Thursday, December 30, 2021

Defeating Assisted Suicide (January 17) Webinar

EPC - USA and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition are co-sponsoring a webinar on how to defeat assisted suicide in your state.

We expect that many states will be debating bills to legalize assisted suicide in 2022. 

When: January 17, 2022 (7 pm EST)

Register in advance for this meeting: (Registration Link)

It is likely that Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York, among many other states, will debate assisted suicide bills in 2022. We are predicting a strong push by the assisted suicide lobby in the Northeastern US.

This webinar will provide information and strategy for groups and individuals defeat assisted suicide bills in their state.

Presenters include:  

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, 

Attorney Sara Buscher, Chair of EPC-USA,

Peter Wolfgang, Executive Director, Family Institute of Connecticut, 

John Kelly, Director of the disability rights group, Second Thoughts Massachusetts.

Register in advance for this meeting: (Registration Link)

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

College of Psychiatrists of Ireland oppose assisted dying.

Press Statement: College of Psychiatrists of Ireland warns against introduction of assisted dying legislation in Ireland - December 20, 2021

(Link to the Press Statement)

The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland (College of Psychiatrists) has warned that physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia (PAS-E) is not compatible with good medical care and that its introduction in Ireland could place vulnerable patients at risk.

PAS-E is also known as “assisted dying” and in the New Year the issue will be the focus of a Special Oireachtas Committee set up to examine the Dying with Dignity Bill (2020).

The College of Psychiatrists is the professional and training body for psychiatrists in Ireland and represents 1,000 professional psychiatrists (both specialists and trainees) across the country. It has today published a position paper on this issue [see editors’ note below] which sets out some key issues regarding the introduction of assisted dying in Ireland. These include:

  • Assisted dying is contrary to the efforts of psychiatrists, other mental health staff and the public to prevent deaths by suicide. 
  • It is likely to place vulnerable people at risk – many requests for assisted dying stem from issues such as fear of being a burden or fear of death rather than from intractable pain. Improvements in existing services should be deployed to manage these issues.
  • While often introduced for patients with terminal illness, once introduced assisted dying is likely to be applied more broadly to other groups, such that the numbers undertaking the procedure grow considerably above expectations; 
  • The introduction of assisted dying represents a radical change in Irish law and a long-standing tradition of medical practice, as exemplified in the prohibition of deliberate killing in the Irish Medical Council ethics guidelines;

Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist Dr Eric Kelleher is a member of the College of Psychiatrists and contributing author to the position paper on assisted dying.

Speaking today, he said: “We are acutely aware of the sensitivity of this subject, and understand and support the fact that dying with dignity is the goal of all end-of-life care. Strengthening our palliative care and social support networks makes this possible. Not only is assisted dying or euthanasia not necessary for a dignified death, but techniques used to bring about death can themselves result in considerable and protracted suffering”.

“Where assisted dying is available, many requests stem, not from intractable pain, but from such causes as fear, depression, loneliness, and the wish not to burden carers. With adequate resources, including psychiatric care, psychological care, palliative medicine, pain services, and social supports, good end-of-life care is possible,” he said.

Dr Siobhan MacHale, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist, a member of the College of Psychiatrists and contributing author to the position paper on assisted dying, said: “Once permitted in a jurisdiction, experience has shown that more and more people die from assisted dying. This is usually the result of progressively broadening criteria through legal challenges because, if a right to assisted dying is conceded, there is no logical reason to restrict this to those with a terminal illness.”

She continued: “Both sides of this debate support the goal of dying with dignity, but neither the proposed legislation nor the status quo (as evidenced by both clinical experience and the power of this debate) is sufficient. It is imperative for the Irish people to continue to demonstrate leadership as a liberal and compassionate society in working together to achieve this.”

The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland’s position paper on physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia is available to view in full here.

Issued on behalf of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland by Gordon MRM
Julian Fleming
Ph: 087 6915147
Karen McCourt, CPsychI Communications Officer

New (MAiD) euthanasia rules put psychiatrists in an impossible position

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In March 2021, Canada's parliament passed Bill C-7 which expanded (MAiD) euthanasia to people who are not terminally ill, but living with chronic conditions. Bill C-7 also approved euthanasia for people with chronic mental illness, but the government put the application of euthanasia for mental illness on hold for two years to enable them to develop protocols.

On December 28, the Globe and Mail published an opinion article by psychiatrists Mark Sinyor and Ari Zaretsky titled: Changes to assisted dying rules put psychiatrists in an impossible position.

Sinyor and Zaretsky begin the article by bringing the readers up to speed about the fact that euthanasia for chronic mental illness may soon be available to Canadians. In their concern they state:
This is destined to create a massive legal quagmire, which, unfortunately, hasn’t got the attention it deserves. Importantly, these are not issues that the government’s forthcoming recommendations, set to be released by this coming March, will be able to resolve.
They present the following scenario:

A 22-year-old woman with bipolar disorder has struggled with her illness for a decade with no relief despite treatment. She sees a psychiatrist who decides that there is no way to relieve her suffering and a doctor ends her life against the wishes of her parents. Her parents then sue the psychiatrist for malpractice. Their lawyers call scientific experts, who testify that the psychiatrist’s assessment that there was no way to relieve her suffering really couldn’t be made with existing evidence. With the psychiatrist on the stand, their lawyer offers a stinging challenge: “Doctor, you made a determination that is considered medically impossible, given the best available science, and now my clients’ daughter is dead.”
They continue:
The issue is that, despite much discussion and rhetoric, there is essentially no science behind the practice of physician assisted death for mental illness. There has never been a study examining how often intolerable suffering exists after comprehensive psychiatric treatment, let alone whether psychiatrists have any ability to accurately predict when that might be the case (as would be required by Canadian law). We don’t even have a proper scientific definition for the concept of “enduring and intolerable suffering,” which is at the crux of the legislation.
I restate, there is essentially no science behind the practice of physician assisted death for mental illness. Sinyor and Zaretsky then state, allowing euthanasia for mental illnes contradicts the dictum of medicine - Do No Harm.

Sinyor and Zaretsky then state:
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and the Expert Advisory Group on Medical Assistance in Dying have all released statements highlighting that we currently lack the knowledge to determine whether a particular person’s suffering in mental illness can be remedied. This means that, on a practical level, physician assisted death for mental illness cannot be legal in Canada. But a relatively small group of vocal psychiatrists is readying to push forward as soon as the law is expanded (likely in early 2023). This is a broken process.
In other words, a few philosophically and politically motivated psychiatrists have been placed into the position of deciding that euthanasia for mental illness alone will happen.

Sinyor and Zaretsky conclude:
When patients come through our doors, they correctly expect to be speaking to experts. If we tell them that their suffering cannot be relieved, they ought to be confident that such determinations have a basis in evidence and science, especially when the alternative offered is death. An appeal for proper scientific investigation prior to implementation of a proposed medical treatment should not be controversial in the 21st century.

Mark Sinyor is a psychiatrist and suicide prevention researcher at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Ari Zaretsky is chief of the department of psychiatry at Sunnybrook.

Previous articles on this topic:

  • Quebec committee opposes euthanasia for mental illness (Link). 
  • Canadian Psychiatric Association's dangerous position on euthanasia (Link).
  •  The complexity of assessing mental health and capacity (Link). 
  • As difficult as it is sometimes, there is always hope. Euthanasia for mental illness is abandonment (Link).

Idaho man was charged with assisted suicide but it may be changed to homicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Idaho media reported that Dakota Travis Honeycutt (19) of Nampa Idaho was charged with assisted suicide, but is likely to be charged with homicide in the death of Kevin Hunt (48) who had been his room mate.

According to KTBV 7 news, Honeycutt was arrested after a body was found in Hunter’s Creek Sports Park. Honeycutt told police that he watched the Hunt shoot himself, but did not harm him. KTBV 7 reported:
In an interview Sunday night, Honeycutt told detectives that he drove the victim to Hunter’s Creek Park on Saturday night, and watched him shoot himself at around 9 p.m, according to the sheriff's office. Honeycutt said he left the body on the sidewalk, took the gun, and disposed of it before heading back to their apartment.
Ada County Sherrifs office provided an update on the case on December 28 stating:
An Ada County prosecutor said in court Tuesday she expects to charge at 19-year-old Middleton man with a homicide for his role in the shooting death of a 48-year-old man at Hunter’s Creek Sports Complex in Star Saturday night.

Dakota Travis Honeycutt initially told investigators he watched roommate Kevin Hunt complete suicide at the park on Christmas night with a shotgun — and then left Hunt at the park and drove away without telling anyone what happened.

Honeycutt was arrested and charged with felony counts of assisting in a suicide and destruction of evidence while detectives continued to work on the case.

Detectives continued to collect evidence, which included interviewing Honeycutt.

Deputy Ada County Prosecutor Heather Reilly told a judge during Honeycutt’s arraignment on Tuesday that additional evidence collected since Monday indicates what Honeycutt initially told detectives wasn’t accurate and that her office will be charging him with a homicide.

Under Idaho law, a homicide would be charged under the murder or manslaughter statutes. Prosecutors did not say which charge they are considering.

The Ada County Sheriff’s Dive Team found the shotgun in the river Monday morning.
The Ada County Sheriff's office has not disclosed the information that led them to conclude that the death was a homicide rather than assisting a suicide. Honeycutt claimed that he didn't cause the death of Hunt, but his confession led police to prosecuting him for assisted suicide. As stated by the Sheriff's office, further evidence indicates that it wasn't an assisted suicide but rather a homicide.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition 2021 Year in Review.

In 2021 Spain legalized euthanasia, New Mexico legalized assisted suicide, and Austria legalized assisted suicide. Canada expanded its euthanasia law and California expanded its assisted suicide law

There were also victories. Portugal's President vetoed the euthanasia bill and Ireland rejected euthanasia.

2021 will be remembered for the COVID pandemic. Québec held an inquiry into the COVID deaths where we learned that some deaths were inappropriated listed as COVID deaths and some people with treatable COVID died by euthanasia.

The following is a list of the most popular and important articles on euthanasia and assisted suicide in 2021.

Child euthanasia was debated in Canada.

1. Québec mother wants her 4 year-old son to die by euthanasia (Link).

The issue of conscience rights for medical professionals was debated in Canada's parliament.

2. Kelly Block (MP) Bill C-268: Protection of Freedom of Conscience Act (Link).

Québec inquiry uncovers that some treatable COVID patients died by euthanasia.

3. Québec doctor testifies that some COVID patients were euthanized rather than treated (Link). 

On March 17 Canada passed Bill C-7.

4. Canada passed Bill C-7 permitting euthanasia for mental illness (Link).

The Delta Hospice Society has continued to battle the British Columbia government.

5. The Delta Hospice Society continues to fight for safe places to die (Link).

In the Netherlands, Randy Knol is working to have a suicide powder banned.

6. Father of 19-year-old who died by suicide powder wants it banned (Link).

The other side claims there is no pressure placed on people to die by euthanasia.

7. British Columbia cancer patient pressured toward euthanasia (Link).

In Belgium, newborns are being euthanized outside of the law.

8. Belgium: Euthanasia of newborns practised outside of the law. (Link).

Canada's 2020 euthanasia report uncovers euthanasia for loneliness

9. Killing to cure loneliness. Canada's euthanasia experiment (Link).

Andrew Lawton, who is a survived suicide attempts wrote.

10. I'd be dead if C-7 was law ten years ago (Link).

Other important articles in 2021.

In February we ran a campaign opposing Child euthanasia in the Netherlands and euthanasia for incompetent people.

In June we ran a campaign opposing assisted suicide by Telehealth.

In July we had great news in Ireland

In August we helped a woman prevent the euthanasia of her husband and we learned about Fraser Health reducing palliative care.

In September we ran a campaign opposing the California euthanasia court case and we published new research on the experience with death by assisted suicide. 

Nancy Elliott
In October we mourned the death of Nancy Elliott, the past EPC-USA Chair and we once again reported on research on assisted suicide deaths.

In November we reported on the court case in Oregon to eliminate the residency requirement and Italy's first assisted suicide death. We had good news when Portugal's President vetoed the euthanasia bill.

In December Netherlands doctors approved euthanasia for incompetent people.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) is a membership and donor based group. Please become a member (Membership Link) or donate to the EPC (Donation Link).

Assisted Suicicd Lobby Works To Strip Safeguards Away After Legalizing Assisted Suicide

This article was published by the Patients Rights Council

Assisted suicide is legal in California. Earlier this year, California adjusted one of its “safeguards” on the waiting period between the first request for lethal drugs and the second formal request. The original law maintained that the patient must wait 15 days between the first request and the second. California shortened that “safeguard” to a mere 48 hours if the first physician doesn’t believe in a best-guess prognostication that the patient will last that long. 

Now, another “safeguard” is being challenged. Proponents are pushing for a change to the requirement that a patient self-administer the drugs because some people who fulfill eligibility requirements for assisted suicide cannot self-administer the medication because of their condition. (They cannot swallow, push a plunger, etc.) So even though they are eligible under the law, they cannot administer the medication on their own. 

But changing this safeguard is dangerous. If someone else is administering the drugs, the practice is euthanasia/murder instead of suicide. Assisted suicide is already ripe for abuse because there is little to no oversight after the drugs leave the pharmacy. If it becomes legal for someone else to administer lethal drugs to a patient, when no one is overseeing the process, with elder and disability abuse out of control, how can proponents say abuses will not occur?

Article: California judge rejects preliminary injunction to permit euthanasia (Link).

Monday, December 20, 2021

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition responds with help.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition regularly receives calls and emails from people who are considering euthanasia or know someone who is considering or died by euthanasia. We are here to help.

This weekend we received two phone calls and an email.

The first was from a supporter who said that her brother is seeking death by (MAiD) euthanasia. A few years ago her brother had a stroke. Her brother is not sick or dying, but he is not happy with his life. He was not talking about "MAiD" until a "support" worker spoke to him about MAiD. I offered advice, support and direction and possibly a way forward to prevent her brother from dying by euthanasia. The problem is that the supporter lives in the Maritimes and her brother lives in BC. We have offered to cover the cost for her to visit her brother. There may be more information about this story in the future.

The second call was from a man who was seeking death by euthanasia. I told him who we are and that we clearly don't provide or refer for MAiD. He wanted to talk about his situation. He explained that he had cancer and he feared a bad death. He didn't actually want to die and he spoke about the treatment that he is scheduled to receive. We discussed options around pain and symptom management and I explained why euthanasia is a bad idea. At the end of the conversation he thanked me for talking to him and I encouraged him to seek care, not death. I told him he could call back at anytime. I hope that I disuaded him from pursuing euthanasia.

The third was an email from a woman who stated that her father, who lives in Quebec, was scheduled to die by euthanasia. She explained that her father has dementia but he was still able to communicate with her. She said that her father is a practising Catholic but her sister, who is the power of attorney for healthcare, has blocked her from talking to her father and has refused to discuss his care options. I offered advice about how to prevent the death, knowing that her sister has the legal right to make decisions.
The woman wrote that she didn't know how it was possible for them to have approved killing her father and she stated:
I don't understand why it's not illegal. It is murder.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is here to help. 

COVID-19 patients may be eligible for euthanasia in New Zealand

The following article was published by DefendNZ on December 19, 2021.

An Official Information Act reply to The Defender, from the Ministry of Health, which says that patients with COVID-19 could be eligible for euthanasia, has left National MP Simon O’Connor disappointed but not surprised.
In November The Defender wrote to the New Zealand Ministry of Health (MOH) to ask some important questions about the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand.

In light of the serious deficiencies in the End of Life Choice Act (EOLCA), and concerns that have been raised by healthcare professionals, we felt it was crucial to put some urgent questions to the MOH.

In our Official Information Act (OIA) request we asked the following question:

“Could a patient who is severely hospitalised with Covid-19 potentially be eligible for assisted suicide or euthanasia under the Act if a health practitioner viewed their prognosis as less than 6 months?”

There were several reasons why The Defender wanted to seek clarity from the MOH about this issue.

Firstly, New Zealand is currently described as being in a precarious position when it comes to COVID-19 and hospital resources. In light of this, it would not be hard to envisage a situation in which a speedy and sizeable rise in COVID-19 hospitalisations could result in pressure to utilise euthanasia and assisted suicide as tools to resolve such a serious crisis.

Overseas commentators have raised the prospect of these kind of unethical motivations since early in this pandemic.

Last year’s tragic case of the elderly Canadian woman who had an assisted suicide to avoid another COVID-19 lockdown highlights exactly why caution is warranted in relation to COVID-19 and euthanasia.

“The lack of stringent safeguards in the EOLCA raised red flags with us. Could a patient with COVID-19 find their way into the eligibility criteria? And, if so, what serious risks would this pose to the already often-vulnerable elderly members of our communities?” says The Defender editor Henoch Kloosterboer.

The MOH responded to our OIA request on Tuesday (7th of December, 2021).

Their reply to The Defender started on a more promising note:

“There are clear eligibility criteria for assisted dying. These include that a person must have a terminal illness that is likely to end their life within six months.”
But then their response becomes more disturbing (emphasis added):
“A terminal illness is most often a prolonged disease where treatment is not effective. The EOLC Act states eligibility is determined by the attending medical practitioner (AMP), and the independent medical practitioner.”
This raises serious concerns.

Firstly, there is nothing concrete about the phrase “most often”, in fact, its inclusion in this specific context clearly seems to suggest that the MOH considers the definition of terminal illness to be subjective and open to interpretation.

The very next sentence seems to back this up. It clarifies that the MOH considers the attending medical practitioner (AMP) and the independent medical practitioner to be empowered by the EOLCA to make the determination about what does and doesn’t qualify as a terminal illness.

“In light of this vague interpretation, it is reasonable to suggest that COVID-19 could be classified as a ‘terminal illness’ depending on the prognosis of the patient and the subjective judgments of the AMP and independent medical practitioner. This feels like we’ve been sold one thing, and been delivered another.” says Kloosterboer.

In the final paragraph the MOH put this issue beyond doubt when they state (emphasis added):
“Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis; therefore, the Ministry cannot make definitive statements about who is eligible. In some circumstances a person with COVID-19 may be eligible for assisted dying.”
If you examine the eligibility criteria for assisted suicide and euthanasia, as stated on the MOH website, it becomes easier to see how, given the right circumstances, a COVID-19 diagnosis could qualify:

  • aged 18 years or over 
  • a citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand 
  • suffering from a terminal illness that is likely to end their life within six months 
  • in an advanced state of irreversible decline in physical capability 
  • experiencing unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner that the person considers tolerable 
  • competent to make an informed decision about assisted dying

It seems to us that the only possible protective factor here, and it’s an extremely flimsy one, is that all of this hinges on the tenuous grounds of how the phrase ‘terminal illness’ is interpreted.

In particular, whether or not the AMP and independent medical practitioner are willing to hold firm to the MOH’s suggestion to us that a terminal illness is a “prolonged disease”.

Even then, the term ‘prolonged disease’ is still extremely fraught due to its highly subjective nature. Who is to say that a medical practitioner who considers an illness which lasts longer than a fortnight to be a ‘prolonged disease’ isn’t actually correct in making such a determination?

The End of Life Choice Act doesn’t offer any clarity or robust safeguards that would put this matter beyond doubt. Instead it does just the opposite, leaving the door wide open for abuse.

When we put this matter to National MP Simon O’Connor, he expressed concerns about what clearly seems to be an expansion of the new law less than a month after it came into force.

“When New Zealanders voted in the referendum in 2020, did they anticipate the law could be used for COVID-19 patients? The wording of the law was always deliberately broad and interpretable, placing far too much into the judgement of the doctor.”

He also said that this development raises serious questions about the problems in the EOLCA.

“In my mind, it is just a timely demonstration of how badly drafted the law is. When you consider the lack of key safeguards, and the risky shroud of secrecy that the EOLCA has thrown over the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide, you can see that those of us warning about this Act shouldn’t have been dismissed so flippantly,” says O’Connor.

The implications of this are extremely serious.

Not simply because of the potential threat COVID-19 poses to our ill-equipped NZ healthcare system, or the fact that vulnerable elderly people are the most affected by the ravages of this illness.

There is also the fact that an unacceptable lack of transparency has been built into the EOLCA which will cloak all of this in a dangerous veil of secrecy that prevents robust public scrutiny.

In a nutshell, the poorly considered structure of the EOLCA has now made the COVID-19 pandemic potentially even more dangerous for the people of Aotearoa New Zealand.

#DefendNZ, who publish The Defender, are calling on the Ministry of Health to take urgent action to ensure that the End of Life Choice Act cannot be used to provide assisted suicide or euthanasia to COVID-19 patients in New Zealand.

#DefendNZ have created a petition to send a message to Parliament, calling for urgent amendments to the law including required detailed reporting and required independent witnesses – among other things – and are asking concerned citizens to sign and share it.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Suicide Contagion is REAL and Assisted Suicide is part of the problem

The following article was published by the Patients Rights Council.

The New York Times investigative team talks about a disturbing discovery on an episode of The Daily podcast titled “Kids Are Dying How Are These Sites Still Allowed?” and a companion article called “Where the Despairing Log On, and Learn Ways to Die”

The podcast is about websites that exist online where people can access information about how to kill themselves. This information includes methods and recipes for lethal cocktails published by proponents of assisted suicide laws. According to the New York Times reporters, the websites function like social media platforms where users can interact and, tragically, encourage each other.

Some of the stats listed in the episode are astounding. For example, the investigators report that one of these websites gets six million global views per month. That is four times the traffic of the National Suicide Prevention website. The reporters also mention that nearly half of the users on the website are under the age of 25. 

Jackie’s Story

Shawn Shatto, one of the young people mentioned in the written article, took her own life in 2019 at the age of 25. She used a recipe published on the website discussed in The Daily episode, a recipe which was written by assisted suicide proponents.

Shawn’s mother, Jackie, says “Talking about assisted suicide is very dangerous, especially when you have the younger kids on there and the vulnerable that feel lost and are in pain. I believe when Shawn went on that website and she saw the way they were talking about ending their lives saying ‘Well, you know, it’s okay to kill yourself over a terminal illness.’ She probably thought ‘Yeah, I’m in pain and I’m dealing with this, why can’t I die like that too?’” 

How Can We Prevent Suicide When it is Promoted as ‘Heroic’?

Assisted suicide laws are dangerous to vulnerable people. The highly publicized assisted suicides that proponents promote and call “heroic” are having a contagion effect. Proponents, in their uni-focused drive to legalize, throw caution to the wind by glamorizing assisted suicides and calling it “courageous,” contrary to all media guidelines for reporting on a suicide published by suicide prevention advocates. They know that acceptance of their dangerous public policy drops dramatically if they don’t use their euphemisms and just call it what it is: suicide. Promoting suicide accelerates suicide rates and preys on vulnerable people, people like Shawn. It needs to stop.

Austria legalizes assisted suicide for people with disabilities

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Austria Parliament
Bad news: Austria's parliament passed a bill, yesterday, legalizing assisted suicide. The assisted suicide bill is a reaction to last year's Austrian Supreme Court decision. Wesley Smith stated that the Austrian Supreme Court said that the right to self-determination includes the right to a “dignified death,” and also the right of a person who has decided of their own free will to kill himself or herself to get help in doing so from another person.

The Associated Press referred to it as a tightly limited right to assisted suicide whereas my analysis of the bill found that the language of the bill specifically permits assisted suicide for people with disabilities who are not otherwise dying.

On October 26 I wrote that the Austrian bill states that chronically or terminally ill adults to make provisions for an assisted suicide. When assisted suicide is permitted for chronically ill people the law will become fairly wide open. Many people with disabilities, who are not otherwise dying, have chronic conditions.

DW news reported that:
The Assisted Suicide Act gives the option of an advance directive — similar to a living will — only to people over 18 who are terminally ill or suffer from a permanent, debilitating condition.

Each case is to be assessed by two doctors, one of whom would have to be an expert in palliative medicine. As part of their duties, they must determine whether a patient is opting for euthanasia independently.

At least 12 weeks must pass before a patient is granted access to the procedure, to ensure that euthanasia is not being sought due to a temporary crisis. However, for patients in the "terminal phase" of an illness, the period can be shortened to two weeks.
The Austrian assisted suicide law, which is tauted as a tightly worded law, is similar to other assisted suicide laws with the exception that it contains a longer waiting period but the person does not need too be dying. The language of the bill permits assisted suicide for people with disabilities who are not otherwise dying.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Switzerland has not approved suicide pod.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The International media is gaga over Philip Nitschke's Sarco or suicide pod. I try not to write a lot about Nitshcke because he runs a suicide business where he provides online suicide books and devices and he has a website and chatroom explaining to people the best suicide methods.

When the story was released, I called Sarco a deadly lucrative stunt for Nitschke and I suggested that the article by Clare O'Dea for Swissinfo confirmed my thoughts. O'Dea wrote:
The first Sarco is being displayed at the Museum for Sepulchral Culture in Kassel, Germany from September 2021 to August 2022. The second turned out not to be aesthetically pleasing. For that and various other reasons it’s not the best one to use.
In suggest that the purpose of Sarco is to promote Nitschke's suicide business. This is precisely why Sarco is designed in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

Now Snopes published an article by Nur Ibrahim stating that Switzerland has not approved Nitschke's suicide pod. I don't always agree with Snopes, but Snopes is correct when it states:
Dr. Philip Nitschke, the man behind the Sarco capsule, claims that the pods have passed a “legal review” and will be available for use in Switzerland in 2022. But details of the “legal review” have not been revealed. Experts consulted by Sarco have argued use of the pod falls outside of Swiss law. A number of assisted suicide organizations in Switzerland have also expressed skepticism over using the machine, and the legality surrounding it.
I think that Michael Cook, the editor of Mercatornet, was right when he referred to Sarco as both a gas chamber and a coffin.

Snopes is right when it states that Sarco falls outside of Swiss law.

Nitschke has once again gained international attention and free advertising from the media for his suicide business. As Paul Russell said a few years ago in his article about Nitschke - "It's a business after all."

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

‘Systemic Ageism’ Blamed for Excess COVID Deaths, Ignored with Euthanasia

This article was published by National Review online on December 14, 2021

By Wesley J Smith

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York wasn’t the only government that inflicted blatant harm and unnecessary death on elders during during the Covid pandemic. Quebec did too. From the Toronto Sun story:
“Systemic ageism,” outdated health-care facilities and government reforms contributed to the tragedy that unfolded in the province’s long-term care homes during the first wave of COVID-19, a former Quebec health minister told a coroner’s inquest on Monday.

Réjean Hébert, who is also a gerontologist, told coroner Géhane Kamel that nearly 10 per cent of the province’s long-term care patients died of COVID-19 in the early months of the pandemic — a rate five times higher compared to Canada as a whole.
It didn’t start with Covid:
Hébert, who served as health minister under former premier Pauline Marois, said that even before the pandemic there was a tendency to shift health-care resources toward other priorities, leading to a lack of doctors and nurses to care for vulnerable seniors in care homes. As a result, the homes were no longer able to provide acute care, forcing them to transfer distressed patients to hospital, which was “extremely difficult” for those with cognitive impairments, he said.

Hébert also pointed to outdated facilities where patients were subjected to inadequate ventilation and forced to share bedrooms and bathrooms as factors that contributed to Quebec’s high mortality rate.
Article: Quebec doctor testified that COVID patients were euthanized rather than treated (Link).  

Now, do you think that this clear warning about the threat to elders caused by “systemic ageism” will be applied as Quebec and the rest of Canada expand access to euthansia among the elderly? Is Putin a friend of Ukraine?

The media will often report in detail and with righteous indignation about varied failings and abuses in health-care systems — such as the drumbeat of criticism often seen against HMOs in the states. But these crucial questions are often forgotten once the subject turns to euthanasia.

I call this phenomenon “Euthanasia Land,” a magical realm of chirping birds and butterflies, where systemic failures in health-care and social policy disappear and life terminations happen only under the most rigorous protective guidelines and by the most deeply caring and compassionate medical personnel.

But Euthanasia Land isn’t real. The crises reported in this story have equal impact on doctor-prescribed death as they do lapses in proper care. They are just far less discussed.

Consider the Canadian woman who was euthanized because she didn’t want to be lonely during Covid lockdowns. She wasn’t allowed family visitors while she was alive, but they were allowed to be with her when her doctor killed her. She wasn’t the only such victim, either. A Canadian government study found that hundreds of people who died by euthanasia in 2019 requested death at least in part due to loneliness and isolation.

But none of that stops the death juggernaut. When these horrors are reported, which isn’t often, they are soon forgotten.

Would it have been too much for the critics of the elder-care in Quebec — and the reporter, for that matter — to connect these crucial dots, and thereby open a vital conversation about how these same systemic problems also impact the provision of euthanasia?

I’ll bet the thought didn’t occur to them because, somehow, it never does.

More articles on this topic:

  • Quebec doctor testified that COVID patients were euthanized rather than treated (Link).  
  • Quebec COVID inquest uncovers nursing home deaths from neglect and abuse (Link).

Monday, December 13, 2021

Quebec anaesthetist fighting "euthanasia" allegation

The following article was written by Michael Cook and published by Bioedge on December 12, 2021. The article refers to the act as euthanasia, but it doesn't appear to be euthanasia. Stories from Québec often refer to euthanasia in the wrong manner. 

Withdrawing a ventilator can be inappropriate, but it is not euthanasia. The patient does seem to have been medically abandoned. Since the patient was not given a lethal dose or suffocated with a pillow or some other device, therefore it is not euthanasia. Euthanasia is a form of homicide.

Providing or withdrawing treatment is a treatment decision that requires consent. The anaestetist disconnected the ventilator without the consent of the patient or the substitute decision maker. Therefore the act appears to be unethical, but it does not appear to be euthanasia. The article by Michael Cook follows:

Michael Cook
By Michael Cook

Police blotter. Here is a case from Quebec which suggests two things. First, that Canada’s medical aid in dying legislation does not mean that doctors are allowed to kill patients willy-nilly. Second, that some doctors take a very utilitarian view of their patients.

This week a court lifted a ban on revealing the name of a retired anaesthetist who is being investigated by the police over a death at Hôpital de la Cité-de-la-Santé de Laval. Dr Isabelle Desormeau had requested confidentiality because publicity could prejudice her case.

The incident in question occurred on October 31, 2019. An 84-year-old man went to the hospital complaining of a stomach ache, which was actually an intestinal obstruction. Emergency surgery was required. Dr Desormeau and the surgeon spoke with the man about the risks. He asked them to “prolong life through limited care”.

The operation began at about 2 am. The surgeon discovered that large parts of the small intestine were necrosed. The man’s niece was consulted and told that if they proceeded with the operation, the man would have to wear a colostomy bag and would be in hospital for a long time. It was decided to “conclude the operation and offer palliative treatment”.

Back in the operating room, the surgeon “closed the patient’s abdominal wall”. But then the anaesthetist and the nurses quarrelled. Dr Desormeau allegedly questioned “the usefulness of finding a room for the patient when he could be taken directly to the morgue”. She said that the man had no one to accompany him in palliative care. One of the nurses retorted that the patient had a daughter.

In the end the anaesthetist disconnected him from the ventilator at around 4:45 am. The nurse claims that she protested several times that “this is not the way to do things and that the patient should be returned to the floor to die with dignity”.

The man died at about 5.04 am. The anaesthetist walked out without signing a death certificate, leaving that job to the surgeon.

The investigation continues.
Euthanasia is an intentional action or omission to cause death. Withdrawing the ventilator was not the cause of death, the medical condition of the patient is the cause of death. Withdrawing a ventilator without consent is medically unethical, but it is not euthanasia.