Saturday, February 29, 2020

Rally in Support of the Delta Hospice Society - April 4, 2020

Petition: Hospice organizations must NOT be forced to do euthanasia (Link).

The rally in support of the Delta Hospice has been postponed.

BC Health Minister, Adrian Dix, ordered the Delta Hospice Society to provide euthanasia (MAID) by February 3 or lose its government funding (Link).

The Delta Hospice Society refuses to kill their patients.

Join the Rally to Support The Delta Hospice Society.

Link to the Rally Poster (Link).

Saturday April 4, 2020
(12 Noon - 2 pm)
At the BC Parliament Buildings (Legislative Assembly) Victoria BC

Speakers include:
Tamara Jansen MP Cloverdale - Langley city.
Angelina Ireland,  President of the Delta Hospice Society
Alex Schadenberg,  Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Dr Margaret Cottle, Palliative Care Physician
Dr Will Johnston, Family Physician, Chair of EPC - BC.

More information:

Friday, February 28, 2020

Maryland assisted suicide bill will be decided by three undecided Senators.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Maryland Senate
In 2019, the Maryland assisted suicide bill failed in the Senate by a tie vote of 23 to 23.

David Collins with WBALTV reported that the fate of this years assisted suicide House Bill HB 0643 and Senate Bill SB 701 will be in the hands of three undecided Senators. According to Collins:

Three senators who are on the fence may control the bill's fate: Sen. Jim Rosapepe, a Democrat who represents District 21, which encompasses portions of Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties; Sen. Obie Patterson, a Democrat who represents Prince George's County's 26th District; and Sen. Charles Sydnor, a Democrat who represents Baltimore County's 44th District.
Contact these three Senators and encourage them to oppose assisted suicide.

Collins reported on the supporters and members of the group Maryland Against Assisted Suicide.
According to the report:
"You'll hear proponents of this law say, 'It's all about freedom of choice, it's my right, my life.' Well, I can tell you firsthand that these laws reduce your rights to care," said Dr. T. Brian Callister, a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, and director of Medical Student Rural Education. 
"The lethal drugs used in assisted suicide have never been scientifically tested, and the U.S. (Food and Drug Administration) has never approved any drugs for this purpose," Dr. Joseph Marine, vice director of the division of cardiology at Johns Hopkins University. 
"No one who claims to be a healer should offer death as if it is an option on a menu to choose from depending on how one feels in the moment," said Sherman Gillums Jr., chairman of the federal Veterans' Families, Caregiver and Survivors Advisory Committee.

House Bill HB 0643 and Senate Bill SB 701 may permit euthanasia. Most of the new assisted suicide bills have language that allows a wider interpretation.

The Maryland bill is designed as an application process for obtaining a lethal dose. Most assisted suicide bills state that the person self-administer the lethal dose, making it an assisted suicide.

The Maryland assisted suicide bill does not require the person to "self-administer" the lethal drugs but rather the bill says "may self-administer."

When examining the bill further the potential for euthanasia becomes more clear. The assisted suicide bill § 3–103 states:

A licensed health care professional does not violate § 3–102 of this subtitle by TAKING ANY ACTION in accordance with Title 5, Subtitle 6A of the health – general article.
This paragraph can be interpreted to provides full legal protection for Health Care Professionals who administer the lethal drugs.

Another addition to the recent assisted suicide bill is the acknowledgement that it may take at least 3 hours to die.

Current lethal drug cocktails may cause painful assisted suicide deaths that may take many hours to die.

Assisted suicide lobby researchers are working on their third generation of lethal drug cocktails. The results of the first two experimental lethal drug cocktails were:

The (first) turned out to be too harsh, burning patients’ mouths and throats, causing some to scream in pain. The second drug mix, used 67 times, has led to deaths that stretched out hours in some patients — and up to 31 hours in one case.The first two lethal drug cocktail experiments failed to provide a painless, fast death.
People who participate in these lethal drug experiments have consented to ingesting the lethal drugs, but are they consenting to participate in human experimentation?

Vote no to assisted suicide.

Ontario Medical Association President - Conscience Rights Matter

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Petition: Protect Conscience Rights for Healthcare workers in Ontario (Link).
Several years ago, the Ontario College of Physicians passed an edict requiring physicians, who oppose euthanasia (MAiD) to do an effective referral to a physician who is willing to kill a patient. Physicians who oppose euthanasia rights responded that to effectively refer a patient for euthanasia was similar to doing the act itself. These physicians began a campaign to demand conscience protections in law.

The case for conscience protection was then brought to the Ontario court where the Ontario Court of Appeal found that physicians who challenged the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) policy requiring an "effective referral" for Medical Aid in Dying (euthanasia and assisted suicide) and other morally contentious issues, that their Charter rights were infringed by the policy, but the infringement is reasonable in a free and democratic society. Link to Court of Appeal decision.

The Physicians for Healthcare and Conscience have now been working to convince politicians to protect conscience rights for healthcare workers through legislation.

Dr. Sohail Gandhi
This week Dr Sohail Gandhi, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) President, published a personal blog supporting conscience rights, titled:  Conscience Rights Matter. In his blog Gandhi states:
In particular, I think of the decision by the divisional court of Ontario, and then the Ontario Court of Appeal to deny physicians conscience rights. The courts claimed they struck a “reasonable balance”. But they also went on to expressly state in their ruling that the “referral requirement does infringe on doctors’ religious freedoms.” Make no mistake about this, rights and freedoms of certain individuals are being violated by this ruling.
Gandhi continues:
Many physicians’ groups have expressed concern about being forced to make a referral for this service, in violation of their morals and ethics. This concern has been expressed not just by physicians of faith, but by secular groups like the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians.
Gandhi then states that he supports a system that protects conscience rights for physicians that requires a physician, who oppose euthanasia, to provide patients with the contact information for the MAiD coordination service, which he says is not a referral.

I agree that the MAiD coordination service contact information is available to everyone anyway and the physician is only providing contact information that can be found on the internet, nonetheless, it remains a lesser form of a referral.

I thank Dr Gandhi for his courage to write this blog article. There are euthanasia doctors in Ontario who will attack him simply for presenting this balanced point of view.

I hope that Dr Sohail Gandhi's support for conscience rights will move the Ontario government to protect conscience rights for healthcare workers in Ontario.

Further reading on the Ontario Conscience Rights issue:

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Delta Hospice looking at legal options after government cuts funding.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Article: Delta Hospice - Not yet forced to do euthanasia (Link).
The Canadian Press reported that a hospice society in British Columbia is outraged by the governments decision to stop its funding because it refuses to provide (MAiD) euthanasia.
Petition: Hospice Organizations Must Not Be Forced to do euthanasia (Link).
Angelina Ireland, President of the Delta Hospice, told the Canadian Press:
...if the government wants to implement medical help in dying then it should create facilities for people who want the procedure. 
The government should not be allowed to put medically assisted death "on the backs" of facilities that provide hospice and palliative care services, she said.
Angelina Ireland
Ireland explains how they have handled the three requests for MAiD that they have received:

Over the past three years, three people have asked for medically assisted death at the hospice, she said. 
"All I can say is they were transferred out to their preferred location — two went home and one went next door to the Delta Hospital, one minute away,"
Ireland is concerned with the lack of access to palliative care beds in British Columbia. She stated:
...palliative care beds in the province are becoming scarce. 
"We are gravely concerned for the future of hospice and palliative care in British Columbia,"
The battle is not over. The British Columbia government will continue to fund the Delta Hospice Society until February 24, 2021. In the meantime, the Delta Hospice Society is considering its legal options.

Attend the Rally to Support The Delta Hospice Society at the Parliament buildings in Victoria BC on April 4, 2020.
Article: BC Hospice challenges closure over government's pro-euthanasia policy (Link).

BC Delta Hospice challenges closure over government’s pro-euthanasia policy

Petition: Hospice Organizations Must Not Be Forced to do euthanasia (Link)

Angelina Ireland
Delta Hospice, said the Fraser Health Authority and the British Columbia Minister of Health abruptly cancelled the Hospice’s contract on Tuesday, February 25, without even acknowledging or responding to the hospice’s offer to a reduced level of government financing of the facility by $750,000 per year in order to meet the 50% funding level for exemption from providing MAiD.

“The actions of the Ministry reveal that the issue of MAiD vs. palliative care is an agenda-driven policy rather than one that ensures access to skilled and compassionate palliative care for eligible patients in distress, and their families,” she said. “And it’s all about dollars. It is easier and cheaper for the government to provide euthanasia rather than continue with palliative care. Basically, they are saying that no palliative care facility in BC has a right to exist unless it also provides euthanasia.”
Faced with the government’s decision and refusal to consider other options such as decreased provincial funding, Ms. Ireland said the hospice will look at all of its legal and other options to continue to exist and serve patients and families in their final days, as they have always done.

The decision is particularly baffling, she said, since access to MAiD for those who request it is available at many locations in the lower mainland, including Delta Hospital right next door to the hospice. That, in her mind, reinforces the view that this is not about patients or families, but rather about a social policy agenda. 

“MAiD is a separate public health care stream, distinct and apart from palliative care. If the government wants to open MAiD facilities that’s their option, but they must not be allowed to download it onto the backs of private palliative care facilities.”
“Palliative care physicians and nurses believe in the philosophy of specialty palliative care and practice as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), which maintains that palliative care provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms and which affirms life and regards death as a normal process. At no point does WHO include euthanasia as an aspect of palliative care!”
Forced closure of the facility ignores the fact that this is a privately owned hospice built on land leased from the government, employs more than fifty people and has contributed significantly to BC’s public health care system.
“This is an invasion of the historic medical discipline of palliative care. The Canadian model is respected around the world. The government and the health authority are running roughshod over that principle and reputation.”
Ms. Ireland expressed hope that “even at this late date” Fraser Health Authority and the BC Ministry of Health will come to the table and discuss the issues, including the financial offer. “Our deepest concern is with those patients and families who have entrusted their final days to us. We want to make sure those days are filled with comfort and peace. That is still our goal.”

The Ministry and the Authority have both publicly stated they plan to take control of the premises currently occupied by the Hospice. The Delta Hospice Society built the Irene Thomas Hospice without taxpayer funds, at the cost of approximately $9,000,000. The Society has operated the Irene Thomas Hospice for 10 years, providing more than 700,000 hours of volunteer labour and $30 million to the public health care system. For the government to step in and seize this private property is “a scandalous appropriation of private assets,” said Ireland.

On Saturday April 4, a Rally for the Delta Hospice will be held in front of the Legislative Buildings at noon. Speakers include Dr. Margaret Cottle (palliative care physician) and Dr. Will Johnston (family physician and obstetrician), Angelina Ireland, President of the Delta Hospice along with MP Tamara Jansen and Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.


For further information, contact: 

Angelina Ireland. President Delta Hospice

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Germany’s Highest Court Creates Right to ‘Self-Determined Death’

This article was published by National Review online on February 26, 2020

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

The logic of euthanasia/assisted suicide has always pointed towards a right to death-on-demand. Assisted-suicide activists deny it for reasons of expediency. But the logic is irrefutable. If there is a “right to die,” how can it be limited to restricting categories?

Well, the Federal Constitutional Court, Germany’s highest judicial body, has gone there and without equivocation. In overturning a legal ban on “professional assisted suicide,” i.e., by doctors, the court ruled that there is virtually an unlimited right “to a self-determined death” — and to also receive help from others in achieving that end. From the AFP story (my emphasis):
Federal Constitutional Court
Judge Andreas Vosskuhle at the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe said the right to a self-determined death included “the freedom to take one’s life and seek help doing so”.
The court also surprised observers by explicitly stating that the right to assisted suicide services should not be limited to the seriously or incurably ill. 
The freedom to choose one’s death “is guaranteed in all stages of a person’s existence”, the verdict read.
This right to receive help dying wouldn’t be limited do doctor-assisted suicide, by the way. An earlier ruling legalized assisted suicide for reasons that did not include a financial consideration.

In what seems more of an afterthought than a principled concern, the court said brakes could be tapped to delay a planned suicide, such as waiting periods. But ultimately, if somebody wants to commit suicide, the right to do so is apparently absolute based on the German constitution’s guarantee of the right to personal freedom and dignity:
Judge Vosskuhle acknowledged that the ruling would not please everyone but said the decision of those wishing to end their lives had to be respected. “We may regret their decision and try everything we can do change their minds but ultimately we must accept their freedom to choose,” he said.
It cannot be denied any longer. The long-predicted (here’s a 2007 warning from me) lethal logical end of accepting the values that underlie the assisted suicide/euthanasia movement — death for virtually anyone who wants to die for any reason — has officially been reached. This would seem to include at least mature children, since childhood is a stage of a person’s existence. Right?

So no more telling us that assisted suicide is only for the terminally ill! No more telling us that rigid guidelines will protect against abuse! Basta! Germany is now officially a suicide culture. If we keep hearkening to the siren song of death emanating from assisted/suicide euthanasia advocates here, sooner or later, we will be too.

Somewhere, Jack Kevorkian is smiling.

Training Doctors How to Assist Suicides

This article was published by National Review online on February 25, 2020

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

In California, a death doctor named Lonnie Shavelson is trying to start an assisted suicide specialty. From the Medscape story:
Organizers of the National Clinicians Conference on Medical Aid in Dying (NCCMAID) did not debate the appropriateness of the practice or focus on policy and ethics but rather sought to train and educate clinicians who are willing to participate. 
“The most imperative need is physician education and training,” said Lonny Shavelson, MD, board chair of the NCCMAID and founder of Bay Area End of Life Options. 
“The law makes no provision for medical training; there is no formal system, and I believe that is one of the major barriers and a shortcoming of the law in every state where it is legal,” he told the audience.
I know Shavelson. Before California legalized assisted suicide, he was a part-time ER doctor who mostly pursued photo journalism rather than practice medicine. These days, Shavelson devotes himself to death doctoring, for $2000 a pop (as of 2016).

As far as I know, Shavelson is not a certified medical expert in the long-term treatment of serious illnesses like cancer or in the provision of palliative care, hospice, etc.

He has long been a committed pro-assisted suicide ideologue. How committed? As he described in his 1995 book, A Chosen Death, Shavelson watched a Hemlock Society leader he called “Sarah” murder a disabled man named Gene who changed his mind about being assisted in suicide.

Shavelson was present in Gene’s home by invitation as Sarah hands Gene a poisonous brew she prepared, saying, “O.K., toots, here you go,” as if she had merely poured him a beer. Gene drank the liquid and began to fall asleep as Sarah put a plastic bag over his head.

But then, suddenly, faced with the prospect of immediate death, Gene screamed, “I’m cold!” and tried to rip the bag off his face. But Sarah wouldn’t allow it. From Shavelson’s account:
His good hand flew up to tear off the plastic bag. Sarah’ s hand caught Gene’s wrist and held it. His body thrust upwards. She pulled his arm away and lay across Gene’s shoulders. Sarah rocked back and forth, pinning him down, her fingers twisting the bag to seal it tight at his neck as she repeated, “the light, Gene, go toward the light.” Gene’s body pushed against Sarah’s. Then he stopped moving.
From what a reader can determine in his book, Shavelson never tried to stop Sarah and never reported the killing to the police. And we are supposed to trust such a man to become a leading medical figure in assisted suicide?

Also remember, Jack Kevorkian was a pathologist who never treated a living patient after medical school. Which brings up an old joke: What do you call the student who ranks last in medical school? Answer: “Doctor.”

Here’s the point: Doctors who assist suicides don’t need to be specially trained in treating a patient’s underlying medical condition. They don’t need to be experienced in spotting depression, signs of coercion, or mental illness. They don’t even have to be caring human beings.

They just need a license to prescribe lethal drugs and/or be otherwise be willing to help suicidal ill people take their own lives. What a disgrace to a venerable profession.

BILL C-7 and broadening Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in Canada

For immediate release
Montreal, 26 February, 2020

BILL C-7 and broadening Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in Canada  

Do we collectively seek the most permissive
voluntary euthanasia program in the world?

Petition: Reject euthanasia Bill C-7 (Link).

Following Monday’s tabling of Bill C-7 in the Canadian Parliament, Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia deplore this new chapter in a political approach leading step by step to death on demand for suffering people in Canada. Bill C-7, removes the requirement that a person receiving “medical assistance in dying” (MAiD) be in a situation where natural death is reasonably foreseeable. This effectively opens the door to any Canadian who is physically sick and suffering, and who wishes it, to be legally killed by a doctor.

Let us be very clear: if this bill is not significantly amended, Canada will have the most permissive euthanasia program in the world.

The Truchon-Gladu decision of the Quebec Superior Court, the government’s refusal to appeal it, and the present bill are proof of the validity of the concerns expressed before MAiD was decriminalized in 2016. We and many other groups insisted that, once anyone is permitted to directly cause the death of another person, there is no safeguard that can prevent this “right” from being extended to groups not initially foreseen.

As opposed to Quebec, which simply decided to conform to the Truchon-Gladu decision by removing de facto the end of life criterion, the federal government at least chose to maintain the use of the reasonably foreseeable natural death criterion, as a way of creating safeguards for MAID requested by patients who are not dying.

However, despite assurances in the Preamble that “Canada is a State Party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and recognizes its obligations under it, including in respect of the right to life… [and] Parliament affirms the inherent and equal value of every person’s life and the importance of taking a human rights-based approach to disability inclusion, Bill C-7 constitutes a threat for some citizens.

It would permit any person who has a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability, and is in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability, to obtain MAID without being near the end of life, only 90 days after making the request.

We are assured that the Bill excludes MAiD on the basis of mental illness, but we know that a Parliamentary committee scheduled for a few months from now will study this possibility, as well as those of the euthanasia of mature minors and of adults incapable of decision-making who have made an advance request. We are concerned that the present bill will pave the way to extension of MAID to these groups.

The “added safeguards” promised for people whose end of life is not approaching are weak indeed. While in the Netherlands the doctor must agree that there are no other potential means of alleviating suffering before euthanizing a patient, Bill C-7 only specifies that the doctor must “ensure that the person has been informed of the means available to relieve their suffering, including, where appropriate, counselling services, mental health and disability support services, community services and palliative care …”, and “… that the person has given serious consideration to those means…” There is no need for the patient to try other options; indeed, there is no need for the means to be even available to him.

Accessibility to such services should, on the contrary, be the priority for our federal and provincial legislatures, long before any new extension of euthanasia.

The Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia seeks to ensure quality medical care and respectful decision-making for vulnerable patients, especially those at risk of pressure to end their lives prematurely through euthanasia or assisted suicide, and to protect the professional integrity of all health care workers.

For further information or to request an interview with
Dr. Catherine Ferrier (Physicians' Alliance) or Me Michel Racicot (LWD), please contact: Charmine Francis (Coordinator)
Tel: +1 (438) 938-9410