Friday, April 30, 2021

Maine report: 30 people died by assisted suicide in 2020.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Maine assisted suicide law came into effect in September 2019. 

According to the 2020 Maine assisted suicide report, the first full year of the Maine regime there were: 
  • 50 people were approved for death by lethal drugs, 
  • 30 people died by assisted suicide, 
  • 15 of the 50 people died a natural death and 
  • one death, it was unknown whether the person died by assisted suicide or not.
When the death is unknown it may be an unreported assisted suicide death.

The data from the Maine assisted suicide report is sparse, at best.

The report does not indicate if anyone was sent for mental health or capacity assessment, or how often the doctor was present at the death, or even time-frame from ingestion to death.

In 2019, in Oregon, the time of death ranged from 1 minute to 47 hours, while in 2020 the time of death ranged from 6 minutes to 8 hours.

The report does indicate that 49 of the 50 people who were approved for assisted suicide were white, which is similar to other jurisdictions.

The majority of those approved for assisted suicide had cancer, but 6 people had "other illnesses." There is no indication what the other illnesses were. In Oregon people with diabetes have died by assisted suicide.

The language of the report.

It is insidious that the Maine report refers to assisted suicide deaths as dying by patient choice. Nothing in the report assures us that these deaths were by patient choice. The self-reporting system is designed to protect the doctor who participate in assisted suicide, it does not assure us that the law has been followed (a doctor that approves the death, is the same doctor who writes the lethal prescription, is the same doctor who sends the assisted suicide report to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and does not provide a third-party independent system that assures us that the law has been followed). The doctor that is required to send in the report is not required to be present at the death.

Further to that referring to assisted suicide as death by patient choice suggests that natural deaths are not deaths by patient choice. The language in the assisted suicide debate is becoming ridiculous.

It is important to re-iterate what assisted suicide is. Assisted suicide is an act whereby a one person (usually a doctor) agrees that a person's qualifies to die by suicide and prescribes the lethal drugs for the act. The death ensues by lethal drugs.

We oppose assisted suicide because the law gives the power to a person (usually a doctor) to be involved with causing the death of another person.

It is not safe for the law to give anyone the right to be involved with causing the death of another person.

Australian Murder acquittal raises serious questions

This article was published by HOPE Australia on April 29, 2021.

By Branka van der Linden, Director, HOPE

New South Wales woman Barbara Eckersley has been found not guilty of murder, and guilty only of the lesser charge of manslaughter, after putting lethal drugs in the soup given to her mother.

92-year-old Botanist Mary White died in her nursing home in August 2018, after eating the soup into which her daughter, Barbara Eckersley, had laced with drugs that are used to euthanize animals, leftover from Eckersley’s time as a wildlife volunteer.

The drugs – which Eckersley had kept for many years – were slipped into her mother Mary’s food without Mary realizing. She died shortly after the meal.

Testifying in court last week, Eckersley denied intending to kill her mother. According to the ABC report, Eckersley said: 
"I was intending only to make her comfortable for the time she was in my care."

That Eckersley didn’t intend to kill her mother is obviously an explanation the jury accepted, hence the manslaughter conviction (rather than murder.)

But one is left to ask how they came to that conclusion.

After all, Eckersley had kept the euthanasia drugs for years after she ceased her voluntary position as a wildlife volunteer. She took them to the nursing home where her mother was living. She poured them into her soup and then allowed her mother to eat. She also failed to tell the police that she had done so when they interviewed her about her mother’s death.

How did the jury decide that Eckersley only intended to make her mother comfortable, or did they turn a blind eye because Mary was 92 and had suffered a stroke?

What challenges does Mary’s death and Eckersley’s acquittal of murder charges have to say about the impending euthanasia debate in NSW?

Proposed assisted suicide regimes allow for lethal drugs to be kept in a person’s home, until they are taken at a time of their own choosing. But the Eckersley case has exposed how easy it is for lethal drugs to be slipped into someone’s food without their knowledge or consent.

It also shows how juries are reluctant to convict on murder in these circumstances.

Alarmingly, a video of Mary “agitated and distressed, barely able to move, except to wipe her eyes” was played to the jury as part of Eckersley’s defense; as if somehow, Mary’s frail state was relevant to whether or not her daughter intended to kill her.

The outcome of this case is a foreshadowing of how juries might treat breaches of euthanasia and assisted suicide “safeguards” if these laws are introduced in NSW.

Attention now turns to the sentencing, which will reveal how the NSW judicial system views the involuntary death of the elderly at the hands of another.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Euthanasia: Lawyers authorizing medicine and silencing doctors who consider it bad medicine.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr Kiely Williams
Convivium published an excellent article by Kiely Williams, a Calgary physician and Faye Sonier, an Ottawa lawyer titled: Open Wide and Say Law.

Williams and Sonier point out how Bill C-7 expanded Canada's euthanasia law in ways that physicians would not dare to go, they stated:

Psychiatrist Dr. Mark Sinyor noted that the bill, which extends MAID to those with disabilities and mental illness, was not based on scientific study. As the disability community passionately stated, repeatedly and to no avail, C-7’s impetus was the conclusion of healthy, able-bodied people that the lives of those with disabilities and disease weren’t worth living. When they and the UN Human Rights Council's rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities argued for better care, supports, and housing, they got physician-assisted suicide.

Dr. Sinyor showed that arguments for C-7 could be examined to see if MAID is the best treatment for those suffering various conditions. For example, the new legal concept of "intolerable suffering," foundational in the MAID legislation, hasn’t been scientifically studied or defined. How often could high-quality mental health care alleviate such suffering? There’s no research to consult.
Faye Sonier
Williams and Sonier point out that politicians have decided that physicians would prescribe suicide in circumstances where there is no evidence to base these decisions. Bill C-7 not only expands the euthanasia parameters of the euthanasia law but it also changes medicine. They state:
What politicians wouldn’t acknowledge is that they have fundamentally changed the doctor-patient relationship. It’s been thousands of years since physicians have purposely ended the lives of their patients. Since Hippocrates, if a patient died as a direct result of a physician’s actions, this was the ultimate failure in patient care. Now it is a “treatment” option. While rates of physician burnout and suicide are on the rise, this additional expectation which cuts against everything we believe is unconscionable.
Williams and Sonier continue by showing how Bill C-268, the conscience rights bill from MP Kelly Block will once again enable physicians to make evidence based medical decisions. They state:
When your physician advises you on a course of care, you should expect them to rely on their education, experience, and judgment. And you should expect it whether you have a questionable cough, a permanent disability, or Stage 4 cancer. For this reason, we support MP Kelly Block's Bill C-268 on intimidation of health care professionals, which makes it an offence to coerce a medical professional into providing MAID or to fire them for refusing to participate in the procedure.

Block's bill ensures that physicians can practice medicine in a way that considers the patient as an individual facing unique circumstances, and that these same physicians cannot be sanctioned for refusing to parrot federal law or hospital policy that cannot possibly account for all the factors involved in high-quality, patient-centered care.
The article ends by reiterating how Bill C-7 has changed medicine.
When MAID was first introduced in Canada, doctors and patients were emphatically promised that there would be safeguards to prevent abuse. Five years later these safeguards are gone, despite pleas from the disability community, aboriginal leaders, and palliative care physicians. This is not medicine.

Euthanasia death: Were Canada's MAiD (protocols) ignored?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
A situation that required basic treatment and care escalated to a death by lethal injection.
I received a phone call from a woman who was disgusted by the (MAiD) euthanasia death of her father.

Basically, the rules or protocols for MAiD were ignored, her father had agreed to die by euthanasia based on suffering caused by medical neglect and he was likely incompetent at the time of death.

Because of privacy, I cannot go into the issues, nonetheless her story was very upsetting. Her father went to the hospital because he had experienced a fall. While in the hospital he contracted an infection which led to conditions that caused him to experience humiliating side-effects.

The daughter explained that her father was living with depression and had physical issues that required him to receive pain medication, but at no time was he considering euthanasia until a nurse brought it up with him, even though he was not dying or terminally ill.

Because his daughter is weighing her options, all I can say is that this appears to be a case of medical neglect, where he received inadequate pain and symptom relief and he was not terminally ill. This was a completely preventable situation that got completely out-of-hand.

It is also very upsetting that once his euthanasia (MAiD) death was scheduled other medical treatment and care seemed to be considered unimportant since he was going to die by euthanasia anyway.

It is ridiculous that a situation that required basic treatment and care escalated to death by lethal injection.

Welcome to the world of MAiD.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

What is the “Good” of Euthanasia? Part II: Subjective justification implies no objective moral vindication

By Gordon Friesen, EPC board member

It is my conviction that the greatest challenge, of our times, lies in (correctly) understanding the moral evolution at the base of so much recent social change, including the arrival of legal euthanasia which concerns us here. Not the changes themselves, that is to say, but our faulty understanding thereof.

Now that might sound intuitively silly. For we would more naturally assume that the harm of euthanasia (whatever that might be) lies simply in the effects of the act itself, regardless of what anybody might think, of the one, or the other. Unfortunately, however, I would suggest this natural thinking, and those natural assumptions, are precisely what has brought us to our most uncomfortable current position! For there is a huge difference between legal euthanasia, conceived as a regrettable, exceptional recourse, available as a choice only, in extraordinary circumstances (as originally proposed); and euthanasia as we know it today (an increasingly routine, procedure conceived as ideal treatment – as a veritable panacea even -- for whatever might ail us). Yet neither the nature of euthanasia, nor its legal status, has changed between times. What has changed, clearly, is only our understanding of these things, and our attitudes towards them.

Quite simply: euthanasia was previously deemed to be objectively “wrong”; was then allowed as a strictly limited subjective choice; and since that time (by the strange alchemy of human understanding) has been translated to a new status of objective “right”! Clearly, something is indeed wrong with this picture.

The most important point, however, is that these changes in mentality (and hence the regrettable effects they are producing) would appear to be the result of fallacious moral thinking; and are hence capable of positive adjustment through the rigorous correction of those errors. Nonetheless (may the reader be forewarned) that correction is not of an easy nature, because it requires suspending our most fundamental intuitive moral assumption: that things really “are” either good or evil (right or wrong). And that suspension, ironically, appears to be no less difficult for those who depend upon it to carry their point, than it does for their more traditional adversaries.

Let us first illustrate these problems (and their correction) in reverse.

Many people demand access to recreational drugs as a personal choice. In fact, the question is very similar to that settled around the sale of alcohol in the 1920’s. It is admitted that freely available and normalized consumption of drugs and alcohol will ruin many lives, especially those of less capable people who will be more easily swept away in their dependence. However, more sophisticated people will claim that they have no such fragility, fully understand the risks, and finally, that for them, even debilitating addiction is a voluntary autonomous choice, that others must respect.

Similarly, there are those who would normalize the practice of prostitution. We immediately recognize the risk of people being drawn into such a life, and the actual trafficking and slavery which results from responding to a potential demand which has always been much larger than the willing supply. However, once again, certain people will defend their own personal right to profit from any economic opportunities presented.

As regards assisted death, it has always been intuitively obvious (and is now empirically confirmed) that numerous people (often described as “vulnerable”) will die for very regrettable and probably preventable reasons, due to normalization of euthanasia. However, as with addiction and prostitution, often highly charismatic people will insist that they are in no way “vulnerable” and must be allowed to do as they please. In the end, the argument is very close to that of mountain climbers who denounce the “unfairness” of restricting access to particularly dangerous slopes (in order to protect the alpine equivalent of the vulnerable) and is, in fact, the argument of everyone who demands the personal freedom to undertake any potentially self-destructive behaviour, whatsoever.

As we must agree, however, this is always a self-centred argument. And in the case of assisted death, indifference to danger for others is pushed to the extreme limit. Above all, there is no suggestion that any of these behaviours are “good” (in the old-fashioned sense). It is merely declared that they must be allowed as a personal right; that there is no question of “right” or “wrong”, but of personal sovereignty alone; or as Billy Holiday so poignantly sang: “It’s nobody’s business, if I do...”

But that is where the fatal conceptual problem lies, because hardly anybody actually thinks like that.

Yes, we believe that people should be free to do as they please. But we also believe that people should “do the right thing”. In fact, a large part of the population still believes that it is the role of the Law to ensure that the right thing is done.

In this simple perception, the fact that some particular behaviour is legal converts automatically to the notion that it is ‘right' (or at least ok). Moreover, a change of law to permit a previously prohibited behaviour is often perceived as a correction. The natural humility and deference of the individual, towards the opinion of the group, results in an adjustment of attitude perceived as the adoption of a newly revealed truth. Following prohibition, for example, the popular perception actually arose that there was something morally wrong with people who chose not to drink!

We see, then, that the moral needle does not like to adopt a neutral and ambivalent position. Any moderate shift, intended to allow more subtle adaptations to specific circumstances, is intuitively interpreted as a repudiation of prior belief. And then the needle swings wildly from one side to the other. This is not a small thing. For in our specific western post-modern circumstances, the rational desire to accommodate greater subtlety in individual moral judgment has resulted in the unfortunate lionization of any and all reckless behaviours, accompanied by a correspondingly aggressive devaluation of any vestiges of formerly prudent normality.

But what a terrible moral dilemma! The validation of individual choice has, in theory, led us to a much better place and in our ideal sense of who we are; but we are also surrounded by the practical harm caused from naive assumptions about basic changes in the nature of right and wrong. Are we therefore fatally obligated to decide between the evils of choice, and the choice of evil? Between apparent social decay or the radical application of a repressive system today most properly associated with the Communist Party or the Taliban?

In my humble opinion, there is no turning back on this point. Either contemporary society must rise to the challenge of individual choice and liberty, or succumb in the attempt. Quite clearly, people will not forgo their new found freedoms. The point, then, becomes whether or not we are willing (or able) to make the intellectual effort required to understand what the acceptance of those freedoms really means... and what it does not mean.

In the case we are discussing here, a longstanding multi-millennial consensus previously prevailed concerning the dangers (conceived as the “evil”) of euthanasia. Most recently, it was cleverly -- and for many people very convincingly -- argued that there might exist extraordinary circumstances in which a reasonable person might be justified in wishing to terminate his or her own existence. There was never a true and common definition of what such circumstances might be: only, that some such might indeed exist; and that the final judgment of “if”, and “when”, must be the exclusive prerogative of that individual directly involved.

However, due to the powerful magic and the fundamental resulting misunderstanding of the moral principles at play, it has apparently been publicly assumed that euthanasia is now “right” (in general), and in particular: that the so-called safeguards and definitions intended to merely rope off the maximum area within which the play of personal subjective choice would be allowed to operate -- that this arbitrarily defined space within which individual people would be allowed to freely express themselves, regardless of the harm that might ensue -- these criteria of eligibility, then, are now to be interpreted as a true description of the conditions under which individual people are, indeed, justified in demanding medical termination. Not MIGHT be justified (and therefore must be allowed to choose for themselves) but simply ARE justified as a matter of fact.

Further, the perfectly natural but thoroughly catastrophic popular extension of this first error consists in a more and more general belief (and the institutional assertion) that people responding to the given definitions SHOULD be terminated.

In other words, that which was extraordinary, and marginal, has been now been normalized. Furthermore, our only hope of correcting this problem would apparently carry the obligation of educating the greater population in subtle conflicts of moral theory which have already been at play in our judicial system for the last one hundred years, without, as yet generating any widespread understanding thereof. Perhaps the euthanasia question will materially assist in this process. However, it would be too passive, in my view, to stop at this conclusion. On the contrary, without re-litigating the right to die, we dispose of powerful practical arguments of applied political force.

If this be about choice, then let OUR choice be heard!

We Want Doctors That Do Not Kill

-- Gordon Friesen, Montreal, April 28, 2021 (français) (english site in development) (personal philosophical musings)

Monday, April 26, 2021

Luxembourg euthanasia update (56% increase in 2020 euthanasia deaths).

The Luxembourg update was published by the Australian Care Alliance.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide has been legal in Luxembourg since 2009. The person requesting euthanasia or assisted suicide must have a serious, incurable and irreversible affliction which leads to unbearable physical or mental suffering.

The sixthbiennial report by the National Commission for Control and Evaluation covering 2019-2020 was published in March 2021.

There were 16 cases of euthanasia in 2019 (doubling the 2018 figure of just 8 cases) and 25 cases in 2020 –a further rise of 56.2%. This brings the total number of cases from 2009-2020 to 112.

Most cases involved euthanasia by lethal injection except for two cases (one in 2016, one in 2018 and two in 2020) of assisted suicide by oral ingestion of a barbiturate.

In 2020 the Commission approved (after the fact) the euthanasia of a 96 year old man based on “fatigue of life” combined with polypathology, citing the Belgian practice.

The law requires that the person have unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved. This is assessed largely on a subjective basis:
“In most cases, many types of suffering, both physical andmental were present simultaneously. Sufferings have all been described as constant, unbearable and without prospect of improvement.
While certain objective factors can contribute to the estimation of the constant character, unbearableness and lack of any prospect of improvement of suffering, it is largely subjective and depends on the personality of the patient, and his or her own conceptions and values.”

The Commission would like to see training in euthanasia for all health professionals in Luxembourg as well as the establishment of a specialist euthanasia service as exists in Belgium and the Netherlands. It wants all pharmacies to have euthanasia kits in stock.

Although there is a right for individual doctors to refuse to participate in euthanasia the Luxembourg government and the Commission agree that:
“Freedom of conscience is an individual and not an institutional freedom. Thus, no hospital establishment can validly invoke this freedom to refuse to allow a doctor to practice within that institution euthanasia or assisted suicide, when the conditions laid down in the law are fulfilled.
At the level of integrated centers for the elderly (aged care homes), it should be noted that the rights of people with serious and incurable conditions are themed as part of the annual accreditation visits. In case of refusal on the part of an institution of the practice of assisted suicide, it is obliged to inform any user before signing the hosting contract. If such is not the case, the center cannot refuse a request for assistance to the suicide from a user".

Although the euthanasia law allows for euthanasia of an unconscious person following a written advanced directive registered with the Commission, and 3,981 people have completed such a directive there has so far been only one case (in 2011) of euthanasia giving effect to an advanced directive. In this case there is no requirement for suffering but only for a serious and incurable condition.

The Commission supports euthanasia for psychiatric conditions and asserts that the law permits this although there has not yet been a case.

The Commission also states that discussion on extending thelaw to allow the euthanasia of minors should not be taboo.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Netherlands euthanasia report: 9% more deaths in 2020.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Senay Boztas reported for the  that there were more euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands than ever before. According to the Netherlands euthanasia report there were 6938 reported euthanasia deaths in 2020 up by 9% from 6361 in 2019. Boztas reported:
All but two of these were judged to have met the six legal requirements...

The number of euthanasia cases exceeds the previous peak of 2017, when there were 6585 deaths. Numbers fell after a doctor was prosecuted but eventually found not guilty of manslaugher for a controversial procedure involving a woman with advanced dementia.
This confirms my comments in previous years when I stated that the drop in Netherlands euthanasia deaths was based on the controversial court cases. Fewer euthanasia deaths occurred in 2019 because doctors didn't want to be brought before a tribunal or court to justify why they lethally injected a patient.

It is possible that there are many unreported euthanasia deaths. According to research 20% - 23% of the euthanasia deaths are not reported in the Netherlands. 

Boztas reported that Jeroen Recourt, the chairman of the euthanasia commission was not surprised by this growth.

The data indicated that four euthanasia deaths were connected to the Coronavirus. Boztas also reported that:
As in previous years, dementia was a factor in 2% of the deaths, and psychiatric disorders represented just over 1%. The vast majority of people had terminal cancer, and just two people had advanced dementia.

The Expertisecentrum Euthanasie, formerly called the End of Life Clinic, did however deal with 221 fewer requests than in the previous year, according to its annual report. The body is an option for people whose GP cannot or will not grant a request, or to support complex cases, and last year it was involved with 899 euthanasia procedures.
The Netherlands government announced last year that they intend to extend a form of euthanasia to children under the age of 12 and that they are considering expanding the law to include people who have no medical issues but are "tired of living."

More articles on this topic:

Chairman of the RTE Jeroen Recourt told Trouw that he was not surprised by this growth. ‘These figures are part of a larger development,’ he reportedly said. ‘More and more generations see euthanasia as a solution for unbearable suffering…and the thought that euthanasia is an option for hopeless suffering brings [many people] peace.’

Chairman of the RTE Jeroen Recourt told Trouw that he was not surprised by this growth. ‘These figures are part of a larger development,’ he reportedly said. ‘More and more generations see euthanasia as a solution for unbearable suffering…and the thought that euthanasia is an option for hopeless suffering brings [many people] peace.’

Read more at DutchNews.n
Chairman of the RTE Jeroen Recourt told Trouw that he was not surprised by this growth. ‘These figures are part of a larger development,’ he reportedly said. ‘More and more generations see euthanasia as a solution for unbearable suffering…and the thought that euthanasia is an option for hopeless suffering brings [many people] peace.’ For four people, contracting the coronavirus had a role in their request for an assisted death, but Recourt said that social problems such as increased loneliness are not considered valid medical grounds.

Chairman of the RTE Jeroen Recourt told Trouw that he was not surprised by this growth. ‘These figures are part of a larger development,’ he reportedly said. ‘More and more generations see euthanasia as a solution for unbearable suffering…and the thought that euthanasia is an option for hopeless suffering brings [many people] peace.’

All but two of these were judged to have met the six legal requirements, which include that someone has carefully thought over the request and makes it freely, and is suffering unbearably with no other reasonable prospect of relief.

All but two of these were judged to have met the six legal requirements, which include that someone has carefully thought over the request and makes it freely, and is suffering unbearably with no other reasonable prospect of relief.


Consent to die is a "cruel trap" says the euthanasia lobby.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

When selling euthanasia (MAiD) to the Canadian public we were assured that consent would be a fundamental protection within the legislation.

I have been challenged by people who have stated: "Who am I to stand in the way of someone who has consented to be killed?"

The issue of consent has come full circle with the passing of Bill C-7 on March 17. Now the debate is developing over the issue of euthanasia (MAiD) for people with dementia who cannot consent.

Bill C-7 amended Canada's euthanasia (MAiD) law to permit an incompetent person to be lethally injected, if they had previously been approved for MAiD. That means, a person who was approved to die by euthanasia, but has become incompetent, can still be killed, even though they are incapable of consenting at that time of death.

The euthanasia lobby wants more. 

The euthanasia lobby want people to state in an advanced directive, possibly years earlier, that they want to die by (MAiD) euthanasia and the advanced request for euthanasia would be legally binding. The person would be killed by MAiD, even though there is no way to confirm that the person still wants to die.

An article by Jocelyn Downie and Stefanie Green, published on April 21 in Policy Options explains how Bill C-7 enables some incompetent people to die by euthanasia (MAiD) and how a parliamentary committee will examine the issue of advanced request for euthanasia (MAiD).

Downie is Canada's leading academic euthanasia activist and Green operates a euthanasia clinic in Victoria BC. Downie and Green argue that Bill C-7 didn't go far enough. They state:

Fortunately, due to some of the recent changes made to Canada’s legislation, some people with dementia have already been released from the cruel trap of the requirement of final consent.

Notice how consent is a cruel trap, not a safeguard, not an active assurance that a person wants to die, not a protection that people aren't pressured and killed without consent, but rather a cruel trap.

Downie and Green emphasize how consent limits access to euthanasia (MAiD):

Unfortunately, there will still be many people with dementia who aren’t helped by this change to the law – specifically, those who lose decision-making capacity before their decline has become advanced or before their suffering has become intolerable. These people’s hopes to access MAiD hang on the work of a new joint committee of the House and Senate.

Downie is also a champion of women's rights. Would it be acceptable to say that consent is a cruel trap when considering sex? Obviously not. Then why is consent a cruel trap when ending someone's life?

Jurisdictions considering the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide usually debate the theory of assisted death not the reality. The reality is that selling euthanasia requires safeguards, but once it is legal those safeguards then become, as Downie and Green state, cruel traps to accessing death.

The consent debate is about a fundamental question. One of the strongest sales pitches for legalizing euthanasia is that it will be only for people who have consented to their death.

Once consent is not required, the next cruel trap will be, never asking to be killed. It will be argued that it is cruel to force those people with dementia to live. It will be argued that killing people with dementia is compassionate, not because they would have wanted to die, but because society has determined that there life is not worth living.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Connecticut assisted suicide bill died based on the dangerous language in the bill.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

In an interview with the Fairfield Citizen, Rep. Steve Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, the co-chair of Connecticut's General Assembly Judiciary Committee, explains why a “significant majority” of the committee were “uncomfortable” with advancing assisted suicide Bill HB 6425. Stafstrom states:
“There are certain folks who outright object to the idea of it on moral, religious or other grounds,” Stafstrom said by phone Wednesday. “The other thing, and what’s important for the judiciary committee, is, as drafted, the bill seemed to have unintended legal consequences.”

The state’s division of criminal justice said in testimony that the bill “effectively mandates the falsification of death certificates under certain circumstances,” by allowing the signer of a death certificate to list the qualified patient’s underlying terminal illness as the cause of death as opposed to the medication used to end his or her life.

That would pose a problem for the criminal justice system, the division said, when faced with cases involving a potential murder prosecution if the cause of death is not accurately reported on a death certificate.

Under the bill, a person would be guilty of murder if he or she willfully altered or forged a request for aid in dying or coerced someone to complete such a request.

But those actions don’t cause death, rather they potentially offer evidence of intent to kill, thus removing the “causation requirement” that is essential to any murder charge, the criminal justice division said, recommending that section be deleted.

“Given the legal uncertainty and the folks who just outright object to the concept all together, the votes were clearly not there to move the bill out of committee,” Stafstrom said.
Stephen Mendelsohn
There were many reasons to oppose HB 6425, but Stafstrom particularly pointed out the problems with the bill that were uncovered by disability rights leader, Stephen Mendelsohn from Second Thoughts Connecticut who in his article: Assisted suicide lobby spreads falsehoods to promote systemic ableism points out how the bill creates problems with its requirement to falsify death certificates.

The same problem with falsifying death certificates exists with every assisted suicide bill or law.

Most state representatives vote for or against assisted suicide based on the theory of assisted suicide, but at least in Connecticut some elected representative read the bill and killed the bill based on the dangerous language in the bill.

Sadly, the most dangerous assisted suicide legislation recently passed into law in New Mexico.

Australian murder trial. Woman tells court that she assisted the suicide of her boyfriend.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Natasha Darcy is on trial for murder in the August 2, 2017 death of her boyfriend, Matthew Dunbar. Dunbar had made Darcy the sole beneficiary of his multi-million dollar estate.

I have reported on this case before since Darcy claims, in her defense, that she didn't murder Dunbar, in Walcha, a town in the Australian state of New South Wales, but assisted his suicide. Darcy is facing murder charges because prosecutors didn't accept her aiding or abetting suicide plea.

Darcy originally told the police that she had nothing to do with her boyfriend's death, but on April 22 she told the court that she assisted his suicide.

Greta Stonehouse reporting for explains
"Darcy said she phoned emergency services when she found him, before administering CPR saying she was hopeful because he felt warm. But then she noticed the gas cylinder bottle and other paraphernalia. "I suppose I'd realised ... he'd tried to kill himself. I worked that out from an early point."
But as Stonehouse reported, there were a number of "disputed details" in Darcy's story:
Why she never noticed the heavy bottle being brought into the bedroom was questioned, along with its weight given Dunbar had an infected leg and often needed crutches to walk.

Family members who were present also dispute her story that she did not cook dinner that evening.

In her interview with police Darcy said she had nothing to do with organising the gas cylinder bottle the couple picked up together.

Police asked why then did the woman at the store tell them a female ordered it and said Matt Dunbar would be collecting it in his car for an event. 
“That was not me,” she said.

In 2015, Dunbar changed his will leaving all of the estate to Darcy, but she was only made aware of this a day before her interview with police, she says.

Once Darcy was told she was the main beneficiary she repeated “I don’t think that’s correct,” adding she didn’t want to be as people would “say things they’ve been saying”.

During their investigation of the bedroom detectives found anti-psychotic medication Darcy denies using but says a friend gave her to help sleep.

After they told her the box was found ripped open she declined to give her friend’s details.

“Do I have to give you her name? ... she’s not a dealer or anything.”
This Australian murder shows how assisted suicide techniques can be a cover for murder. I first reported on this case in November 2019.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Great news: Connecticut assisted suicide bill dies.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Cathy Ludlum
Connecticut assisted suicide Bill HB 6425 died today. It dies along with the other previous bills that have been debated every year since 2013. 

Other than reading articles from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition or other similar groups, you will not hear about the death of the Connecticut bill.

Connecticut remains a special place with the disability rights group, Second Thoughts Connecticut, the Family Institute of Connecticut, and several other groups, who may disagree on many issues but can work together to oppose assisted suicide.

Stephen Mendelsohn (Center)
I have always been impressed by Stephen Mendelsohn and Cathy Ludlum, from Second Thoughts Connecticut, for opposing assisted suicide with clarity.

Similar to other states, the media is silent when assisted suicide bills die, but when an assisted suicide passes, the media acts as if legalizing assisted suicide is inevitable. The prime example is the assisted suicide expansion bill in Washington State that was promoted as necessary and inevitable and yet it quietly died in the Senate.

Similar to previous years, in 2021 nearly every assisted suicide bill has been defeated or it lacked enough support to get out of committee or receive a final vote.

Congratulations to all those who successfully stopped HB 6425. I hope that you will not have to face a similar bill in 2022. Stopping assisted suicide bills 9 years in a row should be enough.

Recent articles:

Chile votes on euthanasia bill

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Chamber of Deputies
The Chilean media reported that Chile's Chamber of Deputies will vote, today, on a euthanasia bill.

Later in the day the Associated Press reported that the Chamber of Deputies approved the euthanasia bill, sending it to the Senate for the next stage.

The AP press quoted Pro-government lawmaker Leónidas Romero who said the leftist Broad Front and the Communist Party, which promoted the bill, “are suffering from the James Bond syndrome: license to kill.”

Legalizing euthanasia gives physicians, or others, the right in law to lethally inject another person, usually upon request.

People with disabilities were far more likely to die from COVID-19 in the UK.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

According to a study released from the Office for National Statistics in the UK, between January 24 and November 20, 2020, people with disabilities were far more likely to die by COVID-19.

According to the data:
risk of death involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) was 3.1 times greater for more-disabled men and 1.9 times greater for less-disabled men, compared with non-disabled men; among women, the risk of death was 3.5 times greater for more-disabled women and 2.0 times greater for less-disabled women, compared with non-disabled women.

Looking at people with a medically diagnosed learning disability, the risk of death involving COVID-19 was 3.7 times greater for both men and women compared with people who did not have a learning disability; after using statistical models to adjust for a range of factors, a raised risk of 1.7 times remained unexplained for both sexes.
The study found that one explanation for the difference in death rate can be seen in the data concerning the place of residence. People living in a care home or other communal establishment were more likely to die from COVID-19 than people who lived in a family home setting. The study found that the patterns for COVID-19 mortality did not change between the first and the second wave.

There are a few clear messages from this study.
  1. People with disabilities, even when accounting for medical conditions that may make someone more susceptible to death, were more likely to die from COVID-19 than non-disabled people. 
  2. People who lived in a institutional settings were far more likely to die from COVID-19 than people living in a family or independent living setting.

Once again, it appears that people with disabilities were not provided the same level of care as non-disabled people and those who lived in an institutional setting, similar to those who live in nursing homes, may have been denied access to hospital care and forced to receive minimal care in the institution, resulting in a much higher death rate.

The data from this study indicates that people with disabilities, in the UK, experienced medical discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in an otherwise unexplained higher death rate compared to non-disabled people.


Euthanasia bill fails again in Colombia

This article was published by BioEdge on April 17, 2021

Michael Cook
By Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge

The Colombian legislature has once again failed to pass a law legalising euthanasia. Earlier this week a bill proposed by representative Juan Fernando Reyes Kuri needed to reach 85 votes in favour, but fell two votes short.

Although Colombia is often described as a country where euthanasia is legal, the actual situation is complicated. In 1997 the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that that "the State cannot oppose the decision of an individual who does not wish to continue living and who requests help to die when suffering from a terminal illness that causes unbearable pain, incompatible with his idea of dignity". It directed the legislature to pass a law regulating the right to die.

However, more than 20 years have passed and one bill after another has failed.

Supporters of the right to die are frustrated. Reyes Kuri says that he understands that some of his colleagues in this majority Catholic country are opposed for religious or ethical reasons of their own, "but we cannot allow them to continue imposing their beliefs on everyone".

Another politician supporting a right-to-die law, Senator Armando Benedetti, argues that euthanasia already exists in Colombia; it only needs to be regulated: "Why should those who do not believe in God be limited in their desire to stop living in the face of so much suffering?”

From their point of view, legislative deadlock creates uncertainty for doctors. Few are willing to offer euthanasia because, technically, it is still illegal. "There is still legal insecurity for people who decide to access this procedure and for the doctors who carry it out," says Reyes Kuri.

Opponents give the 1997 ruling a different twist. Angela Sanchez, a representative in the legislature, says that the Court declared that the right to a dignified life implies dying with dignity -- which is why Colombia needs more support for palliative care. Representative Edwin Arias says that the Court only sought to create an exception to the crime of mercy killing and not the legalisation of euthanasia.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge

Friday, April 16, 2021

Three things most people don't know about assisted death.

This article was published by Rosemary Frei on April 12, 2021

By Rosemary Frei

The cadence is increasing of jurisdictions introducing, normalizing and expanding laws allowing doctors to help people commit suicide.

Is this purely in the service of relieving unbearable physical or mental suffering? Or do other factors predominate?

I used to believe the former, but my recent re-examination of the issue suggests the latter is more likely.

On March 17, 2021, Bill C-7 came into effect across Canada. The new law significantly increases the proportion of the population eligible to undergo physician-assisted death (PAD). C-7 expands PAD eligibility to, for example, people whose death is not reasonably foreseeable.

On March 18, Spain passed federal legislation that for the first time allows PAD there; it goes into effect in June.

The same thing has happened in New Zealand: the federal ‘End of Life Choice Act’ goes into effect in November.

And on April 8 the French federal parliament debated whether to make euthanasia the law of their land. The majority of the parliamentarians favour legalizing euthanasia. However, the law was not passed because there wasn’t enough time for them to go through the thousands of amendments proposed by legislators who oppose PAD.

(Other terms for the act of doctors helping people commit suicide include physician-assisted suicide, voluntary assisted suicide and medical assistance in dying.)

Other countries, such as the UK, are similar to France: active euthanasia is illegal but most residents and physicians approve of it. Therefore in these countries many physicians perform euthanasia without being punished and there is a considerable push to legalize it.

Holland and Belgium were the first countries to decriminalize euthanasia and PAD, bringing their laws into effect in 2002. In Luxembourg a similar assisted-death law came into effect in 2009.

All three countries allow people to undergo PAD if they have a serious medical condition, disability or psychiatric disorder, whether their death is imminent or not.

For the last few years years Holland has been moving towards voting on legalizing PAD for people 75 years of age or older who are ‘tired of life.’ And there has been a steady and very significant increase in the overall number of people undergoing PAD in Holland and Belgium.

PAD currently can also be legally performed in five other countries, either across the whole country or in parts of it: Canada, the US, Australia, Germany and Switzerland.

In the US each state can decide whether PAD is permitted there. So far, eight states plus Washington, D.C. have legalized it. Similarly, in Australia it’s a state issue; so far the state of Victoria has brought into effect a law allowing PAD and on July 1 the state of Western Australia will follow suit.

In Canada PAD was first legalized federally in 2016. Now Bill C-7 expands PAD by, among other measures:

  • no longer requiring a 10-day ‘reflection’ period between the time a person whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable consents to PAD and when they receive it;
  • allowing people who have a very serious illness or disability but whose natural death is not imminent to access PAD as long as they meet certain conditions (previously, PAD was only allowed in people whose natural death was reasonably foreseeable);
  • allowing PAD for people who have previously requested it, been found eligible to receive it and their natural death has become reasonably foreseeable but they’ve lost the capacity to consent; and,
  • starting in 2023, no longer banning PAD for people who have a mental illness alone, and no other underlying medical conditions or disabilities.

The government and mass media largely paint all of this as giving more people more right to choose how and when they end their lives.

Pro-PAD groups and opinion leaders refer to it in positive terms such as ‘right to die’ and ‘death with dignity.’

Other institutions have an overt pro-PAD position; among these is the Hastings Center in the US.

And additional influential groups and organizations — Wikipedia, for example — have a more subtle but definitely detectable pro-PAD slant in the information they provide to the public about PAD.

Most of the individuals and groups that oppose PAD do so on religious grounds.

But there are at least three facts that most people don’t know about physician-assisted death.

One: Expanding PAD is a serious potential threat to people with disabilities, dementia and Alzheimer’s.

That’s because what the vast majority of these people want and need is good care and services – but those services are becoming very hard to access, particularly in this era of Covid.

Most countries’ PAD laws require health-care providers to inform people of available services for relieving their suffering as alternatives to PAD and to offer referrals to professionals who can provide these services. But those laws don’t also require that the services be made accessible to all of these people, via increased government funding.

And there already have been documented cases of people with disabilities being pressured to undergo PAD.

That’s why many disability advocates oppose expansion of PAD.

Catherine Frazee, a professor at Ryerson University in Toronto and a leading disability advocate, gave powerful testimony to the Canadian parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights’ Bill C-7 hearing in November 2020.

She told hearing attendees that the Quebec Superior Court’s 2019 decision allowing disabled Quebec resident Jean Truchon to undergo assisted death even though his death was not reasonably foreseeable – which the Canadian federal government used as a springboard to create Bill C-7 — does not in fact translate into the need to make it easier for disabled people to kill themselves.

Frazee said that, rather, “the deprivations of institutional life that choked out his [Truchon’s] will to live [and resultant request for PAD] were not an inevitable consequence of disability.”

Krista Carr, executive vice-president of Inclusion Canada, has voiced a similar sentiment.

“This bill has got to be stopped, or it will end the life of people. It will end the life of way too many people with disabilities who feel they have no other options,” she’s quoted as saying in a February 8, 2021, Canadian Press article.
Two: In 2014, Belgium became the first country to expand PAD to apply to people as young as one year old.

In Holland, ever since its PAD law went into effect in 2002, the country has allowed assisted killing of children — in cases where they’re considered to be incurably ill — of as young as 12. And the Dutch government is now considering following Belgium’s lead and lowering that minimum age to as young as one.

This expansion wouldn’t involve a change in federal law in Holland. Instead, it would be done via changes to the ‘Groningen protocol.’ This set of guidelines was created in 2004 for the killing of newborns and infants with very serious illnesses or deformities such as spina bifida.

Three: There is significant controversy about allowing assisted suicide for people who have a psychiatric disorder alone and no other conditions.

Currently only Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg permit this, as part of their original assisted-death laws.

Under Bill C-7, Canada will allow it in 2023.

The Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) released a position statement last year saying it:
"did and does not take a position on the legality or morality of MAiD [medical assistance in dying] as this is a decision reflecting current Canadian ethical, cultural and moral views.”
This prompted two former CPA presidents to post an open letter to Canadian psychiatrists highlighting that the CPA did not engage its membership in a consultation process before releasing its position statement.

The two past presidents asked the CPA to: "revisit the Statement by temporarily withdrawing it, to allow for a proper engagement process and development of evidence-based recommendations to inform any future Position Statement on MAiD.”

The CPA did not do this.

The American Psychiatric Association released its PAD position statement in 2016. It states, in whole:
The American Psychiatric Association, in concert with the American Medical Association’s position on medical euthanasia, holds that a psychiatrist should not prescribe or administer any intervention to a non-terminally ill person for the purpose of causing death.”
The American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics states, in part, that:
Physician-assisted suicide is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks. Instead of engaging in assisted suicide, physicians must aggressively respond to the needs of patients at the end of life.”
It certainly makes one wonder why the public isn’t given all of this information.

Instead, the rush to expand access to PAD around the world in the name of humaneness is holding sway.

Rosemary Frei became a freelance writer after obtaining an MSc in molecular biology from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary. For the next 22 years she was a medical writer and journalist. She pivoted again in early 2016 to full-time, independent activism and investigative journalism. Her website is