Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Angel of Death and her Supervisor

Two nurses were indicted in April for causing the death of five patients at the McHenry County Nursing Home in 2006 in Woodstock Illinois.

From the article in the Chicago Tribune:
Marty Himebaugh, a Lake in the Hills resident and a licensed practical nurse, was charged with four counts of criminal neglect of a long-term care resident, one count of obtaining morphine by fraud, and one count of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance.

Penny Whitlock, a former director of nursing at the facility and a Woodstock city resident, was charged with five counts of criminal neglect of a long-term care resident and two counts of obstructing justice.

Both women have pleaded not guilty in McHenry County Circuit Court.

The Chicago Tribune article also stated:
A supervisor allegedly told a nurse, "I do not care if you play the angel of death, just don't let me know about it," the report says.

"She won't make it through the day," the report says the nurse told a co-worker, referring to a restless patient. "I made sure of that."

The Department of Public Health report also refers to a 56-year-old man with Down syndrome who died in April 2006 and quotes a nurse telling a co-worker: "Those people aren't meant to live that long. They are meant to die in their teens and I'm going to help him along."

Chicago Tribune article:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-nurse-deaths-web-26-sep26,0,6187039.story

At the time that the indictments were announced, prosecutors said they did not believe there was enough evidence to prove that any of the patients were killed.

Dick Sobsey, director of the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre, Dobsey stated in his blog:
In my opinion, if the statements made by these nurses can be verified, the nurse who is alleged to have killed these patients should be charged with attempted murder or murder or both. If it can be shown that the medication overdoses cuased the death, the charge should be murder. If, as is often the case for debilitated patients, the overdose cannot be shown to be the cause of death, the charge should be attempted murder.

Link to Dick Sobsey's blog comment:
http://icad.wordpress.com:80/2008/09/30/angel-of-death-and-her-supervisor/

Initiative 1000 Opponents Debut Actor Martin Sheen in Commercials

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 29, 2008

Olympia---Today, the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide announced it has started a $750,000 broadcast advertising campaign, featuring actor Martin Sheen. Sheen agreed to help publicize the dangers of Initiative 1000, the assisted suicide measure on the November ballot in Washington State.

"Martin Sheen is an outstanding actor and a person of impeccable integrity. His tireless efforts to help low income people across the country and his concern for vulnerable populations have earned him the reputation of a man who is compassionate and walks his talk," said Coalition Chair, Chris Carlson. "We are happy to add his distinguished voice to the growing chorus of people opposed to assisted suicide being legalized in Washington."

Carlson reported radio ads are beginning today (Monday, September 29), with television ads to begin on October 1st in the Seattle, Spokane, Yakima and Tri-Cities markets.

For his part, Sheen was eager to make a statement against assisted suicide.

"I try to work when I'm not on the screen to help improve conditions for the most vulnerable people in our country -- low wage workers, immigrants, the disabled and the poor," Sheen said. "We have a health care system where the more money you have, the better medical care you receive. Initiative 1000 is a dangerous idea -- because so many people do not have the money necessary to get the care they need. When I heard about Initiative 1000, I wanted to help stop it before it harms people who are at risk."

"Assisted suicide and a for-profit health care system are a lethal mixture," Carlson said. "As a society, we should be focusing more on creating safe harbors for people truly in need at the end of their life, not providing quick fixes like suicide." He added, "In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, some cancer patients have already been denied treatment and steered towards assisted suicide."

"The proponents have often suggested that assisted suicide is favored by good Democrats, liberals and progressives but that's just not the case," Carlson said. "I'm a Democrat, Martin Sheen is a Democrat, and many people opposed to I-1000 are progressives —- and that's why we're opposed; we don't want vulnerable people harmed, nor do we believe doctors should be asked to encourage people to end their lives prematurely."

Sheen is best known for his Emmy-award winning role in the drama "West Wing" where he played a Democratic president, and for many movie roles including "Apocalypse Now," "The American President," and "The Departed."

"It is absolutely crucial that voters understand the very real implications of I-1000. Most people in Washington don't even know that I-1000 is on the ballot this November, and ballots will be mailed in the next three weeks. Martin Sheen is a man of intelligence, integrity, character, and compassion, and we are grateful that he is lending his support to the effort to educate the public now about why Initiative 1000 is a truly flawed initiative and a dangerous social policy," said Eileen Geller, R.N., B.S.N., the Coalition's campaign coordinator.

According to Geller, the ads point out some of the little known, major flaws of the proposed law:

* Spouses and family members do not need to be told before — or after — a loved one is given lethal drugs.
* Persons suffering from depression can be given a lethal overdose without any psychological counseling or treatment — nothing in the Initiative requires an assessment of potential depression by a qualified professional.
* Health care insurers and HMO's could exploit I-1000 to save costs, since a bottle of lethal drugs costs far less than other end-of-life care.
* Heirs to a patient’s estate are allowed to participate in the assisted suicide and to witness the request for lethal drugs. This would contravene existing practice governing wills and estates, a scenario that worries law enforcement because of the real potential for abuse.
Geller noted that the Coalition Against Assisted suicide is working hard to raise more money to fund an even larger media buy, but the Coalition still expects to be outspent at least three-to-one by proponents of physician assisted suicide.

Copies of the ads can be found at www.noassistedsuicide.com/ads.html

Monday, September 29, 2008

Do the Demented Have a Duty to Die?

Last week the famous UK ethicist, Lady Warnock, stated to a Church of Scotland that people who have dementia/alzheimer's disease have a duty to die.

Ken Connor, the chairman of the board for the Center for a Just Society, wrote an excellent, Christian response to Lady Warnock's idea of the "Duty to Die".

Please link to his article. It is worth reading.

Link to the article by Ken Connor:
http://www.centerforajustsociety.org/press/article.asp?pr=3956

Nobody has a duty to die.

The title of this article would appear to come from a person who opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide. But rather it comes from the Right to Die lobby who are busy doing damage control after Lady Warnock, the esteemed British ethicist stated that people with dementia had a duty to die.

Warnock stated in an article in the Church of Scotland Magazine - Life and Work:
"I'm absolutely, fully in agreement with the argument that if pain is insufferable, then someone should be given help to die, but I feel there's a wider argument that if somebody absolutely, desperately wants to die because they're a burden to their family, or the state, then I think they too should be allowed to die."

Sarah Wootten, a leader of the Dying in Dignity euthanasia lobby group tries to distance herself from Warnock's comments by stating:
"Baroness Warnock is right on her first point. Terminally ill adults in unbearable suffering should be able to choose when and where they die, within strict legal safeguards. However, she is very wrong on her second point - absolutely no one has a duty to die."

Wootten leaves out of her article Warnock's strongest comments which were:
"If you've an advance directive, appointing someone else to act on your behalf, if you become incapacitated, then I think there is a hope that your advocate may say that you would not wish to live in this condition so please try to help her die."

In other words, even if you are incapable of making the decision, someone else should be allowed to make the decision to end your life. Therefore the "duty to die" should also be a "duty to kill"

Link to blog entry concerning Lady Warnock's comments:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/09/dementia-sufferers-may-have-duty-to-die.html

Wootten further distances herself from Warnock's comments by stating:
"Of course, some will disagree - those who seek to impose their own beliefs on others and those who do not think we go far enough (read in Warnock). However, Dying in Dignity's position is clear. When even the best end-of-life care cannot allow all terminally ill people to avoid suffering they feel is unbearable, it is sadly inevitable that some of them will resort to traveling abroad to die, botched suicide attempts and "mercy killings". This situation is simply wrong: we need regulation at the end of life that allows choice while protecting vulnerable people."

Link to the article in the Guardian:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/sep/28/socialcare.health
Nicely said Sarah, but where euthanasia is legal and regulated, such as in the Netherlands and Belgium, there are a significant number of cases of abuses and a significant problem with under-reporting of deaths.

In the New England Journal of Medicine study of euthanasia in the Netherlands in 2005 they found that 550 deaths that year in the Netherlands were people who did not request death or indicate any form of consent.

What Wootton and other leaders in the euthanasia lobby tend to ignore is the fact that these decisions cannot be effectively regulated because these are decisions that are made behind closed doors, with family members and medical professionals who have their own personal set of values. Many people believe that an imposed death is the most caring act one can offer for a loved one in their final days.

The only assurance that will ever protect vulnerable people is to always offer the best and most appropriate CARE and to never KILL.

Link to the New England Journal of Medicine article on End-of-life practises in the Netherlands - 2005:
http://content.nejm.org/cgi/reprint/356/19/1957.pdf

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bioethics Blog Defends Warnock's Call for Killing of People with Dementia

Stephen Drake, the masterful research director for Not Dead Yet discovered that the blog for the American Journal of Bioethics featured an entry by Summer Johnson Ph.D., who came out supporting Warnock's call to euthanize people with dementia.

Link to the Not Dead Yet blog:
http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/2008/09/bioethics-blog-defends-warnocks-call.html

On September 19, I reported on this blog that Baroness Warnock(84), a leading ethicist in the UK was suggesting that people with dementia had a duty to die.
Link to my blog entry:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/09/dementia-sufferers-may-have-duty-to-die.html

Many people reacted by thinking these were just a few comments by a demented old woman, but in fact these are mainstream views among the euthanasia lobby who are busy planning for a day where they can obtain the "last-will-pill" or the "peaceful pill" and help mother out-of-her misery.

In case you think that Summer Johnson (pictured above) is possibly another thinker that is part of an extreme fringe, then just look at her bio:
Summer Johnson Ph.D. is the director of the Ethics in Novel Technologies, Research, and Innovation (ENTRI) program of the Alden March Bioethics Institute and a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Medicine. She is also the Director of Graduate Studies at AMBI at Albany Medical School.

Her bio goes on and is very impressive.

Thank you Summer Johnson for proving that Warnock is not alone.

The real question is: What are we going to do about this?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Current day concentration camps

Everytime people complain about their living conditions or how they feel like they have been inappropriately treated, go back and read Ironsides blog posting. You will understand that some people are forced to struggle for everything they have in life.

Link to Ironsides Blog post:
http://ironsidesworldheadquarters.blogspot.com/2008/09/current-day-concentration-camps.html

Oregon Death with Dignity Political Action Fund donating up to $1 million to Washington Yes on 1000 Campaign

Dear Friends:

I have just come across this message (below) from the Oregon Death with Dignity Political Action Fund promising to empty their coffers by matching all further donations to the Yeson1000 campaign in Washington State - up to $1 million. They also elude to the fact that all donations of $5000 or more must be received by October 13.

I wish the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition could make a similar financial commitment, but unlike the euthanasia lobby, we lack the donors with deep pockets.

Nonetheless, you can make a difference. We cannot allow the euthanasia lobby to brainwash the public by running television commercials without a counter-point-of-view.

We absolutely need people and organizations, like yourselves, to give to the Washington Coalition Against Assisted Suicide. I am not a great begger for money but there has never been a more important time, than today, to make a large donation to stop the forward progression of the culture of death.

Just 3 days ago the Oregonian newspaper editorial board (the largest newspaper in Oregon) stated that they are opposed to the I-1000 assisted suicide initiative in Washington State. You can link to the article from the Oregonian by going to my blog at: http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/09/oregonian-editorial-board-opposes.html

If Washington State passes the I-1000 assisted suicide initiative then their will be a wild-fire response of new initiatives to legalize assisted suicide everywhere. Our leaders are already discussing the need to establish coalitions in states throughout the US to organize an effective response to the impending initiatives.

Please give generously to the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide.

Contact them at: Coalition Against Assisted Suicide, P.O. Box 11794, Olympia Washington, 98508, Phone (206) 337-2091 or go to: https://ssl22.pair.com/stshore/contribute_suicide.html

Thank you for your generous response.

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

P.S. Please read the message from The Oregon Death with Dignity Political Action Fund that is reprinted below.


Washington Campaign Enters Final Weeks

The Oregon Death with Dignity Political Action Fund is leading efforts to raise $1M to ensure passage of the Washington Death with Dignity initiative this November.

We are entering the most critical time for the Washington campaign. We are working on the final push to raise enough money to purchase television commercials to counter our opponents' lies in the media.

In every past Death with Dignity campaign, our opponents, including the Catholic Church, have funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in last-minute donations into efforts to defeat us on Election Day. They have used this money to spread scare tactics and lies. In order to win, we have to successfully counter these ads with the truth about I-1000 and our experience with Oregon's Death with Dignity law.

So far, we have experienced phenomenal success. Every piece of the campaign has fallen into place, and we are on the brink of victory on November 4. We exceeded the number of signatures required to be included on the ballot by 100,000. We have three former Washington governors endorsing the Death with Dignity initiative. We have endorsements from nine different editorial boards, including the biggest newspaper in the state. We can see a win!

We are asking you today to meet our challenge of raising $1M for the Washington campaign. The Oregon Death with Dignity Political Action Fund has agreed to empty our coffers and incur a substantial financial loss in order to assure success for this campaign. This campaign is so important to our organization that we are willing to go broke trying to win it!

We originally donated $315,000 in seed money to the campaign. And we are now prepared to contribute an additional $500,000 in matching funds for every donation received by the campaign to reach the $1M goal. Your gift will have double the impact!

Campaign finance laws in Washington state require that all donations over $5,000 be made by October 13. We have very little time. Please show your support today by making a secure, on-line donation directly to the Yes on I-1000 campaign.

The time is now to catapult the Death with Dignity movement forward. The power is yours to make this happen.

Thank you.
Sincerely, All of us at the Oregon Death with Dignity Political Action Fund

New Diagnostic Techniques to Reduce Forty Percent PVS Misdiagnosis

Wesley Smith has written a blog about a report in the Times of London (England) that explained how a new diagnostic technique may reduce the level of misdiagnosis of Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) by 40 percent.

For those who thought that Terri Schiavo was in a PVS state, the question you should ask is: Are You Sure?

I remember a presentation that I heard in March 2004 at the Congress on: Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State that was organized by the Pontifical Academy for Life. The presentation was by the author of a study that concluded that more than 40 percent of people diagnosed as PVS were misdiagnosed.

The presentation effected me because the author of the study explained that in the UK someone can be dehydrated to death if they are diagnosed as PVS. The concern was that the person be properly diagnosed to avoid dehydrating people that could be rehabilitated.

Link to the Blog
http://www.wesleyjsmith.com/blog/2008/09/new-diagnostic-techniques-to-reduce.html

Link to the original article:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk:80/tol/life_and_style/health/article3004892.ece

Link to the Andrews study on misdiagnosis of PVS:
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/313/7048/13

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Oregonian Editorial Board opposes Washington State I-1000 assisted suicide initiative

The Editorial Board for the largest newspaper in Oregon opposes the I-1000 initiative to legalize assisted suicide in Washington State.

The Oregonian Editorial Board states under the headline: Washington state's assisted-suicide measure: Don't go there that

Still, even though Washington's initiative closely parallels Oregon's law, we won't be endorsing it.

Our fundamental objection is the same it has always been -- that's it's wrong to use physicians and pharmacists to hasten patients' deaths.

The Oregonian bases their opposition to the I-1000 assisted suicide initiative on Oregon's mixed experience with assisted suicide. The article states:
On the plus side, the law has not created a tidal wave of assisted suicide since its enactment in 1997. Only 341 (reported) patients, 86 percent of them with terminal cancer, have died under its provisions. More than a third of those who have obtained lethal prescriptions never used them.

It's also true that the law is popular, twice winning voter approval, and that vigorous public debate over it has led to much-improved end-of-life care in Oregon. The state is recognized today as the national leader in providing access to palliative medicine and pain treatment.
(Alex's comment - Oregon is not a leader in palliative care, even though the euthanasia lobby claims that they are)

The Oregon experience, however, has brought similar reform in many other states, including Washington, where most physicians don't want to write prescriptions to hasten patients' deaths. An argument can be made that Oregon's influence has already improved end-of-life care in Washington so much that the new law is not needed
(Alex's comment - There has been an improvement in palliative care throughtout North America. There is no proof that this improvement is related to the Assisted Suicide law in Oregon.)

On the negative side, Oregon's physician-assisted suicide program has not been sufficiently transparent. Essentially, a coterie of insiders run the program, with a handful of doctors and others deciding what the public may know. We're aware of no substantiated abuses, but we'd feel more confident with more sunlight on the program.

The article concluded by stating:
We defended Oregon's right to this law when it was under attack by the Bush administration, and we have taken sharp issue with claims that the worst fears about the program have been borne out. But our basic unease with physician-assisted suicide has not changed, and we cannot exhort Washington voters to take the same path.

Link to the Oregonian Editorial Board position:
http://www.oregonlive.com:80/opinion/index.ssf/2008/09/washington_states_assistedsuic.html

Friday, September 19, 2008

Dementia sufferers may have a 'duty to die'

Baroness Warnock (84), a veteran UK government advisor and one of Britains leading moral philosophers recently stated in a interview with the Church of Scotland's magazine - Life and Work that:
Elderly people suffering from dementia should consider ending their lives because they are a burden on the National Health System (NHS) and their families.

Warnock said:
Pensioners in mental decline are "wasting people's lives" because of the care they require and should be allowed to opt for euthanasia even if they are not in pain.

She insisted that there was "nothing wrong" with people being helped to die for the sake of their loved ones or society.

She hoped people will soon be "licensed to put others down" if they are unable to look after themselves.

The article in the Telegraph stated that:
Recent figures show there are 700,000 people with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's in Britain. By 2026 experts predict there will be one million dementia sufferers in the country, costing the NHS an estimated 35 billion pounds a year.

The article also stated that:
Last year the Mental Capacity Act came into effect (UK) that gives legal force to "living wills", so patients can appoint an "attorney" to tell doctors when their food and water should be removed.

Warnock also stated that:
"I'm absolutely, fully in agreement that if pain is insufferable, then someone should be given help to die, but I feel there's a wider argument that if somebody absolutely, desperately wants to die because they're a burden to their family, or the state, then I think they should be allowed to die."

"Actually I've just written an article called 'A Duty tod Die?' for a Norwegian periodical. I wrote it really suggesting that there's nothing wrong with feeling you ought to do so for the sake of others as well as yourself."

"If you've an advance directive, appointing someone else to act on your behalf, if you become incapacitated, then I think there is a hope that your advocate may say that you would not wish to live in this condition so please try to help her die."

The article quoted Neil Hunt, the chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, who said:
"I am shocked and amazed that Baroness Warnock could disregard the value of the lives of people with dementia so callously.

With the right care, a person can have good quality of life very late in to dementia. To suggest that people with dementia shouldn't be entitled to that quality of life or that they should feel that they have some sort of duty to kill themselves is nothing short of barbaric."

The euthanasia lobby has always sold their goals within the framework of suffering, terminally ill people who make a free choice to die. They are a movement that rarely reveal their real goals.

Dr. Philip Nitschke - Australia's Dr. Death, hopes to distribute a "peaceful pill" that would be available to anyone who is tired of living. Nitschke stated several years agon in an interview with the National Review that the "peaceful pill" would be available to troubled teens.

Previous blog entry:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/05/alleged-suicide-job-shocks-campaigners.html

Dying With Dignity in the Netherlands (NVVE) has made it very clear in their newsletters that their final goal is the "last will pill" that could be taken by anyone who is tired of living.

At the World Federation of Right to Die conference in September 2006 in Toronto, Dr. Rob Jonquiére, the CEO of the NVVE stated that the actions of the radical side of the right to die movement was holding politicians back from supporting the "last will pill".

The NVVE is also working on establishing euthanasia as a human right.

A previous blog entry
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/search/label/Last-will-pill

The next time you are affected by the sales pitch by the euthanasia lobby remember. The end game will be a universal right to die for the competent, a duty to die for the incompetent, and a social pressure on people with disabilities and the elderly to take the "last will/peaceful pill".

The voters in Washington State need to read the comments by Baroness Warnock, Philip Nitscke, the NVVE in the Netherlands and Ludwig Minelli in Switzerland. They need to understand that assisted suicide will not stop with the Initiative 1000 campaign, even Booth Gardner has stated that the I-1000 initiative is only the beginning because voters will not accept more at this time.

Link to the article in the Telegraph:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/news/uknews/2983652/Baroness-Warnock-Dementia-sufferers-may-have-a-duty-to-die.html

Jenning commits suicide rather than go to jail.

Caren Jenning (75) decided that suicide was better than jail.

Jenning had terminal cancer that had spread to her bones.

Dr. Philip Nitscke, the leader of exit international, a group that Jenning belonged to, confirmed that she died on Thursday evening, a death that he stated was inevitable.

Jenning was awaiting sentencing for being an accessory before the fact to the death of Graeme Wylie.

Mr Wylie, 71, died in March 2006 from an overdose of the veterinarian drug Nembutal, which Jenning had illegally imported from Mexico the previous month. The drug was given to him by his partner, Shirley Justins, who was convicted of his manslaughter.

Jenning admitted to travelling to Mexico to obtain the drug.

Supposedly Jenning committed suicide by taking some of the remaining Nembutal that had been purchased for Wylie's death.

Nitscke stated:
The timing was being determined by what was hanging over her with the possible sentence. She knew she would lose her option (suicide) if she was put in prison.

Nitschke claims that Jenning had stated:
'I'm not going to die in jail, so I'm going to take a pre-emptive step.'

I mourn the death of Jenning. I believe that the law was properly applied and needs to be upheld, but I do not wish any malace for people who maintain a false compassion by believing that killing is a form of care

Link to article:
http://www.news.com.au:80/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,24373232-5007132,00.html

Link to a previous blog entry:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/09/graeme-wylie-died-lonely-death-says.html

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Claims made by supporters of Death with Dignity Act are Misleading

By MARGARET DORE
Special to the Walla Walla Union Bulletin
Sept. 14, 2008

I am an attorney whose practice includes probate and guardianship disputes. As part of my job, I have seen firsthand how families act at the death of a loved one.

Sometimes, especially when the loved one has assets, there can be bad behavior.

Up until a few months ago, I had no strong opinion on the proposed Death with Dignity Act, which is on the ballot as Initiative 1000. That was, until I read its actual language. I urge you to read it now: The backers’ claims are misleading; the proposed safeguards are illusory.

'Voluntary' decision making

The Initiative’s campaign literature states: "All decisions made by the patient must be entirely voluntary," and that the application to obtain the lethal dose has "objective witnesses." The proposed act, however, allows one of two required witnesses to be an heir.

When signing a will, the same situation would create a presumption of undue influence, for example, that greedy son pressured dad to sign.

The probate statute states that when one of two witnesses is a taker under the will, there is a rebuttable presumption that the taker-witness: "procured the gift by duress, menace, fraud, or undue influence."

The initiative's campaign literature also states: "No one other than the eligible patient may administer the (lethal dose)." The proposed act, does not, however, say this. It states only that the patient "may" self-administer the lethal drug. The act also defines "self-administer" as merely the act of ingesting. The act states:

"Self-administer" means a qualified patient's act of ingesting medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner.

In other words, greedy son putting the lethal dose in dad’s mouth qualifies as "self-administration."

No witness at death

Under the act, there is no requirement that the death itself be witnessed. With no witness, greedy son could force feed the lethal dose to dad. Who would know? It would be the perfect crime.

No liability

The act states that persons who act wrongly, for example, by exerting undue influence, are guilty of a Class A felony. But, how would this be proved? Dad would be dead. The only witness to his death would be greedy son.

No "death with dignity"

Under present law, people with assets, that is, middle class and above, can find themselves in a pressure cooker of "put me in your will." With passage of the act, there will be a new refrain: "Die now so that there will be something left for me."

This is not a "dignified" way to end one's life knowing that your loved ones want your stuff more than they want you and/or spending the last moments of your life trying to fight them off. I mean, what did your life stand for if this is how it ends?

Summary

I am against I-1000 because it would put vulnerable persons at risk of abuse (and worse) at the hands of others.

My objection is based on the act’s actual language: The biggest problem is that there is no requirement that the death be witnessed. This creates the opportunity for an heir to administer the lethal dose without the patient’s consent. A copy of the act can be viewed on the Secretary of State's Web site.

Read I-1000 and vote no.

Margaret Dore is a Seattle attorney in private practice. Her mother’s family was from Waitsburg and Walla Walla.

For more information about the I-1000 assisted suicide initiative in Washington State go to: http://www.noassistedsuicide.com/

UK government to target suicide websites by clarifying the law

The Minister of Justice in the UK has stated that the government will amend the suicide prevention law to make it clear that it applies to online suicide promoting websites. The law will also allow Internet Service Providers (ISP) to police the sites that they host.

Maria Eagle a junior justice ministry official said:
"There is no magic solution to protecting vulnerable people online. Updating the language of the Suicide Act, however, should help to reassure people that the internet is not a lawless environment and that we can meet the challenges of the digital world."

Eagle continued by stating:
"It is important, particularly in an area of such wide public interest and concern, for the law to be expressed in terms that everyone can understand. We continue to work with the internet industry to look at long-term ways to keep people safe and without jeopardising our freedom of speech."

Websites that encourage teenagers and other vulnerable people to commit suicide carry information on suicide techniques. These internet promoting websites have been implicated in dozens of teenage deaths in recent years.

British internet service providers already take down any websites under their control when notified that they contain illegal material and they are free to restrict access to harmful or tasteless material in accordance with their "acceptable use" policies.

Link to the article in the Telegraph:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/news/newstopics/lawreports/joshuarozenberg/2974995/Law-on-assisting-suicide-to-be-reworded.html

Link to a previous article:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/08/ministry-of-justice-in-uk-seek-to-curb.html

Predators tell children how to kill themselves - Church of Euthanasia

I was cleaning up my old email and I found this article from February 2008, that explains how certain elements within the right to die movement are preying on vulnerable teenagers and others to provide them a "service" of suicide information.

The article was reporting on the new suicide threat that has been posed by suicide promoting websites. The article explains:
A network of "suicide gurus" who use the internet to advise people how to kill themselves has been exposed.

They are blamed for prompting depressed and vulnerable youngsters to take their own lives.

Campaigners have uncovered 29 "internet suicides" in Britain since 2001, including two new cases reported this weekend.
The article then examines how these suicide promoting websites operate:
Among the most notorious suicide websites ... are two discussion forums, or "chatrooms", in which users offer advice on how to end one's life.

In some cases, people with suicidal feelings have been encouraged to take their own lives rather than to seek professional advice.

In a posting on one of the sites last week, a desperate user wanting to know how hang himself was directed, by another correspondent, to a website containing drawings of knots and nooses.
The article then uncovers an American group called the Church of Euthanasia:
One of the most notorious figures on the internet suicide scene is Nagasvia Yronwode, a self-confessed satanist who runs a shop selling occult books and charms in the small California town of Forestville, north of San Francisco.

Yronwode, 46, describes himself as the "outreach director" for an extremist cult called the Church of Euthanasia, which advocates suicide as a means of saving the world from the effects of overpopulation.
The work of Nagasvia Yronwode is then uncovered:
Writing under the name Boboroshi, he has edited a suicide guide, which details various methods.

Yronwode/Boboroshi told the Telegraph: "The guide is there to make it easier for people who opt for suicide to carry it out. The purpose of my information is empowerment for competent human beings who have an interest in ending their lives.

"I haven't seen any evidence that any person has acted as a result of reading the guide. But, of course, people who have an interest in ending their lives may well seek out information that relates to suicide and in somes cases that leads them to end their lives." he stated
The article concludes with a telling statement by Yronwode:
"I'm not the protector of these troubled youths. Their parents are the people who made them troubled. They are responsible for them. They should look at their living conditions, genetic features and local conditions which might lead them to take their own lives. Everything else is a distraction."
It is obvious that all industrialized nations need to change their laws concerning suicide prevention to explicitely include the crime of aid, abeting or counseling suicide, via the internet or other communications medium.

Suicide promoting websites have led to hundreds of deaths in Japan and the people who operate these websites are hell bent on creating a universal human right to die.

Link to the article in the Telegraph:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/global/main.jhtml?xml=/global/2008/02/18/noindex/nweb117.xml

Link to previous article:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/06/uk-government-discussing-closure-of.html

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Robert Latimer may be moving to Victoria BC


It appears that Robert Latimer may be transfering from Ottawa to Victoria BC to fulfill the requirements of his parole.

An article in the Globe and Mail indicates that Latimer was granted a request to change the location where he serves his parole.

The article also indicates that Latimer wants to continue training as an electrician. Latimer received training as an electrician while in jail.

Robert Latimer was convicted of second-degree murder for killing his 12 year old daughter Tracy who had cerebral palsy.

Link to the article in the Globe and Mail:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080916.wlatimer16/BNStory/Front/

Monday, September 15, 2008

Four years after a massive stroke, Jason Crigler is back making music

This is a good news story that should be posted and distributed widely. When people are diagnosis as being in a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) they do not expect that a person will recover in the way Jason Crigler has.

There is a very high rate of falsely diagnosis for (PVS) and if you look further into the condition you would have to conclude that Crigler was never in a PVS condition, but was rather cognitively impaired by the massive stroke.

The story states:

While playing a gig in a New York City club in 2004, Crigler - a strong, healthy man in his early 30s - fell to his knees. He went outside to get some air and crumpled to the ground. His wife, Monica, three months pregnant with their first child, was by his side. By the time an ambulance whisked him away, he was completely paralyzed.

Crigler had suffered a massive stroke, the result of an arterio-venous malformation, known more commonly as a bleed in the brain. Doctors predicted either death or a permanent vegetative state.

After six months of slow improvement at Boston’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, doctors told the one-time ace guitarist he would always need round-the-clock institutional care. Nursing homes were contacted.

The story can only be understood within the context of the love of a family. Instead of living in a nursing home his family brought him home.

Crigler stated:

“My family’s love and support made all the difference,”

“It’s amazing how many fortuitous things happened. Certain doctors arrived at the right time. Playing guitar again was a big part of it. My work ethic, my strong will and my family’s support made the difference.”

“Ellie (his daughter) played a huge role in my recovery, and she doesn’t even know it,” said Crigler, who still can’t remember the 18 months after his injury. “In my darkest, deepest depressions, Ellie would walk into the room, and the darkness would vanish.”

The love and support of his family gave Crigler a new lease on life. The article states:

Before his stroke, Crigler was one of the top guitarists in the New York City singer/songwriter scene. He and his wife were members of the band Goats in Trees, and he played alongside Linda Thompson, Marshall Crenshaw, and Norah Jones. When Jones headlined a benefit show in 2005 to help offset Crigler’s medical bills, it pulled in $50,000.

Crigler’s parents set up a recording studio at his home. With their help, Crigler restarted the album project that had been half-finished at the time of his stroke. “The Music of Jason Crigler” features 13 diverse, expressive, self-written songs, with guest vocals by Crenshaw, Kenny White, Teddy Thompson and Eric McKeown.

“The album was a 9-year labor of love,” Crigler said.


He looked up, and, by chance, saw his mother and father-in-law across the street with his daughter, Ellie. He walked over and hugged her, smiling. This was one of the last facial expressions to come back to his once-immobile face.

Link to the article in the Boston Herald:
http://news.bostonherald.com/entertainment/music/general/view/2008_09_15_Four_years_after_a_massive_stroke__Jason_Crigler_is_back_making_music__/srvc=home&position=also

There are ugly truths underlying the public view of assisted suicide.

In a letter published in The Independent newspaper in the UK today. Dr. Claud Regnard of Newcastle upon Tyne writes:

There is no doubting the extreme distress of Debbie Purdy that has prompted her to pursue the right to be helped to an earlier death ("Don't jail my husband if he helps me die, demands MS sufferer", 12 September). What is in doubt is the image of assisted suicide as portrayed by organisations such as Dignity in Dying.

In 1990, the Dutch Ministry of Health Welfare and Sports, the Dutch Ministry of Justice and the Royal Dutch Medical Association approved a study to examine the clinical problems of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

This was published in 2000 in the New England Journal of Medicine and showed that in 22 per cent of cases of assisted suicide there were technical difficulties, medical complications (some causing distress) or inadequate drug doses. In 18 per cent of patients, the drugs failed to end the patient's life and the doctor had to administer euthanasia by administering a lethal drug directly.

The authors suggest that one reason for these failures was the inadequate knowledge and lack of experience of doctors in prescribing drugs for assisted suicide. The alternative solution of a centre such as Dignitas in Switzerland also has problems. In December 2007, their secretary-general, Ludwig Minelli, gave a speech in London describing the problems of finding acceptance for Dignitas in Switzerland. He describes how Dignitas was evicted from three properties and how they now reside on an industrial estate next to a busy brothel. In addition, the Swiss government has now restricted the use of one drug for assisted suicide.

The image that assisted suicide can be completed peacefully and with 100 per cent success in a patient's own home is far from the reality that exists today.


It is interesting to note that even though studies show a significant level of problems and abuses with assisted suicide in other jurisdictions, the state of Oregon continues to claim that they have had few if any problems. I guess they are just better at hiding the cases.

Link to the letter in The Independent:
http://www.independent.co.uk:80/opinion/letters/letters-assisted-suicide-931266.html

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Oregon's Suicidal Approach to Health Care

Rita Marker has written an informative and clear article about Oregon assisted suicide (PAS) law and the concerns people in Washington State should have concerning the I-1000 assisted suicide initiative in their state.

Rita Marker is an attorney and executive director of the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. Link to the International Task Force:
http://www.internationaltaskforce.org/

Most media outlets in Washington State have not dug into the full-story concerning the PAS law in Oregon and Marker explains the reality of the Oregon law.

Marker tells the story of Barbara Wagner being denied medical treatment but offered assisted suicide. Marker explains:

After Wagner's story appeared in the Eugene Register-Guard, the Oregon Health Plan acknowledged that it routinely sends similar letters to patients who have little chance of surviving more than five years, informing them that the health plan will pay for assisted suicide (euphemistically categorized as "comfort care"), but not for treatment that could help them live for months or years.

Certainly, spending $100 for deadly drugs is cost effective. And, ever since the Oregon Death with Dignity Act transformed the crime of assisted suicide into a "medical treatment" more than ten years ago, it has been perfectly legal. Oregon doctors prescribe lethal overdoses of drugs. Pharmacists dispense them, sometimes with instructions to "take all of this with a light snack and alcohol to cause death." Patients die after taking them.

Marker explains how the Washington State I-1000 PAS initiative was created throught the strategy of the euthanasia lobby. She states:

Because their attempts to pass Oregon-style laws in more than twenty states failed, the Portland-based Death with Dignity National Center (DDNC), along with Compassion & Choices (the former Hemlock Society), devised a plan in 2005 called "Oregon plus One" to break the logjam. It is based on the premise that, if just one more state follows Oregon's lead, then other states will fall in line.

After choosing Washington as the target state, the DDNC reported, "[W]e have never had such great odds of success as we have in Washington in 2008. That is why we will be directing $1.5 million over the next year and a half to the efforts....Our organization is providing leadership, political strategy, and financial resources to this monumental effort."

Marker outlines the false claims made by the I-1000 PAS supporters. She states:

Its advocates contend that Oregon's ten-year experience demonstrates that a Death with Dignity law not only works well, but is actually a benefit to patients. As proof they point to Oregon's annual official reports, to the law's "safeguards," and to studies in professional journals.

However, their claims are at best misleading. For example, under Oregon's law doctors participating in assisted suicide must file reports with the state. So the only physicians providing data for official annual reports are those who actually prescribe lethal drugs for patients. First, they help the person commit suicide and, afterwards, they report whether their actions complied with the law. Then, that information is used to formulate the state's official annual reports. However, according to American Medical News, Oregon officials in charge of issuing the reports have conceded that "there's no way to know if additional deaths went unreported." (The official number of reported assisted-suicide deaths in Oregon is 341.)

Indeed, the official summary accompanying one annual report noted that there is no way to know if information provided by the physicians is accurate or complete. But, it stated, "[W]e, however, assume that doctors were being their usual careful and accurate selves." The reporting agency also acknowledged that it has no authority or funding to investigate the accuracy of those self-reports.

Marker examines the supposed safeguards in Oregon.

The Oregon law's safeguards are equally problematic. They contain enough loopholes to drive a hearse through them. The safeguards certainly do have the appearance of being protective. They deal with requests for assisted suicide, family notification, and counseling or psychological evaluation. However, those safeguards are about as protective as the emperor's new clothes:

- The oral requests, which must be separated by fifteen days, do not need to be witnessed. In fact, they don't even have to be made in person. They could be made by phone - even left on the physician's answering device. The written request must be witnessed, but it could be mailed or faxed to the doctor.
- The law states that the physician is to "recommend that the patient notify next of kin," but family notification is not required. It is entirely possible that the first time family members find out that a loved one was contemplating suicide could be after the death has occurred.
- Doctors can facilitate the suicides of mentally-ill or depressed patients without any prior counseling being provided. A psychiatric evaluation is required only if the physician believes that the mental illness or depression is causing impaired judgment. According to Oregon's latest official report, not one patient who died after taking the lethal drugs was referred for counseling prior to being given the prescription.

Moreover, neither Oregon's law nor Washington's proposal has any type of protection for the patient once the prescription is written. While the requests for assisted suicide are to be made knowingly and voluntarily, there is no provision that the patient must knowingly and voluntarily take the lethal drugs. Dr. Katrina Hedberg, the lead author of most of Oregon's official reports, acknowledged that there is no assessment of patients after the prescribing is completed. She said that the "law itself only provides for writing the prescription, not what happens afterwards."

Marker looks at the concern related to Doctor shopping.

For instance, doctor shopping is not prohibited. If one physician refuses to prescribe assisted suicide because, for example, the patient is not competent to make an informed death request, that patient or a family member can go from doctor to doctor until finding one who will write the prescription.

Marker explains how the I-1000 PAS initiative will force doctors to lie on the death certificates:

Under I-1000, if a physician prescribes a lethal overdose, when that physician completes the death certificate, he or she is required - actually required - to list the underlying disease (say lung cancer) as the cause of death, even when the doctor knows full well that the patient died due to the suicidal overdose he or she prescribed. To my knowledge there's no other situation in medicine in which the death certificate is deliberately falsified - and in which this falsification is mandated by law.

Marker deals with the false studies that have been produced by the euthanasia lobby:

Such studies are often far from un-biased as indicated by one that was released in late 2007, just as the Washington campaign formally got underway. Published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, and widely reported in news articles across the country, it concluded that assisted suicide in Oregon is abuse free, even for vulnerable people. (The basis for that conclusion was an examination of Oregon's official annual reports.) Its principle author was Margaret Pabst Battin. Battin, a University of Utah philosophy professor. is a longtime supporter of assisted suicide and a member of DDNC's advisory board - information not disclosed in either the journal article or the initial flurry of national media coverage

Marker concludes by identifying the real issues related to assisted suicide:

Thus, the "proof" for the benign nature of legal assisted suicide -- found in official annual reports, safeguards and studies -- is preposterous. Assisted-suicide advocates take great umbrage when this is pointed out, as they do at any suggestion of assisted-suicide being used for cost containment. Do assisted-suicide advocates intend this as a cost-containment measure? Does it matter? Did their intentions mean anything to Barbara Wagner? Or does it really come down to recognizing that, even if its advocates don't intend to follow such a path, the force of economic gravity inevitably leads in this direction?

When all is said and done, it is not the intent of assisted-suicide supporters that matters. Instead, it is the law's deadly content and the inevitable price that we would all pay for health care cost containment - Oregon style.

Link to the original article:
http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/09/oregons_suicidal_approach_to_h.html

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Assisted suicide case goes to court

A Clarksville man charged with assisted suicide was arraigned Monday in Jones' courtroom.

Keith Eugene Williams, 47, is accused of unlawfully, knowingly and intentionally attempting to assist in the suicide of his wife by cutting her throat.

According to a March 3 arrest warrant signed by Clarksville Police Officer Timothy Edwards, Williams cut his wife's throat in an attempt to cause her death. He then cut his own throat, according to the warrant. Also, a vehicle at the couple's residence had a hose attached to the exhaust and entering the cab, Edwards wrote.

The victim told police her husband cut her to ease the “constant pain” they’re both experiencing,

Williams appeared in court Monday and has appointed Public Defender Crystal Myers to represent him. Young will prosecute the case. Williams' next court date is Oct. 24 for settlement.

Link to the article:
http://www.theleafchronicle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080911/CRIME/809110341

Naomi Hill: Death by Shame

For those who question whether or not people with disabilities experience a social devaluation in society, here is the sad story of Noami Hill.

Naomi, a four year old, was killed by her mother Joanne, because it appears that Joanne was embarrassed by her daughter who was born with Cerebral Palsy.

Link to Dick Sobsey's blog comments:
http://icad.wordpress.com/2008/09/11/killing-naomi-hill/#more-694

Political leaders opposed the euthanasia bill in Australia

From an article on September 11 from the Australian The Age newspaper on the defeat of the euthanasia bill in Australia it states:

"Controversial legislation giving terminally ill people the right to die with the help of a doctor has been rejected in the Victorian Parliament.

The upper house yesterday voted down the private member's bill — 25 votes to 13 — following months of passionate and emotional debate from MPs.

Planning Minister Justin Madden, Treasurer John Lenders and Liberal upper house leader David Davis were among prominent MPs to use their conscience vote to defeat the bill."

The most important point is that leaders from several parties voted the bill down when given the freedom of conscience.

Link to the original article:
http://www.theage.com.au:80/national/state-mps-vote-down-euthanasia-bill-20080910-4duu.html

The Olympian Newspaper fails to provide all information about PAS in Oregon

The Olympian newspaper editorial board has reported that the Oregon assisted suicide (PAS) statistics prove that their has not been significant problems in Oregon with PAS abuses and their should not be a problem with PAS abuses in Washington State.

The Olympian newspaper stated:
"Of the 341 people who have ended their lives under the Oregon law, 97 percent are white, 77 percent are between the ages of 55 and 84, more than 63 percent have at least some college education, and 63 percent have private insurance, not Medicaid or Medicare.

Most of the people — 82 percent — were suffering from cancer.

It requires a doctor to refer a patient to counseling if mental illness or depression appears to be affecting the patient's judgment.

Almost all Oregon patients, 94 percent, tell their family about their decision and take the lethal drugs at their home or the home of someone they know, Oregon's statistics show.

When a patient has decided to end his or her life, 86 percent have hospice care, and 81 percent have a doctor or other health care provider present when they take the lethal drugs.

There usually are no complications, although 6 percent of patients spit up some of the drugs. No one has asked to be saved after taking the drugs."

The Olympian missed many facts about PAS in Oregon.
The first issue is that of the 49 people who died by PAS in Oregon last year none of those people were refered for a psychological or psychiatric evaluation. So much for the requirement for counseling or the serious restrictions concerning people who experience mental or psychological pain.

The annual reports from Oregon are compiled from the reports that are filed by the physicians who prescribed PAS. Therefore the statistics concerning PAS in Oregon are compiled by reports from the physicians who prescribed death.

There is no third party investigations into the PAS reports that are filed by the physicians and their have been no independent investigations to ensure that the reports are accurate and that all PAS deaths are reported.

If a physician prescribed PAS for a person who was clearly depressed, would the physician self-report this illegal act?

If a physician prescribed PAS for a person with a disability who is not terminally ill would the physician self-report their act or even file the report?

How many unreported PAS deaths are their each year in Oregon?

The PAS debate has been stifled in Oregon by the control of information and the fact that 73% of all PAS deaths in Oregon are in some way facilitated by the Compassion & Choices lobby group.

Will the Compassion & Choices PAS lobby group honestly report cases of PAS if the act was questionable?

The answer is that we don't know and we shouldn't assume that all PAS deaths are reported and that all of the information in the reports are accurate in Oregon.

The fact is that their are many cases in Oregon that have been questionable at best. Due to the control of information we are only learning of these cases slowly from family members or friends, over time.

To learn more about actual cases and information about the Oregon law, go to this link:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/08/washington-state-assisted-suicide.html

It is important that the Olympian and other media outlets in Washington State provide complete information about PAS in Oregon. The people of Washington State deserve full information before voting on the I-1000 PAS initiative in Washington State.

Link to the original article:
http://www.theolympian.com/southsound/story/576190.html

Friday, September 12, 2008

Suicide rate goes down in Quebec

The Province of Quebec has long been known for having one of the highest suicide rates in the world. In 2001 a program was instituted to reduce the suicide rate.

Since then the suicide rate has dropped 65% among 15 - 19 year old teens and 50% among the 20 - 24 year old people.

A massive prevention program that included buttons and posters was implemented with a simple but disarmingly direct slogan: Suicide is not an option.

Even though the suicide rate in Quebec is at a 25 year low, it remains one of the highest suicide rates in the industrialized world.

The suicide rate remains unchanged among people above the age of 50 in Quebec.

Bruno Marchand, a guidance counselor at Saint-Foy Junior College in Quebec City who had instituted a very successful suicide prevention program stated:
"It's a failure for society every time an individual commits suicide. To me it's a terrible tragedy, a failure of society. Each time it happened to us, our community lost a part of its soul.

"The battle is just starting," Marchand said, "but now at least there are people who talk about it. If we keep it up, it has got to be positive."

Link to original article:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com:80/servlet/story/LAC.20080912.SUICIDE12/TPStory/National

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Assisted Suicide bill defeated in Australia

Wesley Smith has written an excellent article about the defeat of the Assisted Suicide bill in Australia.

Smith explains how the use of language mean't that the breadth of the Australian bill was very wide.

Remember, assisted suicide is not about providing a "dignified death" for people who are terminally ill and suffering. It is about someone, usually a physician, having the right to directly and intentionally cause the death of another person.

People in Washington State need to take heed and defeat the I-1000 assisted suicide initiative in November. Australia is a very liberal nation and yet the majority of their legislatures have recognized that legalizing assisted suicide will threaten the lives of the most vulnerable in society.

Link to Wesley Smith's article:
http://www.wesleyjsmith.com/blog/2008/09/defeated-australian-assisted-suicide.html

Both candidates for governor oppose Washington State I-1000 assisted suicide initiative

Both gubernatorial candidates in Washington State oppose the I-1000 assisted suicide initiative.

Democratic Governor Chrisine Gregoire and the Republican candidate for governor, Dino Rossi have both expressed their opposition to legalizing assisted suicide in Washington State.

Rossi who has vocally opposed the I-1000 initiative said:
"My mom had cancer. She had breast cancer," he said. "She started having chemotherapy. She couldn't keep anything down. I'd leave from work and come to lunch and try to get her to eat something. She couldn't keep anything down. If this was available, I think she would have opted to have a doctor help take her life," he said.

Rossi said a relative of his, a nurse, found better medication for her and "my mom started having more of a will to eat and keep food down and started gaining weight again. She lived a couple more years and ended up seeing our first child be born. If she'd had that option [assisted suicide], that never would have happened."

Gregoire opposes the I-1000 initiative but only a personal level. She said:
"I have looked at this from every perspective. I have concluded that for me, personally, I will vote no," she said. "But I will not get involved in any campaign at all. I think it's a very personal decision to be decided by the voters. I will respect the outcome of the vote."

I think what is important is that both party leaders oppose this initiative because it is wrong.

The voters need to recognize that the I-1000 assisted suicide initiative is a threat to the most vulnerable people in society.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Canadian Election EPC Candidate Questionnaire

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition needs you to find out where your candidate stands on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

A bill to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide has been introduced in the past two parliamentary sessions. We believe that their will be another attempt to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in the next parliament.

If we know where the members of parliament stand we will be able to effectively plan our response to any future legislative attempts.

English Questionnaire:
http://www.euthanasiaprevention.on.ca/Questionnaire-1.pdf

Version francaise
http://www.euthanasiaprevention.on.ca/Questionnaire-1(fr).pdf

Friday, September 5, 2008

Stop Descrimination Against Down Syndrome

Dr. Mark Mostert, director, Regent University, Institute for the Study of Disability and Bioethics - Virginia Beach and an upcoming speaker at the Euthanasia Symposium in Winnipeg, defends the right of people with disabilities to be treated with equality.

Mostert wrote on the USA Today blog:
"I really don't care about Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's political views. But here's what I do care very much about: She refused to discriminate against her unborn child when the Down syndrome diagnosis came in."

Mostert continued:
"As a society, we prattle on about equality, diversity and "access." The notion of inclusiveness rules the day as long as we're not talking about people with an extra chromosome."

Mostert concludes his comment by saying:
"Good for Palin for making the statement that needs to be made much more often: Genetic discrimination against people with Down syndrome must stop. Now. No excuses."

Link to blog:
http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2008/09/stop-discrimina.html

Bill AB 2747 Immediate Action Required!

Bad Medicine
By Brian Johnston

AB 2747 appears, at first blush, to have a lot of diverse options made available to vulnerable patients. But a more careful reading and understanding of its origins and its "implementation plan," gives one pause.

AB 2747 was sponsored by 'Compassion in Choices' the new name for the Hemlock Society, America's leading 'right to die' organization. Hemlock changed its name, in part, because of the unsavory "death promotions" of some of its founders.

It is important to understand that the right to die movement seeks to promote its philosophy of "death as the answer" for emotionally vulnerable patients in a variety of situations. Incapacity, impairment, or when emotionally devastated by terminal prognosis; in general, if someone 'wants to die' who are we to stop them?

This philosophy is most clearly seen in a little known, but deadly aspect of California law. The legality of committing suicide by ceasing to eat or drink has been established in California (Bouvia Decision) and this "right" has explicitly been extended to those who are not in any way terminal. Liz Bouvia herself, a quadriplegic, is still alive, although the case, based on an episode of suicidal depression, is 20 years old. One of the most important aspects of the case is that it requires physicians who do not agree with the suicidal action to abet the suicide anyway.

Which brings us to AB 2747. Much of what this bill mandates will actually be carried out in the thousands of 'long-term care homes' and various other "health care facilities" that do not have on-site physicians. (Section 442.5) In this case the medical director of the facility is ordered to call in "community-based organizations that specialize in end-of-life care case management"... to fulfill the law. Note that the mysterious organizations described do not provide health care, but "end of life case management." Sounds suspiciously like "Compassion in Choices,' doesn't it? After all they have one specialty in this kind of "case management" - close the case.

And what is the actual law to be fulfilled? The patient must to be told of their legal options.

"Mandatory" counseling, but not in writing.

Now, as I said, AB 2747 has a lot of other words in it. And many of those words are things that you and I would want to hear should we be in such emotionally vulnerable condition: "Palliative care;" "hospice care;" "disease-targeted treatment." It is suggested that the advice will be 'comprehensive.' Amazingly, it is not required that any of these other options be in writing. Yet 'knowing what's legal' will now be the only mandatory legal requirement for ALL patients with any type of terminal diagnosis in the state of California. And the principal counselors will apparently be a private death-specialty organization.

Good doctors didn't want to do this. California's oncologists opposed the bill until an amendment lifted the burden to 'read their rights' to vulnerable patients off of the oncologist's shoulders.

So, the only legal requirement is that the patient must be told all their 'legal' options. If the actual health-care provider thinks that spelling out the law is not what is needed at the time, they are required to transfer the patient to someone who will push "the legal option.'

So who will do this 'counseling?' As in most other jurisdictions which allow suicide to be abetted, the patient is required to be directed to an indefinite, shadowy group who, "specialize in end-of-life case management."

And for those patients, the case is closed.

AB 2747 is on the Governor’s desk

Ask Governor Schwarzenegger to VETO this bill NOW
Call: (916) 445-2841 FAX (916) 558-3160

Brian Johnston is director of the CPLC. Formerly Commissioner on Aging for the State of California, he has served on the state’s Board of Examiners of Nursing Homes, and the Board of Directors of the National Legal Center for the Medically Dependent and Disabled. He is author of the book Death As A Salesman: What’s Wrong With Assisted Suicide.

Washington state commission says assisted suicide group must ID donors

The Death With Dignity group that is operating the Washington State I-1000 assisted suicide initiative has thus far received $313,000 from the Compassion & Choices euthanasia lobby group in Oregon.

Compassion & Choices, formerly the Hemlock Society, has been the largest single donor to the Washington "Death with Dignity" campaign.

The Hemlock Society was founded by Derek Humphry.

Controversy has surrounded the donations by the Oregon euthanasia lobby group because the election laws in Washington State require a complete accounting of donors to a political campaign, including initiatives.

Compassion & Choices disclosed the sources for $123,380 in donations but refused to account for the balance of the donors based on the fact that they are an out-of-state political committee and thought that they were not required to report donations from people who had contributed less than $2500.

The commission voted 3-2 last week that the fund was required to provide a fuller accounting of where it gets its money that is spent on Initiative 1000.

The election commission has now levelled the playing field. The euthanasia lobby chose Washington State as the location to focus their national campaign for legalizing assisted suicide throughout the US.

Money from all over the US has poured into Washington State to convince Washington State voters that legalizing assisted suicide was in their interest.

The Coalition Against Assisted Suicide has mainly been supported by citizens and groups from Washington State.

To support the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide go to:
http://www.noassistedsuicide.com/

Link to original article:
http://www.oregonlive.com:80/news/index.ssf/2008/09/washington_commission_says_ass.html

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Spanish region drafts euthanasia law?

I have included a link to the article on the supposed euthanasia law in Spain because this article shows how confusion about definitions can possibly lead to false conclusions.

The article says - euthanasia law which would allow terminally ill patients to refuse medical treatment and make it illegal to keep someone alive by artificial means.

This does not mean that they are legalizing euthanasia. Euthanasia is an action or omission of an action that directly and intentionally causes death. The article refers to refusing or withdrawing medical treatment. When death occurs after the refusal or withdrawal of medical treatment, the death is rarely euthanasia but rather a natural death.

The article also says - Patients will be able to "refuse or stop any treatment or medical intervention even if this could put their lives at risk" and will have the right to "receive treatment against pain, including palliative sedatives".

To refuse or to stop any treatment or medical intervention is not euthanasia unless the decision is to remove fluids and food from someone who is not otherwise dying. If fluids and food are intentionally removed from someone who is not otherwise dying in order to directly cause the death of the person, then that is euthanasia.

To receive treatment for pain, including palliative sedatives is not euthanasia unless the physician intentionally overdoses the person and directly causes death.

Finally, the case of Inmaculata Echevarria who asked to have her respiratory turned off last year was not a case of euthanasia. Inmaculata died a natural death.

If the region of Andalucia in southwest Spain actually intends to legalize euthanasia, this article does not indicate that this is the case.

Link to original article:
http://health.yahoo.com/news/afp/spainhealtheuthanasiaethics_080903131730.html

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

To prevent suicide keep in touch

Wesley Smith has reported on a World Health Organization bulletin on preventing suicide. It appears that the most effective way to prevent suicide is to keep in touch with the person who you are concerned will commit suicide.

Link to Wesley Smith's article:
http://www.wesleyjsmith.com/blog/2008/09/to-prevent-suicide-keep-in-touch.html

Link to original article:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080901/hl_nm/suicides_dc_1

Belgium - Policy Statement on End of Life Decisions and Euthanasia

My previous blog entry is about the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario draft policy: "Physicians and the Human Rights Code."

In case you weren't aware, Belgium physicians were mandated to refer their patients for euthanasia since December 4, 2003.

The policy statement on End of Life Decisions and Euthanasia is translated as follows:
1. Terminal care and all the medical decisions associated with it are part of the duties of a general practitioner.
2. Euthanasia is one of the possible choices in terminal care and must be framed by and embedded in total palliative care that transcends individual care.
3. The health care districts must organise multidisciplinary follow-up training and instruction in terminal care. We commit ourselves to supervising this scientifically and didactically in collaboration with the Federation for Palliative Care Flanders (Federatie Palliatieve Zorg Vlaanderen) and the End-of-life Information Forum (LEIF) physician's forum. Our aim in this is to avoid the emergence of polarising groups with their own instructional training and interpretations.
4. We oppose the establishment of euthanasia teams or euthanasia centres. Physicians must be supported and supervised, and strategies must be developed when, for practical or ethical reasons, the physician cannot comply with a request for euthanasia from their patient.
5. All physicians involved, including those providing a second-opinion, must have extensive expertise in the area of palliative total care within the framework of euthanasia decision-making.
6. Each physician has the right to deem euthanasia or another end-of-life decision as being in contravention of his or her personal beliefs. This physician is then obliged to inform his or her patient of this clearly and in good time and to organise a smooth referral.

Link to the original document in Flemish:
http://www.wvvh.be:80/files/PB_euthanasie.htm

Information about the Belgium policy statement was sent to me by the Protection of Conscience Project:
http://www.consciencelaws.org

Ontario Human Rights Commission warns that refusing medical services may result in Human Rights Code Violation

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario recently asked for submissions to a draft policy concerning "Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code".

This draft policy asserted that physicians may be required to provide medical services or refer patients for medical services, even if they were opposed to providing or refering the service based on their conscience.

In a document submitted by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, the OHRC states that:
"cases in which potential patients have felt that physicians have cited "clinical competence" to explain a refusal of service that may actually have been based on a Code ground. We commend the College for setting out guidelines encouraging physicians to consider the possibility of providing basic care complemented by referrals to address the specific elements of care in whic clinical competence is a concern."

This may mean that physicians are expected to refer patients for medical services that the physician is conscientiously opposed to providing.

Under the title - Moral or Religious Beliefs - the OHRC states:
"We wish to note that "moral beliefs," per se, are not protected by the Code, whereas religious beliefs and practices are protected under the ground of "creed""

This may mean that the OHRC recognizes religious beliefs as grounds for objection but not moral beliefs.

Therefore a secular person who opposes euthanasia/assisted suicide, for moral reasons, may be compelled to cause death as a medical service or refer the patient to another physician who would provide death as a medical service, if it were legal in Canada.

Under the same heading - Moral or Religious Beliefs - the OHRC makes suggestions for improving the wording of the College draft policy. They state:
"We also suggest that addition of the following points would be of assistance to physicians in weighing these matters:
* As plainly stated by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Trinity Western decision, a line may be drawn between belief and conduct, and "...the freedom to hold beliefs is broader than the freedom to act on them."
* Human rights protections are to be interpreted broadly, while defences for descrimination are interpreted narrowly.
* It is the Commission's position that doctors, as providers of services that are not religious in nature, must essentially "check their personal views at the door" in providing medical care."

This may mean that it is one issue to hold beliefs, it is another issue to act on those beliefs. They may also be saying that human rights protections will be interpreted in a broader manner than defences. They may be finally saying that medical professionals need to check their personal views at the door.

If euthanasia/assisted suicide were legalized in Canada, physicians would may be forced to carry out their duty to kill. This means that people who wish to die because they may be experiencing depression or feel like a burden on society, may be able to lay a complaint against a physician for caring for his/her human needs rather than providing death on demand.

The OHRC goes further by stating under the category - The Right to Accommodation vs the Duty to Accommodate:
"We therefore suggest that the College clarify that the right to "accommodation" rests with the person requesting the accommodation, whereas the duty to provide the accommodation rests with the service provider, employer or other organization.

This may mean that a patient can request accommodation and the physician has a duty to provide accommodation. With reference to issues related to the rights of people with disabilities, the duty to accommodate is important. When referring to issues related to a physicians consciencious objection, accommodation may be immoral.

Once again it appears that the Ontario Human Rights Commission may be willing to use the force of the courts to ensure that medical professionals provide medical services that their conscience leads them to refuse to provide.

If euthanasia/assisted suicide were ever legalized, then physicians who refuse to abandon their patients to death, may find themselves concerned that their willingness to care for a patient as a whole person, may cause them to face a human rights complaint that could ruin their medical practice.

The Duty to Die may become imposed upon the physician in the form of the duty to kill.

Link to submission by the Ontario Human Rights Commission to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario:
http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/resources/submissions/physur

Graeme Wylie died a lonely death, says daughter.

I was clearing out old emails when I came across this article that was published in Australia's Daily Telegraph on June 20, 2008.

The death of Graeme Wylie (71), who had alzeimer's disease, was always portrayed as a case of a man who wished to die by assisted suicide who had become incompetent to make the decision for himself. The charges against his partner Shirley Justins and her friend Caren Jenning were based on the fact that they assisted a suicide, which was illegal, for a man who could not have asked for it himself.

The writer interviews the daughters of Wylie who died by euthanasia/assisted suicide in Australia. His partner Justins gave him a fatal dose of Nembutal, a veterinary drug, that she had obtained from her long-time friend Jenning.

Jenning went to Mexico and obtained the drug for Justins.

Justins was convicted of Manslaughter and Jenning was convicted of being an accessory to manslaughter in the death of Wylie.

Tania Shakespeare, a daughter of Wylie stated that her father:
"died a lonely death surrounded by those who put their own interests and beliefs first."

Shakespeare also stated that:
"Her father had not discussed suicide with her and did not want to die. He didn't think of killing himself. He was always looking for a cure - he was never looking to die."

Nicola Dumbrell, another daughter of Wylie told the court that she knew that Jenning was the instigator. She also referred to the assisted suicide group - Exit International as a "cult".

Exit International is operated by Dr. Philip Nitscke, Australia's Dr. Death.

Shakespeare noted that Justins had a motive.

She allegedly had a financial motive. She had Wylie change his will a week before he died, leaving her most of the $2.4 million estate. Justins was also, allegedly, having "an ongoing love relationship" with a woman in Germany.

The Wylie case proves that euthanasia and assisted suicide is a direct threat to the most vulnerable in our society.

Wylie was incapable of asking for death, but died because a person that he trusted took advantage of her position in his life.

Link to the article:
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23893367-421,00.html#

Assisted Suicide Study in Michigan Law Review Refutes Washington State I-1000 Proponents' Claims That Law Works in Oregon

This is a reprint of the media release from the Washington State Coalition Against Assisted Suicide

Coalition Against Assisted Suicide
August 29, 2008
Contact: Cyndie Ulrich ~ 425-830-9296

NOTE: Link to the Hendin-Foley Study on the Michigan Law Review site:
http://www.michiganlawreview.org/archive/106/8/hendinfoley.pdf


Olympia ~ The Coalition Against Assisted Suicide today announced they are circulating to Washington media a detailed, sharply critical analysis of the ten-year history of Oregon’s assisted suicide law that was published in the June 2008 issue of the prestigious Michigan Law Review.

The objective examination of the past decade’s worth of real-life assisted suicide practices was authored by Dr. Herbert Hendin, psychiatrist and CEO/Medical Director of Suicide Prevention International, a nonprofit organization located in New York and Dr. Kathleen Foley, neurologist and professor at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York.

Chris Carlson, chair of the Coalition stated, “Of great significance, the Hendin and Foley study stated unequivocally , ‘…seemingly reasonable safeguards for the care and protection of terminally ill patients written into the Oregon law are being circumvented....(and that the Oregon authority charged with overseeing assisted suicide)…does not collect the information it would need to effectively monitor the law and in its actions and publications acts as the defender of the law rather than as the protector of the welfare of terminally ill patients.’"

Carlson charged that proponents of WA's assisted suicide initiative, I-1000, continue to mislead Washington voters by falsely claiming that "…everything's going great in Oregon…" even when confronted with the numerous serious flaws with Oregon's assisted suicide law exposed by this sentinel study. “The study is replete with examples of unintended consequences to vulnerable, terminally ill patients in Oregon,” said Carlson.

The Hendin-Foley study cites specific examples where opinions of patients’ long-time attending physicians are ignored and doctors with only a smattering of familiarity with the patient write the prescription for the lethal dose of barbiturates. The study’s authors contend such “doctor shopping” is highly unethical and in no way could the “shopped doctor’s” viewpoint be considered a truly professional opinion rendered in the best interests of the patient, Carlson reported.

Carlson said what was most disturbing to him was the unintended effect that would be produced if Washington’s I-1000 were to pass which was summed up best by Drs. Hendin and Foley in this statement regarding the Oregon experience: "If the patient has seen no one knowledgeable enough to undertake to understand and relieve the desperation, anxiety, and depression that underlie most requests for assisted suicide, then even if the patient is capable, an informed decision is not possible."

The lack of referral to psychiatrists who might find a patient requesting assisted suicide to be not mentally competent was troubling to the authors who pointed out that in most cases no mental evaluation is conducted. Carlson said that last year in Oregon, “not one of the some 50 individuals availing themselves of physician assisted suicide asked for or received any mental health counseling.” He continued, “This has to be troubling to any thinking person. As the authors noted, the study reflects a lack of concern for the welfare of depressed patients.”

Carlson and the Coalition urge all voters to read the initiative to see for themselves its numerous dangerous flaws and he also calls on the state’s newspapers to reprint the Michigan Law Review study to make it accessible to Washington's voters. “If one reads this study, you can almost guarantee they will recognize how false is the tired refrain by I-1000 backers that the law is working well in Oregon,” he said.

Carlson concluded, “Assisted suicide is clearly not working in Oregon and it is pure myth to claim that it is.”

I have come to live before I die

Dr. Mark Mostert has written a poinant blog posting about his friend Tony who has Motor Neuron Disease.

Mark was a speaker at the First International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide on Nov 30, 2007.

Tony has lost most of the physical functions that you or I have, but he is actively living his life and not actively dying.

Read the Blog posting:
http://disabilitymatters.blogspot.com/2008/08/words-to-learn-from-i-have-come-to-live.html

Monday, September 1, 2008

Obama straddle on assisted suicide

Wesley Smith has reported on Obama making a comment on assisted suicide.

Wesley Smith's blog comment:
http://www.wesleyjsmith.com/blog/2008/09/obama-straddle-on-assisted-suicide.html

How Annie's short life inspired her mother's mission

Comment by Alex:
This is a reprint of a great article about Annie Farlow from the Toronto Star. Barbara Farlow was a speaker at the First International Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in Toronto - Dec 1, 2007.

How Annie's short life inspired her mother's mission

By Helen Henderson, Toronto Star - August 30, 2008 Link to article

Barb & Annie Farlow
Barbara and Tim Farlow's daughter Annie was just short of three months old when she died three years ago.

Annie had a chromosome disorder that would have affected her development. Her family, including two brothers and two sisters, knew all about it long before she was born.

They knew she might not live into her teens, talked about the inevitable challenges and sacrifices and welcomed her into their lives.

So when Annie died of what her parents believe might have been a treatable respiratory condition, they started asking questions. Now, Barbara Farlow is front and centre in an international crusade.

Do some doctors play God with disabled kids?

Are treatable but possibly fatal problems, such as digestive obstructions or respiratory difficulties, sometimes left to take their course when a child has a condition like cerebral palsy or Down syndrome or, in Annie's case, Trisomy 13? Do some medical professionals mask their own quality-of-life opinions by giving parents only the worst-case scenario, leading to what Farlow calls "misinformed consent"? What can families do to change things?

But as she raises these questions in international forums, Farlow never names the hospital – because, she says: "This could happen anywhere."

The Farlows have many concerns about how Annie's respiratory condition was regarded from birth. They were with her when breathing problems sent her into the critical care unit just over two months later. After she died, they found themselves without answers.

Among other things, the family questions what drugs were used and how a "Do not resuscitate" order was issued without their informed consent.

The hospital has written to the Farlows acknowledging it "could have improved upon" communication between the family and the staff who cared for Annie and that "we could have done better in terms of providing end of life care."

But it also says: "The best time to sort out these issues is before ... one is trying to make the appropriate decision in the middle of a medical crisis."

The family's appeals for a coroner's inquest have been denied.

In her crusade for change, Farlow has been across North America and Europe, from the University of Toronto to the World Health Organization and the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights. She has talked to hospital associations, medical schools and advocacy groups about Annie and the need for doctors to listen to the wishes of patients and their families.

Hospital and government policies emphasize heeding patients, she says. But when push comes to shove, it's the bottom line that governs. Overburdened and underfunded health-care systems lead to clinical priority-setting, Farlow says. "One choice comes with a higher price ticket." Under those rules, disabled people lose in the court of public opinion.

As a member of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and Patients for Patient Safety Canada, part of the World Health Organization's Alliance for Patient Safety, Farlow says she wants to bring more accountability and respect for life to the system. This is not about advocating prolonging life at any cost, she emphasizes. It's about patient-centred care in which the family is included in an informed decision-making process.

Some families may feel comfortable knowing they will be giving birth to a child with disabilities; others may not, she says. Either way, their wishes should be respected through a process that is transparent and accountable.

Meanwhile, she takes pride in the fact that Annie has been nominated as an unsung hero to be honoured this fall by Community Living Ontario "because she fundamentally affirms the value of every human person and that everyone deserves whatever care and support is needed to live, flourish and contribute to the happiness of their family and community."

Reach Barbara Farlow and Patients for Patient Safety Canada at b_farlow@hotmail.com.

Helen Henderson is a freelance writer and disability studies student at Ryerson University. Her column appears Saturdays. helenhenderson@sympatico.ca

Parents need to be prepared

How can families help disabled children in the hospital? Barbara Farlow recommends the following:

• Develop a plan beforehand in writing, detailing how you love your child and want her to live but don't want her to suffer.

• Be very explicit.

• When speaking with doctors, be very clear. Say: "This is what we understand you to be doing. Is this correct?"