Monday, April 27, 2015

Will the Canadian government protect people from assisted suicide?

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC)

The Canadian Press is reporting that the federal government may not introduce a bill to protect Canadians from assisted suicide.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) responded to the irresponsible and dangerous Supreme Court decision by urging the Federal government to use the notwithstanding clause and to call a Royal Commission to protect people with disabilitieselders who live with abuse, depressed and suicidal people and others. It is not safe to give doctors, the right in law, assisted the suicide of their patients.


Opposing the Supreme Court of Canada assisted suicide decision.

EPC asked its members to write letters to Justice Minister Hon. Peter MacKay and their Members of Parliament, or to sign the online petition or to send a Give us time! post-card calling for a Royal Commission on assisted suicide and the use of the Notwithstanding clause.



Writing a letter is most effective but EPC has already distributed 80,000 post-cards. Order the Give us time! post-cards - for free - at: 1-877-439-3348 or info@epcc.ca.

Link to our campaign website at: www.giveustime.ca.

The Canadian Press article that was written by Joan Bryden, states that:

When the Supreme Court struck down the prohibition on physician-assisted dying last February, it gave the federal government 12 months to craft a new law ... 
With Parliament scheduled to sit just six more weeks before an extended break for the summer and a fall election, the government has only three or four months in which to introduce, debate and pass a new law.
Earlier, the Hon Bob Dechert, parliamentary secretary to the health minister, argued that consultation by a committee wouldn't be broad enough to do justice to such a complex, explosive issue. Dechert stated:
"In fact, we are suggesting tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Canadians need to be heard on this issue," he said, promising that "meaningful consultations" via the Internet, public meetings and other means would be launched "very soon."
A spokesperson for Justice Minister Peter MacKay told Bryden that:
"We recognize the tight timeline imposed on us by the Supreme Court and we should be in a position to announce the way forward on this file in due course."
Letter writing is most effective, but if you only want to send a message to Justice Minister Peter MacKay then sign the online petition or order post-cards.

California Governor Jerry Brown may need to veto assisted suicide bill.

Sign the online petition urging California Governor Jerry Brown to veto assisted suicide bill SB 128.

California Assisted suicide bill SB 128 protects doctors and other participants in a patient's death, including family members - but it does not protect patients. This is done in three ways:
  1. Taking the teeth out of patient protections;
  2. Requiring the death certificate, which is the official cause of death, to reflect a natural death, rather than assisted suicide; and
  3. A near complete lack of transparency - in Oregon, similar confidentiality provisions preclude disclosure to law enforcement.
Patient choice and control is not assured by SB 128 instead it is a recipe for patient abuse. Other problems include steerage to suicide by healthcare providers and the risk of suicide contagion.

Marilyn Golden, Senior Policy Analyst for the California based Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, stated in an article published in the Los Angeles Times that:
“If this bill passes, some people’s lives will be ended without their consent, through mistakes and abuse. No safeguards have ever been enacted or proposed that can prevent this outcome, which can never be undone.”
Assisted suicide bill SB 128 was introduced in the California Senate on January 21, 2015. On March 25, SB 128 passed in the Senate Health Committee and on April 7, SB 128 passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Assisted suicide bill SB 128 has not gone to a vote in the California Senate or the California House yet, but the assisted suicide lobby is running a big campaign in California which may require Governor Jerry Brown to veto the bill.

Sign the online petition urging California Governor Jerry Brown to veto assisted suicide bill SB 128.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

EPC campaign to protect people from assisted suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) responded to the Supreme Court of Canada assisted suicide decision with a letter writing and post-card campaign to political leaders asking them to protect use the Notwithstanding Clause to protect Canadians from assisted suicide.

EPC sent-out 80,000 post-cards asking the Government to use the Notwithstanding clause.

EPC is now promoting the Give us time! campaign in English  and French.

The Give us time! campaign asks the Government of Canada to:
  1. Establish a Royal Commission on assisted suicide.
  2. Use the notwithstanding clause to give us time.
We are sending the postcards to the Hon Peter MacKay Justice Minister of Canada.

Give us time post-cards, in english or french, can be ordered from the EPC for free at: info@epcc.ca or by calling toll free at: 1-877-439-3348.

Québec doctors survey indicates that the euthanasia law will be abused.

Alex Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A survey of Québec physicians indicates that the euthanasia law, which is scheduled to take effect in December, will be abused by Québec physicians.

The National Post recently reported that a recent survey of Québec physicians found that:
  • 34.6 per cent of respondents believed they would be able to administer or prescribe lethal medication to an incompetent patient upon a relative’s request.
The survey also found that Québec physicians were confused about the right to refuse medical treatment. Even though the right to refuse medical treatment was clarified in 1992 by the Nancy B case the survey found that:
  • One in three family doctors, and 42 per cent of specialists (including doctors working in anesthesiology, surgery, internal medicine, urology and neurology) were confused about the current legal status of treatment withdrawal.
Further to that, even though a previous survey claimed that a majority Québec physicians supported euthanasia, the recent survey found that:
  • only 39.5 per cent believed that, in the event medical aid in dying were legalized, the use of lethal medication would be permitted at the patient’s request.
It appears that Québec, and the rest of Canada, are following the same path as Belgium where the euthanasia law is abused, where euthanasia occurs without request, where euthanasia deaths are often not reported, and where euthanasia occurs for people who are depressed or experiencing psychiatric issues.

Belgium: Euthanasia and Palliative Care - strange bedfellows

This article was originally published on the HOPE Australia website.

Paul Russell
By Paul Russell, the Director of Hope Australia.


In November 2013, I had the distinct pleasure of travelling to Brussels for the launch of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition - Europe at the EU Parliament.

The following evening my colleague and EPC International Chair, Alex Schadenberg joined Carine Brochier in debating Belgian euthanasia founders Dr Jan Berheim and Professor Etienne Vermeersch.

There was nothing veiled in what Bernheim or Vermeersch said that night. There's a subtle arrogance, it seems, when speaking with the knowledge that virtually a whole country agrees.

Bernheim told the audience that it was he who first went to London, to visit Dame Cicely Saunders, with the intention to bring palliative care to Belgium precisely because he saw this as a way to usher in euthanasia. Whether his actions and intentions were publicly known at the time, whether he is 'gilding the lily' or whether in fact the Belgian medical system fell for the trojan trap or went willingly is moot, I guess.

Whether as a direct result of Bernheim's actions or whether simply a matter of pro-euthanasia spin, we often here the claim that euthanasia and/or assisted suicide are simply additional, complementary tools in a palliative physician's toolkit. We are being asked here to swallow a falsehood: that caring can include killing.

Reflecting upon the Belgian experiment, we are also told that euthanasia and assisted suicide would actually improve palliative care. Precisely how is never explained. But the reality that palliative medicine in Holland and Belgium is up there with the best in Europe tends to add credence to such a claim.


But does it?

This month in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, a paper entitled, Between Palliative Care and Euthanasia (Mortier, Leiva, Cohen-Almagor & Lemmens) looks at the most recent euthanasia data (2012-2013) and calls on "politicians, the medical profession, and juridical authorities soberly (to) reflect on the developments that have taken place since 2002."

Looking at all euthanasia deaths, the authors observe:
  • that only 40 percent (1,283 out of 3,239) of the euthanized patients had a visit by a palliative care team,
  • barely 12 percent (396 out of 3,239) had a visit by a palliative care specialist,
  • just 9 percent (307 out of 3,239) were consulted by a psychiatrist (Commission Fédérale de Contrôle et d’Évaluation de l’Euthanasie 2014).
They conclude that: 
"almost 40 percent of the patients who received euthanasia did not see a palliative care specialist nor interacted with a palliative care team." 
"The conclusion that Belgium is a palliative care role model for the world is an overstatement."
This data fits well with the observation of Dutch Professor, Theo Boer that, in his country, euthanasia is ‘on the way to becoming a default mode of dying for cancer patients’. In 2012, a spokesperson for the Royal Dutch Medical Association admitted that: 
“Euthanasia has become the central point of conversation between a doctor and a patient who is suffering when it should be seen as a "last resort".

Friday, April 24, 2015

Luxembourg euthanasia report.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Luxembourg euthanasia commission has released its semi-annual report stating that 15 people died by euthanasia in 2013 - 2014, which was a slight increase from 14 people who died by euthanasia in 2011 - 2012.

Luxembourg is a small European country, with a population of 537,000 and approximately 3850 people deaths each year.

The media article states that no abuse of the euthanasia law occurred but the system of reporting euthanasia deaths, in Luxembourg, is not designed to uncover abuse.

In Luxembourg euthanasia reports are sent to the commission by the doctor who lethally injected the person, after the person has died. Since doctors are unlikely to self-report abuse of the law, therefore it is impossible to determine whether or not abuse has occurred.

A recent death study from the Flanders region of Belgium was published in the NEJM on March 19, 2015 found that 1.7% of all deaths in 2013 were intentionally hastened without explicit request and almost half of the assisted deaths were unreported in 2013. A similar study from 2007 found that 1.8% of all deaths were hastened without explicit request and almost half of the assisted deaths went unreported.

The Belgian death study was done by sending questionnaires to the doctors who certified the death certificates in 6188 deaths in the first half of 2013. The researchers received 3751 responses. Since the researchers are third-party researchers who investigated all deaths, they were able to uncover abuse of the Belgian euthanasia law.

In 2008, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg refused to sign the euthanasia bill into law. The Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies reacted by removing his constitutional power.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Do Not Kill Me - I oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC)

On February 6, the Supreme Court struck down Canada's assisted suicide law and gave parliament 12 months to bring in a new law to protect Canadians. 

Those who have read the Supreme Court assisted suicide decision are concerned by the irresponsible and dangerous language in the decisionEPC responded by establishing a letter writing/post card campaign.

EPC offers three ways to help protect you from euthanasia and assisted suicide.

1. The new - Do Not Kill Me - wallet card is available from EPC upon request or by sending EPC a donation. Please sign the back of the card. Contact EPC to order the Do Not Kill Me wallet card at: 1-877-439-3348 or info@epcc.ca.

2. The Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care is not new but it has been updated to ensure that it will protect you when you cannot make decisions for yourself.

This is a legal document that enables you to appoint someone that you trust to be your Power of Attorney for Personal Care. This document also makes clear statements concerning the medical treatment options that you need, when you are unable to make decisions for yourself. The document clearly states that you want to receive food and water, unless you are actually nearing death, and that you oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide.

EPC distributes the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for $25
Contact EPC at: 1-877-439-3348 or info@epcc.ca

3. EPC is working with Compassionate Community Care (CCC), a new service that offers practical advice and information (not limited to) to people when they or a loved one is: 
  • Being denied medical treatment or basic personal care, such as food and water; 
  • Has questions related to life-support measures; or 
  • Concerned that a loved one is being euthanized.
CCC plans to develop a community based model of support for people who are vulnerable to being coercion into euthanasia and assisted suicide. Contact CCC at: 1-855-675-8749.

The Disturbing End Game of the Assisting Suicide lobby.

Jennifer Popik
By Jennifer Popik, JD, Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics

In a record push, Compassion and Choices or C&C (formerly the Hemlock Society) has introduced bills in nearly half of U.S. states. Although they are promoted as simply another medical option at the end of life, comments made by C&C’s president that appeared in an April 17, 2015 USA Today article point to its real goal – euthanasia on demand for any reason.

Although there are still a handful of states that remain at risk this year for this dangerous legislation, such as California, these bills are being defeated one by one across the country. In state after state, the broad coalition of opponents including disability rights groups, the American Medical Society along with its state affiliates, and scores of other groups have successfully raised the alarm that these laws are just too dangerous.

C&C has gained attention using the case of Brittany Maynard, a California woman with a brain tumor. Maynard moved to Oregon–where it is legal to have a physician prescribe a lethal dose of barbiturates–to kill herself.

The case is being used to motivate death advocates and influence legislators, and in many states that did not advance legislation this year, we can be sure stronger efforts will be made in the next legislative session. The legislation being promoted in the states purports to allow doctor-prescribed suicide for competent terminally ill patients, so long as some illusory “safeguards” are followed.

Evidence that safeguards are not working is available from both Oregon and Washington. There are state-issued reports that provide evidence of non-terminally ill persons receiving lethal prescriptions.

Further, there is nothing in existing Oregon, Washington, or Vermont law that requires doctors to refer patients for evaluation by a psychologist or psychiatrist to screen for depression or mental illness. There is also no such requirement in any current proposal in any state. The doctors can make a referral, but nearly never do. In fact, according to the Oregon’s official state reports, in 17 years of legalized doctor-prescribe suicide, a mere 5.5% of death candidates have been referred for psychological evaluation.

In short, there is evidence that any so-called “safeguards” simply are not working. What is more shocking is that this is exactly what C&C President Barbara Coombs Lee wants. She would prefer to expand the list of those who can receive lethal drugs to any kind of discomfort a person might believe she or he is suffering from. In the USA Today article, “Half of U.S. states consider right-to-die legislation,” Coombs Lee told reporter Malak Monir that “It’s not as simple as pain. Everyone gets to identify their own definition of suffering.”

Alabama bill would clarify protections in law from assisted suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In 2015, 26 US states are debating bills to legalize assisted suicide.

Nearly every US state have laws that specifically protect people from assisted suicide. A few states do not have specific statutes protecting people from assisted suicide, but rather prohibit assisted suicide based on common law.

In Alabama, Rep Arnold Mooney is planning to introduce a bill to clarify protections in law from assisted suicide. The Alabama media reported that:
The Assisted Suicide Ban Act would prohibit a physician or other health care provider to help a person die by prescribing a drug or by other means, he said. 
Assisted suicide is prohibited under Alabama common law due to prior court decisions on the issue. Forty-three states have laws on the books prohibiting physician-assisted suicide.
Rep Mooney stated:
"The state has an interest in protecting vulnerable groups, including the impoverished, the elderly, and disabled persons from abuse, neglect and mistakes," 
"A ban on assisted suicide reflects and reinforces our belief that the lives of those in vulnerable groups are no less valued than the lives of the young and healthy."
In the past few years, Georgia and Arizona passed bills to clarify protections in law from assisted suicide.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Canadian physicians may be forced to kill by euthanasia.

This article was published on Wesley's blog on April 18, 2015.
Wesley Smith

By Wesley J. Smith

Medical martyrdom is coming, a term I coined to describe doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other such professionals being forced to choose between their callings and participating in the intentional taking of human life. 

Canada’s Supreme Court recently imposed euthanasia across the country, including for “psychological pain” caused by a diagnosable medical condition. The question now posed is whether doctors will be able to opt out. 

So far, it doesn’t look good. The Canadian Medical Association – already weak-kneed on assisted suicide/euthanasia – wants doctors protected. But the Ontario and Saskatchewan Colleges of Doctors and Surgeons want doctors forced, as in Victoria, to do the deed, refer, or if no references are available, forced to kill. 

Udo Schuklenk
Canadian bioethicist Udo Schuklenk agrees. From his blog
The very idea that we ought to countenance conscientious objection in any profession is objectionable. 
Nobody forces anyone to become a professional. It is a voluntary choice. A conscientious objector in medicine is not dissimilar to a taxi driver who joins a taxi company that runs a fleet of mostly combustion engine cars and who objects on grounds of conscience to drive those cars due to environmental concerns. Why did she become a taxi driver in the first place? Perhaps she should have opened a bicycle taxi company instead. 
The very idea that Schuklenk compares driving a taxi to practicing a medical profession, and worries about pollution to the active and intentional taking of human life tells you so much about what has gone wrong in bioethics. 

Moreover, when today’s doctors and nurses entered the profession, they weren’t required to kill. So, this is where we are heading fast: Kill or get out of medicine! More, don’t get into medicine in the first place if you are an orthodox religious believer or philosophically opposed to abortion and euthanasia. You have no place in the medical arts. 

It is worth nothing that Schuklenk supports Futile Care Theory. Thus, his anti-medical conscience attitude doesn’t extend to the ICU when patients want life-sustaining treatment the doctor thinks is “inappropriate.” Then, doctors should have a right to say no–even though the most fundamental job of doctors is to keep patients alive when that is what they want. 


Can we say, “culture of death?” When Dutch doctors were ordered by the Nazi occupiers to practice (then) German-style death medicine, they took down their shingles en masse, and won the victory. Will Canadian physicians have similar guts in a society in which dissenters are not murdered?