remain of the view that the standard of care does not require continuation of mechanical ventilation given his condition,” the affidavit says. It says Mr. Rasouli has also been diagnosed with other conditions, including spastic quadriplegia, which are extremely unlikely to improve in the long term.

Mr. Rasouli, a retired engineer, receives round-the-clock care: A mechanical ventilator does his breathing; a tube inserted into his stomach provides nutrition and fluids, while a catheter drains his urine. Medications maintain his blood pressure and he must be turned to prevent bed sores.

Sunnybrook neurologist Richard Swartz initially diagnosed him to be in a persistent vegetative state. But he noted things had “clearly changed” when he assessed Mr. Rasouli in late January, nearly 11 months from his last visit.

The patient was “consistently able to show a ‘thumbs up’ ” to verbal requests, with his wife, Parichehr Salasel, translating to Farsi. “… Importantly, he has consistently shown visual pursuit, one of the earliest signs of MCS [minimally conscious state].”

Lawyer Harry Underwood, who represents critical-care physicians Dr. Cuthbertson and Dr. Rubenfeld, declined comment. Dr. Swartz could not be reached.

Mr. Hodder said the new diagnosis “changes the entire texture of the situation. We’re now talking about someone who has some degree of consciousness.”

Bernard Dickens, professor emeritus of health law and policy at University of Toronto, says if it turns out Mr. Rasouli is aware, his lawyers could argue that disconnecting him from life support would cause him moral anguish and could violate the “do no harm” oath of physicians.

For the Rasouli, family, however, this is important not only personally but for other patients facing the same painful issue.

“This could help other families, future patients,” Ms. Rasouli said. “Maybe some families give up. Everything is possible.”
Link to previous articles about the Rasouli case. Link.

Link to a previous article explaining the Rasouli case. Link.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Assisted suicide: debate deals with abuse, compassion

Wanda Morris and Margaret Dore (left).
Last night, Margaret Dore, a lawyer from Seattle Washington and leader of the group - Choice is an Illusion, debated Wanda Morris from Dying with Dignity Canada in Kamloops BC. Tonight Margaret Dore and Wanda Morris are continuing their debate in Kelowna BC.

The Kamloop Daily News reporter, Mike Youds, wrote the following article today:

Margaret Dore shared some of her experiences with assisted suicide in Washington State, where the practice became legal through a ballot measure four years ago.

“A lot of people think this is a great idea until they start thinking and reading about how you do it,” she told an audience of about 30 people in the Irving K. Barber Centre.

In effect, laws in Washington and Oregon empower people who may choose to abuse the responsibility, Dore said.
 “Your heir can be there to help you sign up. Once the legal dose leaves the pharmacy, there is no oversight whatsoever.”
Wanda Morris, head of the Canadian charity Dying With Dignity, advocated for the right to choose to end life humanely.
“These are individuals who want to live, but they are individuals facing a horrific death,” she said. “The fundamental difference is choice. Choice is important in Canada. Why is it, at the time of life when we’re facing our toughest decision we could ever make, that choice is taken away?”
The issue has long been debated in Canada, where two years ago Parliament easily defeated a bill that would have permitted assisted suicide and euthanasia. Recently the subject has made headlines again with two court high-profile court cases in B.C. and Quebec.
“Autonomy is such a critical value, it is a cornerstone of modern medicine,” Morris continued. “Nothing can be done without consent. And yet here, at the end of life, I’m not given that choice.”
Dore said she agrees that people should have the right to choose how they die, but the U.S. laws don’t give that. Four days after the Washington State law passed, the adult son of a care facility resident showed up asking how “to get them pills,” she said.
“Who’s choice?,” she asked rhetorically. An adult child can administer the lethal dose with no one else to tell whether it was a matter of consent. “There is no oversight over administration.”
Morris insisted that the law her organization has long pushed for would only apply to individuals with six months or less to live. Dore countered that such a restriction does not apply in the U.S. and pointed to a case where an Oregon woman, who was talked out of suicide by her doctor, remains thankful she has survived another 12 years.

There was a $5.4-million lobby for assisted suicide in Washington, a machine that was up against a volunteer group, she said.
“In Canada and the U.S., there is a very significant funder in this debate and it is the Catholic church,” Morris said.
Opponents of assisted suicide argue from dogmatic positions and cannot be satisfied, she said.

“Excuse me, but I never said anything about Catholic dogma,” Dore replied.

She warned that Canada, having rejected the idea in Parliament, is facing the possibility of legislating it through the courts with the Carter and Leblanc court cases.

“We have a blank slate and we can write in whatever controls we want to protect the weak and the vulnerable,” Morris said.

Dr. Phil: Promoting Killing People with Cognitive Disabilities

This is a re-print from the Not Dead Yet Website.

By Stephen Drake:

Stephen Drake
The first time I ever heard of Dr. Phil McGraw was in the late summer of 2002 when I got a call from one of his producers.

First, she had to explain to me just who "Dr.Phil" was. By now, anyone reading this knows his history with Oprah and his trajectory into his own show, so I don't have to go over that part.

Once the producer got over that part, she got to the point of her call. The show would start airing soon and they were planning and taping the first shows. They planned to do a show on Carol Carr, who, in June of 2002, had walked into the nursing home where her two sons resided in Griffin, Georgia. She went to the room that they shared and shot both men dead. Both men had Huntington's disease. Michael Randy Scott was 42 and Andy Byron Scott was 41.

What they planned for the show, she explained, was to hold a sort of 'mock trial' for Carol Carr. They would have 'experts' debate the pros and cons of treating her shooting of her sons as a murder vs. exonerating her as having performed an act of mercy.

They already had their 'experts' lined up, but didn't say (so far as I can recall) who they were. What she wanted from me was to get one person from Not Dead Yet to show up to be in the audience for the taping - where, they would probably get to ask one question or make one statement.

After getting her office phone number, I told her I'd see what I could do and went to discuss the issue with Diane Coleman.

To make a long story short, we were faced with trying to get someone from the Los Angeles area to commit to go with very little warning. That individual would then be faced with trying to arrange transportation to the show - not an easy thing in the LA area for the chair-users we knew. It seemed like an awful lot of work to ask of someone else - a commitment which would eat up a significant portion of their day - for the possibility they might get to ask one question or make one statement. This in the context of a show that looked rigged to go very much against people with disabilities.

We reached the conclusion that the best thing was to refuse to cooperate with the show.

I called the producer back and explained that we decided not to even try to get someone to the show and started to explain why.  We believed the show was a bad idea, plain and simple. They were going to have some 'experts' on a stage - none of whom knew anything about supports for people with disabilities or how disabled people can have a great quality of life with supports - and discuss whether the killing of Michael and Andy Scott were "real" murders. I explained that there was a nationwide trend for the murders of disabled people to be treated as insignificant, compared to other deadly incidents of domestic violence. Further, it was clear that the pattern didn't result so much from sympathy for the killer as it did from devaluing and objectification of the victims.

I said it was offensive to put the worth of the lives of disabled people on trial as an entertainment exercise.

She disagreed with the characterization. I assured her that we would be willing to issue a national press release as soon as we watched the episode (which I had no doubt would meet our expectations).

In the end, the show never aired - which means, I guess, that they never actually did that show.

Maybe the threat of a press release and negative publicity resulted in the decision not to go with the show. But I suspect that if it was anything I said at the time that actually had an impact it was near the end of the conversation.

I had gone back to the issue that the idea of debating the value of disabled lives for entertainment was offensive and she told me that she didn't think it was. I told her, that as a white male, when black women tell me a certain portrayal of them is offensive I trust and respect their evaluations over the assurances of other white males that there's no problem. After a slight pause, she responded quietly with, "well, I am a black woman and I know what you mean." The call closed with my promise that I'd keep a lookout for the particular show when the Dr. Phil Show started airing. After two months of watching the TV schedule diligently, I gave up and figured they just didn't do it.

Well, that was then - Dr. Phil has been on the air for almost ten years. And he's shown a tendency to jump on headlines and to exploit breaking human interest stories - and the people at the center of them with enthusiasm. You can check out the Wikipedia entry on "Dr. Phil" to see a series of his greatest hits - accusations of unethical conduct, and various other not-so-nice things - most having to do with the good doctor having done something involving the exploitation of a situation or someone's personal trauma to boost his show, his ratings and his 'brand.' This MSNBC news story about accusations of exploiting Britney Spears' very public emotional meltdown(s) back in 2008 is also very informative about the "ethical grounding" of good ol' Dr. Phil.

So I guess it wasn't really all that surprising when Dr. Phil and his staff took notice of the controversy - and attention - garnered by Global News in Canada with its 'Taking Mercy' show which promoted the idea that parents should be able to kill their children who have intellectual disabilities. The show centered around Annette Corriveau, who has two adult children who have a progressive genetic condition called Sanfilippo syndrome. It aired on April 13, 2012.

Since, as usual, the main concern of Dr. Phil and his staff is providing programming that will grab attention, there was no honest exploration of ethical issues when he, in turn, had Annette Corriveau on his show. In addition to Corriveau, he had Geoffrey Fieger - who not only defended Kevorkian, but also helped him pick out and eliminate 'candidates' for assisted suicide based on what he believed Kevorkian could get away with. Fieger has never criticized any homicide labelled a 'mercy killing' that he's been asked to comment on. The third 'guest' was a woman identified only by her first name - 'Ruthi' - who is described as having four birth children and three step children; we're also told that three of her children have 'special needs' and suffer from disorders. She is appalled at the idea of killing people with intellectual disabilities.

The show opens with a brief intro of Corriveau. After that, we're treated to an interview of her conducted by one of the producers while video from the 'Taking Mercy' show runs in the background.

Over the course of the opening (which takes over half of the show segment) we are shown and/or told the following:
  • Video shows Corriveau's two children from childhood to recent pictures as adults.
  • Aside from the cognitive and physical disabilities developed as a result of the condition, much is made of the changes in their appearance as they got older (implying the 'not normal' appearance is also tragic).
  • She institutionalized them both when they were young.
  • She visits them every two months, but doesn't touch them, because they don't react to her. We hear nothing about whether or not they react to staff people they see every day.
After that, Dr. Phil does a little back and forth with Corriveau, making mild protests about not knowing what they would want and how it's different from withholding treatment. He also says he wouldn't want to live "like that."

Next he goes to Geoffrey Fieger, who says what she wants is perfectly reasonable and merciful and that the law is stupid. No one who knows anything about Fieger can be surprised by his take on this - not even Dr. Phil - but I suspect he invited Fieger on the show precisely because he knows what Fieger's take will be.

Next he goes to 'Ruthi.' We don't get to see any videos of Ruthi's kids. She might be an articulate advocate in other venues, but she's been outmatched here. Not only does the "I want to kill my kids" mom have the stage, but interruptions by Corriveau and Fieger eat up over half of the little time Ruthi has to voice her objections to what is being promoted that day.

Next - he asks for a show of hands from the audience - how many agree that Corriveau should be able to 'mercifully' kill her kids? It's no surprise that an audience that has sat through a presentation in which Corriveau's honesty, compassion or motives are never questioned - and backed by a leading advocate of anything that gets called 'mercy killing' (Fieger) - about 90% of the audience back Corriveau. By doing so, they've also written off the lives of anyone with a significant cognitive disability. It's a bad day for people with disabilities, but a great day for Dr. Phil - who loves great theater.

There's a feature after every show called "Dr. Phil Uncensored." You can check the link and track down the one for the show "Deadly Consequences" - the obviously scripted interaction between Dr. Phil and his staff is pure bullshit from beginning to end regarding the 'mercy killing' segment. They express surprise over the audience vote and congratulate themselves, saying that "all the arguments were brought to the table" and that "we got both sides out". That's just crap - they're all too smart not to know they loaded the dice and ended up with exactly the show they planned on. They're just counting on audience gullibility.

This is a link to the main story site of "Deadly Consequences."

As another person outraged about this said on Facebook, Dr. Phil really is no different - or better - than  Jerry Springer, who reigned for years as the exploitation circus king. The difference between Dr. Phil and Springer is that Springer never seriously claimed to be 'helping' anyone. Far too many of Dr. Phil's fans think he's some sort of kind professional, when in fact he's just another self-promoting entrepeneur working hard to separate gullible people from their money.

Dr. Phil show advocates for "Mercy Killing" of People with Disabilities.

By Cassy Fiano - April 14, 2012.

This week on the popular Dr. Phil Show, a mother named Annette Corriveau was featured. She’s special because she wants the right to be able to kill her children. (Link to Dr. Phil Show)
That’s right. She is the mother of two severely disabled adult children, and she feels that the moral thing to do would be to kill them by lethal injection, to end their “suffering.” Her children were diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome, causing them to lose motor function and be institutionalized. They cannot speak, and they have to be fed through feeding tubes. Any more information on their condition wasn’t made clear – probably because, as Annette admitted, she visits her children only once every two months. The people who actually work with her children every day, and see them on a regular basis, and could therefore give a better idea of what their lives are like, were not interviewed for the show. We had only Annette’s point of view, which is that – according to her – if her children could choose, they would choose suicide.
She admits that she doesn’t know if they are in pain. She doesn’t know if they’re deaf or blind. She doesn’t know if they recognize her or not, and she doesn’t know what actions and activities, if any, are comforting to them. She doesn’t know if they are able to communicate in any way. She says that they’ve never left the facility they’re in over the past twenty years, but she also doesn’t disclose if she’s done anything to try to take her children out on trips – although considering that she visits them only once every two months, my guess would be no.
Yet she feels that, because she is their mother, she should be allowed to end their lives – because she doesn’t think their quality of life is worth living for.
Jack Kevorkian
Also invited on the show? Attorney Geoffrey Fleiger, who defended the infamous Dr. Jack Kevorkian. As we all know, Dr. Kevorkian performed assisted suicides for his patients, and the argument being made is that this is the same thing: helping people put themselves out of their own misery.
Assisted suicide arguments aside, there is a glaring difference between what Dr. Kevorkian was doing and what Annette Corriveau is advocating: these children wouldn’t be committing suicide. They wouldn’t be calling Dr. Kevorkian themselves. They aren’t consciously making that decision. It is a choice being made for them, by the person who is supposed to love and protect them. No matter how sympathetic you try to make yourself seem, this is murder, plain and simple. Taking someone’s life and calling it “merciful” does not change the fact that you are taking someone’s life.
The most disturbing part of all? Dr. Phil offered a weak rebuttal to her argument, but he still went on calling this an act of mercy to her children. He then polled the audience to see how many of them agreed with this mother.
Almost every single member of the audience did.
The woman crying at the end of that video was the one person speaking out for those children. She was given all of a minute, tops, to make her case for why murdering people with severe disabilities is abhorrent and wrong. And in that minute, she was able to pretty much hit the nail on the head: that you can’t kill your children just because it’s too much work for you to keep them alive.
This isn’t the first time Annette Corriveau has spoken publicly about this issue. She was featured in a documentary, Taking Mercy, along with a father who actually did kill his disabled daughter in the name of “mercy.” (You can watch the video here – it’s about fifteen minutes long.)
Robert Latimer, the other parent in Taking Mercy, murdered his daughter to end her “suffering” by putting her in the cab of his truck and letting her die of carbon monoxide poisoning. The affliction that meant that her life was not worth living? Cerebral palsy.
These two parents want to make it legal to murder your children if, as a parent, you feel that their lives aren’t worth living, because they are supposedly suffering too much. And what makes a life not worth living? Apparently, having a disability.
Tracy Latimer
While you can’t argue that Annette Corriveau’s children are severely disabled, Robert Latimer’s daughter was nowhere near them in terms of disability. You can see her in videos, laughing and smiling. The reason he decided to kill her? She had to have surgery to repair her hip, another surgery in a long line of them, and he felt that her life was too “painful” to live. He says that after she died, he knew she was at peace. And of course, so was he.
What makes these people think they have the right to decide whether their child gets to live or die? Annette Corriveau repeatedly says that you can’t judge her unless you’ve “walked in her moccasins,” but that is a load of nonsense. This has nothing to do with being judgmental, and everything to do with refusing to open the door to euthanasia.
It’s repeatedly said that this should be between the parent and the physician, and no one else, but it isn’t the parent’s choice to make. You don’t get to decide whether someone’s life is worth living or not. You don’t get to decide that it’s better to murder people than let to let them live.
Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this entire argument – that “mercy killing” should be legalized – is the potential for a deadly slippery slope. If they get their way, then who gets to decide what the marker for quality of life is? Who chooses when life is worth living for someone else? What disabilities deserve a death sentence? Sure, Annette Corriveau’s children are severely disabled. But what about parents who feel that their child with, say, Down syndrome has poor quality of life and doesn’t deserve to live? Multiple sclerosis? Muscular dystrophy? Cerebral palsy?
There are hundreds of thousands of people in the world living with disabilities, and I’m sure they wouldn’t want someone deciding for them that their lives aren’t worth living and that as such, they’ll be murdered. The fact that this issue has been brought to prominence on The Dr. Phil Show and portrayed as a legitimate issue of compassion and mercy is horrifying; even worse is that so many of his viewers apparently feel that killing someone because of a disability is A-OK.
The reality here is that no one gets to play God and decide who lives and who dies, or whose life is worthwhile and whose isn’t. Just because you brought your children into the world doesn’t mean that you have the right to take them out of the world, whether it’s done in the name of mercy or not. Because no matter how you may try to paint the picture, there is absolutely nothing merciful or compassionate about murder.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Saskatoon Assisted Suicide Debate - May 3.

Debate: Should Assisted Suicide be legalized in Canada?

When: May 3, 2012 - 
Doors open at 6:30 pm - Debate begins at 7 pm.

Where: Saskatoon Saskatchewan
Frances Morrison Public Library.
311 - 23rd St. E - In the Theatre downstairs.

Admission: $10 or $5 for students.

Wanda Morris - Executive Director - Dying With Dignity

Wanda Morris
Alex Schadenberg - Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Moderator: A member of the University of Saskatchewan debate society.

Sponsored by: Centre for Inquiry, Dying With Dignity, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

I do not publish Anonymous comments.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In case you are wondering why your comments haven't been published, I will restate my policy. I do not publish Anonymous comments.

During the past few years there have been comments that were inappropriate and personally attacking that were made by persons using the name - Anonymous.

I am not referring to the group that is named Anonymous either.

Not all of the Anonymous comments are inappropriate or attack individuals, but in order maintain a fair and equitable policy, I do not publish Anonymous comments.

I have my name and contact information connected to my blog. Therefore anyone who wants to have their comments published by me need to at least provide their name. By the way, this has been my policy for more than one year already.

Alex Schadenberg

Last Will and Embezzlement

Mickey Rooney
The issue of elder abuse is finally gaining political and social recognition. 

In Canada the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care published a full-section of their report that focuses on elder abuse. Many people are concerned about elder abuse but very few people understand the scope of the problem.

Wesley Smith recently published a blog comment about the movie entitled: Last Will and Embezzlement. A movie that features Mickey Rooney.

Link to the official movie trailer for Last Will and Embezzlement.

Smith asked the question: Imagine the Elder Exploitation in an Assisted Suicide World? Smith states: "The abuse wouldn't just be about property."

Quebec Short Shifts Senior Care as Euthanasia Pushed

Wesley Smith
By Wesley J. Smith
Published on his blog - April 16, 2012

It never ceases to amaze me how people fail to connect dots.  In recent weeks, we’ve seen a big push to legalize euthanasia in Quebec. Yet, as a medical advisory counsel has recommended turning killing into a legal ”medical treatment,” the province is is short shifting the kind of senior care that could prevent an elderly person from wanting to be made dead. From the Montreal Gazette story:
QUEBEC – In 2003, the Quebec government instituted a policy favouring home care for the elderly and disabled over long-term care institutions, but  complaints are growing that the government is not delivering on its commitment. Provincial ombudsman Raymonde Saint-Germain has found that while Quebec’s home-care policy does not allow the government to deprive anyone of home-care services, some people needing help to remain in their homes are excluded, others have their service reduced, waiting lists are getting longer and caregiver burnout is growing among family members. “There are not enough resources,” Saint-Germain told The Gazette in a telephone interview explaining the conclusions of her March 30 report, Is home  support always the best option?
This also illustrates the problems associated with single payer:
Beyond the effects a loss of home care has on individual seniors, the penny pinching sets off a chain reaction in the health-care system. Seen by the government as a way to relieve waiting lists and to reduce overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms, cuts in home care amplify the problem, as people who could live at home take up short-term-care beds. Erin Strumpf, a McGill University health economist, says health care should  be provided as efficiently as possible to optimize the use of scarce resources and improve health outcomes.
This is what I call Euthanasia World. When E is the topic, we hear it will be practiced only in caring, supportive, and abuse-free environments. But in the real world, that is never true. In the real world, elder abuse is rising, medical budgets are being cut, and the equal value of human life is under assault.

Imagine, Quebec, what could happen if when euthanasia is seen as a way of saving scarce healthcare resources. Take Heed! Faire attention!

Huge increases in assisted suicide cases in Oregon and Switzerland

By Peter Saunders is the campaign director for the Care Not Killing Alliance - UK, and he is a leader of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition - International.

Published on Peter Saunders blog - Sunday, 15 April, 2012

There has been a massive increase in cases of assisted suicide in both Oregon and Switzerland over recent years according to the latest figures.

The Oregon ‘Death with Dignity Act’ allows terminally-ill Oregonians ‘to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose’.

It also requires the Oregon Health Authority to collect information about the patients and physicians who participate in the Act, and publish an annual statistical report.

The latest figures show that cases of assisted suicide have gone from 16 in 1998 to 71 in 2011, an increase of 450% (see chart).

The US state of Oregon legalized assisted suicide in 1997 following a referendum. Thus far over 100 attempts to get other US state parliaments to change their laws have failed and only the state of Washington has followed suit, again on the basis of a referendum.

Switzerland has seen a 700% increase in assisted suicides over the same period. Swiss authorities have recorded a steady rise of assisted suicides in recent years, from 43 in 1998 to 297 in 2009. Earlier figures are not available, even though assisted suicide has been legal in Switzerland since 1942.

These figures include only Swiss nationals and not the growing number of people from abroad who are making use of facilities like Dignitas.

The experience of both countries demonstrates that when assisted suicide is legalized there will inevitably be incremental extension.

A major factor fueling this increase is suicide contagion - the so-called Werther effect. This is particularly dangerous when assisted suicides are backed by celebrities as they are here and given high media profile as they are frequently by the BBC.

The Oregon and Swiss numbers may not seem large to some but we need to remember that Oregon and Switzerland have small populations relative to the UK.

Back in 2006 the House of Lords calculated that with an Oregon-type law we would have about 650 cases of assisted suicide a year in Britain. But given the increase of numbers in Oregon the UK equivalent would now be well over 1,000. Currently assisted suicide is illegal here and we see only 15-20 Britons going to Dignitas in Switzerland to die each year.

However, later this year we will see renewed attempts to change the law in this country.

Margo Macdonald is planning to present a bill based on the Oregon model to the Scottish Parliament and the pressure group Dignity in Dying (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia) is planning a mass lobby of the Westminster Parliament on 4 July in support of a new bill they plan to introduce by means of their parliamentary wing, the All Party Group on ‘Choice at the End of Life’.

We should learn from the Oregon and Swiss experience and be resisting these moves.

Any change in the law to allow assisted suicide (a form of euthanasia) would inevitably place pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives so as not to be a burden on others and these pressures would be particularly acutely felt at a time of economic recession when many families are struggling to make ends meet and health budgets are being slashed.

And once legalized there will inevitably be incremental extension as we have seen in Oregon and Switzerland. Legalization leads to normalization.

Let’s not go there.