Friday, November 29, 2013

The media is encouraging suicide of the sick.

The following article was written by Wesley Smith and published on his Human Exceptionalism blog on November 27.

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

The media sells content these days by promoting the supposed virtues of suicide by the sick and disabled. How else explain the National Post doing an extended, puff interview with two ill women about their plans to commit suicide? From the article:
Q: How important is it for you to have that measure of control over when to end your life? 
MYERS: I think that’s paramount. In an ideal world I’d be able to make the choice and have my loved ones and family and friends and whoever I wanted to be with me through that journey. As it stands right now, I don’t have that choice. This is a choice I will have to do on my own and I’m going to have to make sure that nobody’s around when I do it. I value life enough to know that I don’t want to put anybody else in legal jeopardy because I might want to say “enough is enough.”… 
RIGGS: I think that’s incredibly important. I think that one of the most important parts of this whole issue is that, as patients, we are in control.
These kind of pro suicide articles push a destructively discriminatory meme that if one is seriously ill and/or dependent, they should really consider suicide. Not only that, but so promoting suicide violates the media guidelines on reporting the issue published by the World Health Association:
Media play a significant role in today’s society by providing a very wide range of information in a variety of ways. They strongly influence community attitudes, beliefs and behaviour, and play a vital role in politics, economics and social practice. Because of that influence media can also play an active role in the prevention of suicide…One of the many factors that may lead a vulnerable individual to suicide could be publicity about suicides in the media. How the media report on suicide cases can influence other suicides.
But Wesley, one of the women has ALS! Surely that justifies suicide! No, it justifies doing all we can so that the ALS patient doesn’t want suicide.

I’ve seen ALS close up and personal. My good friend and last hospice patient, Robert Salamanca, died from it. He had been suicidal too–for almost two years. He told me that he had wanted to go to Kevorkian, for gosh sakes!

But then, in his words, “I came out of the fog and was so glad to be alive.”  He came to bitterly resent advocacy for suicide by hoisting patients with ALS up the flag pole as assisted suicide’s battle flag–as in NP’s piece–taking to the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle to make his point. From, “I Don’t Want a Choice to Die:”
Many pro-euthanasia groups “showcase” people with ALS. They portray us as feeble, unintelligible and dying by slow suffocation. This is absolutely false, and I protest their efforts vehemently. By receiving proper medical care, a terminally ill person can pass away peacefully, pain-free and with dignity. We are not people just waiting for someone to help us end our misery, but to the contrary, we are people reaching out to love . . . to be loved . . . wanting to feel life at its best.
As with most ALS patients who receive proper care–Bob passed away peacefully in his sleep. But he lived ”intensely,”–his descriptive–until that very moment; loving his family, collecting art, making money from on-line investing, writing a memoir.

Bob concluded his Chronicle piece:
I exhort everyone: Life is worth living, and life is worth receiving. I know. I live it every day.
We don’t see opinions like Bob’s presented in the media much anymore. Rather, media propagandistically amplifies the siren song of suicide. Ditto popular entertainment and pro assisted suicide advocacy campaigns.

Many will just shrug that Bob didn’t actually commit suicide, so what is the problem? Here is the problem: Because of the suicide pushers, the Bob’s of the future might not live long enough to “come out of the fog” and get on with life. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: 20 most popular blog articles - November 28, 2013

3. Declaration of Hope – January 17, 2013. 

Recent popular articles:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Euthanasia: We can live without it.

The following article was written by Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick and published on November 27 by CNN under the title: Euthanasia: We can live without it.

Editor's note: Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick is director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Europe, a group dedicated to opposing the legalization of euthanasia and promoting palliative care. The opinions in this commentary are solely his.

Kevin Fitzpatrick
(CNN) -- Disabled people, elderly people, adults made vulnerable by terminal and other illnesses, and now children are being told that their lives are not worth living.

This view was forcefully expressed by Professor Etienne Vermeersch in a recent public debate on euthanasia in Brussels. One of the authors of Belgium's controversial euthanasia law, Vermeersch said it had been specifically designed to include disabled people.

For Vermeersch it seemed obvious that "a man with no arms or legs" would want to die.

Without conscience or insight into the discrimination of choosing only disabled people as examples, he shouted at a member of the audience "Just wait until you are paralysed." A paraplegic wheelchair-user for forty years, I was sitting directly in front of him, and had spoken before the debate.

His chilling and very final solution to suffering is to remove the sufferer. His zealous delivery caused a frisson in the room amongst most (though sadly not all) of the audience. With its clear echoes, this discourse from a government adviser was shocking.

Alex Schadenberg
Earlier in the same debate, Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition had pointed out that the law in Belgium is just not safe:
- Nearly half (47%) of euthanasia deaths are not reported (according to a study carried out in Flanders in 2007): This is illegal. 
- Euthanasia deaths should be carried out by doctors, but according to a 2007 study, nurses are doing them: This is illegal. 
- Some euthanasia deaths are carried out without request (according to a 2007 study in Flanders): This is illegal.
Dr. Jan Bernheim, a leading promoter of euthanasia, admitted that there are problems with Belgium's euthanasia law. But despite its "imperfections" he still believes it should be extended to children.

Bernheim argued euthanasia was necessary to remove suffering: yet pain is hardly ever the reason for seeking euthanasia. In fact, any palliative care specialist will say no-one should ever be in intolerable pain.

Bernheim claims Dr. Wim Distelmans as his protege: Distelmans recently ended the life of Nancy/Nathan Verhelst, in front of TV cameras. After a series of botched sex-change operations, in the absence of other support, Verhelst sought refuge in death by euthanasia.

The Belgian commission to regulate the practice of euthanasia has never referred a case of euthanasia to prosecutors (and remember only half of those are reported). It is co-chaired by Distelmans. It is fundamentally unsafe that the most high-profile doctor in Belgium to carry out euthanasia is also the regulator.

Distelmans also carried out the euthanasia of Mark and Eddy Verbessem, 45-year-old identical twins, who were deaf and decided they wanted to die after their eyesight began to fail.

Anorexic Ann G. also opted to have her life ended after being sexually abused by the Belgian psychiatrist who was supposed to be treating her for her life-threatening condition.

The core of good clinical governance is patient safety but under Belgium's euthanasia laws that is sacrificed in the name of individual choice. Verhelst, the Verbessems and Ann G. -- bereft of support -- felt they had no choice but death.

The European Social Rights Committee has condemned Belgium for violation of the European Social Charter because of its lack of social care. It is little wonder that disabled Belgian people fall into terminal despair, but that does not validate euthanasia becoming a "treatment" for depression as it has in Belgium.

Killing someone by lethal injection is ot an act of medicine: it comes when medicine apparently has nothing left to offer.

With a 500% increase in euthanasia in Belgium in ten years, it is crystal clear that the law in Belgium nis not safe; we cannot stand by as they try to extend that law to children.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick.

Links to similar articles:
The Great Euthanasia Debate.
Belgium euthanasia promoter admits that there are problems with the Belgian euthanasia law.

Dr Peter Saunders debates assisted suicide.

The following article was originally published on Dr Peter Saunders blog on November  27, 2013 

Peter Saunders
By Dr Peter Saunders, the Chair of EPC Europe.

University College
A debate at University College London on Monday night allowed the issue of assisted suicide to be addressed.  

UCL’s Cruciform Building was the impressive setting for the motion, ‘This House would legalise Assisted Dying’, I was in the opposition team with Lord Carlile, Baroness Finlay and Robert Preston – leading lights in the think tank Living and Dying Well.

Speaking for the motion were Lord Falconer, Baroness Jay, Sir Terence English and Prof Raymond Tallis, all of Dignity in Dying (the former Voluntary Euthanasia Society) and its small medical wing.

We were given seven minutes each. Here is my talk which focussed on the issue of the ‘slippery slope’.

The four main groups resisting the legalisation of assisted dying in this country – doctors, disabled people, faith groups and parliamentarians – do so primarily because they are anxious about the consequences of licensing of doctors to dispense lethal drugs.

Their concerns are both about how such a system could be regulated and also about the pressure legalization would place on vulnerable people to end their lives for fear of being a financial or emotional burden on others.

This is heightened by the evidence of incremental extension or mission creep in other jurisdictions.

In the Netherlands which legalised assisted suicide and euthanasia in 2002 there has been an increase of 10 to 20% of euthanasia cases per year since 2006 from 1,923 to 4,188. The 2012 figures included 42 with early dementia and 13 with psychiatric conditions.

In addition in 2001 about 5.6% of all deaths in the Netherlands were related to deep-continuous sedation. This rose to 8.2% in 2005 and 12.3% in 2010. A significant proportion of these deaths involve doctors deeply sedating patients and then withholding fluids with the explicit intention that they will die.

Children as young as twelve can already have euthanasia and a 2005 paper in the New England Medical Journal reported on 22 babies with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus who were killed by lethal injection in the Netherlands over a seven year period. It estimated that there actually 15 to 20 newborns being killed in this way per year - despite this still being illegal. The culture and public conscience have changed.

In Belgium, which legalised euthanasia in 2002, there has been a 500% increase in euthanasia deaths over ten years between 2003 and 2012. High profile cases include Mark and Eddy Verbessem, the 45-year-old deaf identical twins, who were euthanised by the Belgian state, after their eyesight began to fail; then there is Nathan/Nancy Verhelst, whose life was ended in front of TV cameras, after a series of botched sex-change operations. His mother said she hated girls, found her child 'so ugly' at birth and did not mourn his death. And then there is Ann G, who had anorexia and who opted to have her life ended after being sexually abused by the psychiatrist who was supposed to be treating her for the life-threatening condition.

Organ donation euthanasia is already practised in Belgium and the Belgian Senate is tomorrow discussing plans to extend the programme to minors and people with dementia (they have since recommended this). Already in parts of Belgium one in three cases of euthanasia is involuntary and half go unreported. And there has been not one prosecution for abuses in the last ten years – perhaps because the one of the lead euthanasia practitioners – Distelmans – chairs the very committee that is meant to regulate his activity.

Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal, first released assisted suicide statistics in 2009, laying bare a 700% rise in cases (from 43 to 297) from 1998 to 2009. Amongst those travelling from abroad to end their lives at the notorious Dignitas facility have been many people who could not by any stretch be described as terminally ill – and included cases of people who could have lived for decades ending their lives -  with arthritis, blindness, spinal injury, diabetes, mental illness -  or people who were essentially well but could not bear to live without their spouses.

Dignitas has attracted much criticism in recent years over accounts of discarded cremation urns dumped in Lake Zurich, reports of body bags in residential lifts, suicides being carried out in car parks, the selling of the personal effects of deceased victims and profiteering with fees approaching £8,000 per death. 

In the US state of Oregon there has been a 350% increase assisted in suicide deaths since legalisation. I’ll leave it to my colleagues to expand on the details but notable are two people with cancer – Randy Stroup and Barbara Wagner – who were told that the Oregon Health Authority would not pay for their chemotherapy but would happily pay for their assisted suicide – which was of course much cheaper. Is this really the kind of temptation that we wish to put before NHS managers in Britain? Is it any wonder that over 120 attempts to change the law through US state parliaments have failed?

The problem is that any law allowing assisted suicide or euthanasia will carry within it the seeds of its own extension.

And whilst Lord Falconer may claim to have limited objectives - on his coat tails are a host of other UK groups with more radical agendas – FATE, SOARS, the BHA, NSS and EXIT International.

They will not be satisfied with the so-called modest changes he seeks but they are using exactly the same arguments to advance their case – ‘compassion’ and ‘choice’

They are able to use exactly the same arguments because Lord Falconer’s position is at heart both illogical and discriminatory.

  • If adults can have it why can’t children who are judged to be Gillick competent?
  • If competent people can have it what about those with dementia who it is argued would have wanted it?
  • If people who are terminally ill why not the chronically ill or disabled who are suffering unbearably?
  • If it's for those with physical suffering why not those with mental suffering?
Or as Exit international asks – why not the elderly bereaved and the troubled teen?

There will inevitably be pressure to extend the boundaries which may well not survive legal challenge once the so-called ‘right’ is available for some.

We will hear – it is only for this group or only for that group - but I tell you – it is only the beginning

Any law allowing assisted suicide or euthanasia in any circumstances at all will be subject to extension - or abuse

And that it is the other problem –changing the law would give doctors a degree of power over life and death that some will inevitably abuse.

It will be doctors who see the patients, fill out the forms, dispense the lethal drugs. Some of them will push the boundaries. Some will falsify certification. There may be some who, like Harold Shipman, will develop a taste for killing and they will be very difficult to detect.

But many will simply be too busy, too pressured and facing too many demands to make the kind of cool comprehensive objective assessments that this kind of law requires. And very few of them will really know the patients or their families.

Society is reluctant to touch and question doctors. The police are reluctant to investigate. The DPP hesitates to prosecute. The courts are unwilling to convict. Parliament turns a blind eye. It is simply not safe to give doctors this sort of power because some will abuse it as they have in other countries and it will be very difficult to stop them.

It’s far better not to go there at all.

The best system available is that which we have currently – a law carrying a blanket prohibition on both assisted suicide and euthanasia but with discretion given to both prosecutors and judges to temper justice with mercy in hard cases – the current law has both a stern face and a kind heart.

In other words the penalties that it holds in reserve act as a powerful deterrent to exploitation and abuse of vulnerable people

And it works – there are very few cases observed but also very few prosecutions. 

Let’s keep it that way.

Belgian Senate committee approved doctors killing children with disabilities.

Alex Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg, 
International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

CNN news reported has reported that a Belgian Senate Committee has supported a bill to extend euthanasia to children with disabilities.

The report indicates that the bill will now be brought before the Belgian Senate, and if passed by the Senate it would be brought before the Belgian Chamber of Deputies.

The CNN article stated:
A controversial bill that would extend the right to request euthanasia to children suffering terminal illnesses and adults with dementia cleared a vote in a Belgian Senate committee Wednesday. 
The panel voted 13-4 to allow minors to seek euthanasia under certain conditions, the communications director for the Senate, Patrick Peremans, told CNN. 
The vote is one stage in a legislative process -- the bill must clear other hurdles before it becomes law. 
The bill will now be introduced in the Senate, where it will be debated in a plenary meeting by all senators, Peremans said. If the bill is voted against, this would mean the end of the measure. 
If it passes, the bill would then be transferred to the House of Representatives for debate. If approved there, it would go to the king to be signed into law.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is asking people to protest the Belgium government child euthanasia plan by sending emails to the Belgian government authorities who are responsible for this bill.

Two weeks ago the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) - Europe was launched with a press conference and euthanasia debate in Brussels Belgium. During the debate, Dr Jan Bernheim, long-time promoter of euthanasia in Belgium, admitted that there are problems with the Belgium euthanasia law

During the question and answer session, after the debate, Professor Etienne Vermeersch stated that the Belgian euthanasia law was specifically designed for people with disabilities, who are not terminally ill.

Quebec is currently debating Bill 52, a bill that uses the same definitions as the Belgium euthanasia law. Quebec's Bill 52 is a bad bill.

Links to similar articles:
Belgian Senate to vote on a bill to extend euthanasia to children with disabilities and people with dementia.
Members of the Belgian Euthanasia Control and Evaluation Commission appear to be in a conflict of interest.
Belgian bill would extend euthanasia to children with disabilities and people with dementia.