Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Euthanasia: Conscience and Common Sense

This article was published by the Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia.

One of the most powerful reasons why people oppose euthanasia concerns the enormous significance of taking a human life. Doctors have historically made a solemn and specific professional commitment to respect the lives of those entrusted to them. But the Hippocratic Oath is in fact somewhat redundant, because the universal code of civilized human conduct, from the beginning of history — written and oral — is founded upon a general prohibition against killing. Whether in the religious formulation, “Thou shalt not kill” or in the first written codes of Mesopotamia (Hammurabi) 4000 years ago, this theme serves as a constant backdrop to the evolution of human social behaviour, culminating in our modern concept of physical security as an essential Human Right.

Clearly then, in the make-up of our highly social species there are natural propensities towards respecting, caring, helping and protecting one another, without which we could never have survived the infancy of our race. But there is also another side to this coin: it also seems that killing comes easily to us, and in fact, much too easily. In our biological origins, we are hunters and warriors. The human separation from other animals is often associated with our tool-making capacity, but our first– and most perfected – tools have always been weapons. In the private sphere, it has proven very difficult to prevent human beings from killing one another, despite recourse to the most extreme forms of punishment. In the public realm, history – not to mention current events – is filled with the proof of a human willingness to indulge in the very worst excesses of aggression and repression: killing on a huge scale to defeat the enemy in war; and (in authoritarian regimes) killing on an even grander scale to eliminate dissent. Moreover, it is demonstrably impossible for such horrors to exist without the collusion and willing cooperation of perfectly ordinary men and women: Horror is thus revealed to be perfectly ordinary.

This is the inescapable human moral condition, long recognized by the wisest among us: that good and evil, love and hatred, assistance and violence, compassion and mayhem, are but a knife’s edge apart; coexistent in every human breast ; capable of expression at almost any time. And, the only rampart which exists — between this and that — (if we exclude the divine), is the exercise of rational will, personal and collective, which allows individuals and groups to deliberately seek out the conditions for peaceful life in society.

Such has always been the sub-text beneath the evolution of what we call “civilization”. People were asked to interiorize and express certain essential human characteristics while sternly repressing others. Every political and religious force was brought to bear. All complexity was avoided with a most clear, simple creed. And despite all disappointments, real progress has indeed been made: Very few people today subscribe to the old subtlety of discourse concerning the rightness of privately killing this or that rival or neighbour ; the days when the Roman Paterfamilias could exercise complete and capricious capital authority over all legal non-persons ( children and slaves ) under his roof — are now long gone; and the infinitely varied informal killings current in our primitive prehistory are (if we except the inexpungable criminal element), even farther back in our historical mirror. All this is the result of sober thought based on regret for the past and hope for the future; the result of choice; the result of ever-renewed conviction and tenacity; the result of fixed intent. And after thousands of generations of careful repetition we truly had begun to accept that killing is wrong; to control our own passions and interests; to have confidence, even, that these shared values, defended by the force of law, would protect us, also, from the passions and interests of others.

And then there was euthanasia.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Euthanasia in Quebec: Theory meets reality.

This article was published by the Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia on December 21, 2017.

Prior to legalisation of “medical aid in dying” (active euthanasia), from the comfort of an abstract theoretical detachment, 48 % of doctors in the city of Laval QC said they would be willing to intentionally cause the death of a patient. Another third diplomatically gave “conditional responses”. In other words, even among the people sufficiently politicised to respond at that time, fewer than half would be willing to perform euthanasia under the present criteria.

And that was before the prospect became real.

“What we see is that providing medical aid in dying is more complex than we thought”, says Marie-Ève Bouthillier, director of the centre for ethics of CISSS de Laval and coauthor of a study of 61 Laval doctors who received 113 requests for euthanasia. Obviously. And it is a wonder that the ruling class managed to ignore that fact for so long.

Once the Act respecting end-of-life care came into effect, 77% of the doctors who received real requests from real patients discovered that complexity, and concluded that they could not stomach the thought of killing their patients.

What did we expect?

On the one hand, there is an absolutely instinctive and universal human horror and avoidance of death. And although many doctors have learned to work with dying people, the thought of actually killing someone takes suppression of natural instincts to a whole new level.

And on the other hand, we have a political fantasy that doctors (being told euthanasia has been redefined as a benign “medical treatment”) will suddenly be at ease with killing people. Dr. Bouthillier even expands on this wishful thinking by postulating initiatives to make the whole problem go away: “We need to provide training to make this practice more acceptable, to integrate it into doctors’ clinical work.” So what now? When the study authors realize they cannot just “re-educate” people into this practice, what then? Coercion?

Beyond the absurdity, there is a sinister dimension to this research and the agenda which is motivating it.

The only justification legally offered for a refusal to participate is “right of conscience”. But only 14 % of the doctors interviewed for this study were considered to have real moral objections. Therefore, the study seems to conclude, the others are refusing to kill people for no good reason.

Contrary to what some would have us believe, moral conscience is not the unique purview of established religion or traditional moral codes: it is universal. It is one of the many — and one of the most important – things that make us human.

What is the “moral burden” invoked by 59% of respondents, otherwise at ease with accompanying dying patients, if not an innate repugnance to the act of killing someone? The same repugnance at a societal level explains the “fear of stigmatization” mentioned by 27%. And the “lack of expertise” cited by 36% may well conceal similar reasons: it certainly has nothing to do with knowing how to give an injection.

What is the extreme emergency that would require us to convince – or coerce – all doctors to kill people on request? Do we really want doctors who no longer listen to their conscience, however that is defined? Do we really aspire to having a medical profession that cheerfully and unquestioningly carries out whatever political fashion may demand? Is this the best model the profession can offer to future generations?

It seems logical to us that the fewer doctors desensitized to killing, and the more who exercise their prudential moral judgment before jumping on the bandwagon, the better for all concerned.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Vermont assisted suicide report provides scant information.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Vermont Department of Health recently released the (May 31, 2013 to June 30, 2017) assisted suicide report. The report provides very little information about the actual conditions or reasons related to the assisted suicide deaths of Vermont citizens.

According to the data there were 52 lethal prescriptions written causing 29 reported assisted suicide deaths. The 23 remaining people who received a lethal prescription, 17 died from the underlying disease, 1 died from other causes and 1 person died from an unknown cause and 4 are assumed to be alive

Unknown cause means, that the Vermont Department of Health has no idea whether the person died by assisted suicide or natural death.

According to the report underlying diagnoses fall into the following general disease groups: 
▪ 83% of cases are Cancer (43 total cases); ▪ 14% of cases are ALS (7 total cases); and ▪ 3% are other causes. 

In 48 out of 52 prescriptions the death certificate is on file with the Vital Records’ Office.

The American College of Physicians recently passed a position opposing assisted suicide. A resolution opposing assisted suicide is currently being debated in Congress.

Legalizing assisted suicide gives doctors, the right in law, to decide whether or not your life is worth living. Doctors decide who receive the lethal prescription and the doctor who prescribes the lethal drugs self-reports the death to the Vermont Department of Health.

Legalizing assisted suicide creates new pressures upon people who are terminally or chronically ill and is a recipe for elder abuse.

The disability rights group, Not Dead Yet, argues that assisted suicide is discriminatory and a violation of the Americans with disabilities act. I agree.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Assisted Suicide: “Once we start up this ride, we won't be able to get off it”

This article was published by HOPE Australia on December 15, 2017

Federal Member for Perth Tim Hammond spoke out against assisted suicide, pointing to the dangers it could lead to and the need for more comprehensive palliative care.

Hammond had to watch his father die of a long-running illness when he was only 54, as well as his sister-in-law, who passed away from an incurable cancer at the age of 42.

He also worked as a lawyer on behalf on individuals with Mesothelioma. Having contracted the cancer from working with deadly asbestos dust, his clients usually only had around nine months to live. He worked to bring retribution to these individuals and their families.

Hammond articulately defends his position, citing the need for better palliative care and the danger of giving the same doctors who are supposed to save lives the ability to take them:

How do we reconcile the fundamental ethical obligation of our physicians not to be “involved in interventions that have as their primary intention the ending of a person’s life”, yet under this legislation, they are integral to the process of knowingly ending a person’s life prematurely?” 
There is a world of difference between a doctor not taking active steps to preserve the life of someone at the end stages of their disease and unequivocally ending another person’s life, which is what this legislation contemplates. 
… Perhaps the most troubling thing about the prospect of lawful euthanasia is that we don’t know where it will end up… I have a terrible feeling that once we start up this ride, we won’t be able to get off it.
He also states explicitly that he would have opposed the Victorian legislation.

It is a shame that the legislators in Victoria did not share Hammond’s view. However, it is encouraging to see an Australian politician that is willing to take a stand against assisted suicide, and protect the lives of vulnerable individuals.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Disabled lives are worth living. Euthanasia implies otherwise.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The New Zealand government is now officially debating a bill to legalize euthanasia. Today Stuff News published an excellent article by Claire Freeman, who writes from the disability perpective.

Claire Freeman
Freeman opposes euthanasia based on her personal experience. Freeman notes that the bill is not limited to people who are terminally ill. Freeman wrote:

However, the bill contains another clause which states that anyone with a grievous and irremediable medical condition will also qualify for euthanasia.  This is a very important aspect but seems to be often omitted. 
This "grievous and irremediable" definition covers many people, especially those with severe disabilities, and this is where my concern lies.
Freeman wrote about a time in her life when she was suicidal.
As someone who has attempted suicide more than once, I know at first-hand how it feels like to be in a state where death seems a legitimate and desired option. 
I blamed my condition - tetraplegia - for my poor mental health at the time, but in hindsight it was my misguided coping mechanisms that were the problem, along with a very stressful and unsupported lifestyle and work environment. 
I was driven to explore the option of euthanasia in other countries but the cost was prohibitive. Had that option been available in New Zealand, I would very likely have qualified because of the severity of my injury. 
At that time, I perceived that my life was not worth living, but that perception changed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

CBC airs propaganda programs promoting assisted death

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Sign the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition petition: Tell CBC to stop producing one-sided propaganda programs on assisted death (Link).

CBC is once again promoting euthanasia.

CBC radio's The Current aired the propaganda program "Will Pegg will die an assisted death. He couldn't feel more alive" on December 11 and CBC News aired the propaganda program "Parkinson's patient forced to battle bureaucracy around assisted death" on December 12.

The CBC radio program focuses on Will Pegg, who has bone cancer. This program normalizes euthanasia and details the assisted death process.

The CBC News program focuses on Nancy Vickers, who has Parkinson's. This television mini documentary is normalizing and promoting the extension of euthanasia to people who are not terminally ill and also airs the assisted death process.

The CBC Corporation, a Canadian federal Crown corporation, receives more than $1 billion in federal government funding.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) is concerned about the suicide contagion effect related to these recent CBC propaganda programs and their one-sided promotion of euthanasia.

Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated their guide: Preventing suicide: a resource for media professionals. The summary of the WHO guide states:
  • Don't place stories about suicide prominently and do not unduly repeat such stories,
  • Don't use language which sensationalizes or normalizes suicide, or presents it as a constructive solution to problems,
  • Don't explicitly describe the method used,
  • Don't provide details about the site/location,
  • Don't sensationalize headlines,
  • Don't use photographs, video footage or social media links.
These CBC media programs have broken nearly all of these guidelines.

Airing The Euthanasia Deception documentary will enable CBC to offer both sides of the debate.

Kevin Dunn, Director of The Euthanasia Deception and Fatal Flaws, responded to the CBC News program with this article: CBC Cameras roll as doctor gives lethal injection to patient.

Sign the petition: Tell CBC to stop producing one-sided propaganda programs on assisted death (Link).

CBC cameras roll as doctor gives lethal injection to patient

This article was published on the Fatal Flaws Film website on December 13, 2017.

By Kevin Dunn, the Director of the Fatal Flaws Film

Sign the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition petition to Tell CBC to stop producing one-sided propaganda programs on assisted death (Link).

Kevin Dunn
Last night, the CBC (Canada’s public broadcaster) aired a mini-doc about an assisted suicide party. It ended with (audio of) the doctor giving patient Nancy Vickers a lethal injection under the provisions of Canada’s “Medical Aid in Dying law”. Nancy had Parkinson’s disease.

Two years ago this doctor could have been charged with homicide under Canada’s criminal code. Today, he is lauded by the media as a trailblazer.

Link: Fatal Flaws Film: Legalizing Assisted Death (Early Preview).

Please understand I have incredible empathy for what Nancy was going through. Parkinson’s is a horrible, debilitating disease. I can understand why she would become so hopeless about her condition, so fearful of what was to come – that she would want to access Canada’s new law which allows for an assisted death under certain conditions. I get it. I truly do. A very dear family friend recently passed away (naturally) from a Parkinson’s related disease. It was heartbreaking to see her deteriorate and struggle as she did. I loved her dearly.

But this post is not about Nancy’s (so-called) right to an assisted death. Nor is it about my friend who died of her disease naturally. It is not about demonizing doctors – or anyone for that matter.

It is, however, about the underlying message that these stories send to the rest of society.

The headline reads ‘My life these days is hell on Earth and I don’t want to be here anymore’. With all due respect and compassion for how she felt at the time, it is the use of this headline scares the hell out of me. And it should scare all of us. Why? Each of us probably knows someone who has uttered similar words. Perhaps we have had thought them ourselves.

We can talk about safeguards and due criteria all we want, however the underlying motive is clear. Stories like this are about ‘normalizing’ the idea of having someone end our lives when we are facing significant suffering, fear, burden or depression. Or perhaps we become just ‘tired of life’. Am I crazy for suggesting such things? Look at the Completed Life bill in the Netherlands.

This is about a radical culture shift; one that society seems so eager to embrace.

Dr. Watkins (the doctor who gave the lethal injection) says about the law, “This is very progressive for us as a country.” Yet progressive by definition means ‘happening in stages’. We have to ask ourselves what these next stages might be – especially at a time when the current law is being challenged in radical ways.

Take for example the pressure to remove “reasonably foreseeable (death)” from the language of the law. And the request to extend the law to “mature minors” and those with psychological conditions. Are these indeed ‘progressive’ moves?

Kevin Dunn outside the Netherlands euthanasia clinic
How commonplace will euthanasia clinics, like the one pictured here in The Netherlands, be in North America in the near future? Will we be able to stop abuse and coercion in a society where healthcare costs are spiraling out of control? Which of us will soon become ‘disposable’ when our quality of life is deemed unworthy of support? These are not radical considerations. These are serious questions being asked by disability rights groups and advocacy groups in America and around the world. Not many realize there is a silent majority actively opposing such laws and who have been relatively successful in holding back a tsunami of legislation.

The CBC article quotes the doctor as saying to the patient “You know, of course, you can change your mind at any time, It doesn’t affect any of the medical care you get.” An appropriate measure given the irreversible decision about to be made.

Still, I wonder how these laws are going to affect the medical care and research available to us in the future, when assisted death becomes the ‘viable’ option. Already we’ve seen cases where insurance companies will not pay for life sustaining medication while suggesting they will indeed pay for an assisted death.

That’s why we are making this film. To consider what is happening in countries like The Netherlands, Belgium and USA – whose laws have been in place for some 15-20 years.

There is no doubt in my mind that doctors like the one in this story – in fact the entire pro-euthanasia lobby – truly believe they are doing ‘good’ and providing a ‘valuable’ service to those wishing to access assisted dying laws. I disagree with their logic but would never deny their perceived ‘good’ intentions.

No matter your convictions on this issue, I believe it’s time we ask ourselves the major philosophical question of our age: “Is it right to to give doctors – or anyone – the right and law to end the life of another human? And just as important, what do these laws do to the collective conscience of society over time?”

Please consider helping us fund this film.

-Kevin Dunn, Director, Fatal Flaws film

Poll: Widespread confusion about 'Assisted Dying" New Zealand

Wednesday, 13 December 2017, 11:36 am

A new Curia Market Research poll shows New Zealanders are confused about what ‘assisted dying’ even means.

“This groundbreaking poll challenges the validity of most other polls on the issue. It shows that support for euphemisms such as ‘assisted dying’, ‘aid in dying’ or ‘assistance to end their life’ should not be taken as support for a law change,” says Renée Joubert, executive officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ.

Link to the Press Release.

The more strongly a person supports ‘assisted dying’, the more likely they are confused about what it includes.

Of those who strongly support ‘assisted dying’:

  • 85% thought it includes turning off life support
  • 79% thought it includes ‘do not resuscitate’ (no CPR) requests
  • 67% thought it includes the stopping of medical tests, treatments and surgeries.
In all three cases a person would die from their underlying medical condition - of natural causes.

These ‘end-of-life choices’ are legal and people can make their wishes known via Advance Care Planning.

Dr Amanda Landers is a palliative care doctor in the South Island, caring for people with a range of life-limiting conditions. She also gives presentations to nurses, doctors and the general public.

She says that many patients, and even some doctors, are unaware that stopping life-prolonging treatment and medication is legal and ethically acceptable. This means the person dies from their underlying illness – which is completely different from an intervention which deliberately ends their life prematurely.

“I was caring for a man in his 60s who was on peritoneal dialysis. He thought he would be committing euthanasia/suicide by stopping it. This belief was weighing heavily on his mind as he thought it was morally wrong.

“Once I explained to him that stopping dialysis was acceptable and that it would allow a natural death from his underlying illness, he stopped it.

“His family was unaware of his fears of dying by suicide/euthanasia and that he wanted to stop the dialysis. It was a very emotional moment for them when they heard how he was feeling, but ultimately they supported him in his choice.”

ACT MP David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill proposes ‘assisted dying’ by administering drugs to end someone’s life, either by injection or ingestion through a tube (euthanasia) or by giving a lethal dose to a person to swallow or administer (assisted suicide).

There are subtle differences between suicide, assisted suicide and euthanasia: It’s suicide when a person ends their own life. It’s assisted suicide when a person receives help to access the means to end their life but then takes the final action themselves. It’s euthanasia when the final action is performed by another person.

Only 62% of the 894 respondents polled thought that ‘assisted dying’ includes receiving deadly drugs to swallow or self-administer (assisted suicide).

Only 68% of respondents thought that ‘assisted dying’ includes receiving deadly drugs by injection (euthanasia).

New Zealanders are significantly less supportive of the administration of lethal drugs to end someone’s life than the notion of ‘assisted dying’ as a whole.

After hearing which practices the proposed Bill would be limited to, support for ‘assisted dying’ dropped from 62% to 55%, opposition rose from 22% to 26% and unsure/refuse responses rose from 6% to 11%.

“We would expect public support to drop even further when people consider the wider implications and unintended consequences of euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation,” says Ms Joubert.

“A case in point is a 2014 UK ComRes poll which showed that public support for the Falconer Assisted Dying Bill dropped as low as 43% when people heard various arguments against changing the law or were provided with certain facts – for example the fact that six out of ten people requesting a lethal prescription in Washington State said a reason for doing so was their concern about being a burden on friends, family or caregivers.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Two years of euthanasia in Quebec: the facts

This article was published by Mercatornet on December 12, 2017

By Aubert Martin
The Canadian province is accelerating past Belgium
The law that legalized euthanasia in Quebec – under the euphemism “medical aid in dying” – came into effect exactly two years ago, on December 10, 2015. Many promises preceded its intrusion into our health system: that this would be an exceptional measure for exceptional cases, that there would be safeguards to prevent abuse, and that very strict criteria would protect vulnerable people. In any case, they told us, it was “first and foremost a law about access to quality palliative care throughout the province.”

Today, we have concrete experience, from right here at home, that allows us to respond to a crucial question: what are the facts after two years?

First of all, the statistics blew reassuring forecasts out of the water, so much so that, in the public discourse, exceptional measures rapidly transformed into a response to a need. In fact, while we were offered a hundred or so requests in the first year, the final result shows that 469 people died by euthanasia in 2015-2016, and 638 in the following year.

In comparing our numbers to those of Belgium (as a percentage of total deaths), we observe that the first year in Quebec corresponds to the sixth year in Belgium, and that our second year is between the seventh and eighth years following the Belgian law. This is to say that Quebec threw itself headlong into death as a solution to suffering.

With respect to the “safeguards”, it is already clear that they do not work. First, let us recall that these safeguards are based on a biased foundation: that of self-reporting. In fact, the physician who evaluates the patient and makes the diagnosis is also the one who causes the patient’s death, and the one who then completes the declaration form to explain to the oversight commission the conformity of his act.

Yet, despite this conflict-of-interest situation which works in favour of the people who administer the deadly injection, the Commission sur les soins de fin de vie (CSFV), in charge of evaluating the application of the law, concluded that there were 21 cases of abuse during the first year and then 31 cases of abuse in the following year. Needless to say, so many infringements put vulnerable people at great risk. However, the most dramatic failure came from the College of Physicians, which judged that “no case justified a punitive intervention.” In doing so, it opened the door wide to repeated violations of the law, justifying their impunity.

Meanwhile, these two years of euthanasia in Quebec have turned the exceptional measure into a promotable solution: safeguards became barriers to access, and the strict criteria – intended to protect vulnerable people – became cruel and discriminatory.

Unsurprisingly, we are also seeing strong pressure to expand access, particularly to people who are not at the end of life, who are unable or too young to consent, or who suffer from psychiatric disorders. By the same token, the tendency that is taking shape before our eyes is transforming euthanasia, originally sold as a personal choice – which nevertheless involves the whole of society – into a choice… for another person.

In conclusion, the facts show that, for the past two years, the situation in Quebec is falling increasingly out of control. Moreover, there has been no effective follow-up on access to palliative care as priority is given only to euthanasia. Thus, for the second year in a row, the Commission mentioned in its report that the “variability of reported information with respect to the number of individuals at the end-of-life who received palliative care does not allow for the processing of these data at this time” (CSFV Report 3.2.1).

Of course, once euthanasia has been sold as a benefit, a gesture of compassion and even a form of health care, this reversal of collective thought is far from surprising.

Yet as a young French writer recently wrote, better to fight so that the last caress of a physician to comfort a patient in her last anguish be by a hand that heals and not one that kills. And so that the last glance received be one of love, humanity, and life.

And while waiting for this salutary reversal, we should ask ourselves, in the light of the facts after two years of euthanasia in Quebec, what is the purpose of having a law, an oversight committee and criteria if it is optional to respect them?

Aubert Martin is the Executive Director of Vivre dans la Dignité (Living with Dignity), a Quebec-based organisation.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Woman attempted suicide based on a terminal illness had a wrong diagnosis

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Mya DeRyan
he story of Mya DeRyan is not just about gaining a second chance at life; it is also a warning to Canadians, now that euthanasia is legal, that some people with a misdiagnosis will die by lethal injection (euthanasia).

Jessica Lepp reporting for CTV News Vancouver Island stated in this incredible report that DeRyan, who thought she had a terminal illness, decided to die by suicide. But thankfully she survived. According to the CTV report:

On Oct. 30, DeRyan set the plan into motion. She left behind a book with pertinent information for her son and on top of it, a note that simply read "My body's in pain. My heart is full. It's time. I love you." 
She boarded a BC Ferries vessel travelling from Vancouver's Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay in Nanaimo. Halfway through the sailing near Bowen Island, she stripped down on a car deck and took the plunge into the icy water...
But...somebody saw her take the leap overboard and the search was on almost immediately. 
"Suddenly I hear an alarm and the announcement of man overboard, and all of the sudden the moment changed," she said.
DeRyan's life changed after that. According to the CTV report:
DeRyan spent about a week in hospital being treated for hypothermia, but that's when the next incredible part of her story materialized. 
Doctors gave her news that would change her life again – DeRyan's terminal diagnosis was wrong. She wasn't dying at all. 
"I think it was that moment, I was still in the hospital realizing there's got to be a plan, and there's got to be an intention," she said. "I feel like it's a new body. Any little malady I had is absolutely gone." 
With a new lease on life, DeRyan said time with her son is her first priority.
Based on her wrong diagnosis, DeRyan would have qualified for euthanasia. If it had been legal in Canada in October 2016, she might have died by lethal injection (euthanasia).

In April 2013, Pietro D’Amico, a 62-year-old magistrate from Calabria Italy, died by assisted suicide at a Swiss suicide clinic. His autopsy found that he had a wrong diagnosis.

The fact is that legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide directly threatens the lives of people who have received a misdiagnosis. 

Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Death by lethal euthanasia or assisted suicide can and will occur to people who have received a wrong diagnosis.

Another UK hospital will not provide baby with life-sustaining treatment nor transfer baby to a hospital that will.

This article was published by National Review online on December 7, 2017

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

Readers here may recall the infamous Charlie Gard case earlier this year. Charlie was a terminally ill baby with a progressive and terminal genetic disease. Charlie’s parents wanted to take their boy to a specialist in the US, but was refused permission by the hospital, later supported by a judge. Further, the hospital obtained a ruling that Charlie should be taken off life support, an imposition to which the parents eventually agreed after the US doctor said that with the passage of time, he could no longer help. 

Well, it is happening again–except in this case the baby isn’t terminally ill but has been unconscious for a year. Moreover, as I wrote here previously, there isn’t even a diagnosis as to the cause. 

An Italian children’ hospital has offered to take the child as a patient for further inquiries and treatment. But the UK hospital administration and doctors are not only saying NO, but as in the Charlie Gard case, also seeking a court order allowing them to withdraw life-sustaining treatment. From the Echo story
Ader Hey Children’s Hospital has applied to the High Court to switch off life support for a baby in a coma, the ECHO understands. 
Alfie Evans’s family said they were now in a “living nightmare” after the hospital said they had exhausted all options in trying to diagnose and treat his mystery brain condition. 
It comes shortly after his parents Thomas Evans and Kate James, both 20, said that months of searching they had finally found a hospital abroad that was willing to take him; 
But a letter to them, seen by the ECHO, shows Alder Hey are opposing the move to an Italian children’s hospital – and are stepping up the battle over Alfie’s life by taking the matter to court. 
Let us focus on the wrongness of this. 
  • Alfie has not been diagnosed; 
  • The baby is not terminally ill in the sense that Charlie Gard was, but in a coma; 
  • The family has found another hospital willing to continue care, or at least continue to seek a diagnosis; 
  • If Alfie is unconscious, he is not suffering; 
  • The hospital, in essence, wants a court to declare that dying now is better than being severely cognitively disabled for an indeterminate period. 
  • By resisting the transfer, the hospital administration and doctors are essentially declaring that they do not want the child to have any chance of surviving. 
The UK’s laws are different than here in the USA. The technocracy there has greater power, and parents have fewer rights over their children. 

In fact, I think power is what this and the Charlie Gard case are ultimately all about. Otherwise, why not allow the parents to try other potential avenues of care? Why not give Alfie a shot? 

The fact that refusal of transfer would probably not happen here, should not make us complacent. We have our own medical technocrats who want greater power over patient care or withdrawal thereof. 

P.S. Alfie’s parents have established “Alfie’s Army” Facebook Page for those who may be interested.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Irresponsible media articles promote Nitschke and suicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

"Dr Ted"
I am shocked by the media promotion of Philip Nitschke's new suicide device. Nitschke is being compared to prominent persons and his suicide device is being promoted as an easy and painless death. 
A previous death device was sold by Nitschke through a fake beer brewing company.

Nitschke lost his medical license in Australia for providing suicide instructions to people with mental health issues and to a man who was suspected in the death of his wife

Nitschke has been a world-wide euthanasia promoter for many years and is connected to pro-suicide counseling service that included a youth suicide counseling component where he encouraged young people to contact him with the image of a teddy bear known as "Dr Ted."

It is one issue that Nitschke is so cavalier about providing pro-suicide counseling and advice; it is another issue that the media are promoting his suicide device and ideology.

Last year the World Health Organization (WHO) updated their guide: Preventing suicide: a resource for media professionals. The summary of the WHO guide states:
  • Don't place stories about suicide prominently and do not unduly repeat such stories,
  • Don't use language which sensationalizes or normalizes suicide, or presents it as a constructive solution to problems,
  • Don't explicitly describe the method used,
  • Don't provide details about the site/location,
  • Don't sensationalize headlines,
  • Don't use photographs, video footage or social media links.
Most of the media reports have broken all of these guidelines in their report about Nitschke's death machine.

A Psychiatrist sent me an email with the following comment about Nitschke's death machine:
This is a terrible development (particularly for our psychiatric patients).
I share the concerns of my Psychiatrist friend and I recognize that many suicidal people are not receiving the psychiatric or social support that they need and may feel compelled to contact Nitschke. Nitschke is a disturbingly dangerous man.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Former California politician charged with assisting the suicide of his wife.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Steven Clute, a former member of the California Assembly, was charged with assisting the suicide of his wife, Pamela Clute. Pamela Clute died from a gun shot wound on August 21, 2016 at their home. Her husband stated that the suicide was related to her severe pain.

According to the Associated Press article:

Steve Clute, 69, a former Navy pilot who served as a Democrat in the state Assembly from 1982 to 1992, allegedly gave her the handgun she used to take her life, John Hall, spokesman for the Riverside district attorney, said Monday.
The Clute assisted suicide trial may test the limits of the California assisted suicide law.

The Associated Press article stated that Steve Clute was not present at the time of his wife's death. Even if this is true, according to the law, it doesn't matter. 

The California Penal Code 401 - Aiding, Advising or Encouraging a Suicide states that it is a crime to: advise or encourage someone to commit suicide.

There were no independent witnesses at the time of the death.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Assisted suicide: Definition of "self-administer"?

Margaret Dore
By Margaret Dore, Esq.

Is Self-Administration Enforceable?
Victoria Australia's deceptively named Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill uses the term, "self-administer," at least 30 times.[1] Indeed, self-administration of the lethal dose was a major selling point of the bill, to convince the public and Parliament that patients would be in control.

But, the term is not defined.

When a term is not defined, a court or other interpretative body will often look at how the term is used in other jurisdictions.

In the US, Washington State's similar law also uses self-administer, which is defined as the "act of ingesting." Washington's law states:

"Self-administer" means a qualified patient's act of ingesting [the lethal dose] .... (Emphasis added).[2]
With this definition, a patient's mere ingestion of the lethal dose is sufficient to comply with Washington's law, for example, if the patient absorbs the dose via a patch while she's sleeping.[3]

With Washington's law having an actual definition of "self-administer," it would not be unreasonable for an Australian court or other interpretive body to adopt the definition. If so, the purported "safeguard" of a patient having to actively administer the lethal dose to himself or herself will be unenforceable.

* * *
[1] Victoria's bill can be viewed here.
[2] Washington's law, § 70.245.010(12), states in its entirety: "Self-administer" means a qualified patient's act of ingesting medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner.
[3] “Ingest” means: "to take (food, drugs, etc.) into the body, as by swallowing, inhaling, or absorbing."


This article was published on the Choice is an Illusion Australia website on December 4, 2017.