Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Charles Lewis: Join us in opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide.

By Charles Lewis, EPC board member.

Last June, I was invited to speak to a Catholic parish north of Toronto. It was my 56th talk though this one turned out to be different. First off, it was the largest crowd I had spoken to – close to 400 showed up. It was heartening but also bitter sweet.

The day before my talk, Parliament did what I always hoped would never happen in this country: it made euthanasia legal. I felt a combination of anger and nausea.

Then I realized that I had to suddenly come up with a new talk. The law was now a reality but up until that point I never thought of what I would say once euthanasia became a reality.

Every talk prior that summer morning had been intended to push the government to delay making euthanasia legal through the notwithstanding clause – a constitutional safety valve to delay controversial Supreme Court of Canada decisions.

So I told the crowd that we were in new territory -- that from here on in we would have to realize that no political party was going to save us. We were on our own and that would be the reality we would have to deal with. I also said that no matter how safe the pro-death side claimed the law to be it would be loosely interpreted and eventually formerly expanded. I spoke about the lack of good palliative care in Canada and the need to keep lobbying for more.

After that talk I decided to take a break. There was something about speaking about euthanasia day after day that effected my soul. I also wanted to deal with personal health issues and to start to think seriously about what I would say now. Most of us who do this work are learning as we go.

I continued to write about the issue and when anyone would ask me about my opposition I would gladly explain it; and when someone asked me whether I thought the battle lost I would say no.

Then a few months ago I realized it was time to jump back into the fight. I wanted to make sure I learned from the past few years in order to make these life-saving talks more effective and to reach the maximum number of people.

So I created a group of eight people utterly committed to the cause of warning people of the dangers of euthanasia. I say “I” created the group but we are all equal partners in this. Some, like Moira McQueen, the director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute have been doing this long before I came on the scene.

We had our first meeting in early January. The only qualifications for joining were an absolute opposition to euthanasia and a desire to help people opt for life instead of suicide. While speaking is important there was the other main duty of letting everyone each of us knows that there are now speakers available and arranging an event is easy.

You can also join the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Since I am semi-retired and have the greatest free time of others in the group I became the hub. Each person in the group lets me know when they are speaking and I in turn let the others know. This means we are all not lobbying the same parishes and groups. It also means we can attend the talks of others. I am convinced this is important because each person brings something new to the anti-euthanasia argument. And none of us should be above using effective arguments that we had not thought of before.

I am in charge of gathering literature and delivering it to others to distribute at their talks.

The group is already bearing fruit. Ephraim Radner, a professor at Wycliffe College and a group member, has already organized a seminar for students and St. Augustine students on the afternoon of Feb. 8 at Wycliffe.

We are also helping Alex Schadenberg set up an evening at St. Michael’s College, at the University of Toronto campus, at which the film The Euthanasia Deception will be shown followed by a panel discussion. The date is to be announced.

In terms of arguments we are making that still is up to the individual and for some of us a work in progress.

Last week I gave my first talk since last June. I gave my audience a brief background about how we go here. I then talked about how the law as written is not safe but open to interpretation and that from June to the end of the year 784 Canadians have died via the needle or some poison cocktail. I also noted that in December Health Canada struck a committee to look at expanding the law to include teenagers and those suffering from mental illness.

Finally I gave some ideas of what each person needs to do. Since I was speaking at a Catholic parish I suggested that a point person, or two be in charge of finding out whom in their faith community was struggling with severe illness. Then to ensure those people, especially those suffering alone, received visits and help with such things as meals, picking up drugs at the pharmacy and medical visits.

I’m of the belief that someone who feels loved and taken care of is less likely to take the euthanasia route.

I also said it was time that everyone begin to understand the dangers of euthanasia. And that it was important to fully understand the position of the pro-euthanasia side in order to more effectively respond.

I hope other communities will follow our model. It is never going to be enough but as the Jewish Talmud declares so wisely:
“Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”
Charles Lewis is a Toronto speaker and writer. His columns appear twice a month in the Catholic Register.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Study: Legalizing euthanasia saves money.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) published a study by Aaron J. Trachtenberg MD DPhil, Braden Manns MD MSc titled: Cost analysis of medical assistance in dying,

The researchers found that the Canadian healthcare system will save between 34.7 and 138.8 million dollars per year, depending on the number of euthanasia deaths. Canada has a universal healthcare system, whereby the financial cost for healthcare is primarily covered by the government.

The cost savings were assessed based on a Netherlands study estimating the number weeks that lives were shortening by euthanasia, multiplied by the average cost of care for a person nearing death, and multiplied by the likely number of euthanasia deaths in Canada. The study also considered the cost of the euthanasia procedure and potential variable costs related to patients using palliative care.

The researchers emphasize that they are not encouraging people to die by euthanasia, but in fact, this type of research creates social pressure on people to die by euthanasia.

First: Associating euthanasia with medical cost savings creates a belief that euthanasia is a social good. People who feel that their life has lost value may now consider it altruistic to "choose" to die by euthanasia.
"I will give back to society by having my life ended and save money."
I fear that the social pressure to save money and provide a greater access to organs for donation will become the ultimate form of social responsibility.

Secondly: Associating euthanasia with medical savings creates pressure for people who choose to live until they die. 
"How dare you choose to live. You are costing society money."
By promoting the concept that euthanasia saves money coupled with the media stories and TV shows, such as Mary Kills People, will create a new powerful social pressure to die.

Last weekend I was invited to speak to a group in a small Ontario community. After my presentation a man told me that he supported euthanasia based on the fact that his mother-in-law lived the last few months of her life, after having a stroke, lacking awareness. He asked me, what was the purpose for her life? He then said: how much did her care cost the government?

I responded by saying:
I guess euthanasia is not about "choice" or "autonomy" but rather killing people at the most vulnerable time of life.
During the euthanasia debate very few people were speaking about the fact that Canada's health care systems are facing a financial crunch. The reality is that killing people is cheaper than caring for them.

The authors of this study suggest that the financial savings gained from premature deaths by euthanasia could be re-invested into palliative care. The authors of this study are naive. The more that people die prematurely by lethal injection, the less demand will exist for palliative care.

Dead people don't need palliative care.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

British Psychiatrist approves six dementia patients deaths at Swiss suicide clinics

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Daily Mail news reported that a British Psychiatrist, who had lost his medical license, approved the assisted suicide deaths of six people with dementia.

Sanchez Manning reported that Colin Brewer, who is no longer permitted to practice medicine, told the Daily Mail that he had done mental capacity tests on six people with dementia, before approving their suicide deaths in Switzerland. None of the six people were terminally ill.

Baroness Ilora Finlay
Baroness Ilora Finlay, one of Britain’s most eminent end-of-life doctors and an opponent of legalising assisted suicide, told the Daily Mail:

‘You don’t know how the disease [dementia] might or might not progress. 
‘Some people may be frightened and may be in despair. 
‘But if you assist their suicide you cut their life off by months or years when they may never have gone on to experience more severe forms of the disease.’
Alistair Thompson, a spokesman for the group Care Not Killing, added:
‘A lot of people fear that when there is a care crisis within the NHS there will be more pressure on people who are elderly and frail to think about ending their lives.’
The Daily mail article reported that:
Brewer ran an addiction clinic in London before he was struck off in 2006 by the General Medical Council after a patient for whom he had prescribed drugs died. 
He can see and assess patients offering non-medical services as long as he makes clear that he is not on the medical register.
Yesterday, after speaking to a group, one of the attendees told me that he supported euthanasia for incompetent people. He said that when his mother-in-law was nearing death, she became unaware of her surroundings. He asked me, what was the purpose of her life? and then he said - How much money did it cost the government to care for her?

I responded by saying: 

sadly, your comments tell me that history may repeat itself.
Killing is never the solution to human problems. 
We support caring options, not killing.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Promoting assisted suicide: A form of coercion.

The Victoria Times Colonist printed this excellent letter on January 19 by Paul Jungwirth
Noreen Campbell chose to end her life by means of physician-assisted suicide, as was her right under Canada’s new law. 
Since that law was passed, more than 744 people have also chosen to end their life this way. 
But apparently Campbell’s dying wish was that even more people would avail themselves of this new right. 
She wanted her story about ending her life to “open the door for others” and “draw attention to the gaps she saw in the process,” because, as a member of the assisted-suicide advocacy group Dying with Dignity, she felt the law doesn’t go far enough. 
The ease with which she embraces killing as a good solution to suffering is simply appalling. 
Her opinions about why people should go the same route as she did contributes nothing new to this discussion — it’s all about fearmongering and undermining people’s expectations about what palliative care can achieve. 
According to her, taking a lethal injection is preferable to the alternatives, and promoting this idea is an insidious form of coercion that will only result in more needless premature deaths, and an increasingly callous approach to people who might be suffering near the end of life. 
Paul Jungwirth 
Burnaby BC
Previous article on this topic: How many people have died by euthanasia in Canada?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I'm terminally ill and the euthanasia debate scares me.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Julie Morgan
New South Wales Australia will soon be debating the legalization of euthanasia. At least one terminally ill woman, Julie Morgan, says that the euthanasia debate worries and scares her on several levels.

Morgan, in her article published in the Sydney Morning Herald says that her experiece with fighting cancer for four years has enabled her to understand and oppose euthanasia:
the past four years have given me a unique window into the complexity of death and dying, of living and loving, and of holding on and letting go.
Morgan first explains her personal life experience:
The doctors have told me I have a few months to live. The cancer that began in my breast four years ago has spread to my spine, ribs, hips and, more significantly, to my lungs. The surgeries, extensive chemotherapy, and radiation that I went through back then, plus the on-going hormone therapy, didn't do the trick. And so now, in my mid 50's, I'm terminally ill. It often doesn't seem real, yet it is. But there's so much more that I want to do – I am not ready to go!
Morgan expressed why the euthanasia debate scares her:
The debate worries and scares me on several levels. Fortunately we just don't go around killing each other any more, so the notion that it's a person's "free choice" to die just doesn't make sense. Recognising the full scope of human dignity, we stopped capital punishment a long time ago. Now bringing in legislation that allows a group of experts to determine who can "legally" die, seems a retrograde move. Intellectually, that worries me. And once the legislation has been approved, experience tells us that it is likely to grow exponentially. I can imagine a time when particularly frail and vulnerable people will succumb to the thought that it might be best for their families and for society in general for them to let go and die – they will agree to something because they think they ought to. That scares me.
Morgan concludes her article by defining what true death with dignity is:
I have always been an extremely private person, so the thought that my increasingly frail body will need intimate help does not thrill me. But just as I cared for and loved my friend in all her messiness and fragility, I will have to let others care for and love me in the same way. There is nothing undignified about that. So my experience of being a primary carer tells me that as I'm dying, the presence of people who have the emotional capacity to sit with me during long hours, who have the strength to continually stroke my arm, to bring me cups of water in the night, to tell me that they love me and to stay with me even if it seems that I am no longer present to them is of beyond measure. I'm sure that I will know their voices, and that I will know their touch. So as the doctors relieve my physical pain, I trust that my family and friends will abide with me so that just as I have lived, so will I die, with integrity and grace.
In November 2016, South Australia debated and defeated a euthanasia bill and the Australian Medical Association re-affirmed its opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Paul Russell and Hope Australia have once again prepared an effective opposition to the proposed euthanasia legislation. Thank you Julie for expressing your real fears about euthanasia.

How many people have died by euthanasia in Canada?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Globe and Mail published an article by Kelly Grant featuring a BC couple who wanted to die by euthanasia together, but ended up dying by euthanasia four days apart.

I had hoped that the pro-euthanasia propaganda media articles would lessen now that euthanasia is legal in Canada, but in fact the media continues to ramp up the propaganda.

Nonetheless, the Globe and Mail article states that at least 784 people have died by euthanasia in Canada since June 2016.

On December 29, I reported on a CTV News article stating there were at least 744 people who died by euthanasia since June.

Both articles clearly state that there could be more and both articles use 
data from a Québec report that was published more than two months ago, on November 1.

I believe that the number of euthanasia deaths will continuously increase as long as the media continues to publish articles promoting euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Comparing the data from the Dec 29 CTV news article to the Jan 18 Globe and Mail (G & M) article:

  • BC 154 (CTV)  -  195 (G & M),
  • Alberta 63 (CTV)  -  71 (G & M),
  • Saskatchewan 8 (CTV)  -  11 (G & M),
  • Manitoba 18 (CTV)  -  32 (G & M),
  • Ontario estimated 180 (CTV)  -  200 estimated (G & M)
  • Québec 300 estimated (CTV)  -  262 (data based on November 1 report) (G & M)
  • Nova Scotia 16 (CTV)  -  16 (G & M),
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 4 (CTV)  -  4 (G & M),
  • New Brunswick 0 (CTV)  -  0 (G & M),
  • Prince Edward Island 0 (CTV)  -  0 (G & M),
  • Northwest Territory 0 (CTV)  -  0 (G & M),
  • Yukon Territory 1 (CTV)  -  1 (G & M),
  • Nunavut did not release data (CTV)  -  0 in Nunavut (G & M), 
The Globe and Mail report has under-estimated the number of euthanasia deaths in Québec.

Further to that, the government monitors "assisted death" with a self-reporting system. The reporting system requires the doctor or nurse practitioner who carries out the euthanasia to also report the death. 

The Netherlands and Belgium also employ a self-reporting system to collect data on euthanasia. Based on studies, it is estimated that (20% - 23%) of all euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands are not reported and more than 40% of the euthanasia deaths in Belgium are not reported. Underreporting of assisted suicide also occurs in Oregon and Washington State.

The only way to uncover abuse of the euthanasia law is through family and friends who are willing to share their story. Several stories have already been uncovered.

If you are willing to share information about the euthanasia death of a family member or friend please call Compassionate Community Care at: 1-855-675-8749.

EPC looking for a story for our next documentary. If you seriously considered dying by euthanasia or assisted suicide or felt pressured toward an assisted death, please call us at: 1-877-439-3348.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Canadian bioethicists call for organ donation euthanasia.

This article was written by Michael Cook and published by MercatorNet on January 16, 2017

By Michael Cook

Well, well, that didn’t take long, did it? Euthanasia became legal in Canada in June and by December Quebec bioethicists had already published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics calling for organ donation after euthanasia. In fact, they were reflecting the positive opinions of the both the Quebec government and of Transplant Quebec, the professional association of transplant surgeons

The authors, Julie Allard and Marie-Chantal Fortin, bioethicists at the University of Montreal, argue that their proposal is a kind of homage to autonomy:

“MAID (medical aid in dying) has the potential to provide additional organs available for transplantation. Accepting to procure organ donation after MAID is a way to respect the autonomy of patients, for whom organ donation is an important value. Organ donation after MAID would be ethically acceptable if the patient who has offered to donate is competent and not under any external pressure to choose MAID or organ donation”.
However, they insist that the decision to donate should be separate from the decision to be euthanized. They point out that such a policy could have a negative impact upon the public’s perception of organ donation, so they urge that further studies be done.

Not very publicized, but pre-dating the publication of the JME article, are position statements from Transplant Quebec (no link available) and an ethics committee of the Quebec government. The latter stated on May 11 that:

Considering that a request for medical help in dying is a right, that organ donation is socially acceptable and it is an express request of the patient, and considering that the Commission [Commission de l'éthique en science et en technologie] has always praised organ donation in preceding position statements, the Commission recommends that all the institutions responsible set in place the necessary conditions for making these two requirements compatible.

Allard and Fortin contend that organ donation euthanasia will always be a rare option, because most patients who request euthanasia are dying of cancer, which would normally make them unsuitable as an organ donor.

As a policy, it has only been rolled out in Belgium and the Netherlands. Between 2005 and 2015, 21 Belgians donated organs following euthanasia. The Dutch lag behind, but so far 15 patients have asked to donate organs following euthanasia.

What is the ethical reasoning behind such a procedure? It is based upon respect for the patients’ autonomy.

Several countries, including Canada and the USA, believe that a person who is able to give free and informed consent (or refuse such consent) is entitled to decide what will happen to his or her body.
Allard and Fortin acknowledge that there might be some ethical complications. Patients might feel that they are a burden and could only be useful if they were to give their organs. This would constitute a subtle form of coercion. However, Allard and Fortin are confident that this can be overcome.
It will be difficult to disentangle patients' motivations for requesting MAID, but the complete separation of the two decisional processes should help to ensure that the MAID request is motivated by unbearable suffering, as required by law, and not by the feeling that one's value is limited to one's organs.

Of all the bad ideas associated with euthanasia, this must be one of the worst. The potential for exploiting vulnerable people is immense. Imagine that you have recently become a quadriplegic after a motorcycle accident. You are lonely, frustrated, discouraged; you think that life has no meaning, that you are a useless encumbrance on your family and society. You don’t believe the doctors who insist that paraplegics can and do live fulfilling and happy lives.

One day, from your hospital bed you see a TV program in which a transplant surgeon praises the unforgettable generosity of So-and-so whose life was not worth living but found a way to give life to others, etc, etc. Wouldn't you think of ringing up the doctor and asking him how to go about it?

It could get even worse. What if organ donation organisations promoted an standard advance directive which instructs your next-of-kin to arrange for organ donation euthanasia if you become seriously demented? There is no reason why this could not happen. In Belgium, demented people can be euthanized and organs are being accepted, even from elderly people. That would clean out the nursing homes and shorten the kidney waiting list.

How is Canada going to stop this from happening?

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet. An earlier version of this article was published in BioEdge, which he also edits.

Fighting assisted suicide in your state.

2017 will be an active year for those who protect people from assisted suicide.

EPC - USA has organized an Assisted Suicide Training Session to provide you with the tools to fight assisted suicide in your state.

The assisted suicide lobby has identified at least 26 states where they plan to introduce bills or launch a court case to legalize assisted suicide in America.

The states include: Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah. 

There will also be a federal debate as to whether the District of Columbia assisted suicide law will be overturned.

The event begins at 6 pm until 9 pm and is followed by the screening of the Euthanasia Deception documentary.

We have limited seating. To book your seat at this event. (Link).

Friday, January 13, 2017

Ontario nurse faces six more charges. Is legalizing euthanasia more dangerous?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Elizabeth Wettlaufer (October 25)
On October 25, 2016, EPC reported that Elizabeth Wettlaufer, 49, a nurse from Woodstock, was charged with 8 counts of first degree murder in what is being defined as possibly the worst case of a seriel killer in Canadian history. 

EPC responded to this news by demanding an in-depth investigation into care homes in Canada, especially now that euthanasia is legal.

Wettlaufer is now facing six more changes related to the abuse of patients in Woodstock and Paris Ontario.

It is important to note that Wetlauffer's alleged acts of murder were not uncovered by an investigation or by "quality control" but rather by a tip received by Wettlaufer's psychiatrist.

Further to that, on December 7. the London Free Press reported that Susan Muzylowsky, a nurse who worked at the Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care in London ON confessed to charges of professional misconduct relating to 19 patients.

As Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, I regularly receive calls from people who believe that their loved one was prematurely killed or neglected in a hospital or nursing home. These cases are frustrating because, based on privacy, it is nearly impossible to prove that such an act has occurred and the financial and personal costs associated with gaining justice is prohibitive.

I am convinced that Elizabeth Wettlaufer is one of many "care-givers" who have caused the death, neglected or abused patients in care homes. In fact, I am convinced that if an honest, third-party, in-depth investigation was done into the care of vulnerable persons in Canada that a significant number of horrific cases would be uncovered.

Now that euthanasia is legal in Canada, should you be concerned?

There is no effective oversight of the euthanasia law. If a person dies by euthanasia, the reporting procedure requires the doctor or nurse practitioner who did the lethal injection to submit a report to the authorities. Therefore, the person who causes the death is required to self-report of the death. There is no effective oversight of the law.

Further to that, the flawed language in Canada's euthanasia law provides legal immunity to anyone who participates, in any way, in an act of euthanasia or assisted suicide. The law states:
Section 241(3): No person is a party to an offence under paragraph (1)(b) if they do anything for the purpose of aiding a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner to provide a person with medical assistance in dying in accordance with section 241.‍2.
No other jurisdiction in the world provides this level of blanket immunity for euthanasia.

Legalizing euthanasia in Canada has given medical professionals the ability to cover up acts of murder, abuse, negligence or medical error.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Finland set to debate euthanasia

This article was written by Paul Russell, the Director of HOPE Australia, and published by HOPE Australia on December 31, 2016.

By Paul Russell

A citizen's initiative to raise the issue of euthanasia in the Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta) has passed the requisite 50,000 signatories required to trigger a parliamentary debate.

As in many countries, Finland has been dicing with euthanasia for some years now. The pro-euthanasia lobby, Exitus has been active since the early 1990s. As in many countries, the notional public support for euthanasia is above the two-thirds mark. Support amongst the nations doctors has also been steadily increasing in recent years with support and oppose numbers in the medical profession both at 46% in 2014.

As with all Finnish Citizen's Initiatives, the 'Euthanasia initiative includes a prescription of the form of the Bill to be debated. The presented model is for euthanasia for people experiencing an 'incurable fatal disease, and death takes place in the near future'. The registered signatories now exceed 62,000 which should ensure that, after exclusion checks, that a formal bill is developed and that the parliament is compelled to move to a vote.

The sponsor for the initiative is former Finnish MP, Esko Olavi Seppänen. Seppänen, a member of the Left Alliance Party and earlier the Finnish Communist Party, he was also a Member of the European Parliament from 1996 to 2009 as a Member of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL).

The Finnish Medical Association is opposed to the initiative. Association head Heikki Palve said that the majority of palliative care doctors working with dying patients object to legalising euthanasia. A 2010 survey of doctors attitudes found that, in their opinion, more training on palliative care would diminish requests for active euthanasia and improve physicians’ skills in dealing with the difficult challenges faced in end-of-life situations and care.

Timo Soini, the chairperson of the Finns Party, has confirmed his intention to vote against the citizens' initiative to legalise euthanasia in Finland. Finns is the second largest party in the four-party governing coalition in Finland and has a socially conservative base. Amongst its coalition partners both the National Coalition and the Centre Party hold within their ranks notional majorities of socially conservative MPs.

It is not clear at this time when a bill will be tabled for debate.