Friday, September 30, 2016

The Euthanasia Deception documentary.

The Euthanasia Deception Documentary is available by ordering the DVD at or downloading it online at

“A thought-provoking, emotionally-gripping film that will impact hearts and minds. It effectively dismantles the fallacies of euthanasia proponents’ appeals to compassion and autonomy.” 
- Richard Weikart, Professor of History at California State University, Stanislaus, Author of The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life.
“Stunning documentary. No doubt this film will save lives and prevent the destruction of a large number of families." 
- Anne LeBlanc, Rochester, NY
There are two ways to view The Euthanasia Deception.

Purchase a DVD from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition or View or download online at

Purchase The Euthanasia Deception DVD for: $30 for 1 DVD, $100 for 4 DVD's or $200 for 10 DVD's (add HST to all orders).

Link to the trailer.

The Euthanasia Deception is also available to rent or purchase online at Vimeo On Demand. Detailed instructions: 
  1. Go to the film’s Web site and click rent or download. 
  2. Click "Rent or Download Here”. You will be directed to Vimeo On Demand. 
  3. Scroll down and click on the version you wish: Canadian or International Version 
  4. You will be asked to join Vimeo, a free service, with no obligation. 
  5. You will be prompted to pay $3.00 CAD (or equivalent) for a 48 hour rental download or $30.00 to purchase a downloadable version of the film. Most credit cards or Paypal accepted.
  6. Be sure to enter your email to receive updates. 
  7. Enjoy the Euthanasia Deception documentary!
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) in association with DunnMedia is pleased to announce the International release of The Euthanasia Deception, complete with interactive website and resource materials at:

The fifty-two minute documentary features powerful testimonies from Belgium and Canada, exposing the three main deceptions used by the assisted dying lobby:
  • Euthanasia & assisted suicide are falsely promoted as compassion or mercy.
  • Euthanasia & assisted suicide are falsely promoted as a form of autonomy. 
  • The myth that safeguards can protect people is exposed. 
The Euthanasia Deception documentary is also available to be ordered with French subtitles.

The Euthanasia Deception features; 
  • Professor Tom Mortier, a Belgian man whose depressed mother died by euthanasia,
  • Dr Catherine Dopchie, a palliative physician in Belgium,
  • Dr Benoit Beusselinck, a Belgian oncologist and palliative care doctor in Belgium,
  • Carine Brochier, the co-ordinator of the European Institute of Bioethics in Belgium,
  • Professor Etienne Montero, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Namur Belgium,
  • Hendrik Reitsma's grand-dad died an assisted death with no request in the Netherlands,
  • Kristina Hodgetts, a nurse speaks about her experience with assisted death in Canada,
  • Lionel Roosemont, a Belgian man who is the father of a significantly disabled child,
  • Amy Hasbrouck, a lawyer and a disability rights leader in Québec Canada,
  • Mark Pickup, a disability rights activist and public speaker in Alberta Canada,
  • Steven Passmore, a disability rights activist in Ontario Canada,
  • Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.
We are all vulnerable at different times in our lives. This documentary is a dire warning for Canada and the rest of the world.

Your donations to EPC enable us to continue our commitment to resisting the acceptance of euthanasia while providing jurisdictions with data to prevent its legalization.

Purchase The Euthanasia Deception by (paying $30 + HST by credit card or paypal) or order by email: or call toll free: 1-877-439-3348.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

New Assisted Dying law claims unintended victims.

This article was written by Dr Will Johnston, a Vancouver physician, and published in the Huffington Post on September 28, 2016.

Will Johnston is a family physician and the chair of EPC-BC

The Carter decision to allow assisted suicide and euthanasia claimed that Canada could avoid abuses through careful guidelines and screening. Medically facilitated elder abuse by greedy relatives and medicalized suicide for the depressed -- a grim reality where this practice is legal -- were supposed to be avoidable, said the judge,because of a superior medical culture in Canada. The abuses of Belgium? Not for us.

Experience proves otherwise.

According to the new law, it will be five years before Canada's assisted suicide and euthanasia regime has to report back to the nation. Two stories offer reasons why that report will fail to reveal those depressed patients, far from death, who are steered to suicide by others and by their untreated mental illness.

A friend, herself dealing with advanced ovarian cancer, heard from a neighbour that his wife was going to get assisted suicide. The neighbour said they would be going to a doctor in Vancouver to get this done. This baffled my friend, who had seen the woman outside her home, gardening. The husband made other comments suggesting that his wife would be dead soon. She had heart trouble.

My friend tipped off her own nurse to get community services involved and the suicidal woman's depression began to be addressed by a nurse and social worker. This apparently able-bodied woman did not go to Vancouver right away -- but she had been invited, as soon became clear.

I will let my friend's words testify to the end of that story:

"A few days later the husband came over with a clipboard and a pen. He started by saying, "Damn government did not pass the bill." He asked me to sign a form -- that he needed two signatures for the doctor in Vancouver. He stated that none of their family and friends would sign. I almost passed out! 
Seriously. I told him I would not sign. He assumed that it was on religious grounds and I said no it was experiential. He said "OK, then I will ask your husband." I told him he had better not even bring it up! 
We went on a two-day visit to the grandsons and came back on June 7 (the designated day of the euthanasia) and his balcony was draped in black crepe. 
Several days later I bumped into him at the mailbox and he complained that none of the neighbours had given condolences even though he made it obvious that [his wife] had "passed." I asked him how he was and he said that his wife had a nice last day, that she liked the walk around the seawall. 
He also told me that he felt sorry for the poor doctor because she was so tired because she had so many euthanasias that day. He and the boyfriend are now residing together in a big new travel coach parked elsewhere in the same trailer park and the Mustang has become the vehicle of preference and he sold his house. No one talks to him..."
This appears to be medical homicide as a solution to depression, apparently facilitated by a husband with other interests.

Several weeks ago I was contacted by the wife of a young man with a neurological disease. The man had been assured by a euthanasia-performing doctor in Vancouver that he qualified for an assisted suicide. He was depressed and never ventured outdoors.

At the patient's invitation I visited him in his shared room in a dingy nursing home, a place once described to me as "a prison." He told me about his struggle to find a cure with massive doses of vitamins. He was less disabled than, for instance, Walter Lawrence, who works in Vancouver as an inspiring peer counsellor to spinal injury patients and others.

But this patient had lost hope for the future and felt his existence was meaningless and that death was the only solution. This death-focused tunnel vision defines a suicidal depression, and any able-bodied person would be given psychological help to relieve it. This disabled man, who was nowhere near dying, was instead killed by a Vancouver physician.

The physician's rationale for circumventing the law, reportedly given over the phone before she met or examined the patient, was that he could easily get bed sores and then die of infection, so that his death "was reasonably foreseeable."

What surprised his wife was "how easy" it was for her depressed, self-isolated husband to be killed under the new regime. What seems obvious is that the whole nature of this death is not going to be reported to the Minister of Health or the Minister of Justice -- there is no transparency to this system.

Five years from now, the mandatory report is going to be full of bland and self-justifying statistics presented by the very doctors who have done the killing. By sanitizing these medicalized suicides and homicides with the now-familiar euphemisms about "medical aid in dying," the uninvolved public will be reassured that nothing has gone wrong.

Canada has simply created a system which offers, and completes, suicide for people whose personalities, disabilities and personal situations put them at high risk for it. Well over a hundred real people have died in the few months since the old law was discarded. To complain that this was repeatedly predicted is to indulge in powerless understatement.

And next, we have the unfolding tragedy of palliative care. That medical specialty has always struggled to reassure fearful dying people that palliation has nothing to do with "mercy killing" and assisted suicide. Reluctant families have been truthfully promised that hospice nurses and doctors are not self-appointed angels of death.

Sadly, palliative care wards and hospices across Canada are, right now, in a hailstorm of administrative edicts to perform euthanasia inside their walls, in whispering range of those families and patients who had been promised a refuge of care.

Violating the principles and purposes of palliative care is in no way required by the new law. The thoughtless imposition of this radical shift needs to be halted. Hospital administrators can and must provide other locations for those few final minutes.

Our Minister of Health and her provincial colleagues would be wise to act quickly on this. The principles of suicide prevention have been betrayed. It is not inevitable that the principles of palliative care must be next.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Assisted suicide group should be investigated in Washington State.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In their summer 2016 newsletter - End of Life Washington (known as Compassion & Choices in the past and as the Hemlock Society in the past/past) urged its supporters to support them based on the fact that End of Life Washington facilitated 93% of the assisted suicide deaths in 2015.

Since End of Life Washington essentially controls the assisted suicide law then why has there not been an investigation into the clear abuse of the law that are found in the annual report?

According to the 2014 annual report, there were 176 lethal prescriptions written resulting in 126 assisted suicide deaths, 17 deaths from other causes, 27 deaths from an unknown cause and 6 people remained alive.

The annual report indicates that they do not know if the 27 deaths from "unknown causes" resulted from assisted suicide and they do not know the status of the lethal prescriptions for these deaths. In other words, no report was submitted and no information is known, except that the person received a lethal prescription and is now dead.

According to the 2015 annual report there were 213 lethal prescriptions in 2015 resulting in 166 reported assisted suicide deaths, with 24 deaths from other causes, 12 deaths where the "ingestion status" was unknown, and 11 people remained alive.

Once again when the ingestion status is unknown, then the status of the lethal drugs is also unknown.

According to the law, two doctors are required to approve the assisted suicide death. The doctor who writes the lethal prescription is then required to submit a report (self-reporting) to the government after the person dies.

End of Life Washington facilitates assisted suicide deaths by refering people to doctors who are willing to assist their suicide and counseling them in the process.

Considering the lack of oversight and the missing data, clearly there needs to be a third-party investigation into the activities of End of Life Washington.

Monday, September 26, 2016

National Post: Doctors conscience rights must be upheld.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The National Post editorial column, today, provides arguements to uphold conscience rights for medical professionals and to reject turning medical professionals into automatons. The editorial column, written by Marni Soupcoff, replies to the opinions promoted by two radical pro-euthanasia bio-ethicists, Udo Schuklenk and Julian Savulescu. Soupcoff argues that she is troubled by the rejection of conscience rights.
It’s a radical and troubling notion: that the field of medicine should be open only to people who hold religious and ethical views consistent with the majority, or who can easily set their personal views aside and act against their beliefs. Those with the wrong opinions — those whose moral compasses point in directions not deemed acceptable — need not apply. 
Will anyone take this argument seriously, given how strongly it infringes on a doctor’s right to his or her individual beliefs? Given how it creates a de facto prohibition on members of certain religions from ever becoming physicians? It might appear self-evident that medical professionals have just as much right to personal beliefs as any other Canadian, including others who interact with the public in an influential way, such as police officers, politicians or teachers.
Canadian letter writing campaign: Protect conscience rights for medical professionals.

Soupcoff then points out the radical nature of Schuklenk and Savulescu's proposal:
Taking concrete steps to make doctors and lawyers less morally sensitive is a curious way to try to make our society a better place. Is it really such a good idea to strive to ensure medical, legal or other professionals act as impersonal automatons able to block out any of the sentiments or personal beliefs that make them human? Messrs. Schuklenk and Savulescu’s assessment is that yes, it is not only a good idea, but also a step that is necessary to provide optimal patient care; screening out medical students who aren’t morally comfortable taking part in an assisted dying scenario is no worse, or more controversial, than a South African medical facility screening out a racist med student, says Schuklenk. 
This comparison betrays a fundamental problem with the authors’ argument: their conclusion rests on putting a serious and sensitive moral or religious concern about, say, the ethics of a doctor taking a life — a concern that a good portion of the population shares to one degree or another — on par with the narrow-minded bigotry of a white supremacist. The fact that a medical procedure or practice is legal does not, and should not, make it immune from legitimate, respectful and respectable personal questioning or opposition, including by physicians.
Soupcoff finishes the editorial by argueing in favour of equal rights for all Canadians, including medical professionals
The imposition of ethical requirements of doctors, lawyers and others aims to put patients, and clients, in better hands. But being in better hands doesn’t require a professional who has checked his or her sense of right or wrong at the door. There is room for the same diversity of beliefs in health care and the law as there is in the rest of Canadian society.
Conscience rights provide patients with the right to have a physician who shares their values. Conscience rights provide protection and equality for all Canadians.

Indiana Medical Association opposes assisted suicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Indiana State Medical Association formally opposes assisted suicide after a debate at their annual convention last weekend. According to ABC 21 Alive in Indiana:
The Indiana State Medical Association says the topic was debated at the annual convention. The association says this was by far the most debated resolution discussed. So much so the meeting went well over the scheduled time due to the many physicians that wanted to speak out against the practice.
The ABC news report continued:
... proponents of the practice said it would decrease healthcare costs at the end of life. They also said it would help patients who commit suicide to die in a more peaceful manner. 
Opponents of the practice said medical professionals should focus on providing care and comfort, not be a source of lethal drugs. They also suggested the practice might lead insurance companies to lean towards lethal drugs over treatment due to cost.

The American Medical Association (AMA) policy on assisted suicide states:
Physician-Assisted Suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physicians role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.
Sadly many physicians consider a cost/expense analysis when making life and death decisions. 

Thank you to the Indiana State Medical Association for deciding to provide care and comfort for their patients and not prescriptions for lethal drugs.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

NDY Statement On Mourning the Death of Jerika Bolen

This statement was published by the disability rights group Not Dead Yet on Sept 23, 2016.

Diane Coleman
By Diane Coleman, President - Not Dead Yet.

Today disability advocates mourn the death of Jerika Bolen, a 14-year-old black, gay teen with spinal muscular atrophy type II (SMA), who died in hospice after requesting help to end her life. Earlier this summer, a call for donations to support her dream of a “last dance” prom in her honor focused national media attention on her request to die, which was characterized in the media as “brave” and “inspirational.”

SMA Type II is not a condition that is typically fatal in children and teens. In fact, while some people with SMA die in younger adulthood due to respiratory complications, people with type SMA Type II often live into their 60s and beyond. Certainly, SMA would not result in the death of a fourteen-year-old who is receiving appropriate medical care. Our experience as disability rights advocates, many of whom have SMA and similar neuromuscular conditions, is that people with Type II SMA and the level of function that Jerika had as a teenager live long into adulthood.

While some media have attacked disability advocates who called for an investigation of the extremely questionable medical care provided to Jerika, it would appear that no authorities felt it necessary to obtain answers to the many questions the reported facts raise. In the midst of our shock, grief and despair at a system that would so callously throw away the life of a beautiful disabled girl, we have asked, and continue to ask, those questions.

Regarding physical pain . . .

Jerika Bolen
What was the cause of Jerika’s reported extreme physical pain? Contrary to media misinformation, pain is not characteristic of SMA Type II, so what caused her pain?

Did Jerika have any competent doctors who specialized in SMA Type II or neuromuscular disabilities?

What explains the reported 30-38 surgeries that Jerika experienced between ages 8 and 14? This number of surgeries is highly unusual for people with SMA Type II. Were these surgeries the source of her pain?

Were pain relief experts ever consulted to address Jerika’s pain? Why did she wait to take medication until her pain was at a level 8 or higher on a scale of 10, while pain management physicians advise taking medication much earlier, “nipping it in the bud” to prevent pain from reaching that level?

Regarding depression and emotional pain . . .

Given the well established ways that suicidal ideation in teens is addressed to prevent tragedy, what forms of counseling or support were enlisted to address Jerika’s desire to die?

Was any qualified professional trained in teen suicide prevention brought in to counsel Jerika? Were any professionals working with Jerika aware of studies finding that quality of life is not correlated with physical impairment or use of non-invasive breathing support?

From whom did Jerika get the idea that she could go into hospice and get assistance to end her life? She had reportedly spoken of this off and on for a few years. What were the motivations of any adult who gave such an idea to a child?

Was any qualified professional with a similar disability, someone familiar with the emotional issues facing a black, disabled, gay teen, brought in to counsel Jerika?

Regarding the systemic medical and legal issues . . .

Why do Wisconsin governmental authorities allow children with non-terminal disabilities to have their lives ended based on adult decisions to withhold medical care, while this is not permitted for non-disabled children?

What were the qualifications of the doctor who ordered hospice for Jerika? Was it the same doctor or facility that conducted the extreme number of surgeries?

Why would a hospice provider participate in ending the life of a child who is not terminally ill? Besides discontinuing Jerika’s nightly bipap breathing support, what additional steps resulted in her death after only 18 days from her scheduled entry into hospice?

Disability advocates who mourn Jerika’s untimely death would like these questions to be answered, but we’ve seen the media frenzy in almost exclusively one-sided applause for her suicide, no questions asked. Our grief at the tragedy of her loss is exponentially magnified by the certainty that the story told in the press will inspire others with disabilities and their parents to repeat this tragedy.

Those of us with disabilities dream of equality and justice. Jerika Bolen deserved better quality health care and the same suicide prevention that a non-disabled teen would receive. We ask one last question: What might have happened if Jerika’s request for a “last dance” had been met with overwhelming public and media encouragement to live instead of a massive thumb on the scale in support of her death?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Canadian letter writing: Protecting conscience rights for medical professionals

Dear Friends:

The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons has decided that physicians, who refuse to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide, must refer their patients to a physician who will kill their patient. They have decided that physicians do not have conscience rights.

Other provincial Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons are also debating forcing physicians to participate in assisted death by requiring them to refer patients for euthanasia or assisted suicide.

A recent article by two bioethicists argues that medical professionals do not have conscience rights.

Some physicians are saying that they will move to a jurisdiction that upholds conscience rights or retire from medicine, if they are forced to refer patients to death.

The Coalition for Healthcare and Conscience responded by launching a court case to protect conscience rights for medical professionals in Canada. We need to support our physicians.

Doctors in the Netherlands and in Oregon, where assisted death is legal, are not being forced to refer their patients for assisted death. Read: My personal story - The importance of trust between patient and doctor by an Oregon doctor.

We need you to write a letter about your concerns, fears or personal reaction to the attack on conscience rights for medical professionals.  
  • Are you concerned that you might be encouraged to die by assisted death when you are at a low time of your life?
  • Are you concerned that a friend or family member may die by assisted death, when they are at a low time of their life, even though they would normally not consider death by lethal dose?
  • Based on your health condition, do you fear subtle or overt pressure to assisted death?
  • Do you feel safer if your physician is not complicit with assisted death?
  • Do you believe that physicians conscience rights should be protected?
Other important points to consider:
  • Conscience rights for healthcare workers protect patients when they are living with depression and experiencing challenging health conditions.
  • Conscience rights provide health professionals with the legal and moral ability to provide caring options rather than killing their patient.
The letter needs to be simple and straight forward: 

(Sample Letter. Do not copy the sample letter) 

To whom it may concern. 
I am an elderly Canadian who is concerned that with the legalisation of assisted dying that I may someday be subtly pressured to die a premature death. 
My physician told me that he/she will not participate in euthanasia and assisted suicide. This comforts me.
Please protect my right to have a physician who shares my values.
You must sign the letter with your address, your phone number and your email address.

Send your letter to:
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Box 25033, London Ontario N6C 6A8

We will share them with the legal team who are working to protect conscience rights for medical professionals in Canada.

You can also save signed letter as a PDF and send it to

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Child euthanasia - The year they did the unthinkable.

This article was written by Paul Russell and published on the HOPE Australia website on September 20, 2016.

Paul Russell
Paul Russell is the director of HOPE Australia.

Hot upon the heels of the news that the first reported case of euthanasia for a minor took place recently in Belgium, comes the news from Holland that a 'centre for euthanasia in children' is expected to open in that country within 12 months. Dutch Health Minister, Edith Schippers earmarked 400,000 Euros in May this year for a study on the matter.

What is it they say about an inquiry? Never start one unless you know the answer beforehand?

The case in Belgium was announced to the world by Wim Distelmans who is head of the Belgian Euthanasia Evaluation Commission. Distelmans seems to be involved in all of the 'ground breaking' cases and is certainly something of a rockstar in his own country.

The initial reports did not mention the age of the minor concerned. Later reports said that the person was 17 years of age. Not that far from reaching his or her majority, one might say. But, prior to the law change in 2014, this euthanasia would have been entirely verbotten.

But even at that time, the initial wedge was beginning to widen further with at least one Dutch pediatric oncologist admitting that the pending changes would simply legalise what was 'already happening informally'.

There's a little more to the history of the question of child euthanasia that is sobering and worth considering.

Trudo Lemmens
Canadian Belgium-born Professor, Trudo Lemmens, notes that consideration was given in Belgium to the inclusion of euthanasia for children in the initial legislation in 2002. He says that, ‘children were explicitly excluded from the ambit of the original law because “it was deemed so controversial that including it may have threatened approval of the Euthanasia Bill.”’ He follows by noting that even the amendment to allow euthanasia for children that passed in 2014 was considered so controversial that it was amended at the last minute to also require parental approval so that its passage into law could be secured.

Loading even more, euthanasia for dementia cases was also mooted along with the 2014 Child Euthanasia discussion but also dropped, presumably because the debate in that area had not been sufficiently explored or, like in 2002, its inclusion may have jeopardised child euthanasia becoming law.

But wait! There's more. The Dutch have also been engaging in a public debate about extending euthanasia to people who consider themselves to have 'completed life'. Frustratingly, the debate has not been so much about whether or not this kind of category of people is acceptable for the lethal dose, but, rather about where the line should be drawn. Should it be at 80, 75 or 70 years of age? If any of this euthanasia history is anything to go by, those who write the bill will err on the side of caution for the sake of gaining the numbers on the floor of the parliament.

And so, any child in Belgium can request euthanasia - no age restriction, only parental consent required. One wonders, as many dissenting pediatricians and oncologists in Belgium also did, what that consent looks like and whether a small child can really understand the gravity of such a decision.

It remains to be seen what formula the Dutch will adopt. They already have a tiered approach with children over the age of 12 able to die by lethal injection with parental consent and children over the age of 16 with parental notification.

Neonates are also covered under the Groningen Protocol which allows for newborns with a disability to be euthanased. To my knowledge, this protocol has never been formally approved by the Dutch lawmakers and, in recent years, the number of children being killed this way has fallen significantly - mostly due, one suspects, to the advent of universal prenatal screening.

I wrote at the time of the Belgian child euthanasia debate about what I saw as the insurmountable difficulties inherent in a conversation with a child about euthanasia. If the Dutch media report is correct and the new approach will be accompanied by the creation of a 'centre for euthanasia in children', this adds significant difficulty, in my view, to any child's ability to process the idea of being made dead and to express his or her reservations.

Are we talking about what we would call a 'walk up' clinic where a sick child can be brought by his or her parents for a consultation? Are we talking about a facility with beds that a child may be moved to ahead of the 'procedure'? Who knows. Either way informed consent without coercion - implicit or explicit - cannot be guaranteed and, I believe, is not actually possible at all.

But consent has not been a primary concern in recent years in either country. It really is all about the elimination of suffering by eliminating the sufferer.

Monday, September 19, 2016

First reported Belgian euthanasia death of a minor.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

News reports about the first official euthanasia death of a "child" in Belgium emphasize that this lethal injection was an exceptional circumstance. Sadly this is not the first "child euthanasia." The Netherlands permits euthanasia of teens (12 to 16) with parental permission and euthanasia of newborns through the Groningen Protocol.

Once euthanasia becomes accepted in society, it is normal for it to extend to children, people with dementia and other people with conditions where consent is questionable.

In an interview for the Euthanasia Deception documentary, Lionel Roosement (below) spoke about a time he was walking in the park with his daughter in a wheelchair, when a stranger came up to them and said: Why have you not euthanized that child?

Legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide creates a belief that some lives are not worth living. 

Purchase The Euthanasia Deception documentary from the Euthanasia Prevetion Coalition for: $30 for 1 copy, $100 for 4 copies or $200 for 10 copies. You can pay online (link) or email EPC at: or call toll free: 1-877-439-3348.

The documentary is also available for rent or purchase online through Vimeo On Demand by going to the web site and click rent or download.

The 2015 Belgian euthanasia data indicates that the number of euthanasia deaths continue to increase. According to the Belgian media, in 2015, there were 2021 reported deaths by euthanasia, up from 1924 reported euthanasia deaths in 2014.

But Wim Distelmans, the chairman of the euthanasia commission reminded the media that they cannot say for certain the actual number of euthanasia deaths. Distelmans stated:

"Remember, there could be some euthanasia cases carried out but which are not declared so we cannot say for certain what the number is,"
Distelmans remarks are confirmed by research published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in March 2015 concerning the euthanasia practice in Belgium found that: 
  • 4.6% of all deaths in 2013 in the Flanders region were euthanasia. 
  • 1.7% of all deaths in 2013 in the Flanders region were hastened without explicit request.
According to the study nearly half of the euthanasia deaths were not reported and more than 1000 assisted deaths occurred in 2013 without request. 

More information:

Friday, September 16, 2016

Oregon doctor: My Personal Story – The importance of trust between patient and doctor

Dr. Kenneth R. Stevens, Jr. MD, Radiation Oncologist,
Professor Emeritus and former Department Chair, Radiation Oncology
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon
President, Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation
I have been following the experience with legalized physician-assisted suicide in Oregon since 1994. I have been a cancer doctor for 49 years in Oregon, where physician-assisted suicide is legal. I am Professor Emeritus and former chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Oregon Health and Science University. I continue to care for patients. 

My Personal Story – The importance of trust between patient and doctor

Dr Kenneth Stevens
I first became involved with assisted-suicide in 1982, shortly before my first wife, Shannon, died of cancer. We had just made what would be her last visit with her doctor. As we were leaving the office, he said that he could provide her with an extra-large dose of pain medication. She said she did not need it because her pain was under control. As I helped her to the car, she said “Ken, he wants me to kill myself.”

It devastated her that her doctor, her trusted doctor, would suggest that she kill herself. Six days later, she peacefully died in our home without pain, and with dignity. I learned how assisted suicide destroys the trust between patient and doctor. Patients want support from their doctor, not encouragement for them to take their life, or have the doctor or others cause their death.

Physician’s Role

Physician assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks. [AMA Principles of Medical Ethics.]
Dr. Leon Cass, MD, wrote: 
“Even the most humane and conscientious physicians psychologically need protection against themselves and their weakness and arrogance, if they are to carefully for those who entrust themselves to them. A physician-friend who worked many years in hospice caring for dying patients explained it to me most convincingly: ‘Only because I knew that I could not and would not kill my patients was I able to enter most fully and intimately into caring for them as they lay dying.’ My friend’s horror at the thought that he might be tempted to kill his patients, were he not enjoined from doing so, embodies a deep understanding of the medical ethic and its intrinsic limits.” 
[Cass, LR: “I will give no deadly drug”: Why doctors must not kill. In The Case Against Assisted Suicide, For the Right to End-of-Life Care, Edited by K Foley and H Hendin, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002, p 30.]


When a person expresses a desire to take their own life, society generally acts to protect him/her from committing suicide. However, when assisted suicide is legalized, society acts to assist that person in committing suicide. This is especially true for those who are seriously ill or have disabilities – they have lost society’s protection against suicide. The legalization of assisted suicide legally protects doctors who write prescriptions for lethal drugs, and family members who are involved. It is not designed to protect patients from others causing their death.

Assisted Suicide is Suicide – Beware of Deceitful & Dishonest Euphemisms

The strategies and methods of pro assisted suicide organizations are to use euphemisms. But assisted suicide is suicide. Both the Connecticut State Superior Court (June 2, 2010) and the New Mexico Supreme Court (June 30, 2016) have clarified that so-called “physician aid in dying” is assisted suicide and euthanasia.

Assisted suicide death certificates are falsified by assisted suicide doctors
In Oregon, doctors are instructed to put the underlying disease as the cause of death. But the reality is the person died from an overdose of drugs resulting in an assisted suicide. Doctors are directed to falsify the death certificate. This undermines transparency in the record and the ability to investigate suspicious overdose deaths.

Pain is Not the Issue

Both opponents and proponents of legalization of assisted suicide agree that pain is not the issue. Pain can be controlled. Uncontrolled pain in the terminally ill rarely occurs. In Oregon only a very small minority or patients dying of assisted suicide chose it because of fear of pain in the future. This was not because they were having current pain.

Assisted suicide encourages patients to throw away their lives. Assisted suicide is not necessarily for only those who are dying. Some patients with a prognosis of living less than six months may live much longer.

Photo of me with Jeanette Hall, 15 years 
after I talked her out of assisted suicide.
In Oregon, the assisted suicide law applies to patients predicted to have less than six months to live. This does not necessarily mean that they are dying.

In 2000, Jeanette Hall was my cancer patient. At our first meeting, Jeanette told me that she did not want to be treated, and that she was going to “do” our law, i.e., kill herself with a lethal dose of barbiturates. She had previously voted in favor of the law, and that was what she had decided. I informed her that her cancer was treatable and her prospects were good. She was not interested in treatment; she had made up her mind for the assisted suicide.

Her surgeon had previously informed her that without cancer treatment, she had only six months to a year to live, making her eligible for Oregon’s law. I asked her to return for weekly visits. On the third or fourth visit, I asked her about her family and learned that she had a son. I asked her how he would feel about her plan. A short time later she decided to be treated.

Five years later, Jeanette and I happened to be in the same restaurant. Excitedly, she came over to my table exclaiming, 
“Dr. Stevens you saved my life.”
For Jeanette, the mere presence of legal assisted suicide had steered her to suicide. She has now told me repeatedly that if I had believed in assisted suicide, she would be dead. (Link to article).

Patients may become eligible for assisted suicide by discontinuing treatment. For instance, a person with insulin-dependent diabetes may become eligible by discontinuing taking insulin.

I have treated many cancer patients who were told they had only a few weeks to a few months to live, who have lived much longer; some patients as long as 20 years after a “terminal” brain tumor diagnosis. See my paper: “Terminal Illness, What Does it Mean?” (Link to article).

Financial Incentive for Assisted Suicide

Barbara Wagner – “They will pay for me to die but won’t pay for me to live.”

In Oregon, the combination of legal assisted suicide and prioritized medical care based on prognosis has created a danger for my patients on the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid). First, there is a financial incentive for patients to commit suicide: the Plan will cover the cost of assisted suicide. Second, the Plan will not necessarily cover the cost of treatment. The story of Barbara Wagner was publicized in Oregon in 2008. She was informed that the Oregon Health Plan Insurance would not approve and pay for her lung cancer medication, but they would pay for Comfort Care, which included assisted suicide. She told the TV reporters, “Who do they think they are? They will pay for me to die, but won’t pay for me to live.” (Link to report).

As medicine becomes more politicized, you will lose your choice. Insurance companies and government bureaucracies will decide what treatments you may receive. You may not qualify for the treatment that you want and that may benefit you.

Depression is the leading cause of suicide

Depression is the leading cause of suicide. Depression needs to be diagnosed and properly treated with counseling and medications. Oregon researchers (Ganzini – British Medical Journal) in 2008 reported that 25% of Oregonians requesting assisted suicide were depressed. Yet, in the past 7 years less than 2% (14 of 574) of Oregonians dying of assisted suicide had a psychiatric evaluation.

Oregon has a real problem with its High Suicide Rate

Oregon's government pays for assisted suicide, but does not pay for adult suicide prevention

Oregon has a regular suicide rate that is 140% of the national average, and has increased 20% since 2000 (assisted suicide started in 1998). In spite of a recognized need in prior years for an adult suicide prevention program, the Oregon Health Authority reported in 2015 that they do not have funding for, or support for, an adult suicide prevention program. Oregon state government is paying for assisted suicides (like Barbara Wagner), but is not paying for adult suicide prevention. How do you justify suicide prevention in a state that has legalized assisted suicide? What message does legalization of assisted suicide send to those who are considering suicide because of life’s problems? (Link to article).

Legalization of physician-assisted suicide does not result in a decrease in regular suicides.

Researchers have reported last year that “legalizing physician assisted suicide has been associated with an increased rate of total suicides relative to other states and no decrease in nonassisted suicides.
(Jones DA, Paton, D. How does legalization of physician-assisted suicide affect rates of suicide?, South Med J. 2015; 108(10):599-604)

Lack of Oversight by Oregon Health Department

There is a serious problem with the Oregon Department of Health’s oversight of assisted suicide. Following a failed assisted suicide attempt in 2005 (David Pruiett), the Department of Human Services (DHS) stated that they had:
“no authority to investigate individual Death with Dignity cases – the law neither requires nor authorizes investigations from DHS“
Press Release from DHS on 3/4/2005”

The problems with the Oregon information is exemplified by the following: The 2011 year report (released in 2012) listed the underlying illness as “Unknown” for 3 patients. How can an “Unknown” diagnosis be terminal? Residence was “Unknown” for 3 patients. How can two doctors confirm that a patient is terminal when the diagnosis in “Unknown”. In the past 5 years (2009-2013) the prescribing doctor has been present for only 65 of the 574 (11%) assisted suicide deaths in Oregon. Yet, doctors are asked to describe what happened at that time. They have no knowledge. Doctors are not required to care for the patient once the prescription for lethal overdose has been written.

Abuses and Complications

When it is reported that there are no or few complications from assisted suicide in Oregon, the truth is that we don’t know the complication rate. The Oregon Health Department reported that of the 132 assisted suicide deaths in 2015, the complications were “unknown” for 105, two patients regurgitated (vomited), two had other complications (type not stated), and 23 had no complications. But complication information was “unknown” for 105 of those who died, because the physician or other health care provider was not present at the time of death.

Coterie of Insiders Runs the Program

The Compassion & Choices organization are associated with three-fourths of Oregon’s assisted suicide deaths. In Oregon in 2009, 57 of the 59 assisted suicide deaths were their clients. They know and control the information released to the public. The Oregonian newspaper editors correctly stated:
“A coterie of insiders runs the program with a handful of doctors & others deciding what the public may know.” 
The Oregonian newspaper editorial 9/20/2008.

As reported in The Oregonian newspaper in 2008, “The group promoting assisted suicide, so-called Compassion & Choices, are like the fox in the proverbial chicken coop; in this case the fox is reporting its version to the farmer regarding what is happening in the coop”, (Stevens, KR, Toffler, WL, Assisted Suicide: Conspiracy & Control, The Oregonian newspaper, 24 September 2008)

In Oregon patients are not getting the lethal prescriptions from their own doctor. They usually obtain the doctor information from Compassion & Choices doctors. Most of the prescriptions are concentrated in a small number of doctors.

From 2001 to 2007, 109 doctors (1% of Oregon doctors) wrote 271 fatal prescriptions for assisted suicide. Three doctors wrote 62 of those prescriptions (23% of prescriptions). Seventeen doctors wrote 165 of the 271 prescriptions (61% of prescriptions).
Hedberg, J Clin Ethics 2009:20:123-132

George Eighmey, C&C Exec Director, reported in The Oregonian newspaper in 2007 that he had been present and involved in over three dozen assisted suicide deaths; he is an attorney, he is not a doctor.

No safe harbor for patients

What is ahead for assisted suicide? What do proponents want? One of the things they want is no safe harbor for patients. They believe that doctors should be required to participate, or to have a duty to refer a patient to a doctor who will write a lethal prescription. They want no choice for doctors. Sue Porter, a leader of Compassion & Choices, has written in support of this policy. When I asked her why that “duty to refer” requirement was not written into the Oregon or Washington assisted suicide laws, she told me that the voters would not have voted in favor of the assisted suicide law. They use language to get the law passed, then they campaign to have the language changed to require doctors to participate, or to require them to have a “duty to refer” to a doctor who will write a prescription for lethal drugs.

In Summary

Physicians who care for patients should not order and direct their death through assisted suicide.

  • It is against medical ethics: “Give no deadly drug”.
  • It is too dangerous to give the power to kill patients to the medical profession
  • It is dangerous because of insurance company and government financial incentives.
  • It destroys the inherent trust between patient and physician.
  • It devalues the inherent value of human life.
  • It desensitizes us towards any type of suicide.
The American Medical Association

Thank you for the opportunity to testify in opposition to the legalization of assisted suicide.

Dr. Kenneth R. Stevens, Jr., MD

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Everyone to be organ donors in euthanasia Netherlands

This article was written by Wesley Smith and published on the National Review Corner on September 13, 2016.
Wesley Smith

By Wesley Smith

The Netherlands, along with Belgians, permit organ harvesting to be conjoined to euthanasia.

But now, Netherlands is moving to a system in which everyone is an organ donor unless they specifically opt out. From the Dutch News story
MPs on Tuesday gave a surprise thumbs up to a motion to establish a ‘yes unless’ system for donor organs in the Netherlands. 
If the draft bill goes on to become law, everyone in the Netherlands will be considered a donor unless they specifically request to be taken off the list.  
Non voluntary euthanasia is not unheard of in the Netherlands. It even has a name: “Termination without request or consent.” Technically against the law, it is almost never punished.

Now, consider a doctor–who has completely swallowed the euthanasia hemlock point-of-view–looking upon a “suffering” patient, believing his life to be not worth living, and thinking that he has some perfectly good and usable kidneys, liver, and heart available for other patients who could make better use of them. 

What could possibly go wrong?

New Zealand Medical Association states: Euthanasia - The risk is too great and the consequences are final.

Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The New Zealand government Health Select Committee is currently gathering evidence as it considers the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

According to Newshub the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA), representing 5500 medical professionals, stated that it opposes changing the law to allow euthanasia.

Stacey Kirk with Stuff New Zealand reported that Dr Stephen Child, chair of the NZMA said:
"the scope for error was too large when weighed against the outcome." 
"This is an irreversible decision in which the consequences are final."
Dr Child argued that doctors are not always right in forming a patient's prognosis. According to Newshub Dr Child said:
10 to 15 percent of diagnoses are incorrect, and three percent of diagnoses of cancer are incorrect," 
"We're not always right in diagnosis, and we're not always right in prognosis. 
"In principle and in practice, the association does not support a change in the legislation."
Dr Child told Stacey Kirk of Stuff New Zealand:
"We also believe in the right of the administration of... pain relief and other medications, for the purpose of relieving pain and suffering, even if the secondary consequence of that treatment may hasten death," 
"Decisions however are often influenced by circumstance, by fear of what the future might hold, by concern for loved ones and by societal expectations, which can cause direct and indirect coercion in decison-making."
Radio New Zealand, reported that Not Dead Yet Aotearoa stated to the health committee that:
people with disabilities suffered from negative attitudes, and voluntary euthanasia would add to that.
The New Zealand Parliament's Health Select Committee is hearing oral submissions based on receiving more than 1800 responses form New Zealanders and organisations on the issue of euthanasia, out of a record of 21,435 submissions.