Thursday, March 31, 2016

Catherine Frazee - “The Vulnerable”: Who Are They?

This article was originally published by the virtual hospice on March 31, 2016.

By Catherine Frazee, OC, D.Litt., LLD. (Hon.)
Professor Emerita, School of Disability Studies, Ryerson University

We must protect the vulnerable, the Supreme Court told us in its landmark decision establishing a limited right to physician-hastened death in Canada. In my work with the federal External Panel appointed last year to facilitate a national consultation on physician-hastened death, there was wide agreement. On March 1, an impressively diverse coalition of advocacy, faith and medical organizations issued the Vulnerable Persons Standard, a clear articulation of what protections for vulnerable people should include.

There is very little argument that our new regulatory scheme for hastened death must build in safeguards to protect the vulnerable. But what exactly does this much-repeated phrase mean? Who is vulnerable, and why?


To be vulnerable, quite simply, is to be without defence.

For some persons – infants, toddlers, persons with extensive and severe impairments – vulnerability may be intrinsic to their condition of life. Without muscle to flee or resist, without words to request or refuse, without art or philosophy to reinvent or transcend, such persons are nearly fully at the mercy of others.

Yet even in these most seeming absolute expressions, vulnerability presents itself by degrees. The infant born in Oshawa in 2016 shows herself in fact to have robust defenses, compared to the infant born simultaneously in Aleppo, Syria. Likewise today’s toddler with Down syndrome from Kamloops is doubtless far less vulnerable than was her counterpart in Hadamar, at the peak of Nazi rule in 1941.

Vulnerability is as much a matter of context as it is of personal condition. In this way, for each and every one of us throughout life, vulnerability is situational, experienced when our defenses are stripped away.

Paradoxically, we are all vulnerable, yet many of us do not know vulnerability. For the most part, it remains an abstract notion about which we have little visceral sense. Without conscious attention to the mounting of protections, we have matured into adulthood and accrued the means to feed and clothe and shelter and keep safe our fragile and needy bodies. We acquired skills and knowledge, we built strength and savings and social networks, we found homes, jobs, love and meaning. And so we are not without defence – we have locks on our doors, clothes on our backs, food in our refrigerators, numbers on our speed dial.

Supporting these simple phases of our ‘independent’ adult development, are of course massive commitments of public investment and regulation – a veritable arsenal of defense to shield us from our human vulnerability: systems of health, education, job creation and public works. Most of us do not need to attend to our own vulnerability. When we adjust the thermostat, flush the toilet, place our garbage at the curb, the state takes over. When we purchase raw poultry, cross a busy intersection, install a new smoke detector, the state has our back.

If we are vulnerable but don’t know it, that is because the social contract is working in our favour. Only when our defenses fail – Walkerton comes to mind, or the Ice Storm of 1998 – do we experience the full force of our vulnerability and urgently scramble to our backup defenses: hospital emergency rooms for the sick, friends with woodstoves and generators for the cold and hungry. Again we find rescue, buoyed from the turbulent waters of crisis by our firm grip on the social determinants of health.

Italian nurse arrested based on 13 deaths.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

According to Dunyanews an Italian nurse who has been arrested under suspicion of killing 13 patients, is suspected to be a "serial killer." According to the news article:
Fausta Bonino, 56, allegedly killed the patients aged between 61 and 88 between January 2014 and September 2015 at a hospital in the Tuscan town of Piombino
Bonino is accused of having given her victims up to 10 times the usual dose of the drug, including in certain cases where it had not been prescribed by the physicians treating the patients. 
The result, police said, was to rapidly trigger multiple and irreversible internal bleeds which killed 12 of the alleged victims. The other one died from cardiac arrest. 
Police at Thursday’s press conference said the arrest had potentially averted further deaths. 
But local newspaper Il Tirreno suggested the hospital authorities may have had suspicions about Bonino early last year. The nurse was moved from the intensive care unit in October 2015 to a role in which she had no contact with patients.

Italian Health Minister, Beatrice Lorenzin, referred to Bonino as possibly one of the biggest serial killers in Italian  history. The news article quested Lorenzin as saying:
"Sadly this (the Bonino case) is not the first time that serial killings have been uncovered with a killer nurse as the protagonist," Lorenzin said. "Such action goes against every medical and ethical code. 
"This latest episode shows once again the necessity of careful monitoring of the oldest and most fragile people when they trust their lives to health institutions," she added. 
"We have to defend life with all our powers at every stage, including the terminal one. The defence of life is a fundamental value."

This case follows the recent conviction, and life sentence, of a nurse for killing a 78-year-old Italian patient.

In the past few years a British nurse was sentenced to life for killing two patients and poisoning 20 more. Dr Virginia Soares de Souza was charged with 7 counts of murder in Brazil. A Finnish nurse was convicted of killing 5 patients  and American nurse, Charles Cullen, who admitted to killing 40 patients, but is suspected in killing 400 stated: "I thought I was helping."

In Belgium, where euthanasia is legal, a 2013 study found that 1.7% of all deaths, representing more than 1000 deaths were intentionally hastened without request.

Legalizing euthanasia leads to the perfect cover-up for murder because it gives doctors and nurses, who have a desire to kill, a alibi or a reason to carry-out their deranged actions.

For the Sake of Families Please Do Not Go Down Canada’s Dark Road of Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide

Open letter to Governor Hassan of New Hampshire – From Dr Paul Saba

Dr Paul Saba
March 28, 2016

As the state of New Hampshire considers establishing an end-of-life choices study commission, I strongly advise against this. This will only lead down the same dark road that Canada has travelled. Although in the United States euthanasia and physician assisted suicide falls under state jurisdiction, in Canada this falls under both Federal and Provincial jurisdictions.

Presently, Canada is proposing doctor assisted suicide and euthanasia of its most vulnerable citizens including children who are “mature minors” and the depressed.

Children possibly as young as 11 or 12 could see their lives ended prematurely without parental consent or prior notification. The serious consequences of enacting such a provision is illustrated by the case of Nadine (Video Link). At 14 years old, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia. She underwent multiple chemotherapies and a failed bone marrow transplant. She was told that she had little chance to survive. She states that without the loving support of her family, she would have given up. Today at 19 she is well and happy to be alive.

History has taught us that killing the weak and vulnerable is a formula for disaster. The Romans encouraged the weak, sick and depressed to kill themselves. In 1938, Germany started euthanizing handicapped children. Today, Belgium and the Netherlands euthanize children, the depressed and those tired of life.

As a physician with dual USA and Canada citizenship, I have studied and practiced medicine in both countries. I presently live in Montreal. As President and Founder of the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice my progressive ideas have included promoting quality medical care for the poor, incapacitated, the elderly and the young. However, I do not consider euthanasia and doctor assisted suicide as progressive. Presently in the province of Quebec many citizens have already been euthanized under a cloud of government controlled secrecy despite a requirement of an oversight committee.

Physicians have been mandated by our provincial medical board not to write on the death certificate that their patients have been euthanized with the threat of sanctions and possible loss of their license. Physicians in Quebec and across Canada are awaiting the passage of a new federal law which will set national standards of extending euthanasia to children and the depressed. As a physician, I refuse to inject or refer any patient to be injected with a lethal substance. As a dad with young children, I will never give the right to another person to lethally inject my children or my neighbor’s children. For these reasons I have launched court challenges in the province of Quebec to stop this law. Disobeying the euthanasia law risks the possible loss of my medical license. Why am I opposing this law?
First, and foremost, every life is valuable. 
Second, there are errors in medical diagnosis in up to 20% of cases. 
Third, prognosis may be incorrect, as in the case of Nadine. 
Fourth, “mature children’ do not have the psychological or cognitive ability to reason like adults—that is why they cannot drive, vote, enter into civil contracts or get married. 
Fifth, a depressed person cannot make a free and informed decision to end her/his life because of feelings of hopelessness. 
Sixth, people faced with a serious diagnosis are more likely to be depressed. 
Seventh, quality medical care includes providing palliative care -- which is different from euthanasia. Doctors can reduce the suffering of end-of-life patients’ with palliative care. However, unfortunately many Canadians and Americans do not have access to quality palliative care. 
Eighth, the few jurisdictions that practice euthanasia are unable to establish workable safeguards. For example: in Belgium, 32% of euthanasia deaths are performed without specific request or consent; and, 47% of cases go unreported. 
Ninth, many civilized societies (e.g. the United Kingdom. Scotland and France) have recently rejected such legislation because of the inherent dangers to its citizens.

Tenth, euthanasia and assisted suicide are denounced by the World Medical Association that represents 9 million doctors in over 100 countries.
Governments and healthcare providers should adequately fund and provide the best health care for all its citizens and especially the children. Euthanizing citizens may save money, but this goes against all decent civilized human values.

Will New Hampshire go down the same dark road of Canada and euthanize its citizens? What about the children, the depressed and those tired of life? What about those too sick and too poor to fight for their lives?

Therefore I ask you not to establish an end-of-life choices study commission. This will only lead New Hampshire down the same dark road that Canada has travelled. The evidence is overwhelming clear—euthanasia and assisted suicide is not the solution for suffering. Many wise people have stated that insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Our citizens need to be cared for and not killed. How we treat the most vulnerable in our society, is a measure of who we are as a society.

Dr. Paul Saba M.D.
Lachine Québec

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Conscience rights for Canadian nurses and Physician assistants are being trampled by their professional bodies

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) have advised their members that they are not required to directly participate in physician assisted death (euthanasia and assisted suicide) but they are required to refer the patient to someone who will directly participate. Therefore CAPA is not protecting the conscience rights of their members by forcing them to refer patients to an executioner.

Physician Assistants work under a supervising physician and therefore they do not have the freedom to decide to work with a certain group of patients. According to the CAPA website:

The PA’s scope of practice is determined on an individual basis and formally outlined in a practice contract or agreement between the supervising physician(s), the PA and often the facility or service where the PA will work.
In the same manner, the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) interim guidelines on Physician-Assisted Death (euthanasia and assisted suicide). The guidelines states:
health care professionals who have conscientious objections should refer or transfer a client to another health care provider. If no other caregiver can be arranged, you must provide the immediate care required.
Based on the guidelines for Physician assistants and the Ontario Nurses Association guidelines, medical professionals, who work "under the direction of physicians" have not been had their conscience rights protected by their medical bodies.

Conscience rights, for these groups of medical professionals is essential because they do not have the absolute freedom of choosing what patient group that they will work with and they usually work under another medical professional.

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants and the Ontario Nurses Association should be working diligently to respect the rights of their members.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Rushing toward death - Euthanasia in the Netherlands.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Professor Theo Boer
n July 2014, Professor Theo Boer, who was member for nine years of a regional review committee in the Netherlands, wrote an article that was published in the Daily Mail urging the British parliament to reject assisted suicide. Boer then gave the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition permission to publish the full text of his article titled "Assisted Suicide: Don't go there."

On March 28. Professor Boer published a significant critique of the Netherlands Euthanasia law under the title: Rushing toward death?

Boer first explains how euthanasia became legal, and how the law works in the Netherlands.
In 1994 the Netherlands became the first country to legalize assisted dying. The Dutch added a clause to the Burial and Cremation Act allowing doctors to help a person die as long as the patient made an informed request and faced unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement; a second doctor concurred in the decision; and medically advised methods were used. The clause was further codified by the Assisted Dying Act in 2001. Belgium followed suit with similar legislation in 2002. 
In the Netherlands, five regional review committees, each consisting of a lawyer, a physician, and an ethicist, were charged with keeping an eye on the practice and assessing (after the fact) whether a case of assisted dying complied with the law. 
Two forms of assisted dying are legally practiced: euthanasia, in which the action of the physician causes death, and physician-assisted suicide, in which a physician provides the patient with a lethal drink administered by the patient. The overwhelming majority of patients who make use of the law (95 percent) choose euthanasia.
Boer then explains why he originally supported the Netherlands euthanasia law.
Although I was skeptical about this legislation at the beginning, I could and can imagine the exceptional case of killing a patient when nothing else can ease unbearable suffering. ... It was and is my conviction that some form of legalization of assisted dying may be needed when public support reaches a certain level. This is a matter of democratic respect. This is why I agreed to join one of the review committees 11 years ago. 
From 2005 to 2014, I reviewed close to 4,000 cases of assisted dying on behalf of the Netherlands’ Ministries of Health and of Justice. Almost all of them met the legal criteria; only a handful of them were sent on to the public prosecutor. I was impressed by the heartbreaking situations in which many patients found themselves at the end of a deadly disease. I had no doubt as to the professional and personal integrity of the physicians involved. Assisted dying was hardly ever administered lightly; in fact, most physicians needed time to prepare themselves for this intense decision, and afterward many of them needed time off to recover. 
For a decade and a half this system seemed to provide a means to stabilize the number of cases and prevent the expansion of grounds for seeking assisted dying. We told delegations from abroad that the Dutch solution was robust and humane. As recently as in 2011 I assured a European ecumenical audience that the Dutch system was a model worth considering.
Boer explains that in 2007, the practise of euthanasia started changing.
But that conclusion has become harder and harder for me to support. For no apparent reason, beginning in 2007, the numbers of assisted dying cases started going up by 15 percent each year. In 2014 the number of cases stood at 5,306, nearly three times the 2002 figure. 
With overall mortality numbers remaining level, this means that today one in 25 deaths in the Netherlands is the consequence of assisted dying. On top of these voluntary deaths there are about 300 nonvoluntary deaths (where the patient is not judged competent) annually. These are cases of illegal killing, extracted from anonymous surveys among physicians, and therefore almost impossible to prosecute. There are also a number of palliative sedation cases—the estimate is 17,000 cases yearly, or 12 percent of all deaths—some of which may involve shortening the life of a patient considerably. Furthermore, contrary to claims made by many, the Dutch law did not bring down the number of suicides; instead suicides went up by 35 percent over the past six years
A shift has also taken place in the type of patients who seek assisted dying. Whereas in the first years the vast majority of patients—about 95 percent—were patients with a terminal disease who had their lives ended days or weeks before a natural death was expected, an increasing number of patients now seek assisted dying because of dementia, psychiatric illnesses, and accumulated age-related complaints. Terminal cancer now accounts for fewer than 75 percent of the cases. Many of the remaining 25 percent could have lived for months, years, or even decades
In some reported cases, the suffering largely consists of being old, lonely, or bereaved. For a considerable number of Dutch citizens, euthanasia is fast becoming the preferred, if not the only acceptable, mode of dying for cancer patients. Although the law treats assisted dying as an exception, public opinion is beginning to interpret it as a right, with a corresponding duty for doctors to become involved in these deaths. A law now in draft form would oblige doctors who refuse to administer euthanasia to refer their patients to a willing colleague.
Boer then explains the influence of the Dutch euthanasia lobby (NVVE)
The Dutch Right to Die Society (NVVE), the largest of its kind in the world, offers course materials to high schools intended to broaden support for euthanasia as a normal death. NVVE seeks to make assisted dying available to children of any age. This is a groundbreaking development, given the fact that for decades the Dutch restricted euthanasia to competent patients. NVVE also initiated the End of Life Clinic, a network of traveling euthanasia doctors who provide assisted dying for patients whose own doctors will not agree to help them. On average, the traveling doctors see a patient three times before providing an assisted death. The clinic has neither the funding nor the license to provide any form of palliative care, so it offers death or nothingDoctors at the End of Life Clinic report that they’ve handled about 500 cases since 2012.
NVVE regards the law on assisted dying as only a step in the right direction, not as the final outcome. Why grant an assisted death only to some? they ask. Why limit it to those with a life expectancy of only six months? This same logic can be found in the arguments of the United States–based Final Exit Network, which suggests that such laws also cover those suffering from debilitating diseases that may last many years. 
As part of its campaign, NVVE distributed pillboxes containing 50 tiny peppermints. Called the Last Will Pill, the box illustrates the organization’s resolve to make a suicide pill available to anyone aged 70 and older. All of this would be unthinkable were it not for the existence of the Assisted Dying Act. Rather than halting these developments, the review committees have welcomed some of them.
Boer then examines the outcome of the cultural shift toward euthanasia.
The dramatic shift in the Dutch and Belgian approach to death was documented in the Australian film Allow Me to Die, which features the case of Simona, an 84-year-old Belgian woman (link to the film). Only minutes after receiving news of the sudden death of her daughter, Simona decides that she too wants to dies and asks her doctor to help her. After treating her unsuccessfully with an antidepressant, Simona’s doctor decides to grant her request. 
Three months after the death of her daughter, Simona eats her last breakfast and rides her last miles on her stationary bicycle. Her last words are “I am ready to meet my daughter.” Although her physician assures himself that “all is well,” the audience is left wondering: Is this dying with dignity? Is this what the Dutch and Belgian lawmakers had in mind back in the 1980s and 1990s? 
I think not. When the Dutch law was enacted, the cases in view were those of dying patients enduring extreme suffering that doctors could not relieve. The law allowed doctors to break the rules in the name of humanity. Now the question has become: Can a nation allow such an exception without people coming to question the basic rules?
Boer then examines the question of the original intention of the euthanasia law.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Smith: Euthanasia by Organ Donation.

This article was first published by National Review on March 25, 2016.

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

In 1993, my first anti-euthanasia article published in Newsweek, warned that if society ever embraced assisted suicide, we would eventually couple medicalized killing with organ harvesting “as a plum to society.” 

That is now happening in Netherlands and Belgium, where doctors are on the lookout for mentally ill and people with neuromuscular disabilities who want to be killed and harvested.

An article written by a gaggle of Netherlander doctors and medical professors in the Journal of Medical Ethics, now suggests taking the next step of directly harvesting-to-death sick, disabled, and mentally ill suicidal people (all eligible for euthanasia in both countries) without bothering with the lethal injection beforehand. From the article: 
The dead donor rule states that donation should not cause or hasten death. Since a patient undergoing euthanasia has chosen to die, it is worth arguing that the no-touch time (depending on the protocol) could be skipped, limiting the warm ischemia time and contributing to the quality of the transplanted organs. It is even possible to extend this argument to a ‘heart-beating organ donation euthanasia’ where a patient is sedated, after which his organs are being removed, causing death.  
Both options are currently legally not allowed 
So this is where we are morally in Western society: A respected bioethics journal, published under the auspices of the British Medical Association, no less–can bloodlessly discuss changing the law to permit putting patients under anesthesia and killing them by direct organ removal–and there is nary a note of protest. 

Allow me: There could be nothing more cruel and abandoning to despairing people than telling them their voluntary deaths have greater value than their continuing lives. 

Oh, one thing: Pushing society to think that too. 

The culture of death corrupts and corrodes societal morality, medical ethics, family relations, and common decency–indeed, everything it touches.

Belgium - Organ donation, presumed consent, euthanasia.

This article was published by Wesley Smith on his blog on March 25, 2016

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

A just published article in the Journal of Medical Ethics argues for allowing killing by organ removal as a form of euthanasia and organ donation. More, over at The Corner

The authors mention that Belgium has “presumed consent” for organ donation. From the piece
When a patient is determined dead on the basis of either circulatory or neurological criteria, the treating physician is legally allowed to remove his organs for transplantation. 
In case of donation, three non-treating physicians, who are not involved in the transplantation procedure, should independently determine death.  
The law explicitly states that relatives should be enabled to say farewell to the deceased as soon as possible after the donation procedure.
In the immoral utilitarian milieu that now reigns in Belgium, this means that that doctors could look upon all “suffering” patients as potential organ suppliers. 

That could easily influence how they discuss treatment options, and lead to subtle persuasion for euthanasia–without discussing the organ issue. 

The authors also suggest that doctors should be able to recommend organ donation to euthanasia requesters, and all doubts about pressure or emotional coercion can be remedied simply by assuring the public all is honorable: 
One, however, needs to avoid the public having the perception that anyone who is ill and willing to donate his organs will be able to undergo euthanasia, or that a physician would motivate a patient to undergo euthanasia because of organ donation possibility.  
The public needs to have confidence in the ability of a physician to judge objectively and acknowledge that strict legal criteria and boundaries regarding euthanasia and organ donation exist. 
Here’s the problem: Once doctors and society accepts the killing-is-an-acceptable-answer-to-suffering premise of euthanasia, eventually it won’t matter if those deemed to have a life not worth living are herded toward euthanasia–particularly if their organs are harvestable. After all, there are people who could have better lives who need those livers and hearts! 

If you believe euthanasia and organ harvesting can be conjoined without adverse impacting society’s adherence to the intrinsic equal dignity of human life, I have a beautiful orange bridge that links San Francisco to Marin County to sell at a bargain rate. Interested?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Rhode Island debates assisted suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Rhode Island State House Health, Education and Welfare Committee had a public hearing on an assisted suicide bill on Wednesday March 23.

Nancy Elliott testifies against assisted suicide in Rhode Island.

Jennifer Bogden reported for the Providence Journal on the hearings. According to the report, Margaret Dore, an attorney from Washington State, where assisted suicide is legal, urged lawmakers to:
"consider the details of the bill. In some cases, a person who has insulin-dependent diabetes can be considered to have a terminal illness, she said."
"This bill encourages people to throw away their lives,"
John Kelly (picture) testifying,
last year, in Connecticut.
Linda Borg, reported in the Providence Journal, on the testimony by John Kelly, the New England regional coordinator for Not Dead Yet, who stated:

"Mistakes are so common when it comes to diagnoses, much less terminal diagnoses," 
"This is about putting the state's imprimatur on a program in which someone agrees that some people are better off dead."
Borg also reported that Thomas Nerney, director of the Institute for Health Quality and Ethics in Rhode Island testified that:

this bill makes "suicide a medical option (that) changes the very nature of medicine," adding that it would reverse centuries of trust between doctors and patients. 
"We have a terrible history in this country of segregating people with disabilities and pushing them into second-class citizenship," he said. Nerney worries that this bill might lead insurance companies and Medicaid to withhold treatment for terminally ill patients or withdraw coverage for expensive medications.

Bogden, in her report, also focused on Julie Lamin, the daughter of Susanna Brown. Brown couldn't make it to the State House Wednesday night to testify against the bill. The article reported:
The 75-year-old North Scituate resident has breast cancer that has spread to her bones, and she's struggling with her latest chemotherapy treatment. So she sent her daughter, Julie Lamin, to tell lawmakers this: 
"She insisted that I come and speak on her behalf because this bill insults the dignity of her life," 
"She wanted to tell you that her life is valuable until that last breath and that this bill really scares her ... because someone could say, 'Well you're going to be suffering, and we don't want you to suffer. You can end it early.'" 
Brown was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2008. Her family expected she might live a year, but with treatment she has experienced the "many joys and sorrows and everything that goes along with life since 2008," Lamin said. "If you take hope away, you get despair. And if you get despair, you just get more suffering."
Rhode Island is one of a dozen states that have debated assisted suicide in 2016. Currently, every state legislature that debated assisted suicide also rejected assisted suicide.

Nancy Elliott testifies against assisted suicide.

Nancy Elliott
This is the testimony by Nancy Elliott, a former three term state representative from New Hampshire and a member of the EPC- International team. Nancy was given two minutes to testify in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island debates assisted suicide.

Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia opens a huge avenue for elder abuse, from gentle coercion from medical personal to things much more sinister, particularly when the senior has money. It also discriminates against people with disabilities as most people that would qualify for this act are at that time disabled. Healthy people are protected from suicide while disabled people are steered to it. (Link to an article about some of the abuses in Washington and Oregon). It also encourages suicide in the general population. If grandma and grandpa kill themselves, when life gets hard, so will their children and grandchildren. It is a bad public policy. 

When suicide is a "treatment" for certain illnesses, it creates a lower standard in our overall healthcare. When doctors end the life of their patients for having certain diseases, that discourages looking for new cures or treatments. This encourages the mentality to just give up and die. This bill as with the others I have read, is not about people that are necessarily dying. A young person with insulin dependent diabetes would qualify.

There are financial winners with Assisted Suicide. Where this is legal, state insurance has denied treatment to some patients, while offering to pay for their suicide. We all know someone that got an incorrect diagnosis from their doctor. With assisted suicide on the table, that diagnosis can lead to a deadly mistake, having the patient throw away their lives. At a recent Massachusetts hearing a doctor that was for assisted suicide was talking about what a good doctor was. He said that doctors need to "guide people to the right choice." As he is a proponent for assisted suicide is there any doubt what he or other doctors like him will steer their patients toward. For these reasons and many more we in the New Hampshire house have rejected assisted suicide/euthanasia. The last time was in 2014 where it was defeated on the floor of the House by 219 to 66. Liberals, Conservatives and Libertarians joined together to protect our citizens from this form of exploitation. I urge the Rhode Island House of Representatives to reject it too.

Nancy Elliott
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition - International - USA

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Assisted suicide ballot measure introduced in Colorado. We must protect people from assisted suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Recently I wrote an article about the successes in defeating assisted suicide bills in America. Since publisheding the article the Minnesota assisted suicide bill was stopped when its sponsor "pulled the bill" due to insufficient support.

Considering the success in defeating bills that give doctors the right to prescribe suicide to their patients, the suicide lobby has been relentless in pushing their death ideology.

For instance, this year in Colorado, a Senate Committee defeated the assisted suicide bill on February 3, on February 4, then the House Judiciary Committee passed the assisted suicide bill (6 - 5) and on February 24, the sponsors "pulled the bill" because it lacked support.

Now the suicide lobby has introduced a Colorado ballot measure titled: "End of Life Options" for the November 2016 election. The suicide lobby will require almost 99,000 signatures to have this dangerous measure put on the ballot.

At the same time, the sponsor of the California assisted suicide bill, which does not become law until June 9, have introduced two bills to promote assisted suicide in California. The first bill would establish a toll free death line, while the second bill would require the state health plan to pay for assisted suicide.

Assisted suicide bills in New York and the District of Columbia remain as clear threats. While I whole heartedly thank the many concerned people who stopped the suicide lobby in their states, I recognize that we will need to be as relentless as the suicide lobby. 

Even though the suicide lobby were defeated in Colorado, they are now bi-passing the legislative process with a ballot measure. 

We need to be vocal about the dangers of assisted suicide and how giving doctors the right to prescribe suicide to their patients devalues the lives of people at a vulnerable time of their life.

We must protect people from assisted suicide, the future of our culture depends on it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Elder advocate: it is death by doctor not assisted death.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Judith Wall
A conference on euthanasia and assisted suicide on March 21 in Ottawa examined the care of the elderly in relation to legal euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The Ottawa Citizen report, that was written by Elizabeth Payne, reports that Judith Wall, the executive director of the Advocacy Center for the Elderlytold the participants:
“I am calling it death by doctor, not death with the assistance of a doctor, but death when the doctor decides you are going to die,” 
“I don’t think health professionals want that as an approach.”
Wall also opposes forcing medical institutions to participate in euthanasia. According to the Ottawa Citizen report:
public funding should not mean institutions have to act against their values by either offering physician assisted suicide or referring patients.
Wall also opposes Recommendation 7 from the Special Joint Committee on Assisted Dying. Wall believes that people with dementia, who supported death by lethal injection in the past, should not be approved for euthanasia. Wall stated:
“I would hope that it is not something that is being considered, because it is too risky.” 
Not only do people often change their minds about how they view their quality of life, as their illness progresses, but Wahl said she fears there could be pressure on health professionals to use doctor assisted death to free up hospital beds if patients have consented in advance.
According to the (CBC report) Wall stated:
"I think it will open up the door to 'death by money,'" 
Judith Wall is a veteran advocate for the elderly. The government should heed her warning.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Canada: Caring Not Killing Letter writing campaign

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) launched the Caring Not Killing postcard campaign to members of parliament a few weeks ago. It is important to contact elected representatives to state your opposition to euthanasia, assisted suicide and the pro-euthanasia recommendations from the report of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying and the report of the Provincial Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying.

The Caring Not Killing postcard campaign is an easy way to activate people to contact elected representatives, but letter-writing is a more effective way to get the attention of your political leaders. Order the Caring Not Killing postcards from EPC for free.

To write an effective letter - keep your letter short and use only one or two talking points

Links to information on topics related to euthanasia and assisted suicide:
1. A Personal story, 2. Elder Abuse, 3. Euthanasia: The theory and the reality, 4. Medical Error, 5. Euthanasia/Disability rights, 6. Euthanasia/Palliative care, 7. Euthanasia/Belgium, 8.Euthanasia for psychiatric reasons, 9. Assisted Suicide USA, 10. Abuse of euthanasia laws, 11. Conscience rights for healthcare professionals.

Send you letter to your member of parliament or to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, Health Minister Jane Philipott. Member of Parliament contact information.

Letters to federal politicians can be sent without postage. Send your letter to:
Name: .................
House of Commons or Chambre des communes
Ottawa Ontario K1A 0A6

You should also send the letter to your provincial/territorial political representative.

You should adjust your letter and then send your letter to the editor of your local or national newspaper. 

Contact information for letters to the editor:
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:

National Post:,

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Action Alert! Two California bills Promote assisted suicide

Two Bad California Bills Peddling Physician Assisted Suicide 
Letters and Calls are needed now

SB 1002 - Gov't "advice" bill

State Senator Bill Monning, author of California's attempt to legalize assisted suicide, has submitted a bill to elicit government involvement and promotion of physician assisted suicide. Mr. Monning and the Hemlock Society (now 'Compassion and Choices') have neglected to mention that the controversial assisted suicide law is not in effect, and is not assured of going into effect! It is still subject to judicial scrutiny.

Nevertheless, Monning and the Hemlock promoters are recruiting state agencies to promote and engender assisted suicide in California.

Monning's new bill, SB 1002, would change the California Health and Safety Code, requiring the State Health Department to establish a toll-free phone line to answer questions about physician assisted suicide (PAS). Any interested party, perhaps an impatient heir, can inquire about obtaining, preparing and aiding another person in using the deadly prescription. SB 1002 presents a confused government policy that would accept both anti-suicide and pro-suicide hot lines.

Contrary to pro-euthanasia puff-pieces, the so-called 'Aid-in-Dying Law' did not change California law regarding assisted suicide, and even under the wording of that law, the assisted suicide regulations of California remain on the books. (Penal code Sec. 401)

The 'Aid-in-Dying law' (AB X2- 15) merely used verbal games and declared a special use of medicine to kill a patient with a terminal diagnosis. With a straight face, the legal conundrum thus created was 'skirted' by simply declaring, 'This [law] is not assisted suicide."

But serious observers recognize it is indeed assisted suicide, its assistance and promotion. Brittany Maynard, the 'star' about whom last year's measure was centered, clearly committed suicide in Oregon and the state of Oregon concurred.

Aiding a person in committing suicide continues to be a felony in California for numerous reasons including errors in medical judgment by physicians; emotionally distraught individuals making emotionally motivated decisions (there is no requirement for psychological consult); legacy hunting by family members, or even just emotional relief for unhappy family members; and perhaps most importantly, the violation of the ethical use of medicine making the medical profession participate in intentional killing.

Senator Monning's Bill is dedicated to promoting what is still illegal in California, Department of Health Services is in no position to 'advise people' in how to skirt around the complexities of that crime. (CA Penal Code, Sec. 401).

To register your organization opposition to SB 1002, please do so IMMEDIATELY, write on your organization letterhead. Individual opposition is also encouraged.

Send to:Senate Health Committee, State Capitol, Room 2191, Sacramento,
CA 95814Fax: (916) 266-9438 Phone: (916) 651-4111
SB 1002 is not health care. It is a bald example of ideology trumping law and logic, and government resources should not be participating in this 'legal charade'.


Gov't Funding Bill! AB 2810
AB 2810 would have Medi-Cal funds pay for lethal 'medicine' employed in suicide of patients. Click to read.
The bill has been sent to the Assembly Committee on Health and may be heard as early as this Tuesday! Click here for contact information.
Please act on both of these bills now!

Box 1678
Sacramento, CA 95812

Friday, March 18, 2016

Has euthanasia changed physician attitudes towards suicide in Québec?

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On December 10, 2015; the province of Québec officially sanctioned euthanasia. The Québec government passed Bill 52 in June 2014 and over the next 17 months prepared their nation for doctors having the right to kill their patients.

Now we learn that some Québec physicians have been withholding life-saving treatments that could save lives with possibly no after-effects from suicide victims. In response, the Québec's College of Physicians have issued an ethics bulletin telling all physicians that there is an ethical and legal guideline to provide care even to patients seeking to end their lives.

Yves Robert, the secretary for the Québec College of Physicians told the National Post that:

an unspecified number of doctors were interpreting suicide attempts as an implicit refusal of treatment. They “refused to provide the antidote that could have saved a life. This was the real ethical issue,” 
“If there is a life-threatening situation, you have to do whatever is possible to save a life, then you treat the underlying cause.”
According to the article by Graeme Hamilton, published in the National Post, the four page ethics bulletin states:
“From a moral point of view, this duty to act to save the patient’s life, or to prevent him from living with the effects of a too-late intervention, rests on principles of doing good and not doing harm, as well as of solidarity,” 
“It would be negligent not to act.”
According to the National Post the ethics bulletin states that treatment can only be withheld when their is irrefutable proof that the patient does not want treatment. It then states:
Once stabilized, a survivor of suicide may require psychiatric treatment, the bulletin says. “Recognition of psychological suffering can allow a person who wants to kill himself to picture his life differently,”
But the Québec euthanasia law permits euthanasia for people with psychological suffering.

Is it possible that the confusion concerning the withholding of beneficial treatment is directly related to the legalization of euthanasia in Québec?

A survey of Québec doctors (April 2015) indicated that there is significant confusion concerning withholding and withdrawing treatment and an earlier survey of Québec medical specialists (October 2009) indicated that there was significant confusion concerning what constituted euthanasia and palliative care.

The fact is that the Québec euthanasia law insists that euthanasia is a medical act, which it is not, and that patients have the right to refuse treatment and autonomy. It should not shock people when Québec physicians respond to these edicts by medically abandoning suicidal patients.

Historically Québec has a very high suicide rate. In the past few years, suicide prevention programs have led to a decreased suicide rate. Let's hope that the legalization of euthanasia will not create a suicide contagion effect, leading to higher suicide rates in Québec.