Friday, May 31, 2019

Canada's Parliament debates Conscience Rights Bill C-418

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Petition supporting Bill C-418 to protect conscience rights (Link).

Bill C-418 is sponsored by David Anderson MP to protect conscience rights for healthcare professionals who oppose Medical Aid in Dying (euthanasia and assisted suicide).

The debate began at: 5:30 pm on May 29, 2019 (Link to the Hansard of the debate). The video of David Anderson's speech is above.

The Liberals clarified the euthanasia law while the NDP came out against conscience rights Bill C-418.

Mr. David Anderson (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, CPC) moved that Bill C-418, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

David Anderson MP
Madam Speaker, the first thing I would like to do is to thank the many people across Canada who have shown up to work on this bill. It has caught on across the country. It has restored my faith in the good judgment of Canadians and, hopefully, we will see that same good sense shown in the House and we can have some restored faith here as well.

I am here today to speak to Bill C-418, which is the protection of freedom of conscience act. I need to point out again that I am surprised at the way this has caught on and caught the attention of the Canadian public. We should thank many Canadians and groups for whom this is an important issue for their work on publicizing and advancing conscience rights in Canada.

To begin to understand Bill C-418, we need to back up a bit. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms has a number of sections in it. Section 1, of course, guarantees our rights and freedoms. However, immediately following that is section 2, which declares the most fundamental rights, and that begins with freedom of conscience and religion. In 2015, the Carter decision in the Supreme Court said that although section 7 of the charter provides for the right to die, it also explicitly said that no one is required to participate in or be part of it.

We then came to Bill C-14, the government's assisted suicide bill. It is a bill that attracted much attention and controversy and laid out the groundwork for the first round of assisted suicide legislation in Canada. Whether they call it euthanasia, medically assisted dying or assisted suicide, they are all different names for the same thing. Medical practitioners were divided on the issue of participating in ending the lives of Canadians. Whether we supported Bill C-14 or not, it was clear that many within the medical community were very concerned. They did not and still do not want to participate in this activity.

When Bill C-14 was passed, it included subsection 241.2(9) which did say, “For greater certainty, nothing in this section compels an individual to provide or assist in providing medical assistance in dying.” That was not adequate because it did not lay out an offence, there was no framework for it and there was no penalty in Bill C-14 if someone violated that. It ended up being nothing more than a statement in Bill C-14.

While the Liberal talking points have repeated this, and the Liberals also claim that everyone has freedom of conscience and religion under section 2 of the charter, this is not the reality that medical personnel are facing across Canada. In spite of the fact that on the surface the charter, Carter and Bill C-14 supposedly agree, the reality is that physicians and medical personnel in this country are being pressured to participate in something with which they fundamentally disagree and there is no protection provided to them.

Conscience forms the basis of medical professionals' motivation to pursue their particular field. Doctors practise every day with the knowledge that it is their conscience that motivates them to test the limits of their knowledge and skill. Medical professionals know that patient care will suffer if they are deprived of the ability to live with integrity and to follow their consciences. They know the importance of these beliefs to them and their patients better than anyone else.

For a great many Canadian doctors, the core of their conscience prohibits their participation in taking a life. Indeed, many doctors remain devoted to the black and white of the ancient Hippocratic oath, a pledge that prohibits the administration of a poison to anyone. Through the availability of assisted suicide on demand across Canada, threats to conscience are no longer confined to the theoretical or to the rhetoric of the courtrooms. They are increasingly present in the examination room as well.

That is why I believe it is time to take action in defence of conscience rights that have stood the test of time for generations. Therefore, Bill C-418 seeks to amend the Criminal Code to do two things.


The first is to make it an offence to intimidate a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional for the purpose of compelling them to take part, directly or indirectly, in the provision of physician-assisted suicide.

The second provision makes it an offence to dismiss from employment or to refuse to employ a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional for the reason only that they refuse to take part, directly or indirectly, in the provision of physician-assisted suicide.

My bill would provide the teeth that Bill C-14 acutely lacks. The Liberals' attempt to provide protection for doctors consisted solely of a rudimentary clause, which stated, as I said earlier, that nothing compels someone to provide or assist. However, the provision lacked the teeth needed for its effective enforcement, as evidenced by the ongoing pressure that is being exerted on physicians, particularly by their regulating bodies.

I guess the question is whether these protections are really necessary, and I would say that they are. Throughout the legislative process, I have spoken to doctors who feel overt pressure to leave family medicine because of their conscientious beliefs. I have heard of palliative care doctors in Ontario who have stopped practising altogether. Nurses who feel increasingly bullied are choosing to shift their focus or retire early. I have had personal conversations with people who work in old folks' homes who explain they do not want to participate in this but are increasingly feeling pressured to do so. The pressure on these professionals exists and they are looking for relief.

What is more, regional associations such as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario have introduced regulations compelling conscientiously objecting physicians to participate by providing what they call “effective referrals” for physician-assisted suicide. A recent court decision has upheld this directive, contravening the assurances provided in Carter v. Canada and creating an even more urgent need among physicians for protection. This is in spite of the fact that in this situation in Ontario I am told that the majority of physicians support an allowance for conscientious objections, but the college has not taken that position.

As strange as it sounds, the recent court decision refers to the college's suggestion that if physicians do not like to participate then they can find other areas of medicine to take up. This is unusual, particularly in a situation where we have such a shortage of physicians and medical services. The college suggests that if they do not like participating they can take up things like sleep medicine, hair restoration, sport and exercise medicine, skin disorders, obesity medicine, aviation examinations, travel medicine or perhaps become a medical health officer.

For many of us across this country, particularly those of us in rural areas, we know there is an increasing lack of physicians in an increasingly challenged medical system. I find it passing strange that the college would be the one suggesting such a thing for its physicians. The answer does not have to be to do it, find someone else to do it or get out of medicine. Medical personnel and resources are scarce. Why would one try to force people into doing what they believe to be wrong? The example of the province of Manitoba and its conscientious objection legislation shows there does not need to be compulsion in the medical system when it comes to this issue.

My bill does not address the social acceptability of euthanasia and assisted suicide; that is not the point of it. Protecting physicians' conscience rights is not at all a physicians versus patients scenario. By protecting physicians' conscience rights, patients' rights are enhanced. Bill C-418 is about protecting the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed to all Canadians in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Parliamentarians from all parties cannot ignore the groundswell of support this bill has received from average Canadians who believe it is time to stand up for doctors and health care providers who are not willing to leave their core ethics behind when they are at a patient's bedside. This is not theoretical. I have had photos sent to me of the revolving TV screens that we see in hospital wards, with pictures of what seems to be a physician's hand gently resting on the arm of a senior citizen, touting assisted suicide as a medical service whereby physicians or nurse practitioners help patients fulfill their wish to end their suffering and a phone number is provided. Interestingly, it makes no mention of palliative care or other ways to reduce pain and suffering. It makes no mention of access to counselling.

With government, the courts and health care facilities promoting access as a right, should not those who object be allowed to have that fundamental freedom of conscience that is so important?


I want to close with a quote from “The Imperative of Conscience Rights” by the CRFI. They write:

The outcomes of the current controversies that engage freedom of conscience will not only signal the extent to which Canadians can conscientiously participate in public life—in other words, whether they can live in alignment with who they are and what they stand for in matters of morality. These outcomes will also speak volumes about who we are and what we stand for—as a society. Suppressing beliefs with which we disagree or that we find offensive in the name of tolerance and liberalism is a contradiction in terms. The fact that the state has deemed something legal does not remove a person’s freedom to express her moral opposition to it. This freedom is not absolute, but its roots—integrity, identity, and dignity—are necessary for human flourishing. These roots must therefore be top of mind whenever limitations on freedom of conscience are proposed. We believe that governments should only limit this human right if there is a compelling justification.

Scott Sims MP (Lib)
Scott Sims MP (Lib) Asked Mr Anderson - what is the response of the Canadian Medical Association to this issue.

David Anderson (MP) (CPC) responded that the Ontario Medical Association supported conscience rights but that the policy requiring physicians to do an "effective referral" was from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO). Mr Anderson then explained that the province of Manitoba has legislated conscience rights for healthcare professionals.



Murray Rankin MP
Murray Rankin MP (NDP) Asked Mr Anderson - Can Bill C-418 be squared with the Ontario Court of Appeal decision that required physicians to provide an "effective referral" when asked for euthanasia.

David Anderson MP (CPC) responded: I believe that we can. It has been done in other places across the country, but there are numerous ways that people can come to information about assisted suicide or medical assistance in dying. There are certainly a number of options open as to how they might access that information. The question is whether physicians are obligated to refer that, to provide that, or if they can opt out and give them another way to find that information. We believe that is very possible.

John Nater MP
John Nater MP (CPC) asked Mr Anderson to highlight some of the correspondence he has received on the bill.

Mr Anderson MP (CPC) responded:

Madam Speaker, the interest in this bill has been surprising to me... It has been surprising to me how people have taken this on. There is an onslaught of petitions coming into my office every day and I am passing them on to my colleagues as well so that they can understand the interest that people in their ridings have in this issue.

People generally want to be fair to other people and allow them to have the capacity to operate off of the things they believe in. Every single one of us has a set of beliefs. We have a right to operate under our set of beliefs ... In this situation, we should be giving medical professionals, who operate every day from a sense of conscience in what they do, the opportunity to do that.

Rob Oliphant MP
Rob Oliphant MP (Lib) asked Mr Anderson: If it comes down to a patient's right or a physician's right, which would the member choose?

Mr Anderson MP (CPC) responded:
Madam Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, there are a number of options for people to find the information they need. There are many doctors and facilities that will provide this service if they want it, but there are other doctors and medical personnel who do not feel that assisting in someone's premature death is a part of the mandate of what they have been called to as physicians or medical personnel.

There are enough choices out there that people can have and we can allow those who disagree with this procedure to have their freedom of conscience and be able to live their professional lives in that fashion.

Arif Virani MP
Arif Virani (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (Lib) delivered the speech on behalf of the government. He essentially stated:

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today to Bill C-418, the protection of freedom of conscience act. The bill proposes to create two new Criminal Code offences, an “intimidation offence” as well as an “employment sanctions offence”. Those offences would seek to protect health care professionals' freedom of conscience by prohibiting the use of intimidation to compel practitioners to provide medical assistance in dying and by prohibiting employers from dismissing practitioners for refusing to take part in medical assistance in dying.

...Providing medical assistance in dying is a gesture with the most serious of consequences. Some health care practitioners view it as an important part of their practice that relieves a patient’s intolerable suffering when approaching death. Others view it as contrary to their conscience, religious beliefs or their professional role. Other health care practitioners might support the availability of medical assistance in dying in principle but simply not wish to be involved in the practice themselves. Our government supports and respects all of these different viewpoints.

...With the utmost clarity in this regard, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights adopted an amendment to what was then Bill C-14, adding a new subsection 241.2(9) to the Criminal Code of Canada that clearly states that nothing in the medical assistance in dying provisions compels health care professionals or practitioners to participate in medical assistance in dying.

It is also critically important, since we are debating constitutional law, to keep in mind that paragraph 2(a) of the charter protects freedom of conscience and religion and guards against unjustified government interference in one's religious beliefs and freedom of conscience. We know that. The law reflects that. The Carter decision of the Supreme Court of Canada incorporated that. I will read part of paragraph 132 of the majority decision in Carter, which says that “nothing in the declaration of invalidity which we propose to issue would compel physicians to provide assistance in dying”. Those words entered Bill C-14 and were further strengthened by the amendment proposed by the justice committee and voted on in Parliament.
(Bill C-418 recognizes that C-14 stated that nothing compels health care professionals or practitioners to participate in medical assistance in dying, the question at hand is what constitutes participation.)

Arif Virani MP (LIB) then referred to the regulations that were instituted by the Minister of Health on November 1, 2018 and the five year review of the euthanasia law that will begin in June 2020.

Murray Rankin MP
Murray Rankin MP (NDP) delivered the speech on behalf of the NDP.

Rankin explained that the NDP oppose Bill C-418. He stated:

We must oppose this bill. We are concerned that it creates a loophole whereby health professionals could deny a referral to a patient seeking medical assistance in dying

...However, what is equally important is that there be the ability, always, for the patient to exercise his or her constitutional right to avail themself of medical assistance in dying. In a contest between a physician and that patient, the law is crystal clear. It is the patient's right that must prevail. I will come back to that in a moment

...In a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision in 2019, a judge found that the rights of the patient must prevail over the rights of the physician. There must be what the Ontario court terms an “effective referral”

...We believe that coercion and intimidation are always wrong. However, it is important we keep the balance that was carefully struck in this Parliament when we took the step of creating a regime for Canadians to avail themselves of their constitutional right to medical assistance in dying in certain circumstances. We should keep that balance and not destroy it.
(In other words, the NDP believe that coercion and intimidation are always wrong except when it comes to forcing doctors to participate in euthanasia.)

Rachel Harder MP
Rachel Harder (MP) (CPC) then spoke in support of Bill C-418

While Bill C-14, the bill that makes medical assistance in dying legal within our country, advocates for those wishing to participate in the practice, it neglects or altogether fails to protect the medical practitioners whose conscience would be violated if they had to participate. This is a big problem as the professional judgment of many doctors still affirms that good medical care does not include hastening death.

...the current government outright refused to put conscience protections within the federal legislation. This was despite the fact that many witnesses came forward to committee during this time and asked for conscience protections to be explicitly placed within Bill C-14.

I sat there during those committee meetings and listened to that testimony. I was one of the individuals who advocated for those conscience protections. There is absolutely no reason why they should not have been a part of the legislation. However, they are not, so it requires this private member's bill, Bill C-418, in order to adequately protect the conscience of our medical practitioners in the Canadian system.

...Canadians should never be put in a situation where they feel they are forced to choose between their careers or beliefs. We live in Canada. We have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We should be able to engage in the career of our choice and have our ethical and moral values respected. We should be able to function according to our conscience. Currently, that is not the case. Those protections are not granted to medical practitioners the way they should be. Therefore, I call on the House to make a change, as is the member who sponsored this private member's bill.

..Bill C-418 would restore such freedom of religion and conscience. It acts to defend medical professionals who act in good conscience and within their constitutional rights to not participate in medical assistance in dying. It should be argued that this bill addresses a legislative gap that was left by the current government. It completes the work the Supreme Court asked this place to do.

...In 2016, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario adopted a medical assistance in dying policy requiring medical professionals, who would not provide medical assistance in dying themselves, to provide an effective referral. This policy was challenged by religious groups.

A group of more 1,500 Canadians came together and challenged this regulatory decision. They said that it violated their constitutional rights, their rights to freedom of religion and conscience. Unfortunately, on May 15, the Court of Appeal for Ontario ruled that religious physicians and medical professionals must provide effective referrals if they themselves would not be involved with medical assistance in dying. It went on to say that those medical practitioners who believed this violated their conscience could go and find a job within the medical profession where medical assistance in dying would not be required of them.

That is incredibly demeaning to those individuals who have gone through years of training and who, with great dedication and commitment to their patients, have served. These are the women and men who have been trained as medical professionals and it is their conscience that motivates them and compels them to function with dignity, respect and honour and to provide the utmost level of care to their patients. Now they are being punished for holding those beliefs, for holding that level of dignity, respect and honour for their patients.

Again, I would plead that it does not have to be this way, that a change can be made to the Criminal Code that would in fact protect the conscience rights of these medical practitioners who, because of their deeply-seeded beliefs, are not able to participate in any way in medical assistance in dying.

I ask that the House rightly respond to the Supreme Court's decision in the Carter v. Canada case and put this change within the Criminal Code to rightly respond to that decision.

Darrell Samson MP
Darrell Samson MP (Lib) spoke next to the bill. He re-iterated the points from the official Liberal speech, but he did say:

There has also been some independent research conducted in Canada. One study, which is entitled “Exploring Canadian Physicians' Experiences Providing Medical Assistance in Dying: A Qualitative Study”, found that, in some cases, providers who participate in medical assistance in dying reported that it negatively affected their working relationships with colleagues. This finding is just as alarming as the prospect that practitioners would be physically threatened in order to coerce them into participating.

I ask members of this chamber, and all Canadians, to be respectful of the beliefs, values and perspectives held by others, even when they differ vastly from their own opinions. There is no single right answer when values collide. Our way forward must be a journey in which we engage, listen and try to accommodate, not threaten or provoke conflict.

I am pleased that Bill C-418 again gives us an opportunity to discuss medical assistance in dying and also focus on the vital importance of respecting differences and diversity. I urge all members to approach this bill and ongoing public and policy debates on medical assistance in dying with open minds.

Keith Lamoureux MP
The final speaker was Keith Lamoureux (Lib) whose time was ended soon after he began. He essentially stated:


I was listening to the parliamentary secretary responsible for the legislation providing comment on the government's official position on the issue. I believe that the concerns the member opposite has, in good part, are addressed by the legislation we passed not that long ago.

May 29 was the first hour of debate on Bill C-418. A second hour of debate will be scheduled before Bill C-418 can do to a vote.

Protect Your Life: Life Protecting Power of Attorney.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alex Schadenberg
I just spoke to a supporter who was upset because her lawyer refused to amend a proposed Power of Attorney for Personal Care (Living Will) document to reflect her beliefs and wishes.

Most jurisdictions have a basic template that all lawyers use. The wording of these documents can be changed to reflect the beliefs of the client and most lawyers will amend the basic template, but some refuse.

In most jurisdictions the 'template' power of attorney for personal care (living will) document is in fact dangerous and could result in ordinary care being withdrawn or withheld. 

This is why the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) sells the Life Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care for $10 + taxes.

The Life Protecting Power of Attorney requires the person you appoint to make medical decisions on your behalf that uphold your values. It protects you from euthanasia and assisted suicide and it defines the treatment/care decisions that you would want, in the event that you are unable to make medical decisions yourself.

The Life Protecting Power of Attorney also gives you the piece of mind that EPC will help you if your expressed wishes are ignored or if a hospital or doctor pressures or attempts to impose medical treatment or care decisions upon you.

Purchase the Life Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care (Link) by contacting EPC at: 1-877-439-3348  or info@epcc.ca

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act debated at Second Reading

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA, ON – Yesterday in the House of Commons, David Anderson, Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills—Grasslands, began debate on his Private Member’s Bill, C-418: the Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act.
David Anderson MP
“I believe it is time to stand up for the fundamental conscience rights guaranteed to all Canadians in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” stated Anderson. “Pressure on medical professionals to act against their beliefs exists and they are looking for relief.”
C-418 seeks to amend the Criminal Code to make it an offence to intimidate a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional for the purpose of compelling them to take part, directly or indirectly, in the provision of physician-assisted suicide. The legislation would also make it an offence to dismiss from employment or to refuse to employ these professionals for refusing to participate in taking a life.
Through C-418, Anderson hopes to fill the legislative gap left by Liberal bill C-14, the legislation that legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. Although C-14 stated that it did not compel an individual to provide or assist in providing medical assistance in dying, it lacked the clarity needed for its enforcement. C-418 would implement a criminal penalty for the act of compelling actions that go against deeply held conscientious beliefs of medical professionals.
Anderson noted that the Supreme Court, the Charter, and even the Liberal government’s euthanasia legislation all align on the importance of freedom of conscience and belief in Canada. He believes that it is time for parliamentarians to do something about it by passing his bill.
“Canadians have enthusiastically responded to this bill and the need for increased conscience rights for our medical professionals,” said Anderson. “Thousands have made their voices heard loud and clear. They support the ability of doctors and nurses to live with integrity and follow their conscience.
“I would like to thank, in particular, the constituents of Cypress Hills—Grasslands who have taken the time to write, sign petitions, and make phone calls in support of this legislation.”
For more information and to sign a petition calling on the Liberal government to pass C-418, visit davidanderson.ca/issues/c418.
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More information, please contact:
Office of David Anderson, MP
(613) 992-0657 or (306) 778-4480

Pushing suicide as Merely a 'Choice'

Published by National Review online on May 28, 2019

Wesley Smith
By Wesley J Smith

The focus on suicide prevention continues to erode. In Ozy — which bills itself as being about “fresh stories and bold ideas”— self-described “reporter” Molly Fosco applauds that suicidal depression is increasingly being looked upon as a “terminal illness,” and hence, opines that we should view the suicides of the deeply depressed as a normal part of dealing with the disease process. From,“Suicidal Tendencies Should be Treated Like a Terminal Disease”:

If a family member has a terminal illness and decides to stop treatment to end their suffering, we’re far more likely to understand. Sure, it might be upsetting that they don’t want to keep “fighting,” but ultimately, we agree that ending their suffering is more important. 
We should think of suicide the same way.
This is the concept of “rational suicide”— a minority view in the mental health professions–that claims a psychiatrist/psychologist/social worker should “permit” or validate suicides they believe are “rational,” and only unequivocally oppose those they deem “irrational.” Talk about an abandonment of the anguished person by the one person who might be able to make the difference between life and death!

Alas, some in the suicide prevention community apparently want us to look upon suicide in a non-judgmental way:

Cerel thinks the culture around suicide in the U.S. is starting to shift. For example, the American Psychological Association no longer uses the word “commit” when referring to suicide. Instead, “died by suicide” is now used. “‘Committed’ really connotes that someone committed a crime or committed a sin,” Cerel says. “It’s very pejorative.”
Ponder this: If someone stays alive because suicide is seen widely as wrong, isn’t that a good thing? Doesn’t the impact of such “peer pressure” save lives? Why in the world would we want to remove an important impediment to committing suicide? (Yes, I will continue to use that term because I want people to live.)

Of course, Fosco is all on board with the word engineering that will open the door to more suicides:

And that’s the thing. We shouldn’t look at those who die by suicide as bad, selfish or sinful. Of course, it’s devastating to lose someone you love, and it’s normal to be angry. But we need to try harder to put ourselves in their shoes. If every day is unbearable and death is the only way to relieve the pain, perhaps we shouldn’t think of suicide as a choice. 
“I think more people are realizing that those who are suicidal aren’t making a choice to end their lives,” [Dr. Julie] Cerel [president of the American Association of Suicidology] says. “They’re trying to get out of completely intolerable circumstances.”
“Bad, selfish, sinful,” what have you, isn’t the point behind disfavoring all suicides. Saving lives is the point!

Moreover, Cerel makes the exact argument that Compassion and Choices (formerly, the Hemlock Society) makes about why doctor-assisted suicide of the terminally ill should not be considered suicide, and instead be known by the gooey euphemism,“aid in dying.” The purpose is to normalize self-killing. If this deflection succeeds — and expands, as this article promotes — pretty soon we will do away with the accurate term “suicide” altogether so that no one feels negatively about a self-killing. It’s all just “choice,” don’t you know.

Not surprisingly, the American Association of Suicidology has opined that the terminally ill asking for assisted suicide should not receive suicide prevention. Cerel’s statement just furthers the organization’s betrayal of suicidal people.

Fosco gives lip service to suicide prevention. But that’s all it is. Approving some suicides — as she clearly does — is akin to telling a smoker to use filtered cigarettes instead of quitting, making self-harm more, rather than less, likely.

Fosco and Cerel are practitioners of the dark advocacy approach that I call “terminal nonjudgmentalism.” By promoting a neutral stance on self-destruction, the are pushing society in a pro-suicide — or at the very best, only anti-some suicides — direction.

Culture of death, Wesley? What culture of death?

Being Rich and Famous Doesn't Protect You From Elder Abuse


The following article was published  by HOPE Australia on May 30, 2019

Stan Lee literally made superheroes.

A comic book writer, he was responsible for the creation of characters like Spiderman, the X-Men, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Thor and the Hulk. Generations and generations of comic book fans lined up at conventions to receive his autograph.

He was rich and famous but, at 95 years of age, he was also a vulnerable old man.

Police allege that after Lee’s wife of 69 years, Joan, passed away in 2017, Lee’s manager, Keya Morgan, became close to him and attempted to exert influence and control over his life and finances.

Morgan was arrested last week on charges that include theft, forgery, fraud and false imprisonment. In other words, Morgan was charged with elder abuse.

Stories suggest that Morgan changed Lee’s phone number in an attempt to distance him from family and friends, would use Lee’s macular degeneration as an excuse to read and respond to all of Lee’s emails, and attempted to control his financial affairs.

While most elder abuse occurs in private, there were articles reporting the potential abuse in the months before Lee’s death in November 2018, but even this exposure did not protect him from being manipulated.

Lee’s story demonstrates how easily the elderly can be manipulated.

An investigation from The Hollywood Reporter records a declaration signed by Lee stated that three men with bad intentions, Morgan included, were seeking to gain control over Lee’s assets, property and money.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, when Morgan learned that the news outlet had obtained a copy of the declaration, he filmed a video of Lee denying its contents.

The full video is below:


Despite the denials in the video, Morgan was arrested and charged six months after Lee’s death. But the video’s existence begs the question, if a person can make a statement in the presence of their lawyer saying one thing, and film a video retracting the statement shortly thereafter, how is anyone able to know for certain their true wishes?

If elder abuse can happen under media spotlight, to someone who – even in his 90s – attracted crowds to see him, then how can we safeguard elderly Australians against it?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Québec man sentenced to two years in the death of his wife. He claimed it was a "mercy killing."

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Michel Cadotte
Michel Cadotte, the Québec man who killed his wife, Jocelyne Lizette (60) by suffocation on February 20, 2017, was found guilty of manslaughter by a jury.

Cadotte, claimed that his wife wouldn't have wanted to live this way. Cadotte had asked for euthanasia for his wife and was turned down because she was not capable of making the request herself as repored by CTV news.

Yesterday, Cadotte was sentenced to two years, less day and three years probation for killing his wife by suffocation. Jesse Feith, reporting for the Montreal Gazette stated:

Superior Court judge Di Salvo added while sentencing him to prison Tuesday, Cadotte also “committed the irreparable” by suffocating Jocelyne Lizotte to death, an act that can’t be excused “even if it was done in the name of compassion.”
The article reported Justice Di Salvo state:
“You cannot do this to someone who is ill, vulnerable, dependent and incapable of expressing their will,” she said. “Even if they’ve expressed a desire to die in the past.”
The Canadian government is considering extending euthanasia to incompetent people who made a previous request for euthanasia.

Feith reported that the Crown and the Defense are both examining the sentence. The article reported:

Prosecutor Geneviève Langlois told reporters the Crown will closely review the decision before deciding if it will appeal the sentence.

Defence lawyer Elfriede Duclervil said she was disappointed with the sentence. She then took the opportunity to reiterate how the case shed light on gaps in the health system —  especially when it comes to helping caregivers — that pushed Cadotte to his breaking point.
The Justice system upheld the rule of law by convicting Cadotte but it remains confused when similar acts are done based on "Medical Aid in Dying."

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

David Anderson: In defense of conscience rights (Bill C-418)

David Anderson MP (Cyprus Hills Grassland)
Petition supporting Bill C-418 to protect conscience rights (Link).
David Anderson MP
The debate around individual rights in Canada is complicated and emotionally-charged. I can think of no better example than the discussion in recent months around the sanctity of conscience rights, particularly those of medical professionals.


Conscience forms the basis of a medical professional’s motivation to pursue their particular field. Doctors practice every day with the knowledge that it is their conscience that motivates them to test the limits of their expertise and skill. They know that patient care will suffer if they are deprived of the ability to live with integrity and follow their conscience. They know the importance of these beliefs to themselves and their patients far better than anyone else.
Freedom of conscience bill to be debated in Canada (Link).
For a great many Canadian doctors, the core of their conscience prohibits their participation in taking a life. Indeed, many doctors remain devoted to the black and white of the ancient Hippocratic Oath - a pledge which prohibits the administration of a poison to anyone.

In Canada, the reality is that the provision of a life-ending ‘poison’ is now permitted by the law of the land. Three years ago, taking a patient’s life through medical means was culpable homicide. Doctors were not obligated by any means to provide these services to patients. In 2016, these once unwavering rights were radically challenged through the Liberal government’s legalization of physician-assisted suicide, or medical assistance in dying (MAiD), through bill C-14. The Liberals’ attempt to provide protection for doctors consisted solely of a rudimentary clause which stated that “nothing...compels an individual to provide or assist in providing medical assistance in dying.” However, this provision lacked the teeth needed for its effective enforcement, as evidenced by the ongoing pressure exerted on physicians by their regulating bodies.

It should be noted that even the premise of C-14 – the Supreme Court of Canada’s Carter v. Canada decision – explicitly said that the legalization of euthanasia did not entail a duty of physicians to provide it. Despite this assurance, assisted suicide/euthanasia now exists in this country and, while the law now permits it, many doctors’ consciences will not.

Through the availability of assisted suicide on-demand across Canada, threats to conscience are no longer confined to the rhetoric of the court room – they are increasingly present in the examination room.

That is why I believe it is time to take action in defence of conscience rights that have stood the test of time for generations. My Private Member’s Bill, C-418, seeks to amend the Criminal Code to make it an offence to intimidate a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional for the purpose of compelling them to take part, directly or indirectly, in the provision of physician-assisted suicide.

C-418 would also make it an offence to dismiss from employment or to refuse to employ a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or any other health care professional for the reason only that they refuse to take part, directly or indirectly, in the provision of physician-assisted suicide.

My bill would provide the teeth that C-14 acutely lacks.

Are these protections necessary? You bet. Throughout the legislative process, I have spoken with doctors who feel overt pressure to leave family medicine because of their conscientious beliefs. I have heard of palliative care doctors in Ontario who have stopped practicing all together. Nurses feel increasingly bullied, choosing to shift their focus or retire early. The pressure on these professionals exists, and they are looking for relief.

What is more, regional associations, such Ontario’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, have introduced regulations compelling conscientiously-objecting physicians to participate by providing ‘effective referrals’ for physician-assisted suicide. A recent court decision has upheld this directive, contravening the assurances provided in Carter v. Canada and creating an even more urgent need among physicians for protection.

My bill does not address the social acceptability of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Protecting physicians’ conscience rights is not at all a physician vs. patient scenario. By protecting physicians’ conscience rights and relying on them as the experts, patients’ rights are enhanced. C-418 is about protecting the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed to all Canadians in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Parliamentarians from all parties cannot ignore the groundswell of support my bill, C-418, has received from across Canada. Canadians believe it is time to stand up for doctors and health care providers who aren’t willing to leave their core ethics behind when they’re at a patient’s bedside.

David Anderson, MP

Monday, May 27, 2019

French society will be stepping off a moral precipice should it decide to starve Lambert to death.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Vincent Lambert
The Vincent Lambert case which concerns the withdrawal of food and fluids of a cognitively disabled man, also opens the question of the goals of the euthanasia lobby.


Sign the petition: Protect Vincent Lambert's Life (Link). 

Kevin Yuill, author of the book Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalisation, examines the Lambert case from a different perspective in his article published by Spiked on May 27, 2019

Kevin Yuill
Yuill examines the Lambert case based on the involvement of the euthanasia lobby. Yuill writes:

Vincent Lambert has become central to the right-to-die debate in France. His face has appeared in French media over the past six years as a symbol of a passionate argument over his future and the future of euthanasia law in France. Lambert, 42, a former nurse, has spent the past 11 years in a vegetative state since suffering severe brain damage from a 2008 motoring accident. 
His high-profile case, which pits his wife and five of his siblings against his devout Catholic parents, a sister and a half-brother, has become a judicial soap opera. It has also divided France, where euthanasia is illegal but doctors are allowed to put terminally ill patients into deep sedation or to withdraw their treatment altogether. The case turns on questions about the degree of Lambert’s consciousness, and about whether or not he would wish to live in such a condition. 
Since 2013, Lambert’s medical team has favoured removing the feeding and water tubes that keep him alive. His parents have resisted. On the evening of 20 May, a French court dramatically ordered doctors to resume life support, reversing an earlier judicial ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that said Lambert should be removed from life support. This follows a request by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at the United Nations, which demanded that the removal of nutrition and hydration be delayed pending further study.
Yuill examines the issues in the case:
There are several significant elements to the story. The first concerns Lambert’s condition... His doctors consider him to be suffering not from ‘brain death’, but rather from severe brain damage. He can open his eyes. He can look at a person. He wakes up, sleeps, smiles, sometimes cries, and responds to stimulations – but there is little evidence that he can communicate. 
Lambert, who breathes on his own, does not benefit from his life, his doctor and his wife and five of his siblings argue. ... 
Second, as the medical team has hinted, the question of assisted suicide and euthanasia overshadows the case. Lambert could have had his treatment removed had he left a living will, which are legal in France. Doctors may withdraw care under a 2005 law that says life should not be prolonged ‘artificially’ through ‘unnecessary or disproportionate treatment’. Those opposing the withdrawal of hydration and nutrition point out that a precedent might be set where those whose lives are considered to be ‘without meaning’ might be starved to death.
The Lambert case may affect Organ Donation:
There is another concern. Setting a precedent for Lambert might endanger other young people in similar circumstances because of the potential that their organs might be considered more valuable than their lives. From 2020 in the UK, organ donation will be automatic under the term ‘presumed consent’. A person will have to opt out, actively, of organ donation. The Lambert case is significant for the UK. Will medical teams make decisions about the value of a young accident victim’s life based on the desirability of his or her organs?
Yuill shows how the Lambert case shows the euthanasia lobby lie.
The Lambert case also gives the lie to assisted-dying campaigners’ purported concerns for autonomy. Lambert has no say in the matter – it is impossible to work out what his wishes are. Wesley Smith, with the Patients Rights Council, has argued that cases like this are less about a ‘right to die’ than about having ‘no right to live’. Everyone would be up in arms if a vulnerable person in care was starved to death, but that is where the Lambert case is heading – towards a medically unnecessary but, in some people’s view, a socially desirable killing. 
It is not surprising that right-to-die advocates have leapt upon the case, despite it not being about autonomy or rights. Former French president Francois Hollande used the case in 2014 to publicise his attempt to change the law to allow ‘medical assistance to end one’s life in dignity’. Michel Neveu, a representative of the French campaign for euthanasia and assisted suicide – L’Association pour le droit de mourir dans la dignité (ADMD) – said Lambert ‘would have told his wife that, if he were in a state like the one we know today, he would like to benefit from deep sedation…’. 
Right-to-die campaigners already project their worst nightmares (‘I would never want to live like that’) on to disabled people. As a result, the lives of many disabled individuals are valued as considerably less worthy than others. It is not that Lambert suffers, as neuroscientists noted – it is that his continued existence is an inconvenience. Rather than allow him to live out whatever limited life he has, many in French society argue that it is ‘undignified’ for his life to continue.
Yuill then concludes that food and drink are not futile.
Whereas aggressive medical treatment can and should be withdrawn when it is futile, denying a vulnerable person the food and drink necessary to keep them alive cannot be seen as futile. Lambert’s death will only serve a social purpose. There are no medical reasons at all for it. French society will be stepping off a moral precipice should it decide to starve Lambert to death.
Sign the petition: Protect Vincent Lambert's Life (Link). 

Kevin Yuill teaches American studies at the University of Sunderland. His book, Assisted Suicide: The Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalisation, is published by Palgrave Macmillan. (Buy this book from Amazon (UK).)

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