Friday, March 31, 2023

It takes someone else being there, for a person in need, to choose to live.

The following was published by Compassionate Community Care on March 30, 2023.

A world in which someone was prepared to listen to another’s distress seemed to her one in which it was worthwhile to live”1

By Alida Dance

When we look at how our world and how society functions today, it revolves around a lot of constant busyness and chaos. We may not even realize how easy it is to forget the most simple things in life.

This has become normal within our society, there are so many distractions at all times. How hard has it become to put aside distractions and give our full attentive heart to another person? We can see that there is a disconnect between people as the result of so many factors and I am sure you can think of some distractions you may struggle with, so I am not going to list them.

Let’s read this quote again. “A world in which someone was prepared to listen to another’s distress seemed to her one in which it was worthwhile to live.”

Viktor Frankl
This is referenced from the article attached below (it is worth a read!). This is the reason that a woman gave for choosing not to end her life. In summary, a woman had made a phone call in the middle of the night and the person on the other end answered, listened to her, helped talk her through depression, and gave her reasons to keep living. But none of the reasons he listed for her, were the reason why she chose to keep living. She chose to keep living because he answered the phone and just was willing to listen to her amidst her distress. This individual was Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist and and former prisoner from a Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Viktor Frankl describes his experience in his famous book Man’s Search for Meaning.

What captured this woman in need who one night called Dr Frankl is a familiar experience, a human experience of need, and seeking help, a call in distress encounters another who is willing to care and take time to listen and “be with” the other. This is the same experience that we share and can relate with here at Compassionate Community Care and is the exact reason for having established our helpline, 1-855-675-8749, for this reason: to be with, listen, and care for those who call.

At CCC, we are equipped and do our best to provide help and resources for any situation or circumstance someone may be reaching out for. Often when the person on the other end of the line makes the call, it can be as simple as just answering and listening. When you are being a person to share the weight that seems impossible for another to carry, it is not as heavy.

The helpline has been created for those who don’t know who else to turn to or for those who need extra support, and we are more than happy to help with any situation! We can all learn from this example of Viktor Frankl, and become more aware of and recognize what can make us distracted, and instead, drop everything and tune into the person and what they are saying. We can learn to hear beyond our ears and listen with our hearts; to better connect with others, heart to heart.

Have you ever experienced this kind of grace? How can you better listen to those around you? I challenge you to reflect on these questions and become aware of the things that separate us, because once we know where we fall short, we can make better efforts to fill the gaps and become better connected again.

1 Quote above from The Rabbi Sacks Legacy. Listening is the greatest gift we can give to a troubled soul. (2002 December 14). Retrieved on March 16, 2023, from (Link to the article).

Euthanasia in Canada "Last Resort" or eugenics for disabled people.

  • For the disabled, assisted dying can be eugenics by another name

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Cassandra Kislenko wrote an excellent article about Gwen (pseudonym) who felt that she had no choice but to let the Canadian government kill her. You may remember that Gwen was featured in several articles last year where she had stated that she was seeking euthanasia because she was unable to get medical needed medical treatment.

Kislenko explains Gwen's story:
Gwen, whose real name is not being used for privacy reasons, has been suffering from degenerative neuropathic pain ever since a spinal injury in 2013. Already living with fibromyalgia and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, the physical trauma sent her nervous and immune systems into a debilitating spiral. “Your body gets confused when it’s in this type of constant, unrelenting pain,” she explains. “Your brain thinks it’s under attack, so there’s a constant fight-or-flight mode that worsens the symptoms and attacks your mental health.” When her condition was at its worst, every nerve in her body cried out—“like having bees buzzing in my flesh”—to the point where she couldn’t even let her own daughter touch her. She had to travel hours to see specialist doctors from her small town in British Columbia, who would either recommend supplements or prescribe expensive, addictive painkillers. Her only long-term option was ketamine infusion treatment, not covered by BC’s health care system. Her GoFundMe is raising at least $44,000 to pay not just for the infusions but for transportation, assistance, and childcare during the recovery process.
Kislenko explains that for Gwen living in poverty made her feel that her only choice was to become one of the growing number of disabled people dying by Canada’s world-leading Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) program simply because the state refuses to provide them with quality of life.

To further her claims Kislenko states:
However, as early as April 2019, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities expressed she was “extremely concerned” that Canada was not ensuring disabled people seeking state-assisted suicide had been provided with viable alternatives before making the choice. In a report to the Human Rights Council, she warned that “assisted dying must not be seen as a cost-effective alternative to providing services for persons with disabilities.”
As Kislenko explains, that is exactly what happened to paralympian Christine Gauthier:

High-profile cases such as that of veteran and Paralympian Christine Gauthier, who testified that she was offered a referral to MAiD after being denied an accessibility ramp for her home, represent a rapidly deteriorating crisis for Canada’s most vulnerable. While the Department of Veterans Affairs has denied Gauthier’s story, they acknowledge at least four cases in which a Veterans Affairs staffer is believed to have inappropriately suggested MAiD. The issue has been turned over to the RCMP, Canada’s federal police service.

Kislenko then expresses her concern with the expansion of euthanasia to people with mental illnesses:

Now the Canadian government is considering an expansion to MAiD that includes those with mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. This change was scheduled to officially go through this month, but its implementation was recently delayed to “give provinces and medical professionals time to get ready for the change.”
Kislenko explains that the disability movement is relieved that euthanasia for mental illness has been delayed but she explains that Justice Minister David Lametti is confident that it will be implemented in March 2024. Kislenko then explains that the government is planning on further euthanasia expansions.
And the committee is also considering other eligibility expansions, like terminating severely ill newborns, or allowing teenagers to access state-assisted suicide.
Kislenko quotes a friend of Gwen who states that based on Canada's failing healthcare systems and other concerns that Canada's euthanasia program is essentially a form of eugenics.
“It’s eugenics,” says Gwen’s friend Bunny (not their real name), who started the GoFundMe for Gwen’s treatment over the summer. “There’s no other way to describe it . . . if you won’t give me money for housing, you won’t control the market so that I can afford housing, but you’ll give me money to kill myself, then that is eugenics.”
I agree that Canada has instituted a form of eugenics especially when you consider what qualifies a person for being killed in Canada. Kislenko then quotes Megan Linton who also defines Canada's MAiD program as eugenic.

Today, Canada’s medical systems practice eugenics in less obvious ways, such as provinces enthusiastically harvesting organs from those who die by state-assisted suicide. “[Canada] has a long history of eugenics that seeks to remove disabled people from our communities,” says Megan Linton, researcher and advocate with DJNO. “Whether it be through MAiD, or through institutionalization, or just through complete social isolation . . . it’s the process of removal.”
Kislenko continues by quoting researchers Beatrice Adler-Bolton and Artie Vierkant who theorize in their book Health Communism, capitalist health care systems impose a “eugenic and debt burden” on all subjects, insisting that anyone unable to meet maximum productivity is a drain on both the state and their community.

I disagree with this theory that attributes eugenics to capitalism. My experience indicates that the overbloated bureaucratic health care system, rather than capitalism, focuses on eliminating people with disabilities or other people who require care from the system. We agree that the healthcare system has stopped providing the care that people need and we agree that the outcome is eugenic. 

Kislenko does quote from Linten who stated:

“The expansion of MAiD must be viewed within the context of this economic order, which is . . . encouraging the government to retreat from its responsibilities to the public’s welfare,” says Linton. “So now the state appears generous to provide mercy from the austerity that they actively designed.”
Kislenko states:
In reality, the Canadian state is anything but generous. One in four working-age disabled people live below the poverty line in Canada, according to Statistics Canada, and disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as abled people. Disability assistance programs vary by province, but all fall short of providing quality of life. For Gwen, the maximum monthly payment for a single parent in BC is about $1,250, which is meant to cover rent, food, transportation, medication, and childcare.
I agree with this statement. It is impossible to live on $1250 per month in British Columbia. There are many Canadians who have a genuine need but who are forced to live in poverty, thus leading to these people being made to feel that death is their only solution. In reality, it constitutes a final solution.

Kislenko then explains that the GoFundMe page that helped Gwen.
Fortunately, Gwen says her GoFundMe went viral enough to cover an initial round of ketamine treatment, providing her first glimmer of hope in years. She was able to spend Christmas out of her wheelchair and was very thankful to play with her daughter again. “It’s good I finally have a bit of strength to fight,” she says.
Jennyfer Hatch
But it wasn't enough to save the life of her friend Jennyfer Hatch:
And even then, Gwen’s relative success is an outlier compared to the countless disabled people across Canada who have been pushed to seek MAiD. Over the course of her fundraiser, she lost a friend to these exact circumstances: Jennyfer Hatch, who was featured in a commercial documenting her last days, died from state-assisted suicide after years of failing to find government support for her Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
Kislenko finishes the article by stating that Gwen isn't considering euthanasia now, but the situation that led her to seek an assisted death remains the same.
Gwen is currently no longer seeking state-assisted suicide. Still, both she and Bunny understand the bleak path ahead not just for Gwen’s treatment, but for the growing number of workers who will be joining surplus populations in the coming years. “People aren’t in touch with the fact that this could be them,” says Bunny. “Everybody is one really bad accident away from having intractable pain, or losing mobility functions that they relied on.”

“This is not an okay way to live,” they continue. “It’s not okay for society to be like this.”

Further reading:

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Proposed Regulation for Prescribing Controlled Substances via Telemedicine

RE: DEA NPRM (Document Citation 88 FR 12875) regarding telemedicine prescribing of controlled substances
Dear Administrator Milgram:

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition-USA (EPC-USA) and the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) represents thousands of physicians, attorneys, nurses, health care professionals, disability rights advocates, and citizens across the country. Members of our organizations oppose assisted suicide and euthanasia, and support positive measures to improve the quality of life of Americans. We fully support your proposed requirement for in-person examination before a Schedule II controlled substance can be prescribed. The patient would be required to see the medical practitioner in person before receiving the prescription.

DEA regulations require registration in each state in which a prescriber is licensed. They do not authorize interstate practice without licensure. This is already the standard of care. Our members have licensure and controlled substance licenses in a variety of states, along with the applicable separate DEA registrations. It is critically important that the final rule prohibit the use of telemedicine to cross state lines by unlicensed and unregistered clinicians.

We support the proposed prohibition on telemedicine prescribing of Schedule II controlled substances without an in-person medical evaluation. In addition, the prescriber must be licensed to practice in, and follow the laws of, the State where the patient is located. Without those regulations, prescribers of potentially dangerous drugs would be able to act beyond the regulatory reach of a state medical board.

Colleen Barry
Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition-USA

Craig Treptow, M.D.
President, Catholic Medical Association

Terri Schiavo: A Culture-of-Death Tipping Point.

This article was published by the Epoch Times on March 29, 2023.

By Wesley Smith

The March 31, 2005, court-ordered death of Terri Schiavo was an ominous cultural tipping point. As many readers will recall, the legal case began when Terri’s husband Michael Schiavo applied to remove the feeding tube from his profoundly cognitively disabled wife so that she would die by dehydration. When Terri’s parents Bob and Mary Schindler, joined by her siblings Bobby and Suzanne, fought the plan in court, profoundly important cultural and legal battle lines were drawn that were destined to change the country.

The legal battle raged for several years during which the country agonized and argued about the right and moral course. When her case began, few were aware that cognitively disabled patients could legally be made to die via the removal of feeding tubes. A few years later, after Terri’s family (in alliance with the disability rights and pro-life organizations) failed to save her life, this form of quasi-euthanasia was endorsed by polling majorities.

A Familiar Pattern

The public’s general acceptance of Terri’s dehydration followed a familiar pattern often seen as the culture-of-death slippery slope slip slides away. Initially, most people were shocked. But as the media pounded the drum in support of Michael, attitudes changed. This cultural shift was aided by prominent bioethicists and politicians assuring the public that taking away Terri’s feeding tube was not only legal — true — but ethically justified. By the time Terri was made to die agonizingly over two weeks — and despite Terri’s brother stating that she had become so desiccated that blood was pooling in her eyes — most of the country became convinced that her forced death was both right and compassionate.

Looking back nearly 20 years later, Terri’s case can be judged as a cultural cudgel that crushed the sanctity of life. These days, society’s primary purpose is popularly understood to be the prevention and elimination of suffering — even if that means eliminating the sufferer. In this nihilistic climate, killing — when supposedly motivated by “compassion” — often finds strong public support.

Radical Legal Changes

This shift has led to radical changes in our laws. When Terri died, only Oregon had legalized assisted suicide. Today, ten jurisdictions have passed statutes allowing doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to dying patients (Oregon, Washington state, Hawaii, Colorado, New Mexico, Maine, New Jersey, Vermont, California, plus the District of Columbia). These states encompass about one-third of the U.S. population.

Not only that, but most of these states have already begun the slippery slope process of expanding access to assisted suicide from that originally permitted, such as shortened waiting periods, allowing doctors to examine assisted suicide requesters over the Internet rather than in person, and allowing nurse practitioners to lethally prescribe. Vermont has done away with its residency requirements — likely followed soon by Oregon — opening the door to “suicide tourism” and potentially allowing patients throughout the nation to receive lethal doses who never meet the prescribing doctor in the flesh, or even enter the state.

Meanwhile, the euthanasia movement is striving to increase the number of jurisdictions that permit doctors to assist suicides. This year, there will be fraught political battles over assisted suicide legalization in New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Maryland, just to name a few.

Not content to await such changes, euthanasia advocacy groups promote suicide by self-starvation/dehydration to the elderly and people with disabilities, known in movement parlance as VSED (“voluntary stopping eating and drinking”). VSED is a form of quasi-assisted suicide. Starving oneself is an agonizing way to die — as it clearly was for Terri Schiavo if she was in any way conscious — so a doctor is usually required to palliate the agony. Otherwise, most people can’t complete the process.

Activists also promote “VSED by advance directive” for patients who willingly eat and drink. The idea is to allow people to create written legally binding documents ordering themselves starved to death should they become incompetent. Under these proposals, caregivers would be required to refuse sustenance to their patients — even if the patient asked for food and water — under the theory that the decision by the formerly competent patient should apply whether the person still wants to starve or not. 

Our Cousin Canada

How bad could this death agenda get? Canada — our closest cultural cousin — provides an alarming illustration. Our northern neighbor not only allows lethal injection euthanasia, but patients need not be terminally ill to qualify. Thus, lonely, frail elderly patients have been killed by doctors, as well as people with disabilities and chronic diseases — even the depressed. Next year the mentally ill are scheduled to be qualified legally for euthanasia, and the move is also afoot to allow children to be killed — perhaps without their parents’ knowledge or permission if doctors deem the child to be sufficiently “mature.” Not only that, but in Ontario, someone who has been accepted for euthanasia will be contacted by an organ transplant charity and asked for their liver, heart, pancreas, and kidneys.

If the same awful death paradigm develops here, the Terri Schiavo debacle will have paved the way. In the years since society nodded at the dehydration death of a helpless woman, we can trace a profound lessening in our commitment to the value of human life, along with a concomitant increase in poisonous utilitarianism in health care. Indeed, the day may soon come when killing seriously ill, elderly, and severely disabled patients is not merely seen as a legitimate “end-of-life choice,” but also a normalized way of death.

Cross-posted at The Epoch Times.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Florida doctors say NO to Assisted Suicide.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr George Everett
The Orlando-Sentinel published a Guest Column on March 27 by Dr George Everett, the governor and president of the American College of Physicians, Florida Chapter.

Florida is currently debating assisted suicide Bills (S864/H1231).

Everett writes in his Guest Column:
As a physician, the overwhelming majority of my colleagues and I do not wish to participate in PAS. The American College of Physicians, the largest physician specialty organization in the world, and the American Medical Association, the largest physician organization in the United States, have both written extensively on the ethics surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide and vigorously oppose physicians’ involvement in either activity.

Here are some of our reasons for opposition.

First, Hospice and Palliative Medicine, a relatively new specialty, is greatly underused and often sought at the very end of life rather than earlier when suffering can be allayed. Second, a slippery slope of misuse of PAS has already been shown to occur in countries where it is legal. For example, the Dutch have expanded euthanasia (most often delivered by physicians) from adults who have given consent, to now include children from ages 1-12 where parents have given consent. Third, two of the four key ethical principles of medical care, beneficence (promote well-being) and non-maleficence (do no harm), are violated with PAS. Fourth, loss of trust in the physician as a healer and comforter with the best interests of the patient at the forefront of the relationship, is compromised.

Technically, the use of medication to assist in suicide is suspect. Medical science has not produced a medication that can be orally self-administered which results in certain and painless death. The most consistently successful suicides are through methods that a physician would not be able to provide or suggest. Medication overdose, on the other hand, is the most common layman’s method of suicide attempt and is usually unsuccessful.

Furthermore, suicide is strongly associated with social and demographic factors. Men commit 80% of suicides. The highest rate of suicide is among Native Americans and non-Hispanic whites while the lowest rates are in Asians, Blacks and Hispanics. Imagine, for a minute, that PAS was delivered more often to some social or demographic groups compared to others. Suspicions about motives and accusations about discrimination would surely be asserted. Trust in the medical profession would suffer.

PAS and euthanasia are essentially unnecessary with tools currently available to relieve suffering as people near the end of life. As physicians, we much more frequently encounter patients and families who demand maximum therapy, often painful and futile, all the way to the end of life, than those who request hospice or palliative care that could minimize suffering. This observation is supported by studies funded from the National Institute of Health which found that more than 20% of all Medicare expenses go to people in the last year of life, with only a minimal proportion spent on hospice care.

Citizens of the state of Florida would be poorly served by physicians assisting in suicide but would be greatly benefited by education about the effectiveness of hospice and palliative care to limit suffering near the end of life.
Everett was responding to an earlier article by Scott Maxwell which supported assisted suicide.

Connecticut politician quotes Nietzche in support of assisted suicide bill.

This article was published in the CT Mirror on March 29.

By Cathy Ludlum

We are in trouble when our elected officials start quoting Nietzsche.

It was at the Public Health Committee meeting March 10 that one of our legislators framed her argument in favor of SB 1076 (assisted suicide) with these words: “One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly” (clip position 27:40).

She did not appear to know who Friedrich Nietzsche was, and admitted that she had probably mispronounced his name. No doubt she had not read the rest of the paragraph from which that quote was taken. Here are some highlights: 

“The sick man is a parasite of society… A new responsibility should be created, that of the doctor — the responsibility of ruthlessly suppressing and eliminating degenerate life.”
There are reasons why Nietzsche was admired by the perpetrators of the Holocaust, as well as proponents of eugenics and euthanasia.

But it gets worse.

The Public Health Committee had an opportunity to explore the numerous concerns raised by the disability community, and a new group of voices, Progressives Against Medical Assisted Suicide. Misdiagnosis, coercion, disparities in healthcare, and erosion of suicide prevention efforts are just a few of the many issues. Instead, the conversation was entirely focused on keeping religion out of our personal choices.

It was as if all the opposition testimony from a secular social justice perspective—whether offered in person, on Zoom, or in writing—had never happened.

One representative had the nerve to say, “We are looking at the fact that there are zero reported cases of coercion” (Clip position 17:30). Think that through. If the person was coerced into ingesting the lethal prescription, they are dead. How would anyone know? For 20 years, disability rights organizations have made available anecdotal evidence of abuse in the system. More recently, there has even been an acknowledgment by pro-assisted suicide supporters of abuse in the deaths of several women with anorexia nervosa. This information has been presented time and again to legislators. Yet suddenly they were oblivious to it.

Remember also, that states shred records from their death-making programs after they issue their annual report. In addition, they require that death certificates only list the cause of death as the underlying illness. There are reasons why the Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice has repeatedly submitted testimony warning that falsified death records could interfere with a murder investigation.

The same legislator went on to say, “There has never been a report of the meds failing” (Clip position 17:30). Apparently, she has not read the articles about difficult deaths, or the annual reports from Oregon and Washington that include things that have gone wrong. People have had uncontrolled vomiting, seizures, long protracted deaths, and sometimes even woken up, only to die in deeper agony from the underlying illness.

People who are not religious testified about how they were relentlessly pressured by the healthcare system to withdraw treatment from loved ones who wanted to keep living. And this happened in the current healthcare system, not one under the shadow of legalized assisted suicide.

We in the disability and progressive communities implore the members of the Judiciary Committee to take our concerns seriously. Do not echo the Public Health Committee’s laser-like focus on people’s negative experiences with religion while ignoring inconvenient but important facts.

Embracing Nietzsche’s worldview is not the way to empower people with terminal illnesses. If you read it in context, it does exactly the opposite.

Cathy Ludlum is a member of Second Thoughts Connecticut, a grassroots disability organization opposed to the legalization of medical assisted suicide.