Sunday, September 30, 2012

Corbella comments on the 2011 Dutch euthanasia statistics

Licia Corbella, the incredible columnist and editorial page editor for the Calgary Herald, wrote this excellent article entitled: Good News for euthanasia advocates - deaths are up, that was published in the Calgary Herald on September 28, 2012.

Licia must have read my commentary on the new 2011 Netherlands euthanasia statistics and she must have read my commentary on the July 11, 2012 Lancet study that proved that 23% of all euthanasia deaths go unreported in the Netherlands and contrary to the media reports, it proved that euthanasia deaths are up..

Great article Licia.

Good News for euthanasia advocates - deaths are up.

Licia Corbella
Licia Corbella - Calgary Herald, September 28, 2012

The slippery slope just keeps on getting longer and steeper. When the debate about euthanasia began in the Netherlands decades ago, proponents insisted that it should and would only be made available to terminally ill, elderly people, who were suffering and in full control of their mental faculties. Period.

They insisted then, as they continue to insist now, that no slippery slope exists with regard to euthanasia. The people who say that are, inarguably, bald-faced liars, ill informed or delusional. There are no other options.

Earlier this week, the annual report cataloguing euthanasia deaths in Holland for 2011 was released. And it’s rollicking good news for euthanasia pushers — deaths are way up! Last year, 3,695 Dutch citizens opted to end their lives early with the help and the blessing of a physician and the state. That’s an 18 per cent increase over 2010 and more than a doubling since 2006. If that were a company’s bottom line, its CEO would be on the cover of every business magazine in the world.

While a significant spike in the number of people deciding to check out of life is not proof of a slippery slope, it is proof that the idea of doctors killing their patients is gaining wider acceptance.

The proof that euthanasia has slipped to a new depth of depravity and horror is that a total of 13 psychiatric patients were helped to die in 2011, up from just two in 2010. That’s a 550 per cent increase!

Remember, in Holland, the initial plan was to make euthanasia available only to suffering elderly people who had total control of their mental faculties. Now schizophrenics and clinically depressed psychiatric patients are being given prescriptions by their psychiatrists, not to help them get better, but to kill them. That, folks, isn’t just a slippery slope, it’s Mount Everest in an ice storm!

A July 11 article in The Lancet, entitled: “Trends in end-of-life practices before and after the enactment of the euthanasia law in the Netherlands from 1990 to 2010,” states that in the Netherlands, “euthanasia is defined as the administering of lethal drugs by a physician with the explicit intention to end a patient’s life on the patient’s explicit request.” Take note of the phrase “on the patient’s explicit request.”

Can someone who is mentally ill — depressed or schizophrenic — even give informed consent?

“That’s a key question,” says Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, and a veritable encyclopedia on the practice of euthanasia around the world.

Would a mentally ill person’s “explicit request” to, say, sign over all of their earthly possessions to their lawyer, or mailman, be upheld in a court of law? Not likely.

In that same Lancet article, a preceding paragraph states: “Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands under strict conditions. For example, the patient must be ‘suffering unbearably’ and the doctor must be convinced the patient is making an informed choice. The opinion of a second doctor is also required.”

Do these authors who write this drivel do so with a straight face?

Last year, the Royal Society of Canada released a report that urged the federal government to legalize assisted suicide in Canada. A summary of the End of Life Decision Making report states:

“The evidence from years of experience and research where euthanasia and/or assisted suicide are permitted does not support claims that decriminalization will result in vulnerable persons being subjected to abuse or a slippery slope from voluntary to non-voluntary euthanasia.”

Well, according to this latest report out of Holland, euthanasia among people in the early stages of dementia increased to 49 cases last year, a twofold increase from 2010. Most reasonable people would define schizophrenics, the depressed and those with dementia as vulnerable.

On average, 310 people are killed without consent by their doctors in something known as “involuntary euthanasia,” every year in the Netherlands.

In March, a pro-euthanasia group in Holland launched six mobile teams with the hope of helping 1,000 people die.

“The mobile euthanasia teams plan to fill unmet demand for euthanasia for people with chronic depression (mental pain), people with disabilities, people with dementia/Alzheimer, loneliness, and those whose request for euthanasia is declined by their physician,” writes Schadenberg on his website.

Maybe instead of killing lonely people, the staff in these mobile units should go around and visit them, give them a hug and take them for coffee rather than hand them a lethal prescription so they can die in lonely desperation. In case you’re wondering, they call that dying with dignity.

Schadenberg points out that there are three studies published in 2010 concerning euthanasia in Belgium.

They point out, in part, that 32 per cent of euthanasia deaths performed by physicians in the Flanders region were done without explicit request or consent. A similar study that analyzed euthanasia deaths performed by nurses in Belgium found that 45 per cent were done without explicit consent. And a third study found that only 53 per cent of all euthanasia deaths were even reported.

So, if Canadians want to know what will eventually happen here if euthanasia is ever legalized, picture this the next time you’re at a hockey rink. Imagine the rink turned on its end. That pretty much sums up the slippery slope that’s coming.

Licia Corbella is a columnist and the editorial page editor.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Massachusettts: Disability rights leaders oppose assisted suicide.

The following media release was sent out by the No on Question 2 Campaign, opposing the assisted suicide ballot question in Massachusetts. The media release was entitled: Disability Rights leaders reach out to Elizabeth Warren regarding 'No On 2'
— /PRNewswire/ --

State and national disability rights/social justice advocates are asking Massachusetts United States Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren to meet about Ballot Question 2 and discuss their reasons for strongly opposing this measure to legalize assisted suicide. The disability rights leaders include: John Kelly - Executive Director of Second Thoughts and former Chair of the Boston Disability Advisory Commission, Karen Shneiderman - Senior Advocacy Specialist for Boston Center for Independent Living Inc, Marilyn Golden - Senior Policy Analyst for the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, Michael Muehe - Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities and Diane Coleman - President of Not Dead Yet. All are part of the diverse coalition urging Massachusetts voters to say 'No' to Ballot Question 2.

John Kelly
"Ballot question 2 contains a number of problematic issues that raise red flags with progressive voters. These are arguments and perspectives Ms. Warren may not have heard yet, and are asking for the opportunity to meet and brief her and her team," said John Kelly, Executive Director of Second Thoughts and former Chair of the Advisory Board to the Boston Disability Commission.

"We already have seen serious cost cutting pressures. We constantly hear about the costs of caring for people in the last year of their lives. We can point to examples in Oregon and Washington, where assisted suicide is legal of these implicit and explicit cost pressures. Ballot question 2 legalizes a $100 lethal prescription and that sends a terrible message to people living with serious illness or disability.

"As a lifelong Democrat, I have a deep respect for Ms. Warren. I truly hope we are able to discuss this issue that is so critically important to the Massachusetts disability community."

Yesterday to WTKK-FM, Elizabeth Warren made a comment that she was leaning toward supporting assisted suicide legalization.

Second Thoughts
Disability rights organizations that have come out in opposition to Ballot Question 2 include: American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT), Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL), Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), Boston Center for Independent Living, Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities, Disability Policy Consortium, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), Justice For All (JFA), MetroWest Center for Independent Living, National Council on Disability (NCD), National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), National Spinal Cord Injury Association, Not Dead Yet (NDY), TASH, The World Association of Persons with Disabilities (WAPD), The World Institute on Disability (WID).

No On Question 2 is a diverse coalition of disability rights organizations, doctors, nurses, community leaders, faith based groups and patient rights advocates.

Read more here:

New Jersey assemblyman introducing assisted suicide bill

New Jersey Assemblyman, John J. Burzichelli, introduced what he refers to as the "New Jersey Death with Dignity Act"; on September 27, a bill that is a "Oregon Style" assisted suicide bill.

This bill is designed to be debated and voted-on by the legislature and, if passed, it is designed to bypass the Governor and go before the voters as a ballot question in the next election.

Burzichelli, a democrat, stated about Assembly Bill A3328 that:
"It's not a Dr. Kevorkian bill where someone who's 45 years of age who's depressed and lost their job decides they don't want to live and wants to call someone to assist them in suicide. This bill is very narrow."

During the debates concerning assisted suicide, New Jersey legislators will learn that the Oregon assisted suicide act has serious flaws and that allowing physicians to prescribe lethal doses to their patients will occur with abuses.

A recent article that was written by disability rights leader, Marilyn Golden, and published in the New York Times, points out that there are flaws in Assisted Suicide laws.
Marilyn Golden

Golden, a senior policy analyst at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund stated that:
While Oregon and Washington State have legalized assisted suicide, about half of U.S. states have defeated or banned it, often with an opposition coalition spanning left to right.
Mixing assisted suicide and profit-driven managed health care is a dangerous mistake. A lethal prescription costs about $300, often much cheaper than treatment regimens. Denying or delaying treatment to save money already poses a significant danger, far greater if assisted suicide is legal. For example, two Oregonians, Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup, were informed that the Oregon Health Plan won't pay for their chemotherapy, but will pay for assisted suicide.
"Disabled patients, the elderly and those with depression or mental illness are especially vulnerable." Doctor-prescribed suicide especially affects people with depression or mental illness. Michael Freeland had a 40-year history of acute depression but received lethal drugs in Oregon. 
Oregon’s “safeguards” offer no protection. If a doctor refuses, patients find another doctor. 
“Death within six months” is often misdiagnosed, endangering persons not terminally ill, including disabled people with many meaningful years of life ahead. The law offers no protection when family pressures, financial or emotional, distort patient choice.
The Oregon model lacks meaningful oversight, has no investigation of abuse, and its data is flawed. Americans are wise to reject assisted-suicide laws -- they're bad medicine.
The experience with legal assisted suicide in Oregon also shows that significant abuse will occur.

Oregon resident, Kathryn Judson was afraid to leave her husband alone with doctors and nurses after she overheard their doctor attempting to talk her husband into "asking for" assisted suicide. Giving physicians the power to prescribe death for their patients can and will be abused.

Legalizing assisted suicide is also a Recipe for Elder abuse. elder law attorney, Margaret Dore, has published landmark research on elder abuse and assisted suicide, proving how assisted suicide laws do not protect elders who are living with elder abuse and, when analysed, it becomes clear that these laws are doctor protection acts.

Then the experience of Jeanette Hall who wanted to die by assisted suicide, but her physician convinced her to first receive treatment for her cancer and is now thankful that she didn't die by assisted suicide.

New Jersey legislators need to reject Assembly Bill A3328 and the citizens in New Jersey need to become organized to defeat this potential ballot measure.

Swiss parliament refuses to regulate assisted suicide groups.

A vote in the Swiss parliament yesterday rejected a proposal to regulate the assisted suicide organizations and their suicide clinics. The two main assisted suicide organizations are Exit and Dignitas. Members of the lower house of parliament voted against changing the code, arguing self-regulation by right-to-die organizations such as Exit and Dignitas worked and the liberal rules protected individual freedoms.

A German assisted suicide group recently announced its intention of establishing a assisted suicide clinic in Zurich. The group Verein Sterbehilfe Deutschland (StHD), that is founded by Roger Kusch, opened an office in Zurich on September 14, 2012.

Last year, voters in the Zurich canton rejected similar proposals to restrict assisted suicide.

In July, I commented on an article that was published by reporting that Zurich prosecutor Andreas Brunner told Swissinfo that legislation is required because there are no regulations for assisted suicide assistants. He stated:
“At first the argument was that it [assisted suicide] was intended for the terminally ill, then it was broadened to include the very ill facing extreme suffering,”

“Then the idea was that it should be open to the elderly who were suffering the effects of old age or a combination of illnesses, and finally it’s open to healthy people,”
Switzerland’s assisted suicide organisations are left to their own devices legally.
He then concluded his statement by saying:
 “The organisations are not required to be run on a not-for-profit basis and are not subject to accounting obligations. Neither are they required to keep comprehensive records of their cases.”

“I’m not saying the organisations are not already doing these things but it should be laid down in law,”
Last June, the Canton Vaud, voted in a referendum to allow assisted suicide groups, such as Exit and Dignitas, to operate in the nursing homes. This is clearly a recipe for elder abuse.

Soraya Wernli
At the same time there have been huge increases in assisted suicide deaths in Switzerland while the two main assisted suicide groups in Switzerland, Dignitas and Exit were responsible for 560 assisted suicide deaths in 2011.

In 2010, the Dignitas assisted suicide clinic made news when, Soraya Wernli, a former assisted suicide assistant, made allegations about abuses and financial concerns related to how Ludwig Minelli, the founder and leader of Dignitas, was operating Dignitas that were published in the Atlantic Monthly Magazine.

Another article that was published in the Telegraph newspaper in the UK in June 2010, indicated that Minelli was "making millions" from the Dignitas assisted suicide clinic. The article also brought up significant concerns related to the dumping of cremation urns and the fee structure at the Dignitas clinic.

The main reason why there have been no restrictions or "push-back" in Switzerland is that the group Exit reportedly has 75,000 members who have formidable political clout and their is currently no organized opposition to assisted suicide in Zurich.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Assisted Suicide? "I was afraid to leave my husband alone again with doctors and nurses"

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

I was cleaning up my emails and found this incredible letter from Oregon resident, Kathryn Judson that was Published in the Hawaii Free Press, February 15, 2011 titled: Assisted Suicide? "I was afraid to leave my husband alone again with doctors and nurses".

For those who think that assisted suicide is simply an issue of "choice" they need to read this letter to understand how assisted suicide can be abused to pressure people who are living in a vulnerable condition.

Massachusetts citizens need to read this letter and Vote NO on Question 2 on November 6.
Dear Editor, 
Hello from Oregon. 
When my husband was seriously ill several years ago, I collapsed in a half-exhausted heap in a chair once I got him into the doctor's office, relieved that we were going to get badly needed help (or so I thought). 
To my surprise and horror, during the exam I overheard the doctor giving my husband a sales pitch for assisted suicide. 'Think of what it will spare your wife, we need to think of her' he said, as a clincher. 
Now, if the doctor had wanted to say 'I don't see any way I can help you, knowing what I know, and having the skills I have' that would have been one thing. If he'd wanted to opine that certain treatments weren't worth it as far as he could see, that would be one thing. But he was tempting my husband to commit suicide. And that is something different. 
I was indignant that the doctor was not only trying to decide what was best for David, but also what was supposedly best for me (without even consulting me, no less). 
We got a different doctor, and David lived another five years or so. But after that nightmare in the first doctor's office, and encounters with a 'death with dignity' inclined nurse, I was afraid to leave my husband alone again with doctors and nurses, for fear they'd morph from care providers to enemies, with no one around to stop them. 
It's not a good thing, wondering who you can trust in a hospital or clinic. I hope you are spared this in Hawaii. 
Kathryn Judson, Oregon

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Physicians Alliance for the Total Refusal of Euthanasia.

A group called: The Physicians Alliance for the Total Refusal of Euthanasia has formed in Quebec. This group has established themselves for the purpose of the: Total Refusal of Euthanasia while promoting Caring, Not Killing
The website has been launched in English and French. The Physicians Alliance are asking physicians to Sign the Declaration in English and French
People who are not physicians can also support the Physicians Alliance at: English and French.
The website also provides facts and support for physicians who join together to oppose the implementation of euthanasia in Quebec.
Links to the Physicians Alliance websites: English and French.
The Physicians Alliance
The question of euthanasia matters to all physicians, regardless of their specialty or area of practice. We are asking you to join an alliance of Quebec physicians against euthanasia and assisted suicide. We are physicians who see any law allowing doctors to intentionally end the life of their patients as contrary to the goals of medicine and the good of our patients, especially the most vulnerable and those who cannot speak for themselves.                                                                                                                                  

This initiative is not linked to any other group or association. Membership in the alliance refers to your support for the declaration; it involves no other commitment.


The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition encourages its members and supporters to also support the Physicians Alliance for the Total Refusal of Euthanasia.

Laws Against Assisted Suicide are Constitutional

The following is an article written by lawyer, Margaret Dore and published on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 on the Montanans Against Assisted Suicide and for Living with Dignity website. The article provides the legal argument proving that in Montana: Laws Against Assisted Suicide are Constitutional

Link to the original article.

Laws Against Assisted Suicide are Constitutional

By Margaret Dore - Wednesday September 26, 2012

A.  Physician-Assisted Suicide
Margaret Dore
The American Medical Association defines "physician-assisted suicide" as follows: "[A] physician facilitates a patient’s death "by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act (e.g., the physician provides sleeping pills and information about the lethal dose, while aware that the patient may commit suicide)."[1]

Physician-assisted suicide is also called assisted suicide and "aid in dying," a term which also means euthanasia.[2]
B. Assisted Suicide is Not Legal in Montana
In Montana, the law on assisted suicide is governed by statutes and case law.[3] The most recent case law is Baxter v. State, 354 Mont. 234, 224 P.3d 1211 (2009), which gives doctors who assist a patient's suicide a defense to a homicide charge. Baxter states:

"We therefore hold that under § 45-2-211, MCA, a terminally ill patient's consent to physician aid in dying constitutes a statutory defense to a charge of homicide against the aiding physician when no other consent exceptions apply."[4]

Under Baxter, this defense fails if the patient's consent cannot be shown.[5] In that case, prosecution for homicide can go forward.[6]

Baxter did not overrule Montana case law imposing civil liability on persons who cause or fail to prevent another person's suicide. See Krieg v. Massey, 239 Mont. 469, 472-3 (1989) and Nelson v. Driscoll, 295 Mont. 363, ¶¶ 32-33 (1999). Other relevant case law includes Edwards v. Tardif, 240 Conn. 610, 692 A.2d 1266 (1997) (affirming a civil judgment against a doctor who had prescribed an ”excessively large dosage” of barbiturates to a suicidal patient who then killed herself with the barbiturates).
Attorneys Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman state: "After Baxter, assisted suicide continues to carry both criminal and civil liability risks for any doctor, institution, or lay person involved."[7] In short, Baxter did not legalize assisted suicide."

C.  A Dispute Over Legality

Some assisted suicide proponents, nonetheless, claim that assisted suicide is legal under Baxter.[8] With this situation, clarifying legislation is needed.  Some proponents, however, counter that any such legislation would be unconstitutional. This is untrue. See below.

1.  Washington v. Glucksberg

In 1997, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the constitutionality of a state statute prohibiting assisted suicide. In Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 705-6, 117 S.Ct. 2258, 2261 (1997), the Supreme Court stated:

"The question presented . . . is whether Washington's prohibition against 'caus[ing]' or 'aid[ing] a suicide offends the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. We hold that it does not."

2.  Baxter 

In Baxter, the district court had held that there was a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide under the Montana Constitution.[9] On December 31, 2009, the Supreme Court of Montana vacated this ruling.[10] The Supreme Court stated: "The District Court's ruling on the constitutional issues is vacated . . ."[11]

3.  The vote

Six of seven justices had voted to vacate the constitutional ruling.[12] Four justices had done so based on the principle that constitutional rulings should be avoided.[13] Two justices had argued that there is no right to die in the Montana Constitution.[14] 

4.  The Montana Constitution

Montana's Constitutional Convention was held in 1972. Archived documents show that at that time, the Convention's Bill of Rights Committee had rejected a "right to die" proposal, which had included a proposed constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide. For this reason alone, there is no constitutional right to assisted suicide in the Montana Constitution. See the archived documents discussed below in chronological order.    

January 17, 1972

The Minutes of the First Meeting of the Bill of Rights Committee, page 3, state:

"Mr. [Wade] Dahood [Chairman of the Bill of Rights Committee] urged the entire committee to keep an open mind on all issues. There is merit in all opinions. As an example, - 'Do we have the right to die?' Many people have written members of the committee on this subject already." 

February 2, 1972

On February 2, 1972, Robert Kelleher introduced Delegate Proposal 103"A Proposal for a new Constitutional Section Guaranteeing the Right to be Born and the Right to Die." The text stated: "A human fetus has the right to be born. The incurably ill have the right not to be kept alive by extraordinary means."  

February 3, 1972

On February 3, 1972, a hearing was held on the "right to die."[15] The Minutes, page 2, state: "Mrs. Joyce Franks presented the theory to the Committee that all persons should be able to choose his own death with dignity." Moreover, the following documents were submitted into the record:

(1) Kenneth Henry wrote in support of "euthanasia"; "I wish to support the idea"- he also filled out a testifying form using the word, "euthanasia"; (2) Mrs. Stella Fili ___ wrote that she was against "abortion on demand" as it could lead to "euthanasia, doing away with the old, unwanted & unfit"- she also said: "We all have the right to live, not just those who think they have the right to say who is to live or die"; (3) Joyce Franks filled out a form to testify and submitted a seven page letter (pp. 1 to 5C). Her comments included: (page 1), a discussion of the terms, "euthanasia" and "mercy killing," and "a quick and easy medicated death"; (page 2) a discussion about assisted suicide in the last paragraph, although she didn't use that term; and page 5A, ¶3, in which she provided this discussion of physician-assisted suicide: 

"Dad asked me if the doctor would please give him something to put him to sleep right then. I did not ask the doctor, of course, for even if he had the compassion, the law would have branded him a murderer had he consented. Later, with Dad's general health deteriorating, and when he asked me again for pills to put him to sleep, I asked the doctor which of my medicines, and how much, I could allow Dad to take with a reasonable certainty that it would kill him. The doctor wouldn't tell me."

Mrs. Franks' letter, page 2, proposed suggested wording for her requested right to die, which as set forth above included physician-assisted suicide. She suggested: "'Every citizen shall be allowed to choose the manner in which he dies.' Period. That should be enough."

February 9, 1972

On February 9, 1972, the Bill of Rights Committee rejected Proposal #103, the "Right to Die."[16]   

February 12, 1972

On February 12, 1972, Joe Roberts provided written testimony to the Committee consisting of 8 typed pagesHis first paragraph noted the Committee's reason for its rejection of the right to die proposal, as follows:

"[T]he consensus of the delegates I have talked to indicated that while they were sympathetic to Mrs. Frank's personal tragedy, they were afraid of the implications of stating broadly a Right to Die in the Montana Constitution."  

March 18, 1972

On March 18, 1972, the Bill of Rights Committee's "Declaration of Rights" was adopted by the full convention. The proposed "right to die" was not included. To see the text of the preamble and each section, click hereTo see the roll call vote, click here


The Bill of Rights Committee's preamble is the Preamble in the Montana Constitution. The Committee's Declaration of Rights is now Article II of the Montana Constitution. There is no "right to die" listed. 

There is no right to assisted suicide in the Montana Constitution. It was proposed by Mrs. Franks, considered by the Bill of Rights Committee and rejected.

* * *

[1] AMA Code of Medical Ethics, Opinion 2.211, available at 
[2] See Model Aid-in-Dying Act, 75 Iowa Law Review 125 (1989), available at (notice the letters "euthan" in the link). 
[3] Relevant statutes governing the law of assisted suicide include 45-5-105, MCA (Aiding or soliciting suicide).
[4] Baxter v. State, 354 Mont. 234, ¶ 50, 224 P.3d 1211 (2009).
[5] Greg Jackson, Esq. & Matt Bowman, Esq., “Analysis of Implications of the Baxter Case on Potential Criminal Liability,” Spring 2010, ("the Court's narrow decision didn't even 'legalize' assisted suicide"), at 
[6] Id.
[7] Id.
[8] See for example, "Cover Story: The aid-in-dying debate. Can a physician legally help a patient die in Montana? Court ruling still leaves the issue open to argument," The Montana Lawyer, November 2011, available at  .
[9] The District Court's Decision and Order, dated December 5, 2008, page 19, lines 10 to 15, states: "The Court concludes that a competent terminally ill patient has the constitutional right to die with dignity. This right . . . necessarily incorporates the assistance of a doctor, as part of a doctor-patient relationship, so that the patient can obtain drugs that he can take to end his own life, if and when he so determines." (Available  at ).
[10] Baxter, 354 Mont. at 251,  ¶ 51.  
[11] Id.
[12] Six justices voted to vacate the district court's constitutional ruling:  Leaphart, Cotter, Warner and Morris voted to vacate on the principle that constitutional rulings should be avoided (Baxter at ¶¶ 10 & 54); Rice and Joe Hegel for Mike McGrath, voted to vacate via their dissent in which they argued for reversal of the entire district court decision. (Baxter at ¶¶ 96 to 119) 
[13] See note 12.
[14] Id.
[15] See the Committee's official minutes for 2/3/72: "Subject of Hearing: 18 year old vote, proposal # 103[;] Right to Die" at
[16] The Committee Minutes state: "The following decisions were made: . . . #103- Out . . ."  

I do not publish comments from Anonymous people (editorial policy).

Yesterday I published an article concerning the recently released Netherlands 2011 euthanasia statistics. There was a huge response to the article with thousands of people viewing the article and several people leaving comments. I could only publish one of the comments because the authors of the other comments remained Anonymous. 

The euthanasia lobby probably thinks that I do not publish their comments, but in fact, almost every comment by members of the euthanasia lobby have been Anonymous. In the same way, yesterday, many positive and supportive comments were made by Anonymous commentators that were not published.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Euthanasia is out of control in the Netherlands - New Dutch Statistics.

By Alex Schadenberg, 
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The media in the Netherlands has reported that the number of reported euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands in 2011 increased by 18% to 3695. The report also stated that 13 psychiatric patients died by euthanasia, up from 2 reported psychiatric euthanasia deaths in 2010.

Euthanasia for psychiatric patients in the Netherlands will likely increase over the next few years in response to a article published last year in the Journal of Psychiatry advocating for the expansion of euthanasia for psychiatric patients in the Netherlands.

As bad as these statistics may seem they only tell part of the story.

On July 11, 2012, The Lancet published a meta-analysis study concerning the practice of euthanasia and end-of-life practices in the Netherlands in 2010 with a comparison to the previous studies that were done in 2005, 2001, 1995 and 1990.

The Lancet study indicated that in 2010, 23% of all euthanasia deaths were not reported. The Lancet study found that there were 3136 reported euthanasia deaths in 2010, and after adding the unreported deaths there were actually 3859 euthanasia deaths and 192 assisted suicide deaths that year.

The Dutch statistics indicate that there were 3695 reported euthanasia deaths in 2011. Since 23% of all euthanasia deaths are not reported in the Netherlands, we can estimate that in 2011, the actual number of euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands was more likely (3695 + 23%) 4544.

It is important to recognize that the number of reported euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands has increased by 18% in 201119% in 2010 and 13% in 2009.

There were 1923 reported euthanasia deaths in 2006.
There were 2120 reported euthanasia deaths in 2007.
There were 2331 reported euthanasia deaths in 2008.
There were 2636 reported euthanasia deaths in 2009.
There were 3136 reported euthanasia deaths in 2010.
There were 3695 reported euthanasia deaths in 2011.

The rate of deep-continuous sedation has also risen significantly in the Netherlands.

The 2001 euthanasia report indicates that about 5.6% of all deaths in the Netherlands were related to deep-continuous sedation. The 2005 euthanasia report indicates that about 8.2% of all deaths in the Netherlands were related to deep-continuous sedation. The 2010 euthanasia report indicates that about 12.3% of all euthanasia deaths are related to deep-continuous sedation.

The rate of deep-continuous sedation has more than doubled in the Netherlands since 2001 and has risen by 50% since 2005.

There is a growing concern about the abuse of the terminal sedation guidelines in the Netherlands. How often are deaths by deep-continuous sedation actually euthanasia?

Considering the growth in the use of terminal sedation for people who were not otherwise dying (slow euthanasia) and the number of unreported euthanasia deaths, one must conclude that abuses are occurring in the Netherlands.

On March 1, 2012; the euthanasia lobby in the Netherlands  launched six mobile euthanasia teams. The NVVE, euthanasia lobby in the Netherlands, announced that they anticipate that the mobile euthanasia teams will carry-out 1000 euthanasia deaths per year.

The mobile euthanasia teams plan to fill unmet demand for euthanasia for people with chronic depression (mental pain), people with disabilities, people with dementia/ Alzheimer, loneliness, and those whose request for euthanasia is declined by their physician. In 2010, 45% of all euthanasia requests resulted in death by euthanasia.

Legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide is not safe and the safeguards that are devised to control euthanasia only protect the doctor and not those who die by euthanasia.

I wonder why there are no prosecutions for the deaths without request or the unreported euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Respecting Uncle Jack on Death with Dignity.

The following article was written by Greg Pfundstein published on September 5 in The Witherspoon Institute - Public Discourse entitled: Respecting Uncle Jack on Death with Dignity.

A new effort to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in Massachusetts reminds us that we are not our own to dispose of at will.

“Burley Coulter was saying the other day that Uncle Jack’s turning into a statue. That’s going to be his metamorphosis. One day he’ll just stop the way he does and never start again. The birds’ll roost on him.” Thus jokes Mat Feltner at breakfast on a cool September morning in 1952 in Wendell Berry’s The Memory of Old Jack. At the end of that day, Uncle Jack does in fact die in his chair looking out the window at the town that has been his home all his life. Berry’s short novel, part of a series based in the fictional Port William, Kentucky, tells the story of Jack Beechum’s life as he remembers it in flashbacks on his final day. Mat jokes, but he “feels a heavy portent in the imminent breaking of that strand of memory, reaching back into the Civil War, on the end of which Old Jack now keeps so tenuous a hold.”

I have been thinking a lot about death lately, which may have led me to pick up one of Berry’s novels, many of which are, to a large extent, about death. But perhaps it is more accurate to say that they are about life—its finality, and its intimate connection with a broader fabric of a way of life and of the lives of other persons.

Perhaps death is on my mind because my living set of grandparents have reached the age at which no one will be surprised upon hearing that they have passed on. Perhaps it is because my parents, too, have reached an age at which health scares come more often. Or perhaps the extraordinary energy of my two children under three has made me think more deeply about my own role as a link between my parents and grandparents and the lives of my kids.

I know with certainty, though, that death has been on my mind because of an effort under way in Massachusetts to make it legal for doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs for the purpose of ending their patients’ lives.

The patient, of course, will have to voluntarily ingest the fistful of pills it will take to kill him. A patient can do that now, if he can get his hands on any of the myriad substances which, in sufficient quantity, will kill a human being. But what this ballot initiative proposes is that doctors—and we as a society—should affirm that course of action.

Tens of thousands of Americans commit suicide every year. Nowhere in the U.S. is it a crime to do so. It is an unfortunate fact that some people determine that their lives are no longer worth living. But we see it as a tragedy; this is why high bridges often have signs encouraging troubled individuals to seek help rather than jump. Suicide hotlines are open 24 hours a day because we hope to prevent as many suicides as possible.

This consistent cultural message is contradicted when we give doctors the right to prescribe lethal drugs as a medical treatment. It is like replacing the suicide intervention signs on bridges and railroad tracks with signs that say, “Ask your physician if jumping is right for you.” Of course, one of the arguments in favor of legalizing doctor-prescribed suicide is that ingestion of a very large quantity of pills is much cleaner and easier to manage than throwing oneself in front of a speeding train (although we might ask Derek Humphry how clean it was when, as he was “assisting” his first wife’s suicide, he eventually had to smother her with a pillow to achieve the desired result). But from the perspective of what we value as a society, the two are equivalent.

Barbara Wagner
If the Massachusetts ballot initiative passes, only individuals who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness that will result in death within 6 months will be eligible for a lethal prescription. Yet everyone knows that a 6-month prognosis is a guess. Anyone who is seriously ill or seriously old will be able to obtain a suicide prescription. Some insurance companies will refuse to cover treatment while offering to cover “death with dignity,” as has been documented in Oregon. And with no protections for those who are no longer fully cognizant of what is happening around them, there is ample room for abuse of the elderly.

But put these difficulties aside. What of the individual who, with a clear mind and a truly terminal illness, says, “I prefer to die”? Do we want to validate that choice?

Many arguments have been mustered in recent years against doctor-prescribed suicide by many able thinkers. Leon Kass has argued that suicide as a medical treatment will dangerously pervert the medical profession by making the doctor a mere technician of bodily function. Christopher Tollefsen has expertly articulated the argument that doctor-prescribed suicide is wrong because it is simply always wrong to intend the death of an innocent human being. Rita Marker has argued that legalization could lead to its use for cost containment, and Wesley Smith has lain to rest the illusion that doctor-prescribed suicide is necessary to control pain. The list goes on.

But Old Jack brings to mind another reason we should reject suicide as a medical treatment: the profound integration of human individuality and freedom into human community and the interdependency of persons.

Perhaps the most famous statement of Barack Obama’s presidency thus far has been his quip, “You didn’t build that.” It has been the subject of political cartoons, newspaper columns, and t-shirts. As clumsily as the president made his point, only the most partisan ideologue can deny the kernel of truth in his assertion: no individual exists in a vacuum. No person can take full credit for all that he or she has accomplished. We have all benefitted from the help of others. There is plenty of room for disagreement about whether the federal government or any particular state or local government was more of a help or a hindrance in any particular case, but it is clear that even the most successful are heavily indebted to others, and thus have plenty to be grateful for. We are, as President Obama says, in this together. We all have a debt to pay to each other. We all have something to pay back, and something to pay forward.

In this context of community, of interconnectedness and interdependence, what do we make of an individual’s decision to take his own life? It seems there are two questions we should ask as we form opinions about whether our society should affirm that decision. First, have we, as a society, failed to embrace that individual and to share what there is to spare of our bounty? And second, has that individual been faithful to us, as a society, and especially to his own, his family, his friends, in gratitude for all he has received? In other words, do we have the right to say, yes, that seems like a good decision given the circumstances, and does he have the right to make that decision?

An ideology of absolute individual autonomy exists at the extremes of both sides of the political spectrum: on the right we find a defense of extreme individual economic autonomy, and on the left we find a defense of extreme individual lifestyle autonomy. Both extremes commit a common fallacy by forgetting that rights are never separable from duties. With every right comes a concomitant responsibility. The corollary of President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” is “you can’t tear that down.” Can we ever so fully and autonomously own anything of value that we have the right to destroy it? We are stewards of what we own. All that we have we hold in trust. And most of all we hold ourselves and our relations to others in trust. We are not our own to dispose of at will.

Toward the twilight of Old Jack’s last day, he is visited by his grandnephew Andy Catlett who is about to leave for college. He has come to say goodbye. They chat for a while, and then Andy leaves. Old Jack is familiar with the experience: “He knows that as one of the inescapable themes of his life: the departure from him, from the beginning, of men and women he has loved, of days and years, of lightness and swiftness and strength.” But there is another theme. Jack continues: “The other theme is faithfulness to what had remained. . . . Too little respect is paid to that now, he thinks, but he has respected it. He has thought of it without ceasing.”

Berry’s novel paints a stirring portrait, not merely of an individual man, but of the community to which he belonged, and of his role as a connector between those who came before him and those who have followed him. We each have Old Jacks in our lives, and someday we will be Old Jack to the communities in which we have spent our lives. We depend on each other. While we each have our rights, and while each of us has a legitimate sphere of freedom, we also have duties to one another, debts we owe to the communities of persons that have nurtured us along our way. We didn’t build our lives alone, so we can’t tear them down at will.

For us as a society to define suicide as a medical treatment is to bring into question the idea that we have fundamental responsibilities to each other as beings in community. It is to strike at the root of what unites us as a community in the first place.

Greg Pfundstein is the Executive Director of the Chiaroscuro Foundation. He also serves on the board of the Patients Rights Council.

Warning to Canada and the UK - Oregon Health Plan steers patients towards suicide

Dr. Peter Saunders

By Peter Saunders - Campaign Director - Care Not Killing Alliance - UK

Members of the pro-euthanasia movement frequently point to the US state of Oregon, which legalised assisted suicide in 1997, as a model which Britain should follow.

Lord Falconer and Margo Macdonald MSP are two British politicians who have frequently sung the praises of Oregon which allows assisted suicide for mentally competent adults with less than six months to live (although Falconer’s and Macdonald’s recently proposed bills to be debated in the New Year are much more lax on their definition of ‘terminally ill’).

I have previously blogged about the huge increase in assisted suicide cases in Oregon since legalisation (see graph), the shroud of secrecy which surrounds assisted suicide practice there and the worrying trends in neighbouring Washington state which enacted a similar law more recently.

I was therefore interested to see on Margaret Dore’s ‘Choice is an Illusion’ site recently evidence of how the Oregon Health Plan is steering patients to suicide. Dore is an attorney in Washington.

Last Friday, the Canadian Department of Justice filed evidence in Leblanc v. Canada, including the affidavit of Oregon doctor Ken Stevens. Therein, Dr Stevens talks about his patient, Jeanette Hall. He also describes how with legal assisted suicide, the Oregon Health Plan steers patients to suicide. 

The Oregon Health Plan is a government health plan administered by the State of Oregon.

If assisted suicide were to be legalised in Britain, a similar pattern could well ensue. If so, the taxpayer will pay for a patient to die, but not to live.

In a recent poll by Communicate Research 60% of Tory MPs said they believed that legalising assisted suicide in the current economic climate would increase the risk that vulnerable people might opt for suicide so as not to be a financial burden upon loved ones.

78% agreed that if doctors are allowed to prescribe lethal drugs to patients on request, vulnerable people could feel under pressure to opt for suicide.
Dr Kenneth Stevens

The full text of Dr Stevens affidavit is here. It concludes as follows:


1. I am a doctor in Oregon USA where physician-assisted suicide is legal. I am also a Professor Emeritus and a former Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon. I have treated thousands of patients with cancer.

2. In Oregon, our assisted suicide law applies to patients predicted to have less than six months to live. I write to clarify for the court that this does not necessarily mean that patients are dying.

3. In 2000, I had a cancer patient named Jeanette Hall. Another doctor had given her a terminal diagnosis of six months to a year to live, which was based on her not being treated for cancer. I understand that he had referred her to me.

4. At our first meeting, Jeanette told me plainly that she did not want to be treated and that was going to "do" our law,i.e., kill herself with a lethal dose of barbiturates. It was very much a settled decision.

5. I, personally, did not and do not believe in assisted suicide. I also believed that her cancer was treatable and that her prospects were good. She was not, however, interested in treatment. She had made up her mind, but she continued to see me.

6. On the third or fourth visit, I asked her about her family and learned that she had a son. I asked her how he would feel if she went through with her plan. Shortly after that, she agreed to be treated and she is still alive today. Indeed, she is thrilled to be alive. It's been twelve years.

7. For Jeanette, the mere presence of legal assisted suicide had steered her to suicide.

8. Today, for patients under the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid), there is also a financial incentive to commit suicide: The Plan covers the cost. The Plan's "Statements of Intent for the April 1, 2012 Prioritized List of Health Services," states: "It is the intent of the [Oregon Health Services] Commission that services under ORS 127.800-127.897 (Oregon Death with Dignity Act) be covered for those that wish to avail themselves to those services."

9. Under the Oregon Health Plan, there is also a financial incentive towards suicide because the Plan will not necessarily pay for a patient's treatment. For example, patients with cancer are denied treatment if they have a "less than 24 months median survival with treatment" and fit other criteria. This is the Plan's "Guideline Note 12."

10. The term, "less than 24 months median survival with treatment,"means that statistically half the patients receiving treatment will live less than 24 months (two years) and the other half will live longer than two years.

11. Some of the patients living longer than two years will likely live far longer than two years, as much as five, ten or twenty years depending on the type of cancer. This is because there are always some people who beat the odds.

12. All such persons who fit within "Guideline Note 12" will nonetheless be denied treatment. Their suicides under Oregon's assisted suicide act will be covered.

13. I also write to clarify a difference between physician-assisted suicide and end-of-life palliative care in which dying patients receive medication for the intended purpose of relieving pain, which may incidentally hasten death. This is the principle of double effect. This is not physician-assisted suicide in which death is intended for patients who may or may not be dying anytime soon.

14. The Oregon Health Plan is a government health plan administered by the State of Oregon. If assisted suicide is legalized in Canada, your government health plan could follow a similar pattern. If so, the plan will pay for a patient to die, but not to live.