Thursday, April 27, 2017

970 reported assisted deaths in Canada (2016)

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Health Canada released an interim update on medical assistance in dying on April 26. The report indicates that there were 970 reported assisted deaths. The data was based on a full year in Québec and 6.5 months (June 17 - Dec 31) in the rest of Canada

There were 463 reported assisted deaths in (Québec, Yukon and Nunavut) and 507 reported assisted deaths in the rest of Canada. Out of 507 assisted deaths there were 504 euthanasia deaths (lethal injection) and 3 assisted suicide deaths (lethal prescription).

There may be more assisted deaths. According to the report, not every province has a legal requirement to report assisted deaths while Nunavut and the Yukon territories did not submit information based on privacy concerns and the small number of assisted deaths.

The 970 reported assisted deaths represented 0.6% of all deaths in Canada. Other than Québec, where there were 463 deaths in the full year, these deaths occurred in 6.5 months (June 17 - Dec 31). The percentage of assisted deaths is highest in British Columbia, where there were 188 assisted deaths, where they have two euthanasia clinics, as compared to 189 assisted deaths in Ontario.

The number of assisted deaths is high compared to Belgium where there were 235 reported assisted deaths in its first full year (2003), 349 in its second full year and 393 in its third full year after legalization. Currently Belgium is approximately 1/3 of Canada's population.

Recently CBC news reported that there were more than 1324 assisted deaths up to March 31. The CBC news data did not include all of the assisted deaths in British Columbia and it did not include Québec assisted deaths since December 31.

The Netherlands recently reported that there were 6091 reported assisted deaths in 2016 representing 4% of all deaths. Based on the current number of assisted deaths, it is possible that Canada will surpass the Netherlands and Belgium.

The euthanasia lobby are pressuring to have euthanasia extended to people with mental illness, people who are under 18 and for people who are incompetent, but who stated in their advanced directive that they would want to die by euthanasia.

Ontario is the only jurisdiction that is forcing physicians, who oppose killing their patients, to effectively refer their patients for euthanasia. 

Doctors should not be forced to refer their patients for euthanasia.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Dutch concern with international scrutiny of euthanasia law.

Paul Russell published this article on the Hope Australia website on April 25 under the title: The Dutch Mouse that Roared.

Paul Russell
Paul Russell, the Director of Hope Australia.

Public challenges to the zeitgeist on euthanasia are rare in the Netherlands. The practice of deliberately killing patients in Holland has a long history reaching back more than thirty years. The Dutch, like their Belgian neighbours, have grown used to the idea. Promotion of the practice through sympathetic propaganda on prime time television and even a euthanasia film festival a few years ago have served the agenda to normalise the practice.

This has lead some commentators to suggest that everything is going just fine and dandy in the Low Countries, supposing that the cultural acceptance of euthanasia is a sign that the practice is entirely under control. The lack of political opposition has been cited by the likes of Peter Singer in an attempt to confirm this. This is thinking in a bubble: it ignores the realities that what is legal becomes broadly accepted as being moral and that repeal or reform is incredibly difficult in such circumstances.

But opposition does exist and has always existed. Principally held by disenfranchised voices, there is nevertheless significant disquiet in many quarters; exemplified by the public declarations of people like Professor Theo Boer who once supported the Dutch law but has changed his mind under close observation of developments in recent years.

One would think that, in such circumstances and in a society noted for its tolerance, that the occasional roar of a mouse against the zeitgeist would be simply noted and then largely ignored. Not so if the recent declarations by the Reformed Political Party (SGP) at their annual convention are anything to go by.

The SGP is Holland's oldest political party. Confessionally Calvinist, they have been a consistent yet very small player in the Dutch Parliament currently holding three seats in the Dutch House of Representatives (out of 150) and being one of thirteen parties in that chamber.

At their national convention this week in Hoevelaken, party leader, Kees van der Staaij, took the SGP's longstanding opposition to Dutch Euthanasia Laws to a new level. Van der Staaij wants to fuel the international concern about Dutch euthanasia through the production of an English language documentary on Dutch euthanasia practice so as to engage the international anglophone media.

"Van der Staaij says people are shocked abroad when he says that it is used in the Netherlands (for) euthanasia on people with mental illness and dementia. He also claims that this happens "without being able to explain at the time that they really want, and without a court is involved." (see, for example, the recent Dutch nursing home dementia case)
The Dutch Euthanasia organisation NVVE are not amused. But instead of ignoring the SGP commentary - as would any rational organisation confident of its position and confident that such a call would simply fade into obscurity - the NVVE and others have fought back in the media. Is there something to hide here? Is the NVVE cultural reign on shaky ground?

The NVVE railed against the SGP in the Dutch media claiming that they are putting Dutch euthanasia policy in a 'deliberately bad light'. Full marks there. Spokesperson, Dick Bosscher cited support from 'sister' organisations around the globe to somehow claim that the international opinion of the Dutch death regime is somehow positive.

Another commentator, Rik de Jong, claimed that van der Staaij had 'crossed a line' by seeking to expose the Dutch regime internationally. Somehow, according to de Jong, it is acceptable for the SGP to hold a Christian perspective on the issue and to make a 'constructive contribution' to debate; but clearly not to rattle the cage internationally: keep 'the opinion of foreign conservatives outside'!

So what's the problem? If everything is above board, if there are no problems, if there are no abuses, surely there is a robust defence of the Dutch euthanasia laws from within the polity and the public that can stand such scrutiny?

Maybe not!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Not Dead Yet activist testifies against Maine assisted suicide bills.

This testimoney was given by disability rights activist Michael Reynolds from Not Dead Yet to the Maine government committee concerning the assisted suicide bills. This was originally published by Not Dead Yet.

Not Dead Yet activists
My name is Michael Reynolds, I live in Lewiston, ME and strongly urge you to vote to oppose LD 347 and 1066, both laws that would permit assisted suicide in this state. As a disabled activist who has worked on this issue on state, national and (strangely) even internationally, this law with it’s sugarcoated title “Death with Dignity,” has been defeated eight times previously in this state, and is only before you today due to a non-profit . . . funded by out of state money, using a flawed law that has been disastrous in Oregon, with zero oversight if a doctor doesn’t use safeguards in the bill. In fact, why have safeguards if Doctors and the providers are given blanket immunity, and a teenager in our state would face greater penalties possessing Cannabis than a licensed medical doctor would with a botched assisted suicide.

And “Terminally ill” certainly has an interesting definition in LD 347, one that states that a person qualifies for a terminal prescription if the condition is “an incurable and irreversible disease that will, within reasonable medical judgment, result in death in six months.” There is no mention of whether the condition can be controlled by medication, nor any exclusion for an individual whose condition can be controlled by medication. People who have epilepsy, . . . or even have diabetes could be theoretically allowed to die under the proposed language in LD 347. Additionally, in the [Oregon state Death With Dignity Act] report . . . diabetes was given as an underlying terminal condition that, in Oregon, made the patient eligible for a lethal prescription. These two laws undermine the basic values of community and inclusion in our state.

In 2016, Oregon Public Health Division, “Oregon Death with Dignity Act: 2015 Data Summary,” a state publication that provides detailed analysis of how the state’s law is used year to year, published that less than 4% of patients who received a lethal dose of medication were referred to a psychological evaluation, making the risks of allowing someone with uncontrolled mental illness or depression are not only potential fears, they are actual realities in states where “choice” for “terminally ill” individuals have been law for twenty years. Additionally since 2000, the suicide rate for Oregon is 41 percent above the national average, according to Oregon Health Department.(1) In 2013, Portland, OR suicides were three times the national average, according to information reported by the Oregonian.(2)

Our state has one of the best Hospice networks in the nation. Maine people have fought to give access to much needed palliative care and therapy [through] . . . Maine Hospice providers, including the use of Medical Cannabis in Hospice facilities. The Maine Medical Cannabis program has helped an untold number of thousands of Maine individuals, from children to adults, receive locally grown, safely grown and regulated medical marijuana from nearly two thousand caregivers or eight dispensaries. Maine has the highest rated medical marijuana program in the country according to Americans for Safe Access, a pro-cannabis national nonprofit.

Interestingly, the people who are pushing for passage of this law point to control and compassion as reasons to support this law, yet the reality is much more complex than that. Under both proposed laws, as soon as the prescription is filled, the law is remarkably silent about the administration of the lethal medication. There is no exception for a pharmacist who may feel uncomfortable filling a lethal prescription for ethical or religious convictions. For anyone who thinks this will be simply taking a few pills and drifting off to sleep, that’s not how the process works. According to the Oregon Public Health Division . . . Secobarbital [is] the default drug to “die with dignity.” The therapeutic dosage of Secobarbital is 100 to 200 mg or one to two capsules taken orally. When a patient is given a lethal prescription of Secobarbital they are given 90-100 capsules, told to empty the contents of the capsule in a sweet tasting liquid, like ginger ale and then, drink the liquid. . . . The lethal dose of Secobarbital can cost anywhere from 1,500 to 2,300 dollars. The cocktail can take anywhere from 2 hours to four and a half days to kill a patient (3), the drug does not always work; people have had to be revived after vomiting the solution.

Finally given the past few weeks in which people have been concerned about their health care and with real issues affecting access to health care, and even critical treatments such as organ transplants becoming a political issue, now is not the time for this law.




Monday, April 24, 2017

Suicide is a symptom of mental illness - not a cure for it.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

I have been struggling with my possible response to the suicide death of Adam Maier-Clayton (27) who died by suicide, allegedly, after being told that he did not qualify for euthanasia in Canada. Clayton was asking for euthanasia based on psychological suffering.

Andrew Lawton
On April 21, radio personality Andrew Lawton responds to Clayton's death based on his own experience with chronic depression and suicide that was published by Global News. Lawton said:

This idea that suicide is dignified and painless is a dangerous one. Take it from someone who tried and failed. 
Nearly seven years ago I overdosed on dozens of pills — causing multiple cardiac arrests and weeks in hospital on life support. 
I survived, but only narrowly so. 
Everything from the method to the date and time was meticulously thought out.
I picked the day because I didn’t have any other appointments scheduled — as though missing a meeting would have been the only problem with my plan any other day. 
Suicidal people are irrational. This is true even when decisions appear to be made through logic and reason. 
I saw suicide as the answer to pain I was convinced wouldn’t abate. 
It wasn’t just about picking the easy way out of an unpleasant situation — it was the only way. I saw no way my life would improve. 
Spoiler alert: it did. 

Lawton then explains that his life soon changed:
Like Maier-Clayton, I had tried myriad therapies, medications, and treatment throughout my years-long battle with depression. By the time I tried to pull the plug on my own existence, none had made an impact. 
But after the attempt, that changed. Healing didn’t happen overnight, but things that hadn’t worked previously showed positive results. 
My circumstances didn’t change, but my outlook did. 
When discussing assisted suicide, mental and physical illness can’t be lumped into one category. 
Assisted suicide activists say those with mental illness are being denied the right to die with dignity just as elderly ALS patients were before the Supreme Court struck down the ban on physician-assisted death in 2015. 
Exit International founder Dr. Philip Nitschke, who worked with Maier-Clayton in the lead-up to his suicide, maintains the young man was of completely sound mind to make the literal life and death decision. 
“Yes he was suffering. Yes he had a mental illness. But did he have rational decision-making abilities? Absolutely,” Nitschke told me. “And I would challenge anyone to have been able to find any flaws in his thinking.” 
Being a pretty good debater, I’m sure I could have sold my own suicide given how convinced I was that it was the right call. That wouldn’t have made it any less flawed a conclusion. 
Despite my illness, I functioned in the world in such a way that most people didn’t even realize there was a problem. I worked, engaged and had relationships with others. I appeared normal, despite not thinking normally. 
When illness is in the mind, rather than the body, it calls any decision into question — an irreversible one all the more so. 
Maier-Clayton’s family experienced a powerlessness that most could never imagine, seeing such suffering in a loved one and not being able to fix it. 
The role of health-care practitioners is to try — not to enable one’s disordered thinking by killing them. State-sanctioned death doesn’t help the mentally ill — it robs them of a chance for healing. 
In 2010, no one could have told me happiness was possible. Today, I am married to the love of my life, working in a successful career, and able to look forward each day — all just a few years after I signed my own death warrant. 
Suicide is a symptom of mental illness — not a cure for it.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways for getting help if you, or someone you know, is suffering from mental health issues.

Ezekiel Emanuel: Euthanasia case not so compelling.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Ezekiel Emanuel
Ezekiel Emanuel, chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania was published in the Medical Journal of Australia recently under the title - Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide: focus on the data.

Emanuel, who is an oncologist and bioethicist, examines the data from three points of view. First: euthanasia and PAS are rarely used when legal. Second: Pain is not the primary reason why people ask for euthanasia and assisted suicide. Third: euthanasia is not necessarily flawless, quick or painless.

First: Emanuel examines the data from the Netherlands, Belgium and the US States where assisted suicide is legal and concludes:

These data mean that the claim that legalising euthanasia and PAS will help solve the problem of poor end-of-life care is erroneous. Euthanasia and PAS do not solve the problem of inadequate symptom management or improving palliative care. These interventions are for the 1% not the 99% of dying patients. We still need to deal with the problem that confronts most dying patients: how to get optimal symptom relief, and how to avoid the hospital and stay at home in the final weeks. Legalising euthanasia and PAS is really a sideshow in end-of-life care — championed by the few for the few, extensively covered by the media, but not targeted to improve the care for most dying patients who still suffer.
Second: Emanuel examines the data from jurisdictions where it is legal and he states:
It is commonly thought that patients in excruciating and unremitting pain would want these interventions. Many healthy people believe that pain would be the reason why they may want them; however, evidence suggests otherwise.
Emanuel continues:
If not pain, then what motivates patients to request euthanasia and PAS? Depression, hopelessness, being tired of life, loss of control and loss of dignity. These reasons are psychological — they are clearly not physical pain — and are not relieved by increasing the dose of morphine, but by antidepressants and therapy. In the states of Oregon and Washington, the reasons for wanting PAS were: 90% of patients reported loss of autonomy, 90% were less able to engage in activities that make life enjoyable and 70% declared loss of dignity — depression and hopelessness are not listed and are not included in the reporting list. ...However, when researchers from the Netherlands — who were convinced that the main rationale was pain — interviewed patients who requested euthanasia, they found that few of the ones using euthanasia were experiencing pain, but most were depressed.
Emanuel concludes:
Indeed, in the states of Oregon and Washington, less than 4% of patients who had PAS had a psychiatric consultation. In Belgium, where an independent physician needs to be consulted for non-terminal cases, in 42–78% of cases that physician is a psychiatrist. Since psychological reasons dominate, one would think that requiring psychiatric evaluation would be a reasonable safeguard before providing euthanasia or PAS. Therefore, we need to think very differently about what drives people to want euthanasia. The picture most people have of patients who are writhing in uncontrolled pain despite morphine is simply wrong.
Emanuel then examines the concept that euthanasia is quick and easy. He states:
According to a study in the Netherlands from 2000, 5.5% of all cases of euthanasia and PAS had a technical problem and 3.7% had a complication. An additional 6.9% of cases had problems with completing euthanasia or PAS. Technical problems, including difficulty finding a vein and administering oral medications, occurred in 4.5% of euthanasia cases and in 9.8% of PAS cases. Moreover, 3.7% of euthanasia cases and 8.8% of PAS cases had complications, such as nausea, vomiting and muscle spasms. Overall, an additional 1.1% of patients who had euthanasia or PAS did not die but awoke from coma. The data suggest that the common view of euthanasia and PAS as quick, flawless, and painless ways to die is unrealistic.
Emanuel then concludes his article by stating:
When considering this evidence, the case for legalising euthanasia and PAS looks less compelling. They will not improve the care of many dying patients, they are not helping people in pain and enduring inadequately treated physical symptoms, and are far from quick and flawless. What is then the great impetus to legalise interventions to end lives for a small minority of patients who are depressed, worried about losing autonomy and being tired of life? 
We should end the focus on the media frenzy about euthanasia and PAS as if it were the panacea to improving end-of-life care. Instead, we need to focus on improving the care of most of the patients who are dying and need optimal symptom management at home.
Emanuel's research on euthanasia and assisted suicide is solid.

Euthanasia turns the culture upside-down.

The following news report was published by OneNewsNow on April 24, 2017.

The head of an anti-euthanasia group says one of the unsatisfactory results of the euthanasia movement is creating pressure for people to make that choice as if it's a good thing.

An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association takes a look at euthanasia in Belgium and the Netherlands from the standpoint of organ donations. But although the practice has only been legal in Canada for a year, organ donations from patients who have been euthanized are already occurring.

Alex Schadenberg
Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition tells OneNewsNow his concern is the culture shift.
"What happens is people start saying to you, 'Well, why aren't you giving your organs for organ donation?' But then the other big change that occurs after that is that you then soon have organ donation by euthanasia," he warns. "So that is the next thing that happens, because why should you wait for the person to die to take their organs?" 
And over time, the ethics of the culture changes. 
"We have a situation where people are viewing everything in an upside-down fashion, so now euthanasia's become a good thing rather than a sad situation," says Schadenberg. "And we're creating more and more pressure, and they're saying, 'This is all about choice and autonomy,' but in fact this is about pressuring people who are going through a difficult time in their life to have their life ended by lethal injection."
The idea is to convince society that euthanasia is good. Moreover, a recent study in Canada suggests that the country can save over $135 million a year by euthanasia deaths, again suggesting euthanasia is a good for society.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Nitschke encouraged Adam Maier-Clayton suicide.

This article was originally published by Hope Australia on April 22, 2017.

Paul Russell
By Paul Russell

Anyone who has ever sat on an awards committee knows well that there are standards to be met. Make the award too easy to attain or provide it to someone who has not met the criteria and the currency of the award is diminished. Raise the bar too high and no-one applies.

At Exit International they must have ridiculously low standards. Exit boss and former medical doctor, Philip Nitschke recently awarded his so-called 'Peaceful Pill Prize' to an elderly Australian couple essentially because the woman concerned recently cried a patronising 'bullshit' at Professor Margaret Somerville on an Australian National current affairs program.

Nitschke claimed that Mr & Mrs Fellows' comments were 'forthright' and 'a significant contribution to the Australian Euthanasia debate'. Crass and undignified more like it!

There was a time when everyone understood that to raise one's voice or to swear in the context of a debate was to lose the argument. Maybe not so much nowadays; after all, the show's presenter, Tony Jones said that the 'bullshit' comment was 'refreshing' which seemed to me, at the time, to be a ringing endorsement of Mrs Fellows' sentiment.

Nitschke's endowment upon the Fellows', it seems, was no accident either. He admits that the couple are members of his Exit organisation and exemplars, one suspects, of Exit's new militant wing, Exit Action. Is it just me or does anyone else reason that Exit is synonymous with militancy; so why the need for tautology? If the Fellows' have set the standard perhaps we can expect more of this revolting behaviour as other card-carrying Nitschke-ites vie for the same prize.

So, what do the Fellow's gain for their inglorious moment? Steak Knives? Champaign perhaps? No. 'Two redeemable vouchers for 12mg packages of pure sodium pentobarbital (nembutal).' I suppose an alternative might have been a lifetime membership, but I digress.

The award ceremony will surely raise the interest of Border Protection & Customs Police. But, of course, Nitschke's not stupid: "As possession of this drug in Australia is illegal, the details of the delivery of the prize will be kept confidential. Delivery will be by unconventional means" said Nitschke. He added that the prize would amount to a 'safety net' for the Fellows - how bizzarre.

The Fellows, by their own admission are not unwell but simply don't want to live in a nursing facility in their decrepitude. None of us does, really, let's be honest. That's an issue that many of us will face; but few, I suspect would want to try to foister upon society a euthanasia regime with all its attendant and irretrievable risks simply for the sake of getting our own way. That's tyranny clothed as autonomy.

The Fellows may not have thought that through. Maybe they are unaware of the trail of grief created by Nitschke's 'collateral damage' in the deaths of young people via Exit methods; young men like Lucas Taylor, for example.

But people who are used to getting their own way don't necessarily consider much else in the drive for autonomy. The well, well-off but worried have a very blinkered view re-enforced by the Nitschke mantra of rationality.

Such was the assurance given by Exit's youngest member-now-statistic, Adam Maier-Clayton who died by suicide recently in Canada. 27 year old Maier-Clayton had some significant mental health issues yet claimed to be entirely 'rational'.

According to one report, he suffered anxiety, mood disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder and tried all sorts of remedies and relief to no avail; difficulties that should not be discounted. He spent the last few months campaigning for the inclusion of mental illness within the scope of Canada's new death legislation, arguing that it is not only those who are near death suffer refractory symptoms.

In January he posted a picture of himself wearing an Exit T Shirt with an image of Nitschke emblazened across it, saying that he was, 'rocking his Exit International Official membership' adding that he felt that he was 'absurdly rational' and should not be excluded from Canada's death laws.

Notwithstanding Mrs Fellows' expletive, just because someone can engage in a process of thought does not necessarily make them truly rational. It is not necessarily thought processes that suffer through depression, unremitting pain and the like; it is, in my own experience, the connection with others that diminishes - the threads that bind us to each other. In other words, the context of one's life can seem strangely distant. Blurred by pain, remove the context of care, of family of future from the equation and thought - even seemingly rational thoughts - and logic becomes an untrustworth guide.

So explained columnist, Andrew Lawton recently in the Canadian Global News:

"This idea that suicide is dignified and painless is a dangerous one. Take it from someone who tried and failed. 
"Nearly seven years ago I overdosed on dozens of pills — causing multiple cardiac arrests and weeks in hospital on life support. 
"I survived, but only narrowly so. 
"Everything from the method to the date and time was meticulously thought out. 
"I picked the day because I didn’t have any other appointments scheduled — as though missing a meeting would have been the only problem with my plan any other day. 
"Suicidal people are irrational. This is true even when decisions appear to be made through logic and reason. 
"I saw suicide as the answer to pain I was convinced wouldn’t abate. 
"It wasn’t just about picking the easy way out of an unpleasant situation — it was the only way. I saw no way my life would improve. 
"Spoiler alert: it did. 
"Like Maier-Clayton, I had tried myriad therapies, medications, and treatment throughout my years-long battle with depression. By the time I tried to pull the plug on my own existence, none had made an impact. 
"But after the attempt, that changed. Healing didn’t happen overnight, but things that hadn’t worked previously showed positive results. 
"My circumstances didn’t change, but my outlook did."
It must surely be amongst the very last things that a society would want to have to someone like Nitschke telling suicidal people that their desire for death is 'rational'. It's an endorsement. Like euthanasia & assisted suicide, it runs counter to suicide prevention.

Likewise, telling those who understandably fear their demise that they have a 'way out', that, effectively, they don't need to address their fears nor find a path through them to a fulfilling life inspite of them, is reckless.

But these are precisely the messages that euthanasia and assisted suicide laws send - with the added weight of government approval. We need to learn not to reward bad behaviours and bad ideas.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

More than 1324 euthanasia deaths in Canada since legalization.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Nicole Ireland with CBC news reported that there have been more than 1324 euthanasia deaths in Canada. The CBC article that promotes euthanasia states:

more than 1,300 people in Canada who have died with medical assistance since the option became law. For most of the country, that's been less than a year, as Bill C-14 governing medical assistance in dying passed on June 17, 2016. Quebec legalized medical assistance in dying six months before that, on Dec. 10, 2015. 
Although CBC News has counted 1,324 medically assisted deaths in Canada through data requested from health ministries and coroners' offices in each province and territory, the actual number is likely higher, as some provinces were unable to provide up-to-date information.
According to the CBC data, there were more than 1324 euthanasia deaths, since the data from Québec, British Columbia and New Brunswick is not up-to-date. 

The article also quotes Amy Hasbrouck speaking on behalf of the disability rights group, Not Dead Yet:
"This is very personal for me," says Amy Hasbrouck, who is legally blind and speaks for Not Dead Yet Canada. "These are public policy decisions that end up sacrificing the lives of old, ill and disabled people."

Normalizing medically assisted death, these advocates say, sends a message that the life of a person who is ill, disabled or elderly is not worth living. The government should instead be investing in improving the quality of their life, they argue, by investing in better supports for people with disabilities, as well as better palliative care.
Amy Hasbrouck is the President of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Netherlands recently reported that there were 6091 reported assisted deaths in 2016 representing 4% of all deaths. Based on the current number of assisted deaths, it is possible that Canada will surpass the Netherlands and Belgium.

It is also concerning that the euthanasia lobby are pressuring to have euthanasia extended to people with mental illness, people who are under 18 and for people who are incompetent, but who stated in their power of attorney document that they would want to die by euthanasia.

Health Professionals opposing euthanasia require conscience protection

Helen McGee (left)
Dr Novosedlik (right)
Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Medical professionals in Ontario are urging the provincial government to recognize their right to conscientiously object to participating in euthanasia and assisted suicide (MAID). Physicians and other medical professionals in Canada formed the Coalition for Healthcare and Conscience to protect their conscience rights.

Dominik Kurek interviewed a palliative care doctor and a mental health nurse for the Scarborough Mirror concerning their work protecting conscience rights in Ontario.

Natalia Novosedlik is a palliative care doctor who believes that euthanasia and assisted suicide are contrary to her role as a physician. The Mirror reports:

“I really feel we’re here to heal and to support people. To me that can’t include ending life,” she said. 
“I feel that if I were to make a referral and directly be responsible for engaging a patient in a process which has the potential to lead to their life being ended, that to me is a form of active participation in the act of ending a life.”

Helen McGee is a registered nurse who works with people who are living with mental illness. The Mirror stated:
Helen McGee who has provided care to people suffering from mental illness is concerned what MAID laws could mean for her patients. Mental illness alone is not enough to qualify a person for MAID, but mental illness and another disease, such as cancer, is. She worries that future amendments to the law could allow for mental illness to be the sole reason for MAID.
Novosedlik and McGee both presented to the Ontario government committee urging the government to include conscience rights in Bill 84, the bill to regulate euthanasia in Ontario.

More articles on this topic:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Shedding Light on Assisted Suicide in America

The new Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) pamphlet - Shedding Light on Assisted Suicide in America (Shedding Light) counters the myths that assisted suicide laws are safe. Shedding Light explains how the assisted suicide laws in Oregon and Washington state work and why they provide no effective oversight.

Order Shedding Light for $35 for 100 copies, $90 for 300 copies or $150 for 600 copies (plus shipping and taxes) by contacting the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) at: or by calling 1-877-439-3348.

Featured stories in the pamphlet:
Dr Charles Bentz, a doctor in Oregon, describes how his depressed patient died by assisted suicide. From personal experience, Bentz proves that the depressed people are dying by assisted suicide in Oregon. 
Kathryn Judson, an Oregon resident, wrote that she was afraid to leave her husband alone with doctors and nurses after a doctor gave her husband a "sales pitch" for assisted suicide. Judson's story undermines the myth that assisted suicide requests are based on a person's "free choice." 
Dr Ken Stevens with Jeanette Hall
Jeanette Hall, an Oregon resident, in 2000 was diagnosed as terminally ill and she wanted to die by assisted suicide. Hall is thankful to Dr. Kenneth Stevens because he encouraged her not to give up. Jeanette is happy to be alive. Assisted suicide steers people with years to live to suicide.
Attractively designed and easy to read, Shedding Light explains how the assisted suicide laws work, how these laws are abused and why assisted suicide is wrong.

The fears that lead someone to consider assisted suicide are real and legitimate. We believe that a caring society offers real answers to these concerns. A caring society assures that each individual is properly cared for, not abandoned in their time of need.

We support a society that cares for its citizens, not kills them.

Order Shedding Light for $35 for 100 copies, $90 for 300 copies or $150 for 600 copies (plus shipping and taxes) by contacting the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) at: or by calling 1-877-439-3348.

Maine Governor LePage says he will veto assisted suicide bill.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Governor Paul LePage, of Maine stated that if passed he will veto the assisted suicide bill.

Governor LePage
According to the Portland Press Herald Governor LePage told a local radio show that he is against assisted suicide.

“I’m against it,” he said Monday during a radio interview on WVOM’s “George Hale and Ric Tyler Show.” Asked if the bill is destined for a veto, LePage said, “Yes. Here we are talking about death with dignity and we’re sitting there, human beings, passing judgment on who can live and who can die. No, I don’t believe in it.”
The Portland Press Herald reported that:
The primary bill, “An Act to Support Death with Dignity,” is scheduled to be discussed by the members of the Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday. A second ... bill, “An Act to Promote Life with Dignity,” also will be discussed Wednesday. The two bills are similar and will likely be combined before the committee votes to send its recommendation to the full Legislature. 
The outlook for passage has been uncertain. A similar proposal failed in 2015 by a single vote in the Maine Senate. 
However, LePage’s promise of a veto means the proposal now needs the support of two-thirds of the House and Senate, and it would require Republican supporters who vote for the bill to also vote to override a LePage veto.
Legalizing assisted suicide gives physicians the right in law to be directly involved with ending a patient. We believe in caring and not killing people.

The push to allow euthanasia for the mentally ill in Canada.

This article was originally published on Wesley Smith's blog on April 18, 2017,

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

Euthanasia/assisted suicide is NOT about terminal illness. The issue is about normalizing killing as a response to human suffering. 

Sure, the initial sales pitch would restrict doctor-administered or prescribed death to the dying. But that’s just to get people comfortable with the concept. Once a society accepts the principle, logic quickly takes it to a broad euthanasia license. 

Canada is a prime example. Before the Supreme Court imposed a national euthanasia right on the country, the debate was all about terminal illness. But now that euthanasia is the law throughout the country, the push is on to allow doctors to kill the mentally ill who ask to die. 

The Globe and Mail’s pro-euthanasia health columnist, André Picard uses the suicide of a mentally ill person to push that agenda. From, “The Mentally Ill Must Be Part of the Assisted Suicide Debate:” 
We should not discriminate or deny people rights because it makes us queasy or because of our prejudices. This case reminds us just how severe mental illness can be. “Non-existence is better than this,” Mr. Maier-Clayton said. “Once there’s no quality of life, life is akin to a meaningless existence.”  
Opponents of assisted death argue that those who suffer from mental illness cannot make rational decisions, that they need to be protected from themselves.  
But we’re not talking about granting assisted death to someone who is delusional, or suffering from psychosis or someone who is depressed and treatable. The suffering has to be persistent and painful, though not necessarily imminently lethal. 
I would hasten to add, as defined by the suicidal person and regardless of ameliorating treatments that could be administered. But anyone who is suicidal believes his or her suffering is unbearable. Otherwise, they wouldn’t want to die. 

This ever-broadening death license is only logical. If killing is indeed an acceptable answer to suffering, how can it be strictly limited to people diagnosed with a terminal illness? After all, many people suffer far more severely and for a far longer time than the imminently dying. 

The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and now Canada, demonstrate that over time, it won’t be. 

Meanwhile, California has a regulation requiring state mental hospitals to cooperate with assisted suicide for their involuntarily committed patients with terminal illnesses–despite supposed protections in the law for those with mental conditions that could affect their decisions. 

Meant to be compassionate, assisted suicide is actually abandonment most foul. Compassion means to “suffer with.” Euthanasia is about eliminating suffering by eliminating the sufferer

Or, to put it another way, euthanasia endorses suicide. It’s not choice, it is the end of all choices. 

In any event, this is the debate we should be having. Whether one agrees or disagrees with my take, surely as we in the USA should debate the issue with intellectual integrity and honesty. 

But we won’t because pro-euthanasia forces know they would lose. The obfuscating claim that assisted suicide will only be about the terminally ill for whom nothing else but death can eliminate suffering is just the spoonful of honey to help the hemlock go down.

Killing by lethal injection. A psychological torment.

This article was published by Living With Dignity Quebec on April 18, 2017.

Who said that medical aid in dying is not killing? When one uses the right words, logic and common sense do the rest:
Medical aid in dying = lethal injection = euthanasia = killing = psychological torment for executioners & psychological torment for doctors.

Killing (medical aid in dying / euthanasia / assisted suicide) is not a health care.

"Unlike the “kill or be killed” mindset in war or other forms of self-defense, carrying out executions felt very much like participating in premeditated and rehearsed murder. Either from religious training (“thou shall not kill”) or established societal norms, every person knows that taking a human life is one of our culture’s most serious offenses. It exacts severe mental trauma - even when done under the auspices of state law." (Link)
Dr. Ault, former commissioner of the Georgia, Mississippi and Colorado Departments of Corrections.

Euthanasia: The stakes are insanely high.

By Charles Lewis

Most people reading this article are probably opposed to euthanasia. Your involvement maybe nothing more than talking to friends and neighbours about the dangers of our new world. You may have spoken about euthanasia, signed petitions, sent the letters or supported conscience rights.

Whatever you do helps. But in the not-too-distant future we are all going to have to ramp up. As many of you know Health Canada has struck a committee to add "mature minors" and those with mental illness to the categories of people who can legally be killed by their physicians. They are also considering allowing Canadians to put their death requests in a living will. The committee will report back by December 2018.

I wondered why so long to wait. The only answer I can come up with is that by then more Canadians will have simply become used to living in a death-mad country.

On April 17, a story appeared in the Globe and Mail about a tragic young man who lived with mental illness. He could not access euthanasia so he killed himself by suicide. The point of the story as I can best tell was not his tragedy but more about the need to extend euthanasia to people with mental illness.

I will bet that the recommendations will be accepted and likely by 2019 those categories will be included. Interesting that they are not looking at chronic pain -- something of a hobby of mine. But really they don't have to. Chronic pain can create great emotional stress which can easily turn into depression. But I won't be surprised that after Trudeau and his pro-death friends get teens and mentally ill in they will expand to chronic pain and perhaps even a category of just dying for the hell of it.

This is an awful future to contemplate but believe it or not there maybe a reason for optimism. Maybe, just maybe, this new move might worry many Canadians who have shrugged their shoulders at legalized euthanasia. Maybe when they start to think of their 20-year-old sons or daughters killing themselves because they are depressed about being dumped by a someone they love or failing to get into medical school might start to alarm otherwise passive Canadians. Maybe their son or daughter lives with chronic depression?

We are going to have to increase our efforts and make this spectre known, to prove to others, who do not feel the way we do, that maybe it is time to scream NO.

It will also mean that we are going to have to make sure that religious institutions do not dawdle. Warnings from the pulpit are going to have to come early, not one month before the committee reports.

This maybe our only real chance to stem the tide. We must not blow it. The stakes are insanely high.

Charles Lewis is a former editor with the National Post. He is currently a columnist with the Catholic Register.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Netherlands 2016 euthanasia deaths increase by another 10%

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Dutch News reported that the number of reported assisted deaths increased by 10% in 2016 to 6091 reported assisted deaths, representing 4% of all deaths in the Netherlands up from 5561 reported assisted deaths in 2015. There were 5875 euthanasia deaths and 216 assisted suicide deaths.

Since 2006 there has been a 317% increase in assisted deaths in the Netherlands.

There were increases in euthanasia deaths based on dementia or psychiatric reasons. There were 141 people who died by euthanasia based on dementia in 2016, up from 109 in 2015. There were 60 people who died by euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in 2016, up from 56 in 2015. There were also 244 people who died by euthanasia based on "advanced age."

In 2016, there were 10 cases referred by a Regional Euthanasia Control and Evaluation Commission for investigation.

Every five years the Netherlands conducts a major study on euthanasia. The 2010 study that was published in the Lancet (July 2012) indicated that 23% of all assisted deaths were unreported in the Netherlands. If this trend continued, that may have been 1400 unreported assisted deaths in 2016.

Netherlands euthanasia news stories in 2016:

In January 2016, the Netherlands decided to extend euthanasia to people with severe dementia

A study published on Feb 10, 2016 in the Journal of Psychiatry concerning euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in the Netherlands uncovered significant concerns. According to researcher Scott Kim:

in one EAS case, a woman who died by euthanasia was in her 70s without health problems had decided, with her husband, that they would not live without each other. After her husband died, she lived a life described as a "living hell" that was "meaningless." 
A consultant reported that this woman "did not feel depressed at all. She ate, drank and slept well. She followed the news and undertook activities."

In May, the Netherlands euthanasia clinic lethally injected a woman who was sexually abused as a child.

In October, the Netherlands government stated that it planned to extend euthanasia to people who are not sick or dying but claim to have a "completed life." Recently, the Dutch Medical Association opposed changing the euthanasia law.

In November, a Dutch journalist reported that he was writing a book about his brother who died by euthanasia based on chronic alcoholism.

In January 2017, a Regional euthanasia Review Committee decided that a forced euthanasia on a woman with dementia, where the doctor sedated the woman by secretly putting the drugs in her coffee and then had the family hold her down to enable the lethal injection, did not follow the rules but found that it was done in "good faith."

The Netherlands euthanasia law continues to expand. Once the law allows one person to kill another person, then the line has been crossed and the only remaining question is - who can be killed?