Sunday, August 31, 2014

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: most popular blog articles.

1.Physician-Assisted Suicide: A Recipe for Elder Abuse and the Illusion of Personal Choice - February 17, 2011.

2. Euthanasia is out-of-control in the Netherlands – September 25, 2012.

3. Declaration of Hope – January 17, 2013. 

4. Belgian twins euthanized out of fear of blindness – January 14, 2013.

5. Petition: Stop euthanasia Bill 52 in Quebec – May 24, 2014

6. Nitschke continues to promote Nembutal sales over the internet – June 22, 2010.

7. 5 reasons why people devalue the elderly – May 25, 2010.

8. Depressed Belgian woman dies by Euthanasia – February 6, 2013.

9. Trisomy 18 is not a Death Sentence. The story of Lilliana Dennis – May 29, 2012.

10. Québec's euthanasia Bill 52 is lethal - December 12, 2013.

11. Dr Phil show: Woman wants to euthanize her adult children with disabilities – April 16, 2012.

12. Hassan Rasouli to be transferred from Sunnybrook hospital - January 6, 2014.

13. Dutch ethicist changed his mind  - Assisted Suicide: Dont Go There - July 16, 2014.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Disability Rights Organizations Oppose Assisted Suicide

This article was originally published on the Not Dead Yet blog on August 28, 2014

By John B. Kelly - the New England regional director for Not Dead Yet and the director of Second Thoughts Massachusetts.

John Kelly in Connecticut
Disability rights advocates and organizations have long opposed legalization of assisted suicide. In the mid 1990s, Not Dead Yet organized to oppose Jack Kevorkian’s assisted suicides, two thirds of which ended the lives of non-terminal, disabled people. Over the last 20 years, every major national disability rights organization that has taken a position on assisted suicide, firmly opposes it. In recent state level campaigns, disability rights opposition has been a key factor in stopping assisted suicide bills.

The authors (Myers and Hankinson, “People living with disabilities support death with dignity”) base their argument on results from three state polls and quotes from scientist Stephen Hawking. Let’s look at the three states. In Massachusetts, disabled advocates formed the group Second Thoughts during the 2012 assisted suicide ballot campaign. We took the name from our finding that the more people learn about assisted suicide, the more they oppose it. We gathered support from 11 major state-wide disability organizations; no disability organizations came out in favor. And in the most recent legislative session, Second Thoughts joined with the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Hospice & Palliative Care Federation to quash a similar bill.

When Connecticut proponents put forward bills in two consecutive sessions, our sister group Second Thoughts Connecticut organized with the disability protection and advocacy agency and the Connecticut Council on Developmental Disability to stop the bills. Hugh McQuaid wrote in CT News Junkie that “Both this year and last year, people with disabilities and their advocates have been among the bill’s most outspoken opponents. Many testified against the bill during its public hearing.”

Lastly, the authors cited New Jersey, where disability opposition was just credited with stalling an assisted suicide bill. Susan Livio of wrote “Disability advocates, fearing the legislation could be manipulated to prematurely end patients’ lives, turned out in force to testify against the bill when it passed the Assembly Health and Senior Citizens Committee earlier this month.”

In reality, assisted suicide is the ultimate denial of choice. Bob Kafka, national leader of ADAPT, points to the enforced poverty, lack of available home care, and terror of nursing homes confronting seniors and disabled people who need assistance. The lack of choices is reflected in the statistics from Oregon, where 90% of suicides are ascribed to “loss of autonomy,” and 40% to “feelings of being a burden.” Kafka says, “Society is failing to ensure that seniors and people with disabilities have access to consumer controlled long term services and supports when they need them. The last thing we need is for those in power to make a public policy choice, during this time of vast budget cuts in Medicaid health and long term care, that an early death is the cost saving answer to these very real human needs.”

Links to similar articles:

Reports of assisted suicide in Switzerland are 'highly exaggerated.'

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Recent media reports have exaggerating the number of assisted suicide deaths in Switzerland, according to a report published by Swiss Info media. The article points out that the number of people dying by assisted suicide in Switzerland is relatively exaggerated.

The article explains that a relatively small number of Swiss citizens are dying by assisted suicide and very few people who are properly cared for by palliative care die by assisted suicide. The article states:

“Assisted suicide remains a minority choice,” Andreas Weber, a palliative care specialist at the Wetzikon Hospital near Zurich, told 
“For a large majority, it is never an option in the first place, and for most of the people who consider it when they first face their diagnosis, it is off the cards once we reduce their concerns and explain what we can do.” 
Another specialist, Maria Walshe, shares Weber’s view. “I’m only aware of a couple of isolated cases where our patients made use of that option,” Walshe said. “At the Centre for Palliative Care at the Winterthur Cantonal Hospital our job is never to shorten a life, but primarily to ease the symptoms. We talk to the patients, consult their wishes and define their needs without any prejudice.” 
The only cases in which experts know patients will see it through are what they describe as “rational suicide”. Those are intellectuals who have already made up their minds in advance. They have settled their affairs, they are a member of Exit, and are ready to die. It is virtually impossible to change their minds, Weber explained.
In a recent article I explain that people who were are not sick, have died by assisted suicide in Switzerland. In fact, one study showed that 16% were not dying and a larger study showed that 25% of the people who died by assisted suicide were not dying.

The fact that some people have already "made up their minds" means that assisted suicide is the option of the few privileged persons. Giving doctors the right in law to cause your death will result in some abuse. 

Legalizing assisted suicide is not necessary considering the fact that the privileged few who demand assisted suicide can also be properly cared-for rather than killed.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Robin Williams and the hypocrisy of suicide prevention organizations.

This article was originally published on August 24, 2014 on the Not Dead Yet website.

Stephen Drake
By Stephen Drake, Research Analyst with Not Dead Yet USA

The sudden emergence of suicide prevention organizations and their representatives in the media responding to the death of Robin Williams has been mind-blowingly outrageous to me – I track the suicide coverage – assisted and non-assisted – of old, ill and disabled people regularly. It’s part of my job. A near-constant in reading and watching that coverage has been the near-total absence of suicide prevention organizations and professionals in reacting to any suicide of old, ill or elderly people labelled as “right to die,” death with dignity,” “end of life,” “assisted suicide” or any other terminology that seeks to differentiate the suicides of some people from the larger group deemed as “preventable tragedies.”

In the aftermath of Robin Williams’ apparent suicide, suicide prevention experts and the press want to take special care about warning the public and make sure that the coverage of his death doesn’t spark a rise in suicidal behavior. Here’s a sampling of the reactions, starting with a response to a tweet put out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences as reported in the Washington Post:

On Monday night, as fans around the world began to grieve Robin Williams’s death, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — best known, in many circles, as the people behind the Oscars — sent out what may be the iconic social media image of Williams’s death. 
          “@TheAcademy: Genie, you’re free.” 
          8:26 AM – 12 Aug 2014 Los Angeles, CA, United States 
More than 270,000 people have shared the tweet, which means that, per the analytics site Topsy, as many as 69 million people have seen it. 
The problem? It violates well-established public health standards for how we talk about suicide. 
“If it doesn’t cross the line, it comes very, very close to it,” said Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Suicide should never be presented as an option. That’s a formula for potential contagion.” (Emphasis added.) 
Moutier is referring to a well-documented phenomenon, better-known as “copycat suicide,” in which media coverage or publicity around one death encourages other vulnerable people to commit suicide in the same way. Adolescents are most at risk of suicide contagion; in recent years, groups like AFSP have also become particularly attentive to the role the Internet plays in romanticizing notorious or high-profile deaths, something it has long asked both the news and entertainment industries to avoid. 
“The potential for online reports, photos/videos and stories to go viral makes it vital that online coverage of suicide follow site or industry safety recommendations,” one media guide reads. 
But in the hours since @TheAcademy’s tweet went viral, professionals like Moutier have become concerned that it doesn’t, in fact, follow established safety recommendations. The starry sky from Disney’s Aladdin, and the written implication that suicide is somehow a liberating option, presents suicide in too celebratory a light, Moutier said.
The International Business Times presented this quote from a representative of the American Association of Suicidology:
The American Association of Suicidology has advised journalists to sensitively cover the death because certain types of news coverage are believed to increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable individuals. The association noted that the risk of copycat suicides increases when the story specifically describes the suicide method, but covering the suicide carefully can change public misperceptions and prompt those who are vulnerable or at risk to seek help.
Those are just two examples, but they’re typical of the way in which top suicide prevention organizations have been aggressively going after the press and spreading caution about the harm caused by irresponsible journalism.

I, for one, am extremely unimpressed and underwhelmed by the suicide prevention brigade. Even in this latest episode of a publicized suicide, I see nothing in their messaging to indicate that any of the organizations or their reps care at all if old, ill and disabled people kill ourselves (unless, of course, we’re Robin Williams).

Let me offer up one more quote before I talk about the total lack of integrity these organizations have shown in regard to suicides of old, ill and disabled people – deaths I get to read about far too often. This is from Michelle Cornette, executive director of the American Association of Suicidology, who appeared on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show “The Last Word” on MSNBC:

I think what`s really important to keep in mind with respect to suicidal thinking and individuals who die by suicide is that they have essentially reached a cognitive state where they`re not really thinking about other people. In fact, there`s some interesting research that`s come out in recent years indicating there`s a very strong association between perceptions of burden on others and risk for suicide, meaning the individuals come to believe that their death is worth more than their life to their loved ones. (Emphasis added.)
Starting with that last point – about the association of being a burden – there’s an elephant in the living room (one of many) in Oregon assisted suicide data. According to information given by prescribing doctors, 49% of people requesting assisted suicide give “being a burden” as a major reason for wanting to commit suicide. Oregon, btw, has one of the highest overall suicide rates in the country, and the rates for all ages are climbing. The state government (and suicide prevention organizations) aren’t inclined to look at legalized assisted suicide and the promotion of suicide as rational, even brave by both pro-assisted organizations and the press and how they might be influencing the overall suicide rates. One would think that good science would dictate at least considering a contagion effect from the normalization of suicide under the assisted suicide statute. It’s interesting – and disturbing – that outside of ex-director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) Herbert Hendin, I’ve never heard or read any suicide prevention professional highlight that the feeling of “being a burden” is a significant risk factor for suicide in general.

All of these suicide prevention organizations have media guidelines on reporting responsibly when covering suicides. Among those guidelines are:
  • Suicide is complex. There are almost always multiple causes, including psychiatric illnesses, that may not have been recognized or treated. However, these illnesses are treatable. 
  • Refer to research findings that mental disorders and/or substance abuse have been found in 90% of people who have died by suicide.
  • Avoid reporting that death by suicide was preceded by a single event, such as a recent job loss, divorce or bad grades. Reporting like this leaves the public with an overly simplistic and misleading understanding of suicide.
  • Consider quoting a suicide prevention expert on causes and treatments. Avoid putting expert opinions in a sensationalistic context.
  • Use your story to inform readers about the causes of suicide, its warning signs, trends in rates and recent treatment advances.
  • Add statement(s) about the many treatment options available, stories of those who overcame a suicidal crisis and resources for help.
  • Include up-to-date local/national resources where readers/viewers can find treatment, information and advice that promotes help-seeking. (Source:
Over the last eight years, the activities of the Final Exit Network (FEN) – whose “exit guides” are claimed to have facilitated hundreds of suicides in the U.S. – have received national coverage. The greatest coverage has come from their role in the death of John Celmer of Georgia, clear of mouth cancer he’d been treated for, but deeply distressed over his post-surgery appearance. The death of Jana Van Voorhis – a woman without serious physical illness but a history of emotional issues – has also received a great deal of attention. Favorable profiles of FEN and its members have appeared in Time magazine and in the Washington Post

A NY Times health columnist recommended FEN as a resource for nonterminally ill people who want to kill themselves. (FEN openly advocates the “right” of anyone with any kind of illness, condition, etc. to receive assistance and support in committing suicide.)

Virtually every one of these articles broke every single element of “good practice” in terms of reporting about suicide.

  • Percentage of articles detailing means of suicide: ~100%;
  • Percentage of articles sharing contact info for suicide prevention: almost none;
  • Percentage of articles quoting a suicide prevention representative: almost none;
A couple of articles got our hopes up that maybe suicide prevention groups were beginning to wake up and maybe give a crap about the ongoing promotion of suicide as “rational” for old, ill and disabled people.

In 2010, FEN put up a number of billboards across the country with the message “My Life My Death My Choice,” and their URL printed underneath. One of the first appeared in the San Francisco area. The Bay Citizen, an independent newspaper, published an article with two suicide prevention professionals responding to the billboard:

“This is irresponsible and downright dangerous; it is the equivalent of handing a gun to someone who is suicidal,” wrote Lanny Berman, president of the International Association of Suicide Prevention, in an email. “This message, communicated to thousands of vulnerable individuals, suffering from psychic and or physical pain that is treatable, invites a tragic and final solution to problems that most often can be solved with proper evaluation and treatment.”
There’s also a quote from a representative of a local organization:
“Regardless of what someone might feel about assisted suicide, I feel the message behind this billboard is confusing and dangerous,” wrote David Paisley, deputy director of San Francisco Suicide Prevention, in an email. 
“It assumes people will understand that it is a billboard about assisted suicide or they will go to the website,” he wrote. “In reality, most people who see the billboard from the street or car will not go to the website, but are left with a message that could be interpreted very tragically by someone in crisis and acting impulsively.”
At the time, I thought these comments were terrific breakthroughs. To the extent that the reporter managed to get suicide prevention folks to come out of hiding for this story, it was a breakthrough. But the more I read them, the more troubling the comments became. Berman and Paisley seemed not so concerned with the general message so much as the possibility it would reach the wrong audience.

Within weeks, that concern would be validated in another story about the billboards – this one from New Jersey, where FEN also paid for a billboard. In July 2010, Judith Springer spelled it out:

Dr. Judith Springer. Springer is a psychologist and board member of the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide.

The first red flag went up on Springer’s comments in her first press quotes that appeared in the Star-Ledger, giving her reaction to the FEN billboard:

Therapists called the billboard “irresponsible,” arguing it could serve as a “tipping point” for troubled teens or others at risk of suicide.“The idea of any of these upset, impressionable kids seeing a billboard like that absolutely horrifies me,” said Judith Springer, a Morristown psychologist and board member of the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide. “You can’t filter who sees a publicly displayed sign.”
The quote bothered me a little, since there seemed to be room here that – in her opinion – there is an appropriate audience for the sign and the organization.

Turns out my vague concerns were all too valid. The good Dr. Springer ended up showing the depth of her concern when it comes to suicide for the elderly – or more accurately, her complete lack of concern. In a July 16th article written by Fox News religion correspondent Lauren Green, Springer reiterated her previous comments and then expanded on them:

But Springer says she’s not opposed to Final Exit’s mission, just how they’re delivering the message. 
“I visited the website and it’s populated by elderly folks who are at the end of a very long life and are in pain,” she said. “That’s a whole different issue to me.”
Let me translate – Springer has just shrugged off any concern about any group that encourages and facilitates the suicides of “elderly folks” because it’s “different” than what she deals with.

As of 2010, neither the American Association of Suicidology nor the International Association of Suicide Prevention had any position on assisted suicide. That’s what they claimed anyway. It’s a lie. When suicide prevention organizations take “no position” on assisted suicide, they have actually taken a position to maintain silence regarding some types of people who commit suicide while speaking out about how to reduce the risk of suicide in the rest of the population. The no-position is a decision to cede authority to pro-assisted suicide advocates and activists to redefine terminology, gain acceptance and even approval for assisting the suicides of old, ill and disabled people. While suicide prevention organizations hide under their desks and refuse to talk about suicides of old, ill and disabled people as preventable tragedies, assisted suicide organizations are rearranging the playing fields and the laws. Soon, what suicide prevention organizations think about our suicides will be irrelevant.

Suicide prevention organizations probably hope that no one will remember their silence and abandonment in doing what they claim is their job. So the next time you hear, see or read a suicide prevention professional, tune out their timely propaganda and self-promotion and remember their silence at times when speaking out might have counted for something.
I promise that disability activists will remember.

We will never forget.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The fear of challenging the Belgian euthanasia law.

By: Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick - Not Dead Yet UK and Director of EPC - Europe.

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick
People in Belgium more or less ‘go along’ with the idea of euthanasia, even as the practice of euthanasia becomes more than problematic.

Nurses like Claire-Maire Luu-Etchecopar, who dare to ask questions, are threatened with losing not just their jobs in a particular ward or hospital, but in the healthcare system in Belgium. In effect, their whole careers and their livelihoods are threatened. It takes a special courage to be a whistle-blower concerning euthanasia in Belgium.

Scratch the surface in other places and a culture of fear and suppression in Belgium appears. Critics of Belgium’s euthanasia policies feel they cannot afford to do so in public, for the results appear dire. Senior consultants and journalists are afraid to even have a cup of coffee to discuss their worries.

But even when people and families avail themselves of Belgium’s euthanasia programme, either wholeheartedly or perhaps more commonly, uneasily but still willingly, there are stories to chill the spine.

One woman who attended our EPC Europe seminar last May told us her mother had chosen a euthanasia death. The doctor who was to do the euthanasia pushed a form towards her. It was the legal release of her mother’s brain to medical science. Neither she nor her mother wanted this. But the doctor refused to do the euthanasia if she did not sign it. Caught, but deeply unhappy, she signed.

Alex Schadenberg debating.
The idea that Belgium is a haven of good practice, any kind of standard for moral behaviour is risible. The absurdity of claiming Belgium as the pinnacle of ethical behaviour in euthanasia practice is all the more ridiculous when we hear how it actually affects lives, even when people ‘go along with it’. Never mind when they are horrified by it.

At the opening of the debate in Brussels in November (2013) I reminded the audience of the Irish thinker Edmund Burke’s phrase: 
‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good [wo]men to do nothing.’ 
That can seem harsh, but it is my firm belief that now is the moment for people in Belgium to come together and say ‘Stop!’ – otherwise it really will be too late.

Dutch euthanasia clinic lethally injects woman who didn't want to live in a nursing home.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Euthanasia Clinic
A recent article by Professor Theo Boer, a Dutch ethicist who has been a member of a euthanasia monitoring committee in the Netherlands for 9 years, warned the rest of the world to not legalize assisted suicide or euthanasia.

An article published by explains that a euthanasia clinic was reprimanded for the death of an elderly woman, who had a stroke and died by euthanasia because she didn't want to live permanently in a nursing home. It sounds like elder abuse to me. The article stated:
The euthanasia monitoring committee said the clinic’s experts had failed to exercise proper care when carrying out their duties. The public prosecution department is now investigating the case, Trouw reported on Wednesday. 
Theo Boer
In his article
, Boer wrote that he had supported the Dutch euthanasia law, but after 12 years experience, he changed his mind based on the uncontrollable expansion of reasons for euthanasia:
Whereas in the first years after 2002 hardly any patients with psychiatric illnesses or dementia appear in reports, these numbers are now sharply on the rise. Cases have been reported in which a large part of the suffering of those given euthanasia or assisted suicide consisted in being aged, lonely or bereaved. Some of these patients could have lived for years or decades.
Boer concludes his article by urging the world not to legalize euthanasia because:
Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely to ever go back in again.
Whether the public prosecution department deems this euthanasia death to be acceptable or not, the woman is dead, the supposed "safeguards" didn't protect her, and the euthanasia clinic decided that death was preferable to living with the affects of a stroke.

Links to other similar articles:

Death with Dignity Act lacks effective safeguards to protect depressed people.

This letter was written by Donna Goodwin and published in the New York Daily News on August 27, 2014.
Assisted suicide brings with it consequences on society that The Times’ editorial board ignored in its most current editorial on the situation, "Death with Dignity for the Terminally Ill proposal includes vital safeguards" (Aug. 10).

In Washington state and Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, there is virtually no oversight to safeguard for those who may possibly be depressed, which generally, if not normally, occurs at some point throughout the course of an illness. 
Supposed “safeguards” written into the bill are full of holes.  It has been alleged that all people who obtain a prescription for the deadly dose of drugs will be mentally competent.  How is it, then, that Michael Freeland in Oregon, a man with a 40-year documented history of depression, received a prescription by a medical professional for the lethal drugs? 
The language in the bill that all who request the drugs are capable of creating that choice are mere words on paper and totally ineffective. 
Donna Goodwin,

Most Doctors oppose assisted suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A survey of 600 physicians in Britain found that 60% opposed a change in the law to legalize physician-assisted suicide while 19% indicated that they would be willing euthanize or assist the suicide of a patient.

According to the article published in the Daily Mail:

a survey of 600 doctors by the Medix consultancy found that 60% are against a change in the law to allow physician-assisted suicide. 
This is a rise of 17 points from the last time the same question was asked - just 43% were against a change in 2004. 
In the latest poll almost half of doctors said that in the last six months they have had at least one patient state they would rather die than stay alive. 
Only 19% would be willing to help people die through legalised physician- assisted suicide or euthanasia, although 37% believe it is already happening anyway.
Dr Tony Calland
The article also quoted Dr Tony Calland, chairman of the British Medical Association's (BMA) ethics committee, who said:

"There have always been strongly held views on assisted dying as this is a complex, emotive issue centred upon vulnerable patients nearing the end of their lives." 
"Doctors have repeatedly expressed their opposition to assisted dying when it has been debated regularly at the BMA's annual conference that sets our policy, which since 2006 has been to oppose assisted dying in all its forms." 
"Many doctors have first-hand experience of caring for dying patients and believe that, rather than deliberately ending a patient's life, we should instead be focusing on building the very best of palliative care for those in distress."
A recent survey of 4800 members of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) found that only 36.3% supported the legalization of euthanasia and 44.8% supported assisted suicide.

Even after the Canadian media has pushed for the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide, the majority of physicians remain opposed to intentionally causing the death of their patients.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Nitschke - "an undetectable death" or murder?

This article was written by Paul Russell, the director of HOPE Australia, and published on August 26, on the HOPE Australia blog.

Paul Russell
By Paul Russell

The recent news of the suspension of Philip Nitschke’s medical licence pending the medical board of Australia’s investigations is good news. But many have asked: why has it taken so long?

The trigger issue for the medical board was the suicide death of Perth man, Nigel Brayley; Beyond Blue chairman, Jeff Kennett and others arguing that, in Nitschke’s contact with Brayley, he had a duty of care to try and stop Brayley from taking his own life.

Nitschke has claimed that his contact with Brayley was not medical in nature and therefore created no onus upon him to attempt to stop Brayley. But a medical professional is a medical professional 24/7 and not simply during a scheduled clinical consultation. There are many professions in our community that hold some sort of mandated civic duty at all times; surely a doctor is no different?

That it has taken so long for the ubiquitous head of the Exit ‘death cult’ as journalist Angela Shanahan called it, to find himself ‘in the dock’ is indeed a matter of some frustration for opponents, including this writer. That it eventually did happen was always a safe bet.

Two years ago when I made a complaint to the medical board I did so because of a significant public safety concern arising out of the then latest in Exit death methods – nitrogen gas hypoxia. What made this method even more of a concern than the other earlier methods was its marketing slogan: “…for an undetectable death…”

The Exit sales blurb talked about this ‘undetectability’ being for those who didn’t want to be remembered as, ‘Uncle so-and-so who killed himself.’ Our concern was more about what was not said – but clearly inferred.

There’s nothing ‘undetectable’ about an Exit nitrogen death if it is truly a do-it-yourself method. The deceased will be found with a gas canister and paraphernalia. Pretty obvious.

So, to be ‘undetectable’ there would need to be a complicit third party who would dispose of the evidence. Now there’s a third party involved; now there’s someone at risk of being charged with the criminal offence of assisting in a suicide.

If that were not enough of a red flag, this ‘undetectability’ provides an opportunity for someone to dispose of someone else with the benefit of being able to avoid suspicion. It’s a rolled-gold method for the most sinister form of elder abuse.

The Brayley case is a ‘smoking gun’, whereas our observations about a real life-and-death risk to the elderly and infirmed, whilst sound and logical, remained theoretical. That is; until July this year in the Utah town of Roy.

Dennis Chamberlain is charged with first degree murder for allegedly killing his wife, Jean Chamberlain and trying to make it look like a natural death.

Jean Chamberlain died in February this year. She was ill and undergoing treatment and was in the care of her husband, Dennis, in their Roy home. Dennis Chamberlain did not advise Roy police of Jean’s death, preferring instead, as he later told his family, to call on an LDS Bishop who declared his wife deceased. As a Roy Detective noted, Mrs Chamberlain’s recent illness and visit to a doctor on the morning of her death were reason enough to issue a death certificate at that time.

It was not until months after the death and burial of Jean that her family raised their suspicion that all was not as it seemed after Chamberlain had told conflicting stories about what had happened that day in February.

Police issued a warrant to search Chamberlain’s home. According to one news report, they found:

On his computer police say they found “methods on how to commit suicide and other resources such as doctors to sign death certificates.” 
Police claim he bought “an oxygen mask and a book titled “the Peaceful Pill Handbook”. 
They also found an exit bag, a plastic hoodie used for suffocation.
The Roy Police Press release of the 1st of July made the claimed subterfuge even clearer:
After several warrants and subpoenas were written and served by investigators, it was found that Dennis had been researching ways to commit suicide and other resources, such as how to find doctors to sign death certificates, and searches that were specific to certain medications, chemicals, and poisons, which could be used to help end your life, and not be detected at autopsy. (PR: sound familiar!) 
Also located was a book which is an instructional book on how to commit suicide without it being detected in an autopsy, this book could also be used as a guide to commit a homicide, and it was found that Dennis had purchased items mentioned in this book the day Jean had died, and it is believed that these items were used to end Jean’s life.
The Salt Lake Tribune puts it this way:
Detectives also learned that Chamberlain allegedly purchased an oxygen mask and a book titled “The Peaceful Pill Handbook,” a euthanasia and suicide how-to manual. Several areas of the book pertaining to the use of nitrogen gas and making of a so-called “Exit Bag” – a plastic bag with a drawstring to put over one’s head – were marked, the affidavit contends. 
Mrs Chamberlain’s body was subsequently exhumed for examination. The specifics of what this autopsy discovered have not been made known, but the Roy Police did confirm that ‘medical examiners found evidence of asphyxiation'.
A preliminary hearing on the charges has been set for the 29th of August.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Warning — Hospice Abuse Can Kill You.

Hospice abuse can be euthanasia without consent. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) supports good hospice care, but we are also extremely concerned about hospice abuse. Good hospice care leads to less support for euthanasia and assisted suicide while hospice abuse leads to a greater demand for the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

By Sara Buscher, an attorney from Appleton Wisconsin. She was elected to leadership positions in Elder Law and in Civil Rights Law, working as an advocate on behalf of people with disabilities and the elderly.

Bud Coffey with his sister.
What do Bud Coffey, Jim Carlen, Roseann Gillespie and Beverly Garguilo have in common? Their deaths from apparently lethal doses of morphine and sedatives while in hospice. These cases are described in a Washington Post exposé by award-winning investigative journalist Peter Whoriskey.[1] They were not dying nor in extreme pain when they enrolled in hospice, but were given excessive doses of painkillers, dying a few days or weeks later.

So how does it work? A 2009 front page New York Times article explained that a strong sedative, typically lorazepam, and a strong pain killer, typically morphine, are supplied drip by drip through an IV until heart rate and breathing are slowed to the point of making it impossible to eat or drink.[2] “In so doing, it can intentionally hasten death.” This practice goes by various names, including “terminal sedation”, “palliative sedation” and “slow euthanasia.” An earlier national survey found 83% of doctors said it is ethically permissible.[3]

The Washington Post article reports on complaints from around the country illustrating the potential dangers of hospice for patients who are not near death, but who are prescribed lethal doses. Yet no data is collected about such abuses.

The article explains that as the hospice industry has grown, more are enrolling patients who aren’t close to death. Lawsuits have sought to recover more than $1 billion in federal money from hospices who have “fraudulently” billed Medicare for these patients. To qualify for Medicare hospice payments, patients must be certified as having terminal conditions likely to lead to death in six months.

Medicare tracks the number of patients who leave hospice alive as a check on honest enrollment practices. The proportion of “hospice survivors” has increased to the point where some experts believe hospices are deliberately enrolling patients who aren’t dying. They can collect $155 a day ($4,650 a month), without visiting them at home. At hundreds of U.S. hospices, more than one in three patients were released alive, according to a new study funded by Medicare. A “hospice survivor profiled in the article refused to take the drugs while she got better. She was finally given a blood test that proved she did not have cancer, but only after spending a year of her life in hospice.

Sadly, Bud Coffey’s family realized too late that the drugs they were giving him per hospice directions had likely ended his life.

Whether patients are nearing death with a terminal condition or not, EPC opposes the intentional ending of peoples lives with lethal doses. Families and patients should avoid inappropriate hospice enrollment. If a hospice is willing to falsify records to get paid by Medicare, in the US, that hospice is more likely to engage in other unethical practices.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Switzerland, Assisted Suicide and Death Clinics.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A journal article on a pilot study concerning assisted suicide in Switzerland has resulted in significant media promotion of the legalization of assisted suicide. Assisted suicide causes the death of people and the issue deserves further investigating concerning its actual practice in Switzerland.

Pietro D'Amico
n April 2013, Pietro D’Amico, a 62-year-old magistrate from Calabria in southern Italy died by assisted suicide at Dignitas. 
An article that was published in Switzerland's english news service, The Local, stated:
The father-of-one made the decision after a wrong diagnosis from Italian and Swiss doctors, his family's lawyer Michele Roccisano told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera
An autopsy carried out by the University of Basel’s Institute of Forensic Medicine found that D’Amico was not suffering from a life-threatening illness at the time of his death. 
Roccisano called on the Italian and Swiss authorities to examine D’Amico’s medical records to determine what went wrong.
In February, 2014 the Daily Mail reported that:
Oriella Cazzanello, 85, travelled to the Dignitas suicide clinic in Basel, Switzerland, where she paid €10,000 for an assisted suicide because was unhappy about losing her looks. 
Cazzanello, who was in good mental and physical health, left her home in Arzignano, near Vicenza in northern Italy, without telling her relatives where she was going. 
Her family, who had reported her to the police as missing, only learnt of her death after they received her ashes and death certificate from the clinic.
In July 2013, a Swiss regional court found Dr. Philippe Freiburghaus “crossed the line” by assisting a suicide without obtaining a diagnosis.

On April 23, 2014, Dr Freiburghaus was acquitted for assisting a suicide without a diagnosis. The reasons for the acquittal were not made public.

An 89-year-old British woman died by assisted suicide in Switzerland because she felt alienated from the modern world.

In May 2013, the European Court of Human Rights said that Switzerland did not provide clear enough guidelines on who could obtain lethal drugs.

A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology examined 1301 assisted suicide deaths in Switzerland and found that:
Women, highly educated, divorced and rich people are more likely to die from assisted suicide, new research has revealed and around 16 per cent of death certificates did not register an underlying cause. In other words, they had no underlying illness. 
A previous study of suicides by two right-to-die organizations showed that 25 per cent of those who died had no fatal illness, instead citing 'weariness of life' as a factor.
Recently a Swiss assisted suicide group decided to extend suicide assistance to healthy elderly people who are living with some form of physical or psychological pain.

Assisted suicide is not legal in Montana, not the answer.

Link to the hand-out of this article that can be used in your community.

The following article was published by the Missoulian Newspaper on August 21, 2014.

Guest column by BRADLEY WILLIAMS

I take exception to the opinion by two members of the former Hemlock Society, now known as “Compassion & Choices.” The opinion of July 25 implies that assisted suicide is legal in Montana, which is not true.

I am the president of Montanans Against Assisted Suicide. We are in litigation against the Montana Medical Examiners Board. As part of that litigation, we got the board to remove a position paper from its website implying that assisted suicide is legal. Assisted suicide is not legal.

The “treatment” of suicide

As part of our litigation with the board, we also obtained an affidavit from Dr. Ken Stevens, of Oregon, which is one of the few states in which assisted suicide is legal. His affidavit describes how, in Oregon, that state’s Medicaid program uses legal assisted suicide to steer patients to suicide. This is through coverage incentives. The program will not necessarily cover a treatment to cure a disease or to extend a patient’s life. The program will cover the patient’s suicide. In other words, with legal assisted suicide, desired treatments are displaced with the “treatment” of suicide.

Backing the establishment

The former Hemlock Society, Compassion & Choices, touts itself as the great promoter of individual choice. But if you take a closer look, its actual mission is to back the medical-government establishment.

Barbara Wagner
Consider the well-publicized case of Oregon cancer patient Barbara Wagner. In 2008, Oregon’s Medicaid program declined to cover “Tarceva,” a cancer drug recommended by her doctor, and offered to cover her suicide instead, terming it “aid in dying.” Wagner was devastated.

“It was horrible,” Wagner told "I got a letter in the mail that basically said if you want to take the pills, we will help you get that from the doctor and we will stand there and watch you die. But we won't give you the medication to live."

The drug’s manufacturer subsequently gave Tarceva to Wagner without charge. She, nonetheless, died a short time later.

I recently asked Stevens about Tarceva. He told me that some of his patients had taken it and that for some of them it was beneficial. This was in terms of survival and better quality of life. He also told me that it can be difficult to know how a particular cancer patient will do on a particular cancer drug. He said that there are always some patients who live longer than expected, sometimes 10 or even 20 years longer, depending on the type of cancer. He said, “This is because there are always some people who beat the odds.” Barbara Wagner had wanted to be one of those people.

After Wagner’s death, Compassion & Choices stepped forward to show its true colors. Specifically, its president, Barbara Coombs Lee, published an opinion in Oregon’s largest paper taking issue with Wagner’s choice to try and live. Coombs Lee argued that Wagner should have instead given up hope and accepted her pending death. But, this was not Wagner’s choice.

In a KATU TV interview Wagner had said: 
“I’m not ready, I’m not ready to die ... I’ve got things I’d still like to do.”

A public policy to discourage cures

Coombs Lee’s opinion piece also argued for a public policy change to discourage people from seeking cures. This would presumably be through coverage incentives. For example, she said: “The burning public policy question is whether we inadvertently encourage patients to act against their own self-interest, chase an unattainable dream of cure, and foreclose the path of acceptance that curative care has been exhausted.”

Coombs Lee is a former “managed care executive.”

Your choice is not assured by their legislation. Don’t be fooled by their double-speak.