Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Canadian veteran who was urged to seek (MAiD) euthanasia was not the only one.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Colby Cosh who writes for the National Post, published an update on August 30 to the story of the Veterans Affairs Canada worker who advocated euthanasia for PTSD

    Article: Veterans Affairs Canada worker advocates euthanasia for PTSD (Link).

Cosh, who does not oppose MAiD, wrongly states that euthanasia is a form of medical treatment under Canadian law. In fact euthanasia was legalized in Canada as an exception to homicide in the criminal code. Nonetheless, Cosh colates the information concerning the Veteran with PTSD who was urged to ask for euthanasia by the Veterans Affairs worker. Cosh writes:
A couple of weeks ago, Global News shocked the conscience of the country with a news item about a suffering Canadian combat survivor who called into Veterans Affairs to talk about medical treatment and was given an unexpected, unwanted lecture about assisted suicide. According to Global’s initial report, the man was recovering from a brain injury suffered on duty, along with post-traumatic stress. But he was also improving mentally and physically, and so was surprised and discouraged when he was asked whether he had thought about killing himself with a doctor’s help.

Global has not identified the veteran, but in the days after the original story broke, its reporters continued to tack on dreadful new details. On August 16, Global had said the man was “casually” offered help in seeking medically assisted death. By the 19th the network had learned that the Veterans Affairs agent had brought up euthanasia “repeatedly” and persisted even after being asked to shut up about it. The caseworker had also boasted, it is said, about helping another combat veteran obtain assisted suicide, and added that such a death was “better than blowing his brains out all over the wall or driving his car into something.”
Notice that the caseworker had also boasted about helping another combat veteran obtain assisted suicide.

Cosh explains the Veterans Affairs Canada responded by launching an investigation into the story. Cosh then analyzes this story with respect to people experiencing suicidal ideation. Cosh writes:
The harm done to Global’s veteran by the mention of an assisted suicide option seems like something that is awfully hard to control in practice. Of course people speaking for a “Veterans Affairs” department should not actively try to literally harangue clients to death. But are we going to begin to have different rules for different groups who are exposed to a high risk of suicide? It’s worth remembering that military personnel are not the only occupational group that have this feature. There are several trades known to have something like double the background risk of suicide, and for men altogether out of work it is higher than that.
Commenting about the outrage with respect to a Canadian Veteran who served Canada and is now experiencing suicidal ideation cannot be fully understood outside of the context of the many people with disabilities, who are also living in poverty, who have died by euthanasia (MAiD) because they are lacking the necessary medical and social supports.

Canada's euthanasia law has gone out-of-control and it needs to be honestly reviewed and yet the current government is not actually reviewing it, but proposing expansions of it.

Links to more stories of the euthanasia experience in Canada:

  • Veterans affairs worker advocates euthanasia for PTSD (Link).
  • Shopping for doctor death in Canada (Link).
  • Gwen is seeking euthanasia because she can't access medical treatment (Link).
  • Euthanasia for disability and poverty (Link).
  • Euthanasia for Long Covid and poverty (Link).
  • Canada's MAiD law is the most permissive in the world. (Link).

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Baby declared "brain dead" begins to breath on his own.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Harrison was declared brain dead as a baby
Several countries are considering changes to brain death protocols to make it easier to declare someone brain dead.

An article by Sadiya Chowdhury published last week by Sky News stated that a senior doctor was "shocked" when a baby started breathing on his own two weeks after being declared brain stem dead after two tests. According to the article:

On Thursday, a senior doctor told the High Court she was "shocked" when a baby declared brain stem dead after two tests began breathing by himself two weeks later.

The court heard that ventilation continued on the four-month-old after he was declared dead because there was an ongoing legal dispute.

In July, doctors treating him at a London hospital were forced to rescind "the clinical ascertainment of death" after a nurse noticed the infant had independent rhythmic breathing.

Lewis Roberts
The doctor had stated that none of them had seen this before. Chowdhury also reported also on the case of Lewis Roberts who was declared brain dead and then recoverd.

In March 2021, 18-year-old Lewis Roberts was declared brain stem dead after a road accident but began breathing independently hours before his organs were to be extracted for donation. Today he is well enough to play football and basketball.

Last month his sister told Sky News the test is done too soon.

"They rushed it through," she said.

"Eight months ago he was sat in a wheelchair, his eyes were gone, he couldn't speak. From how he was then to how he is now, that just shows that the brain can heal given the time."

The article states that a doctor told the High Court that there is a problem with brain stem testing. Chowdhury reported the doctor as saying: 

"Brain injuries need time to assess fully, to understand what is permanent damage and what is temporary"

An article about Harrison Ellmer was published in the Daily Mail in October 2015. Harrison was declared brain dead when he was three weeks old. He is three years old in the above picture.

There are plans to change the Uniform Determination of Death Act to align the law with the current practise. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is concerned that the proposals will lead to more people being declared brain dead for the purposes of organ donation. Lewis Roberts was hours away from having his organs extracted but now he is well enough to play football and basketball.

Response: “Neurologic Diseases and MAiD” in The American Journal of Bioethics

This article was published by Not Dead Yet on August 30, 2022.

Jules Good writes in response to “Neurologic Diseases and MAiD: Aid-In-Dying Laws Create an Underclass of Patients Based on Disability” by Lonny Shavelson, Thaddeus M. Pope, Margaret Pabst Battin, Alicia Oulette & Benzi Kluger, published in The American Journal of Bioethics 16 August 2022:

Jules Good
Legal assisted suicide puts disabled people in danger of being killed on the basis of disability alone. This is especially true when assisted suicide laws allow someone other than the patient to administer the drug. The authors claim that denying someone euthanasia is an ADA violation. Their argument is that getting assistance in administering the lethal drug should be seen as a “reasonable accommodation” used to allow someone without the physical capacity to take the drug access to assisted suicide. The provision of the ADA cited in the article to support this claim states that “No qualified individual with a disability shall…be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity” when reasonable accommodation can be provided.”

There is a much more compelling case for invoking the ADA here that focuses less on making it easier for disabled people to die and more on making it easier for us to live life on our own terms. In places where assisted suicide is legal, disabled people who wish to die (some actually terminal, some not) are given the tools to do so, while nondisabled people who wish to die are given access to mental health resources. Is being coerced toward “choosing” death really an example of disabled people accessing the “benefits of services, programs, or activities of a public entity”? Is being denied mental health treatment because our lives are seen as less valuable than the lives of nondisabled people not a more pressing example of the ADA being violated?

Thaddeus Pope, co-author of the article, has himself admitted that he sees having a disability, and not exclusively a “terminal” prognosis, as an acceptable reason for someone to be permitted to die by assisted suicide. We reject this notion. True healthcare includes treatment and resources that allow someone to live with as little pain and with as much independence as possible. Legal assisted suicide, which, on a systemic level, results in the premature and unnecessary deaths of our community members, is not a “service, program, or activity” that disabled people “benefit” from. This is a blatant misuse of the ADA.

It is clear that the authors of this article are out of touch with the core tenets of disability justice, which state in part that we have a responsibility to keep each other safe. Policies that champion the desires of individuals over the safety and vitality of the most marginalized disabled people are not grounded in a true disability justice framework. Disabled people do not need more help dying. Crisis standards of care in the face of COVID-19 that deprioritize us for treatment, our profit-driven healthcare system that regularly denies care to those who need it most, and a general societal attitude that people are “better off dead than disabled” make death more accessible to us than life. The ADA, while imperfect, was passed because the disabled community worked to ensure that the inherent value of our lives would be recognized in the eyes of the law. It should not be used to further jeopardize the safety of the most vulnerable members of our community.

Dr Saba releases his book - Made To Live - in Romania.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr Paul Saba, the author of the book Made To Live, recently released his book in Romania.

Dr Saba launched his book Made To Live on Sept 15, 2020 in Canada and earlier this month Made To Live was released in Romania.

Purchase Made To Live from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition for $26.25 (includes tax & shipping) (Link).

An article in the Romanian Post titled: Canadian doctor, assisted by a lawyer from Oradea, fights with the government to dispel the myth of assisted suicide stated:

Dr. Paul Saba has made it his mission to oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, he has lectured before the legislatures of New Hampshire, Connecticut and New York, before international forums in Rome, Reykjavik, Santiago, Tbilisi. Together with his lawyer, born in Oradea, Natalia Manole, the doctor also came to Oradea to make the world aware of “myths, manipulation and marketing of assisted death and that this law does not belong to our culture. It certainly has no place in our medical system.” 

Dr Paul Saba in Romania
In explaining the assisted suicide myths, Dr Saba stated:

one of the arguments used in favor of assisted suicide compares this act to the consent given to an operation. “Informed consent accepts death as a potential outcome, which is weighed against the patient’s willingness to take that risk. The error is that in the case of assisted suicide or euthanasia, death is not a risk, but a certainty,”

Another myth is that Canada is a progressive country that provides for the social and health needs of its citizens. Saba stated:

“The reality is that in Canada medical services are inadequate for many of its citizens. Many people do not have their basic needs met, including affordable housing and food. They want to live in dignity rather than die by euthanasia,”

A third myth that Saba outlined is that euthanasia is an extension of palliative care. Saba stated:

“The reality is that intentionally ending life is the exact opposite of palliative care, and is even used as a de facto alternative to palliative care.

Saba also dispelled the myth that if euthanasia is legalized that it will be restricted to only a few people. Saba referred to the data in Canada and Belgium.

Saba concluded his presentation by stating:

“Euthanasia and assisted suicide are not a solution to end-of-life care. People must be cared for, not killed”

Purchase copies of Made To Live from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition for $25 + GST ($26.25)(includes shipping) (Link).

Connecticut woman seeks to die by assisted suicide in Vermont.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An assisted suicide lobby group has launched a lawsuit on August 26 on behalf of a woman in Connecticut and a doctor in New York to challenge the Vermont assisted suicide law's residency requirement. The Vermont assisted suicide law permits Vermont residents death by assisted suicide.

According to the Concord Monitor:

Lynda Bluestein, 75, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, who has terminal fallopian tube cancer, and Dr. Diana Barnard, of Middlebury, Vermont, argue in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Burlington that Vermont’s residency requirement violates the U.S. Constitution.

Barnard said in the lawsuit that she would like to be able to offer the end-of-life option to her patients who live in New York. The two women have been advocates on the issue in New York and Connecticut, which currently have no laws in place to allow for medically assisted suicide.

This is the second lawsuit launched by the assisted suicide lobby group, Compassion and Choices, to force states to allow assisted suicide tourism.

In October 2021, Compassion and Choices and Dr Nicholas Gideonse, an assisted suicide prescribing doctor, launched a court case challenging the Oregon assisted suicide residency requirement. The assisted suicide lobby wants to eliminate assisted suicide residency requirements to give every Americans access to dying by assisted suicide. The lawsuit was filed in the federal court, claiming that the residency requirement was unconstitutional. (Link to news article). 

Instead of defending the right of Oregon to limit assisted suicide to state residents, the Oregon goverment agreed to remove the residency requirement. A March 29, 2022 Associated Press article by Gene Johnson reported:

Oregon will no longer require people to be residents of the state to use its law allowing terminally ill people to receive lethal medication, after a lawsuit challenged the requirement as unconstitutional.

Compassion and Choices announced that they would pressure other states that had legalized assisted suicide to also eliminate their residency requirement. This court case will be one of many court cases that Compassion and Choices will file to pressure states that have legalized assisted suicide to permit suicide tourism.

The assisted suicide lobby realizes that most States will never legalize assisted suicide. It is their goal to establish death tourism in states that have legalized assisted suicide. This can only be accomplished if those states remove their state residency requirement.

Friday, August 26, 2022

‘Abandoning People’: Canada’s Broadening Euthanasia Law Dangerous for the Vulnerable.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Epoch Times published an investigative report on August 24, 2022 by Peter Wilson concerning Canada's broadening euthanasia law titled: Abandoning People. Wilson states:
Canada’s broadening medical assistance in dying (MAiD) law has already harmed the country’s most vulnerable and will continue to do so unless amended, say critics of the legislation.
Wilson spoke to several experts and begins his report with comments by myself. Wilson states:
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Canada, says there are many recent cases that showcase this point. He cites the case of a woman who says she was suffering from long COVID.

Alex Schadenberg
Because she’s not able to work, she’s finding out that she can’t live in her home anymore. She can’t afford it. So she’s saying that if things don’t turn around for her soon, she’s applying for euthanasia,” says Schadenberg, author of the book “Exposing Vulnerable People to Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.

Another case, he says, is a woman living with a chronic disability in Victoria, B.C., who turned to MAiD due to insufficient health care.

“She has been unable to get treatment for her symptoms. So she’s been trying to go to the U.S. for treatment, but she doesn’t have enough money for that. But she’s been approved for euthanasia,” he said.
Wilson reports on the original Canadian law and explains that the law was amended by Bill C-7 in March 2021. He writes:

In 2021, the federal government passed Bill C-7, which amended the law to remove the requirement that patients have a fatal or terminal condition to be eligible.

In March 2023, patients whose only serious medical condition is a mental illness will also be eligible for MAiD.
Dr Ramona Coelho
Wilson interviewed Dr Ramona Coelho a family physician who works with many people with disabilities. Wilson reports:

Coelho told The Epoch Times about 71-year-old Ernest McNeill, who was admitted to a hospital after a fall. He was isolated from his family for a long time due to COVID-19 restrictions and contracted an infectious diarrheal illness while in hospital.

“The staff made very inappropriate comments about him,” said Coehlo, adding that McNeill “felt quite sad about it and he was in a lot of pain.”

“Someone on the [hospital] team raised the idea [of] medical assistance in dying [and] that he would qualify and told him all about it,” she said.

The health-care staff quickly diagnosed McNeill with a severe case of bronchitis, called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which Coehlo said McNeill didn’t know he had.

“But he trusted them,” Coehlo said. “So he basically accepted his death based on a diagnosis of COPD when he was acutely sick and feeling terrible.”
When presenting to the House of Commons Special Joint Committee on MAiD last May,  Coehlo stated:
“Was MAiD raised because his admission was longer than expected as a result of his being a victim of ageism?” asked Coelho. “Did he choose MAiD because his acute care team made him feel horrible? His family believes so.”
The London Free Press published an article by Coelho in July explaining why Canada's euthanasia law is the most permissive in the world.

Wilson then writes about our discussion about Roger Foley, a man who was urged by medical staff to consider euthanasia. Wilson reports:
Schadenberg raised the story of Roger Foley, a London, Ont., man who in his early 40s was offered MAiD by hospital staff without having requested it and was even told he would pay extraordinary hospital fees if he continued his long hospital stay.
Roger Foley
Wilson further reports on Foley's experience:
Foley, who suffered from an incurable brain disorder that practically paralyzed him, recorded audio clips of health-care workers at the hospital offering him MAiD and released them to CTV News in 2018.

“How are you feeling, Rog? Are you feeling like you want to harm yourself or anything like that?” asked one worker at the London Health Sciences Centre. “You can just apply to get assisted—if you want to end your life.”

Another worker told Foley it would cost him “north of $1,500 a day” to remain in hospital.

Foley refused MAiD and was eventually granted his original wish to receive home care. But Schadenberg said Foley’s story is just another example of MAiD causing health-care workers to “abandon” their patients.
Wilson then reports on the military veteran who is living with PTSD who was told he should consider MAiD. Wilson wrote:
The anonymous veteran told Global News that the recommendation was completely unprompted and that he “felt betrayed and disgusted by the suggestion.”

Conservative MP Garnett Genuis said the incident goes to show the inevitable consequences resulting from Canada’s MAiD law.

“This is for all the politicians who said the lack of safeguards wasn’t an issue,” Genuis said on Twitter. “You were warned. Repeatedly.”

Conservative MP Michael Cooper called it “yet another instance of abuse under the Liberals MAID regime,” adding that “vulnerable Canadians are being put at risk.”
The euthanasia lobby group, Dying With Dignity didn't acknowledge that people are being coerced to die and Health Canada told Wilson that:
Canada has “a high bar for accessing MAID” through “eligibility criteria” and “safeguards” set forth in the law.
Wilson then points out the massive growth in the number of euthanasia deaths in Canada. He wrote:
Canada’s assisted suicide rates have been steadily rising since legalization. Health Canada’s “Third Annual Report on Medical Assistance in Dying in Canada,” from 2021, showed that 10,064 instances of MAiD were provided that year, an increase of 32.4 percent compared to 2020.

The 10,064 MAiD deaths in 2021 accounted for 3.3 percent of all deaths in Canada that year.
Wilson ends the article with his interview with me. Wilson wrote:
“The rise is continuing, whether it continues at that rate or it slows down,” said Schadenberg. “The fact of it is, MAiD is already the sixth-leading cause of death in Canada,” Schadenberg said. “And so will it go much higher than that?
Links to more stories of the euthanasia abuse in Canada:

  • Veterans affairs worker advocates euthanasia for PTSD (Link).
  • Shopping for doctor death in Canada (Link).
  • Gwen is seeking euthanasia because she can't access medical treatment (Link).
  • Euthanasia for disability and poverty (Link).
  • Euthanasia for Long Covid and poverty (Link).
  • Canada's MAiD law is the most permissive in the world. (Link).

German Bundestag debates assisted suicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The German Bundestag
The German Bundestag is debating three draft laws to regulate assisted suicide.

In February 2020, Germany's high court legalized assisted suicide by creating a "right to a self-determined death" In February, 2022 a German court in Münster upheld a restriction to assisted suicide when it decided that people do not have the right to purchase lethal drugs for suicide.

Section 217 of the German criminal code which prohibited assisted suicide was changed by the February 2020 German Supreme Court decision which recognized a right to self-determined death, which included the freedom to take one’s own life.

Section 216 of the German criminal code which prohibits euthanasia "killing on request" was not changed by the German Supreme Court decision.

A recent report explains that the first proposal, being debated by the Bundestag, would regulate assisted suicide by requiring, among other things, mandatory counseling, it would prohibit the commercial promotion of assisted suicide and it would expand suicide prevention programs. The second proposal would regulate assisted suicide but it would only require, among other things, mandatory counseling.

The first and second proposals make distinctions between medical emergencies and non-medical emergencies and require assessments of the person's health condition.

The third proposal, which is supported by Left-wing politician Petra Sitte does not require a medical assessment. It is described as "open-ended" and only requires the person to have an “autonomously formed, free will”.

Petra Sitte, who opposes restrictions on assisted suicide reportedly stated:

However, this must absolutely be open-ended in order to guarantee this right of self-determination without restriction. Access conditions like illness or even building up expert hurdles is wrong.
The German Foundation for Patient Protection which opposes assisted suicide stated that the legislation must ensure that a person is not influenced or pressured to die. They also stated that the legislation must not allow a blurred line between euthanasia (active injection) and assisted suicide.

Germany needs to examine what has happened in Canada and not follow Canada's lead. Canada legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide in 2016 and in a few short years the "safeguards" have been essentially removed and the reasons for killing people has exponentially expanded to include euthanasia for mental illness alone.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Spain: Man who shot police officer avoids trial and dies by euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Marin Sabau was a 46-year-old Romanian man who was awaiting trial for allegedly shooting 5 people, including a police officer, at a Securitas office in Tarragona Spain in December 2021 has avoided trial and died by euthanasia. Sabau was approved for euthanasia for his injury caused by being shot in the spine by a police sharp-shooter.

Euronews reported:
The law allowing euthanasia in Spain came into force last year for adults with serious and incurable conditions that cause "unbearable suffering".

The case of the so-called "Gunslinger of Tarragona" has divided Spain, as lawyers for Sabau's victims had called for him to go to trial to receive compensation.

"The victims have a feeling of frustration, a person was left to decide when and how to end the legal proceedings," said José Antonio Bitos, the lawyer for two injured policemen injured.
Euronews reported that Bitos is concerned with how this decision affects other crimes.
Bitos added that his clients would receive damages from Spain's public administration because they were injured on duty, while other victims "will not get a trial or compensation".

He noted that the decision weakens the rule of law in Spain and could set a precedent for other serious crimes, including terrorism or paedophilia, and has called for the law on euthanasia to be updated.
I am very concerned with the direction of the Spanish euthanasia law. The court stated, in this case, that euthanasia is a fundamental right. If euthanasia is a fundamental right, then every restriction in the law will someday be removed because you cannot limit a fundamental right.

Previous articles on this story:

  • Man who shot a Spanish police officer will avoid trial and die by euthanasia (Link). 
  • Spain: Police shooter to avoid trial after being approved for euthanasia (Link).

Two stories from two countries.

This article was published by National Review on August 25, 2022.

By Wesley Smith

Euthanasia is showing its fangs in places such as Canada and Spain.

First, in Spain, a criminal who shot four people and was, in turn, shot in the spine by police and paralyzed, was granted death by euthanasia. From the EuroNews story:

Since December, he has been bedridden at the Terrassa prison hospital near Barcelona and had demanded the right to die. A Tarragona court judge ruled in his favour earlier this month, ruling that he had a “fundamental right” to “dignity”.
Spain has no death penalty, so even if the victims had died, he would have faced no lethal consequence as the death penalty is considered cruel and unusual punishment. But death was deemed “dignified” because the criminal was paralyzed. So I guess we could call this cruel and unusual death with dignity that allowed a criminal to avoid the consequences of his attempted lethal action and a form of death penalty to be applied.

Meanwhile, our cousins in Canada are embroiled in an entirely predictable euthanasia scandal. Rather than properly treat a veteran with PTSD, a social worker suggested euthanasia. From the Daily Mail story:
A spokesperson confirmed that all frontline staff at the VAC are to be given ‘formal training, direction and advice’ on how to approach the issues surrounding MAiD.

The veteran, who has not been identified, claims the service agent they spoke to brought up the option repeatedly even after he asked them to stop. He also said that the service agent told him in the call about having helped another veteran access MAiD through VAC including supporting that person’s children.

The service agent reportedly said ‘ better than blowing his brains out all over the wall or driving his car into something’, when discussing the separate case.
But don’t worry. An investigation has been promised. The veteran’s case isn’t the first time that Canada offered death instead of proper caring, and it won’t be the last.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The answer is not medically assisted suicide.

This article was published in the Quincy Sun on August 18, 2022.

John Kelly
By John Kelly, Director of the disability rights group Second Thoughts

38 years ago an accident left me paralyzed below my shoulders. My father was brokenhearted and wished I had died instead. His hopelessness about my life, however painful for me, was but a simple reflection of widespread prejudice against disabled people.

A few years after my injury, Jack Kevorkian became a sort of folk hero for “helping” terminally ill people die through his “self deliverance” machine. It later came out that more than two thirds of his clients were not terminal at all, but disabled people, primarily women, in psychological distress.

Over time, as medicine has focused increasingly on patient “quality-of-life” as a barometer of life-worthiness, death has been recharacterized as a benefit to an ill or disabled individual. Most physicians (82%, a Harvard study recently found) view our “quality-of-life” as worse. Disability advocates have raised concerns about the fate of disabled people like Oregonian Sarah McSweeney and Texan Michael Hickson. Both wanted to live, both were loved by family and caregivers, but they died after hospital personnel denied them treatment based on their disabilities.

Over the last 25 years first Oregon, then additional states and Washington DC established assisted suicide programs for people expected to die within six months. Proponent rhetoric has focused on compassion for people’s physical pain and suffering, and the hope of a choiceful, peaceful end.

The reality, as shown by the top five reported “end of life concerns” in Oregon, hinge not on pain, but on people’s “existential distress,” as one study termed it, in reaction to the disabling features of their illness: depending on and feeling like a burden on other people, losing abilities, losing the respect of self and others (“loss of dignity”), and shame over incontinence.

Prominent bioethicist Thaddeus Pope concedes that “Everybody who’s using medical aid in dying is disabled. And probably you could go to the next step and say the reason they want medical aid in dying is because of their disability.” To Pope, any disability a patient finds “personally intolerable” is sufficient reason to assist their suicide.

In Massachusetts, assisted suicide bills have been put forward every session for the last 20 years. Proponents proclaim strong public support for the measure, but that support is shallow. In the weeks leading up to the 2012 ballot question on assisted suicide, polls showed 64% support.* The ballot question lost, 51%-49%. Now supporters say that 77% of Massachusetts residents support the bill, based on a poll question seeking compassion for terminally ill people “to end their suffering,” with its implication of physical pain.

State House Speaker Ron Mariano declared “We have a very divided House of Representatives. There’s not a 77 percent affirmative vote in the House right now.”

With the end of the legislative session on July 31, the bill died.

Disability rights advocates appreciate the willingness of many legislators to take our concerns seriously. We worry, with death reframed as a benefit for severely disabled people, that increased legalization will bring expansion of eligibility. Pope points out that the US is unique in the world for limiting assisted suicide to terminal people, and that every other jurisdiction, including Canada, offers euthanasia on demand to non-dying disabled people. He predicts that non-terminal disabled people will become eligible in the US. In Canada, disabled people have been euthanized because they were denied needed care or couldn’t find safe housing for multiple chemical sensitivities.

There are unsolvable problems with all assisted suicide laws. First, real choice resides with insurers, whose bottom line favors delay or denial of treatment. Dr. Brian Callister reported trying to refer two patients for life-saving but expensive procedures in Oregon and California, only to hear that the insurers limited coverage to hospice and assisted suicide.

Second, when people feel they have lost their dignity and feel like a burden on others, they are vulnerable to pressure and outright coercion to sacrifice themselves for others benefit. Abuse yearly affects one in 10 elders, exacerbated by COVID-19 restrictions. A self-interested heir can push a patient to make the request, serve as a witness along with a “friend,” pick up the drugs and, because no disinterested witness is required at the death, administer the drugs themselves. The law grants immunity to anyone who assists in the death who say they acted “in good faith.” Deadly abuse goes unpunished and unnoticed.

Third, terminal prognoses are notoriously inaccurate. NPR reported a few years ago that nearly one in five people who enter hospice survive the six-month benefit. Oregon revealed last year that just 4% of patients live past six months, meaning that the difference between 4% and almost 20% represents the body count of people who weren’t really dying. People who oppose capital punishment because of the inevitability of executing an innocent person should take note.

The 2012 Massachusetts ballot results and the patient demographics in states like California show there is a social class, race, and ethnicity component in the use of and support for assisted suicide. A 2013 Pew Research Center study showed that Blacks oppose assisted suicide by 65%-29%, and Latinos by 65%-32%. Majority Latino Lawrence voted 69% against the 2012 question, while white working class towns like Taunton and Gardner also opposed. Wealthier, whiter Massachusetts towns voted heavily in favor. In California, 94% of reported assisted suicides have been by non-Hispanic whites, more than twice the group’s share of the state population. Almost no black people have used the program.

The answer is to address people’s real needs. That means a fully funded Medicare home care benefit to reduce burden and keep people out of nursing homes. It means more and better palliative care. And for people whose discomfort cannot be otherwise relieved, there is the option of palliative sedation, whereby a person is sedated to the point of comfort while the dying process takes place. The answer is not medically assisted suicide. We disabled people demand full civil and human rights, equal protection under the law, equal suicide prevention, and more respect throughout society.

John B. Kelly is the director of Second Thoughts MA.
*Note to readers: in the hardcopy version of this essay, John Kelly wrote that polls showed 68% support for the 2012 Ballot Question 2 weeks before the election. The relevant Suffolk University poll, however, taken September 17, 2012, shows that support at 64%. We made the change to the accurate number.

Assisted Suicide Is Not About Autonomy; It Is A Symptom of Systems Which Deny Autonomy To Sick And Disabled People

This article was published as a guest blog by the disability rights group Not Dead Yet on August 8, 2022

Kathleen Nicole O'Neal
By Kathleen Nicole O’Neal

On June 16, 2022, a forty-four-year-old Italian citizen named Federico Carboni became the first patient in the history of his country to die by medically assisted suicide. Twelve years ago, Carboni was working as a trucker when he found himself seriously injured in a traffic accident that put him into a coma. When he awakened from the coma, he was a quadriplegic.

What I find most haunting about Carboni’s death are some of his last words, statements that he made explaining his decision to seek medically assisted suicide. Said Carboni, “I do not deny that I am sorry to take leave of life. I would be false and a liar if I said the opposite because life is fantastic, and we only have one. But unfortunately, it went like this. I have done everything possible to be able to live as well as possible and try to recover the maximum from my disability, but by now I am both mentally and physically exhausted. I do not have a minimum of autonomy in daily life, I am at the mercy of events, I depend on others for everything, I am like a boat adrift in the ocean. I am aware of my physical condition and future prospects so I am totally calm and calm about what I will do.”

What I find haunting about this is that ultimately this is an indictment of a terrible personal care services (aka caregiving) system, a system that fails to pay workers enough to create a reliable workforce and a system that fails to grant disabled people sufficient authority to control their services. Even the most physically disabled people should feel independent and empowered by their attendant services and apparently this is not what was happening in Carboni’s life.

To take one well known example, Stephen Hawking was a severely physically disabled person who nonetheless exercised great autonomy in his life. Even after his diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Hawking would go on to get married, publish books, and lecture internationally. He was not “at the mercy of events”; he was a figure who actively shaped scientific history. And while Hawking’s genius is remarkable, the resources which he had at his disposal in order to live his life on his own terms should be available to all disabled people everywhere in the world.

When a disabled person says that they “do not have a minimum of autonomy in daily life,” then that is an indictment of a society and a system that disrespects their equality and civil rights. And the solution to this is not to push assisted suicide as the way to deal with medically complicated individuals – it is to seek to ensure the autonomy of the disabled person in the personal care services relationship. Simply put, assisted suicide is not a solution but an extension of the devaluation disabled people experience. It’s like saying, “Disability equals no autonomy so prepare to die.”

Those who support assisted suicide have attempted to frame the issue as one of personal choice. Hence, the once appropriately named Hemlock Society now euphemistically and misleadingly refers to itself as Compassion and Choices. But what happens to disabled people all too often involves a lack of both compassion and choices and assisted suicide is not the answer to this reality.

In reality, needing care need not be a horrible thing. Says UK disability advocate Lucy Webster, “The things that I have enjoyed and been most proud of would not have happened without good care. From experiencing university (the studying and the partying) to holidaying in far-flung places, my life has been made possible by the young women who help me.
Without them, I wouldn’t have the countless warm memories of nights spent at the theatre, or gossiping and dancing with pals. It is impossible to conceive of being able to work without my PAs – I certainly wouldn’t have had the opportunities that led to me writing this column. But I have, and you are reading it, and I cannot see anything to pity in that.”

All disabled people should have excellent personal care attendants of their choice on demand. These are the real choices which we need in our society, but these are not the choices that are being framed for us in reference to medical assistance in death. Instead we are presented with phony “choices” – live with absolutely appalling, or even non-existent, services or die.

Federico Carboni did not deserve the death penalty. He deserved what Lucy Webster has. He deserved attendant services that centered his autonomy, his needs, his wants, his wishes, and his will. His life would have been different had he had that opportunity. We as a culture need to get over this notion that needing help with physical bodily functions is an affront to one’s dignity. This is the logic of ableism.

Assisted suicide is so often framed as an autonomous choice, but when you listen to the words of those who choose it, their lack of autonomy in making any choices in their lives comes barreling to light. There are many ways in which this troubling reality plays out in the lives of those individuals who find themselves targeted by assisted suicide laws and policies. For instance, in a groundbreaking 2019 report by the National Council on Disability entitled The Danger of Assisted Suicide Laws, the report’s authors write, “When assisted suicide is legalized in the context of the US healthcare system, it immediately becomes the cheapest treatment. Direct coercion is not necessary. If insurers deny, or even simply delay, approval of expensive life-sustaining treatment, patients can be steered toward hastening their deaths – and sometimes insurers help them to do so.”

We need to get over the notion that it is “undignified” for people with disabilities to need help. That’s ableism. And we need to quit pretending that those dying by assisted suicide are authors of an autonomous act of personal liberty. Instead of providing resources for these individuals to live autonomous lives and for their caregivers to be justly compensated economically for their work, we as a society are taking the easy way out and leaving little choice but for sick and disabled people, old or young, to kill themselves.

Assisted suicide represents a failure of society and that is what we need to recognize first and foremost about this phenomenon. We do not need to cooperate with the reframing of capitalist genocide of people with disabilities as a personal choice. Disabled people with autonomy don’t kill themselves. And if they lack autonomy, that is an indictment of the systems and individuals around them. “Compassion and Choices” is about anything but.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Britain debates euthanasia based on the Canadian experience.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The issue of euthanasia is being debated in Britain, but what is interesting is how Canada's experience with euthanasia is affecting the British debate.

An article by Yuan Yi Zhu that was published by on Monday August 22 challenged Matt Hancock, the former UK Health Minister, who recently stated that he supports euthanasia. Zhu points out that on the day Hancock announced his support for euthanasia, a story was published about a Canadian veteran with PTSD who was not asking for euthanasia, but was told by a Veterans Affairs officer that he should consider (MAiD) euthanasia. Zhu wrote:
On the very same day as Hancock’s declaration, it was reported in Canada that an injured veteran was casually asked if he wanted euthanasia when he was simply trying to obtain healthcare, without him ever having expressed an interest in ending his life. The week prior, the Associated Press reported cases where Canadian patients chose to die due to inadequate income support, and where disabled people who refused euthanasia were called “selfish” and accused of being a drain on resources, in one case by a hospital’s director of ethics.

Such reports have been legion ever since Canada legalised euthanasia in 2016, after its Supreme Court struck down the legal prohibition on assisted suicide because it infringed a constitutional right to life. Since then, many have chosen to die because, in the words of one who applied for it, they “simply cannot afford to keep on living”. Poverty itself is not a valid ground for euthanasia, but almost any chronic condition — including hearing loss in at least one case — can be. From 2023, mental illness will be a qualifying ground as well.

No doubt euthanasia’s proponents will dismiss Canada’s experience as an aberration and argue that it is possible to regulate away the moral hazards associated with the practice. The same argument was made by Canada’s judges, who brazenly dismissed the experience from the Netherlands, where children as young as 12 can now choose to die, and where a doctor was acquitted of murder even after admitting to euthanising an elderly woman despite her persistent protestations that she did not want to die.
This is not the first time that the UK has focused on Canada's experience in their euthanasia debate. During the British parliamentary euthanasia debate last July, Dr Gordon Macdonald, from Care Not Killing reported:
“Some MPs rightly expressed concern at the mission creep we see in countries like Canada, which legalised so called ‘medical assistance in dying’ in 2015. The law was originally limited to those whose natural deaths were ‘reasonably foreseeable’, but in September 2019 the Quebec Superior Court struck down that restriction. This followed the case of Alan Nichols, a former school caretaker who was physically healthy, but struggled with depression. His life was ended by lethal injection in July 2019. That same year also saw the chilling case of Roger Foley, who was repeatedly offered the drugs to kill himself, while being denied the social care to live a dignified life, due to the cost.
Canada's out-of-control euthanasia law is at least causing some jurisdictions to hesitate in following Canada's path. Too bad Australia already has followed Canada's lead.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Canada ignored warnings that its euthanasia law immediately went too far.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Tristan Hopper wrote an excellent article that was published in the National Post on August 19, 2022 concerning the many stories that have been published in the past few months concerning the many unexpected victims of Canada's euthanasia law. Hopper examines the law based on how the law went too far from its inception.

Hopper writes:
Barely a week now goes by without some new case emerging of a sick Canadian being offered assisted death in lieu of treatment. Most recently, it was a Canadian combat veteran who was casually offered the option of dying after he approached Veteran Affairs Canada for help with his PTSD.

It’s a nightmare scenario that was envisioned by no shortage of ethicists and health figures when assisted death was first written into Canadian law. But with few exceptions, these warnings were ignored by the various court rulings that ultimately forced Canada into adopting the world’s most permissive regime of legal euthanasia.
Hopper points out that the Supreme Court of Canada 1993 Rodriguez decision stated that:
“Given the concerns about abuse and the great difficulty in creating appropriate safeguards, the blanket prohibition on assisted suicide is not arbitrary or unfair”
Whereas the Supreme Court of Canada 2015 Carter decision that legalized euthanasia nearly ignored the concerns about abuse even though experts witnesses explained how the safeguards in Belgium and the Netherlands have become an illusion, the Supreme Court responded by stating that the Belgium experience was:
“the product of a very different medico-legal culture” and said it offered no lessons for Canada.
Hopper quotes from NDP MP Joe Comartin, who during the parliamentary debate warned that:
“mercy killings” becoming a regular component of an underfunded Canadian health-care system. “The risk we have is sending a message to the country that life is expendable, that we are prepared to say that we do not care enough for people to take care of them”
Conservative MP Joy Smith quoted from Theo Boer, a Dutch bioethicist and former member of the euthanasia commission who had supported euthanasia and then changed his mind:
“Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely to ever go back in again"
Hopper quotes from John C. Wootten who was published in the CMAJ as stating:
MAID’s core issue was that it was a 100 per cent successful procedure, with no way of telling whether it was a mistake. “Because few other medical acts can be accomplished with such impunity, we are likely to become more and more comfortable with it, and more and more permissive as times goes by,” he wrote.
Hopper then points out that the 2019 Truchon and Gladu Quebec court decision continued the delusion that there are no fears of abuse. Hopper writes:
In the 2019 decision Truchon and Gladu v. Canada, the Quebec Superior Court ruled that extending assisted suicide only to Canadians with terminal illnesses was similarly a violation of the “security of the person.”

“The fact that doubts have been raised is one thing, but any possible ‘slippery slope’ remains theoretical,” it read.
Hopper explains that the Truchon decision led to the passing of Bill C-7 in March 2021 which allowed euthanasia for people with chronic but not terminal conditions, it eliminated the 10-day waiting period for people who are dying and it extended euthanasia to people with mental illness alone to be instituted in March 2023.

Alan Nichols (left side)
He concludes his article with one of the most egregious stories of euthanasia abuse in Canada by writing about the euthanasia death of Alan Nichols. Hopper writes:
Last June, the Medical Assistance in Dying Committee heard from Trish Nichols, whose suicidal and severely mentally ill brother Alan was given assisted death at a Chilliwack, B.C., hospital in 2019, at a time when MAID was still limited only to Canadians with a terminal illness.

Alan had been taken by his family to the hospital only days before to recover from a psychiatric episode, and in the minutes before he received a lethal injection, Trish described Alan screaming uncontrollably, despite the hospital’s assurances that he had opted for a medically assisted death while “of sound mind.”

“Would you feel safe now, bringing your suicidal loved one to seek medical care for recovery when there are no oversight or stringent safeguards surrounding a procedure that kills people?” Nichols told the committee.
Hopper only misses one point. The committee that Trish Nichols was speaking to is debating the expansion of Canada's euthanasia law to children - "mature minors" -to requests by advanced directive, and to determine the rules for killing people for mental illness alone.

Here are some links to more stories of abuse of euthanasia in Canada:
  • Veterans affairs worker advocates euthanasia for PTSD (Link).
  • Shopping for doctor death in Canada (Link).
  • Gwen is seeking euthanasia because she can't access medical treatment (Link).
  • Euthanasia for disability and poverty (Link).
  • Euthanasia for Long Covid and poverty (Link).
  • Canada's MAiD law is the most permissive in the world. (Link).

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Will future Canadians apologize to people with disabilities for euthanasia?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Charles Lane
Charles Lane wrote an insightful opinion article that was published by the Washington Post on August 17, 2022 titled: Will future Canadians owe the disabled an apology for euthanasia? Lane bases his article on the recent apology by Pope Francis to Canada's Indigenous community and relates it to the recent cases of people with disabilities who are living in poverty or with mental illness dying by euthanasia.

Lane writes:
These permissive standards may be resulting in avoidable death or distress for vulnerable people, and disability rights advocates are expressing concern, as Maria Cheng of the Associated Press reported Aug. 11.

She told the story of 61-year-old Alan Nichols, who requested — and received — euthanasia less than a month after entering a British Columbia hospital in June 2019 suffering from suicidal thoughts, dehydration and malnutrition. The decision was apparently based on a medical history that included serious but typically non-life-threatening conditions such as depression and hearing loss.

His grief-stricken family has sought explanations as to how doctors could have found their loved one competent to “choose” death much less needful of it. “Somebody needs to take responsibility so that it never happens to another family,” Trish Nichols, Alan’s sister-in-law, told Cheng.

Cheng described the case of a man with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, who felt driven to seek euthanasia because British Columbia officials would not provide him adequate support to live at home. In a case separately reported by Canadian media this year, a 31-year-old Toronto woman with a disability sought and received approval for euthanasia after what she said was a futile search for safe housing — only to decide to continue living after private parties helped her find an appropriate dwelling.
Lane also reports Cheng as writing that Canada does not require people to attempt effective treatments before dying by euthanasia, which is likely to lead to euthanasia for people who could have got better. Lane also refers to Cheng stating that:
Last year, a top United Nations disability rights official wrote to Trudeau advising him that legalizing euthanasia for the non-terminally ill creates an implied negative judgment on “the value or quality of life of persons with disabilities.”
There have been more sad stories of people with disabilities or those with mental illness or poverty, being urged to consider, being approved for, and/or dying by euthanasia.

Here are some links to some of these stories:
  • Veterans affairs worker advocates euthanasia for PTSD (Link).
  • Shopping for doctor death in Canada (Link).
  • Gwen is seeking euthanasia because she can't access medical treatment (Link).
  • Euthanasia for disability and poverty (Link).
  • Euthanasia for Long Covid and poverty (Link).
  • Canada's MAiD law is the most permissive in the world. (Link).
Lane then writes that Canada is expanding euthanasia to people with mental illness alone which he says is "a practice that has led to controversy over alleged abuses in Belgium and the Netherlands." Lane concludes:
"One of the most haunting aspects of the Canadian Indian Residential School system was that one of Canada’s worst historical crimes was managed and defended by people who fervently believed they were doing the right thing for ‘the Indian,’” Tristin Hopper wrote in the National Post last year.

As they expand euthanasia today, Canadians should bear in mind that they, too, are subject to the law of unintended consequences and to the judgment of future generations.
Either future Canadians will apologize for euthanizing people with disabilities, mental illness, the poor and the chronically ill, or our culture will become hardened to the needs of others and the culture will expect people in these circumstances to die.