Tuesday, October 31, 2023

CNK responds to second reading vote on Isle of Man Euthanasia bill

This message was released by Dr Gordon Macdonald, the CEO of the Care Not Killing Alliance.

 Media Release October 31

“Providing high quality palliative care and supporting people at the end... is what we would urge the members of the House of Keys focus on and pull back from this dangerous and ideological policy.”
Members of the Isle of Man's House of Keys today voted to grant Dr. Alex Allinson's Assisted Dying Bill a second reading. The bill still faces many legislative hurdles:
"Once the House has resolved that a Bill be read a second time, at least one subsequent sitting must pass before consideration of the Bill's clauses may take place. This stage requires the Member in charge of the Bill to move that each clause stand part of the Bill. It gives Members the opportunity to debate each clause, to seek an explanation from the sponsor of the Bill as to the effect of particular clauses, and to move amendments."
MHKs will vote next week on whether:
"The Clauses of the Assisted Dying Bill 2023 be referred to a Committee of five Members to consider and report by the end of February 2024.
Dr. Gordon Macdonald
Dr. Gordon Macdonald, CEO of Care Not Killing commented:
"It is disappointing that given the chilling stories coming out of Canada, representatives in the House of Keys have decided to take another step towards legalising euthanasia.

"As we see in a small number of places that have removed long term universal protections, by allowing the deliberate ending of human life with death row drugs, many vulnerable people will feel pressured into ending their lives. This is exactly what we see in Canada, which introduced euthanasia in 2016, where thousands who are killed annually cite fear of being a burden or loneliness as a reason.

"There are other problems too. As we see in the Netherlands and Belgium limits on who qualifies for a lethal injection have been swept away. No longer is state aided killing limited to those with less than six months to live, but routinely includes disabled people, those with chronic non-terminal conditions and individuals with mental health problems, such as patients with dementia, treatable depression, anorexia even a victim of sexual abuse.

"And then there is the worrying data from the US and Europe that shows legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide, far from reducing the number of suicides seems to be associated with an increase in the numbers taking their own lives in the general population, perhaps because it normalises the idea lives not worth living."

Dr Macdonald concluded: "While killing is cheap, providing high quality palliative care and supporting people at the end is not, but this is what we would urge the members of the House of Keys focus on and pull back from this dangerous and ideological policy." 

More information on the Isle of Man euthanasia bill:

  • Isle of Man parliament to vote on assisted suicide bill (Link).

Monday, October 30, 2023

Euthanasia for Autism/Intellectual disabilities in the Netherlands

This article was published by National Review online on October 30, 2023.

Wesley Smith
By Wesley J Smith

The AP is reporting that a medical study found that autistic people and those with intellectual disabilities have been euthanized in the Netherlands. From the story:
Several people with autism and intellectual disabilities have been legally euthanized in the Netherlands in recent years because they said they could not lead normal lives, researchers have found.

The cases included five people younger than 30 who cited autism as either the only reason or a major contributing factor for euthanasia, setting an uneasy precedent that some experts say stretches the limits of what the law originally intended.
I never understand why people are surprised by these kinds of horror stories. Once a society decides that killing is an acceptable answer to suffering, what constitutes suffering sufficient to be made dead becomes highly elastic and stretches over time. This can even include loneliness, as I have written about before. The story describes the phenomenon:
Many of the patients cited different combinations of mental problems, physical ailments, diseases or aging-related difficulties as reasons for seeking euthanasia. Thirty included being lonely as one the causes of their unbearable pain. Eight said the only causes of their suffering were factors linked to their intellectual disability or autism — social isolation, a lack of coping strategies or an inability to adjust their thinking.
The unintended cruelty of euthanasia is becoming increasingly clear:
Dr. Bram Sizoo, a Dutch psychiatrist, was disturbed that young people with autism viewed euthanasia as a viable solution.

“Some of them are almost excited at the prospect of death,” Sizoo said. “They think this will be the end of their problems and the end of their family’s problems.” . . .

Tim Stainton, director of the Canadian Institute for Inclusion and Citizenship at the University of British Columbia, wonders if the same thing is happening in Canada, which arguably has the world’s most permissive euthanasia laws and which doesn’t keep the kinds of records that the Netherlands does.

“Helping people with autism and intellectual disabilities to die is essentially eugenics,” Stainton said.
Indeed. Now, add in the prospect of organ harvesting as a benefit to society and the acute danger to the vulnerable who can come — or be made — to think that their deaths will have greater value than their lives comes vividly into focus.

The media generally boost euthanasia/assisted suicide with puff stories that depict being killed as a form of empowerment. But not this time. Good on the AP for reporting on these horrible, but entirely predictable, cases of rank abandonment.

Canada's Troubling Normalization of Euthanasia as Health Care: Part 1: There is NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to euthanasia (MAiD) in Canada

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Trudo Lemmens
The American Journal of Bioethics published on October 25, 2023 an excellent article by Professor Trudo Lemmens entitled: When Death Becomes Therapy: Canada's Troubling Normalization of Health Care Provider Ending of Life. Trudo Lemmens, is Professor and Scholl Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Toronto. (Link to the article).

I have decided to comment on this article by separating the main topics to enable it to be fully appreciated. 

Lemmens begins his article by commenting on a research article by Daryll Pullman who compared Canada's euthanasia law to California's assisted suicide law:

Undeniably, a strikingly higher number of people die with direct health care provider involvement in Canada’s euthanasia regime, euphemistically termed “Medical Assistance in Dying” [MAiD], than under a California-style assisted suicide system. Daryl Pullman (2023) rightly identifies several key reasons: the fact that in about all cases it involves a lethal injection by health care providers, rather than assisted-suicide with self-administration of medication; the law’s vague and broadly interpreted access criteria; “acquiescence and [...] indifference of federal and provincial authorities, the courts, and medical associations”; and, briefly mentioned, the failure to treat ending of life as a last resort (Pullman 2023). Particularly the last points are worth exploring further since they are likely among the key reasons why Canada’s regime results in substantially higher percentages of euthanasia deaths even when compared to the few other liberal euthanasia regimes, and with an accumulation of reports of arguably troubling practices. These points are also connected to the law’s origin in constitutional litigation, which has had a remarkable impact on the Canadian debate and policy.
Lemmens discusses how Canada passed its law after a Supreme Court decision, and then expanded it after a Québec lower court decision that was not appealed by the federal government:
Indeed, the Supreme Court’s Carter decision did not create an unrestricted constitutional right to physician-ending-of-life but only invited parliament to legalize some form of “physician assisted dying” (Grant 2023; Lemmens, Kim, and Kurz 2019). It issued broad parameters for law reform, tied its reasons to the “circumstances of the case” (a case of a patient approaching her death) and confirmed the role of the criminal law in protecting life. Yet despite the case’s limitations, advocates for broad legalization, advisory committees in which the latter often received influential positions, health professional organizations, and media commentators, quickly embraced a rhetoric of a “constitutional right to MAiD,” focusing largely on access and expansion (Gaind et al.2022).
The parameters of the law are still a matter of interpretation. Lemmens comments on the Truchon court case:

The Quebec Truchon judgment mentioned by Pullman, which declared the safeguard of the restriction to end-of-life unconstitutional, was a trial court decision that was not binding on higher courts and outside Quebec (Lemmens and Jacobs 2019; Grant 2023). Yet, the federal government invoked the decision, disingenuously claiming its hands were tied, to push for expansion of MAiD, including for mental illness (Lemmens 2023a).
The decision not to appeal the Truchon decision, which was publicly announced in the midst of a federal election in Quebec, a province in which the expansion of MAiD appeared very popular, seems an example of instrumental political use of a judicial process. How the government subsequently failed to consult with disabled persons, Indigenous communities, and others particularly affected (the former in fact explicitly treated as intended “beneficiaries” of an expanded MAiD law), by invoking court-imposed urgency; and then pushed through a new law, in the midst of the pandemic, and against the explicit objection of nearly all disability advocacy organizations,various Indigenous organizations, and international human rights rapporteurs and experts; and how, contrary to its initial endorsement of evidence-informed prudence, it ended up including MAiD for sole reasons of mental illness (Gaind et al.2022), will remain a stain on Canada’s human rights record. Commentators have rightly argued that the expanded MAiD law is discriminatory, since it deprives disabled persons who are not approaching their natural death from the same protection against premature death that others continue to receive (Grant 2023; Lemmens and Jacobs 2019). Indeed, facilitating the death of others, even when they consent, remains criminally prohibited, and others continue to be protected by suicide prevention policies. But even merely procedurally, it is hard to think of a more explicit ignoring of “nothing about us without us,” a participatory principle reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Lemmens states that by:
Invoking a seemingly unrestricted constitutional right to MAiD, or perhaps intimidated by the perception of its existence, not only many politicians and MAiD advocates, but also health care providers and health profession organizations largely stopped engaging meaningfully with evidence-informed clinical, ethical, and policy arguments about potential benefits and harms of expanding MAiD. The parroting of rights rhetoric, with frequent references to “discrimination,” distorted the Canadian debate. Proportionality review embedded in constitutional or human rights-analysis must be informed by evidence-informed clinical, policy and ethical arguments. Yet, in Canada, rights rhetoric largely replaced evidence-informed debate.

Lemmens provides a thorough explanation of how Canada went from legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide to it becoming a "right" to die (which does not exist).

By claiming that there is a "constitutional right" to be killed, the Canadian debate turned from debating the issue openly to the implementation of wider and wider access to killing.

Isle of Man parliament to VOTE on Assisted Suicide bill.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Isle of Man Parliament
We have received an update from the Care Not Killing Alliance (UK) urging supporters to act immediately as the Parliament in the Isle of Man will be voting on the Assisted Dying Bill on October 31, 2023. The message stated:

The Isle of Man Parliament (Tynwald) votes on the Second Reading of the island’s Assisted Dying Bill TOMORROW.

The Second Reading is when the main ideas behind the bill are debated and first voted on.

With pressure to change the law already mounting in Scotland, Jersey and Westminster, tomorrow’s vote in the Tynwald will carry considerable significance.

What happens in the following days, weeks and months will likely decide the outcome across the British Isles.

Care Not Killing needs their supporters to make a donation as they work to defeat the bill. (Care Not Killing donation link).

Ashlea Tracey reported for BBC News on October 18, 2023 that Isle of Man doctors reject assisted suicide.

The survey of Isle of Man Medical Society members found that 74% of the respondents were against legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide. 

Tracey reported: 

About 74% of those who responded to the poll asking members for opinions on the Assisted Dying Bill 2023 said they were against the proposed changes.

The poll also found 34% of respondents would consider leaving the island if the new legislation was introduced.

It is due to have its second reading in the House of Keys on 31 October.

Tracey stated that 61% of Isle of Man Medical Society members responded to the poll. The survey indicates that 74% were against the proposal to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide while 19% indicated that they were willing to participate if legalized.

Since 34% of the respondents stated that they would consider leaving the island if euthanasia or assisted suicide were legal, legalizing euthanasia may create recruitment and retention concerns for medical professionals.

The Isle of Man needs to learn from Canada's experience with euthanasia and reject it. 

Alex Schadenberg will be speaking in the Isle of Man in early November.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Canada’s euthanasia programme flirting with eugenics

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Kevin Yuill
Kevin Yuill, former professor of American Studies at the University of Sunderland in the UK, was published by Spiked on October 25, 2023 about his concern that Canada's euthanasia program is eugenic.

Yuill, who recently visited Canada writes:
A few weeks ago, I accidentally toured one of the awful tent cities in Vancouver, Canada. At the corner of Main Street and Hastings Avenue, homeless drug addicts spread their few possessions out on blankets and cover the pavement for blocks on end. It is only a short distance from the restaurants and attractions of this fairly affluent city and is easy to stray into.

So long as they are not violent, homeless addicts are generally ignored across the city. Vancouverites, in that polite Canadian way, accept their presence and do what they can to be kind. Nonetheless, everyone I met spoke about the ‘crisis’ of addicts in Vancouver, where drugs have effectively been decriminalised.

Now, the Canadian authorities seem to have come up with a novel, frightening solution to the crisis: euthanasia.
Yuill explains: 
"Canadians are eligible for the medical assistance in dying (MAID) programme if they have a ‘grievous and irremediable medical condition’, such as a serious physical illness or disability. If their condition has put them in an advanced state of irreversible decline and caused enduring physical or psychological suffering, they may request to be allowed euthanasia."
Yuill states that this is horrific enough but in March 2024 "those suffering from mental illnesses – with no physical ailments necessary – will also be eligible for MAID. That includes people with substance-use disorders."

Yuill explains:
Last week, a framework for assessing people with substance-use disorders for MAID was discussed at the annual conference for the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine in British Columbia. Dr David Martell (ironically a winner of the Family Physician of the Year award) was one of the most vocal supporters of expanding MAID to drug addicts. Dr Martell declared that ‘it’s not fair to exclude people from eligibility purely because their mental disorder might either partly or in full be a substance-use disorder. It has to do with treating people equally.’

Dr Martell went on to explain that doctors will need to distinguish between somebody who has a ‘reasoned wish to die’ and someone who is merely suicidal. A person who is ‘thinking in a calm and measured way about wanting [their] suffering to end’, Martell said, might be considered for MAID. But he conceded that a person can exhibit signs of both suicidality and a calm and measured wish to die, and that it would be ‘fairly impossible’ to make the distinction if the person being assessed were intoxicated.
Yuill quotes from Christopher Lyons, whose suicidal father died by euthanasia, who stated:
The lines of informed consent are extremely blurred, especially when drugs and alcohol are involved.
Yuill explains that Canada's parliament recently defeated Bill C-314, a bill that would have reversed the law that will permit euthanasia for mental illness, even though a recent poll found that only 3 out of 10 Canadians support euthanasia for mental illness.

Yuill provides a history lesson on eugenics:
For instance, in the first few years of the 20th century, Dr Ella K Dearborn cheerfully called for ‘euthanasia for the incurably ill, insane, criminals and degenerates’. Similarly, in 1906, sociologist L Graham Crozier agreed with her medical compatriot: ‘I would personally rather administer chloroform to the poor, starving children of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and other American cities, than to see them living as they must in squalor and misery.’

In an echo of today’s advocates for legalised assisted dying, Dr Dearborn once thundered: ‘Do not let sentiment or superstition retard the wheels of worldwide progress.’ In Canada, this so-called progress shows no sign of stopping. In the eight years since MAID was legalised for the terminally ill, it has been expanded to disabled people, homeless people and prisoners. And soon drug addicts will be next.
Yuill states that the most humane solution is to provide treatment for addicts, not death, and asks:
Is that really such an unreasonable thing to ask for?
Previous articles by Kevin Yuill: (Link to articles)

Estonian man charged with renting out euthanasia device

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

ERR News reported on October 26 that the Estonian Southern District Prosecutor's Office charged Paul Tammert with renting out a euthanasia device for financial gain. According to the ERR News:
The Prosecutor's Office told ERR that: "According to the charge sheet, [Tammert] rented out the device at his own discretion at least three times to people, two of whom died as a result of using said device, while in the third case the process was left incomplete, since the device ran out of gas."

Kairi Kaldoja, lead prosecutor at the Southern District Prosecutor's Office, said that according to the indictment, Tammert offered people health status assessments, then permitted them to make use of a gas which can cause fatality when inhaled, i.e. he provided healthcare services for which he was not licensed.
Tammert appears to be another euthanasia rogue activist who believes in assisting a person's suicide. I am not sure of the laws in Estonia, but clearly Tammert was assisting the suicide of these people. ERR continued:
Kaldoja said: "Paul Tammert first assessed whether a person's mental acuity was adequate enough to be able to make their own decisions at the same time that their physical health had been sufficiently incurable to warrant ending their own life."

"Having completed an assessment, he rented out a device which allowed the person to utilize the lethal gas. According to the prosecutor's office, a doctor's qualification and a health service license are required both to assess people's health conditions and to use any gas which has an effect on those individuals' health, yet Paul Tammert lacks both of these," Kaldoja went on.

Even with such permission, Tammert would not legally have been able to act unilaterally in his actions.
The article concludes by stating that Tammert, if convicted, would face 3 years in jail.

Euthanasia was debated in Estonia in 2020.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Health Canada reports 13,241 assisted deaths in 2022 representing 4.1% of all deaths

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Health Canada recently released the Fourth Annual Report on Medical Assistance in Dying (2022). The data is gathered from the reports submitted by the medical or nurse practitioner who carried out the death. There is no requirement that a "third" party or neutral person witness the death or submit the reports to ensure their accuracy.

While waiting for the official report to be released, I had estimated that there would be approximately 13,200 reported assisted deaths. My estimate was close.

Canadian euthanasia data

Chart 3.1 - Total MAID Deaths in Canada 2016-2022
The report (2022) indicates that there were: 13,241 assisted deaths in 2022 up from 10,092 in 2021, 7,611 in 2020, 5,665 in 2019, 4,493 in 2018, 2,838 in 2017 and 1,018 in 2016.

The 2022 report indicates that the number of assisted deaths increased by 31.2% representing 4.1% of all deaths .

The total number of reported assisted deaths in Canada from legalization to December 31, 2022 was 44,958.

Euthanasia represented 4.1% of all deaths, which was up from 3.3% in 2021. The data indicates a big difference in the percentage of euthanasia deaths between provinces. According to the data, the percentage of all deaths that were euthanasia increased in all provinces:

  • Quebec: 6.6% in 2022 up from 4.7% in 2021. 
  • British Columbia: 5.5% in 2021 up from 4.8% in 2021
  • Ontario: 3.2% in 2022 up from 2.7% in 2021. 
  • Newfoundland was the lowest with 1.5% in 2022 up from 1.2% in 2021.

Due to the passing of Bill C-7 in March 2021, 3.5% of the assisted deaths were people whose natural death was not reasonably foreseeable.

How did Bill C-7 expand eligibility for euthanasia in Canada?

This is the Second Health Canada MAiD report since the federal government expanded eligibility for euthanasia (MAiD) in March 2021 by passing Bill C-7.

  1. Bill C-7 removed the requirement that a person’s natural death be reasonably foreseeable to qualify for assisted death. Therefore, people who are not terminally ill could die by euthanasia.
  2. Bill C-7 permitted a doctor or nurse practitioner to lethally inject a person who is incapable of consenting, if that person was previously approved for assisted death. Therefore, incompetent people can die by euthanasia in Canada. 
  3. Bill C-7 waived the ten-day waiting period if a person's natural death is deemed to be reasonably foreseeable. Thus, a person could request euthanasia on a "bad day" and die the same day. 
  4. Bill C-7 created a two-track law. A person whose natural death is deemed to be reasonably foreseeable has no waiting period, while a person whose natural death is not deemed to be reasonably foreseeable has a 90-day waiting period before being killed by lethal injection. 
  5. Bill C-7 approved euthanasia for mental illness alone that will go into effect on March 17, 2024.

There were 16,104 written requests for MAID in 2022 up from 12,286 in 2021. The majority of the written requests (13,102 or 81.4%) resulted in an assisted death. There must be some missing reports. The data states the 13,102 written requests resulted in euthanasia, but there were 13,241 reported euthanasia deaths.

There were 3,002 requests that resulted in an outcome other than MAID.

  • 298 individuals withdrew their request (1.9% of written requests); 
  • 560 individuals were deemed ineligible (3.5% of written requests); and  
  • 2,144 individuals died prior to receiving MAID (13.3% of written requests).

It is concerning that only 3.5% of the written requests were deemed ineligible. The Netherlands and Belgium have higher rates of people deemed ineligible.

Reasons for requesting euthanasia

The main reasons for requesting euthanasia were:

  • the loss of ability to engage in meaningful activities (86.3%), 
  • loss of ability to perform activities of daily living (81.9%), and 
  • inadequate control of pain, or concern about controlling pain (59.2%).

It is concerning that 2,264 people (17.1%) died by euthanasia based on loneliness and isolation. Many people with significant medical conditions also live with loneliness and isolation. Social isolation and loneliness require a compassionate caring community, not death by lethal injection.

Inadequate control of pain or concern about controlling pain were reasons for 57.6% of the requests for euthanasia, and yet the report states that 80.7% of the people who requested euthanasia were "receiving palliative care." Being enrolled in palliative care and receiving palliative care are different. A study needs to be done to determine how many people who died by euthanasia were actually receiving palliative care.

The federal euthanasia report provides basic data that is not analysed.

Sadly, Canada has quickly become the most permissive euthanasia regime in the world. Further to that, a Canadian government committee report recommended expanding the law to include euthanasia for children, "mature minors," and euthanasia for incompetent people by advanced request.

Recent stories indicate that Canadians are now dying by euthanasia for reasons of poverty, homelessness, disabilitya lack of access to medical treatment, and mental illness.

We need a caring community, not a killing community.

Recent stories on Canada's euthanasia law:

  • Euthanasia for drug addicts is an outcome of euthanasia for mental illness (Link).
  • MAiDhouse kills 125 people in 2022 (Link).
  • Canada's MAiD program has gone mad (Link).
  • Has Canada's euthanasia law has gone too far (Link).

How ‘Medical Aid in Dying’ Became the Euphemism of Choice for Assisted Suicide

This article was published by the National Review online on October 24, 2023

Wesley Smith
By Wesley J. Smith

The word engineering never stops, does it? When radical policies are proposed, the first step is to change the lexicon to make it seem less extreme, even mundane.

That has certainly been true in the euthanasia movement. Indeed, as described by Ian Dowbiggin in A Concise History of Euthanasia, the term “euthanasia” — which originally meant a peaceful death, in a state of grace — was the first word co-opted by advocates of mercy killing or assisted suicide as a tactic to obscure the fact that the practice involves killing.

But “euthanasia” no longer obscures, so the current gooey euphemism of choice in the euthanasia/assisted-suicide movement is “medical aid in dying,” or MAID. Once the death activists started pushing it, most — albeit not all — media adopted that terminology. Science writer Rachel E. Gross describes the purpose for the word engineering in the pages of the New York Times. From, “How Aid in Dying Became Medical, Not Moral:”
Many health advocates and medical professionals insist that a terminally ill patient taking medication to hasten the end is doing something fundamentally different from suicide. The term “medical aid in dying,” they say, is meant to emphasize that someone with a terminal diagnosis is not choosing whether but how to die. . . .

“There is a significant, a meaningful difference between someone seeking to end their life because they have a mental illness, and someone seeking to end their life who is going to die in the very near future anyway,” said Dr. Matthew Wynia, director of the University of Colorado’s Center for Bioethics and Humanities.
What poppycock. To “assist” means to provide support or aid in an endeavor. “Suicide” means to take one’s own life voluntarily or intentionally. It describes what is done, not why.

Hence, the term assisted suicide is both accurate and descriptive. Which, of course, is precisely why assisted-suicide advocates oppose it.

Moreover, suicide is suicide. There is no difference in the consequence of the act. Life ceases — whether the deceased is someone who is mentally ill, a grief-stricken mother whose child has died, the humiliated failed businessperson, or a patient with an illness or disability. Well, there is one difference. We now allow some suicides to be facilitated where laws allow it, while seeking to prevent the others (at least for now).

Also note that the MAID euphemism is deployed ubiquitously for lethal-injection homicides by doctors and nurse practitioners in Canada — where fatal jabs are definitely not limited to the terminally ill, and indeed, next year will be available to the mentally ill.

The focus on terminal illness as the reason for asking for doctor-prescribed suicide is yet another deflection. True, laws allowing assisted suicide in this country still require a diagnosis of six months or less to live — although there are several cases of people living for years after receiving a lethal prescription. But once the assisted-suicide beachhead has finally been secured, the terminal-illness requirement will be dropped. At that point, I bet that the MAID obfuscation will continue on because its purpose is to serve as the honey that helps the hemlock go down.

MAID isn’t the only obscuring terminology applied by promoters of assisted suicide, as noted by Gross:
Since its enactment in 1997, more than 3,700 Oregonians have taken measures permitted by the law, which allows patients with a terminal illness and the approval of two doctors to receive life-ending medication. The practice is now legal in 10 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.
The drugs used to end life are not “medications.” They are poisons — substances capable of causing the illness or death of a living organism. These substances are taken with lethal intent, not to cure, palliate, or heal. Indeed, in some cases, the same drugs used to execute murderers by lethal injection are the ones used by people who commit assisted suicide.

As Gross notes, the whole point of this lexicon charade is to encourage more assisted suicides by providing a medical imprimatur:
A phrase like “medical aid in dying,” [assisted-suicide advocates] concluded, would reassure patients that they were taking part in a process that was regulated and medically sanctioned. “Medicine has that legitimating power, like it or not,” says Anita Hannig, an anthropologist at Brandeis University and author of the book “The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America.” “That really removes a lot of the stigma.”
I don’t believe in judging people who commit suicide, whatever the circumstance. None of us knows what our limits might be. But if we ever enter that darkness, shouldn’t we — including when we are dying — receive prevention rather than facilitation? Otherwise, we are distinguishing among those we think have lives worth living and those we are — at least implying — do not.

I knew several people who were dying and wanted assisted suicide, who changed their minds and lived the remaining days of their natural lives very glad they didn’t receive it. Besides, if people don’t kill themselves because of concern about stigma, isn’t that good? I mean, shouldn’t we want fewer people to commit suicide?

Bottom line: Just as when one calls a dung beetle a butterfly it remains a dung beetle, so too advocates who call assisted suicide “medical aid in dying” are still talking about suicide. If that simple fact keeps people from taking a lethal prescription, the more the better.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Euthanasia for drug addicts an outcome of euthanasia for mental illness

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Manisha Krishnan reported for Vice on October 19 that when Canada permits euthanasia for mental illness on March 17, 2024, an outcome of that will be euthanasia for drug addicts. 

Krishnan states:
Canada will legalize medically assisted dying for people who are addicted to drugs next spring, in a move some drug users and activists are calling “eugenics.”
Krishnan reports that Health Canada is proposing that the criteria for approving euthanasia for mental illness will require that a person at least attempt treatment.
According to a statement from Health Canada, the assessments must explore a person’s treatment history and “a person cannot refuse all or most treatments and automatically render themselves incurable for the purposes of accessing MAID.” People who haven’t attempted multiple treatments won’t qualify.
A contentious issue was being discussed last week by the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine, that being euthanasia for drug addicts. 

Dr David Martell, physician lead for Addictions Medicine at Nova Scotia Health, who presented a framework for assessing people with substance use disorders for MAID at the conference, told Krishnan:
“I don't think it's fair, and the government doesn't think it's fair, to exclude people from eligibility because their medical disorder or their suffering is related to a mental illness,”

“As a subset of that, it's not fair to exclude people from eligibility purely because their mental disorder might either partly or in full be a substance use disorder. It has to do with treating people equally.”
Zoë Dodd, a Toronto-based harm reduction advocate, told Krishnan that drug addicts need better access to overdose prevention sites, opioid agonist medications like methadone, a regulated drug supply, housing, and employment are lacking. Dodd continued:
“I just think that MAID when it has entered the area around mental health and substance use is really rooted in eugenics. And there are people who are really struggling around substance use and people do not actually get the kind of support and help they need,”
Martell, who has been a euthanasia provider since 2016, told Krishnan that he wasn't sure if he would provide MAiD for a person with a substance use disorder and he recognized that treatment for substance use disorders is under funded. Martell stated that euthanasia assessments for these conditions would be very tricky, nonetheless, it would be an option.

Karen Ward, a drug user activist in Vancouver, told Krishnan that:
she considers the expansion of MAID to include people with substance use disorders a “statement in federal law that some people aren't really human.”

“The government has made death accessible while a better life remains impossible,” she said. “Homes for all, guaranteed dignified incomes, access to healthcare, education and employment: these aren't radical demands.”
Since Health Canada defined killing by MAiD (euthanasia) as a "healthcare" service, the outcome is that there is no limit to euthanasia. Any potential limit to euthanasia is seen as a form of discrimination and therefore withdrawn.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Euthanasia for Anorexia, Drug Addiction and Loneliness?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Brian Lilley, a regular columnist with the Toronto Sun, was published on Saturday, October 21 asking: 

Is there any line in the sand for the government in Canada when it comes to expanding euthanasia?

Lilley examines the question of euthanasia for mental illness, which he points out, will include people who are living with drug addiction. 
We’ve offered medical assistance in dying to veterans struggling with PTSD. We will soon offer MAID to those suffering from mental illness, which will include drug addiction.

Combined with the stories of people looking for assistance in dying due to homelessness or poor living conditions, it’s time to ask if there is any line in the sand when it comes to euthanasia and the government in Canada?
Lilley explains the history of how Canada legalized MAiD (euthanasia) and how Canada is poised to expand it's euthanasia law again to allow euthanasia for mental illness in March 2024. 

Hon. Ed Fast
Now, the government is about to expand it again and last week voted down a Conservative MP’s proposal not to expand MAID to include mental illness.

Ed Fast, the British Columbia MP who sought to stop those solely dealing with mental illness being able to access MAID, has said the system is already being abused with people accessing assistance in dying already before it is legal. Fast worries about what these changes will mean down the road and just how far Canada is will to go in expanding access to something we were told would be rare.
Lilley states that in 2021 euthanasia was Canada's seventh leading cause of death and it will soon be Canada's fifth leading cause of death. 
It’s not clear that the public has thought through the full implications of expanding MAID even further. Should we be allowing people suffering solely from mental illness to access help in killing themselves?

Reuters recently reported on a 47 year-old woman with anorexia who is looking forward to the law being changed so she can access MAID. Vice News recently wrote about how drug addicts will be able to access MAID in the near future, even speaking to an activist doctor who supports this move while also being an activist for so-called “harm reduction” and “safer supply” programs.
Lilley concludes:

This isn’t what Canadians expected when we started down this path.

A poll from the Angus Reid Institute released in September showed just 28% support the government’s move to allow access solely based on mental health concerns even though a strong majority in Canada support MAID overall.

It’s a difficult issue for the government to deal with and an uncomfortable one for many Canadians to discuss but before we move forward with a further expansion in March, we need to have a real discussion about the future of MAID.
More information on this topic:

  • 28% of Canadians support euthanasia for mental illness (Link).
  •  Canada's euthanasia program has gone Mad (Link).

NO to Killing for Organs

This article was published by the Epoch Times on October 21, 2023.

By Wesley J. Smith

Wesley Smith

The shortage of organs for transplantation is threatening to unleash immoral and unethical remedies. A terrible story out of Belgium illustrates the peril. A 16-year-old girl with a brain tumor asked to be euthanized and have her organs harvested. Sixteen! Doctors agreed. She was sedated and intubated in an ICU for 36 hours so that her organs could be “examined”—which probably meant imaging and blood tests. She was then euthanized and her organs procured.

Three points. 

First, this was a minor terrified of decline who stated that by donating organs she believed she could do some good. But for that option, she might not have made that decision.

Second, as far as we know, the girl wasn't provided suicide prevention services nor assured that palliative care could alleviate her symptoms.

Third, the lengthy sedation and intubation to which she was subjected were not for her benefit, but to allow her organs to be tested and find compatible recipients. In other words, at least in some sense, once the girl asked to donate her organs, her body parts became more important than her life.
​Conjoining euthanasia with organ harvesting is a growing phenomenon in Belgium and the Netherlands. These countries don't require that the patient/donor be terminally ill. Indeed, in both, the mentally ill qualify for medicalized killing—meaning that people who would not die for many years are euthanized in hospitals and then stripped of their organs.

Our closest cultural cousins in Canada—which legalized euthanasia in 2016—have traveled even further down the same utilitarian highway. If an Ontarian patient is accepted to receive a lethal injection—and again, that person need not be terminally ill, and, starting next year, may be mentally ill—the organization that oversees organ donation (Trillium) must be informed so that its representative can contact the soon-to-be-dead person and ask for his or her liver, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, and heart.

It's worth noting that such patients aren't referred to mental health professionals to deter their suicides. The clear message this policy thus sends to suicidal ill and disabled Canadians—with the active support of the organ transplant community—is that their deaths have greater value to Canada than their lives. The abandonment has become so crass that euthanasia has been described in Canadian media as a “boon” to organ donation.

The danger of killing for organs isn’t restricted to countries where euthanasia is legal. Currently, efforts are underway by the Uniform Law Commission to redefine “brain death,” possibly toward allowing more organs to be procured than under current procedures. (Whether brain death is truly death is a subject for a different column.) This redefining process engaged in has broken down for now. But that impasse shouldn't allow us to rest easy. The internationally influential Princeton utilitarian philosopher and bioethicist Peter Singer has just written a column published throughout the world advocating that donors should not have to be biologically deceased to be harvested.

Indeed, Mr. Singer advocates killing for organs. “When is it justifiable to end a human life?" he asks. His answer: “What determines whether it is justifiable to regard the life of a person as having ended is the irrevocable loss of consciousness: Once that has occurred, the person whom family and friends knew and loved has gone forever.”

But such people aren't cadavers! They're patients! That’s both basic biology and fundamental to medical ethics.

Mr. Singer (and many other bioethicists who have similarly opined) would unscientifically redefine death from a biological state of nonbeing into a sociological status of lesser value, equivalent to “as good as dead,” thereby dehumanizing unquestionably living people. Even more perilously, his proposal would establish in law the pernicious principle that there's such a thing as a life not worth living. History amply tells us the acute dangers of such thinking.

Besides, it's not as if we can ever know for sure who is beyond consciousness. Stories of seemingly unaware patients “waking up” unexpectedly are ubiquitous. Moreover, people thought to be unconscious are often awake and aware but unable to communicate. Indeed, recent studies show that perhaps 20 percent of people thought to be unconscious are actually awake. As the examinations of this phenomenon progress and cognition tests become more sophisticated, that percentage could grow—meaning that even if one accepts Mr. Singer’s toxic prescription, people who wouldn't qualify for killing and harvesting could be subjected to an awful fate.

And it wouldn’t stop there. Once we established the principle that some living people can be killed for their organs, the harvestable categories would surely expand over time. We need only look at the history of the assisted suicide/euthanasia movement to see how that process works. Euthanasia/assisted suicide, we were told, would be strictly limited to the dying. But over time, the categories expanded in some places well beyond the terminally ill. And even in U.S. states that still have such a limitation, laws have been loosened to make an increasing number of people eligible to be made dead.

Finally, we can’t discuss killing for organs without noting the crimes against humanity ongoing in China, where Falun Gong practitioners and other political prisoners are harvested to supply the country’s pernicious black market in human organs. The West may never go that far, but dehumanizing patients so that we can obtain their organs would expose the devalued to a similarly deadly dehumanization.

Here’s the bottom line: The public’s faith in transplant medicine depends on maintaining the highest ethical standards. I can’t think of a surer way to undermine that support than to permit killing for organs. Because if people ever believe that the transplant community supports procuring vital organs from the living, the entire sector could face a collapse in public confidence—meaning that there would not be more organs available for transplant, but fewer. That would be a catastrophe from which the sector would never recover.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

October 24, 2023 free Zoom event: Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Delta Hospice, and Compassionate Community Care.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC), Delta Hospice, and Compassionate Community Care (CCC) are offering a free online zoom event on October 24, 2023.

When: Tuesday, October 24, 2023

               4 pm Pacific (BC) Time 

               (7 pm Eastern Time)

Register in advance for this meeting: (Registration Link).

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information for joining the meeting.

  • Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition 
  • Angelina Ireland, President - Delta Hospice Society
  • Kathy Costa Matusiak, Executive Director - Compassionate Community  Care                  


Alex Schadenberg from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition will provide a "Canadian update" based on recent stories and current trends. 

Angelina Ireland from the The Delta Hospice Society will speak about plans to institute the Guardian Angels program with Delta Hospice Society directions.

Kathy Matusiak Costa from CCC will explain the success of the Being With Visitor Training program, the Advocacy Training program and other CCC updates.

Register in advance for this meeting: (Registration Link).

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Parliament to re-examine the expansion of euthanasia to people with mental illness

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

after Bill C-314 was defeated all members of Parliament agreed:

"to recall the special joint committee on medical assistance in dying (MAID) to provide further oversight. The move came after a failed effort by a Conservative MP to repeal access to MAID for people whose sole underlying medical condition is a mental disorder."

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is pleased that the government will consider further oversight of the law, however, we are not confident that the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying, which is stacked with pro-euthanasia MP's and Senators,will offer any substantive changes.

Bill C-314, the Mental Health Protection Act, sponsored by the Hon. Ed Fast (CPC), was narrowly defeated by a vote of 167 to 150 at second reading in Parliament on Wednesday October 18, 2023.

The Bill C-314 vote indicated that the Parliament of Canada is divided on the issue of euthanasia for mental illness with EVERY Conservative, NDP and Green MP and 8 Liberal MPs voting YES.

Bill C-314 would have protected people who are living with mental illness from medical assistance in dying (euthanasia). The latest Angus Reid Institute survey indicates that only 28% of Canadians support euthanasia for mental illness while 82% of Canadians stated that mental health care should be improved before euthanasia for mental illness is considered. 

Many groups supported Bill C-314 including the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and the Society of Canadian Psychiatry.

Levitz reported that the Bill C-314 vote indicated that the issue had changed in parliament with 8 Liberal MPs and every NDP MP voting YES on Bill C-314.

Hon. Ed Fast
The Hon. Ed Fast, sponsor of Bill C-314, stated in his press release:

“Conservatives will continue to fight for those who are left behind by this legislation, and we will not support the expansion of MAID to include mental illness,”

“Have we gone too far and too fast with Canada’s assisted suicide program? Will we evolve into a culture of death as the preferred option for those who suffer from mental illness or will we choose life?”
The Special Joint Committee will release their report on January 31, 2024

Bill C-314 defeated. Parliament divided on euthanasia for mental illness

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Bill C-314, the Mental Health Protection Act, sponsored by the Hon. Ed Fast (CPC), was narrowly defeated by a vote of 167 to 150 at second reading in Canada's Parliament on Wednesday October 18, 2023.

The vote on Bill C-314 indicates that Canada's Parliament is divided on the issue of euthanasia for mental illness. 

  • Every Conservative (CPC) MP voted YES to C-314. 
  • Every NDP MP voted YES to C-314.
  • Both Green MPs voted YES to C-314
  • 8 Liberal MPs voted YES to C-314 
  • 1 Independent MP voted YES to C-314

Hon. Ed Fast
Sadly, every Bloc MP and most Liberal MPs voted NO to C-314.

The good news is that even though the Liberals pressured their MPs to oppose Bill C-314, eight Liberal MPs still voted YES. 

Thank you to Hon. Ed Fast for sponsoring Bill C-314 and for his professional campaign in support of the bill. Thank you to all of the Conservative MPs, to all of the NDP MPs, to the courageous Liberal MPs, and to all others who supported Bill C-314.

On March 17, 2021 Parliament passed Bill C-7 which expanded Canada's euthanasia law by: 

  • removing the "terminal illness" requirement, 
  • removing the 10-day reflection period when someone is deemed to be "terminally ill", 
  • adding a 90-day waiting period for someone who is approved for euthanasia but not "terminally ill"
  • permitting euthanasia for someone who is incompetent but previously approved for euthanasia,
  • permitted euthanasia for someone with mental illness alone. Euthanasia for mental illness alone will become officially legal on March 17, 2024.

Bill C-314 would have protected people who are living with mental illness from medical assistance in dying (euthanasia). The latest Angus Reid Institute survey indicates that only 28% of Canadians support euthanasia for mental illness while 82% of Canadians stated that mental health care should be improved before euthanasia for mental illness is considered. 

Many groups supported Bill C-314 including the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and the Society of Canadian Psychiatry.

Anike Morrison
Anike Morrison, who lives with a severe mental health condition, stated at the EPC Press Conference that in 2018 she fell into such a deep depression that she was hospitalized 5 times. She said that if MAiD had been presented as an option to her at that time as a solution to her emotional pain and distress:

I may not be here today. It was a very rough time. It was only through the care of the psychiatrists, psychologists, pharmacists and  social workers that I was able to get better and move through that time in my life.

Anike has completed her undergraduate degree, has travelled, and most importantly, loves her life. She is on the "other" side of that dark period.

This is not a "settled" issue. We will not be silent in the face of killing.