Wednesday, December 31, 2008

UK prime minister opposes assisted suicide.

Hon. Gordon Brown
In a radio interview Gordon Brown, the UK Prime Minister stated his complete opposition to assisted suicide.

According to the Scotman newspaper, Brown stated his total opposition to relaxing the ban on assisting a person to commit suicide, suggesting such a change could force vulnerable people to end their lives early if they feared they would become a burden.

Brown stated:
"Well, I'm totally against laws on that. I think this debate about assisted suicide, it's not really for us to create any legislation that would put pressure on people to feel that they had to offer themselves because they were causing trouble to a relative. So I think we have got to make it absolutely clear that the importance of human life is recognised."
Gordon Brown is not a right wing Christian or a political conservative. Brown proves again that opposition to assisted suicide is not based on religious or political motivations but rather a concern about the way we treat people at the most vulnerable time in their lives. Do we believe in Caring or Killing?

Brown's concerns are well-founded. In the Netherlands, where euthanasia and assisted suicide have been practised for more than 30 years, it has now become acceptable to kill newborn infants with disabilities such as spina bifida.

A study done in the Netherlands and published in 2005 (vanderlee et al) found that people who were suffering from depression were 44% more likely to request and received euthanasia than people who were not showing signs of depression.

The leaders of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies expressed at their recent International conference in Paris that their new focus will be to promote euthanasia for people who are "Tired of Living". There isn't a big difference between someone being killed because they have expressed that they are Tired of Living and another person who feels they have a "Duty to Die" because of the social and family pressure that are experiencing as their personal needs increase.

The fact is that laws that prevent euthanasia and assisted suicide are needed to protect people at the most vulnerable time of their life from others and from a society that has devalued the lives of people who appear to lack a "quality of life" that is deemed acceptable by the social elites.

Link to Wesley Smith's commentary:
http://www.wesleyjsmith.com/blog/2008/12/uk-prime-minister-gordon-brown-refuses.html

Link to the article in the Scotsman:
http://news.scotsman.com/uk/Brown-I39m---totally.4833429.jp

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Crown seeks appeal in Quebec assisted suicide case

Crown Prosecutor, Denis Dionne, said that the Crown will appeal the acquittal of Stephan Dufour in the death of his uncle Chantal Maltais.

Stephan Dufour
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) reacted to the acquittal of Stephan Dufour on December 12, 2008 by challenging the comments by the euthanasia lobby that this case was a precedent setting case. EPC recognized that Dufour set-up the suicide device for Maltais, his uncle, but he did so under extreme duress and did not encourage his uncle to commit suicide. EPC also considered Dufour's diminished mental capacity as a mitigating factor, making him less capable of resisting the pressure from his uncle.

The Canwest news article on the appeal stated:
Dionne said his appeal will stress that Dufour had opportunities to dismantle the device after it was installed but that the court limited its focus to the installation of the device.

The following day "he could have neutralized the device," Dionne said, stressing the crime of assisted suicide went beyond the installation.

During trial the defence said Dufour was under his uncle's spell and that his limited intellectual capacities prevented him resisting Maltais' multiple requests to put an end to his life.
The article also stated that Dionne was questioning the mental capacity defense.

EPC welcomes the appeal, if the Crown brings new evidence into the case but without new evidence this will only be a re-trial of a questionable case.

This case did not put assisted suicide on trial but rather the defense was based on the capacity of Dufour to break the law. This cannot be a jury nullification of assisted suicide but rather a question of Dufour's mental capacity to commit the crime.

The Canadian Press article emphasized how this case is feeding the assisted suicide debate. The article stated:
Dufour's case reignited the country's assisted-suicide debate, which gained national attention in the 1990s when Sue Rodriguez took her battle for the right to kill herself to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Once again EPC does not consider this case to be a precedent setting case in Canada because it is riddled with mitigating factors that make its outcome uncertain under any circumstances.

The trial is unlikely to make it to court until the fall of 2009.

Link to the comments about Dufour's acquittal:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/12/stephan-dufour-found-not-guilty-in-alma.html

Link to Canwest news article:
http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Crown+seeks+appeal+assisted+suicide+case/1123598/story.html

Link to the Canadian Press article:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5ivIlsHXP6oDgpwAnr7USwgKSqfCw

Monday, December 29, 2008

Washington State: Seduced by Oregon's big lie

Rita Marker wrote this article about the Washington State I-1000 assisted suicide campaign.

Link to the article from the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide:  http://www.internationaltaskforce.org/iua46.htm

Washington State: Seduced by Oregon's big lie

On November 4, 2008, Washington State voters passed Initiative 1000 (the Washington Death with Dignity Act) legalizing Oregon-style physician-assisted suicide by a margin of 58 to 42 percent. It took over ten years -- after right-to-die proponents failed to get 90 assisted-suicide bills passed in 23 states and were defeated in costly initiative drives in Maine and Michigan -- for another state to embrace assisted suicide after Oregon enacted its Death with Dignity Act in 1997.

Whether or not they realize it, Washington voters have opted to place their state squarely on the crest of an extremely slippery, ice-covered slope. But, they won’t be seeing any noticeable plunges down that slope in the near future -- that is if the assisted-suicide advocacy group Compassion & Choices (C&C) has its way. As the facilitator of the majority of assisted-suicide deaths in Oregon and as the group controlling what information, if any, is made available to the public, C&C’s plan is to get as many states as possible to approve assisted-suicide for only terminally-ill adults before there are any overt moves to expand the practice to the chronically-ill, the mentally-ill, those with a diminished quality of life, and those simply tired of living. Widening the categories of patients eligible for an induced death would make it very difficult for C&C and other groups to sell assisted suicide in states targeted for their "win" column.

But shortly after Washington’s I-1000 passed, another national assisted-suicide organization, Final Exit Network (a C&C splinter group), jumped on the bandwagon and issued a press release calling for the right-to-die movement’s real goal: death on demand for all, terminally ill or not. According to the group's president, Ted Goodwin,
Final Exit Network and its members supported passage of this landmark [Washington] initiative by donating to the advocacy effort…. However, the job is not finished….

Unfortunately, many patients do not meet I-1000's strict criteria. Individuals with neurological illnesses such as Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) and Alzheimer's disease often lose the reason and will to live long before their disease qualifies as “terminal.” For these individuals, neither I-1000 nor the Oregon law go far enough. That is why Final Exit Network pledges, until laws protect the right of every adult to a peaceful, dignified death, Final Exit Network will be there to support those who need relief from their suffering today! [Final Exit Network Press Release, 11/5/08. Emphasis added.]
The big lie

One might ask, if Final Exit Network (FEN) had released its death-on-demand comments before the Washington election, would it have changed the outcome of the I-1000 vote? Probably not, because C&C and the Death with Dignity National Center, the two groups which orchestrated the “Yes on I-1000" campaign, carefully honed their strategy and talking points to undermine, among other things, any attempt to get voters to see the reality of legalized assisted suicide. There was a reason that these two groups chose Washington as the state most likely to pass an assisted-suicide law. Voters there were seen as easy marks since they closely mirrored Oregon voters in being independent minded, valuing total control, and being largely un-churched.

The majority of voters bought the “Yes” campaign’s mantra that 10 years of legalized assisted suicide in Oregon proves that the practice is transparent, safe, abuse free, and even beneficial to overall health care -- despite proof to the contrary.

They ignored Oregon’s largest newspaper, the Oregonian, when its editorial board exhorted Washington voters to reject I-1000 because, “Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide program has not been sufficiently transparent.” “Essentially,” the board wrote, “a coterie of insiders run the program, with a handful of doctors and others deciding what the public may know.” [Oregonian, 9/20/08]

They ignored a recent Oregon Health & Science University study that found that one in four Oregonians who request assisted suicide may, in fact, be clinically depressed. The authors of the study, published in the British Medical Journal, concluded, “The current practice of the Death with Dignity Act may fail to protect some patients whose choices are influenced by depression from receiving a prescription for a lethal drug.” [Ganzini et al., “Prevalence of depression and anxiety in patients requesting physicians’ aid in dying: cross sectional survey,” British Medical Journal, 10/8/08]

When the Washington media reported on the study, the “Yes on I-1000" camp immediately spun the findings to their advantage:
The report proves that most patients who request death with dignity are not depressed, and the safeguards work so that those who are must be referred for counseling. Every single one of the many safeguards in the Death with Dignity Act is working. [Yes on I-1000 Report, 10/7/08. Emphasis added.]
Apparently, voters believed that spin job even though most of it was untrue. Neither the Oregon law nor Washington's I-1000 requires that depressed patients be referred for counseling. In fact, of the 49 assisted-suicide patients who died in Oregon last year, NOT ONE was referred for a psychological evaluation or counseling.

Given the study’s finding that one in four assisted-suicide patients is likely to be clinically depressed, not having even one out of 49 such patients with symptoms of depression is highly questionable. According to psychiatrist Linda Ganzini, lead author of the study, “What it means is that primary care physicians probably need to use more rigorous or well-validated instruments rather than just their gut impression about whether the patient is depressed.” [Oregon Public Radio, 10/7/08]

The campaigns

As previously reported in the Update, assisted-suicide advocacy groups Compassion & Choices and the Death with Dignity National Center spent most of last year preparing for the I-1000 campaign. They raised almost $250,000 as seed money in anticipation of launching their initiative in January 2008; they conducted extensive research, testing the best arguments to use to convince Washingtonians that they needed to legalize assisted suicide; and they did all this before the ink was dry on the final version of the initiative.

The opposition, on the other hand, was slow off the mark, perhaps because they hoped that the initiative wouldn’t get the needed signatures to qualify it for the November ballot. When it did qualify in July, the “No on I-1000" group had to ramp up its efforts quickly.

But the “No” campaign couldn’t compete with the large sums of money that initiative proponents were able to generate from assisted-suicide advocates and groups across the U.S. as well as from Australia and Britain. As of November 1, the “Yes on I-1000" committee reported receipts in the amount of $4,856,732. Over the same period, the “No on I-1000" committee received only $1,510,442.

Despite the lack of funds, the “No” campaign was able to produce two very effective TV ads. The first one featured actor Martin Sheen warning voters about the dangers legalized assisted suicide poses for poor and vulnerable patients. The second ad featured Barbara Wagner, an Oregon cancer patient whose health insurer, the Oregon Health Plan, had denied her payment for a cancer treatment drug prescribed by her doctor, but offered instead to pay for her assisted suicide. Unfortunately, the ads were aired during the latter part of the campaign and, in some cases, after many voters had mailed in their ballots.

Implementing a bad law

Washington’s new assisted-suicide law is scheduled to take effect on March 4, 2009. “We’re going to be gathering information over the next few weeks and expect to start the rulemaking process by the end of the month [November],” explained a spokesperson from the Washington Department of Health, the agency charged with compiling annual statistical reports on assisted-suicide deaths. [The Olympian, 11/7/08] Compassion & Choices of Washington plans to take an aggressive, combative role in that “rulemaking” process. According to the group’s web site,
Now the next battle begins. As the established leaders in end-of-life care in Washington State, Compassion & Choices of Washington (C&C) will be the protector and guardian of Initiative 1000. Our opponents will spare no expense in attacking I-1000, just as they did in Oregon. We need to prepare for a long and potentially costly fight to ensure that the law implemented is the same law that voters endorsed on November 4…. [C & C web site]
Indeed, there may be battles on the horizon. Even the Tacoma News Tribune, one of the many Washington papers that endorsed I-1000, is calling for changes in the new law:
The News Tribune editorial board endorsed I-1000, but we believe it needs stronger public disclosure and mental evaluation requirements. The Legislature should closely monitor implementation of I-1000 and make any needed changes. [News Tribune, 11/7/08]
The “No on I-1000" camp is also considering “every option on the table,” including a legal challenge. [AP, 11/7/08]

Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Hamphire lawmakers will debate assisted suicide in 2009

An Associated Press article has reported that the New Hampshire legislature will be debating assisted suicide in 2009.

The article stated:
New Hampshire lawmakers will debate next year whether to allow terminally ill people to get help from their doctors to commit suicide.

Rep. Charles Weed says his "death with dignity" bill is modeled after an Oregon statute. He says some terminally ill people feel good they have the option even if they don't exercise it.

The Keene Democrat says his bill would require applicants to go through a long procedure that includes getting approval from their doctor and a non-family member.

Weed says he doubts the bill will pass, but he wants to educate people through the debate.

Since Oregon's law took effect in 1997, more than 340 people — mostly ailing with cancer — have used it to end their lives.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition expects that many states will debate assisted suicide over the next 2 years. We hope that those debates will be based on facts and not the propaganda that is provided by the death lobby.

The people in Washington State bought the "Big Lie" from the Oregon experience. Compassion & Choices (C&C)in Oregon would want you to think that everything is fine in Oregon. The fact is that C&C is directly involved with 73% of all the assisted suicide deaths in Oregon.

Further to that, there is no proof that physicians are following the guidelines in Oregon. The reporting system stipulates that a physician will submit a report after the death, which may be many months after the person obtained their prescription and usually the physician is not present at the death.

In other words, a self-reporting physician will not report whether or not the prescription was written for a person who showed signs of clinical depression or who was not terminally ill.

The fact that there is no requirement for a witness at the time of death means that there is no proof that people are not being coerced to take the drugs or that the death was really euthanasia and not assisted suicide.

Nonetheless, C&C has done an effective job at covering up the facts of the Oregon law and they are now pressuring the Oregon government to widen the interpretation of the statute.

New Hampshire residents need to say to there legislators, NOT IN OUR STATE.

Link to the article:
http://www.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2008/12/26/school_funding_gay_marriage_on_nh_agenda/?rss_id=Boston.com+--+Latest+news

Friday, December 26, 2008

Media incorrectly defines act by German doctors as euthanasia.

A recent article in the United Press (UPI.com) incorrectly defined euthanasia.

The article titled:German court clears euthanasia docs is wrong.

The article stated:
Paul Schoenle, the former head of neurology at a rehabilitation center in Magdeburg, Germany, and physician Frantisek Kovacic were cleared of charges Monday after a Hamburg court determined they had acted ethically in the case of Briton Timothy Sanders, the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

Schoenle had been charged with manslaughter while Kovacic was charged with being an accessory to manslaughter after they allowed the brother of the fatally ill and paralyzed Sanders to turn off his breathing apparatus in May 2004, the broadcaster said.

Sanders had been paralyzed since an accident in 2002 and could not breathe unaided. He died minutes after his brother Paul turned off the machines in a case of euthanasia, prosecutors said.

"The court found that the doctors behaved correctly both ethically and medically," a court spokeswoman said following the ruling, which determined that Sanders had already been terminally ill when his life was ended, Deutsche Welle reported.


According tot he article Dr. Paul Schoenle turned off the respirator that enabled Timothy Sanders to breath. But, turning off a breathing machine is not euthanasia.

Sanders died a natural death that resuled from his medical condition. Nobody denied Sanders oxygen, it was available, but due to his medical condition, he was unable to breath effectively. If Schoenle had put a bag over his head to deny him oxygen, then they would have caused his death.

There is a difference between killing and letting someone die. Sanders was not killed but let to die.

Euthanasia is the intentional cause of death, whereby the person dies from the action or omission that is done to cause death. When a person dies from a medical condition, then it cannot be euthanasia.

Since I do not know all the facts of the case I can only say that the charge of manslaughter was probably also incorrect.

UPI.com got the story wrong, the real question that the German court decided was whether or not their act was ethically correct or not. The court found that the doctors behaved correctly both ethically and medically. If there is any conflicting evidence in this case, I would certainly like to hear it.

Link to previous article about Killing or Letting Die:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/07/killing-or-letting-die.html

Link to the article from the United Press International:
http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2008/12/23/German_court_clears_euthanasia_docs/UPI-46571230058513/

Australia's Dr. Death designs new suicide device

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Philip Nitschke, also known as Australia's Dr. Death, claims to have designed a new suicide device. Nitschke is also one of the early founders of the NuTech group and he is the leader of Exit International, a group that is devoted to developing suicide devices for assisting a suicide.

Suicide devices and methods are nothing new to Nitschke who is also known for his work on the "peaceful pill", a pill that he once said could be used by troubled teens. He is also known for promoting suicide tourism and encouraging people to go to Mexico to obtain veterinary drugs.

Nitschke said the method - which uses legally obtaining household products including a barbecue gas bottle - is “flawless” and has the unique characteristic of being undetectable which will make it harder to prove suicide.

Nitschke is not concerned whether the person who is seeking suicide is depressed or whether his device may be unsafe due to the combustible nature of the gas that his device uses.

Nitscke stated that: “It’s hard to see how the Government could possibly restrict access to common cylinders, and certainly there’s no way they could restrict access to (the gas),”

In the past the Australian government has confiscated his suicide devices and "Exit bags", they have outlawed the suicide counseling service that he operated via the internet and his book that he wrote to promote suicide and assisted suicide methods.

Link to article on suicide manual:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/10/nitschke-launches-online-euthanasia.html

Earlier this year, Nitschke admitted that he did not disqualify Graeme Wylie from assisted suicide, even though he knew that he was suffering from dementia. Nitschke was willing to ignore the fact that Wylie was incompetent to make a proper decision in order to advocate for Wylie to die by suicide.

Link to previous article about Nitschke:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/05/nitschke-hell-bent-on-assisted-suicide.html

The government is right to protect vulnerable people from Nitschke, who is more concerned about providing the means for people to die than making sure people are actually mentally or emotionally stable.

I am convinced that the media gives Nitschke attention because he offers entertainment. He is constantly creating new ways to break the law, if not the spirit of the law. He is continually promoting suicide, as if it should be the goal of society to encourage people to kill themselves. He is a colorful character. Too bad his entertainment will lead to the death of many vulnerable people.

Link article:
http://www.entertainmentandshowbiz.com/euthanasia-pioneer-unveils-undetectable-suicide-device-200812267748

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Televised Suicide

Please read this excellent response to the assisted suicide death that was shown on British television recently and CTV television in Canada many months ago:
http://www.mlive.com/grpress/opinion/index.ssf/2008/12/letter_televised_suicide.html

This other commentary comes from a secular point of view. A point of view that doesn't oppose assisted suicide but does oppose the display of assisted suicide on television:
http://www.hackneygazette.co.uk/content/hackney/gazette/whatson/story.aspx?brand=HKYGOnline&category=edcase&tBrand=hkygonline&tCategory=edcase&itemid=WeED22%20Dec%202008%2011%3A02%3A11%3A630

Friday, December 19, 2008

Luxembourg parliament backs euthanasia bill

Deputies in the Luxembourg parliament have approved the first reading of a bill to legalize euthanasia by a vote of 31 to 26. Last February the Luxembourg parliament approved the first reading of a different euthanasia bill that was significantly revised into the current bill.

Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg has stated that he opposed euthanasia and he would not sign the euthanasia bill into law based. The Luxembourg parliament has responded by planning to change the constitution, removing the power of the monarchy to veto legislation that has been approved by parliament.

If Luxembourg legalizes euthanasia, it will become the third European nation to legalize the intentional killing of dying people or otherwise vulnerable people in Luxembourg.

When examining the experience of euthanasia in the Netherlands it is clear that their continues to be a significant number of people who die by euthanasia, who neither requested it or indicated a wish to die. The last study in the Netherlands indicated that 550 people died by euthanasia in 2005 without request.

The vanderlee study in 2005 in the Netherlands found that people with cancer who were depressed were 44% more likely to die by euthanasia than people with cancer who were not depressed.

In Belgium the government has indicated that they recognize that there is a problem with under-reporting.

A recently published Ganzini study in the state of Oregon found that 26% of those who had requested assisted suicide and participated in the study were depressed and 17% of those who died by assisted suicide had been depressed.

Luxembourg should be looking to improve their end-of-life care while recognizing the innate dignity of every human person.

They should be promoting care options and not killing.

The bill will go to final reading sometime around March. If approved Luxembourg will become the third country to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide and make all of the Benelux countries places where vulnerable people can be killed by euthanasia.
Link to the article:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hG23vs1nQzkNR-vr6ZxS4tVsQneg

Nitschke promotes his suicide machine in Australia

Philip Nitschke is once again promoting suicide. This time Nitschke is promoting a suicide machine that is able to be self-assembled at home.

Nitschke, known as Australia's Dr. Death, and a member of NuTech, an international organization of death lobby radicals who seek to develop new ways to commit suicide.

Nitschke, who has been working for years on the "peaceful pill", a pill that would be made from regular household products. Nitschke was quoted by the National Review online interview as stating that the peaceful pill could be used by troubled teens who wish to commit suicide.

Has Nitschke's lack of success with the suicide pill led him to producing a suicide machine?

At the World Federation of Right to Die Societies conference in Toronto - September 2006, Nitschke emphasized the need for assisted suicide or euthanasia to be available for people who are "tired of living".

Nitschke sells his ideology as providing choice and control for people at the end of their lives. The reality is that Nitschke and his friends are trying to create a universal human right to die. Nitschke and his death lobby followers believe that death is the last freedom that everyone should have access to at any time.

Sadly, many people who are depressed or who live with mental illness, emotional or psychological difficulties, are victimized by death advocates like Nitschke.

Nitschke has created video's, books, websites, and also a suicide counseling service.

If society becomes duped into accepting Nitschke's philosophy of life, we will turn into a nihilistic, negative death obsessed culture that will turn in on itself. In the end it will create a duty to die for anyone who lives with significant disabilities or mental health issues. We only need to examine the Groningen Protocol in the Netherlands to determine the likely outcome of this destructive philosophy

We must reject Nitschke and his philosophy and promote and recognize the innate dignity of each human person. We must build an ethic of quality of life that is derived from the interdependent care for the physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological needs of others.

Link to article on Nitschke's suicide machine
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/12/18/2449786.htm

Pope Decries Advance Toward Euthanasia in Luxembourg

This is a reprint of the article from Zenit.
Link to the article on Zenit: http://www.zenit.org/article-24615?l=english

Pope tells Luxembourg Envoy That Taking Innocent Life Is Wrong

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2008 (Zenit.org)
Benedict XVI is expressing his "deep concern" for the advance of euthanasia legislation in Luxembourg, saying that politicians should remember that taking innocent human life is always wrong.

The Pope's words came today as the Luxembourg Parliament was reaching an initial narrow approval of euthanasia legislation after a five-hour debate. The vote was 31 in favor and 26 against, with three abstentions. The bill might still be defeated, keeping Luxembourg from becoming the third European Union nation to approve euthanasia, after Belgium and the Netherlands.

The Holy Father, meanwhile, was receiving the new Luxembourg ambassador to the Holy See, Paul Duh, and in his address to him, the Pontiff took the occasion to speak out against euthanasia.

Benedict XVI expressed his "most deep concern about the text of the law on euthanasia and assisted suicide."

He noted that the bill is accompanied by legislation that itself contradicts the text, foreseeing regulations to develop palliative care so as to make suffering more endurable in the final stage of illness and to favor appropriate human support of the patient.

Nevertheless the bill, the Pope lamented, "concretely legitimizes the possibility of ending life."

"Political leaders, whose duty is to serve the good of man, as well as doctors and families, must remember that the deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always bad from the moral point of view, and can never be licit," he continued. "Love and true compassion embark on another path.

"The request that arises from the heart of man in his supreme confrontation with suffering and death, especially when he feels the temptation to let himself be overcome by desperation, and feels lost to the point of wanting to disappear, is above all a petition for someone to accompany him and a call to greater solidarity and support in this test.

"This call can seem demanding, but it is the only one worthy of the human being, and it opens to new and deeper solidarity, which enriches and fortifies family and social bonds."

Addressing the people of Luxembourg, Benedict XVI appealed to their "Christian and humanistic roots," and asked them to reaffirm the "greatness and the inviolable character of human life."

Today's Parliament approval was the first reading of the bill, which was significantly modified since an earlier version was approved. Another reading will most likely be scheduled.

Furthermore, the chief of state, Grand Duke Henri, has said that he will not approve the legislation. His position has brought a call to amend the Constitution, stripping the monarch of his power to approve laws, and giving the position a purely ceremonial rule. Such a Constitutional amendment would be necessary before the euthanasia legislation could become effective.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Italy's welfare minister intervenes to stop the dehydration death of Eluana Englaro

A CNS article is reporting that on December 16, Maurizio Sacconi, Italy's welfare minister, temporarily blocked Eluana Englaro's physician and family from carrying out an Italian supreme court decision to dehydrate her to death.

The article stated that:
Officials of the Citta di Udine clinic, which had agreed to accept Englaro as a patient and had formed an all-volunteer team of employees to care for her, suspended the transfer saying they had to study Sacconi's decree and determine whether they were obliged to obey it or if they could follow the supreme court's ruling.

Sacconi said denying nutrition and hydration to a patient in a persistent vegetative state "can be interpreted as discrimination based on judgments about the quality of life of a person with serious disabilities and in a situation of total dependence."

Italian law and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities make it illegal to refuse to care for or provide medical assistance to a person based on his or her disability, Sacconi said.


To withdraw hydration and nutrition from a person who is not otherwise dying is the cause of death for that person. It is always wrong to intentionally kill a person, especially one who is vulnerable and needing total care.

To intentionally dehydrate Englaro to death means that society has decided that her life is not only not worth living, but that her disability should be treated by killing her.

Death by dehydration is not a peaceful, dignified or compassionate death.

For a person who is dying and nearing death, there comes a time when the body is unable to assimilate fluids and nutrition and it becomes necessary to withdraw that care based on the fact that it is not providing any benefit and to continue it would likely harm the dying person.

In the case of Englaro, she is not dying but is being dehydrated to death because of her cognitive disability. Even though she is not likely to recover, we owe the human person basic care which includes fluids, nourishment, warmth, and basic physical care.

To deny her these basic measures of care will result in the acceptance and promotion of a eugenic discrimination against people with disabilities and other vulnerable people because society will assume that these people would not want to live in this way.

Social pressure will create a situation in which family members will be made to feel that to continue caring for these people is actually socially unjust based on societal costs and personal needs.

Link to the article:
http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0806311.htm

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Stephan Dufour found not guilty in Alma Quebec

Stephan Dufour has been found not guilty in assisting the suicide of his uncle Chantal Maltais (Alma Quebec).

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is convinced that this case is not a straight forward case, that there are questions as to whether Dufour intented or had the mental capacity to intend to participate in the death of his uncle - Maltais.

We are convinced that no precedent has been set in this case. The facts would lead one to question whether there was intention to break the law or whether the harassment by Maltais and his limted mental capacity was a reasonable limit on his intention.

This case should not be treated as a precedent setting case. This is another sad case of a man who was experiencing extremely difficult life circumstances who was depressed and experiencing suicidal ideation and in need of suicide prevention intervention.

We ask the question: Did Chantal Maltais receive proper care based on his life circumstances?

Alex Schadenberg
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Phone: 1-877-439-3348
email: info@epcc.ca

Quotes from the story:

A Quebec man was found not guilty on Friday of helping his disabled uncle kill himself.

During his trial, Stephan Dufour, 30, told the court he gave in to pressure from Chantal Maltais to help him commit suicide.

"I felt like I was in a prison," Dufour told the court during his trial. He said that Maltais had been asking him to help put an end to his life every day for several months.

Dufour testified at his trial that he tied a choke chain to a rope and installed it on a pole in his uncle's bedroom. Two days later, on Sept. 9, 2006, Maltais was found hanged in the wardrobe of his bedroom.

Dufour told the court he didn't want to do it, but that he finally gave in because he couldn't handle the pressure and the verbal abuse from his uncle.

"He was harassing me all the time," Dufour testified. "I couldn't take it any more," he added before breaking into tears.

The defence said Dufour was under his uncle's spell and that his limited intellectual capacities prevented him from resisting Maltais' multiple requests to put an end to his life.

Link to the article on Canada.com
http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=1067338

Outdated Prejudices

A recent article in the Ottawa Citizen looks at the issue of equality for people with disabilities in Canada.

The article states:
The Canadian Association for Community Living is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and coinciding with the occasion is the Global Forum for Inclusion to be held in Ottawa next week. The association will release its National Report Card 2008, which uses Statistics Canada data to examine the inclusion of Canadians with intellectual disabilities.

There's a lot to celebrate. People with intellectual disabilities are no longer treated as shameful family secrets. But they are three times more likely to live in poverty than other Canadians. More than 70 per cent of adults with intellectual disabilities are unemployed or out of the labour force.

... It is foolish to judge a person's work ethic, creativity or temperament by his or her facial features, speech patterns or other superficial markers of difference. Disabilities do not inherently prevent people from contributing to society, making decisions about their own lives, or taking pride in their work.

... The most troubling statistic in the report is this one: 47 per cent of Canadians say they are "not very" or "not at all" comfortable being around people with intellectual disabilities.

If that were to change, it's likely that the lives of people with those disabilities would improve overnight. They would find it easier to realize their potential in their social relationships and in their working lives. They would be able to go about their business without pretending to ignore the stares.

The report puts it this way: "Everyone wishes to feel and be safe within our communities. To be able to go about our daily lives, without fear, without prejudice, without being an object of ridicule, discrimination or violence."

Parents of children with disabilities need more than understanding, of course. They need medical support, access to appropriate child care, access to transportation, good teachers and flexible employers. But understanding is more important than anything else. The sight of a child playing happily with others at the neighbourhood park is probably worth more to a parent than any government program could ever be.

Link to the article:
http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/editorials/story.html?id=7a9f8606-0f60-4553-b577-ab442b824488

The leaders of the disability community in Canada oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, because they recognize the social devaluation that exists for many people with disabilities. That social devaluation will lead to the pressure to die, whether subtle or upfront.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Haleigh Poutre Video Shown At Stepfather's Trial

Haleigh Poutre is a young girl who was brain injured from the alleged abuse of her father.

In 2006 it was suggested that Poutre should be dehydrated to death.

Poutre has now testified against her father.

In this video you will see that Haleigh Poutre is feeding herself.

Link to article with video:
http://wbztv.com:80/local/Haleigh.Poutre.right.2.868129.html

This is a link to Wesley Smith's blog entry concerning Haleigh Poutre: http://www.wesleyjsmith.com/blog/2008/11/haleigh-poutre-in-video.html

Germany to compile list of Nazi euthanasia victims

A group of German historians are compiling the names of the victims of the Nazi Euthanasia program to remember the terrible actions in the past.

The article that can be linked to at: http://in.reuters.com:80/article/worldNews/idINIndia-36612220081120?sp=true

The article indicates that at least 100,000 people with disabilities and the incurably ill died in six centres by euthanasia between 1940 - 45 with at least 70,000 people dying between January 1940 to August 1941 alone. These people were referred to as “useless eaters”

Many people are unaware of the historical fact that the T4 Euthanasia Program was the precursor to the ethnic cleansing that took place in the German concentration camps. The methods that were perfected in the mental institutions were exported to the concentration camps.

Link to the website by Mark Mostert entitled: Useless Eaters
http://www.regent.edu/acad/schedu/uselesseaters/

Link to another article on this subject:
http://www.dw-world.de:80/dw/article/0,2144,3811572,00.html

What's in a name? A look at the Dignitas 'clinic'...

This is an article that was published on the Care not Killing website in the UK. It is
http://www.carenotkilling.org.uk/?show=590

One of the most depressing aspects of the current furore being stirred up in the media by the pro-euthanasia lobby is the misuse of language. Take, for instance, the Dignitas suicide facility in Switzerland, which is constantly referred to as a 'clinic'. Roger Boyes, in a thoughtful article in The Times, has tried to nail this one: the term 'clinic', he says, 'conjures images of crisp Swiss efficiency, mountain air, a kind of peace'.

'The reality', observes Mr Boyes, 'is rather more shabby. While the organisation maintains a solid air-conditioned head office in a dormitory suburb of Zurich, the location of the assisted suicides is constantly changing. The present address is a second-floor apartment at Ifagstrasse No 12, an urban wasteland about 15 km (9 miles) from Zurich. Down the road is the Globe brothel, which is garlanded with a dozen flags representing the different nationalities of the girls inside. Near by, a Caribbean club, a Greek internet café and, next to the suicide apartment, a place where you can change your car oil'.

Another example is to be found in references to the defeat of the last 'assisted dying' bill in Parliament. We are frequently told that the bill was 'blocked' by the House of Lords. It wasn't: having been debated for eight hours on the floor of the House, it was defeated by a substantial margin (148 to 100 votes). We are told that assisted dying involves doctors giving 'medication' to patients to enable them to commit suicide. Like the word 'clinic', 'medication' has an aura of professionalism and comfort about it. But it's not 'medication' at all – it's a lethal overdose!

Of course, the very term 'assisted dying' is itself a classic example of this process of obfuscation. It has replaced 'euthanasia', which was itself originally a euphemism but has now acquired something of a bad name; and in the same way, what was until 2006 the Voluntary Euthanasia Society has now re-branded itself as 'Dignity in Dying'.

There is an old saying that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. That ought to make us wary when we hear some of the sanitised and comforting phraseology emanating from the pro-euthanasia lobby. There is a need to recognise their product for what it is and not be taken in by new packaging.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Assisted Suicide takes centre stage in Quebec court room

The Canadian Press is reporting that the Stephan Dufour (30) case will begin in Alma Quebec on Tuesday, November 25, 2008.

Dufour is charged with assisting his uncle Chantal Maltais (49) to commit suicide in September 2006.

Dufour was acting as a home care worker for his uncle Maltais. Maltais had attempted to commit suicide on several occasions. Maltais died by hanging himself to death.

Michel Boudreault, the lawyer for Dufour, has requested a trial by jury with the hope of convincing the jury to find Dufour not guilty.

The Canadian Press article quoted legal expert, Jocelyn Downie, a law professor at the Dalhousie Law School in Halifax and the Canada Research Chair for Health, Law and Ethics who stated:
“We tend not to see the full extent of the Criminal Code brought to bear on to anybody.(This case) doesn’t create a precedent that impacts across the country, but it could fit into a broader pattern.”
The Right to Die Society of Canada’s Ruth von Fuchs told the Canadian Press that:
Quebec has always been a hot zone for debate, pointing to Bloc MP Francine Lalonde. She plans to reintroduce a bill which would amend the Criminal Code to allow, under specific conditions, seriously ill people to end their lives.

“Quebec is one of the leaders in this whole area. When polls are taken, the support for aid in dying is strongest in Quebec.”
I was quoted by the Canadian Press this way:
says surveys his group (EPC) has conducted show the Canadian public tends to waffle on the issue.

“The Canadian people are not hardened on the issue. This is an important case, I’d like to see where it goes and the decision . . . will affect all other future cases.”
There is not a lot of information available about this case. We will learn most of the facts during the trial.

A few weeks ago when the Francine Lalonde - Bloc MP spoke to the World Federation of Right to Die Societies conference in Paris France, she alluded to the court cases that she expects to see in Quebec.

EPC is really interested in how the defense lawyer sets up the case and how the crown prosecutes the case. We find that these cases are often defended by the Crown in a less than perfect manner, probably because their is very little legal precedent in this area.

The one case that was decided well was the case of Dr. Maurice Genereaux, the Toronto physician who prescribed a lethal cocktail for two men who were HIV positive. One man died, while the other survived.

We will be following this case closely.

Link to the Canadian Press article:
http://www.google.com:80/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5jMe4UIrb6cikHoxncBH9qsxNyjwQ

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lauren Richardson is going home next month

An article from the Associated Press - November 20, 2008 recounts the case of Lauren Richardson, the 24 year old woman who was in the center of a dispute between her parents over her guardianship and the removal of her fluids and food to cause her death by dehydration.

The judge issued an order last week granting Richardson and Towers joint guardianship and closing the case.

Randy Richardson told AP that his daughter, who is currently at a nursing home near New Castle, will be transferred to his home in Elkton, Md., next month.

Richardson said "When we told her she was coming home, ... she started crying and sobbing,"

The article explained that Earlier this year, Richardson challenged a Chancery Court judge's decision awarding Lauren's mother, Edith Towers, sole guardianship and authority to remove Lauren's feeding tube.

Towers commented that she hoped she never would have had to make the agonizing decision to remove the feeding tube, but she simply wanted her daughter to receive hospice care and be allowed to die a natural death.

Towers said "I said in court I don't want to have to pull Lauren's feeding tube,"

Towers had been assured by doctors that her daughter would never recover.

The article explained that Lauren Richardson was a high school honors student who wanted to become an English teacher. She had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a young teenager. Later, she began using heroin to escape violent mood swings. Lauren has been disabled since suffering a heroin overdose, while pregnant in 2006.

Lauren gave birth to her daughter in February 2007 while being maintained by a ventilator. After the birth, doctors discovered that Lauren could breathe on her own. Since then she has only required fluids and food to be provided through a tube.

Lauren is cognitively disabled but not dying of any medical condition. If Lauren's tube had been removed she would have died from euthanasia by dehydration, the same way that Terri Schiavo died.

Towers explained that she and Richardson, who divorced when their daughter was an infant, got conflicting medical evidence from doctors, who at one point declared Lauren to be brain dead.

Towers said that she sought sole guardianship upon the advice of a doctor after Lauren, who had been under hospice care at the nursing home after giving birth, was taken back to the hospital for further treatment.

Towers explained that she began having doubts about the lawsuit as more information became available in court documents and in postings from family members on a Web site that the Richardson set up. The turning point came this summer, when she and Richardson's wife began talking about Lauren's young daughter, and how she would respond to the questions that her grand daughter was bound to ask about how the family had cared for her mother.

Towers said "I pictured my little granddaughter asking me those questions, and I said 'That's it, we will try everything before we give up,'"

The article explained that Towers decided in August to drop the lawsuit and joined her ex-husband and other family members in visiting Lauren in September.

Towers said "Lauren, it's mom and dad and we've just come out of a meeting and you're going home ... Would you like that?" She then spent a few minutes alone with Lauren, who started sobbing.

Towers said "We want to see what we can do for her; if there's anything we can do for her. I can't wait to see how she reacts when she gets home."

Randy Richardson said his daughter is not comatose but is in a state of minimal consciousness. She responds to stimuli and can express emotions, is aware of her surroundings, has full movement of her limbs, and tries to sit up.

Richardson said "She's come a long way in the last 30 days ... We have hope,"

Link to the Associated Press article:
http://www.hometownannapolis.com:80/cgi-bin/read/2008/11_20-09/REG

For more information go to:
http://www.lifeforlauren.org

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dr. Diane Meier interviewed about why she opposes assisted suicide.

Diane E. Meier, MD, director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care in New York, a professor of geriatrics and internal medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the school’s Catherine Gaisman Professor of Medical Ethics, talked to HemOnc Today about the difficulty in diagnosing depression in terminally ill patients, her reasons for switching sides in the assisted suicide debate and overlooked issues in medical ethics.

Meier responds to the underdiagnoses of depression as being a factor for assisted suicide by referring to the recent Ganzini et al. study on depression and assisted suicide in Oregon:
It is tough to measure the presence of clinical depression in people who are seriously ill. The usual diagnostic tools we use to detect major depression are things like weight loss, change in appetite, or change in sleep patterns, all of which are affected by the illness the person is living with. ...Then the criteria that we have to use to identify serious depression in the seriously ill are narrower, such as things like a sense of hopelessness, guilt, rumination or inability to take any pleasure in life. You can see how those are more subjective than things like having lost 10 lb and not eating and not being able to sleep. Nonetheless, those are the criteria that we have to use in this particular medically ill patient population. So the fact that 15 patients met criteria for depression and 13 met criteria for anxiety, (Ganzini study) in a way, you have to be surprised that it wasn’t all of the patients given how inclusive the criteria were. ...

Meier was then asked - Is it possible to be clinically depressed, but still make a rational decision to die? Meier responded:
That is where there is a lot of debate in the field and I don’t think there is a right answer. Many people on either side feel very strongly about their position. ...

My view as a clinician would be that if a patient approached me — and it’s not legal in New York — for help in dying and I identified signs or symptoms of depression, I would not even consider assisting them and would strongly encourage them, bordering on insisting, that they accept treatment. And I would usually offer a combination of psychopharmacology and psychotherapy or counseling.

Meier was then asked - Does it make a difference if they’re depressed and making this decision? They’re already terminally ill. ...Meier responded:
... every one of us is going to die and we don’t know when. But there are major risks to helping people ...whose problems can be addressed with tools within our reach, established and safe psychopharmacology or effective and safe counseling methods. To assist people to hasten their death in that circumstance smacks of … almost an indifference to the genuine needs of patients. Particularly in an environment of intense cost-containment pressures and an intense financial crisis in health care, anything that makes it easy to stop taking care of someone whose problems are challenging and might be expensive to address, such as depression and psychotherapy for depression …
Yes, it is a lot easier and faster to help them kill themselves but it is absolutely wrong. Our job as physicians is to convey to our patients that their life is precious to us as physicians. How will patients ever trust us and be persuaded that our goal is to do our best by them if we are convinced during periods of depression that their life is no longer worth living?

She was then asked about her change in position, from supporting assisted suicide to opposing assisted suicide. Meier said:
I was younger and less experienced when I was an advocate of legalization and thought about it primarily as a medical ethical issue: that is, the rights of individuals to self-termination. The more experience I had as a physician taking care of very sick, fragile people with multiple illness who had all kinds of physical and emotional symptoms, all kinds of stress on their families, all kinds of financial challenges, it became clearer and clearer to me that it was impossible to meet the criteria for assisted suicide. ...

You have to make public policy based on your average doctor and your below average doctor, because not every doctor is way above average and yet this policy applies to every physician in Oregon and Washington now, many of whom are not adequately trained nor sophisticated enough to handle the nuances of this request, nor to identify and treat depression. We are notoriously bad as a profession at identifying and treating depression.

Meier was then asked if she would forsee a day when the instruments did exist to make determinations for assisted suicide? She said:
I do not know if I can answer that. Public policy is a fairly blunt instrument — it has to apply to the entire bell curve of patients and their physicians. ...I’m not sure I could ever foresee a time when every physician could go through this complex differential diagnosis when a patient approached them for aid in dying. That makes me very nervous because this an extremely vulnerable, extremely costly patient population.

Meier concludes her interview by stating:
... I feel that the harm to trust of the public in the medical profession is potentially enormous if doctors begin to take a routine role, whether it’s a separate specialty group or all doctors who take care of seriously ill patients, that you cannot always trust doctors to be on the side of your life. That might be too big of a price to pay.

The other point I should make is that it is a tiny, tiny fraction of people dying in Oregon who either seek a prescription or use it. We ought to remember where the really big ethical issues are in health care in this country. It is about access to care. It is about equity. It is about quality. It is not about a right to assisted suicide. Sometimes I get frustrated that this seems to be a sexy topic, but in the big picture it is not an important topic. The important topic is making sure everyone has access to decent health care. I wonder why that is not what we’re writing about all the time as opposed to something that is relevant to a minute fraction of people with serious illness in the United States. We are counting angels on the head of a pin while the ship is sinking.

The importance of the Meier interview is that Meier puts the experience of caring for the terminally ill and the frail into the light of the person. She is caring for people who are not just physical beings. These are complicated decisions and to add assisted suicide to the mix of medical care will result in a weaker and less caring medical system.

Link to the interview with Dr. Diane Meier in Hem Onc Today:
http://www.hemonctoday.com:80/article.aspx?rid=32922

Objections to Assisted Suicide are based on concerns over medical integrity

A response to Sir Lord Joffe by Baroness Finlay of Llandoff was printed in the Times of London today.

Baroness Finlay is challenging Joffe who was essentially stating that opposition to Assisted Suicide is essentially based on faith.

Finlay states in her letter:
Most of the medical profession (including the medical royal colleges and the BMA) object to physician-assisted suicide. These are not faith-based objections. They are concerned about the dangers to the integrity of medical ethics and to the safety of their patients. They know how easily people who are ill can feel they are a burden, and how ending life can become an easy option for the clinician. Opposition to assisted dying comes from a wide spectrum of opinion, within Parliament and in society as a whole.

Finlay then challenges Joffe to come clean on the facts of his own legislative proposals. She states:
Lord Joffe denies his safeguards are “paper-thin”, yet recent research from Oregon reveals that as many as one in six people who commit suicide with the help of their doctors is suffering from treatable but undetected depression. Also, the prognosis of a disease is notoriously unreliable — all too often patients are told they only have a few months to live, yet are alive months or even years later. As clinicians we are occasionally taken in by an apparently loving family, only to discover the real truth much later. Even when we know a patient well, it is difficult to be sure that an expressed wish for assisted suicide does not stem from undisclosed pressures, such as feelings of guilt at being a burden on the family. Lord Joffe talks of psychiatric assessment. But his last Bill would not have made this mandatory, and in Oregon only one in ten of those whose suicide was physician-assisted in the past ten years had been referred.

In fact, in 2007, of the 49 people who died by assisted suicide in Oregon none of them were referred for a psychiatric or psychological assessment even though the Ganzini study showed that 17% of those who died by assisted suicide were depressed.

Finlay then challenges Joffe's assertion that assisted suicide should be legal because it happens already. She states:
Lord Joffe quotes a Brunel University study as stating that an estimated 0.16 per cent of deaths in Britain are attributable to deaths caused by doctors breaking the law. What he omits is Brunel’s conclusion that the incidence of illegal action by doctors in the UK is “extremely low” and that “most of the doctors in the survey appear happy with the state of the UK law”. He omits also another crucial conclusion — that, so far as the UK is concerned, the argument that changing the law is necessary in order to regulate involuntary euthanasia cannot be sustained.

Finlay then concludes her letter by challenging Joffe open up the debate about assisted suicide by stating:
Lord Joffe says he wants “calm and rational debate” without inaccuracies. I agree wholeheartedly. Those who want to legalise assisted suicide should be open with their proposals rather than wrap them up, as now, in comforting “end-of-life care” or “dying with dignity” packages. They should present it for what it is — aiding and abetting suicide — rather than try to pretend it is something more comforting.


Good for Baroness Finlay of Llandoff. The reality is that we do not know what is actually happening in Oregon because the death lobby has controlled the information by being directly involved in 73% of all assisted suicide deaths and because the only information that is gathered by the reporting procedure is from the physicians who prescribed assisted suicide to the person who is now dead.

I ask the question. Will a physician self-report an incidence that represents an abuse of the statute in Oregon?

The reality is that assisted suicide is a threat to the lives of people at the most vulnerable time of their life and just because the statistics show that most of the people who have died by assisted suicide are wealthy, does not negate the question, did they want to die or did they feel like they had a duty to die?

Link to the comment by Baroness Finlay of Llandoff
http://www.timesonline.co.uk:80/tol/comment/letters/article5191546.ece

Mother agrees to let Lauren Richardson live.

Lauren Richardson is a 24 year old woman who lives in Deleware who suffered a severe brain injury in August 2006.

Richardson was pregnant at the time of her brain injury, but successfully delivered a child in February 2007.

Richardson's mother (Edith Towers), who was Lauren's legal guardian, had petitioned the court to have the food and fluids that she was receiving by a tube removed. This would have resulted in a death by dehydration, in the same way as Terri Schiavo died.

Randy Richardson, Lauren's father, had asked the courts to grant him guardianship over Lauren to enable him and his family to continue to care for her.

Alliance Defense Fund attorney's negotiated a settlement over the care of Lauren.

Richardson's mother has apparently changed her position based on - religious conviction and heartfelt interaction with her ex-husband’s family. She has - decided to join cooperatively with Randy Richardson to care for their daughter and to drop her court request to remove her daughters fluids and food.

A media release from the Alliance Defense Fund stated that:
The parents agreed to settle the case, to share joint guardianship of their daughter, and to cooperate in caring for her at Randy Richardson’s Maryland home. Lauren Richardson wept emotionally when her mother informed her of the settlement and the reconciliation of her parents, confirming to the mother that her daughter was aware and responsive. Both parents and their families continue to interact with her daily.

In the media release, Legal Counsel Matt Bowman stated that:
"This change of heart and settlement has profoundly affected everyone involved. The miracle of life is not something that should be taken lightly."

This is a very important case. By providing care for Lauren, Lauren's parents have come to agreement, they have reconciled their relationship and Lauren will be able to be cared for at home.

A tragedy has been averted. This was done because Lauren's father loved his daughter enough, that he was willing to put his life aside and fight for her life. He provided care for her resulting in a significant recovery for Lauren.

Caring not Killing is the answer.

Contact the Alliance Defense Fund at: http://www.telladf.org/

For more information go to: http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/news/story.aspx?cid=4754

Link to a previous article about Lauren Richardson:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/07/good-delaware-didnt-learn-lesson-of.html

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Honolulu Star Bulletin newspaper editorial calls for Hawaii to become the third state to legalize assisted suicide.

The Honolulu Star Bulletin is suggesting that Hawaii should follow through on the recommendations by a blue-ribbon panel in 1998 that had advised the then Gov. Ben Cayetano to legalize assisted suicide in Hawaii.

Since then their were several attempts to legalize assisted suicide in their state.

In 2002, a bill resembling the “Oregon law” was approved in the Hawaii House but defeated by 3 votes in the Senate.

In last year’s Legislature a bill to legalize assisted suicide was rejected by a 6 - 1 vote by the House Health Committee.

Even though the current chair of the House Health committee Rep. Dr. Josh Green, led the opposition to assisted suicide last year, the Honolulu Star is still proposing that Hawaii be the next state to legalize assisted suicide.

We think they are wrong.

Link to the editorial in the Honolulu Star Bulletin:
http://www.starbulletin.com/editorials/20081112_Legislators_should_reconsider_Death_with_Dignity_proposal.html

New 10 in San Diego Tracks 'Suicide Drug' in Mexico

News 10, a television station news program in San Diego has tracked the sale of 'suicide drugs' in Tijuana Mexico.

The 10News I-Team went undercover to try and find the drug by following the instructions in Philip Nitschke, Australia's Dr. Death, 'Peaceful Pill' handbook. Nitschke is the leader of the euthanasia lobby group, Exit International.

The online article stated that the I-Team learned that Mexican authorities are cracking down on the sale of Nembutal, a veterinary drug used to euthanize animals, due to the adverse publicity related to a few high profile deaths.

The article then stated that the undercover I-Team unsuccessfully tried four different pharmacies in Tijuana, but they were successful in one pharmacy where they were able to obtain the veterinary drug under a different brand name and with no prescription. The price for the lethal drug was $40.

The I-Team were unable to keep the lethal veterinary drug due to a malfunction in their hidden camera that was spotted by the pharmacy owner who suddenly told them that the drug was no longer available.

The article explains that the I-Team continued travelling south to Rosario where they attempted to purchase Nembutal from a veterinarian's office. They were told that the government is cracking down and that they would require a note from a doctor (probably a veterinarian).

The I-Team also interviewed Faye Girsh, a leader of the San Diego Hemlock Society, a leading euthanasia lobby group in California.

Girsh told the I-Team:
drinking this drug, Nembutal, is "much better then shooting your head off or jumping form a building or in front a train."

Girsh also told the I-Team:
she does have her own stash of Nembutal to use if and when the time comes. She didn't go down to Mexico to get it herself, someone got it for her, and she has great sympathy for those who take that risk.

Girsh did tell the I-Team that:
she doesn't agree with is traveling to Mexico to buy this drug since it is illegal to bring back to the U.S.
Paula Goodman-Cruz, the medical bioethics director from Kaiser Permanente, told the I-Team:
Sympathy is one thing, but no one but doctors should have access to that drug.

It's not only illegal but also unethical. The solution is better end-of-life care.

She says less pain and more comfort could prevent people from risking their lives south of the border for the ability to end their lives at home.

Once again, the euthanasia lobby refuses to recognize how their promotion of suicide methods and drugs are irresponsibly causing vulnerable people to seek death.

Even Faye Girsh has a stash of illegal drug hidden for a future possible use.

I need to ask the question. What is it with the euthanasia lobby that makes them so obsessed with death that they feel the need to assist people, in all and every medical condition, to kill themselves or they seek to kill themselves, at some unforseen time in the future.

We need a society that cares for people, not kills them.

Link to 10News.com in San Diego:
http://www.10news.com/investigations/17976535/detail.html

Link to a previous blog entry concerning the Mexican crack down on Nembutal:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/10/beware-of-mexico-drug-risks-and-rip.html

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Landscape Evolves for Assisted Suicide

An article written by Jane Gross and published in the New York Times examines the landscape or the changes in relation to the issue of assisted suicide since 1991 when Dr. Timothy Quill published an account of his role in the death of one of his patients.

The article makes some very interesting points that need to be examined further if we are to effectively respond to future initiatives to legalize assisted suicide.

The article describes the conditions for assisted suicide in Oregon and in the Washington statute. The article states:
State residents requesting this assistance must be mentally competent, have six months or less to live according to two physicians, wait 15 days after their request and then repeat that request orally and in writing. They must be capable of administering medication themselves and agree to counseling if their physicians request it. The patients also must be told of alternatives.

Dr. Timothy Quill, who is the director of the palliative care program at the University of Rochester then states:
these options have gained acceptance over the past decade.

The article then comments on the 1997 Supreme Court Decision:
In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that there was no constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide and upheld a prohibition against it. But in the ruling, the justices conceded that terminally ill patients were entitled to aggressive pain management, even if opiates or barbiturates had the “double effect” of hastening death.

This statement concerning the "double effect" principle is inappropriately worded because the use of opiates or barbituates for the aggressive management of pain when it is not intended to cause death, and therefore when properly administered, should not be associated with assisted suicide. A physician should not consider the "double effect" principle as an open window to euthanasia because that is an abuse of its proper use.

The article then quotes Quill concerning that options that should exist before one considers the "last resort" of assisted suicide. He states:
First and foremost, Dr. Quill and others say, all terminally ill patients should have access to palliative care, both to relieve pain and other symptoms and to provide emotional support to patients and families.

This statement begs the question, that is, when palliative care is not accessible for all people needing pain and symptom management, then is assisted suicide represents an abuse of the vulnerable person who is not actually seeking assisted suicide but rather relief from their suffering.

Quill recommends that a palliative care consultation be mandatory before anyone considers a "last resort" measure.

Quill suggests that other options be made known to the patient.
Pain management so aggressive that it may well hasten death, although that is not the primary intention. (This is the doctrine of “double effect.”)

Invoking a patient’s right to forgo life-sustaining therapies or discontinue them.

Voluntarily stopping eating and drinking. (Dr. Quill believes this is a “more morally complex” choice because over the last decade the practice has expanded beyond those with end-stage cancer or Alzheimer’s disease — who often lose interest in food or forget how to eat and drink — to people who are not “actively dying” but nevertheless have had enough of disability or dependence).

Sedation to the point of unconsciousness. (Although it was endorsed this year by a panel of the American Medical Association, Dr. Quill called it the “last, last resort.”)

Quill should acknowledge that people who voluntarily stop eating or drinking when they are not "actively dying" are often people who are suffering from undiagnosed clinical depression. Physicians should uphold a pledge that they will "do no harm" which should include protecting the vulnerable.

The primary concern around the sedation of a person to the point of unconsciousness is that usually sedation is done to intentional dehydrate of the person. It is sometimes necessary to sedate a person to the point of unconsciousness in order to relieve their neuropathic pain, but to intentionally dehydrate a person, who is not otherwise dying, is euthanasia by dehydration.

The article is correct when it states that the landscape has changed in relation to assisted suicide. What has not changed is the effect assisted suicide has on the attitude and treatment that is offered to people at the most vulnerable time of their life.

The question whether we need to strive for a culture that solves its difficult human problems by caring for the patient or a culure that solves its most difficult human problems by killing the patient?

I choose to care.

Link to the article on the New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/11/health/11age.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Monday, November 10, 2008

Washington State moves to implement assisted suicide law

There are a few very important issues that are very concerning from this article about Washington State's plans to implement assisted suicide law.

First, the article states:
Washington is now the second state in the nation to have such a law, and officials may look to neighboring Oregon for a blueprint.

The State of Oregon has imposed a "closed" style of reporting, whereby the physician who prescribes assisted suicide fills out the report. This is a form of self reporting that doesn't ensure that accurate information is reported. There is no "third party" review of the reports and no investigations.

This form of reporting provides no "safe-guard" for the person who may be seeking assisted suicide.

Second, the article states:
Department of Health spokesman Tim Church said it won't have to create a new office or section within the agency. Under the measure, any health care provider writing a prescription or dispensing medication must file a copy of the record with the Health Department, which is required to create an annual statistical report on how the law is used.

Once again, this style of reporting does not provide any protection for the person who is receiving a prescription for assisted suicide. If the physician knows that the person is experiencing dementia and incapable of deciding for themselves, but decides to provide a prescription for lethal drugs anyway, there is no way for the authorities to know about this under this system.

Third, Anne Martens, the spokesperson for the right to die lobby stated:
"I don't anticipate any legislative tinkering, but you can never rule that out," she said. "The law as written is identical to the law that's been working in Oregon. We don't see any need to change any part of it."

I have already pointed out the lack of effective safeguards in Oregon, I hope Washington State will tinker with the rules.

It is also important to note that 73% of all assisted suicide deaths in Oregon are in some way facilitated by the Compassion & Choices lobby group. Therefore the group that is in favor of assisted suicide is also the group that is carrying it out.

How will we ever be able to prevent abuses when the fox is running the hen house. This should not happen in Washington State.

Fourth, Eileen Geller from the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide have indicated that they don't plan to be part of the implementation process. Eileen stated:
"We do not concede that Initiative 1000 is a law in this state, Right now for us every option is on the table. Legal is one of them."

Whereas I agree with Eileen that every option is on the table, I also recognize that if the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide is not part of the process for establishing the rules to operate the law that the end result will be a bad law with many abuses.

Just because assisted suicide is wrong and will result in the deaths of many vulnerable people, etc, that doesn't mean that we should not attempt to mitigate the evil by becoming part of the implementation committee.

Fifth, Jennifer Hunscom, the spokesperson for the Washington State Medical Association stated:
the organization has already started educating its more than 9,600 physicians about the new law. Information is on the group's Web site, and a newsletter was being sent to members.

Since the Washington State Medical Association continues to oppose physician assisted suicide as an act which is not an act for physicians to participate, therefore they should simply say - The Washington State Medical Association considers participation in assisted suicide to be against our code of ethics.

Physicians in Washington State should simply say no to assisted suicide.

Doctors are trained to heal and to care for their patients, not kill their patients.

Link to article in the Komo TV news:
http://www.komonews.com/news/34055014.html

Sunday, November 9, 2008

German politician offers to assist the suicides of UK residents

Roger Kusch, a former politician was reported in the Sunday Mercury paper as stating that he has been contacted by people in the UK and he is willing to assist their suicides.

Kusch, said that he wanted Germany to replace Switzerland as the destination of choice for Death Tourism from the UK.

Speaking through an interpreter, Kusch said:
“In fact people from Britain have made most of all the inquiries we received from foreign countries.

“And I will go on in assisting people to commit suicide and talk about it.”
Kusch made world-wide headlines last April when he displayed his suicide machine which is a modified perfusor, which is a machine normally used to inject medication over a long period of time. He modified the perfusor by installing a button to allow his suicide victim to start the machine.

Dr. Peter Saunders from the Care Not Killing Alliance in the UK responded to Kusch by stating:
"This guy sounds like Dr Death.

He should be caring for people, not killing them.

In my experience a request for suicide is always a request for help.

Doctors working in palliative care for their whole career will tell you that they come across patients who want to commit suicide.

But once their basic needs are taken care of they could count the number of people who want to go through with it using the fingers on one hand.

In my career as a surgeon I only had two requests and both patients changed their minds once we responded to their own particular needs.

What people need to remember is that in the last five years just over 100 people have gone to Dignitas to die, but in that same time period over 3 million people have died of natural causes.

So no matter what people like Kusch argue, the demand is actually very small indeed.

For example take the case of Dan James. There are over 20,000 tetraplegics in Britain but the vast majority want the help to live, not to die.

I think he (Kusch) is profoundly misguided and is only increasing the risk that vulnerable people will be abused and exploited.

There is a reason assisted suicide is illegal in most of the world, and that is to protect people and increase public safety.

We at Care Not Killing believe that the answer does not lie in suicide but in improving the care for people in the first place.”
Kusch is very clear about his long term goals. He stated:
“We are fighting for the sovereign right of any person to die in dignity.”
Once again, euthanasia and assisted suicide is not about terminal illness, or physical suffering, but rather a univeral right to die for any person who is tired of living.

There have been a number of Private Members Bills related to this issue in recent years (including the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill) and the Government’s stance has been to remain neutral and to listen to the debate.

Link to the article in the Sunday Mercury:
http://www.sundaymercury.net/news/midlands-news/2008/11/08/german-medic-wants-to-help-midlanders-die-66331-22212718/

Link to previous article about Roger Kusch:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/04/suicide-machine-sparks-outrage.html

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