Saturday, November 30, 2019

Pope Francis: "Right to die" has no legal ground.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Pope Francis stated at a meeting on November 29, in reference to an Italian court decision, that some state tribunals are deciding that:
"the main interest of a disabled or elderly persons is to die or not get treatment"
Last June Pope Francis responded to a reported euthanasia death by stating.
"We are called never to abandon those who are suffering, never giving up but caring and loving to restore hope".
On October 28, the leaders of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith communities issued a Declaration against euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Leaders - Joint Call to Action.


November 27, 2019 (Link to the Joint Call to Action).

Due to ongoing confusion amongst the general public regarding Hospice Palliative Care (HPC) and Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA) and the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians (CSPCP) would like to clarify the relationship of hospice palliative care and MAiD.

Healthcare articles and the general media continue to conflate and thus misrepresent these two fundamentally different practices. MAiD is not part of hospice palliative care; it is not an “extension” of palliative care [i] nor is it one of the tools “in the palliative care basket”.[ii] National and international hospice palliative care organizations are unified in the position that MAiD is not part of the practice of hospice palliative care.[iii] [iv] [v] [vi] [vii] [viii] [ix] [x]

Hospice palliative care and MAiD substantially differ in multiple areas including in philosophy, intention and approach.[xi] Hospice palliative care focuses on improving quality of life and symptom management through holistic person-centered care for those living with life threatening conditions. Hospice palliative care sees dying as a normal part of life and helps people to live and die well. Hospice palliative care does not seek to hasten death or intentionally end life. In MAiD, however, the intention is to address suffering by ending life through the administration of a lethal dose of drugs at an eligible person’s request.

Less than 30% of Canadians have access to high quality hospice palliative care, yet more than 90% of all deaths in Canada would benefit from it.[xii] [xiii] Despite this startling discrepancy, access to hospice palliative care is not considered a fundamental healthcare right for Canadians. In contrast, MAiD has been deemed a right through the Canada Health Act, even though deaths from MAiD account for less than 1.5% of all deaths in Canada.[xiv]

We call on the federal and provincial governments to prioritize funding and improve access to hospice palliative care in Canada, and to support the implementation and action plan of the National Framework for Palliative Care in Canada.[xv] Canadians must have a right to assistance in living with hospice palliative care, and not just a right to termination of life.

Sincerely,


Sharon Baxter, MSW
Executive Director
Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA)
Annex D, Saint-Vincent Hospital
60 Cambridge Street, North
Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7A5
SBaxter@chpca.net


Leonie Herx MD PhD FCFP (PC)
President
Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians (CSPCP)
Suite 584
1A – 12830 – 96th Avenue
Surrey, British Columbia V3V 0C2
Leonie.Herx@kingstonhsc.ca


[i] Buchman, Dr. Sandy. “Bringing Compassion to Medicine and to the CMA.” Canadian Medical Association, 12 Oct. 2019, https://www.cma.ca/dr-sandy-buchman.
[ii] Kutcher, Dr. Matt. “Navigating MAiD on PEI.” Canadian Medical Association, 19 Nov. 2018, https://www.cma.ca/dr-matt-kutcher.
[iii] World Health Organization (WHO). “WHO Definition of Palliative Care.” World Health Organization (WHO), https://www.who.int/cancer/palliative/definition/en/.
[iv] De Lima L, Woodruff R, et al, International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care “Position Statement Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide.” JPM Vol 20, 1:1 -7.
[v] Radbruch, Lukas, et al. “Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide: A White Paper from the European Association for Palliative Care.” Palliative Medicine, vol. 30, no. 2, 2015, pp. 104–116., doi:10.1177/0269216315616524.
[vi] Australia and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine (ANZSPM) “Position Statement on the Practice of Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide.” 31 Mar. 2017
[vii] Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association “Policy on Hospice Palliative Care and Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD).” Jun. 2019
[viii] Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians “Key Messages: Palliative Care and Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID).” May 2019.
[ix] “Statement on Physician-Assisted Dying.” American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), 24 Jul. 2016, http://aahpm.org/positions/pad.
[x] Canadian Medical Association. “Palliative Care (Policy).” 2016
[xi] Shariff M & Gingerich M. “Endgame: Philosophical, Clinical and Legal Distinctions between Palliative Care and Termination of Life.” Vol. 85, Second Series Supreme Court Law Review 225. 2018
[xii] Quality End-of-Life Care Coalition of Canada and Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association. “The Way Forward National Framework; a Roadmap for an Integrated Palliative Approach to Care.” Mar. 2015.
[xiii] Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians . “How to Improve Palliative Care in Canada - A Call to Action for Federal, Provincial, Territorial, Regional and Local Decision-Makers.” Nov. 2016.
[xiv] “Fourth Interim Report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada.” Government of Canada, Health Canada, Apr. 2019, https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/health-system-services/medical-assistance-dying-interim-report-april-2019.html.
[xv] “Framework on Palliative Care in Canada.” Government of Canada, Health Canada, 4 Dec. 2018, https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/health-care-system/reports-publications/palliative-care/framework-palliative-care-canada.html.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Psychiatrists Must Prevent Suicide, Not Provide It

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition



Psychiatrists Cynthia Geppert, Mark Komrad, Ronald Pies and Annette Hanson are leading voices against the involvement of Psychiatrists in the acts of euthanasia and assisted suicide. 

During the past several months there have been a series of articles and rebuttles between Geppert, Komrad, Pies and Hanson with Drs Kious and Battin. Dr Margaret Battin is a long-time euthanasia activist who has published articles and studies since the 1980's.

The recent rubuttal with Kious and Battin was published in the Psychiatric Times on November 19, 2019. The recent Geppert et al response concerns the following:

Kious and Battin argue that the long-established practice of psychiatrists to make every effort to prevent suicide including the use of involuntary commitment and the relatively new availability of physician aid-in-dying (PAD) create a moral dilemma. Their proposed resolution of the dilemma is to permit psychiatric patients, as well as those with medical illnesses, to access PAD when their suffering is severe and irremediable. Our commentary rejects the fundamental presumption that any physicians, much less psychiatrists, should be involved of the work of killing rather than the calling of healing, among other criticisms.
Cynthia Geppert
Kious and Battin argue that the majority of Americans support assisted suicide, but Geppert et al suggest that polling alone does not determine right or wrong, that in fact a deep analysis of the issue is necessary. Geppert et al argue that the research by the American Medical Association, the World Medical Association and more enables a better understanding of the issues. They state:
This “deep dive” is precisely the process that was brought to bear by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the World Medical Association (WMA) in their recent reexaminations of their ethical opposition to these practices.4 That process was repeated several times at the request of PAS proponents, and each time, though acknowledging the caring intentions on both sides of the issues, these organizations kept coming to the same conclusion—that these practices are “firmly opposed.” Similarly, for the second largest medical organization in the US—the American College of Physicians5—and even for the organization that works professionally in the “end-zone” of life—the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care6—these and other articulations, are not mere polls. They are robust deliberations by organizations representing physicians and others, whom society is asking to do the killing. Moreover, no medical organization in the US has actually endorsed PAS as a laudable practice so far. At most, those organizations not opposed to PAS have expressed official “neutrality” on this issue.
Kious and Battin argue that Geppert et al hold to a position of essentialism and historicism, which they suggest changes over time. Geppert et al respond:
We now turn to Drs Kious and Battins’ critique of our philosophical position as “essentialism” and “historicism.” If by “essentialism,” they mean that we hold certain medical ethical truths to be constant, enduring, and not “will-o-the-wisp” notions dependent on polls and plebiscites, then, yes—we are guilty of “essentialism.” While we would acknowledge that “evolving social expectations” do have some influence on “what is permissible for physicians,” we would deny that such expectations are infinitely elastic and determinative, vis-à-vis what is ethically permissible. Would the authors change their own position favoring “assisted dying” if new polls showed that most physicians oppose the practice? Or do they base their position in favor of PAS on their own view of what is “essential” to the role of physicians? If we make medical ethics dependent upon polls, we are opening the field to a kind of post-modern relativism that undercuts the very concept of a “profession.” Medical ethics are not a kind of weather vane, changeable with each new poll that comes out! We would argue that PAS is really an outgrowth of, and is contemporaneous with, the consumer movement of the past 50 to 60 years and is therefore an anomaly in the history of medical ethics.7 
Ronald Pies
Geppert et al then defend Hippocratic medicine:
It is not the literal wording of the Hippocratic Oath, but the subsequent development of those values that has provided a moral compass for the medical profession. That growth, intellectually and experientially, resembles, for example, the development of religious values, not confined to, but inspired by the esteemed teachers and holy books of the world’s great religious traditions. These are evolving and venerable moral compasses for covenantal communities. The current Tree of Medicine is rooted in its Hippocratic soil. It has ramified branches of thoughts and values yet embodies a core ethos that has persisted through the rise and fall of many societies.
Annette Hanson
They then challenge the attack that they are simply historicists:

Our colleagues should not so easily dismiss the lessons of history as mere “historicism.” We believe very much in Santayana’s famous wisdom:  “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Changing social mores and highly popular notions, championed by celebrities, intellectuals, and policy makers, have swept physicians off their ethical moorings in the past. Consider the historic example of Soviet psychiatry. Civil commitment was used to isolate dissidents, and the doctors went along with it. Physicians, especially psychiatrists, participated with relish in eugenics-inspired forced sterilization programs of the mentally ill in the US.8 There are moral absolutes that our profession should stand up for, in spite of legislative or popular pressure. Public health policy should not be contingent upon popularity. Many popular ideas were proved both wrong and harmful (eg. conversion therapy for homosexuals).
They conclude their rebuttal by referring to anthropologist Margaret Mead:
Anthropologist Margaret Mead9 presciently warned a physician friend about the social pressure on physicians to kill in the name of mercy, observing that:
The followers of Hippocrates were dedicated completely to life under all circumstances, regardless of rank, age, or intellect—the life of a slave, emperor, foreign man, defective child . . . This is a priceless legacy which we cannot afford to tarnish. But society has repeatedly attempted to make the physician into the killer . . . It is the duty of society to protect the physician from such requests.9
We would do well to heed her warning.
I am sure that this debate will continue. Geppert, Komrad, Pies and Hanson hold to the truth, that physicians must not kill their patients and psychiatrists prevent suicide, not provide it.

Dr Geppert is Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine, and Director of Ethics Education, University of New Mexico School of Medicine; and Ethics Section Editor of Psychiatric Times. Dr Komrad is on the psychiatry faculty of Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, and Tulane University. Dr Pies is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Lecturer on Bioethics & Humanities, SUNY Upstate Medical University; Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Tufts University School of Medicine; and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Psychiatric Times (2007-2010). Dr Hanson is Director of the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship at the University of Maryland.

References:

1. Kious BM, Battin MP. Physician Aid-in-Dying and Suicide Prevention in Psychiatry: A Moral Crisis? Am J Bioeth. 2019;19:29-39.

2. Magelssen M, Supphellen M, Nortvedt P, Materstvedt LJ. Attitudes towards assisted dying are influenced by question wording and order: a survey experiment. BMC Med Ethics. 2016;17:24.

3. Dany L, Baumstarck K, Dudoit E, et al. Determinants of favourable opinions about euthanasia in a sample of French physicians. BMC Palliat Care. 2015;14:59.

4. World Medical Association. WMA Declaration on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide. https://www.wma.net/policies-post/declaration-on-euthanasia-and-physician-assisted-suicide. Accessed November 7, 2019.

5. Snyder L, Sulmasy DP, Ethics, Human Rights Committee ACoP-ASoIM. Physician-assisted suicide. Ann Intern Med. 2001;135:209-216.

6. De Lima L, Woodruff R, Pettus K, et al. International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care Position Statement: Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide. J Palliat Med. 2017;20:8-14.

7. Pies RW. Physician-Assisted Suicide and the Rise of the Consumer Movement. Psychiatric Times. 2016;33(8). https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/couch-crisis/physician-assisted-suicide-and-rise-consumer-movement. Accessed November 18, 2019.

8. Dowbiggen I. Keepin America Sane: Psychiatry and Eugenics in the United States and Canada, 1880-1940. New York: Cornell University Press; 2003.

9. Mead M. The Hippocratic Registry of Physicians. https://www.hippocraticregistry.com. Accessed November 18, 2019.


Sunday, November 24, 2019

Belgian doctor charged with murder in the deaths of 9 patients.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

CHR van Hoei Hospital
On September 24 I reported that a Belgian doctor had been charged with murder in the deaths of four patients in the palliative care department of the CHR van Hoei Hospital.

HLN news has now reported that the doctor lost his contract with the hospital and has been charged with murder in the deaths of five more patients, making it nine total murder charges.

According to HLN news, the physician claims that the deaths were not murder but palliative sedation, more accurately referred to as terminal sedation.

The physician claims that he just wanted to stop the pain and these cases were not euthanasia.

Wim Distlemans
Dr Wim Distelmans, who is co-chair of the Belgian euthanasia control commission and operates a euthanasia clinic, told the Belgian news that palliative sedation is not regulated and occurs 4 times more often in Belgium than euthanasia. Distelmans stated (google translated)

“What happens too often is that doctors dramatically increase the doses of the drugs via the baxter to speed up the end of life. That's hypocritical, because they say to the family, "We just keep him asleep." In fact, such a doctor puts an end to life. You can't even call it euthanasia, because the patient didn't ask for it, "
The intentional overdosing of palliative patients is common and is ethically the same as euthanasia. These cases of terminal sedation represent an abuse of the proper use of sedation. Palliative sedation, when done correctly and ethically, should not cause the death of the patient and should not become confused with murder.


A 2015 Belgian study showed that more than 1000 people died an assisted death without request in 2013. Data, such as this, should create great concern, but in Belgium it has simply been a statistic. This case may begin to deal with the number of intentional deaths without consent occur in Belgium.

I will continue to follow this case. Currently the court is not publishing the facts of around these cases.


Ontario Doctor experiences abuse with MAiD (euthanasia) law.

By Taylor Hyatt and Amy Hasbrouck
Tourjours Vivant - Not Dead Yet


Taylor Hyatt
Recently, Taylor Hyatt attended a conference for medical students, where a few lectures on euthanasia were presented. 

Taylor was moved by the talk given by Dr. David D’Souza, a chronic pain specialist in Toronto. His talk focused on eligibility for euthanasia, and he included the stories of three people considering euthanasia whom he had seen in his practice. Dr. D’Souza expressed concern that the safeguards around euthanasia eligibility were being flouted in all three cases.

The first case happened when visiting a nursing home where Dr. D’Souza met an elderly lady with dementia. Her condition had progressed “to the point where she [couldn’t] recognize her own family and [had limited] communication abilities.” Her family asked to meet with the doctor, and requested that she be euthanized. They brought a will that she had written 10 years before, while in the early stages of her dementia, which stated that she would want to be euthanized. Dr. D’Souza told the family that she was not a candidate for euthanasia. According to the eligibility criteria, the person must request MAiD themselves; no one can do it on their behalf. He also told them the law requires the person be able to give consent at the time of the procedure, which she was not competent to do. Dr. D’Souza also pointed out that, “she may have sufficient quality of life that she still enjoys.”

The second incident took place “shortly after euthanasia was legalized” in 2016. A middle-aged man who spent two months on a waiting list for palliative care, came to Dr. D’Souza. He was a wheelchair user and amputee, and he was on dialysis. The man only had his wife for support, and had “[decided] to discontinue dialysis completely.” By the time the man saw Dr. D’Souza, he hadn’t had dialysis for over three weeks, and so had “nausea, fatigue…uncontrolled pain, [and] shortness of breath.” He also reported a “low mood” along with feelings of hopelessness. The man had submitted a request for euthanasia.


His first words to the doctor were “Are you here to relieve my pain? Are you here to relieve my suffering?” Dr. D’Souza said yes. Then the man asked him whether he was “here to end my life.” Upon hearing “no,” he asked “Why not? Isn’t that part of your job? I heard about this MAID thing on TV … isn’t that what you do?” Dr. D’Souza provided palliative care for him, who then withdrew his MAiD request. Dr. D’Souza reported that “although he chose to decline further dialysis sessions, he later died peacefully and comfortably, and of natural causes, with the assistance of genuine palliative care.”


The last case is about a man in his 70's who was concerned about hardness in his abdomen. Early tests suggested gastrointestinal cancer as a possible cause. The first thing he said after receiving these test results was “I want to be euthanized.” Dr. D’Souza “tried to steer the conversation in a different direction and said to him ‘you don't qualify for that. You don’t even have a diagnosis. Let’s first figure out the diagnosis and we can talk about all that later.’” He was then sent for the scan. 


A few weeks later, Dr. D’Souza received a report from the hospital: the patient had gone there the day after his initial appointment and “demanded to be euthanized.” He was admitted to the hospital, but “refused further testing;” he also turned down meetings with a surgeon, oncologist, and psychiatrist. Instead, he met with the euthanasia team, including a nurse practitioner and a physician. They determined that he met the eligibility requirements for MAiD. 


Dr. D’Souza visited him on the day he was euthanized. Dr. D’Souza recalled that “he was in no apparent pain [or] distress. He was smiling. He was excited for the big event, and so was his family. His family was surrounding him and they had dressed him up in a very nice suit, and they were very, very excited. He told me he wanted to have a dignified death” not caused by unknown and unpredictable factors.


Dr. D’Souza pointed out eligibiity criteria that were were disregarded and safeguards that were overlooked when the request for euthanasia was approved:

  • First, the person must “have a serious and incurable illness, disease, or disability.” He did not have a definitive diagnosis. “He refused investigations and specialist assessments; therefore, he did not know if he had an incurable illness.”
  • Next, the person must “be in an advanced state of irreversible decline.” Not knowing his condition, it was impossible to know whether it was in decline. Even if further tests confirmed that he had cancer, his prognosis “would depend on a number of [factors, including] the primary source of cancer, presence of metastases, [and] type of tumour. These factors would then [suggest treatment] options, such as chemotherapy and/or surgery.”
  • The person must also have “physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them.” The MAID team reported “that he was in no pain, but he was deemed to be in intolerable suffering.”
Dr. D’Souza also mentioned that he did not see a psychiatrist, so it is impossible to know whether emotional issues may have played a role in his decision to request euthanasia. Asking to die while refusing to obtain an accurate diagnosis suggests an impulsive and emotional choice, or that he was already prone to suicidal feelings. The doctor also believed the 10-day waiting period is arbitrary and inadequate. He doesn’t know “any physician who has been able to completely cure anxiety or depression in 10 days.”

These potential violations were discovered by someone with extensive experience in the medical field and knowledge of the Canadian euthanasia program, who took the time to share his insights. These case histories give us a glimpse into how the MAiD program works on the ground. Multiply Dr. D’Souza’s experience by the number of practitioners performing MAiD, and a frightening picture emerges. It also raises troubling questions: 

  • Was man's euthanasia seen as compliant with the law upon review by the designated authorities? 
  • How many ineligible people are being euthanized when MAiD evaluation teams don’t completely grasp or strictly apply the eligibility criteria and safeguards?
If this isn’t a slippery slope, what is?

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Alberta Conscience Rights Bill 207 is dead after disinformation campaign.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition



Alberta Conscience Rights Bill 207 may be dead after a massive death lobby disinformation campaign. Bill 207 lost by a 8 to 2 vote in committee rather than passing the bill and amending it in the legislature.

Bill 207 passed its first vote, on November 7, along party lines with 36 UCP members supporting the bill and 15 NDP opposition members voting against the bill.

The bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Private Bills and Private Members' Public Bills.

The Standing Committee on Private Bills and Private Members' Public Bills voted 8 to 2 against Bill 207 even though the majority of the committee members are Conservatives.

Bill 207 faced a death lobby massive disinformation campaign who garnered more than 21,000 signatures on a petition claiming that Bill 207 would prevent Albertans from receiving some healthcare options.

The death lobby campaign was based on a lie. Bill 207 did not prevent Albertan's from receiving controversial legal health service.



Dan Williams UCP, who sponsored Bill 207, stated in an article by Shaughn Butts for postmedia news that Bill 207 protected health care providers but it did not limit access to legal healthcare services. Williams stated:
“Let me be clear, this bill not only protects freedom of conscience, but it also in no way limits access to health care services in the province” 
Butts reported that the bill amended the Alberta Human Rights Act to protect conscientious beliefs as a basis for protection from discrimination or refusal for employment.

The Manitoba legislature unanimously passed a conscience rights bill in November 2017.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition encourages the sponsor of the bill to amendment Bill 207 to ensure critics that access is not prevented while maintaining conscience protection.


Thursday, November 21, 2019

UK court will not hear challenge to assisted suicide law.

Press release: CNK CEO responds to the High Court decision not to allow a new challenge in the name of Mr Phil Newby

Date: Tuesday 19th November 2019
Link to the Press Release

Care Not Killing welcomes the latest rejection of an unnecessary legal challenge to the UK's assisted suicide laws by the campaigner Phil Newby.

Dr Gordon Macdonald, Chief Executive of Care Not Killing, commented:
'We welcome this decision by the Courts to reject the attempt to change the 1961 Suicide Act and introduce assisted suicide via the backdoor. As the ruling points out this is a matter for Parliament, not for judges.
'This ruling recognises that Parliamentarians across the UK continue to reject attempts to introduce assisted suicide and euthanasia - more than a dozen times since 2003 - out of concern for public safety, including in 2015 when the House of Commons overwhelmingly voted against any change in the law by 330 votes to 118. The current laws prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia do not need changing.
'It recognises the significant dangers of ripping up long held universal protections, that ensures the law treats all people equally and evidence from around the world confirms removing these protections puts vulnerable people at risk of abuse and of coming under pressure to end their lives prematurely. 
'Just a few week ago a major US report from the National Council on Disability found the laws in the handful of States that had gone down this route, were ineffective and oversight of abuse and mistakes was absent. 
'This was a highly significant and important report as those championing assisted suicide, like DiD, (formally the Voluntary Euthanasia Society), hold up Oregon and Washington as the model for making the change in England and Wales. 
'These findings resonate with other official reports that show year after year, a majority of those ending their lives in both States cite fear of becoming a burden a reason. 
'There are also problem outside these US states. In 2016, Canada changed their law to allow terminally ill people to request assisted suicide and euthanasia. In just three years the numbers of those dying this way has dramatically risen, with one Canadian academic reported a four-fold increase between 2016 and 2018, from 1,010 - 4235.
'Then in September, the Quebec Superior Court struck down the requirement that a person be terminally ill before they qualify for euthanasia in Canada. 
'While in July a depressed, but otherwise healthy 61-year-old man, was euthanised in the province of British Columbia. Alan Nichols, a former school janitor who lived alone, had struggled with depression, was admitted to Chilliwack General Hospital, BC, in June after he was found dehydrated and malnourished. Despite not being terminally ill, he received a lethal injection. Alan's case is not isolated.
'There are a growing numbers of reports that terminally ill patients and those with chronic conditions are being denied care, but offered the drugs to kill themselves. In one such case, Roger Foley from Ontario who suffers from a neurological disease, recorded hospital staff offering him a 'medically assisted death', despite his repeated statements that he did not want to die and wanted to return to his home.
'No wonder not a single doctors group or major disability rights organisation supports changing the law, including the British Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians, the British Geriatric Society and the Association for Palliative Medicine.'
Ends

NB: the ruling issued by Lord Justice Irwin and Mrs Justice May can be read here. Mr Philippe Newby, a 49-year old with Motor Neurone Disease, had argued that the prohibition on assisted suicide interfered with his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. An initial application was declined in September by Ms Justice Whipple, who was one of the judges in the case of Noel Conway, and this latest ruling finds that:
'despite minor distinctions to be made in the conditions of the claimants, Conway is an authoritative case for present purposes, and in our judgment is binding on this court in relation to this issue... Notwithstanding the forensic analysis of the opinions in Nicklinson, the court is not an appropriate forum for the discussion of the sanctity of life, or for resolution of such matters which go beyond analysis of evidence or judgment governed by legal principle.'
Editors Notes
For media inquiries, please contact Alistair Thompson on 07970 162225.
  • Care Not Killing is a UK-based alliance bringing together human rights and disability rights organisations, health care and palliative care groups, faith-based organisations groups, and thousands of concerned individuals. We have three key aims:
  • to promote more and better palliative care;
  • to ensure that existing laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide are not weakened or repealed;
  • to inform public opinion further against any weakening of the law.We seek to attract the broadest support among health care professionals, allied health services and others opposed to euthanasia by campaigning on the basis of powerful arguments underpinned by the latest, well-researched and credible evidence.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Canadian Prime Minister's First Priority: More Euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


Canada's Liberal government have announced that one of their first priorities will be more death by lethal injection (euthanasia) also known as Medical Aid in Dying in Canada.

The Canadian Press reported that:

Even before he swears in his new cabinet, Justin Trudeau is being urged to ask his new justice minister to move swiftly to make Canada's assisted-dying law less restrictive. 
The prime minister has said he'll comply with a September court ruling that struck down as unconstitutional the requirement that only those near death can qualify for medical help to end their suffering.
The euthanasia lobby is also demanding that the government remove the requirement that a person be capable of consenting at the time of lethal injection.

All of this is based on the fact that the Liberal government did not appeal a Québec court decision that struck down the section of Canada's euthanasia law requiring that a person's natural death must be reasonably foreseeable.

What is particularly concerning is the double speak by the Liberal government. Last Spring the government announced that no changes will happen to the law until after the government completed a five year review, that was to begin in June 2020. What is the purpose of a five year review if the government eliminates the restrictions in the law previous to the consultation.

The recent euthanasia data from Québec indicated that there were 1331 euthanasia deaths between April 1, 2018 - March 31, 2019. The data also indicated that 13 of the deaths did not fulfill the qualifications of the law, including three euthanasia deaths for hip fractures.

Alan Nichols with his brother.
Last July, Alan Nichols (62), who was physically healthy and yet died by euthanasia in Chilliwack BC. The Nichols family have been given the run around as they attempt to learn how Alan could have been approved for euthanasia.

The government should not expand euthanasia when the law is already being abused.


Euthanasia for "completed Life" to be debated in the Dutch parliament.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Dutchnews.nl is reporting that the Liberal Democratic Party will be introducing legislation to extend euthanasia to people who are not sick or dying, but who state that their life is complete.

The Dutchnews article quotes recent polling that suggests that 55% of those polled in the Netherlands supported euthanasia for people who are "tired of living" while 33% opposed the measure.

The Dutchnews article explains that new legislation will be introduced next year.

The Liberal democratic party is drawing up its own legislation which would make it possible for the over-75s who consider their life is at an end to be helped to die and aims to present the measure to parliament early next year.
It is interesting that the Liberal Democratic Party is basing the "completed life" on age 75. What makes 75 a death age?

Last month I reported that a Belgian politician is also planning to introduce legislation to expand euthanasia for reasons of the "completed life."

There is no definition for "completed life" which means this type of legislation is designed to abandon people with suicidal ideation to death lethal drugs.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Dark Anniversary: The State of Assisted Suicide 25 Years after Oregon Measure 16

This article was published by National Review online on November 19, 2019

Wesley Smith
By Wesley J Smith

Measure 16 in Oregon did not start the fire, but it added fuel.

Proponents of assisted suicide are celebrating the 25th anniversary of Measure 16, the Oregon referendum that, for the first time in the modern era, formally legalized doctor-prescribed death. To open the door to more suicide in a culture that is now roiled by an acute suicide crisis — about 45,000 Americans kill themselves annually, up from about 30,000 in 1999 — seems a bizarre event to cheer. But nihilism strikes a beat. Suicide to prevent suffering is seen by euthanasia supporters as not only acceptable but optimal, perhaps the best way to die.

After the passage of the Oregon referendum, assisted-suicide enthusiasts predicted that it would lead quickly to widespread public embrace of doctor-hastened death. That hasn’t happened, and resistance remains stiff. Still, Measure 16 did mark the beginning of an avalanche down the slippery slope. The District of Columbia and nine U.S. states, including that culture-driving behemoth California, have legalized assisted suicide for the terminally ill. Belgium, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and our closest cultural cousin, Canada, now permit doctors to give lethal injections to patients who ask to die. Switzerland’s once sleepy law allowing assisted suicide, passed back in the 1940s, came to the fore in the ’90s with the establishment of suicide clinics at which people from around the world pay about $10,000 to be made dead. Victoria, Australia, has also legalized assisted suicide, while the German supreme court conjured a limited legalization, permitting the practice so long as the motive for assisting isn’t venal. Energetic legalization efforts are continuing in countries as disparate as New Zealand, India, the United Kingdom, and Italy.

That’s a lot of radical cultural change — which, I hasten to note, is not a synonym for progress — in a quarter century. But it seems to me that, now that doctors have greater ability than ever before to relieve suffering, the current vitality of the euthanasia movement is more a symptom of growing nihilism than a cause of it. But it is also a reinforcing symptom. This milestone anniversary of Measure 16 seems a reasonable time to assess the cultural consequences that have accrued from redefining suicide as a medical treatment.

It is important to understand that the so-called right to die isn’t about terminal illness. Nor is it a safety valve to be used only to prevent irremediable suffering. Those are just sales pitches to persuade a still-wary public to swallow the hemlock. Even in jurisdictions that (currently) restrict the writing of lethal prescriptions to those deemed to have six months or less to live — a notoriously difficult and imprecise prognosis — there is no requirement that the suicidal patient’s purported suffering be objectively irremediable.

Besides, once a country popularly embraces euthanasia, most limitations are quickly abandoned. Both Belgium and the Netherlands legalized lethal-injection euthanasia commencing in 2002 and proceeded quickly, from allowing doctors to lethally inject terminally people who request it, to allowing chronically ill people who request it, to allowing people with disabilities who request it, to allowing the mentally ill who request it.

The mentally ill? Really?

Monday, November 18, 2019

Review of the book by Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch on assisted suicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

John Dale Dunn wrote a consice review, for the American Thinker, of the book The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia by Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, a book that was published in 2006.

Dunn argues that people who oppose or support assisted suicide should read this book. He states:
Gorsuch's analysis is a thoughtful and stimulating contribution to the debate about one of the most controversial public policy issues of our day.
Dunn continues:
There is no doubt that Gorsuch provides the most thorough and compelling condemnation of assisted suicide and euthanasia yet. He certainly puts a hole in the side of the ship of the cult of death. His book provides a thorough overview of the ethical and legal issues raised by assisted suicide and euthanasia and a comprehensive argument against the legalization of these heinous acts.

Judge Gorsuch evaluates the ethical arguments for euthanasia and assisted suicide, lays out the evidence on how these projects result in a casual dismissal of the meaning of life in places where the new approach has been adopted like the Netherlands and Oregon, and makes a strong case for the malfeasance and immoral conduct these enabling laws create.
Gorsuch examined the issues from a social and historical basis. Dunn writes:
Judge Gorsuch assesses the ethical and moral arguments of the advocates of a liberated approach to killing the useless eaters and the disabled when contrasted with the principle that intentional killing is always wrong.

Judge Gorsuch is leery of killing depressed and hopeless individuals for the obvious reason: their depressed state is a pathological state in itself, deserving of treatment, not enablement. Judge Gorsuch builds a robust argument against legalization when he confronts the ethical arguments for assisted suicide and euthanasia. He explores evidence and case histories from the Netherlands and Oregon, where the practices have been legalized. He analyzes libertarian and autonomy-based arguments for legalization as well as the impact of key U.S. Supreme Court decisions on the debate. And he examines the history and evolution of laws and attitudes regarding assisted suicide and euthanasia in American society.
Dunn examines the commentary by Gorsuch on Dr Leo Alexander's essay on the Nazi euthanasia program that was published in 1949. Alexander was an expert at the Nurembourg trial. Dunn states:
I would add to Judge Gorusch's presentation the essay by Dr. Leo Alexander that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1949, an analysis of the reasons why the Nazi physicians were able to kill and maim individuals considered inferior or not deserving of consideration as human — for political, social, or ideological reasons. Dr. Alexander, an American neurologist/psychiatrist, a Jew, educated in Vienna, investigator for the Nuremberg Tribunal that had Nazi physicians on trial for war crimes, asserts that the moral limits are violated when individuals and the society at large accept the idea that there are sub-humans who are expendable, unacceptable, inferior, or a burden or disabled so they cannot contribute. If the status of those individuals is considered less than human, the easy step is to treat them as subhuman, candidates for abuse and extermination by the will of the state and its officials.

There is an ominous taint to the idea that the law and the government will enable killing people because they are sick or depressed, or disabled, or just old and willing to end it.
Gorsuch provides a legal and social analysis concerning euthanasia and assisted suicide and concludes his book by condemning these practises. John Dale Dunn is right to say that both opponents and supporters of assisted suicide need to read - The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia by Justice Neil Gorsuch.

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