Monday, September 29, 2014

‘Rational suicide’ and capital punishment: Australia’s ‘doctor death’ feeds his own cult

By Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE, 
Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, International and a leader of Not Dead Yet UK

Kevin Fitzpatrick
he idea of a ‘rational’ suicide is, to Philip Nitschke, mere ‘common sense’. It is a seductive idea – as so many of his pronouncements can be to an unreflective audience – it contains dangerous elisions that serve his purposes and try to bury serious, thoughtful objections. His recent comments follow Belgium’s decision to euthanize one of its prisoners, a serial rapist/murderer.

Counting suicide as a rational act is shallow and self-serving; if people buy the idea from him, then he stands to sell more of his death-kits, take the media limelight for those who kill themselves following his advice, sell more places at his death seminars and sell membership subscriptions to his organisation – make no mistake, Nitschke enjoys his notoriety built from the despair of others, but he makes money too, on their backs already strained to the point of terminal desolation.

Counting euthanasia of convicted serial killers as rational is the kind of easy extension he makes without drawing breath One response to his remark about a mass murderer of 35 people, is to wonder what the families of his victims make of ‘releasing’ him through euthanasia, and indeed, what they think of Nitschke for proffering the idea. Some of them, like one family member of a victim of the Belgian rapist/murderer, might prefer that he ‘rot’ in prison.

Whatever we might make of that, it is a serious response - not to be glossed over or ignored completely, not even counted as something to be considered. Do victims’ families deserve Nitschke’s further deep insults?

Netherland 2013 euthanasia report - 15% increase, euthanasia for psychiatric problems and dementia.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

The 2013 Netherlands euthanasia report was released today indicating a 15% increase of reported euthanasia deaths. There were also 42 assisted deaths for people with psychiatric problems and 97 assisted deaths for people with dementia. Assisted deaths refer to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The 2013 report indicated that there were 4829 reported assisted deaths which was up from 4188 in 2012. As bad as it is, there are also unreported assisted deaths.

Every five year the Netherlands does a meta-analysis of the euthanasia law. In 2010 the study was published in the Lancet indicated that 23% of all assisted deaths were unreported in the Netherlands, which was up from 20% in 2005 report. Since the under-reporting of euthanasia in the Netherlands represents (20% - 23%) of all euthanasia deaths, therefore it is likely that the actual number of euthanasia deaths is (965 - 1100) deaths higher.

The number of reported euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands is continually increasing.
Theo Boer, a Dutch ethicist who had been a 9 year member of a euthanasia regional review committee recently wrote an article explaining why he has changed his mind and now opposes euthanasia. He explained how the Netherlands law has expanded its reasons for euthanasia and how the number of euthanasia deaths was constantly increasing turning euthanasia into a perceived right rather than an exception.

The reasons for euthanasia continues to expand in the Netherlands. For instance:

EPC predicted that there would be a continuous increase in the number and reasons for euthanasia after the Netherlands euthanasia lobby launched six mobile euthanasia teams.

The mobile euthanasia teams claimed that they would fill the "unmet demand" for euthanasia for people with chronic depression (mental pain), people with disabilities, people with dementia and loneliness, and for those whose request for euthanasia was declined by their physician.

Dutch ethicist, Theo Boer, stated in his recent article that: 

I used to be a supporter of legislation. But now, with twelve years of experience, I take a different view. 
Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely to ever go back in again.
We need to heed the warning from Theo Boer. 
We need to reject killing people by euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Australia's Dr Death - Philip Nitschke - is being investigated in 20 deaths.

Alex  Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Sydney Morning Herald is reported that Philip Nitschke, Australia's Dr Death, is being investigated in the deaths of up to 20 people with investigations occurring in every Australia State. 

At the same time, Nitschke is promoting, online, updates to his suicide manual and he has launched a website in German to promote his suicide manuals and devices.

Paul Russell, the founder of HOPE Australia, is calling for a national inquiry into the suicide industry  established by Philip Nitschke.

Warning - If you are having suicidal thoughts please seek help. Your Life Counts.

The latest inquiries into the suicide business by euthanasia lobbyist, Philip Nitschke began in early July when the media reported that Nitschke was being questioned in the death of a healthy depressed man. Australia's ABC news reported that Nitschke admitted to being involved in the death:

In emails obtained by the ABC, Mr Brayley admitted to Dr Nitschke he was not "supporting a terminal medical illness", but said he was "suffering". 
Now Dr Nitschke is being accused of moving into uncharted territory by agreeing to assist Mr Brayley despite knowing he was not terminally ill. 
AUDIO: Listen to PM's report (PM) 
"If a 45-year-old comes to a rational decision to end his life, researches it in the way he does, meticulously, and decides that ... now is the time I wish to end my life, they should be supported. And we did support him in that," he said.

The Sydney Morning Herald article reported that Nitschke is being investigated by the Victoria police in the death of Ross Currie (55) who died on May 25. The article states that police have emails between Currie and Nitschke with respect to Nitschke's Max Dog Brewing company, a company that sells and distributes Nitrogen inhalent equipment for the purpose of causing death by asphyxiation, under the guise of beer brewing equipment. 

The article also reports that there are 5 complaints being investigated by the Australian Medical Board including one by Paul Russell, the Director of HOPE Australia, and another by the mother of a 26 year-old depressed son who died by suicide allegedly with connections to Nitschke. The article stated:
A Melbourne woman, Judith Taylor, who complained to the board after her 26-year-old son, Lucas, committed suicide using ... after buying Dr Nitschke's euthanasia book, The ... Handbook. She is understood to have claimed that an online forum curated by Exit International encouraged her son to take his life.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition supports HOPE Australia's call for a national inquiry into the suicide industry that has been created by Philip Nitschke.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Physician-Assisted Suicide: A Clinicians Perspective

This article was published by Medscape Internal Medicine on September 25, 2014.

Joshua M Hauser MD

Joshua Hauser
Listening to Patient's Wishes

"When a horse breaks his leg, they put him down; why can't you do that to me?" The patient who asked me this recently is a 76-year-old man dying of gastric cancer who had pain from pressure ulcers he developed as he became increasingly debilitated and had no one to help get him out of bed. He also had haunting memories of caring for his parents as they died in pain decades ago. I explored how he was suffering; I suggested what we could do for his pain and what resources we might be able to gather to help him at home. I listened as he told me about his time with his parents. He was not satisfied.

And I left our interaction wondering what we would do next to help him. Two days later, we had a family meeting with his closest relatives, a niece and a nephew, and I asked how he was feeling about our conversation and wanting us to help him die. "Oh, that was just then. I feel OK now." I asked whether it was the pain medications or the newly developed plans for a nursing facility. "No, just not feeling that way anymore," he told me.

A second patient was a woman in her 40s who was dying of lymphoma. She was not dying as fast as she wanted to and requested our help in hastening her death. Evaluations ensued by our palliative care service, our psychiatry service, the ethics service, and multiple chaplains and she persisted in this desire. We all thought we had ideas about how to address her suffering; none were effective. Finally, after several days of intensive pain control and continued conversations, her desire for hastened death waned.

What made the difference? I asked her afterwards. The difference was, she told me, the result of the "sitter" who was called in because of caregivers' concerns—not about physician-assisted suicide, but because of worries about the patient's risk for "traditional" suicide.

Why did the sitter make a difference? Because, the patient told me, "she just sat there," "she read to me," and "she went and got me something to eat." What could be simpler? The patient proceeded to have several more months with her family.

Responding to Wishes for Hastened Death

Dying is unpredictable. These cases represent two phenomena which I believe are common in our care of dying patients: (1) how rapidly patients' wishes for hastened death can change; and (2) the unpredictability of the interventions that we use to address these wishes. Sometimes, despite all of the remarkable advances in palliative care that we have had over these past decades, we may not even know which specific intervention has made a difference.

I say this not to suggest that we abandon our attention to the core principles and interventions of palliative care used to combat the many forms of suffering that might affect patients, but because I believe we must redouble our efforts. We might not know which intervention is making a difference, so we owe it to ourselves and to our patients and their families to listen to their suffering, understand it as best as we can, identify what we cannot understand, and intervene in whatever way we can.

And as we do that, we must realize that wishes may change. Having patience with the possibility of wishes changing is difficult for us as clinicians who deeply desire to help and improve a patient's experience. It is even more difficult for the patient who is suffering. And yet, because many of us in palliative care have seen patients' desires change, patience is necessary.

Responding to Wishes for Hastened Death

Risks of physician-assisted dying. I have never practiced in a setting where physician-assisted dying has been legal, but even with safeguards that exist where it is legal, I worry that its availability could undermine this fickleness of patients' desires and short-circuit this observation about the unpredictability of interventions. I fear that even with the most altruistic of intentions, its availability would compromise the hard work of attending to suffering and the non-abandonment that is fundamental to palliative care.

For clinicians of all specialties, physician-assisted dying represents the ultimate measure of patient suffering and the ultimate challenge to our personal values as physicians. But whether we are the most passionate advocates for physician-assisted dying or its staunchest opponents, it is ultimately what the request represents for a patient that must be our focus. It is likely that those of us in palliative care witness patient requests for hastened death more often, but whether one practices in oncology, primary care, hospital medicine, cardiology, or many other specialties, we will confront patients who explicitly or implicitly want our help in hastening their death.

First and foremost, we must see a request as an alarm that a patient's suffering is out of control. Second, it should prompt us to explore with that patient and his family how he is suffering and its physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and existential sources. Third, it should lead us to interventions in these domains of symptom control and of psychological, social, and spiritual suffering.

We cannot be so presumptuous as to believe that we can solve each of these sources of suffering, but I know that we can bear witness in the deepest medical and human sense. And so a fourth step of non-abandonment is one that will allow space—for the unexpected sitter or the change of mind that cannot be predicted.

I won't assist in euthanasia again.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Sean Davison, who was previously convicted in New Zealand for assisting his mother’s death, last week admitted to assisting the suicide of a South African quadriplegic man. Davison is now saying that he will never assist in euthanasia again.

Davison should be investigated for his part in the death of Anrich Burger who became a quadriplegic in a 2005 car accident.

Davison told the South African media that:

“Anrich Burger was a very close friend. I wouldn't want to ever go through that again. It was very stressful”
Davison's comments may be related to the fact that he is promoting a bill in the South African parliament to legalize assisted suicide. Davison's actions may lead to criminal charges but will hopefully lead to politicians rejecting the assisted suicide bill.

Kevin Fitzpatrick
Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick, the EPC - International Director and disability activist responded to the death of Burger by writing:

When a person with disabilities has pain, and distress about his work, his own patients’ welfare, and asks a doctor to help him commit suicide. If the doctor says ‘Let’s look at your pain management – let’s get you working again the way you’d like - you have so much to give these online patients seeking help’? That leads to a belief that life is worth living. 
But if a doctor responds: Well of course not. ‘You want to die? Yes of course I’ll help you’ – simple, eh? That leads to a belief that the person is better off dead.
Last weekend, Davison become a member of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies board.

Links to similar articles:

Children arrange parents' joint euthanasia.

This article published on Wesley Smith's blog on September 26, 2014.

By Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith
If this doesn’t scare you, nothing will.

A doctor has agreed to murder/euthanize a healthy elderly Belgian couple who don’t want ever to live apart–and their three children approve. One even procured the death doctor. From the Daily Mail story:

Their son, John Paul, 55, approached their doctor to request their euthanasia – which was legalised in Belgium in 2002 – but the doctor refused because there were no grounds for it. John Paul found another doctor willing to perform the killings in an unnamed hospital in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium in which 82 per cent of euthanasia cases are performed. 
Francis said he and Anne were grateful for the arrangement. ‘Without our son and our daughter, it would never have succeeded,’ he said. ‘We are not sad, we are happy,’ he continued. ‘When we were told we could leave life together smoothly we were on a little cloud. It was as if we had spent all that time in a tunnel and suddenly we came into the light again.’ 
The couple’s daughter has remarked that her parents are talking about their deaths as eagerly as if they were planning a holiday. John Paul said the double euthanasia of his parents was the ‘best solution’. ‘If one of them should die, who would remain would be so sad and totally dependent on us,’ he said. ‘It would be impossible for us to come here every day, take care of our father or our mother.’
Imagine knowing your children don’t want you depending on them–because that is really what is being said.

If I told my mother I supported her euthanasia at 97, it would make her want to kill herself! Good grief.

The story is wrong that this would be the first joint euthanasia in Belgium of elderly couples – which I have covered here at HE at least twice before. It has also happened in Switzerland.

But that’s the way euthanasia rolls. Culture of death, Wesley? What culture of death?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Assisted Suicide as “Last Resort” Fantasy

This article was published on September 25 on Wesley Smith's blog.

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

Many supporters of assisted suicide are well-meaning, really thinking that it would only be done in the proverbial “last resort” scenario. But that’s a fantasy, as we will discuss below.

The bioethicist, Art Caplan, is one such last resortist. He used to oppose assisted suicide but now believes it can work under “strict guidelines”–such as waiting periods and terminal illness–and then, only as a last resort. From his, Physician-Assisted Suicide: Only as a Last Resort, published on Medscape:
The other restriction I would look for with respect to assisted suicide is to first offer people palliative care, hospice — options that do not involve taking the person’s life. If they say, “I’m in pain”; if they say, “I’m spiritually upset,” then we ought to try to address that first before we say, “Here’s a pill; goodbye.” 
It does seem to me that good palliative care and good hospice care are crucial as fundamental components of what assisted suicide should be about. We do not want to encourage people toward assisted suicide. We may want to include it as an option but absolutely the option of last resort… 
Assisted suicide may work but only with adequate protections, adequate controls, adequate oversight, and adequate regulation to make sure that people do not think, “I better do this because I am a burden to others” or “I am going to do this because nothing else out there can help me with my pain, suffering, or depression.” Those are not adequate ethical circumstances to support someone ending his or her own life.
Sorry. Assisted suicide is never practiced only as a “last resort.” Consider:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The useless death of Yvan Tremblay

This article was published on the Living with Dignity blog on September 24, 2014.

By Nic Steenhout - The Director of Vivre Dans la Dignité (Living with Dignity) in Quebec

Nic Steenhout
e mourn the death of Yvan Tremblay, a man with disabilities who committed suicide rather than be forced out of his apartment on September 14. Isabelle Maréchal describes the situation well
"He decided to end his life because he could no longer deal with an inhuman system."
For 10 years, he lived in adapted housing. The managers of the building where he was staying expelled him because of new safety regulations imposed by the government. Apparently, he could not stay there because it would be impossible to evacuate him in case of fire. If he did not leave by himself, Mr. Tremblay would have been placed in a much smaller home, without even a kitchen. No space for his things. His options were drastically reduced.

A neighbor said
"Yvan didn't have an extraordinary quality of life, but here he found a semblance of life. And they blew out the small flame that was left."
We already wrote that legalizing euthanasia creates a risk for people with disabilities because they do not have choices or alternatives. This is the situation Mr. Tremblay found himself in. He saw no other option than death.

Euthanasia: And they say that people with disabilities have nothing to fear...

By Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick
Director of EPC - International and a leader of Not Dead Yet UK.

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick (23/9/14) reports a story from SAPA (the South African Press Association):
A doctor, previously convicted in New Zealand for assisting his mother’s death now admits helping a South African quadriplegic to commit suicide.
Dr Anrich Burger, quadriplegic after a car accident in 2005, worked for Health24’s CyberDoc. He died in November 2013. Sean Davison’s spokesperson confirmed he had aided Burger to die, after Davison spoke at last week’s euthanasia conference in Chicago, US. Davison said: 
‘He asked me to be part of his plan, and I became his co-conspirator…’. He was also reported as saying later: ‘Not all quadriplegics want to die, but those who do want to, should have the option.’
Davison should face criminal charges. He has stepped past any pretense that assisted suicide/euthanasia is for terminally ill people and is openly assisting in the deaths of quadriplegics.

And they say that people with disabilities have nothing to fear…

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Right to die becomes a duty to die.

This article was originally published on July 23, 2014 in the Lethbridge Herald.

Focus should be on caring not killing

By Mark Penninga

Recently Mr. John Warren, vice chair of the organization Dying with Dignity, made the argument in this paper that the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision about assisted suicide will determine who owns your life – “you or the state.”

He referenced Sue Rodriguez who suffered from ALS and pleaded for the right to have a doctor end her life. Although she lost her case in a 1993 decision of the Supreme Court, Mr. Warren argues that public opinion has changed dramatically since then.

I hope we can all agree that we have a moral obligation to dig deeper than shifting public opinion. It is not enough to reduce this issue to emotional stories or catch-phrases like “dying with dignity.”

Will legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide mean that you “own your life”? This is an example of how right-to-be-killed advocates twist the facts to appear reasonable and compassionate. But not even “Dying with Dignity” would be willing to apply this logic consistently. Nobody in this case would advocate for an unrestricted right to die. If a 12-year-old victim of bullying requests suicide, we all would agree that her family and the rest of society better be there to care for her and address the bullying, not give her a lethal injection. Even if Canada becomes the most permissive nation in the world when it comes to euthanasia, there will still be some elites, be they judges, lawyers, politicians or doctors, who get to decide who “owns their life.”

What is often ignored is that as soon as assisted suicide or euthanasia are legalized, the right to life that everyone is supposed to possess moves from objective to subjective. That means that instead of having dignity and worth simply because we are human, we now have to prove our worth to an ever-changing standard that is imposed on us. That hardly sounds dignified.

In a country where assisted suicide is legal, a 70-year-old who has been diagnosed with dementia has to explicitly or implicitly prove to those around her why she should stay alive. She has to justify her continued existence at a time when she feels most vulnerable. A right to die quickly turns into an obligation to die.

One has only to look at the places in the world where euthanasia was legalized to see evidence of this subjective standard. In the Netherlands and Belgium it took very little time for their “strict” euthanasia laws to change and now even include children and infants. Think for a moment of what it means to tell an eight-year-old that they have a right to die! A Canadian Medical Association Journal study also found that close to a third of the euthanasia deaths in one region of Belgium were done without consent.

So much for owning your own life. Euthanasia and assisted suicide doesn’t give you ownership of your life. It takes life away, sometimes even without your consent.

Of course assisted suicide is not for the dying.

By Wesley Smith - published on his blog on September 23.

Wesley Smith
If more journalists would read this blog, they wouldn’t be surprised by these things.

The New Scientist reports that Swiss assisted suicide isn’t about terminal illness! Whaddy know? From the story:

It’s a tourism boom, but not one to crow about. The number of people travelling to Switzerland to end their lives is growing. And it seems more and more people with a non-fatal disease are making the trip. 
An ongoing study of assisted suicide in the Zurich area has found that the number of foreign people coming to the country for the purpose is rising. For example, 123 people came in 2008 and 172 in 2012. In total 611 people came over that period from 31 countries, with most coming from Germany or the UK, with 44 per cent and 21 per cent of the total respectively. 
Neurological diseases, only some of which are fatal, were given as the reason for 47 per cent of assisted suicides for the years 2008 to 2012, up from 12 per cent in a similar study of the same region between 1990 and 2000. Rheumatic or connective tissue diseases, generally considered non-fatal, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis, accounted for 25 per cent of cases in the new study.
Of course this is happening. It can’t not happen! Once a society accepts the premise that killing is an acceptable answer to human suffering, the definition of “suffering” that justifies killing continually expands.

Monday, September 22, 2014

British family reacts to the appeal of the assisted suicide conviction by a Minnesota suicide predator.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Mark Drybrough
The Birmingham Mail UK reported about the concern of the victim's family related to the appeal by a former Minnesota nurse, in his conviction, in the assisted suicide death of Mark Drybrough. The article states:
A brave Midland family who have TWICE seen an American nurse convicted of assisting the suicide of their son fear the sick predator could still escape justice.
Twisted William Melchert Dinkel – exposed by the Sunday Mercury as a predator using online chatrooms to encourage vulnerable victims to kill themselves – has been convicted of intentionally assisting the suicide of Mark Drybrough. 
Amazingly, it is the second time that the evil nurse has been convicted of the offence.
Melchert-Dinkel was obsessed with suicide.
Evidence showed he was obsessed with suicide. He sought out depressed people online and then posed as a female nurse, feigning compassion and offering step-by-step advice on how they could kill themselves. 
Melchert Dinkel later admitted to police that he had entered into fake suicide pacts with 10 people – five of whom he believed had killed themselves, including Mark.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Anencephalic babies are not "Good as Dead"

By Wesley Smith - published on his blog on September 21, 2014

Wesley Smith
Throughout my campaign on behalf of the human exceptionalism and the equal dignity of all people, utilitarian bioethicists and others have challenged me about anencephalic babies, that is those born with parts of their brain missing.

They aren’t persons, indeed, aren’t really human, the argument has gone. They are as good as dead. We should be able to harvest their organs!

No, I have countered. These profoundly disabled babies are fully human, fully equal, human beings born with a terminal condition. They are “us,” not “them”–and should always be treated as a subject, not an object.

Now, Baby Angela–born with anencephaly–is alive and apparently thriving at age 6 months. From the Rhode Island Catholic story:

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Convicted Montana rapist charged with aiding or soliciting suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Montana Billings Gazette reported on September 18 that a convicted rapist from Roundup Montana was charged with aiding or soliciting suicide. This is an important story since the assisted suicide lobby claims that assisted suicide is legal in Montana.

This is a very disturbing story.

The Billings Gazette reported:
A Roundup man in Montana State Prison for having sex with an underage girl is facing a new charge alleging he pressured the girl to kill herself during a live video chat in September 2013. 
Last week, the Musselshell County Attorney’s Office charged Michael John Morlan, 21, with aiding or soliciting suicide, and two other felonies — intimidation and tampering with witnesses and informants. 
...Charging documents say Morlan contacted the girl, who is now 16 years old, via Skype, an online video-chatting service, on Sept. 1, 2013, and told her to kill herself while he watched.
To summarize the story, Morlan, who was convicted of rape, contacted the underage girl he raped from the Montana State Prison, by Skype, to pressure and encourage her to kill herself.

The creep allegedly aided, encouraged and counseled the girl to commit suicide.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Disability rights group protests International pro-euthanasia conference.

Chicago - Not Dead Yet Protest of International pro-euthanasia conference - Day 1.

Yesterday, September 18th, was the first day of NDY’s protest and vigil at the World Federation of Right to Die Societies Conference.

I’m pushed for time this morning, so this will be brief. I’ll post more later.

Diane Coleman
There were many speakers opening up the protest yesterday in Chicago (full list to come) – below is the address given by NDY’s founder and president Diane Coleman:

The incredible activists of Not Dead Yet, that’s who you are. 
And it’s wonderful to see all my friends in Chicago again. Thanks to Progress Center and Access Living for doing so much to make our voices heard this week as we protest the World Federation of Right to Die Societies. Thanks to LIFE CIL, the Will-Grundy Center in Illinois, and TRIPIL from Pennsylvania, and folks who’ve come from as far away as Colorado and Canada. You’re amazing. 
My long time mentor on this issue is Carol Gill, who I first met on a picket line trying to save a young woman with cerebral palsy from a suicide wish that the Hemlock Society exploited. We helped buy her time and, eventually, she didn’t go through with it and lived. Three decades later, we’re still fighting this issue and sometimes I wonder if society will ever get it that we deserve the same suicide prevention as everybody else. 
When Not Dead Yet started up 18 years ago, the three assisted suicide advocacy organizations in the U.S. each got a white male wheelchair user added to their Boards to try to neutralize our impact. It didn’t work very well. 
If you wonder whether what we are doing is making any difference, this year, with the help of John Kelly, our New England Regional Director, the disability community played a key role in defeating assisted suicide bills in NH, MA and CT. Are we a force to recon with? We got a little more confirmation recently. Some of you may have heard that the attorney who worked many years for Compassion & Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society) was recently hired by the Disability Rights Legal Center in Los Angeles. It seems that California is a target state next year. 
Fortunately, we have the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, in our corner, right there is California. But there’s work to be done. This is National Suicide Prevention Month and we’re here to deliver a message that equal rights include the right to equal suicide prevention, not a streamlined path to assisted suicide and euthanasia. What we know is this: 
We want assistance to live, not die.
We are not better off dead than disabled.
We don’t need to die to have dignity.
We are strong and proud, and we are
You can read local coverage of the conference and protest from the local CBS affiliate here.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Newborn case in France was falsely labelled as euthanasia.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The case of a premature baby in France, where the parents are demanding that medical treatment be discontinued while the doctors believe that the child needs more time, is not a case of euthanasia, as the media has reported, but rather a case of who has the right to decide to withdraw medical treatment.

The story published by titled: Baby euthanasia case spurs debate in France - concerns a baby boy, Titouan, who was born prematurely on August 31. 

The article quotes Titouan's mother, Melanie as saying:
“We made this decision over a week ago,” 
“Who wants their son to live the life of a handicapped person? Maybe some families want this, but we don’t.”
The article quotes Professor Fabrice Pierre of the department of gynecology and obstetrics at University Hospital Center of Poitiers (CHU) who said:
“If we want to be able to fully understand the consequences [of the haemorrhage], we can’t rush this. We need a few weeks to evaluate his condition.” 
“Currently, we are not giving him intensive treatment; we are simply giving him life support to give us the time to do a proper evaluation.”
Normally the parents or guardian have the right to decide to withhold or withdraw medical treatment. Sometimes the decision of the parents or guardian is not in the best interests of the patient. In France, it appears that the decision is made by the doctors. The article states:
... the 2005 law also puts the decision in the hands of the doctors. Faced with the repeated demands of Titouan’s parents, CHU’s neonatal unit sought out the advice of an ethics panel. They have yet to make a decision.
Labelling this case as euthanasia creates a false impression of what euthanasia is and is not. Euthanasia is to directly and intentionally cause the death of a person. It is usually done by lethal injection and it is a form of homicide.

If the doctors withdraw all treatment from Titouan, and if he dies, it would be a natural death, unless they lethally inject him or intentionally dehydrate him to death.

Titouan died on September 18.

Safeguards will not protect you from physicians who are willing to take your life.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Alex Schadenberg

Re: Gifford-Jones – Not all lunatics are in the asylum.

In his righteous indignation, Gifford-Jones claims in his article that:

“Nor is there any evidence that the elderly, those with disabilities or those who simply do not want to be part of assisted death, have ever been forced to seek it.”
In 2002 Belgium legalized assisted death giving doctors the right in law to lethally inject patients. Three studies concerning the experience with assisted death in Belgium clearly indicate that Gifford-Jones is wrong.

The first study found that 32% of those who died by assisted death did not request it.

The second study found that 45% of the assisted deaths that nurses were involved with, the person who died didn’t request it.

The third study found that 47.2% of all assisted deaths were not reported.

When analyzing the data, all of the studies found that those who died by an assisted death without request or without reporting it tended to be over the age of 80, incompetent to make decisions for themselves, had an unpredictable end-of-life trajectory and died in a hospital.

There is clear evidence that many elderly and incompetent people in Belgium have been killed by an assisted death without request. The act is a silent crime since the doctor negated to report it.

Don’t be swayed by the propaganda being promoted by Gifford-Jones.

Safeguards will not protect you from physicians who are willing to take your life.

This article was re-published by the Windsor Star on September 25, 2014.

Links to similar articles:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Scotland debates independence, the UK debates assisted suicide.

By Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick is the Director of EPC - International and a leader of the disability rights group - Not Dead Yet - UK.

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick
Today’s ‘great debate’ in the UK is: Should Scotland vote for independence? This is an emotional discussion with many practicalities to be unpacked, many complex arguments, political, financial, cultural, for a general public to understand. Both sides throw up what, in general translation, Socrates calls ‘bogeys’, trying to strike enough fear with the use of horrific examples, to sway people to vote your way. Scotland will vote, and whether the Yes campaign wins or loses, by a very slim margin as looks likely, there is a sense that things have already changed, forever.

The debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide is similar. Except for one crucial difference.

Press Release: Disability Rights Activists to Protest International Euthanasia Group Meeting in Chicago

September 17, 2014 
Diane Coleman 708-420-0539 or Gary Armold 773-425-2536 

Diane Coleman
The disability rights group Not Dead Yet announced today that it would lead a three-day protest vigil against the World Federation of Right to Die Societies during the Federation’s biennial meeting being held in Chicago. The American group Final Exit Network is hosting the meeting, which runs from September 17-20 at the Embassy Suites Chicago. The group has scheduled a rally to open the protest vigil at 511 North Columbus Drive on September 18 at 12 PM.

”We are here to contradict the message of these groups that it’s better to be dead than disabled,” said Not Dead Yet president Diane Coleman of New York.
The meeting is being hosted by the Final Exit Network, an American group known for its use of “Exit Guides” to instruct and assist people with “irreversible physical illness, intractable pain, or a constellation of chronic, progressive physical disabilities” to kill themselves using “Exit Bags” filled with helium.

John Kelly
The 2012 PBS documentary, “The Suicide Plan,” included statements and video in which Final Exit Network leader Ted Goodwin admitted and demonstrated holding the person’s arms down to prevent them from pulling the Exit Bag off of their head.

“This is a collection of reckless suicide fanatics,” said John Kelly of Second Thoughts Massachusetts, whose group was instrumental in defeating assisted suicide bills and a referendum in that state.
The World Federation of Right to Die Societies was organized in 1980 to bring together the various groups in Europe and Anglophone countries which promote euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Federation last met in the United States in 2000, when it was also protested by Not Dead Yet in Boston.
“These are the people that we have seen in the news, people who condoned the suicides of the Belgian twins who were losing their sight, or of the woman who was afraid she would not be able to see a stain on her shirt.” said Amy Hasbrouck from the Canadian group, Toujours Vivant/Not Dead Yet, which is working to defeat Canadian initiatives that will be promoted at the conference. Hasbrouck and other Canadians will be joining the Chicago protest vigil. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What does the World Federation of Right to Die Societies not want me to know?

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alex Schadenberg
As an International leader of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) I decided to register for the World Federation of Right to Die Societies - 20th World Conference in Chicago (September 17 - 20) that is co-sponsored by the Final Exit Network.

My registration was accepted, my flight was booked, my hotel room was reserved, but then I received an email informing me that my registration was revoked.

Thaddeus Pope, who is speaking at the Chicago conference, registered and attended the recent conference that EPC co-sponsored in Minnesota.

What does the World Federation of Right to Die Societies not want me to know?

Maybe they don't want me to hear about their promotion of euthanasia for people with dementia.

The Belgian legislation that extended euthanasia to children originally included a section to extend euthanasia to people with dementia.

Maybe they don't want me to hear about their promotion of euthanasia for people with psychiatric conditions.

Recently the Dutch Health Minister stated that 45 people died by euthanasia for psychiatric conditions in 2013 in the Netherlands.

Maybe they don't want me to hear about their promotion of euthanasia for depressed people who are otherwise healthy.

Professor Tom Mortier recently launched a court challenge concerning the euthanasia death of his depressed mother in Belgium.

Maybe they didn't want me to hear the conversation among the delegates in the hallway.

When I attended the World Federation of Right to Die Societies conference in 2006 I learned, through personal conversations, that many of the delegates had been involved with causing the death of a relative or others. I learned that volunteers are trained to assist deaths, to provide the means, to counsel suicide, sometimes completed the act with a pillow, or held the hands of person, preventing them from removing the asphyxiation/suicide hood.

Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide gives someone else the legal right to cause your death. Euthanasia is dangerous.

Alex Schadenberg is the Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) and the Chair of EPC International. 

Contact Alex Schadenberg at: or by calling: 1-877-439-3348.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Belgium Euthanasia and Capital Punishment.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Last January, Frank van den Bleeken, who was convicted of rape and murder in Belgium, requested death by lethal injection (euthanasia) for reasons of psychological suffering.

On Saturday, a Belgian news agency reported that van den Bleeken euthanasia request was recently approved. van den Bleeken is the first Belgian prisoner, who is not terminally ill, to approved to die by euthanasia. The Belgian news article reported that another Belgian prisoner, who has currently served 27 years for murdering 2 people, has also asked to die by lethal injection (euthanasia).

Reuters reported that van den Bleeken requested euthanasia for psychological suffering because: 
"he had no prospect of release since he could not overcome his violent sexual impulses and so he wanted to exercise his right to medically assisted suicide in order to end years of mental anguish."
The van den Bleeken euthanasia death is complicated by the fact that he was living in an aging psychiatric hospital and he had challenged the Belgian penal system for its overcrowding and unacceptable living conditions. The January 2014 article stated:
In January, the court ruled in favour of three Belgian inmates and ordered damages be paid, citing a “structural shortcoming” that resulted in about 1,000 prisoners with mental problems being held in aging, overcrowded, inadequately staffed special prison wings.
... Mr. van den Bleeken and Justice Minister Annemie Turtelboom are now locked in a court fight over the issue. 
Mr. van den Bleeken’s still unresolved case is the latest controversial example of applicants who are not terminally ill but suffer psychological pains.
The expansion of euthanasia to include prisoners with psychological suffering represents the latest expansions of the Belgian euthanasia law.

Belgium Euthanasia - A story of incremental extensions.

In May, a Belgian nurse wrote an article about her experience with euthanasia. She explained how euthanasia was being done in very questionable circumstances and how it has become unacceptable to challenge a decision to kill a patient.

A study that was published by the (BMJ Oct 2010) concluded that assisted deaths were significantly under-reported in the Flemish region of Belgium. The study found that only 52.8% of assisted deaths in the Flemish region of Belgium were reported.

A study that was published by the (CMAJ June, 2010) found that 32% of all assisted deaths in the Flemish region of Belgium were done without explicit request. A similar study that was published by the (CMAJ June, 2010) found that 45% of assisted deaths by nurses in Belgium were done without explicit request.

The study found that the demographic group that was most likely to die by an assisted death without request tended to be over the age of 80, incapable of consenting, had an unpredictable end-of-life trajectory and died in the hospital. The study concluded in their findings that this:

"fits the description of a vulnerable patient group at risk of life-ending without request."
Many euthanasia advocates claim that the Belgian euthanasia law has effective safeguards and yet the data indicates that many euthanasia deaths are not requested and not reported.

The number of people who are dying by euthanasia for psychological reasons is expanding.
How is it possible that people can be euthanised in Belgium without close family or friends being contacted? Why does my country give medical doctors the exclusive power to decide over life and death? ... What are the criteria to decide what “unbearable suffering” is? Can we rely on such a judgment for a mentally ill person? 
The Growth of Euthanasia in Belgium.

The 2013 Belgian euthanasia report states that the number of reported assisted deaths increased by more than 26% to 1807 deaths in 2013. This was up from 1432 euthanasia deaths in 2012 and 1133 in 2011. The Belgian statistics do not include the unreported deaths.

The Belgian euthanasia law has been expanded by changing the law and changing the interpretation of the law, to include new reasons for killing proving that a slippery slope has happened.