Friday, September 25, 2015

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition executive director speaking in Chatham

This article was published in the Chatham Daily News on September 24, 2015.

When it comes to assisted suicide, the theory that the person whose life will be ended has the final say, is something Alex Schadenberg questions.

The executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada, based in London, will be in Chatham Oct. 14 to discuss the issue of assisted suicide during a presentation at Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church from 7-9 p.m.

Schadenberg, who spoke with The Chatham Daily News while in Winnipeg, said he has been in demand as a speaker having recently been to New Hampshire, and has speaking engagements across the region.

He discusses the theory and reality of euthanasia.
“The theory is this is all about my personal choice, if I'm suffering, I should be able to die. It's all about what I want,” Schadenberg said. 
“The reality is, it's not like that at all,” he added.
Schadenberg plans to discuss the findings of a study of all deaths, over six-month period in the area of Flanders in Belgium in 2013 – where euthanasia is legal – that was released in March.

Of the 3751 deaths that were examined in the study, Schadenberg said 4.6 per cent were by euthanasia, but added 1.7 per cent were “hastened deaths without request.”

He noted 4.6 per cent of the deaths in the study equals about 2,800 by euthanasia, but there were only 1,450 reported euthanasia deaths, meaning about 50 per cent went unreported.
“You have to ask the questions: 'What happened to the other (euthanasia deaths) that were never reported? Why were they not reported?'”
Schadenberg also plans to present similar data from the Netherlands – where euthanasia is also legal – that shows there is about 23 per cent under reporting rate of assisted suicide deaths.

He noted the situation also exists in the United States.

In Washington State, he said the most recent data from 2014 “shows there were 27 assisted deaths that they have no idea what actually happened.”

There is also concern about how assisted suicide will be carried out.

In Quebec, Schadenberg there is a proposal to send euthanasia kits to doctors which would contain a double dose in case the first dose isn't quite enough.

He wonders if this is the proper oversight on lethal drugs.
“We're not talking about doing surgery or cancer treatment . . . we're talking about actually, intentionally causing someone's death.”
When asked about people who say they don't want to suffer and that assisted suicide is their choice, Schadenberg agrees that people don't want to suffer.

But he asks: Is the answer to suffer lethal injection?
“The answer to suffering is how we care for people,” he said. “There's no reason to have to suffer like that.”
He cited the fact Chatham-Kent will have a new hospice where people will be well cared for with proper pain management to enable them to die with dignity.

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