Friday, February 27, 2015

“New Scientist” Reporter Goes Over Oregon Assisted Suicide Data with NDY’s Diane Coleman

This article was published by Not Dead Yet on February 26, 2015.

Diane Coleman

By Stephen Drake, researcher for Not Dead Yet.

A newly-published article in New Scientist includes a section in which reporter Clare Wilson reports on actual Oregon data on assisted suicide after a go-through with NDY CEO and founder Diane Coleman. It’s rare – almost unheard of – for a reporter to go into this kind of detail on assisted suicide in Oregon. The same is true of bioethicists weighing in on the topic. Here’s the section of the article dealing with data in "2015 a watershed year for assisted suicide in the US":
Diane Coleman, head of advocacy group Not Dead Yet, which opposes assisted suicide, says the Oregon Health Authority’s annual reports on the practice show the law there isn’t working as intended. She points to the motives people gave for choosing this option. According to the latest figures, released on 12 February, only a third of people who took a prescribed lethal dose of medication in 2014 cited pain or fear of pain as one of the reasons for doing so. 
Supporters of assisted suicide often cite pain as a primary reason why people should have the legal right to die. But the state’s report showed that people’s concerns tended toward loss of autonomy (91 per cent), loss of dignity (71 per cent) or being a burden on their family (40 per cent). Coleman is particularly concerned that people are choosing assisted suicide because they feel they are a burden. “To me that feels more like a duty to die than a choice to die,” she says. 
What’s more, according to the data available for Oregon, some people waited longer than six months between asking for the overdose and taking it. It isn’t stated how many times this happened, but at least some people lived a few years after obtaining the drugs. Coleman is concerned that this means people are being accepted for assisted suicide who don’t meet the criteria of having less than six months to live. “Those people were not actually terminally ill,” she says.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

One third of Dutch doctors would euthanize people with mental illness.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A study concerning the euthanasia practise in the Netherlands that was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics on February 18 found that 34% of Dutch doctors will consider euthanizing a person who is either mentally ill, living with dementia or "tired of living." This recent study proves that euthanasia is expanding and is contagious.

The researchers sent a questionnaire to 2269 eligible doctors with 1456 completing the questionnaire, a 64% response rate.

The results of the questionnaire indicated that 34% of Dutch doctors would consider euthanasia for a person with mental illness, dementia or who claims to be "tired of living."

When examining the data further, the study of doctors in the Netherlands indicates that: 

  • 40% would lethally inject someone who is living with early stages of dementia, 
  • 33% would approve of euthanasia for someone in the late stages of dementia, 
  • 27% would euthanize a person who is "tired of living" if they had other conditions,
  • 18% would lethally inject a person who claims to be simply "tired of living."
The data confirms the trend found in the Dutch annual euthanasia reports. The 2013 annual report showed a 15% increase in the number of assisted deaths to 4829 reported deaths. A disturbing statistic in the report is that 42 people with “psychiatric problems” up from 14 in 2012 and 97 people with dementia up from 42 in 2012 died by euthanasia in 2013. It is predicted that about 6000 people died by euthanasia in the Netherlands in 2014 which is up from 2636 reported euthanasia deaths 5 years earlier in 2009.

As concerning as the Dutch euthanasia statistics are, it is important to note that a Lancet study concerning the Dutch euthanasia practice in 2010 found that 23% of the assisted deaths were not reported and 310 assisted deaths were done without request.

Lawmakers shouldn't legalize assisted suicide

The following letter was written by Louis C. Breschi and published in the Baltimore Sun on February 23, 2015. This letter is worth considering in any jurisdiction.

As a practicing physician, I was disappointed to read about the proposed physician-assisted suicide legislation in Maryland ("Dying former official a focus of Maryland assisted suicide bill," Feb. 14).

The article ignores the serious flaws in the legislation, while not giving credit to the broad range of groups and individuals who are actively opposing the bill.

There are numerous reasons to oppose this legislation, and they aren't just issues raised by religious or disability groups.

To begin, the bill does not require a patient to receive a psychiatric evaluation before receiving the lethal medication. Further, the legislation only applies to those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and six months or less to live.

To illustrate the inaccuracy of a six-month terminal estimate, a family friend this week was "discharged" from home hospice care because he was eating well, gaining well and felt better. Physicians' prognoses for longevity are just that — general estimates that may or may not apply to individual cases.

Finally, no doctor or nurse is present when the lethal dose is taken. Patients must take up to 100 pills in order for the medication to be lethal — drugs they will pick up at the local pharmacy.

In some cases patients will ingest a lethal dose of a drug but fail to absorb most of the medication, causing acute intestinal distress and bodily discomfort. This is hardly death with dignity.

Unlike many bills considered by the General Assembly, this one literally is a matter of life and death. I can't imagine how legislators could pass something that could cause preventable deaths, especially when this is the first time such a bill has been considered.

Louis C. Breschi, Towson

Canadians need a right to good palliative care.

This article was published in the Winnipeg Free Press on February 24, 2015.

Dr Harvey Max Chochinov holds the Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care.

A few days after the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the prohibition against doctor-assisted suicide, I received a note from a wonderful colleague of mine saying that her closest friend’s 53-year-old son had just died of spinal cancer. Two weeks before his death, he had visited his doctor, experiencing “terrible pain.” Despite his anguish, his physician refused to give him morphine, claiming that because he was a smoker he was “more likely to become addicted.”

While this seems unfathomable, even grotesque, ignorance and lack of skill in attending to the needs of dying patients are still tragically common in Canada.

Despite the impressive strides that palliative care has taken in areas such as pain and symptom management, and sensitivities to the psychosocial, existential and spiritual challenges facing dying patients and their families, at their time of licensure, physicians have been taught less about pain management than those graduating from veterinary medicine. Most MDs have knowledge deficiencies that can significantly impair their ability to manage cancer pain.

Doctors are also not generally well trained to engage in end-of-life conversations, meaning that goals of care often remain unclear. Patients may not receive the care they want, nor the opportunity to live out their final days in the place they would want to die.

In light of the court decision, these issues have never been more important, nor the need to resolve them more pressing. The court has given Parliament a year to sort out how it will move forward and rewrite the Criminal Code. Within these deliberations, it should be noted that the authority to provide a hastened death will be conferred on physicians, many of whom lack competencies to care for dying patients.

To be clear, dying badly in Canada will rarely be the fallout of not having access to a lethal overdose or injection and, almost invariably, the result of inadequate or substandard end-of-life care. The time for physicians to learn how to look after their patients until the very end, is now.

Canada: Assisted Suicide Letter Writing Campaign.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) needs you to write letters to the national and local media or to your Member of Parliament.

On February 6, the Supreme Court of Canada made an irresponsible and dangerous decision by legalizing assisted suicide.

The majority of the letters published by newspapers have supported euthanasia. This means that you need to write letters.

Please write a letter to Justice Minister Hon. Peter MacKay and your Member of Parliament, or sign the online petition or send a post-card calling for the Protection of vulnerable Canadians from assisted suicide.

If you do not write a letter then send post-cards to Justice Minister Hon. Peter MacKay. Order the post-cards for free at: 1-877-439-3348 or

You can also go to:

1. Write a letter to the editor or to your Member of Parliament

EPC is asking the government to invoke the notwithstanding clause and to call a Royal Commission to hear the concerns of Canadians on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

2. Choose one topic to write about. Links to information on topics related to euthanasia and assisted suicide is accessed by clicking on the topic. Topics: 
A. Supreme Court of Canada decision, B. Euthanasia/Personal story, C. Elder Abuse, D. Euthanasia and Assisted suicide are not safe, E. Euthanasia/Medical Error, F. Euthanasia/Disability rights, G. Euthanasia/Palliative care, H. Euthanasia/Belgium, I. Euthanasia/Netherlands, J. Assisted Suicide/Oregon,

3. Link to the contact information for Members of Parliament in Canada.

4. This list contains the email address for most major newspapers in Canada. You should also write letters to your local newspaper.

The Globe and Mail:
The Gazette:
Le Journal de Montréal:
La Presse:
Le Soleil:
Le Journal de Québec:
Le Devoir:

Journal Metro:
Halifax Chronicle Herald:
Ottawa Citizen:
Toronto Star:
Toronto Sun:
Hamilton Spectator:
London Free Press:
Winnipeg Free Press:
Calgary Herald:
Edmonton Journal:
Vancouver Sun:
Vancouver Province:
Victoria Times Colonist:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Suicide prevention for everyone.

This article was published on February 23, on the HOPE Australia website.

Paul Russell
By Paul Russell, Director, HOPE: preventing euthanasia & assisted suicide.

There’s a subtle hypocrisy in our society in regards to suicide that also plays out in cases of wrongful death and euthanasia & assisted suicide arguments.

If a young person tragically dies by suicide we are rightly upset. We feel immense compassion for the young person and for their grieving families. It is entirely natural to observe that part of the tragedy is that he or she had ‘their whole lives ahead of them’. And so, in our western society where youth suicide is tragically far too common, we invest significant time, effort and finances in suicide prevention – and rightly so.

But when our media reports a suicide of an older person, they and we often see it differently. Often, but not always, the story talks about someone who has had a wonderful life and simply wants to be gone. Reasons vary from the fear of deterioration or a difficult prognosis to simply not wanting to grow old. Wrapped up like a sugar-coated yet bitter pill, we’re encouraged to consider that such a suicide is understandable, perhaps even okay. It is not. We are encouraged to celebrate his or her ‘courage to choose’ without thought for the reality that to make such a suggestion at the suicide death of a young person would be deemed rightly as cruel and invariably wrong.

I cannot help but think that the easy acceptance of suicide amongst the elderly is somehow subtly tied up in our own fears about what we will face ourselves. The lack of suicide prevention campaigns aimed at our elders tends to support this thinking and the idea of euthanasia and assisted suicide as being for the aged and infirmed further compromises suicide prevention initiatives.

While it is again entirely natural to feel compassion for the older person’s circumstances we cannot apply the ‘whole life ahead of them’ commentary because it is less of a reality. That said person may yet have had many years to live is less clear than for our putative young person. Does the fact that we cannot find easily a point of reflection upon what is nevertheless a tragedy mean that we should not be just as concerned as we are at a younger person’s suicide? Should it mean that we fail to ask the hard and sometimes unanswerable questions?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Maggie Karner has the same condition as Brittany Maynard, except, Karner opposes assisted suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Maggie Karner is a mother of 3 who lives in Connecticut with the same condition that Brittany Maynard had, but Karner opposes assisted suicide.

In a recent interview with WFSB TV in Connecticut, Karner said that:
"The talking point that pro-assisted suicide people use is right to die. My fear is that it will quickly become the duty to die,"
This is not the first time that Karner has spoken out against assisted suicide. The Youtube video below is a message from Karner that explains how assisted suicide threatens her life.

Karner also produced a Youtube video (below) urging Brittany Maynard not to die by assisted suicide and join her in fighting the glioblastoma brain tumor.

Maggie Karner speaks from her heart when she says that the weakest among us - those who are vulnerable - and everyone need and deserve protections against assisted suicide.

Thank you Maggie for caring. Thank you Maggie for speaking out.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Canadian Supreme Court condemns disabled people to death

Kevin Fitzpatrick
By Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick (OBE)

The Supreme Court of Canada judgment confirms what people with disabilities have always known – assisted suicide and euthanasia (AS/E) are fundamentally rooted in the most heinous discrimination against disabled people – discrimination to death.

The assisted suicide lobby in the UK, as in Canada today, has scorned this idea, without rationale. There are terrible purposes at work. The press to legalise assisted death only thinly veils the view that the lives of people with disabilities are not worth living.

Etienne Vermeersch
The evidence is overwhelming and was, long before a Belgian government adviser angrily stated at a public debate in November 2013, that a man with no arms and no legs should want to die - and flaunted his ‘life’s mission’, to facilitate such wishes. We knew the root of his hatred is seeing disabled lives as worthless, to be disposed of at the point of a needle. When his doctor colleague openly linked Belgian euthanasia law with world over-population, Hannah Arendt’s words came back to haunt us: they do not want to share the Earth with us.

Arendt was speaking about Eichmann’s trial, as she reflected a truth: it was small steps taken in the late 19th century that were fostered, bolstered and implemented by doctors, leading to the program of euthanasia which ended in Auschwitz. Those steps included the application of the new branch of mathematics called statistics in connection with eugenics, the ends were catastrophic. Someone might have argued, once, that no-one could have foreseen such consequences. We have no such excuse today.

Canadian Bar Association (CBA) resolution should not wade into Rasouli territory

Hugh Scher
This article was published by Advocate Daily on February 20.

A resolution on end-of-life decision-making to be considered by the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) is poised to help lawyers, but a Supreme Court ruling addressing doctors’ roles in these choices should be kept in mind during the debate, says Toronto human rights and constitutional lawyer Hugh Scher.

The CBA is set to consider the resolution, titled Clarifying Law About End of Life Decision-Making, at its mid-winter meeting Feb. 21 and 22 in Ottawa.

As counsel to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, which has intervened in several high-profile end-of-life cases, including Cuthbertson v. Rasouli, 2013 SCC 53, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 341 and Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5, Scher is no stranger to the controversial conversation around end-of-life decision-making or assisted suicide.
“We think this is an appropriate, helpful and positive contribution, but care must be taken to ensure it doesn’t extend into other unclear domains such as euthanasia and assisted suicide or unilateral authority of doctors, which has already been dealt with by the highest court,” says Scher.
In Rasouli, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal that would have permitted doctors to end life support for a disabled man without the consent of his family or a substitute decision maker.

The decision said under Ontario's Health Care Consent Act, a plan of treatment includes the withholding and withdrawal of treatment and cannot be unilaterally withdrawn by doctors without consent.
“There was some concern on our part on the question of whether or not the association was seeking to revisit the Rasouli ruling and ultimately reopen the question of whether doctors should have unilateral authority or not, but it seems that the resolution is not going to address that,” says Scher. “We would urge that that not be interfered with in light of the Supreme Court ruling.”
The proposed resolution looks to have the CBA lobby governments in collaboration with stakeholders to develop a framework to facilitate end-of-life health care decision-making that respects specific principles, including ensuring patients and substitute decision makers (SDMs) are fully informed on their rights and encouraging health-care organizations to implement patient-focused compassionate dispute resolution policies and procedures.

The resolution also proposes the CBA: 
“urge governments in provinces and territories without existing structures to put mechanisms in place for quick access to the courts (or specialized boards) when disputes cannot be resolved without assistance;” and “urge provincial and territorial governments, in consultation with the federal government, to ensure that valid SDM appointments under legislation in one province or territory are recognized and enforceable in other jurisdictions in Canada.”
Scher says the resolution speaks to the important role lawyers play in dealing with advance directives related to end-of-life care wishes.
“Lawyers must ensure health-care wishes of their clients are drafted in conformity with the most recent rules of the court, and that they’re particular and specific to the circumstances people could find themselves in,” says Scher. “Otherwise, they may fall on deaf ears and not be enforced.”

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians: Assisted death should not be provided by palliative care physicians

The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians (CSPCP) welcomes the ongoing attention to suffering at the end of life in Canada. Equitable access to quality palliative care has the ability to reduce suffering for the majority of Canadians and CSPCP continues to advocate for this. We seek to improve the quality of life of patients and families living with life-limiting conditions from time of diagnosis until death. We are sensitive to the suffering of all, including those who request help in hastening the time of their death and those who do not. CSPCP supports all physicians in providing quality end-of-life care and palliative care through education and advocacy. 

The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has recently created the possibility of "physician assisted death". The majority of our members believe that this should not be provided by palliative care physicians. The SCC decision stated "While there are risks, to be sure, a carefully designed and managed system is capable of adequately addressing them". We also recognize those risks to Canadians, particularly to patients and those working in palliative care services, who may inadvertently be negatively impacted by the SCC decision and we are dedicated to reducing this risk of harm. This includes concern for physicians who may choose not to participate in "physician assisted death". In that light, while not endorsing the act of "physician assisted death", we will work actively using our experience of serving dying patients and their families, in partnership with the Canadian Medical Association, physicians' colleges, Parliament, and provincial legislatures and others, to develop those system guidelines that will seek to minimize potential harm for the majority and respect the rights of the minority who seek this mode of death. 
"You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die." Dame Cicely Saunders (1918-2005) Founder of the Hospice Palliative Care movement.

Not Dead Yet Aotearoa launched in New Zealand.

Not Dead Yet Aotearoa, (NDYA) a new voice for disabled people in euthanasia and assisted suicide issues, has launched today. The organisation opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide laws and policies in New Zealand and advocates for the equal value of disabled lives.

This launch is very timely, says NDYA convener, Wendi Wicks. We want to be a key voice in the debates that are so important to us. Our community’s concerns about the consequences of such legislation haven’t been well heard to this point.

Disabled people want to have a good life. But too many of us lack the basic choices that our human dignity demands. That means many of us don’t feel at all secure and valued equally. But, ironically, society will happily provide us with the choice to die!

Huhana Hickey
We’re seen too much in medical and deficit terms, with an undue emphasis on the unbearable pain and suffering associated with disability, says NDYA member Huhana Hickey. We’re seen as costly too, a drain on scarce public resources.

Our lives are already at greater risk when people think we don’t need to live, and put "do not resuscitate" notices in our medical files without our consent. In these kinds of situations, free and informed consent is a travesty - and in our key relationships with health professionals and service providers, we are too often at their mercy because of their power over our lives. So we find ourselves on the back foot, in an incredibly difficult place.

If people get to hear only one view on this issue, Wendi Wicks says, they won’t get to realise how much laws enabling assistance for individual choices to die can put the human rights of a whole community like ours at risk. Because our society holds such negative views about disabled lives, and because there are so many risks to our disabled community from euthanasia legislation, it’s vital to hear NDYA’s perspectives too.

As part of an international movement of disabled people in disability organisations opposed to euthanasia laws, Not Dead Yet Aotearoa looks forward to putting our views before the New Zealand public, who deserve the full story.

Without true north, the Supreme Court of Canada’s compass is pointless

By Don Hutchinson

We have a compass on the dashboard of our Jeep. It’s a good old-fashioned oil filled ball compass. I stuck it there shortly after we moved from Toronto to Ottawa because my “personal positioning system” occasionally got confused with the transition from decades in a water-to-the-south city to driving in a water-to-the-north city.

We have since acquired a GPS unit; but the compass stays. Why? It’s my experience that when the compass and the GPS are in disagreement, the compass is right. GPS units are notorious for being more disoriented than even I can be. But a compass is continuously reliable once it is fixed to true north. Without true north, the compass is pointless.

[February 6’s] decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter assisted suicide case gives every indication that the Court is practising orienteering based on a “personal autonomy positioning system.” Abandoning constitutional true north, the role of its decision as a legal compass is unpredictable. The guidance provided in this case resembles dire true stories of GPS units gone awry.

The Court mapped out where it was headed in the opening paragraph, stating the current law is “cruel.” This was the precursor to abandoning what was described in the Court’s 1993 decision in Rodriguez, a case dealing with the same issue, as an underlying and animating “Charter value.” The 1993 Court defined the “sanctity of life” in the secular sense “to mean that human life is seen to have a deep intrinsic value of its own.” This definition was essential to understanding the Charter and the application of Charter rights, particularly the section 7 rights to “life, liberty and security of the person.” As the 1993 Court noted, Charter rights apply to all “members of a society based upon respect for the intrinsic value of human life and inherent dignity of every human being.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Forcing Doctors to Lie About Assisted Suicide

This article was published by Wesley Smith on February 18 on his blog

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

California’s assisted suicide bill would – like Washington’s law – require doctors to lie about the cause of death in assisted suicide. From SB 128:
443.7. (a) Unless otherwise prohibited by law, the attending physician may sign the qualified individual’s death certificate. 
(b) The cause of death listed on an individual’s death certificate who uses aid-in-dying medication shall be the underlying terminal illness.
In assisted suicide, the actual cause of death is suicide – in the case of doctor-prescribed death, an intentional overdose of barbiturates.

Thus, if the bill passes, the State of California will legally require doctors who commit assisted suicide to lie on an crucial government document.

Why do this? Because the movement seeks to turn suicide into non-suicide. Also, as I posted here the other day, honesty would raise California’s suicide rate by 1/3. The last thing euthanasia pushers want is for the public to see what is actually going on.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Opposing the Supreme Court of Canada assisted death decision.

By Alex Schadenberg
EPC Executive Director

On February 6, the Supreme Court made an irresponsible and dangerous decision by decriminalizing assisted death. The EPC Board wants the Federal government to invoke the notwithstanding clause to protect people with disabilities, elders who live with abuse, depressed and suicidal  people and others. It is not safe to enable one person to be enabled, by the law, to kill another person.

Please write a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, or Justice Minister Judy Wilson-Raybould or your Member of Parliament, sign the online petition or send a post-card calling for the use of the Notwithstanding Clause. 

Order the post-cards for free at: 1-877-439-3348 or

Letter writing is effective, but if you only want a message sent to the government then please sign the online petition.

Letter writing: Your letter should state:
To the Hon... or (Member of Parliament):
Parliament must continue to protect people with disabilities, elders, people who live with depression or suicidal thoughts, and other people from assisted suicide. 
This needs to be done through the use of the Notwithstanding clause to protect Canadians from assisted death.
I am concerned ... (add a comment related to one of the 8 talking points articles). 
Yours Sincerely (Name).
 Talking Points:
  1. People with disabilities oppose assisted suicide.
  2. Assisted suicide debate masks disability prejudice.
  3. Assisted suicide has devalued the lives of the elderly in Washington State.
  4. United Nations: Abuse of older women overlooked and under-reported.
  5. Depressed mother died by euthanasia in Belgium.
  6. Supreme court allows assisted suicide for depressed people.
  7. Suicide rate in Oregon continues to increase faster than the national average.
  8. Suicide prevention at odds with assisted suicide.
Letter writing campaign - Contact information:

Prime Minister Rt Hon. Justin Trudeau
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6 (No stamp is necessary)

Justice Minister Hon Judy Wilson Raybould
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6 (No stamp is necessary)

Your Member of Parliament (Name) MP
(Link to list of Members of Parliament)
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6 (No stamp is necessary)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Assisted suicide increased by 44% in Oregon - 2014 report.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The 2014 Oregon assisted suicide report indicates a 44% increase in assisted suicide deaths and a 48% increase in lethal prescriptions. In 2014, at least one person who died by assisted suicide obtained the lethal dose in 2012, (439 days before death) even though the law requires the person to be within 6 months of death.

The 2014 annual report is similar to prior years. The preamble implies that the deaths were voluntary (self-administered), but the information reported does not address that subject.

Oregon's assisted suicide law allows the lethal dose to be administered without oversight. This creates the opportunity for an heir, or someone else who will benefit from the patient's death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without the patient's consent. "Even if he struggled, who would know?"

In 2014, Assisted suicide's in Oregon increased in numbers, conditions and demographics.

  • 105 assisted suicide deaths in 2014 up from 73 in 2013. (44% increase).
  • 155 prescriptions for suicide in 2014 up from 105 in 2013. (48% increase).
In previous years almost 80% of the deaths, were cancer related. In 2014, 68% had cancer with "other illnesses" increasing to 8.6% (9 deaths). Other illnesses includes diabetes.

The number of people who had private health insurance and 
died by assisted suicide dropped from 60% in previous years to 40% in 2014.

Similar to previous years, only 3 people received a psychiatric evaluation. An Oregon study found that 26% of those who request assisted suicide are depressed

Statistics concerning other suicides indicate that assisted suicide is having a suicide contagion effect.

A recent article by the disability rights group Not Dead Yet stated that the Oregon assisted suicide law is discriminatory and a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The most common reasons for assisted suicide requests are disability related. 

In only 14 of 105 deaths, the prescribing physician was present at the death. There is little oversight or protection in Oregon. 

In Oregon, the doctor who prescribes suicide self-reports the assisted suicide death after the person has died. Since doctors do not self-report abuse of the law and since the doctor is rarely at the death, therefore we have no idea if the assisted suicide death was voluntary and we have no idea if the persons who died were mentally competent, depressed or coerced.

The lack of oversight reveals concerns that elders, who are being abused, may be dying by assisted suicide.

Similar to other years, the 2014 Oregon assisted suicide leaves us with more questions than answers.

Supreme Court decision allows assisted death for depressed people.

Alex Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An article in the National Post has accurately reported that the Supreme Court of Canada assisted suicide decision has opened the door to people with depression or psychiatric conditions to die an "assisted death." The Supreme Court decision stated that people who live with physical or psychological suffering (undefined term) could die an assisted death.

The Canadian government can pass a new assisted suicide law, a law that would protect people who live with depression and psychiatric conditions.

Dr Padraic Carr
The National Post article interviews Dr Padraic Carr, a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Alberta and the president of the Canadian Psychiatric Association. Carr believes that depression or psychiatric conditions affect the insight and judgement of these people.

“They can affect the ability to appreciate the situation and manipulate information rationally,”
But Udo Schukelenk, a philosophy professor at Queens University, and a long time promoter of euthanasia, believes that depression and psychiatric conditions do not make people incapable of making life and death decisions. The article states that:
Schuklenk said the paralyzing distress of treatment-resistant depression should be given as equal weight as suffering cause by a physical illness. 
Depression itself is not terminal. “A patient suffering from treatment-resistant major depressive disorder can live — however miserably — to old age,” he says.
Dr Sidney Kennedy
Dr Sidney Kennedy, who is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and an international leader in mood and anxiety orders disagrees with Schuklenk.
...the Queen’s professor is misguided. 
...severe depression is not like late-stage pancreatic cancer, for which no known treatments available today will ultimately stop the “downward spiral to death.” 
“Our field [of psychiatry] is moving forward, and I would not want to be in the position of saying, ‘if we hadn’t assisted death and dying in this person five years ago, they could have had a particular treatment that we now see works,”
In the Netherlands and Belgium, the acceptance of euthanasia for depression and psychiatric conditions has led to a significant number of controversial deaths.

Testimony by Dr Kenneth Stevens: amending the Washington state Death with Dignity Act.

Testimony by Dr. Kenneth Stevens supporting Senate Bill 5919, amending Washington's Death with Dignity Act.

Kenneth Stevens
My name is Dr. Kenneth Stevens. I live in Sherwood, Oregon. I'm testifying in favor of Senate Bill 5919, which amends Washington's Death with Dignity Act.

I'm a cancer doctor in Oregon, where we've had the similar act since 1997. I'm also a professor emeritus at Oregon Health and Science University. I previously served as Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology. I have treated thousands of patients with cancer.

I practice in both Washington state as well as Oregon. I've read the proposed bill, which amends Washington's act to make it clear that patients who request a lethal dose under the act have the right to be told of treatment options for cure and to extend life.

I strongly support this bill, especially due to my experience with a patient named Jeanette Hall. The Oregon and Washington acts apply to patients predicted to have less than six months to live. This does not necessarily mean that the patients are dying. This is true for two reasons:

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Euthanasia is contagious.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Newsweek published an extensive article titled: Dying Dutch. The article focuses on stories supporting euthanasia and assisted suicide and information from people like Theo Boer, who, for nine years was a member of a Euthanasia Evaluation Committee but now opposes it, because euthanasia in the Netherlands has become out-of-control.

Under the heading - Death is Contagious, The Newsweek article reports:
In the first few years after the Netherlands decriminalized euthanasia in 2002, the number of cases declined. Then, in 2007, the statistics began a steady climb, an average jump of 15 percent a year...

Theo Boer, the ethicist, has some theories. Once a supporter of euthanasia, he’s now one of its most vocal critics. Among the reasons for the euthanasia boom, Boer suggests, is propaganda. Over the past decade, he says, Dutch journalist Gerbert van Loenen has been tracking a series of documentary films that depict euthanasia in a wholly positive light. “They do ask certain questions,” Boer says. “But they systematically ignore most critical questions, so that the general public is presented with an opinion that is completely good, and has no risks. This is contagious.”
Theo Boer
The number of deaths and the reasons for euthanasia is growing.
Another key factor: It’s getting easier each year to qualify for euthanasia. In the beginning, most of those eligible were terminally ill. Now doctors are helping people die if they no longer want to bear depression, autism, blindness or even being dependent on the care of others. “There are increasing numbers of double euthanasia—one of the partners is terminal and the other partner is care-dependent, they don’t want to live alone,” says Boer. One in 10 of the past 500 dossiers he has read contains some reference to “loneliness,” he adds. “Those are the cases where I have become increasingly uneasy.” 
The numbers support Boer. In 2012, 13 patients were euthanized after convincing a doctor they were suffering unbearably from mental illnesses ranging from depression to schizophrenia. The following year, the figure more than tripled, to 44. The number of patients with dementia who killed themselves grew from 43 in 2012 to 97 in 2013. “I’m afraid,” Boer says, “the situation in the Netherlands is out of control.” 
In 2005, lawmakers decriminalized another form of euthanasia—for babies. ...

Friday, February 13, 2015

Hospice/Palliative care organizations will not participate in euthanasia and assisted suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Hospice organizations in several Canadian cities have declared that they will not participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide.

The director of the Hospice of Windsor, which is known as one of Canada's most comprehensive hospices, was reported by the Windsor Star as stating: 

"the organization does not view either assisted dying or euthanasia as a part of palliative care."
The Hospice of Windsor statement emphasized their commitment to:
the “most effective means of pain and symptom management,” counselling and supporting those going through suffering, and enhancing the quality of life of people at the end of their lives.
A statement from the Canadian Society for Palliative Care Physicians stated that the majority of palliative care physicians oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide and concerning the act of doing euthanasia or assisting a suicide the statement said:
"if legalized, should not be provided by palliative care services or palliative care physicians."
It is important that people know where hospice and palliative care organizations and physicians stand on these issues. People should not be pressured by physicians or hospice employees to die by euthanasia and assisted suicide when they are in a vulnerable condition.