Friday, July 30, 2021

British Columbia (MAiD) euthanasia deaths hit a record high.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The British Columbia (BC) government released the (MAiD) euthanasia stats to Terry O'Neill, a reporter for the BC Catholic paper. O'Neill states in his article:
The B.C. Catholic requested the detailed provincial statistics after the federal government’s last two annual reports on the contentious subject failed to break down provincial statistics by health region.
The BC government released the data for the first 6 months of 2021 indicating that there were 923 reported MAiD deaths.

On June 30, Health Canada released the second annual report on (MAiD) euthanasia and assisted suicide which indicated that the number of Canadian assisted deaths increased more than 34% in 2020 to 7595 reported assisted deaths up from 5,660 in 2019.

The British Columbia data indicated that there were 1572 assisted deaths in 2020 up from 1280 in 2019. The Health Canada report stated that British Columbia had the highest rate of euthanasia in Canada at 4% of all deaths.

The new British Columbia data indicates a 16% increase from 2020. Considering that the data from Ontario indicates that there were 1251 reported euthanasia deaths in the second half of 2020 and 1127 in the first half of 2020, it is likely that, compared to the first half of 2020 (we do not have the data) that 923 reported deaths in the first half of 2021 is likely greater than a 16% increase compared to the first half of 2020.

Is there enough killing yet?

Canada's federal government and the Québec government have both established committee's to discuss the further expansion of euthanasia in Canada. These committee's are discussing euthanasia for incompetent people who requested death in their advanced directive, euthanasia for children and they are discussing the rules to implement euthanasia for people with mental illness alone.

The current Canadian government is committed to more killing. We need your help.

We can change the culture with real life stories. If you have a story about someone who died by euthanasia who may have been depressed or had questionable competency or felt subtly coerced, Contact Alex Schadenberg at: info@epcc.ca or 1-877-439-3348.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Netherlands euthanasia and systematic incremental extensions.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Irish Times published a letter today from Dr E Garcia, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands who rebutts a letter by David Tomkins that was published on July 28 who asserted that the evidence does not support that safeguards have been removed in the Netherlands. Dr Garcia wrote:
Here in the Netherlands over the last two decades, there has been a systematic incremental extension in the grounds for euthanasia, and a clear removal of safeguards.

These facts have been detrimental to the safety of patients at a vulnerable time in their lives.

Since the legalisation of euthanasia in 2002 for mentally competent adults, we now have child euthanasia (introduced via the Groningen Protocol in 2007), euthanasia for patients with psychiatric illnesses (88 such cases in 2020), and last year our supreme court legalised euthanasia for patients with advanced dementia.

The facts of that particular case involved a woman with dementia who had revoked her prior consent to be euthanised, and had to be restrained after she woke up during the administration of the lethal drugs.

In addition to the above, our government is currently examining proposals to permit euthanasia for children aged between one and 12.

There are now also “mobile health teams” known as “end of life clinics”, that are willing to travel to patients to administer the lethal drugs.

This practice is particularly worrying as it circumvents the safeguard of the existence of a good doctor-patient relationship before euthanasia can be administered.

No matter what your opinion is on the practice of euthanasia, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the incremental removal of safeguards has been a reality in the Netherlands. – Yours, etc,
Links to more information on this topic:

  • Legalizing euthanasia: What we can learn from the Netherlands (Link). 
  • Let's not romanticize the Dutch euthanasia experiment (Link). 
  • Legalizing euthanasia makes killing the norm, not the exception (Link). 
  • Study uncovers euthanasia based on loneliness in the Netherlands (Link).

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Father of 19-year-old who died by suicide powder, wants it banned.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Randy and Caroline Knol
Randy Knol, the father of Ximena, a 19-year-old who died in February 2018 by taking the suicide powder known as "Substance X" has been working for three years to get the lethal powder banned.

The death of Ximena is once again in the media after a 28-year-old man from Eindhoven was arrested for selling the suicide powder for profit to at least 6 people who died.

An NL Times story reported:
"The suspect sold the drug from November 2018 to June 2021," the OM alleged in a statement. "The criminal investigation started after the death of a woman from Best in May 2021." the OM said in a statement. They found the woman had a "suspicious substance" with her when she died, and they also examined data she had stored on devices.

The circumstances led investigators to the Eindhoven man, who prosecutors said sold the lethal powder along with a prescription drug that would reduce the urge to vomit, the OM continued. He may have sold the one or both medications to "hundreds" of people, the OM said in court, according to RTL Nieuws.
The man who has been arrested for selling the suicide powder was allegedly involved with distributing the powder for years. An article published by Omroep Brabant news stated that (google translated):
The man has been active for years, according to research by Omroep Brabant in 2018. During that period, there was a lot of fuss about the death of 19-year-old Ximena from Uden. She had ordered the suicide powder over the internet and used it to end her life.

For her parents, the reporting about the Eindhovener hits hard. They believe that the practices of which this man is accused should be put to an end. "We call on everyone who has purchased this medicine not to use it! Its use is inhumane, slow and painful. Take it to a pharmacy for destruction," warns father Randy Knol. He would like a campaign to be launched for this.
There is a movement in the Netherlands to permit suicide on demand. The outcome of this movement is the death of people who are depressed and experiencing feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Links to more articles on this topic:
  • Netherlands suicide powder death - Further analysis (Link).
  • Netherlands man made money sellling suicide powder. At least 6 people died (Link).

Netherlands Suicide Powder Deaths - Further Analysis.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A few days ago I reported that a man (known as Alex S) was arrested for assisting multiple suicides in Eindhoven Netherlands. I wrote that the NL Times reported that the Eindhoven man sold suicide powder to at least 6 people who died.

What I didn't report was that this was not the first time that the public prosecutor tried to lay charges in relation to deaths from the suicide powder known as "Substance X."

In March 2018, I reported that the Netherlands Public Prosecutor was investigating an assisted suicide group in the deaths of 4 people. One of those deaths was 19-year-old Ximena Knol who died on February 22, 2018. Since then, Randy Knol, Ximena's father has been trying to get "Substance X" banned.


Ximena Knol
At that time Reuters reported:
Prosecutors had been looking at the Final Wish cooperative since September... Final Wish made headlines... when the father of 19-year-old Ximena Knol said on television the group should be shut down after his daughter’s suicide using a powder believed to be the same “Substance X” the association promotes.

The Netherlands public prosecutor announced in March 2018 that they were investigating abuse of the euthanasia law in 4 deaths from 2017.
On July 21, 2021 when I wrote that the Public Prosecutor had charged a 28 year old man with assisting multiple suicides with lethal drugs the NL Times article stated:
the suspect is neither by profession, and thus he violated the law prohibiting assisting in someone's suicide, and the law regarding provision of prescription medication.
In other words, if the man had been a doctor then the only crime that would have been committed would be that it was an unreported euthanasia death but since the man is not a doctor therefore he broke the law.

This story underlines the hypocrisy of euthanasia laws. These laws give legal immunity to physicians who kill their patients (also, nurse practitioners in Canada). Since the man who assisted the suicides of at least 6 people is not a physician therefore he has been charged.

There are unreported euthanasia deaths and intentional deaths without consent every year in the Netherlands without prosecutions.

The New England Journal of Medicine (August, 2017) published a study titled: End-of-Life Decisions in the Netherlands over 25 years that uncovers abuse of the law that examined ending of life acts in the Netherlands. The study found that there were 7254 assisted deaths (6672 euthanasia deaths, 150 assisted suicide deaths, 431 terminations of life without request) in the Netherlands in 2015. Based on the data in the study 23% of all assisted deaths were not reported and 431 assisted deaths were done without request.

I agree that the man who assisted these suicides should be presecuted but I also believe that the Public Prosecutor should investigate the abuse of the euthanasia law by doctors. Netherlands doctors are not reporting euthanasia deaths and intentional killing without consent and it is ignored because these acts are done by doctors.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A personal story: No to euthanasia for mental health reasons

We received this email from Margaret titled: No Euthanasia for Mental Health Reasons. She gave us permission to publish it.

As I am now approaching 70 years of age, I would like to share my experience

Ever since I was twelve years old, I have been treated by psychiatrists, and many other people in the mental health system.

For over thirty-eight years, I considered myself to have active suicidal intentions. My years in my mid-twenties were my worst. At that time, if euthanasia for only mental health reasons was accepted, I would have applied and not be here now.

However, as my life continued, it increasingly improved. Although there have been some occasional challenges, my life now is excellent and I really appreciate being alive to live it.

I would never have enjoyed this time or attended my nephew's wedding, or met my two great-nieces and my great-nephew if I had asked for and been granted euthanasia over forty years ago.

Sometimes, I still do struggle, but I have supports in place and life is definitely worth the living.

I would NOT have wanted to miss any of my life so far and I look forward to my future.

Thank you Margaret for sharing. It is not easy to write about your experiences.

  • A case against assisted suicide for mental illness (Link).
  • Euthanasia for people with psychiatric disorders is dangerous (Link).

Monday, July 26, 2021

Euthanasia deaths rise quickly in Ontario, likely related to the passing of Bill C-7

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alex Schadenberg
On July 1 I published some of the data from Health Canada's 2020 annual report on (MAiD) euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The 2020 Canadian report indicated that the number of assisted deaths increased more than 34% in 2020 to 7595 reported assisted deaths up from 5,660 in 2019 and up from 4,478 in 2018. Euthanasia deaths represented 2.5% of all deaths in 2020.

I stated that the Federal Government passed Bill C-7 on March 17, 2021. The government predicted that Bill C-7 would lead to a 20% increase in the number of assisted deaths in Canada. 

Recent Ontario data suggests that this is happening.

The Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario releases MAiD data on a monthly basis. The June 2021 data showed a significant increase with 281 reported euthanasia deaths up from 229 in May 2021. To give you a comparison there were 204 reported Ontario euthanasia deaths in June 2020.

Some would suggest that this indicates that the killing program is successful, but rather I suggest that Canada is not only normalizing killing but it represents an abandonment of people by our healthcare system.

According to the data, in Ontario there have been 8059 reported assisted deaths since legalization, with 1363 in the first 6 months of 2021 and 281 in June 2021.

Looking at the trend. The number of cumulative reported assisted deaths in Ontario were (since legalization):
  • Dec 31, 2018 - 2529 (30 months)
  • June 30, 2019 - 3303 (774 in 6 months)
  • Dec 31, 2019 - 4318 (1015 in 6 months)
  • June 30, 2020 - 5445 (1127 in 6 months)
  • Dec 31, 2020 - 6696 (1251 in 6 months)
  • June 30, 2021 - 8059 (1363 in 6 months)

Is there enough killing yet?

Canada's federal government and the Québec government have both established committee's to discuss the further expansion of euthanasia in Canada. These committee's are discussing euthanasia for incompetent people who requested death in their advanced directive, euthanasia for children and they are discussing the rules to implement euthanasia for people with mental illness alone.

The current Canadian government is committed to more killing. We need your help. 

This is not a reason to be down or depressed, but it rather it is a reason to tell your story. Thousands of deaths mean there are many stories. Some of these people were depressed and had questionable competency. Some of these people were subtly coerced. We will can effectively challenge the culture with real life stories. Your stories. 

Contact Alex Schadenberg at the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at: info@epcc.ca or 1-877-439-3348.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Netherlands euthanasia. At least six die from suicide powder.

This article was published by Bioedge on July 25, 2021

By Michael Cook

Foreign observers might have the impression that it is always open season for euthanasia in the Netherlands. Not so. While the guidelines are elastic and subject to interpretation, they do exist and people violating them risk prosecution.

The first story on euthanasia in the Netherlands illustrates this. A pillar of Dutch policy is that only qualified doctors are permitted to help people die.

This week police arrested a 28-year-old Einhoven man, identified as Alex S, and charged him with illegally assisting in suicide, money laundering, and drugs offences. It is alleged that he had sold a suicide drug to at least six people for 20 euros over the internet.

The police stepped in after a woman was found dead after consuming a drug known as Agent X and an accompanying anti-vomiting drug. Police said that Alex S. could have sold these drugs to hundreds. Some of his clients were young people.

According to police, Alex S had links to Cooperatie Laatste Wil (Last Wish Cooperative), a shadowy fundamentalist euthanasia group which promotes "assisted suicide and self-euthanasia without the intervention of doctors”. It believes that access to the means for suicide is a universal human right and is said to have about 36,000 members in the Netherlands. Similar groups operate under the radar in other countries.

Even more indicative of the state of Dutch public opinion was a long feature article in the popular newspaper de Volkskrant about the death of a 28-year-old woman named Marjolein in September 2020. She had a history of depression and mental instability. She also bought the suicide drug from and agent of Cooperatie Laatste Wil. She changed her mind almost immediately, but efforts to rescue her failed. The article concludes:
“Coöperatie Laatste Wil is partly to blame for her daughter's suicide, says mother Yvonne. ‘They took her life. They have helped someone into the other world who still had so many dreams. She wanted to travel, have children. She was a support to others. If you call yourself a rescuer, you can't talk someone to death. Then you have to offer real help.'”
Jos van Wijk, chairman of the CLW, indignantly rejected the family’s accusations of improper conduct. “The CLW adheres to the rules of the law,” he says.

Previous articles on similar topic:
  • Netherlands man made money selling lethal suicide powder. At least six people died (Link).
  • Public Prosecutor drops investigation into Dutch assisted suicide group supplying 'suicide powder' in teen's death. (Link).
  • Dutch prosecutor investigating assisted suicide group after 19-year-old dies. (Link).

Friday, July 23, 2021

Netherlands man made money selling lethal suicide powder. At least six people died.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Eindhoven Netherlands
A few days ago I reported that a man (known as Alex S) was arrested for assisting multiple suicides in Eindhoven Netherlands. Today the NL Times has reported that the Eindhoven man sold suicide powder to 6 people who died. 

The NL Times story reported:

"The suspect sold the drug from November 2018 to June 2021," the OM alleged in a statement. "The criminal investigation started after the death of a woman from Best in May 2021." the OM said in a statement. They found the woman had a "suspicious substance" with her when she died, and they also examined data she had stored on devices.

The circumstances led investigators to the Eindhoven man, who prosecutors said sold the lethal powder along with a prescription drug that would reduce the urge to vomit, the OM continued. He may have sold the one or both medications to "hundreds" of people, the OM said in court, according to RTL Nieuws.
Ximena Knol died in February 2018
The NL Times reported that a 19-year-old woman died from taking the suicide powder.
A 19-year-old woman from Uden died in February 2018 from using the powder. At the time, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said he found it "very worrisome" that the powder was available for purchase. The OM launched an investigation into that case, in part to determine if Cooperatie Laatste Wil helped her obtain the powder. The organization promotes "assisted suicide and self-euthanasia without the intervention of doctors," the group said.

S. was involved with that organization, the OM said in court, according to RTL Nieuws. The OM did not say if the Uden woman's death was part of its case against S. The town of Uden is about a 30-minute drive from Eindhoven and Best.
The attorney for the families commented on the profit made by selling the suicide powder
Attorney Sébas Diekstra said he was horrified that someone could profit by aiding people to kill themselves. He is representing the families of two young women who acquired the powder in 2020, and died soon after. It was not yet known if they bought the powder from the Eindhoven man.

"We understand that it is now being investigated further whether it was this suspect who provided the poisonous and inhumane drug with which these young women were able to end their lives," Diekstra said in a statement sent to RTL Nieuws.
We will continue to follow this story.

Previous articles on similar topic:

Public Prosecutor drops investigation into Dutch assisted suicide group supplying 'suicide powder' in teen's death. (Link).
Dutch prosecutor investigating assisted suicide group after 19-year-old dies. (Link).

Eight questions about the New South Wales 'Assisted Dying' Bill

This article was published by Mercatornet on July 23, 2021

Michael Cook
By Michael Cook

NSW MP Alex Greenwich is circulating a draft bill which would legalise what his supporters call “assisted dying” and what his opponents call assisted suicide and euthanasia. He believes that there is strong support for change in the state Parliament now that “assisted dying” laws have passed in Victoria, Western Australia, and Tasmania. In Queensland a change will come soon.

But even a quick look at Mr Greenwich’s bill reveals that it is full of holes. Here are eight questions that need answers before MPs could possibly vote for it.

Why will doctors be forced to lie when they fill out death certificates?

The draft bill states very clearly: “The medical practitioner must not include a reference to voluntary assisted dying in the cause of death certificate for the person.” In other words, they are required, under law, to falsify the death certificate. If a patient suffering from cancer died after being hit by a truck, would you record the cause of death as “cancer”? If a patient with both Covid and a toothache dies, would you record the death as “toothache”?

Not only will this distort health statistics, one of the principal reasons for death certificates, but it bakes a lack of transparency into the process of “assisted dying”.

How many are going to die?

Like the legislation in Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, the bill proposed by Alex Greenwich for New South Wales is modelled on Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act. “Assisted dying” deaths in Oregon have grown very slowly, from 16 in 1998 to 245 in 2020. Supporters of “assisted dying” in NSW believe that only a few people will take advantage of the law.

But from the time “assisted dying” became legal in Victoria on June 19, 2019 until December 31, 2020, 224 people died. It took more than 20 years for deaths in Oregon to rise to that level. For some reason, “assisted dying” is more popular in Australia, perhaps because euthanasia is included as an option.

Perhaps a better comparison is to the province of Quebec, which has about the same population as NSW – 8 million. From legalisation in 2016 to 2020, there were 6,453 deaths. In 2020, 2,268 people died. Will this be repeated in NSW?

The provisions for gathering statistics are crap. What is Mr Greenwich going to do about it?

In Oregon there have been well-founded complaints about a dearth of information. In Oregon’s figures for 2020, in more than half the cases, complications with dying were “unknown”. In about half the cases, the times elapsed between ingestion and unconsciousness and between ingestion and death are “unknown”. You would expect that a bill written 25 years later would improve on Oregon’s deficiencies. This is no small matter: what isn’t measured can’t be managed.

The proposed NSW bill does not fill these gaps. Doctors are required to gather some of this information if they are present – but, based on the Victorian experience, doctors will only be present in about one in five cases. In any case, the proposed Voluntary Assisted Dying Board is not required to publish even this meagre information in its annual report.

Again, lack of transparency is baked into Greenwich’s bill. Voters in NSW will be worse informed about how people die through “assisted dying” than voters in Oregon – even though they can draw on a quarter-century of experience.

Isn’t it true that residential facilities will be forced to host “assisted dying”?

Many aged-care facilities are run by religious groups which object to cooperating with “assisted dying”. They see their job as caring for people, not killing them. And Mr Greenwich seems to accommodate them. The bill provides that “A health care establishment or residential facility may decide that it will not provide services relating to voluntary assisted dying at the establishment or facility.”

But this is smoke and mirrors. What the bill says is that the facility cannot be forced to provide “assisted dying”. But if a resident requests it, the facility must not stop people from entering to advise them of their options and to administer lethal medications. Section 97 states very clearly that the facility must “allow reasonable access” and may not “hinder access” to doctors and witness when the appointment for the death is set.

The same draconian requirements forced a palliative care hospice in British Columbia to close. Its staff and its residents wanted to have an environment where “assisted dying” was not an option. The government insisted and shut it down.

It was tragic. “This is about the B.C. government destroying a sanctuary for dying patients who want the choice to stay in a palliative care facility where [assisted dying] is not offered,” said the chair. Will NSW hospices which object to “assisted dying” be forced to close their doors?

How can we be sure that people will die quickly and painlessly?

That’s the promise of “assisted dying”, isn’t it: a quick, controlled, and painless death? But in Oregon, they know better.

Its 2020 annual report on its Death with Dignity Act covers the 23 years of the Act’s operation, from 1998 to 2020. In that time 1,905 deaths were reported.

In a substantial number of cases there were complications: 33 people had difficulty in ingesting the lethal drugs or regurgitated them; 3 had a seizure; and 16 had “other” difficulties. In 8 cases, the patient “regained consciousness”. It’s hard to imagine how horrific it must have been for a person who expected to die peacefully – but suddenly found herself alive, awake … and possibly in great pain.

The interval from ingestion of lethal drugs to unconsciousness has been as long as four hours in Oregon – and that was in 2017. The time from ingestion to death has been as long as 104 hours (4 days and 8 hours). In 2020 one person took 8 hours to die.

It’s a huge fudge to promise people a no-fuss death. Is that why the bill gathers so little information?

No one is required to witness self-administered death. How can we be sure that there has been no physical or psychological pressure?

People may choose to die in two ways in this bill: self-administration or practitioner administration. No one is required to be present when a person self-administers the poison. How can we be sure that an impatient relative did not browbeat them to hurry the inheritance along if they haven’t died on time –“within a period of 6 months”?

How can we allow people who are seriously depressed to die?

The bill says that if a person is depressed or showing signs of dementia, a doctor must refer them to someone with professional expertise, such as a clinical psychologist, a neurologist or a geriatrician to see if they have decision-making capacity.

But a seriously depressed person, unlike a demented person, could often pass that test. In Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands, for instance, psychiatrists argue that depression should not disqualify some from seeking “assisted dying” because it does not necessarily rob a person of their autonomy. Even if this were true, depression is hard to diagnose and not predictable. A person might recover enough to want to live.

In any case, the experience in Oregon is that referral is ineffective. According to research published in a leading medical journal, the BMJ, one in six people who died under Oregon’s law had clinical depression. Last year, only 3 out of 245 of those who died in Oregon had been referred by the prescribing doctor for a psychiatric evaluation.

Is the ‘slippery slope’ really a myth?

Supporters of “assisted dying” claim that dire predictions about abuses have not eventuated in jurisdictions where it has been legalized. That’s not true, but in any case, the slippery slope is not about abuses; it’s about gradual changes in the law.

In Canada, where “assisted dying” has been legal for a mere five years, there have already been significant changes to allow people to allow people with chronic but not terminal conditions to be euthanised. Doctors are exploiting the law to combine euthanasia with organ donation.

“The law you enact is the law you get” is a great slogan for supporters, but it’s just a slogan. Laws are amended by Parliament and laws are interpreted by judges. They change. Will a “Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021” survive legal challenges by people who want to access “assisted dying” even if they are mentally ill? Even if they are not adults? Even if they are not mentally competent at the time of their death?

Lawyers will argue that some of the vaunted safeguards are arbitrary, discriminatory, and harmful. That is what has happened in Canada and there is little doubt that it will happen here.

Let me live a happy life with motor neurone disease, no to assisted suicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Dr Peter Scott Morgan
Dr Peter Scott-Morgan, who is a tech pioneer, wrote an excellent opinion article that was published by inews in the UK titled: Pioneering tech lets me live a happy life with motor neurone disease (MND) – I’m wary of assisted dying law changes. Scott Morgan examines the issue of assisted suicide from a personal point of view and as a person who has researched the issue.

Scott-Morgan begins his article by acknowledging that when he heard about the assisted suicide debate, he intuitively supported it, thinking it was reasonable, compassionate and humane. But then he changed his mind:
But as a scientist, I’m trained to question even the obvious. So, I set about researching the bill’s pivotal assumption that it’s possible to ensure informed choice without pressure. And I focused on motor neurone disease (MND) – a cruel, incurable disease often associated with assisted suicide.

Scott Morgan writes that he has spent 30 years analysing complex social systems to predict unexpected consequences and as a person with (MND) who was told he had 6 months to live in 2017, he understands the issue of assisted suicide. He than writes that his research has uncovered three things.

1. His overall quality of life is exceptional. Scott Morgan writes:

Already, my overall quality of life is exceptional. I have love. I have fun. I have hope. I have dreams. I have purpose. And I’ve found the trick to enjoying total paralysis is simply to imagine you’re in a luxury spa hotel and the maître d insisted you put your feet up, and don’t move a muscle.

That isn’t true for everyone with life-limiting conditions, but it should be. It would take a tiny proportion of the NHS budget to ensure people get the support that they need, as well as the help that allows them to live in a way that is rich and fulfilling.
2. It’s impossible to make the choice to live – let alone thrive – if you don’t know about and have access to life-saving procedures. Scott Morgan explains:
Mine is only one instance of rewriting the future of extreme disability. How many doctors tell their newly-diagnosed MND patients that there’s such hope? It’s impossible to make the choice to live – let alone thrive – if you don’t know about and have access to life-saving procedures.

Let’s give an example. To survive with MND long-term, you typically need an operation called a tracheostomy that lets a portable device breathe for you, as well as a cough-assist machine that clears your lungs of phlegm.

In the UK, decisions on whether these options are available to you if you have MND are made by local NHS trusts, not nationally. As a result, some who desperately want to live with MND aren’t able to have the operation – because of where they live. Tracheostomies are commonplace in some health care systems such as Japan. It is rarely used in United Kingdom where it is reported that approximately one per cent of those with MND have one.
3. It’s impossible to ensure people make their decision without pressure when the current system is so unrelentingly negative. Scott Morgan writes:
Just do an internet search of “MND” and you’ll see what I mean. You’ll be slapped in the face by a two-year average life expectancy, heart-breaking descriptions of how the “cruellest disease” translates into “intolerable suffering” – for you, for everyone you love – and a level of negativity that made even me doubt scientific logic.

Avoiding coercion requires people to believe there are serious alternatives. Otherwise, it’s a sham ritual of decision making whose outcome was never really in question.
So Scott Morgan concludes:
So, what do I now feel about the Bill to change the law on assisted suicide? Anguish that some with extreme disability may unnecessarily kill themselves in anticipation of what they believe will inevitably happen and upset at the injustice of protecting an individual’s human right to choose to die, without putting the same effort, education and funding, into their right to thrive.

...Perhaps unknown to its designers (of the assisted suicide bill), these proposals risk unnecessarily culling the very people who would cost the most to keep alive and help thrive. That may be economically convenient. But it’s also cruel and uncivilised.

We’re better than that.
Peter Scott Morgan proves that legalizing assisted suicide does not provide equality or a death with dignity but rather reduces equality and eliminates real choice.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Great news: Dying with Dignity Bill is dead in Ireland

A message from Hope Ireland

We are very pleased to inform you, our supporters, that the Oireachtas Committee on Justice has refused to progress the Dying with Dignity Bill any further, and recommended a special parliamentary committee examine the whole area of "Assisted Dying". This is now the second time that the DWD Bill has failed to progress to completion through the Dáil - first in 2015, and now again in 2021.

This is a significant victory. It means euthanasia/assisted suicide proponents will be back to square one - and their path is less clear now: they could either reintroduce a "narrower" version of the Bill, or else wait for the Government to set up a special committee to examine the issue. We welcome the Joint Committee on Justice report.

It is interesting to note that the Justice Committee already produced a report on the whole issue of "Assisted Dying" in 2018 - and concluded that it was "not in a position to recommend legislative change at this time."

The DWD Bill 2020 passed Second Stage last October, and since then the Justice Committee had been engaged in "pre-legislative scrutiny" on the Bill, in order to determine whether it should proceed to committee stage. Today's report is clear that the Bill will not be progressing any further.

We have attached the Committee's report on the Bill (here) - it is well worth reading to get a flavour of what were the main arguments in the submissions on both sides of the debate. The report is helpfully divided into legal/personal/medical/religious submissions etc.

Many thanks for all the support over the past number of months. There is so much more I could say, but for now, take a moment to be thankful - we have a victory!

For those who are writing about this victory, the following are helpful points to note:
• A majority of individual medical submissions were against the Bill. Nearly all medical stakeholders were against the Bill.

• The report noted that: "A point that was repeated frequently throughout submissions in all categories was concern that this Bill could result in abuse of the sick and vulnerable, who may perceive themselves to be a burden on their family and feel pressured into opting for assisted dying."

• The report noted that: "In some submissions, elderly people expressed their personal dismay, as they felt that after working hard all of their lives, the prospect of this Bill being passed made them feel as if society was demonstrating that they were of little value"

• Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission criticised the lack of "safeguards" in the Bill (here).

• Over 2500 healthcare professionals signed public letter rejecting the Bill (here).

• Experts in palliative medicine strongly criticised the Bill in principle and in practice (here).

• Disability rights advocates strongly criticised the Bill in the Irish Times (Conor Lynott here and Kathleen Rogers here).

• Euthanasia laws are not safe for people who are at a vulnerable time in their lives.
Again, thank you so much for your support over the past year, and we will keep you updated as developments progress. But for now, take a moment to be thankful - and please use our victory today to help generate a bit of momentum, especially in the UK.

Hope Ireland
Promoting positive care pathways at the end of life

hopeireland.org
www.twitter.com/hopeire1
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Legalizing Euthanasia: What we can learn from the Netherlands

Alex Schadenberg
Exeuctive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Leo van Doesburg with The European Christian Political Movement (EPCM) and Diederik van Dijk with the NPV-Zorg voor het leven (NPV-Care for life) published a thorough article titled: Legalizing Euthanasia: What we can learn from the Netherlands, in response to the growing number of countries debating euthanasia and the growing practise of euthanasia in the Netherlands. (Link to the article).

Since the article is 20 pages, I have published the conclusion and I encourage people to read the full text (Link to the article).

Conclusion:

When the euthanasia law was adopted in 2001, it focused on persons who were terminally ill. As this publication showed, once the law was introduced, the grounds for performing euthanasia in the Netherlands have been broadened, becoming available to more and more groups of people.The arguments used were: ‘compassion’ (“it is better for him/her to die than to suffer any longer”) and ‘personal autonomy’ (“death is a personal matter; if someone wants to die, they should be helped”). This situation is, in our view, threatening because: 
1. Legal euthanasia undermines the idea that killing another person is bad. The legalization of the act of killing, shows a kind of justification. Particularly for those who are not able to make decisions for themselves, the following question needs to be answered: can we make life or death decisions and judge about the value of life of another human being? 
2. Legal euthanasia undermines the equality of people. Some groups are considered ‘suitable’ for euthanasia, while for other groups, we invest money in suicide prevention. What is the message given to the groups that are seen as ‘suitable’? For example, the discussions about the ‘completed life ending’ may indirectly emotionally press the elderly think about the possibility to terminate their lives. 
3. Vulnerable people become even more vulnerable. Having euthanasia as an option can lead people to harbor ideas of death which might be fanned further by the family, causing (indirect) pressure. Applying euthanasia for incapacitated people ignores the right of life for everyone. It also disregards the prerequisite ‘on request’, which initially was the cornerstone of the Dutch euthanasia law. The role of a government is to protect the vulnerable and to seek solutions to improve the quality of life of those who suffer, not to end their life. 
4. The ‘slippery slope’ has become a reality in the Netherlands. The reasoning “it is not fair that euthanasia is available for that group, but not for another group” is often mentioned (e.g., recently in the discussion for children aged 1-12). This shows that once legalized, euthanasia is difficult to be contained to one group of people. Numbers of euthanasia cases are growing every year, also for ‘special’ groups, like people with dementia or psychiatric disorders. 
5. Euthanasia has become normalized in Dutch culture. 99% of the Dutch citizens know what ‘euthanasia’ is, while only 53% know what ‘palliative care’ is.This has far-reaching consequences: 11% of Dutch citizens are afraid to get euthanasia in a secret way.
As a conclusion, we see that, although human dignity arguments were used to legalize or broaden the provision of euthanasia, in reality the human dignity of the vulnerable is in danger. Death is the opposite of life. We should not use the argument for dignity to assist people in dying, but focus on helping people to live. Therefore, it is imperative to invest in initiatives which alleviate loneliness in the elderly or isolated people and to fund good palliative care. It is our duty to protect the vulnerable among us against the dangers stemming from the expansion of access to euthanasia.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Netherlands man arrested for assisting multiple suicides.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The NL Times has reported that a 28 year old man from Eindhoven Netherlands was charged with assisting multiple suicides with lethal drugs. According to the article:
Prosecutors announced the arrest of an Eindhoven man accused of providing fatal doses of a potentially lethal drug to people who wanted to commit suicide. It was not revealed how many people died as a result. The public prosecutor (OM) said the suspect was paid an undisclosed sum for his involvement.

After giving the lethal drugs, the suspect allegedly "provided them with a drug that reduces the urge to vomit, which can only be obtained through doctors and pharmacists." The OM noted that the suspect is neither by profession, and thus he violated the law prohibiting assisting in someone's suicide, and the law regarding provision of prescription medication.

The article does not indicate whether the man was involved with the euthanasia lobby but the fact that he provided a drug to prevent vomiting indicates that he had some training and experience with euthanasia drugs.

I will continue to follow this case.

 

Elderly California woman charged with murder. Friend claims it was an assisted suicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Sandra Bonertz
Colin Kalmbacher reported for Law & Crime on July 14, 2021 that Sandra Jeannett Bonertz was charged with murder in the first degree in the death of her room mate, Winnie, in Bakersfield California.

According the report Bonertz confessed to the crime and then pleaded not guilty at the arraignment a few days later. Kalmbacher reported:
According to the Bakersfield Police Department, officers responded to a call on July 11th and found the roommate with major injuries lying dead on the floor. Bonertz allegedly confessed to the crime, believed to have occurred the night before, as police arrived and had a gun in her hand–which police say was surrendered without incident.
To complicate the case, Kalmbacher reported that Cheryl Sperry, a friend of Bonertz told ABC affiliate KBAK that:
I do believe that Winnie begged her to kill her. She had said that on many occasions in front of me if I ever can’t walk please kill me. And Winnie was in a car accident a month ago, Winnie and Sandy both, and Winnie broke her ankle and she was unable to walk and she was unable to get into a doctor. It takes three months to get into a doctor these days and she was completely miserable. I talked to them Thursday, she was depressed and distraught, just down in the dumps. I don’t believe there was any malice or anything like that.
Legalizing assisted suicide changes attitudes towards killing people. Bonertz may have killed Winnie and is now seeking a lesser or no sentence by claiming that the death was an assisted suicide.

Whether or not Winnie begged to be killed, if Bonertz killed her it is still murder.

I will continue to follow this case. The next hearing is scheduled for August 9, 2021.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Assisted suicide advocate discusses expanding (in the US) to euthanasia and organ donation by euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

I don't usually write about pro-euthanasia books but Katie Englehart recently published book titled: The Inevitable - Dispatches on the Right to Die (St. Martin’s Press, 2021), merits an exception 

Englehart may be promoting her book by discussing provactive issues but it represents the mainstream of the euthanasia lobby and her writing should be seen as a wake-up call.

We have known for many years that the assisted suicide lobby limited expansion of assisted suicide in the where it is legal in the United States order to claim that their is no slippery slope. So it is not surprising that Englehart questions the "limits" set by assisted suicide laws in the United States. 

She writes the following in her Good Death Society Blog:

Away from the public eye, new questions about the practice of physician-assisted death continue to emerge. Should doctors actively present the option of assisted death to their dying patients – because, of course, doctors are meant to present us with all of our options? Or should they wait until their patients ask about it, lest the simple act of providing information be interpreted as an endorsement or a sign that the doctor has lost hope?
The real question she is asking is should physicians promote assisted suicide to people who they believe are better off dead. She then asks:
Can assisted death ever be something that hospitals advertise? If a doctor refuses to assist in death, should he/she have to refer an inquiring patient to a doctor who will? Is physician-assisted death better carried out by a small number of specialized physicians, or by family doctors? The specialists would quickly become skillful, but the family doctors are more accessible. Also, specialization might ghettoize assisted death – and make it seem like something separate from normal end-of-life medicine.
Forcing doctors to refer, advertising death and creating killing specialists (which already exists) will normalize killing. 

She continues:
should aid-in-dying patients be allowed to donate organs? Of course, that would require that the patients die in a hospital, via injection, to preserve the health of the vital parts – so we would need to change the death-with-dignity rules.
Her point is clear, if doctors can euthanize their patients then organ donation becomes an option. She then follows that up with euthanasia by organ donation:
While we’re at it, why not go one step further to really maximize the chances of successful transplant: Allow organs to be removed from patients who are under anesthesia but still living, in such a way that the surgery itself would kill them? No doubt, some charitable patients would want the option of “death by donation,” as researchers call it. The question is whether the state should allow it: whether death by donation would amount to an odious ethical breach or would just be an efficient way to make the best of a bad situation – for the good of us all.
Englehart is not asking a question, but is offering a proposal. Englehart continues:
As they are, existing Oregon-style DWD laws are defective. They grant rights to some patients but not to others, in ways that can seem arbitrary and unwise. A breast cancer patient who can swallow lethal medication might have the right to end her life with a doctor’s help, but not a brain cancer patient whose tumor has robbed him of his ability to move and to swallow. A person with six months left to live might be declared eligible, but not a chronically ill person in 10 times more pain. Why should someone who is approved to die be made to wait for 15 days, suffering the whole way through? And what do we do about all the people who would rather be dead than have dementia?
Americans who oppose assisted suicide correctly recognized that the Oregon law was only a stepping stone. Assisted suicide leads to euthanasia and homicide by organ donation which will be sold as "a loving and generous act."

Netherlands public prosecutor questions euthanasia rules for people who cannot consent.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Last November I published an article reporting that based on the Netherlands Supreme Court decision in April 2020, concerning the euthanasia death of an incompetent woman with dementia who resisted, that the five regional euthanasia review committee's in the Netherlands agreed to rules to expand euthanasia for people with dementia.

The Dutchnews.nl published an article on July 20, 2021 based on a report in the Trouw news stating that the public prosecutor questions the new euthanasia rules for people with dementia who cannot consent. The article reports that the dispute centres on who has the last word about euthanasia - the courts or the committees - and how are decisions made concerning someone with dementia who can longer ask for euthanasia.

The article reports that the new guidelines state that:

"In giving euthanasia to a patient who is no longer mentally competent as a result of advanced dementia, it is not necesary for the doctor to agree with the patient the time or manner in which euthanasia will be given... (since) this kind of discussion is pointless because such a patient will not understand the subject."
The public prosecution department chief Rinus Otte says this goes too far. Otte told the Trouw that this is not in line with the law and doctors can still face prosecution for murder.

According to the article, Trouw reported that the regional euthanasia review committee's are in talks to revise the code and a new version of the code will be published by the end of the year.

As I have stated before euthanasia for people with dementia justifies non-voluntary euthanasia. If it is lawful to kill someone with dementia who cannot request it, but indicated at some point in the past support for this type of death, then soon it will become cruel to not lethally inject someone with dementia who never asked for it.

This is an important issue since Canada's federal government and the Québec government have both established committee's to discuss the further expansion of euthanasia in Canada

One area being discussed for expansion in Canada is permitting euthanasia for people who are incompetent (dementia) but previously requested it in their advanced directive.

The dispute between the public prosecutor and the regional review committee's will likely cause Netherlands physicians to refuse to do euthanasia for incompetent people with dementia in order to avoid a possible prosecution.

Once euthanasia is legal, there is no limit for its use. Limiting euthanasia to competent people who make a clear request is discrimination for incompetent people who cannot make a request.

The dispute, the paper said, centres on deciding who has the last word about euthanasia – the courts or the committees – and about how far doctors can go to help someone to die who is no longer able to ask for it.

Read more at DutchNews.nl:
The dispute, the paper said, centres on deciding who has the last word about euthanasia – the courts or the committees – and about how far doctors can go to help someone to die who is no longer able to ask for it.

Read more at DutchNews.nl:
The dispute, the paper said, centres on deciding who has the last word about euthanasia – the courts or the committees – and about how far doctors can go to help someone to die who is no longer able to ask for it.

Read more at DutchNews.nl: