Friday, July 29, 2022

Canadian Virtual Hospice promotes euthanasia book for children

 The Canadian Virtual Hospice (virtualhospice.ca) has published an "activity book" aimed at normalizing euthanasia (MAiD) for children.

A web-based resource launched in 2004 to be a “platform [that] could address some of the national gaps in palliative care,” the Canadian Virtual Hospice was the first attempt at connecting Canadians with an array of health specialists online to help them face the daunting task of accompanying their ill and dying loved ones at the end of their lives. As reported on its website, “visits to Virtual Hospice continue to climb – from 34,000 in 2004 to 2.3 million in 2020,” which bespeaks the desperate need to shore up this crucial yet often-overlooked segment in healthcare.

On July 26th, 2022, The Canadian Virtual Hospice, which gets funding from such organizations as the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Health Canada, and Veteran Affaires Canada, announced its newest children's resource available on its website:

The activity book is replete with vibrant colours, graphics, and a juvenile font, and includes a section that explains the three "medicines" taken to kill a human being. On page 4, Step number 3 states:

The third medicine makes the person’s lungs stop breathing and then their heart stops beating. Because of the coma, the person does not notice this happening and it does not hurt. When their heart and lungs stop working, their body dies.

Meanwhile, some doctors have actually been frank in their admissions that they have no idea whether euthanasia “does not hurt,” since, as reported in a recent National Post article, during the euthanasia procedure: 

Monitors aren’t used. There are no monitors measuring brain waves or heart activity. Doctors say it would take away from the intimacy of the experience for the person and the family. 

This reassurance has also been challenged by Dr. Joel Zivot, an anesthesiologist and critical care doctor at Emory University School of Medicine who has studied how lethal injections impact prisoners' bodies; he has called both for autopsies to be done on MAiD deaths to see exactly how the poison impacted the body, and for paralyzing agents to not be used in the procedure in order to have a more realistic assessment of the MAiD recipient’s experience (link).

While the activity book contains “helpful” exercises such as suggested questions the child can ask the would-be MAiD recipient and a feelings chart, Twitter user Dr. Christopher Lyon (@ChristophLyon) pointed out the inability of the activity book to address the fundamentally flawed premise behind assisted death – the fact that doctors cause a death instead of stopping it – and thus, it can't help the child process the trauma of a betrayal of their trust in healthcare providers:

Even more disturbing, the MAID to MAD initiative (@VulnerableC7) pointed out the similarity in branding between the “Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) Activity book” and the “Me and My Illness” activity books that The Virtual Hospice provides, both aimed at children:

If the message being sent with this colourful and engaging activity book is that euthanasia is a normal, innocuous act that *doesn’t hurt* and is appropriate for anyone who is in pain, how can a sick and/or suffering child escape the conclusion that it may be an appropriate solution for them - especially once MAiD is extended to mature minors?

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Gwen is seeking euthanasia (MAiD) because she can't access medical treatment.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


Canadians are seeking death by euthanasia (MAiD) because they are not able to access medical treatment, or they are living with a disability, or a mental illness and/or poverty.

Moira Wyton wrote an article on July 26 that was published in the Tyee concerning Gwen, who is seeking death by euthanasia because of her problem accessing treatment for her medical condition. Whyton reports that "Gwen wants to live and care for her daughter. But the system makes it easier to seek MAID than treatment."

Whyton wrote:
...Gwen is considering a medically assisted death if she cannot access essential treatment for her chronic pain and disabilities, which make it impossible at times to eat, sleep, move or play with her child.

Government support and health coverage don’t fund the treatment that Gwen says her doctors recommend to vastly reduce her pain, or to provide enough income to live with a little one.

Gwen tells Whyton that she is desperate to be with her three-year-old daughter. 

Canada's medical system makes it difficult for Gwen to receive treatment but easy for her to receive MAiD (euthanasia).

Whyton continues:
While MAID was intended to give people broader personal choice and autonomy in health care, Gwen says recent eligibility expansions make it easier for those with chronic conditions to die instead of live.
Gwen is not the only one facing this dilemma.

On April 17, I wrote about the euthanasia death of a 51-year-old Ontario woman who had chemical sensitivities. The story was reported by CTV National News Medical Correspondent, Avis Favaro who reported that the woman was not terminally ill but living with chronic chemical sensitivities and environmental allergies.

In late April, Favaro reported on a case of a 31-year-old Ontario woman who was approved for MAiD (euthanasia) for chemical sensitivities. Favaro stated that Denise (not her real name) was diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), which triggers rashes, difficulty breathing, and blinding headaches called hemiplegic migraines that cause her temporary paralysis. At least in this case, money was raised to enable this woman to temporarily find a clean place to live.

A June 8 report by Penny Daflos for CTV News Vancouver concerned a chronically ill woman in her 30's who was approved for euthanasia even though she has been unable to obtain the medical treatment that she needs to live. Daflos wrote that "Kat" wants to live, but she had an easier time accessing death care (euthanasia approval) rather than health care.

Hannah Alberga reported for CTV news on July 11 that Tracey Thompson, a Toronto resident who is in her 50's, requested MAiD (euthanasia) because she is living with Long Covid and is approaching poverty since she is unable to work. Alberga explains that Thompson doesn't want to die, but she cannot live without an income or support.

Hannah Alberga also reported for CTV news on July 11 that Mitchell Tremblay (39) is planning to request MAiD (euthanasia) in March 2023 based on mental illness and poverty. According to Alberga, Tremblay is considering euthanasia because he doesn't receive enough money to survive.

On July 12, Christina Frangou wrote an article that was published by Chatelaine concerning a 54-year-old Vancouver woman who has amassed $40,000 in debts trying to treat myalgic encephalomyelitis and other ailments. When her money runs out, she says a medically assisted death may be her only option.

Whyton wrote that Gwen is experiencing suicidal ideation, but she doesn't want to die.
“I don’t want to die, but when you’re in that much pain, these intrusive thoughts come up,” she said. “The suffering is so far beyond what anyone can fathom.”
The Canadian government is currently debating further expansions to the euthanasia law. Canada needs to recognize how its euthanasia law threatens the lives of people with disabilities and other chronic conditions and reverse its killing direction.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Delta Hospice Society under attack again.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Today I learned that the Delta Hospice Society will be audited by the BC Provincial government.

In February 2021, the Delta Hospice Society (DHS) was defunded by the British Columbia Ministry of Health because they refused to kill people by euthanasia (MAiD). The battle over the existence of the DHS has continued since them.

Last April, the DHS held a board election whereby euthanasia (MAiD) supporters ran against a group of people who oppose euthanasia in their hope of taking over the board. Thankfully 76% of DHS members voted for board members who oppose euthanasia.

The DHS is once again under attack. A July 18 article published by the Delta Optimist reported that MLA Ravi Kahlon released a list of Delta region organizations that received money from the Community Gaming Grants program. According to the list, the DHS received a $36,000 grant.

In response, Ian Jacques wrote an article published on July 20 by the Delta Optimist reporting that MLA Ian Paton was demanding an investigation into the grant to the DHS. The article reported Nathan Cullen, the NDP government minister who is responsible for the grant program, as stating:

“The Delta Hospice Society received a small grant from the Community Gaming Grant program. Our government has been clear that we do not agree with the views advanced by this organization,” Cullen said. “It has come to our attention that there are concerns regarding funding provided to this organization and whether information provided by the organization was accurate and therefore fully met eligibility criteria.

“I’ve asked staff to review the application. We have a thorough audit processes in place to investigate claims and will be looking into this matter immediately. We will explore all corrective options including the possibility of recovering the funds.”

What Cullen, Paton, and Kahlon are wrong about is the DHS did not apply or receive funding from the Community Gaming Grants program this year. 

Angelina Ireland
Angelina Ireland, the President of the DHS wrote in a letter published by the Delta Optimist on July 23:
Delta Hospice Society did not apply to the Community Gaming Grants program for this year. We have not been notified by the program regarding a grant. I cannot speak to whose error this is. However, I’m dismayed at the response of our politicians.
Ireland then states:
These government attacks are not new to us. In an open letter last April, Delta Mayor George Harvie urged the provincial government to seize our thrift shop. Failing that, he revoked our tax-exempt status. Therefore, not only will we not be receiving “$36,000”, but we have also actually paid $35,000 in tax to the City of Delta this July. Now the government is riled up again, and seeks to rile up the community, by inaccurate reporting.

I encourage your readership to arm themselves with the facts: that true palliative care affirms life to its natural conclusion and does not hasten death. It is our right as a privately funded organization to affirm this classic principle of palliative care that is accepted world-wide.
Now the DHS has been informed that they will face a forensic audit from the government. The DHS is continuously under attack because they refuse to kill people.

Alex Schadenberg is a board member of the Delta Hospice Society.

Register for the next Being With - Visitor Training Program - August 3 and 4.


Kathy Matusiak Costa
Register for the free online visitor training program and becoming involved with visiting people in your community who are elderly and/or living alone.
 
Caring for people. Gain the confidence to journey with those who are lonely, socially isolated, sick, or dying, to renew their hope and purpose in living until they die.
 
FREE Online Training – Live on Zoom!

The Training Workshop is composed of two sessions, each session is two hours on:
Wednesday August 3 (7 pm - 9 pm) (EST) and Thurday August 4 (7 pm - 9 pm) (EST)

With Kathy Matusiak Costa, Executive Director of Compassionate Community Care, and Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. 

Register Now: Meeting capacity is limited.

Click on this link to register in advance

Compassionate Community Care: 
383 Horton St. E, London, ON N6B 1L6
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CCC Helpline: 1-855-675-8749 
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Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Swiss assisted suicide groups concerned that "stricter" rules will discourage suicide tourism.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An article by Kuoru Udo published by Swissinfo.ch on July 26 explains that Switzerland's new assisted suicide guidelines may lead to fewer suicide tourists.
 

Udo introduces the issue with the story of Alex Pandolfo who lives in the UK with early onset dementia.

Sixty-eight-year-old Pandolfo lives in the UK. When he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer disease in 2015, Lifecircle, an assisted suicide organisation in Basel, gave him the green light and accepted his request for assisted suicide. He plans to go to Switzerland when “the time has come”.

Under the old rules, he would have had to stay in Basel for just a few days to complete his plan, but the new ‘two-week-rule’ makes it a lot more expensive. “People who don’t have enough money will be put off by it,” Pandolfo told SWI swissinfo.ch.
Udo explains that last May the Swiss Medical Association agreed to a new set of guidelines for assisted suicide that state: 

  • The physician must – other than in justified exceptional cases – conduct at least two detailed discussions with the patient separated by an interval of at least two weeks.
  • The symptoms of the illness and/or functional impairment must be unbearable, the severity of which is to be substantiated by a legitimate diagnosis and prognosis.
  • Assisted suicide for healthy persons is not medically or ethically justifiable.

Previous guidelines did not require a two week interval and they permitted assisted suicide for otherwise healthy people.

Swiss assisted suicide groups are opposed to the new guidelines. Lifecircle president Erika Preisig opposes the ‘two-week-rule’ which she thinks is especially difficult for suicide tourists. Udo reports:

Even though Lifecircle offers the first meeting online, Preisig thinks it could still be a problem for some people. “Most of our patients are elderly who may not know how to conduct an online meeting. Some don’t even have a smartphone,” she notes. That means they would be obliged travel to Switzerland two weeks before their scheduled assisted suicide. And this would be particularly expensive for people with disabilities as they would have to cover the cost for their special care during the two weeks between consultations.
Dignitas, who specialize in foreign suicides, told Udo that:
“the new guideline shifts from putting weight on the patient’s personal view as justification for a physician to support the request for assisted suicide towards a more medical-diagnosis-classification of suffering.”
Switzerlands largest assisted suicide group, Exit, told Udo that:
psychosocial problems can also be a legitimate factor in wishing to end one’s life.
Udo reported that EXIT spokeswoman Muriel Düby said:
neither the Swiss medical fraternity nor the patients and assisted suicide organisations were given the chance to react to the new guidelines. “Even after the draft was approved by the highest authorities of SAMS, it was still classified as secret.”
The Swiss Medical Association appears to be wanting to curtail assisted suicide for people who are not sick or dying and yet the language of the guidelines are open to interpretation. Since the decision is based on "intolerable suffering" which is not objective, therefore assisted suicide for healthy people may continue under these guidelines. The requirement that there be at least two discussions no less than two weeks apart will slow down the assisted suicide approval process, even though one of the assisted suicide groups stated that the first discussion is done online.

There is nothing civilized about assisted dying.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Kevin Yuill
Historian and author, Kevin Yuill, wrote another great article that was published by Spiked on July 25 titled: There is nothing civilized about assisted dying.
Not Dead Yet UK comment: The Mansfield case should never be a reason for changing the law on assisted suicide (Link).
Yuill is responding to the Mansfield case (UK) which concerns Graham Mansfield who killed his wife Dyanne in a suicide pact, but failed to kill himself. The UK assisted suicide lobby claim that this is a good case for legalizing assisted suicide.

Yuill writes:
In March 2021, Graham Mansfield, a retired baggage handler, had agreed a mutual suicide pact with his 71-year-old wife, Dyanne, who had terminal cancer. He proceeded to slit his wife’s throat in their back garden, and then made a serious attempt to take his own life. When he woke up 12 hours later, he called the police in desperation. He pleaded with paramedics to let him die and admitted in his first 999 call that he had killed Dyanne.
Yuill explains that the jury found Mansfield not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. Yuill writes:
Though manslaughter can be punished with a maximum of life in prison, Mr Justice Goose imposed a two-year suspended sentence on Mansfield, ruling that the killing was ‘an act of love, of compassion, to end her suffering’.
Based on Justice Goose claiming that Mansfield acted out of love and compassion to end his wife's suffering, Mansfield's legal team and pro-assisted-suicide organisations like Dignity in Dying and Humanists UK are using this case to argue that the UK needs to legalise assisted dying. Yuill responds:
But the case of Graham Mansfield, as disquieting as it is, is not a reason to change the law on assisted suicide.
Yuill comments on how rare suicide pacts are in the UK, and how the law actually works properly by allowing the judge to determine a proper penalty for a conviction. Yuill continues:
But perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the case is the implication from assisted-suicide proponents that cutting the throat of a terminally ill person should be treated differently to cutting the throat of a person in good health. In law – for good reason – all are protected against wrongful killing, regardless of the state of their health.

Campaigners will claim that Mansfield’s act was justified because it was born of compassion for his suffering wife. This is understandable, but it also shows that the line quickly blurs between an assisted suicide and a mercy killing. Ultimately, legalising assisted dying treats the lives of the terminally ill as less valuable than other lives.
Yuill concludes by stating that he agrees with the two-year suspended sentence given to Mansfield but he also agrees that people who slit their wife's throat should be prosecuted.

This is a difficult case and many people will disagree with Mansfield receiving a two-year suspended sentence; nonetheless, if this case represents a precedent as to why assisted suicide should be legalized in the UK, then this precedent will open the floodgates to others who are living with a sick or disabled spouse.

The Mansfield case should never be a reason to change the law on assisted suicide in the UK.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Phil Friend posted the following comment on the Not Dead Yet UK Twitter page. The Mansfield case (UK) concerns Graham Mansfield who killed his wife Dyanne in a suicide pact, but then failed to kill himself. The UK assisted suicide lobby claim that this case is a good reason to legalize assisted suicide. Friend wrote:

A man who slit his wife’s throat “in an act of love” and tried to kill himself has been found not guilty of murder after a judge accepted the couple had made a suicide pact.

Mr Mansfield called for a change in the law on assisted dying: “I’d just like to say, the law needs to change. Nobody should have to go through what we went through. Unfortunately, today, my wife is not here. She shouldn’t have had to die in such barbaric circumstances. That was what we had to resort to.” Guardian Story link

Not Dead UK says, “The Mansfield case (Guardian, 23 July) should never be a reason to change the law on assisted suicide in the UK. This was not an act of compassion, it was an irrational and horrific response of someone who desperately needed mental health support. The current system works as an effective deterrent to some who may want to end the life of a vulnerable person for reasons which are currently unlawful. It is crucial to protect and support all people in that situation. What this story tells us is that Mr Mansfield and his wife did not receive this help.

Unfortunately, those who support assisted suicide are using this horrific tragedy to promote a need for a change in the law. But this will not help those people and their loved ones who are in desperate need of both timely physical and mental health care, not an assisted death. We at Not Dead Yet UK find using this tragic case to promote assisted suicide is disturbingly unethical”.

More articles on this case:

Downie urges Québec physicians to expand interpretation of euthanasia law.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


An article by Jocelyn Downie, Canada's leading pro-euthanasia academic, that was published by Policy Options on July 25 asks the question: Who is actually eligible for medical assistance in Dying in Quebec?

Many people are not aware that Canada has two euthanasia laws, the federal law and the Québec law.

There are several differences between the two laws, such as the Québec law does not permit euthanasia for mental illness alone.

Downie avoids the issue of euthanasia for mental illness alone and states:
The recent Quebec CSFV guidance on the meaning of “serious and incurable illness” under the Quebec law says that to be eligible, a person needs to be “on a death trajectory, predictable or not.” 
It says that the following do not meet the eligibility criterion of “serious and incurable illness”:
  • “A symptom or set of symptoms”
  • “Pathologies or conditions frequently associated with ageing, particularly in very old age, which can lead to an advanced and irreversible decline in capacity as well as significant suffering”
  • “Imminent death, if no serious and incurable disease could be identified”
  • “Disability unless it is caused by a serious and incurable disease (for example, the sequelae of a stroke caused by a cerebrovascular disease”
In other words, Québec has stricter euthanasia guidelines than the rest of Canada.

Downie's purpose for writing the article is to urge Québec euthanasia doctors to go ahead and follow the federal, not the provincial guidelines. Downie writes:
So what does this mean for eligibility in Quebec? What are clinicians and patients to do in the face of the inconsistency between the federal and Quebec laws (as recently interpreted by the CSFV)?

Well, thankfully, despite the recent statement from the CSFV, and despite the appearance of MAiD eligibility being narrower in Quebec than in the rest of Canada, the Collège May 2021 statement, makes it clear that clinicians are actually free to rely upon the federal criteria, and patients can ask for that. Patients in Quebec can receive MAiD if they have a serious illness, disease, or disability, and the CSFV’s list of excluded conditions need not restrict access to MAiD. Clinicians and patients need to know this so that patients are not wrongfully denied access to MAiD.
Downie side-steps the issue of euthanasia for mental illness alone, but in fact it is this issue that will provide the greatest difference between the Québec law and the federal law.

Québec's euthanasia reporting system is better. 

Québec's euthanasia report is compiled with data from multiple sources, thereby uncovering possible infractions of the law but also possible under-reporting. As stated by EPC's past President Amy Hasbrouck, the recent Québec euthanasia report contains a reporting discrepancy. Hasbrouck wrote:
Table 4.1 also shows the number of euthanasia reported by hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities (2,415) added to the number reported by the College of Physicians (273) for a total of 2,688, which is 262 more than the official figure of 2,426.

The most recent Québec euthanasia report also uncovers 7 violations of the law.

The federal euthanasia report only collects data from the reports submitted by the medical practitioner who carries out the death. Only collecting data from those who do the act does not enable the federal government to uncover possible abuses or under-reporting.

In conclusion, the Québec euthanasia law is somewhat tighter than the federal law. Downie, who strongly promotes euthanasia, is urging Québec euthanasia practitioners to follow the federal and not the Québec guidelines.

In March 2023, when the federal law will permit euthanasia for mental illness alone and the Québec law will continue to prohibit it, Downie will likely urge Québec euthanasia practitioners to follow the federal guidelines and ignore Québec's prohibition of killing people with mental illness.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Spain: Where the right to die trumps the right to justice

This article was published by Mercatornet on July 25, 2022.

Should a murderer escape his day in court by asking for euthanasia?

Michael Cook
By Michael Cook, the editor of Mercatornet

Catalonia’s capital, Barcelona, successfully bid for the Olympics in 1992. Thirty years later Catalonia is making a bid to be the world capital of euthanasia fundamentalism.

A recent case in a court in the city of Tarragona, about 100 kilometres south of Barcelona, is a prime exhibit for the loopiness of a pro-euthanasia mentality.

In Catalonia, euthanasia is far from uncommon. Since euthanasia was legalized in Spain in June last year, 60 of the country’s 172 cases have taken place in this region — more than a third, although Catalonia has only 16 percent of the total population.

The man at the centre of this controversy is Marin Eugen Sabau. He wants to die. “I am paraplegic. I have 45 stitches in my hand. I cannot move my left arm well. I have screws in my body and cannot feel from the chest down,” he says. If anyone had a right to end their pain and die with dignity, it was Marin Eugen Sabau. Two doctors and two representatives of the regional government, a doctor and a lawyer, agreed. Mr Sabau’s application was processed with unusual haste. A date was set – July 28.

However, a judge recently issued a temporary stay and Sabau’s death has been delayed.

Why? Mr Sabau’s case is exceptional, even unprecedented — because he is awaiting trial for attempted murder and a host of other charges. If he were euthanised, he would never be tried for those crimes.

On December 14 last year, Mr Sabau, a 45-year-old Romanian security guard, donned a goofy woman’s wig, walked into his workplace in Tarragona, and shot three of his co-workers. Then he fled the scene and barricaded himself in an abandoned farmhouse. In a gun battle with police, two of them were wounded. Eventually snipers put Mr Sabau out of action, shooting him in his back, his arm and his leg. He ended up a paraplegic and one of his legs was amputated.

Feeling none too chipper after the sudden changes in his life, Mr Sabau asked for euthanasia. The police were horrified. Where was justice for the victims? They objected in a court in Tarragona. The judge, Sonia Zapater, backed Mr Sabau.

Ms Zapater acknowledged that there was a “collision of fundamental rights”. But she ruled that Mr Sabau’s right to an autonomous decision must prevail over the right of victims to justice. Under the law only minors and mentally impaired patients who cannot give informed consent are ineligible for euthanasia. She dismissed the victims’ appeal.

This was euthanasia fundamentalism at its most fanatical. Only one thing mattered: the autonomous will. The individual owes nothing to other human beings or to society. The only thing that counts is his pain; woolly notions like justice or responsibility are meaningless.

Fortunately for the victims, Ms Zapater took her holiday leave, and another judge agreed to grant a stay. What happens next will be a test of Spain’s commitment to the rule of law – and to common sense.

Euthanasia fundamentalism at its most extreme is at work in Catalonia. Mr Sabau’s presumed right to a “death with dignity” has so far trumped all claims that society has upon him. He tried to kill several of his fellow citizens, breaching the most fundamental norm of the law in a civilised society – Thou shalt not kill. Doesn’t society have a right to declare that his actions were destructive, dangerous, and wrong? Don’t his victims have a right to have their pain recognised?

No, not in Catalonia.


A local newspaper interviewed María Jiménez, a bioethicist at Universitat Rovira i Virgili, in Tarragona, about the case. Yup, the judge was right, she said. The victims of the crime have no say in whether or not Mr Sabau “escapes justice”. Her reasoning is worth recording:

“For me there is a fundamental issue, which is the management of emotions. On the one hand, there is the right of this person, but on the other, the right to compensate the moral damage that other people have, emotionally, this weighs heavily, and society expects a protective response towards the victims. It is a difficult problem to solve, since whatever decision is taken, it will probably not satisfy both parties because they are two completely extreme points.”
In her autonomy-driven vision of law, justice – giving each party his due – has disappeared. All that remains are competing emotions. But this is false. Law is not about rage and vengeance but about restoring the moral balance which a criminal has upset. That’s why there was such an uproar when paedophile Jeffrey Epstein avoided his trial by committing suicide. As a lawyer for the victims said: “[They] deserved to see Epstein held accountable, and he owed it to everyone he hurt to accept responsibility for all of the pain he caused.” There speaks 2500 years of Western culture. The normalisation of euthanasia threatens to undermine this.

Mr Sabau intended to kill people and almost succeeded. He grievously wounded several of them. Ideally, he should acknowledge his crime and be reconciled with his victims and society. If he escapes his appointment with justice, euthanasia will not bring him death with dignity. Only a man who takes responsibility for his actions truly has dignity.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

New Zealand: 143 people die by euthanasia, one death is being investigated.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An article by Isaac Davison that was published in the New Zealand Herald on July 20 reports that 143 New Zealanders died by euthanasia in the first five months of their law.

Davison reported that 400 people requested euthanasia and 143 reportedly died by euthanasia. It is likely that many of the people who were approved for euthanasia have not yet died by lethal drugs.

Davison reported that:
A total of 68 people (17 per cent) were deemed ineligible, more than half of them because they did not have a terminal illness which was likely to end their life within six months.
According to the report, there have been 4 complaints and one of the deaths is being investigated. The article stated:
An investigation has been launched after a complaint was laid about an assisted death in a public hospital.

A family member of the person who died laid a complaint about their experience at the hospital to the Ministry of Health.

The ministry's assisted dying secretariat has upheld the complaint and referred it to the Health and Disability Commissioner, who has begun an investigation.

Further details, including the location of the hospital, were not known...
A report by Kate Hawkesby for NewstalkZB  interviews Wayne Naylor, the acting CEO of Hospice New Zealand, who is concerned that the government may expand the New Zealand euthanasia law in 2024. Hawkesby reported:
But he told Roman Travers experience from other countries suggests there could be issues if rules around the practice were altered.
He claims some countries have loosened laws over time, resulting in babies with health issues or people with dementia being euthanised.
For instance, Canada legalized euthanasia in June 2016, the law was expanded in March 2021 when the Canadian government expanded the regulations to permit people who are disabled or chronically ill to die by euthanasia, they eliminated the 10 waiting period, they allowed people who had requested euthanasia but then later became incompetent to die by euthanasia, and they expanded the law to include people with mental illness alone.

Canada's ever-expanding euthanasia law.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr Mark D'Souza, a Toronto physician who specializes in pain and symptom management, was published by the Toronto Sun on July 18 in his article: The ever-expanding goalposts of euthanasia in Canada.

D'Souza examines the concern of people who cannot gain effective treatment for their condition, but they can gain euthanasia. D'Souza writes:
But if you can only access health-care waitlists, as opposed to actual health care, and you cannot get financial or housing supports, is ending your life truly an independent and autonomous decision?

Fewer than 30% of Canadians have access to palliative care, a field I left in 2017 when Canadian governments refused to protect physician conscience rights when their patients seek to end their own lives.
D'Souza asks: how many of our poor and downtrodden will we harm?
D'Souza continues by explaining the government incentive of healthcare savings associated with euthanasia in Canada and then he states:

Is this our unspoken solution to the problem of an aging population promised “free” and unlimited health care?

There was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation about a planet where committing ritual suicide was mandated at age 65.

Perhaps this is not our ultimate societal destination, but when euthanasia became legal in Canada in 2016 with Bill C-14, we were sold a false bill of goods.
D'Souza writes that in the Carter decision, Canada's Supreme Court found "no compelling evidence" this could result result in a slippery slope, and yet parliament passed Bill C-7 in March 2021 which expanded the law to include euthanasia for mental illness alone that will come into force in March 2023. D'Souza wrote:
Years ago, when I cared for suicidal patients in the emergency room, I wondered if the time would come when I would be obliged to, in some way, assist in completion of the act.

The lack of access to prompt mental health care is particularly deplorable in Ontario.

The waiting lists are long. Treatment is expensive and takes time.

But since we live in an “on-demand” era, those who are struggling with mental health will now have legal access to a quicker solution.
D'Souza continues by writing about the pressure on physicians to participate in euthanasia. He writes:
Euthanasia activists and the media have been incredibly successful in glorifying euthanasia. Something that was until recently criminal has suddenly become accepted as a default moral position.

One advocate says, “If you can’t practise medicine because you can’t do an effective (euthanasia) referral, then you shouldn’t be in medicine.”

Another believes it’s a doctor’s duty to do whatever is legal and that the practitioner’s independent thoughts about what is best for the patient have no place in health care.

Can you think of any societies in our recent history where this sort of thinking went awry?
D'Souza completes the article by writing about the need for an open conversation on the issue, rather then the use of pressure by the euthanasia activists. He writes:
My preference would be to put the genie back into the bottle.

But practically speaking, we need to have an adult conversation of the pros and cons of euthanasia and where to draw the line.

There needs to be more debate and less shaming and censorship of those who disagree with the current orthodoxy on euthanasia.

Otherwise, in our utilitarian and utopian zeal, the right to die today may become the duty to die tomorrow. And everyone will echo Willy Loman’s misguided belief that some people are “worth more dead than alive.”
More information on these topics:
  • MAiD for mental illness and poverty (Link).
  • MAiD for disability and poverty (Link).
  • Canada's Medical Assistance in Dying law is the most permissive in the world (Link).

Friday, July 15, 2022

Massachusetts must reject assisted suicide.

Maria Brown, the Massachusetts state director of LULAC, the largest and oldest Hispanic and Latino civil rights organization in the U.S. wrote an opinion article that was published by the Boston Herald on July 15, 2022. Brown wrote:

Brown: Massachusetts must reject bid to legalize assisted suicide

We are still mourning the approximately 18,000 Massachusetts residents who have died from COVID. In a time so filled with loss, it is senseless and irresponsible that many in our state Legislature are pushing to legalize assisted suicide. As a member of the Massachusetts chapter of LULAC, the nation’s largest and oldest Hispanic and Latino civil rights volunteer-based organization, I strongly oppose the two bills under consideration, S.1384 and H.2381.

The dirty little secret is that assisted suicide is discriminatory. Latinos face significant hurdles accessing health care and the pandemic has magnified them. Both bills fail to even consider the latent discrimination and racism that pervade and have corrupted our health care system.

As a Latina, I have watched this process play out my entire life. My community struggles to access care and is locked out of treatment options. In 2019, a stunningly high 28.4% of Hispanic adults in Massachusetts reported being in fair or poor health, and the pandemic has wrecked us both nationally and locally. The dearth of protections for diverse communities combined with the lack of cultural knowledge and the language barrier has adversely affected my community in ways that can no longer be ignored. Latinos feel overwhelmed by a health care system that doesn’t cater to our needs.

Legalizing assisted suicide would institute a system in which “valued citizens” (the young, healthy and affluent) are encouraged to undergo treatment, and those that society too often only “pretends to value” (the disabled, minorities and the poor) are pushed towards life-ending options. My opposition to these assisted suicide bills is tied to my abiding commitment to expanding access to health care and fighting for equal human dignity.

Instead of providing more options for patients, assisted suicide funnels desperate people who lack a robust support system toward death. Proponents claim the proposed bills include sufficient safeguards, but history shows this hasn’t been true in other places that passed assisted suicide laws. So-called safeguards fail because it is difficult to prove coercion or malice after someone is dead.

Even if the safeguards were perfect, they still wouldn’t stop vulnerable members of society from being guided toward assisted suicide. A report written by the National Council on Disability discusses how society communicates to those with disabilities that they are “worth less” than other people and are a burden to their loved ones.

Assisted suicide encourages these fears, and that is one major reason why most disability groups oppose it. Seemingly neutral rules often lead to people with disabilities killing themselves because of societal expectations. As the report states, “some people who say they want to die will receive suicide intervention, while others will receive suicide assistance. The difference between these two groups of people will be their health or disability status.”

Similarly, those without substantial financial resources face pressure from an impersonal and amoral health care system to kill themselves. Insurance companies routinely deny coverage for lifesaving treatments, but offer to pay for assisted suicide. Patients placed in this situation often don’t have the financial resources and wherewithal to find alternative options.

Legalizing assisted suicide creates these situations because it blurs the line between legal death and murder. Unscrupulous actors will always take advantage of ambiguity, and society’s most vulnerable members, many of whom are people of color, end up getting crushed.

Less than a decade ago in the fall of 2012, the people of Massachusetts rejected a ballot initiative that legalized assisted suicide. Now our Legislature is considering doing what Massachusetts voters were wise enough to reject. The Massachusetts Legislature must recognize and act to oppose these assisted suicide bills and, instead, work towards creating a more equitable health care system that closes disparities in care for people with disabilities and communities of color.

More articles about Massachusetts assisted suicide debate:

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

California 2021 assisted suicide report. 486 "reported" deaths.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

The 2021 California assisted suicide report indicates that there were 486 reported assisted suicide deaths and 772 lethal cocktail prescriptions written. The report also states that 130 people who were approved for assisted suicide died from their underlying illness or other causes and 194 people received a lethal drug cocktail but their ingestion status is unknown.

When the ingestion status is unknown, the California Department of Public Health knows that the person received a lethal drug cocktail but they do not know whether or not the person died by assisted suicide.

The 2020 California assisted suicide report stated that there were 435 reported assisted suicide deaths with 164 people whose ingestion status was unknown. The 2021 California assisted suicide report amended the 2020 data stating that there were 495 reported assisted suicide deaths up from 435 in 2020. Last year I estimated that the actual number of assisted suicide deaths may be 500. I was close. In 2020 at least 60 of the 164 people whose ingestion status was unknown, died by assisted suicide.

How many of the 194 people whose ingestion status is unknown in 2021 died by assisted suicide? I estimate that next years report will state that there were 550 reported assisted suicide deaths.

Under-reporting and abuse of the law is covered-up by the reporting system. The California assisted suicide data comes from the reports submitted by the assisted suicide doctors. Since this is a self-reporting system, it is impossible to know when a doctor does not send in a report or abuses the law.

Order the pamphlet - Shedding light on assisted suicide in America

The data indicates that of the 486 reported assisted suicide deaths, 416 (85.6%) were white, 34 (7%) were Asian, 25 (5.1%) were Hispanic and 4 (.8%) were Black. 

The 2020 California population census indicates that: 39% are Hispanic, 35% are White, 15% are Asian and 5% are Black.

Clearly, assisted suicide is an issue of white privilege.

In 2021 California legislators expanded the assisted suicide law by passing Bill SB 380 which:

  • Reduced the mandatory 15-day waiting period between the two oral requests to 48 hours. 
  • Forced doctors who oppose assisted suicide to refer the person who requests assisted suicide.  
  • Eliminated the original law’s sunset clause, which eliminated the requirement to review the law.

In response to passing of Bill SB 380, a group of California Doctors who oppose assisted suicide have launched a court case to protect their conscience rights (Link to article). The conscience rights case has yet to be heard.

Recently a California federal judge rejected a case designed to permit euthanasia within California's assisted suicide act (Link to article). Dr Lonny Shavelson, who solely focuses on assisted suicide, and Sandra Morris, who lives with ALS, argued that the state's assisted suicide law discriminated against people who had difficulty self-ingesting the lethal assisted suicide drugs and to remedy the situation the state needed to permit euthanasia (lethal injection) in those cases. (Link to the decision)

Justice Chhabria rejected Shavelson's challenge to the law stating that permitting euthanasia was not an extension to the current law but rather it would fundamentally alter the law (Link to article).

The world wonders why Canada is euthanizing the poor.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alex Lo
Alex Lo who is a columnist with the South China Morning Post wrote an article wondering why Canada is killing poor people by MAiD (euthanasia). 

Lo states that he is not religious and he supports MAiD for terminally ill people, but he finds recent Canadian cases as profoundly disturbing. 

Lo explains that Canada has developed a two tract MAiD system with the first tract for people whose natural death is deemed reasonably forseeable, and tract-two is for those who are living with an “intolerable” and “irreversible” illness, disease or disability, but who are not otherwise dying.

Lo writes:

Consider several tract-two cases this year. In February, the assisted death of a 51-year-old woman under MAiD became a first in the world for someone diagnosed with severe multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) because she could not afford housing that was free of chemicals such as cigarette smoke and air-fresheners.

In April, a 31-year-old Toronto woman was reportedly near final MAiD approval as she likewise suffered from MCS and couldn’t afford proper housing.

Meanwhile, Tracey Thompson, a former Toronto chef in her 50s, is applying for MAiD after contracting Covid-19 and being unable to work. Her most severe complications include reduced lung capacities leading to breathing problems and scars in her heart from swelling caused by myocarditis.

A 54-year-old Vancouver woman, suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome, is also currently applying for MAiD after amassing C$40,000 (HK$241,000) in debt she could not hope to repay.
Lo concludes by writing:
In April, The Spectator asked, “Why is Canada euthanising the poor?”; and The Guardian reported the following month: “Critics argue laws are being misused to punish the poor but experts say cases represent country’s failure to care for its most vulnerable citizens.”

Good question!
More articles on this topic: 

  • A message to the world. Don't legalize euthanasia (Link). 
  • 20-year-old man with undiagnosed condition is approved for euthanasia (Link).
  • Euthanasia by advanced directive is a recipe for abuse (Link).
  • BC woman approved for euthanasia but can't access healthcare (Link).
  • Why euthanasia for children is wrong (Link).
  • Euthanasia is out-of-control in Canada (Link).

MAiD (euthanasia) for mental illness and poverty.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Hannah Alberga reported for CTV news on July 11 that Mitchell Tremblay (39) is planning to request MAiD (euthanasia) in March 2023 based on mental illness and poverty.

When Canada's parliament passed Bill C-7 (March 2021) it expand the euthanasia law to include people with mental illness alone. Since there were no rules to approve euthanasia for mental illness alone, parliament created a two-year moratorium on euthanasia for mental illness alone. Therefore, Tremblay may be approved for euthanasia in March 2023.

Tremblay is seeking euthanasia based on mental illness and poverty. Alberga reports:
For nearly 15 years, Tremblay has been on ODSP. At the start, he said the approximate $1,000 was just enough to live on. With an incremental change since then, he said he’s barely able to survive.

“I’m basically living on the same amount since 2008,” he said. “I’ve gone homeless so many times I can’t keep track.”

Looking back, Tremblay said if he’d had financial and emotional support, even just 10 years ago, he could have had an “absolutely different life.”
Alberga interviews palliative care doctor Naheed Dosani on why people are asking for MAiD. Dosani reportedly states:
“One of the things that becomes very difficult to tease out is when suffering is related to the fact people don't have housing or food and how that is so difficult to separate from suffering related to a medical condition,” he said.

“My worry is that we are creating a situation where it is easier for people to choose death by MAiD than to choose to live well, because society is not offering them adequate access to money, housing, food security and social support,”
Alberga also interviews Dr Stephanie Green who is President of the Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers who states:
Lack of affordable housing and financial support do not alone qualify a patient for an assisted death, but Dr. Stefanie Green, a MAiD practitioner in Victoria, B.C., said such complexities may contribute to a person’s suffering.

“Suffering is one of the elements required for eligibility for MAiD, so it’s impossible to discount these issues when assessing someone,” she said.

“Our health system is woefully inadequate in serving our population with these resources,” Green said. “But I do not think we can hold these patients hostage.”
You wouldn't want to hold these patients hostage? 

Euthanasia practitioners, such as Green, are concerned with the rules that allow them to kill, not the needs of the person who is being killed. Poverty, disability and mental illness may all cause human suffering, but it is an injustice to kill the sufferer because of cultural abandonment.

MAiD (Euthanasia) for disability and poverty.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Madeleine
When there is one article in the media about a topic, it results in more stories on the same topic. In the past few months there have been several articles about people who are considering, or approved or died by MAiD (euthanasia) based on disability and poverty.

On July 12, Christina Frangou wrote an article that was published by Chatalaine concerning a 54-year-old Vancouver woman who  has amassed $40,000 in debts trying to treat myalgic encephalomyelitis and other ailments. When her money runs out, she says a medically assisted death may be her only option.

Frangou is writing about a woman known as Madeleine, who is living with disability and poverty. A previous article about Madeleine was published in July 2021. Frangou reports:

Today, she is among the more than 1.4 million Canadians with disabilities who live in poverty. Many, like Madeline, receive some government support; despite that, 40 percent of Canadians with disabilities live below the poverty line. And people with disabilities often need more basic goods and services just to survive—things like mobility aids, home care, accessible housing and transportation, prescription drugs and health care services, not all of which are fully covered by Canada’s publicly funded health programs.

There is, however, one government-funded service available to some people living with disabilities: medical assistance in dying (MAID). Last year, the Canadian government voted to expand MAID laws to include people suffering with illness whose death is not imminent, like Madeline. This has put her in a quandary: She has government funding to die in comfort, but not enough to live at the same standard.

The article explains that when Canada's parliament passed Bill C-7, in March 2021, parliament expanded euthanasia to people with disabilities who are not otherwise dying.

Frangou wrote that Madeleine applied for euthanasia in 2020 but she was told that she didn't qualify, but after Bill C-7 passed, she was approved. Frangou continues:

Many in the disability community have expressed frustration about the new criteria for MAID, saying that people may feel coerced into dying when they are suffering from poverty more than illness. Madeline, however, says she welcomed the changes to MAID. At the same time, she says that her decision to apply for an assisted death is largely driven by finances: “I’ve been forced to a measure of deterioration [where] I’ve ended up with MAID,” she says.

She isn’t alone. Hewitt of Disability Without Poverty told Chatelaine that she knows of eight people who are considering MAID because of poverty. This winter, a 51-year-old Ontario woman diagnosed with multiple chemical sensitivities chose MAID after she could not find affordable housing free of cigarette smoke and chemical cleaners. And another woman with the same condition told CTV that she will also seek a medically assisted death due to a lack of suitable housing. There are few known details about these cases, although they will be reviewed by the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario, in keeping with the rules for MAID requests in the province.

It was argued that expanding euthanasia to people with disabilities, who are not otherwise dying, provided equality but in fact it undermines the equality of people with disabilities who are often living in poverty.

The article ends by quoting Madeline as saying:

“I’m not [giving up]. That’s not what MAID is. MAID is brutal practicality.”

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition accurately predicted that once doctors and nurses are given the right in law to kill patients that the rules and reasons for approving medical killing (MAiD) would expand. This is what has happened in Canada.

More articles on these topics:

  • A message to the world. Don't legalize euthanasia (Link). 
  • 20-year-old man with undiagnosed condition is approved for euthanasia (Link).
  • Euthanasia by advanced directive is a recipe for abuse (Link).
  • BC woman approved for euthanasia but can't access healthcare (Link).
  • Why euthanasia for children is wrong (Link).
  • Euthanasia is out-of-control in Canada (Link).