Saturday, January 30, 2010

Baby Isaiah May Facebook Page

Facebook suddenly removed the Prayers for Baby Isaiah James Facebook page yesterday. This was shocking considering that in two weeks the Facebook page had grown to 30,000 fans.

This facebook page needs to grow quickly.

Become a fan of the Prayers for Baby Isaiah May facebook page now at: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=297823340801&ref=search&sid=553540995.1929219980..1&v=info#/group.php?gid=297823340801&ref=ts

Friday, January 29, 2010

How to Cope With Pain Due to Chronic Illness

I received a request from Susan White who offered to author a guest column on the blog. After emailing back and forth a little we agreed that this article would be of benefit to our readers.

Many of our readers may want to comment on her article, to tell her your story or to offer your experience. This may be beneficial for her and others.

Susan White, who writes on the topic(http://becomingaradiologist.org/). She welcomes your comments at her email id: susan.white33@gmail.com.

How to Cope With Pain Due to Chronic Illness

It’s not something we want to have, but chronic illness does not let us pick and choose. Call it the luck of the draw or the roll of the dice, but some of us have to contend and cope with lifelong ill health in the form of chronic disease. While some forms are relatively benign and allow you to lead a nearly normal life, others cause severe pain and are debilitating, leading to the deterioration of the quality of life. If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic illness that is painful, here’s how you can cope (or help them cope):

· Medication: Painkillers allow you to lead a normal life by taking away your pain or at least controlling it to levels that are manageable. Talk to your doctor about the best pain medication for you, one that lets you do your job and has the least side effects. You must ensure that you’re not tempted to take more than the correct dosage, even if the pain is unbearable. Call your doctor before you change medication or dosage. Also, because medicines interact to cause adverse reactions, inform your doctor about the various medicines you’re taking, both prescription drugs and those purchased over the counter.

· Distract yourself: When you know that you have no control over what you’re feeling, the best thing to do is distract yourself. Read a book, watch a sitcom on television or a comedy movie on your DVD, play a board game with friends and loved ones – in short, do anything that will help take your mind off the pain.

· Therapy: Some chronic illnesses cause pain when certain triggers are activated. For example, if you suffer from migraines or fibromyalgia, your pain may shoot up when you’re upset or because of certain strong smells (migraine). An asthmatic patient might feel a flare up of their symptoms when there is too much dust around. Learn to identify the triggers of pain and avoid them.

· Prayer/meditation/exercise: It’s a question of which form of self-help works for you – some people find that prayer and oneness with their soul gives them a brief respite from the pain while others take to meditation. Yet others find that mild exercise (if they’re up to it) allows them to stay relatively pain-free for a while. Whatever helps you get rid of or forget the pain, do it. It’s your life, and although your friends and family may help you out, you have to assume responsibility for yourself. So chronic illness or not, seize life by the collar and live it to the fullest.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Assisted Suicide lobby in the UK are using the Gilderdale case to promote the legalization of assisted suicide.

Sarah Wootten from the group Dying in Dignity, the leading assisted suicide advocacy group in the UK has called for changes to the assisted suicide laws in the UK based on two recent court cases, the Gilderdale case and the Inglis case.

Wooten stated:
As demonstrated here and in the case of Frances Inglis last week, the existing law doesn't work in practice and is not in line with public opinion. Ultimately, we need a full public consultation on whether the law should change, to regulate and legalise assisted dying for terminally ill people and to create a specific or partial defence of "mercy killing" for these offences.

I am convinced that Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, set-up the acquital of Gilderdale by prosecuting her with attempted murder, when in fact her act was really an assisted suicide.

Gilderdale pleaded guilty to assisting the suicide of her daughter, but Starmer decided to also prosecute her with attempted murder, a charge that he knew was unlikely to result in a conviction, thus creating new pressures to change the laws in the UK that prohibit assisted suicide.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is demanding the resignation of Keir Starmer. We are convinced that the damage he is creating for the rule of law in the UK will result in laws that protect people with disabilities, long-term chronic conditions, and the frail elderly are at risk so long as he remains the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Link to the commentary by Sarah Wootton from Dying in Dignity: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/sarah-wootton-only-clearer-laws-can-bring-compassion-to-the-euthanasia-debate-1879738.html


Link to my previous post on the case:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2010/01/motion-in-british-parliament-questions.html

Motion in British Parliament questions the Director of Public Prosecutions concerning the Gilderdale case

Ann Widdecombe, a member of parliament in the UK brought a motion to the house yesterday to question the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, in his decision to prosecute Lynn Gilderdale with attempted murder.

Yesterday I stated in this blog that it appears that Keir Starmer is dismantling the euthanasia and assisted suicide laws in the UK. He first introduced Prosecution Guidelines, that reduce the legal protections for people with disabilities and those with family members who have caused or assisted in the cause of their death. Now he has prosecuted a case as attempted murder, even thought the case was more likely defined as assisting a suicide, a charge that Lynn Gilderdale had pleaded guilty to.

It should not surprise anyone that the jury acquitted Lynn Gilderdale because under the circumstances an acquittal was expected.

By setting-up the circumstance whereby it appears that the courts are unable to prosecute someone for assisted suicide and possibly euthanasia in the UK, Starmer is in fact forcing parliament to amend the statute.

A friend in the UK has suggested that Starmer did not set-up this situation but rather mess-up this situation. Nonetheless, Starmer needs to resign his position or the UK Government needs to ask for his resignation.

The following is the motion by Ann Widdecombe in the British Parliament:
Early Day Motion
EDM 723

LAW ON ASSISTED SUICIDE (No. 2) - 26.01.2010

Widdecombe, Ann

That this House notes the tragic case of Lynn Gilderdale and the fact that her mother, Kay, was charged with assisted suicide for helping to end her life; further notes that 110 people from the UK have flown to Switzerland for the purpose of assisted suicide and not one person accompanying them has had to face being charged in court because the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) decided against it on the grounds that it would have been against the public interest; further notes, however, that although the situation of Lynn and Kay Gilderdale was more stressful and tragic than most of the cases where people were flown to Switzerland, the DPP decided to bring charges against Mrs Gilderdale, a decision questioned by the judge and many commentators for her; further notes, however, that the DPP's decision was taken shortly after the publication of his Guidelines of Assisted Suicide which have been heavily criticised by senior members of the legal profession, parliamentarians and public commentators on the grounds that they jeopardise the right to life of the vulnerable sick and disabled; further notes that the case has been used as a showpiece to promote the legalisation of assisted suicide and of the DPP's Assisted Suicide Guidelines; and calls on the Government to require from the DPP the grounds on which he decided to pursue Mrs Gilderdale, whose case accords with all the conditions listed in the Guidelines as justifiable for not bringing a prosecution.

Link to the motion in the UK parliament: http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=40313&SESSION=903

Link to my blog comment yesterday on the same issue:
http://www.alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/

Link to the article in the Guardian newspaper:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/jan/26/trial-kay-gilderdale-dpp-starmer

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Was the Gilderdale assisted suicide case, a set up by the Director of Public Prosecutions?

I was reading the articles this morning about the case of Kay Gilderdale who was charged with attempted murder in the death of her daughter Lynn Gilderdale in the UK. Lynn had lived for many years with a significant disability. Kay had already pleaded guilty to assisting the suicide of her daughter, but last November the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer decided to prosecute Kay Gilderdale for attempted murder and assisted suicide.

Yesterday, the jury who heard the case acquitted Kay Gilderdale in two hours.

Whether Starmer intends to make a mess of the law in the UK or not, he is certainly accomplishing it. I wonder if he is working on behalf of the Dignity in Dying lobby group in the UK?

The fact is that Kay Gilderdale admitted to assisting the suicide of her daughter by giving her sleeping pills, antidepressants and injecting air into her veins in December 2008 after her daughter had injected herself with morphine.

Gilderdale's actions could be interpreted as attempting to murder her daughter, but considering the facts, her act is more likely defined as assisting the suicide of her daughter, the charge that she had pleaded guilty to.

After the jury had acquitted Kay Gilderdale, Mr Justice Bean asked the prosecution why she had been charged with attempted murder as well as assisting a suicide.

In today's Telegraph newspaper Keir Starmer was quoted as saying:
He "fully respected" the not guilty verdict. Mrs Gilderdale was a "devoted mother who acted out of love and devotion" for her daughter Lynn.

In other words, Starmer not only respected but he expected that the jury would find her not guilty. The reason to prosecute her in this case was to allow the jury to find her not guilty and thus create pressure to change the law.

The same Telegraph article pointed out that last year, two judges questioned whether it was in the public interest to prosecute her for attempted murder, given that she had pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting suicide.

One of the judges suggested that the case be dropped rather than "let this defendant get tangled up in a messy trial for the sake of some legal mumbo jumbo."

It looks like Keir Starmer has expanded his job definition to include the role of public lobbiest for law reform on euthanasia and assisted suicide in the UK.

Either he resigns from his position as the Director of Public Prosecutions or the government should ask for his resignation.

Monday, January 25, 2010

British author, Martin Amis, calls for euthanasia booths

THE novelist Martin Amis has called for euthanasia booths on street corners, where elderly people can end their lives with “a martini and a medal”.

Whether Amis, is joking or not, the fact is that Amis is expressing the thoughts that many people in society believe, that is that the aging population will destroy our lifestyle as we know it.

The Amis comments were printed in the Sunday Times. Link to the comments in the Sunday: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article6999873.ece
Amis was reported to have said:
“How is society going to support this silver tsunami?”

“There’ll be a population of demented very old people, like an invasion of terrible immigrants, stinking out the restaurants and cafes and shops. I can imagine a sort of civil war between the old and the young in 10 or 15 years’ time.”

“There should be a booth on every corner where you could get a martini and a medal.”

At the same time it was announced that his next book, The Pregnant Widow, will soon be released. Is Amis trying to buy publicity?

The article also stated that his support for euthanasia has increased after the death of his stepfather.

I consider the comments by Amis to be related to the negative attitudes that exist towards seniors in society that has led to the incredible growth in elder abuse in our culture.

I have also noticed that more people are remaining healthy and active longer. If society encourages the continued inclusion of older persons into the mainstream of society, it is likely that the demographic time bomb will never go-off. Society has begun to realize the importance of encouraging the inclusion of people with disabilities, but in the same way we need to change attitudes towards the elderly.

I would also like to see a societal acceptance for couples who have larger families. Children from large families tend to be less self-centred. It would also help to balance the demographic shift.

Nonetheless, there was time when seniors were respected for their experience and their service to society. I am convinced that if the negative attitude towards seniors shifted in a positive manner, then society would have no problem facing the changing demographic trends and possibly flourish without having to kill our seniors by lethal injection.

MacDonald remains optimistic over assisted suicide Bill

An article that was published in the Scotsman.com and written by Christopher Mackie indicates that Margo MacDonald is optimistic that she will get her bill through the Scottish parliament that would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The first thing is that the media keep on suggesting that the bill legalizes assisted suicide. Anyone who reads the bill will quickly notice that the bill legalizes euthanasia and assisted suicide and it is not limited to people who are terminally ill, but rather it extends to people with disabilities and people living with chronic conditions.

Secondly, very few people strongly support euthanasia and assisted suicide. People who live in Ivory Towers discuss these issues, but most people, and parliamentarians, do not consider these issues to be worth supporting. The media, including the Scotsman.com are really working overtime to create support for the bill, where it otherwise would not exist.

The prime example was the article from Friday that emphasized Catholic opposition to the bill. If you didn't read the article, but only saw the headline, you would think that the Catholic Church was the only group to oppose the bill, and you may even think that there is a Catholic conspiracy to control the Scottish parliament.

The Catholic Church should oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide because these are acts that threaten the lives of the most vulnerable in society. The way that MacDonald has written the bill specifically focuses on people with disabilities. If I were a Scottish disability advocate I would be asking the question, when did society start promoting that my life is not worth living?

My final comment is to MacDonald herself. If you want to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, why can't you simply write a bill that is honest and straight-forward about your intentions. Instead you decided to attempt to create new terminology - "end of life assistance" that is fuzzy enough that a person would be forced to actually read the bill to know what it is actually about.

If there is nothing wrong with euthanasia and assisted suicide, why can't you just say, I am trying to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. Is it because very few people strongly support the concept so that by couching the terms you can gain some more support?

Anyway, you can link to the article in the Scotsman.com at: http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/MacDonald-remains-optimistic-over-assisted.6009600.jp

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bobby Schindler: The press is still lying about my sister, Terri Schiavo

An interview on CNS news with Bobby Schindler, Terri Schiavo's brother, is worth reprinting. He is right to say that many people are still not telling the truth about her death.

The interview:
It’s been nearly five years since his sister, Terri Schindler Schiavo, was starved and dehydrated to death, and Bobby Schindler says the mainstream press is still “telling lies” about her.

"It’s still being misreported by the mainstream media,” Schindler told CNSNews.com Thursday. “There’s things that are being said that were simply not true."

“They refer to Terri as being brain dead,” Schindler said of news accounts. “I see that all the time, and it simply is not true. They say that she was on artificial life support, without explaining to people what artificial life support means. There’s this perception out there that Terri was on a machine – that people like Terri need machines to keep them alive. And it simply is not true."

Terri Schiavo became the center of a crisis that played out on the national stage beginning in 2003, when a Florida judge, Judge George Greer, ordered her feeding tube removed -- at the request of Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband.

Despite a two-year long effort by Bobby's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, to save their profoundly disabled daughter, Terri Schiavo died of severe dehydration on March 31, 2005, almost 14 days after her feeding tube was finally removed.

Schindler said the autopsy report showed that his sister was physically in good shape at the time of her death -- and that the pathologist indicated she could have "quite easily lived a normal life-span." he said.

"Terri died because we took away her food and water – just like we would all die if our food and water was taken away. It took almost two weeks."

Still, the media continue to report that his sister, who was left profoundly disabled after a heart attack cut off oxygen to her brain, was brain-dead, that she was on artificial life support, that she was unresponsive and that she was blind.

"These are simply not factually correct," he told CNSNews.com. "It’s patently false.

“If Terri were alive today, she could be here to ‘March for Life’ with us,” Schindler said. “All she needed was a wheelchair, and we could have taken her anywhere. But there’s the perception out there that these people basically need to be bed-ridden, and they are unable to be taken anywhere. It’s just not true."

Many people still do not know that food and hydration are now defined, at least legally, as artificial life support, Schindler said.

“So when they refer to someone as being on artificial life support, (people) think that they are on machines – when the fact of the matter is that Terri could be taken anywhere," he added.

A former teacher, Schindler now speaks for the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, which was formed after her death to help families with disabled loved ones in similar situations.

"There seems to me to be a profound prejudice against people with disabilities that exists in our culture today," he said.

“If you go on YouTube, or go on MySpace, and put my sister’s name in there and see all the horribly offensive things that come up, and how she’s made fun of -- it frightens me, because of what exists in our culture today and how we view people like my sister and people with cognitive disabilities," Schindler said.

"I think we’re being taught to look at these people as burdens, as inconveniences, instead of what I believe they are – as gifts. They allow us to show our compassion, our love. I believe that they are blessings.

“And if you talk to families that are caring for people like my sister, they look at their loved one as a blessing – to be in this position of having to care for them – because they are completely vulnerable to us.”

On April 11, the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation is sponsoring a concert in Indianapolis to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Terri’s death. Country music superstars Randy Travis and Collin Raye are headlining the event All proceeds will go towards helping families.

Link to the interview: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/60230

Link to the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation website: http://www.terrisfight.org/

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dr. Peter Saunders, the director of the Care Not Killing Alliance in the UK made the following comment to the scotsman.com. Saunders points out that the language is so wide that the bill includes euthanasia and assisted suicide and it can be used on people with disabilities, chronic conditions, or terminally ill.

These were Peter Saunders comments:
What immediately struck me about the bill is its coyness. It doesn't spell what sort of "end-of-life assistance" a "designated practitioner" may provide. Is it assisted suicide (where the person takes prescribed lethal drugs) or euthanasia (where the doctor gives a lethal injection)? The vague wording actually covers both.

The bill is full of detail about the bureaucracy – who can and cannot be a witness, how many days must elapse between successive requests and what constitutes "a positive report" from a psychiatrist. But on the crucial issue of how the deed is to be done, we are simply told that "the requesting person and the designated practitioner must agree on the means by which assistance is to be provided". Are we to infer that any means at all are acceptable? Surely not. Scotland's Parliament and people are entitled to know exactly what is intended here. This is far too serious a matter for euphemisms.

We have here a bill that is very similar, not to the Oregon assisted suicide law that is so much in favour with the euthanasiasts in England, but to the more virulent Dutch model. Ms MacDonald claims that her bill would lead to no more than 50 deaths a year in Scotland. Dutch experience suggests that the number could be as many as 1,500.

The catchment area for Ms MacDonald's bill is very wide, comprising as it does anyone who is not just terminally ill, but "permanently physically incapacitated to such an extent as not to be able to live independently". What sort of message does this send to disabled people and to others dependent on friends or relatives? It says: "If you cannot live without help, you are a candidate for having your life ended." Ms MacDonald may be well-intentioned, but this bill is simply too dangerous.

• Peter Saunders is director of Care Not Killing Alliance.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

MacDonald introduces bill in Scottish parliament to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide

Margo Macdonald is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of Scottish parliamentarians by introducing a bill to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide with language that is imprecise and dangerous.

When I first read the End of Life Assistance Bill in Scotland I recognized that this bill would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide for people with disabilities, people with chronic conditions, or people with terminal conditions. I then spoke with Margaret Dore, the great attorney from Seattle. She pointed out several other grievous parts to the bill. Analysing legislative proposals can be difficult because the language of the bills, like this one, are often intentionally vague in order to make the bill appear to have strict "safeguards" where in fact the bill is wide-open.

The legislation is called the "End of Life Assistance" Bill.

In the Act "end of life assistance" means assistance, including the provision (assisted suicide) or administration (euthanasia) of appropriate means, to enable a person to die with dignity and a minimum distress.

By using the terminology - end of life assistance, she is attempting to create confusion surrounding the fact that this bill would legalizing euthanasia (which is usually done by lethal injection) and assisted suicide (a lethal dose).

This bill Section 1 states:
It is not a criminal offence or a delect for a person -
(a) to privide end of life assistance in accordance with this act; or
(b) to privide assistance (assisted suicide), including assistance by participating in any step (euthanasia) required by this Act, to enable another person (possibly not restricted to medical practitioners) to obtain or provide end of life assistance in accordance with this Act.

This section is a blanket immunity for any person who provides "end of life assistance" or who assists with it.

It is important to point out that Section 1 of the Act uses the term (any person). Section 1 provides blanket immunity for a person who (participates in any step required by this Act). This section provides a wide permission for a person to be directly and intentionally involved with causing another person's death.

Section 2 Need for two formal requests.

Section 2 simply requires two formal requests.

Section 2 states that a registered medical practitioner must approve the formal requests. This section does not provide any effective safeguards. The euthanasia lobby will simply develop a list of supportive medical practitioners.

Section 3, Revocability of request for assistance.

In Section 3(1) the bill states that End of life assistance may not be provided if...
Section 3(2) states: Such notice does not prevent a subsequent request ...
Therefore the practitioner could simply say that the person changed their mind again.

Basically, Section 3 states that by signing up for "end of life assistance" the person is potentially making an irrevocable request for euthanasia or assisted suicide and if the person changes their mind and yet dies by euthanasia anyway, the bill has a built in defense mechanism to protect the practitioner or anyone else who is involved with the death.

Section 4: Eligibility requirements.

Section 4 outlines that the people with disabilities, chronic conditions or "terminally ill" can die by euthanasia or assisted suicide. The definition of terminally ill (the person suffers from a progressive condition and if death within six months in consequence of that condition can reasonably be expected) is very broad and would include an insulin dependent person who decides to forgo insulin. The Act does not require a person to continue beneficial treatments such as insulin.

Section 5, Requirements relating to designated practitioners and psychiatrists

Section 5 is unenforceable because there is no penalty for violating this section.

Section 6, Requirements relating to first formal request

Section 6 is unenforceable because their are no penalties for violating this section.

Section 7, Consideration of first formal request by designated practioner,

Subsection 1 states that the designated practitioner must physically meet with the requesting person and discuss with that person ...

To discuss these concerns with the requesting person leaves the decision as to whether or not the person is approved to the practitioner. This confirms the reality that this bill gives the practitioner the right to directly and intentionally cause a person's death. The only choice or autonomy related to this Act is exercised by the practitioner and not the requesting person.

Further to that, if a practitioner rejects the request for "end of life assistance" the person can simply "doctor shop." The euthanasia lobby will simply develop a list of supportive practitioners, like they have done in Oregon, and provide a referral service. In other words this section amounts to nothing.

The fact that the Bill refers to the need for a report from a psychiatrist is once again providing an illusion of safeguards. Refer to section 9.

Section 8, Requirements relating to second formal request,

Similar to other jurisdictions, Section 8 is providing a "waiting period" to determine whether the person actually wants to die by euthanasia or assisted suicide. Waiting periods are a good idea but they provide very little protection from undue influence.

Section 9, Consideration of capacity etc. by psychiatrist,

The involvement of the psychiatrist in the process is a potential safeguard, but because the bill has such a wide application - people with disabilities, chronic conditions or "terminally ill", therefore the role of the psychiatrist is really to approve "thumbs up" or to reject "thumbs down".

Section 10, Agreement on provision of assistance,

This section approves a process whereby the practitioner and the requesting person will establish an agreement as to how they will go about the euthanasia or assisted suicide death.

Subsection 1(b) asks - who is to provide the end of life assistance.

When considering that Section 1 refers to any person, in a similar manner this subsection does not prevent people who are not medical practitioners to carry-out the act, so long as it is part of the "agreement."

Subsection (2) states: The agreement must be in writing, signed by both the requesting person and the designated practioner, and dated.

This subsection outlines that this is a legal contract. There is no requirement that a lawyer or other witnesses be involved with this contract. No witness and no counsel is necessary.

Section 11, Requirements relating to the actual provision of assistance,

Section 11 only requires that the designated practitioner be present at the death. No - third party - witness is required.

There is also no Coroners report required. A coroner's report is filed after the death, so it is not a safeguard, but it does provide some information for society to investigate the actual practice.

I have read Margo MacDonald's - End of Life Assistance Bill several times. The Bill would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Scotland. The bill essentially grants a "blank cheque to kill" people with disabilities, chronic conditions or terminally ill.

MacDonald has attempted to create the appearance of strict safeguards. She appears to have wanted her bill to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide for a large group of people, including herself, yet she knew that the bill needed an illusion of protection for vulnerable persons.

The fact is that people with disabilities and those who live with chronic conditions need to strongly respond to this bill because it directly focuses on eliminating their lives.

Margo MacDonald MSP is seriously misleading the Scottish People and Parliament

This is a reprint of the blog comment made by Peter Saunders, the director of the Care Not Killing Alliance in the UK. He proves that the claims by Ms MacDonald that only 50 Scots a year would die by assisted suicide is false.

The blog states:
Margo MacDonald claims that about 50 Scots a year would die if her ‘end of life assistance’ bill were to be enacted.

She makes this remarkable claim on the basis that experience in the few countries where assisted death has been legalised shows that it accounts for only one in every 2,000’ deaths - though, interestingly, she names no specific country or source. The facts tell a very different story.

A select committee of the Westminster Parliament investigated the death rate from euthanasia and assisted suicide in Oregon and The Netherlands as part of its examination of Lord Joffe’s Assisted Dying Bill.

It found that, in the US State of Oregon, where physician assisted-suicide (but not euthanasia) is legal for the terminally ill only, the rate was 1 in 714 deaths. Given that there are some 55,000 deaths a year in Scotland, we might expect therefore about 80 deaths a year with an Oregon-type law. In fact, deaths from assisted suicide have risen steadily in Oregon since the law there was enacted 13 years ago. By 2008, the number of Oregonians who were committing suicide every year with drugs legally supplied by their doctors had risen nearly fourfold!

More important, however, Ms MacDonald’s proposed law, like that in The Netherlands, allows both assisted suicide and euthanasia and it would license the practice not only for the terminally ill but for anyone who is ‘permanently physically incapacitated to such an extent as not to be able to live independently’ and who ‘finds life intolerable’.

In The Netherlands the select committee assessed that one in every 38 deaths was the result of legislation similar to what Ms MacDonald is now proposing. This would translate into nearly 1,500 deaths of Scots every year. All this information is publicly available in the 2005 report of the House of Lords select committee, whose in-depth investigation of 'assisted dying' heard from nearly 150 expert witnesses in four countries.

Ms MacDonald's estimates, which are wide of the mark by a factor of 30 – or 3,000 percent, are seriously misleading. The Scottish public and Parliament would be well advised to approach her bill with great caution and in knowledge of the facts rather than the spin.

Link to the Peter Saunders blog: http://pjsaunders.blogspot.com/2010/01/margo-macdonald-msp-is-seriously.html

link to the article from news.scotsman.com: http://news.scotsman.com/politics/Margo-says-50-Scots-a.6001169.jp

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Watch the video of Baby Isaiah moving.


The parents of Baby Isaiah are fighting to keep their son alive. He is at the Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton.

For a baby who is supposedly brain dead, then how come he moves on his own? Watch the video of him moving at: http://www.facebook.com/#/group.php?gid=167085117294&ref=ts

After watching him move in the video, don't tell me that this case has nothing to do with futile care theory and cost containment.

For more information go to the - Prayers for Baby Isaiah James facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=167085117294&ref=ts

Baby Isaiah gets reprieve as judge asks for more time

CTV news reported that Baby Isaiah will get a one week reprieve while an independent expert examine Baby Isaiah to determine his actual medical condition.

The CTV report stated:
A city judge has decided she needs more time to consider the arguments in the case of an Alberta family battling Alberta Health Services (AHS) to keep their son on life support.

This means that baby Isaiah James May will not be disconnected from his ventilator Wednesday afternoon as originally planned by AHS and the Stollery Children's Hospital.

Madame Justice Michelle Crighton ruled Tuesday morning in an Edmonton courtroom she will come back with her decision on Jan. 27 after hearing from an independent expert in the emotionally-charged issue.

The lawyer for the May family wants the hospital and health authority to delay their plans for 90 days. Alberta Health Services told the court they are willing to wait only 30 days.

When Isaiah was born in Oct. 2009, he suffered severe oxygen deprivation. Doctors say they've done everything they can. But the parents believe their son is showing signs of improvement.

The boy was born in the Rocky Mountain House Hospital after a difficult 40-hour delivery. On Oct. 24th, 2009 the boy was airlifted to hospital and admitted for treatment. The boy was then placed on a ventilator in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.

A letter sent to the parents by Alberta Health Services on Jan. 13stated that the boy's doctors believed all medical procedures had been exhausted. They informed the parents that the boy will never recover from a severe lack of oxygen at birth.

"The diagnosis is unchanged; your son suffered severe anoxic brain injury at birth and has irreversible brain damage. There is no hope of recovery for Isaiah," the letter stated.

It went on to say, "Accordingly, it is with sadness that we are advising you that your treatment team will discontinue mechanical ventilation support to Isaiah after 2 pm Wednesday, January 20, 2010."

Isaiah's mother Rebecka May stated in court documents that her son has continued to grow since his birth.

May said medical staff informed the family that "Isaiah would not grow." But the woman noted that Isaiah has "continued to grow since his birth and now weighs ten pounds eleven ounces."

May also mentioned in documents that her son's pupils dilate, his eyes open daily, and he moves his hands, arms and feet with "increasing frequency."

I think the family made a reasonable request. They are only asking for another 90 days to give Isaiah a further chance to improve. Will one week or thirty days be enough time to allow Isaiah the opportunity to improve?

Medical ethicists and society will honor every decision to withhold or withdraw beneficial medical treatment, upon request, unless it is clearly proven that the person who requested the withholding or withdrawing is incompetent to make the decision.

In the same way, medical ethicists and society should honor decisions to not withhold or withdraw beneficial medical treatment.

We also need to reject the current ethos around futile care theory. In the past, futile medical treatment referred to the actual treatment being futile, meaning that the physiological benefit from the treatment was questionable at best. Now futile care treatment asks the question whether or not the patient is futile.

The Alberta Health Service is not saying that the ventilator is futile, because it is in fact doing exactly what it is designed to do, allowing Isaiah to breath. The Alberta Health Service is saying that Baby Isaiah is futile, meaning that even if Isaiah were to survive, that his life would lack value. I think they are wrong.

Mother who kills daughter has false compassion

An article written by Sandra Laville and published in the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia is wrongly presenting the actions of a mother in the UK who killed her suicidal daughter as that of a "devoted mother."

The article states
A "devoted mother" who found her desperately ill daughter trying to kill herself spent 28 hours administering a cocktail of lethal drugs to her after failing to convince her to go on living, a court has heard.

Kay Gilderdale, 55, helped her daughter Lynn, 31, end the pain of an "unimaginably wretched" form of myalgic encephalopathy. She handed her daughter syringes of morphine to administer to herself and when that failed, gave her antidepressants and sleeping pills, injected morphine into her intravenous line and tried to cause a fatal clot on the lung, Lewes Crown Court, south of London, was told.

At one point early the next day, when she saw her daughter was still breathing, Mrs Gilderdale rang an assisted dying charity for advice. Shortly afterwards Lynn Gilderdale, died - 30 hours after she had called her mother to her bedside in the midst of a suicide attempt, pleading: "I want the pain to go. I don't want to go on."

The jury heard that Mrs Gilderdale, a "loving, caring" mother supported "unconditionally" by her family, admitted assisting her daughter's suicide in December 2008.

It is interesting to note that when Lynn Gilderdale didn't die that her mother, Kay, called an assisted dying group (euthanasia lobby) and soon after the daughter died. What kind of advice do these groups actually provide?

The article then asks whether or not the charge should be attempted murder or assisted suicide? The article states:
Sally Howes, QC, prosecuting, said the jury had to judge whether her actions amounted to attempted murder. "Instead of assisting, she then set about performing actions which were designed with one intention only, that of terminating her daughter's life. It was not done to make her better. It was done to make sure that she died."

The charge was attempted murder because nobody could be sure whether Mrs Gilderdale had administered the fatal dose or doses. She denies the charge.

It seems very clear that Kay Gilderdale, the mother, did not assist her daughter in commiting suicide but rather attempted to kill her. The mother went from being part of a suicide, to actually directly and intentionally causing the death of her daughter.

Society should have sympathy for the depressed condition that Lynn was experiencing, but to offer a similar compassion for her mother could only be a false compassion.
Link to the article: http://www.smh.com.au/world/devotion-led-to-helping-suicidal-daughter-20100119-mj7e.html

Couple seeks injunction to keep baby alive

The continuing story about Baby Isaiah May in Edmonton. The Calgary Sun reported on the issue with this article. After speaking to Rebecka May I must say that the Calgary Sun was fair in their presenation of the story. The May family wants more time to give Isaiah a chance to improve enough to go home. What is so wrong about a family wanting to give their child a chance to go home with them.

If he does improve to the level that he could go home, then his parents would be caring for him and he wouldn't be costing the health care system so much money.

If the Isaiah May is not given the 90 day injunction, truly a tragedy would be done.

Today's Calgary Sun article by Katie Schneider:
As their baby fights for his life, a Rocky Mountain House couple are about to battle Alberta Health Services and Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital who want to take their son off the machines helping keep him alive.

Rebecka and Isaac May will be in court in Edmonton Tuesday to try to get a 90-day injunction to keep their three-month-old son, Isaiah, on life support.

After Isaiah was born Oct. 24 with severe oxygen deprivation and had to be airlifted to Stollery hospital for treatment, doctors told his parents he was brain dead.

“They said he would never move, his eyes wouldn’t dilate,” Isaac said.

But as the little boy remained on life support, his parents thought things were looking up as Isaiah began to gain weight and show signs of improvement.

Then last Wednesday they received a letter from Alberta Health Services stating his diagnosis was unchanged and that the hospital would be withdrawing life support on Jan. 20, prompting the couple to take the matter to court to fight for their son’s life.

“He’s doing everything they said he wouldn’t,” Rebecka said.

“We believe he will keep improving and we just want to give him more of a chance.”

“We believe every life is a life worth fighting for.”

Holding her baby in her arms at the hospital, she continues to be optimistic.

“I will fight for him until I can’t fight for him,” she said.

“Because I love him.

“As a parent you always want to hope.”

Link to the Calgary Sun article:
http://www.calgarysun.com/news/alberta/2010/01/18/12520211.html

Monday, January 18, 2010

Parents to battle Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton Alberta, to keep their infant son on life support

A story from CTV news in Edmonton has reported about the battle that the parents of Baby Isaiah are willing to fight against the Stollery Childrens Hospital in Edmonton to give their son a chance to survive.

Link to the story: http://edmonton.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100118/edm_lifesupport_100118/20100118/?hub=EdmontonHome

The story states:
A mother and father from Rocky Mountain House are set to fight Alberta Health Services and the Stollery Children's Hospital to keep their infant son on life support.

Isaiah James May was born in October after suffering severe oxygen deprivation. Doctors say they've done everything they can. But the parents believe their son is showing signs of improvement.

The boy was born in the Rocky Mountain House Hospital after a difficult 40-hour delivery. On Oct. 24th, 2009 the boy was airlifted to hospital and admitted for treatment. The boy was then placed on a ventilator in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit.

A letter sent to the parents by Alberta Health Services on Jan. 13th stated that the boy's doctors believed all medical procedures had been exhausted. They informed the parents that the boy will never recover from a severe lack of oxygen at birth.

"The diagnosis is unchanged; your son suffered severe anoxic brain injury at birth and has irreversible brain damage. There is no hope of recovery for Isaiah," the letter stated.

It went on to say, "Accordingly, it is with sadness that we are advising you that your treatment team will discontinue mechanical ventilation support to Isaiah after 2 p.m. Wednesday, January 20, 2010."

Isaiah's mother Rebecka May stated in court documents that her son has continued to grow since his birth.

May said medical staff informed the family that "Isaiah would not grow." But the woman noted that Isaiah has "continued to grow since his birth and now weighs ten pounds eleven ounces."

May also mentioned in documents that her son's pupils dilate, his eyes open daily, and he moves his hands, arms and feet with "increasing frequency."

A lawyer representing the family will be in court Tuesday attempting to get a 90-day injunction. Court documents are requesting that the hospital be restrained from removing the boy off life support care, and direct the hospital to provide complete disclosure of Isaiah's medical records.

I have spoken to Rebecka on several occasions and I consider her to be honest, realistic and straight forward. The family is asking for a 90 day injunction to provide time for Isaiah to continue improving. Many people have witnessed Isaiah's movements with more time to improve he is likely to survive.

Isaiah appears to be a victim of futile care theory. Futile care theory suggests that even though the life-sustaining treatment is beneficial for Isaiah and may in fact lead to his survival, that he is not deserving of the treatment because even if he does survive, his life is considered futile. Another article on the CTV Edmonton website was about the possible closure of beds at a hospital in Edmonton.

The goal for the family is to bring Isaiah home and care for him themselves. They know how much work they would be required to do to care for him at home, but they are willing to accept that responsibility.

The hospital is overstepping its role by unilaterally deciding when to remove life-sustaining treatment from a child that is improving. Stories like these are particularly distressing in Canada because the Government is the sole provider of health care and is able to withhold treatment, even when the family has clearly expressed the desire to continue treatment. This baby needs more time. The family wants to care for their baby and I believe the hospital should be doing their best to allow that to happen.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Suicide tourism debate may lead to referendum in Zurich Switzerland

An article from World Radio Switzerland is suggesting that a referendum on "suicide tourism" may happen in Zurich to resolve the assisted suicide debate that has become an intense in that region.

The article states:
Intense debate continues in Zurich surrounding the issue of so-called “suicide tourism” or “death tourism.”

Right-wing politicians have found support in parliament for their argument that people from outside Zurich shouldn’t be allowed to come to the canton to use the services of assisted suicide groups.

The conservative UDF party in Zurich have called for the people to vote on the matter. They say only people who’ve lived in Zurich for at least a year should be eligible.

The cantonal cabinet said such a vote would go against the federal constitution, which allows assisted suicide as long as there’s no financial motive.

The constitution also guarantees equality of treatment regardless of people’s background.

Despite the cabinet’s concerns, Zurich’s parliament has now voted in favour of holding a referendum.

But it’s by no means certain the issue will go to the ballot—the matter could now be taken to the federal tribunal.

The radical ideology that is promoted by Ludwig Minelli who operates the Dignitas suicide clinic is creating a general stir among politicians in Switzerland.

If a referendum is conducted in a fair and open manner it may be a good political way to deal with assisted suicide in Switzerland. Since assisted suicide always threatens the lives of the most vulnerable, therefore the government really needs to amend its laws and outlaw the death clinics altogether, while simultaneously implementing significant improvements in palliative and chronic care and the services that are available to people with disabilities.

Link to the original article:
http://worldradio.ch/wrs/news/wrsnews/new-twist-in-suicide-tourism-debate.shtml?17440

Links to previous blog comments about the Dignitas Clinic and its founder Ludwig Minelli"
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2009/04/dignitas-founder-views-assisted-suicide.html

http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2009/02/cashing-in-on-despair.html

Final Exit Network Activist Enters Guilty Plea in Arizona - Agrees to Testify Against Other Defendants


Yesterday I saw the article about Wye Hale-Rowe, a member of the Final Exit Network, who was arrested in connection to a death, who pleaded guilty in Arizona. I was planning to blog it immediately, but due to family commitments I failed to put my thoughts on this blog. Now I notice that Stephen Drake from Not Dead Yet has done a good synopsis of the issue. This is a "reprint" of Stephen Drake's comments:

This could be very important news. Wye Hale-Rowe, a long time assisted suicide activist and advocate, has entered a guilty plea in Arizona to a charge of "facilitation to commit manslaughter."

The longest and most detailed coverage of Hale-Rowe's plea is in the Phoenix New Times, an independent paper that originally broke the story of the investigation that led to the arrests of Hale-Rowe and three other individuals, all "exit guides" in the Final Exit Network. The rest of the media in Arizona has treated this as almost a non-story.

From the New Times blog:

Readers may remember our story on the so-called "assisted case" of Jana Van Voorhis, a 58-year-old Phoenix woman who died mysteriously in her bed in the spring of 2007.

It was a particularly sad and bizarre yarn (even by our standards), and had a slew of dicey legal and ethical issues wrapped inside of it.

One of our key interviews in the piece was with Wye Hale-Rowe, then 79, a retired family therapist and great-grandmother who now lives in Michigan. She was then was a volunteer for the Final Exit Network, an offshoot of the now-defunct Hemlock Society.

Earlier today, Hale-Rowe pleaded guilty in Maricopa County Superior Court to facilitation to commit manslaughter, a felony.

In striking a plea deal with county prosecutors, Hale-Rowe agreed to testify against the three remaining defendants in the case, an aged Scottsdale man who allegedly also assisted Van Voorhis in killing herself, and two senior Final Exit officials from out of state. (emphasis added.)

The other defendants are facing charges of manslaughter and conspiracy to commit manslaughter. This already had the potential of being a very interesting and revealing trial in regard to the Final Exit Network. Van Voorhis had no significant health issues or physical disabilities. I also was looking forward to how the "training manual" would be used as evidence in the trial - the manual allegedly tells "exit guides" they are "special people" and should work to reduce the ambivalence of people who want to commit suicide - and any family members involved.

Link to a previous blog comment by Stephen Drake on the Final Exit Network Training Manual:
http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/2009/04/ap-final-exit-network-manual-calls.html

Now we have Hale-Rowe copping a plea and agreeing to testify against her accomplices.

Question: Will anyone besides the folks from the Phoenix New Times cover this trial? -- Stephen Drake

Link to the original blog comment: http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/2010/01/big-news-final-exit-network-activist.html

Link to the article in the Phoenix Newtimes:
http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2010/01/guilty_plea_today_in_phoenix_a.php

Washington State doctors won't rush into assisted suicide

I few days ago I read an article by Matt Gouras from the Associated Press that was titled: Doctors won't rush into assisted suicide.

Link to the article: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_950bf20a-fe1a-11de-8841-001cc4c002e0.html

I found the article interesting because it got to the meat and potatoes of the issue.

I hope that the premise of the article - doctors won't rush into assisted suicide - is true, but I am cautious knowing how Compassion & Choices, the leading euthanasia lobby group, actually controls the workings of the Oregon law and they appear to have more information about the assisted suicide deaths in Washington state than the State Government.

Nonetheless the article correctly stated:
"The court decision made Montana the third state where it is legal, but the state has no specific laws outlining guidelines for doctors like they do in Oregon and Washington. That will leave Montana doctors on their own to determine how to proceed if they choose to help a dying patient commit suicide.

The Supreme Court said nothing in the law prevents a doctor from prescribing death-inducing drugs to terminally ill, mentally competent patients. And the court said doing so would be a defense against homicide charges.

But doctors, just because they could have a defense to charges of murder, aren't likely to rush into the process. They are hoping the Legislature ­ until now hesitant to wade into the debate ­ will craft a legal framework for assisted suicide."

The article is correct in stating that the court said that the doctrine of competence would be a successful defense against any assisted suicide prosecution in Washington state, but the court did not say that physicians could not be prosecuted.

The other fact is that the court narrowly opened the door to assisted suicide in Montana based on an interpretation of the legislative framework in that state. That means that the the open door to assisted suicide could be closed by legislative means.

The court did not suggest a regulatory regime. Even in Oregon where assisted suicide is defined within the law abuses occur, such as when Barbara Wagner was denied medical treatment but offered assisted suicide or palliative care.

The court also erred in its decision when it stated that the right to refuse medical treatment is the same as assisted suicide. Ethically and in real life these circumstances are very different.

The article quoted Dr Margaret Stockwell, who helps to run a hospice program at a hospital in Helena. She stated:
"Frequently we give medications that provide comfort with the possibility of hastening death, but that's not the point to hasten death, the point is to provide comfort," she said. "Feeding tubes and machinery are not a very good idea at that point. There are situations where enough is enough."

This means that to provide comfort (using analgesics to relieve pain and suffering) may hasten ones death, but the point of the comfort care is not to hasten death but provide comfort. The point of assisted suicide is to be directly and intentionally involved with causing the death of another person. This is different by its intention and in its reality. She is also saying that withdrawing medical treatment is often necessary and only allows natural death to occur and it is not the same as ingesting a lethal dose to cause death.

Another explanation: when a person provides comfort care or withdraws life-sustaining treatment, the patient may die. But sometimes they don't and most often they do not die immediately. When a person ingests a lethal dose, they die from the lethal dose and when the lethal dose is properly prepared, they never survive.

In other words, assisted suicide results in the direct and intentional death of the person. Withdrawing treatment allows natural death to occur, but sometimes a person actually continues to survive. Clearly it is ethically and in reality different than assisted suicide.

The ACLU of Montana, that supports assisted suicide, stated through its spokeswoman Amy Cannata:
"Right now it is pretty unclear for doctors.... The court said death with dignity is a defense in homicide. I don't think that will put many doctors at ease to help patients who want and need this aid in dying. I don't know that if I was a physician that would be enough safeguard for me to say, 'yeah I will help you.'"

It is clear that the issue of assisted suicide is not settled in the state of Montana. It is also clear that the court settled one confusion and created a new confusion.

Friday, January 8, 2010

How the media frenzy around a Belgian man misdiagnosed as being in a vegetative state came to haunt the doctor who treated him.

An article in Newsweek by writer Ford Vox is about the experience by Dr. Stephen Laurey's, the prominent neurologist from Belgium, who diagnosed Rom Houben as being in Locked-in-Syndrome after being diagnosed as PVS for 23 years.

Link to my previous blog comment on this story: http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2009/11/siginificance-of-case-of-man-who-for-23.html

The Newsweek story reports:
It was a fantastic story that ruled the headlines for a few days, but unfortunately, it was only partly true, and the resulting media circus distorted the work of Houben's doctor, Steven Laureys. In reality, Laureys didn't need advanced technology to diagnose Houben, who doesn't meet the definition of a locked-in patient. Laureys actually can't verify that the patient was fully conscious for all those 23 years. Nor did Laureys acquaint Houben with "facilitated communication," a controversial aided-speech method that has Houben reliant on the hand of a therapist to peck out letters on a keyboard. (This method has been debunked time and again, including in a famous series of child-abuse trials involving severely autistic children.) But as the story gained more and more media attention, the narrative changed, and Laureys's work was increasingly misinterpreted. The doctor now sees his name linked to facilitated communication and seems driven to defend the method, even though the case is more accurately seen as a vindication for a simple but elegant observational test that can be used to determine a patient's level of consciousness.

In other words, Laurey's research was falsely attacked as being connected to a questionable communications technique rather than examining his research for what it actually means. The article went on to state:
Laureys, who directs the Coma Science Group at the University of Liege, Belgium, is well regarded for his research on consciousness in brain-injury patients, especially for devising new ways to distinguish patients in a vegetative state from a minimally conscious one (the latter sees waxing and waning of awareness). It's an important distinction: minimally conscious patients have a better chance of recovery than vegetative ones. Laureys's research may give doctors better tools to diagnose these patients. His work using fMRIs and digitally processed EEGs to determine brain activity is world-reknown. This summer, his team published work illustrating how a paper-and-pencil observational test, the Coma Recovery Scale (CRS), first developed by neuropsychologist Joseph Giacino in 1991, is far superior to a subjective analysis—in other words, the collective opinion of entire teams of physicians and therapists, many of whom still misdiagnosed patients after weeks of treatment.

According to Laureys's research, the CRS, a standardized exam where responses to sensory stimuli are repeatedly tabulated, provides a more detailed picture than a routine bedside neurological examination, which might only involve a few minutes of reflex testing of unresponsive patients. It allows doctors to pick up on a variety of low-level patient behaviors that might not otherwise be noticed. In the published study, his team used the CRS to find that 18 of 44 of "vegetative" patients had been misdiagnosed.

The article then explains how the story of Rom Houben actually came to be:
After the study was published, Laureys got a call from Manfred Dworschak, a reporter interested in profiling the doctor and his work. He asked Laureys to help provide a human dimension for the article—a misdiagnosed patient who was willing to go public. Laureys recommended Rom Houben, a car-accident victim whose mother had pressed him for a consultation in 2006, convinced that her son had been misdiagnosed for two decades. Though Houben had not been one of the patients evaluated in the study, the technique was the same: Laureys used the CRS to determine that Houben was, in fact, conscious. Laureys thought Houben would also make a good source in part because he appeared to be able to describe the horror of his misdiagnosis, thanks to the facilitated-communication therapist hired by his family soon after Laureys's initial evaluation.

The article then explains how the Associated Press created a confusion surrounding the story. The article continues:
The German magazine Der Spiegel published the piece about Houben and Laureys online on Nov. 23, which Laureys hoped would call attention to the effectiveness of the underused CRS. (The English translation appeared online two days later.) But when U.S. outlets reported on Houben, key facts were bungled. For instance, The Associated Press mistakenly claimed that Laureys taught Houben how to communicate and later noted that Laureys used sophisticated brain-activity scans to diagnose Houben (he hadn't—though experimental scans were later made, the CRS was all it took for an accurate diagnosis). None of its coverage mentioned the Coma Recovery Scale. Even worse, the presence of the much-debated facilitated-communication technique took the story in a different direction.

Then bioethicist Art Caplan joined the game. His intention was to debunk Laureys criticism of misdiagnosis by attacking the communications method. The article states:
Art Caplan, a University of Pennsylvania bioethicist, knows stories like these can make families afraid to withdraw care and donate organs even when doctors reliably predict a poor outcome for a patient. The moment he saw tape of Houben's aide moving his fingers across a computer keyboard, he sensed trouble, Caplan says. "That's Ouija board stuff," he told the AP. There was a brief moment when the story first broke stateside during which CRS was discussed—Joe Giacino, the American neuropsychologist who developed the test, appeared on Campbell Brown's show on CNN and explained the benefits of the scale, which many centers still don't use. But only 48 hours later, Giacino was back on CNN arguing that the questions about facilitated communication that had become the media's focus were legitimate.

The article concludes by assuring us that in spite of the false furor, Laureys will be back with further research.
Unfortunately, the furor over this odd "therapy" has further confused what the public understands about coma recovery. In fact, facilitated communication is so rare that it's a nonissue for most brain-injury patients. Neither Laureys nor Giacino has ever seen another brain-injured patient use it. Nonetheless, Laureys is planning a thorough investigation and asks the public and the scientific community "to be patient" until he can get "facilitated communication through [a] peer-reviewed journal."

As Laureys heads back into his lab, leaving behind a mess he wants to clear up one day with published science, he admits to some naiveté and says he feels a little "paranoid." "Don't I regret, or should I have foreseen, that this would have happened? Well, I didn't," Laureys says with a sigh. "In retrospect, of course, it's always easy."

Link to the original article: http://www.newsweek.com/id/229784

Not Dead Yet comments on Montana decision

Stephen Drake from Not Dead Yet has commented on the Montana assisted suicide decision from a non-lawyer perspective.
Link to the blog comment: http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/2010/01/montana-supreme-court-decision-non.html

Drake states:
Nevertheless, there are a few things that I can say about the court's reasoning. According to the court, Montana has a fairly broad application of the "consent" defense in questions of criminal activity. Additionally, they totally dismantle any distinction between withholding/withdrawal of treatment and the giving of lethal medication. (the dissent points out that the Supreme Court cases on assisted suicide in 1997 reaffirmed a significant distinction between omission and comission).

In doing these things, the court was able to ignore the existing statutes against assisting suicides, at least as it pertains to prescriptions of lethal medications given to patients by their doctors. (For other reasons, I think they've also left the door open to a "consent" defense for elderly men who kill ailing wives - a growing phenomenon.)

The most disturbing part of the opinion is the "specially concurring" opinion by Justice James C. Nelson. Nelson declares openly that he sees a constitutional right for assisted suicide, so that we all know at least one vote in any future challenges. But he doesn't stop there. Nelson writes more like an unusually eloquent member of the Final Exit Network (Previous blog comment on the Final Exit Network: http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/search/label/final%20exit%20network than a Supreme Court Justice:
Thus noted, the Patients and the class of individuals they represent are persons who suffer from an illness or disease, who cannot be cured of their illness or disease by and reasonably available medical treatment, who therefore expect death within a relatively short period of time, and who demand the right to preserve their personal autonomy and their individual dignity in facing this destiny.

In choosing this language, I purposely eschew bright-line tests or rigid timeframes
.
Justice Jim Rice wrote the dissent, which refutes most of the arguments in the Opinion itself - including the negation of long-standing statutory prohibitions on aiding suicides. Perhaps most importantly, though, Rice thoroughly discusses the intent of elements of the Montana Constitution. Among other things, he points out the significance of a "right to die" proposal being discussed and rejected for inclusion in the Montana constitution. He argues it is hard to read an intent for the practice to be legalized when one knows the subject was discussed and rejected.

I'll be writing more later. There's a lot of material in this decision and I still haven't wrapped my head around it all. For the most part, lawyers and judges are really really painful to read.

Needless to say, when once in awhile, someone says I "think like a lawyer" I guess that's OK. Just never accuse me of writing like one. --Stephen Drake

After speaking to Stephen Drake I must say that I share his concern that any attempt to close the door to assisted suicide in Montana will be legally challenged by Compassion & Choices. We will need to carefully draft an effective legislative response to the Montana decision.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Palliative care blog shares concerns for people with disabilities

A palliative care blog recently commented on my statement concerning the increased incidence of euthanasia in the Netherlands.

The blog stated:
Alex Schadenberg from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition blogged about the rise in deaths from euthanasia and physician assisted suicide in the Netherlands. He questions the lack of information about babies who die under the Gruningen protocol or the prevalence of disabilities or dementia in those who die from euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. Obviously you can tell by the name of his group where he stands, but I think these questions are important regardless of where you stand on this issue and as a matter of public policy in balancing the protection of some with the freedoms of others.

Link to the blog: http://www.pallimed.org/2010/01/palliative-care-grand-rounds-vol-21.html

I thank the writers of the blog for bringing up the issues in an honest manner, but I question their understanding of what euthanasia actually is.

The blog states:
"regardless of where you stand on this issue and as a matter of public policy in balancing the protection of some with the freedoms of others."

Since euthanasia is giving the physician the right to directly and intentionally take the life of their patient, therefore it really isn't an issue of freedom, but rather an issue of when physicians believe it is OK to kill and when they don't believe it is OK to kill.

Final Exit Network wants more permissive assisted suicide laws

A media release that was issued yesterday by Jerry Dincin, the president of the Final Exit Network, expresses their support for the court decision in Montana that legalized assisted suicide in that State, while the group expresses concern that these laws will not allow enough people to die by assisted suicide.

In the release Dinkin states:
... despite the victories in Oregon, Washington, and Montana and the good works of organizations like Compassion and Choices and Hospice, the needs of mentally competent, suffering patients who have not been declared 'terminal' (having fewer than six months to live) have not been addressed.

The media release then promotes their spin concerning the arrest of four of their leaders who were arrested on February 25, 2009 for their involvement in the death of several people who were depressed and vulnerable.

Link to my blog comments concerning the Final Exit Network arrests: http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2009/03/final-exit-network-raided-4-leaders.html

They conclude the media release by advertising the Final Exit Network services through their website and toll free contact number.

If you think that the euthanasia lobby is only interested in giving physicians the right to be directly and intentionally able to assist the suicide of their dying patients, then think again.

Ted Goodwin, the past president of the Final Exit Network, is also the Vice President of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies. Compassion and Choices is a member group of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies.

The only difference between Compassion and Choices and the Final Exit Network is that Compassion and Choices believes in incremental victories while the Final Exit Network is willing to challenge the law by taking in their own hands.

For those who do not believe me concerning the long-term goals of Compassion and Choices simply read the commentary by Dr Richard Wonderly and lawyer Teresa Schrempp concerning the proposed definition of terminal illness that was introduced to the Montana Court in the original Baxter decision. (Link to the commentary http://www.euthanasiaprevention.on.ca/ConnMemo02.pdf) It is clear that the euthanasia lobby is only beginning its quest by promoting assisted suicide for people who are defined as terminally ill and through changes in definitions they will then be after everyone with a chronic or disabling conditions.

Link to the Final Exit Network media release: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/montana-becomes-third-state-to-permit-physician-assisted-suicide---but-final-exit-network-asks-is-it-enough-80783007.html

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Euthanasia drugs, narcotics stolen from veterinary office

I have been writing about Philip Nitschke and Exit International for many years. Exit International has been promoting the idea that their members should purchase Veterinary drugs for the purpose of euthanasia.

I am not suggesting that members of the euthanasia lobby are now resorting to stealing euthanasia drugs from Veterinary offices but it should concern everyone that euthanasia drugs were stolen from a veterinary office in southwest Florida yesterday.

The article stated:
Tuesday around 6 a.m., deputies were called to a reported burglary to the veterinarian office of Dr. VanRoekel, located at 18321 N. Olga Drive in Alva.

During the investigation, deputies learned some very powerful drugs - that were not meant to be used on humans - had been taken during the burglary.

The drugs taken include a variety of steroids, euthanasia drugs, and narcotics.

According to the Lee County Health Department, those drugs were not meant for humans and could be deadly.

Remember, these drugs are not meant for human use, but if a lethal dose is taken, they will cause death.

Let's hope that these drugs are never used.

Link to the article:
http://www.abc-7.com/Global/story.asp?S=11773653

UK mother kills son who became disabled after an accident

Wesley Smith has blogged the sad story of Frances Inglis, the British mom who killed her disabled son Thomas. This is a reprint from his blog.
Link to Wesley Smith blog comment: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/secondhandsmoke/2010/01/05/uk-mother-overdoses-disabled-son-why-is-anyone-surprised/

Wesley stated:
Shades of the Traci Latimer murder from Canada, now a mother in the UK has apparently overdosed her disabled son with pure heroin. And this, after she was out on bail from a previous attempt!

The article from the Telegraph states:
Ten days after Thomas was admitted to hospital, [Frances] Inglis approached a neighbour and asked her for pure heroin “to end his misery”, the court heard. She later told police she had only said it in a “fit of anger.” Over the following months Thomas’ condition improved so that he could open his eyes and move his limbs. On September 4, Frances Inglis visited the hospital’s High Dependency Unit at 5pm and was left alone with her son. “A nurse later noticed that Thomas Inglis was a strange colour and wasn’t breathing,” said Miss Moore. Thomas was resusciatated but, according to medics, his progress was slowed by the incident.

She was let out on bail, and amazingly, tricked caregivers into allowing her to be alone with her son:

She was charged with attempted murder but was released on bail on the condition she did not see her son. Staff at the nursing home where he was being held were issued with a photograph of her but Thomas was then moved to The Gardens Neurological Nursing Home in Sawbridgeworth, Herts for further treatment. Around lunchtime on November 21, 2008, a visitor signed in as Thomas’ aunt. Shortly afterwards, a nurse went to give Thomas his medication and found Inglis at the foot of his bed. Inglis ushered the nurse out of the room and shut the door, blocking it with an oxygen tank. When staff eventually forced their way in, Inglis allegedly screamed: “Leave him alone you stupid people. Don’t resuscitate him because I have done him already. He is in peace.” When police arrived she allegedly confessed to giving her son injections in his thigh and arms. A search of her home was said to have revealed provisions for what would happen once she was in custody including instructions for caring for the family dog and paying household bills.

The woman was clearly disturbed, but that said, I don’t understand why anyone would be surprised by this. A powerful meme has been loosed on the West that it is better to be dead than seriously disabled, a dangerous belief actively abetted by England’s head prosecutor when he essentially decriminalized assisted suicide of people with seriously disabling conditions by family and relatives.

Oh, you say, “But Thomas didn’t consent!” True, but once the idea that killing is an acceptable answer to human suffering goes mainstream, it is a very small step from allowing assisted suicide to shrugging at the mercy killing of those who can’t consent–for their “own good,” of course. Notice that this kind of thing happens all the time in the Netherlands, with the only difference is that doctors do the killing, and nothing serious is ever done about it.

It will be interesting to see what kind of punishment is meted out in this case. She might not get off easy. First, she badly embarrassed the authorities by allegedly doing the deed after they let her out. On the other hand, he was profoundly disabled, and the murderers of such people, particularly family members, often receive generous mercy from the courts. But this could be her downfall:
Described by neighbours as a “pillar of the community”, she became a “permanently angry and changed woman” and refused to believe doctors who told her that her son would get better, a court heard
.
The murder of people expected to improve is likely, alas, to be treated differently than the killing of someone who wasn’t. The potential for improvement undercuts the power of the emotional narrative of ending pointless suffering out of love. I predict little leniency. But it will be well worth watching.

Link to the article from BBC News:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/8442537.stm

Link to the article from the Telegraph:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/6937929/Mother-injected-brain-damaged-son-with-fatal-dose-of-heroin-to-end-misery.html

When reading this article it must be clear to everyone that people with disabilities are seen as unequal by many people in society. Since euthanasia gives physicians the right to directly and intentionally cause the death of their patient, it is clear that people with disabilities will always be concerned and oppose euthanasia.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gotta Love the Dutch, Those Merciful Killers!

Mark Mostert has once again states the truth. Mark has a style that challenges the lies from the culture directly. I have reprinted his blog comment to allow you to read the truth:

Mark's blog:
Let’s open the New Year as we left the old year, shall we?

You know - that part about how we are now becoming quite accustomed to killing people because somebody has decided they are not worth keeping alive.

All in the decedents’ best interests, of course.

Media in the Netherlands reports that there was an increase in the number of people euthanized in 2009 – including people in the early stages of dementia. No surprise there, but I think it’s instructive to look at what is reported, and the subtle subtexts that are nevertheless coercive in slanting a favorable impression of medicalized killing.

Sidebar: I’m not suggesting that the reporter deliberately thought this through, but I think it’s obvious that things in the Netherlands are so pro-euthanasia that the article’s bias is assumed to be “balanced coverage,” which it’s not.

From a piece DutchNews entitled More Cases of Euthanasia in 2009.

First, the obvious is reported, that there were more 200 more cases of euthanasia in the Netherlands last year than 2008, where the killing total was 2,500.

Then:
It is not known how many cases of mercy killing there actually are in the Netherlands, but in 2007 experts said around 80% of instances are registered with the monitoring body.

Well, mercy for whom, exactly? What exactly is the nature of this “mercy?” How can we be assured that the “mercy’ is not for those left behind who found the patient too much of a burden? What about the survivors benefitting from such “mercy” as they inherit goodies from the person they coaxed to assume a duty to die? No way to tell, of course.

“Merciful” because people are in unbearable pain and suffering? Not exactly, because many people who are euthanized are not in pain, and because, in the Netherlands, you can request euthanasia for just about any reason at all, pain or no pain.

Also, after all the fanfare in the Netherlands about making euthanasia legal so that it could be officially controlled, what do we find? Well, it’s not controllable.

Remember, too, that the registering “monitoring body” (sounds so nice, certain, and transparent) is a review panel that examines the circumstances of the killing AFTER it has occurred.

Now, here's the next snippet that contradicts the whole pain-and-suffering angle:
There were also six registered cases of euthanasia on elderly patients with senile dementia, all of whom were in the early stages and able to make their wishes known.

Ah, I see. Where to begin? Dementia, though tragic and unfortunate, is not physically painful (originally, at the top of the slippery slope, euthanasia was ONLY for untreatable physical pain among the terminally ill). Psychologically painful? Clearly, for persons who are aware that their faculties are diminishing, but how do other people make this determination? (Those with dementia don’t euthanize themselves, after all). Where is the bright clear line between someone with early dementia who requests euthanasia (in their right mind, so to speak) and someone who’s condition is more far advanced and is judged not competent to request euthanasia?

Don’t worry, the Dutch doctors have a solution for this latter group – they kill them too. The explanation? Had these people been in their right mind, they would have requested euthanasia anyway.

On we go:
The law states a number of criteria, which must be met before euthanasia can be administered. For example, the patient must be suffering unbearable pain and the doctor must be convinced the patient is making an informed choice. The opinion of a second doctor is also required.

More shooting fish in barrels here: Where’s the “unbearable pain” in dementia? How can a doctor ever possibly be sure that, knowing a diagnosis of dementia has already been made, calibrate that the dementia is not affecting the request for euthanasia?

Short answer, I’m afraid: All the contortions of logic and single-mindedness betray, with increasing smugness, that in many places we have decided who should live and who should die.

First those who are terminally ill and in untreatable pain. Then people who are not terminally ill but who might have physical or psychological pain. Then people who are judged to never be able to have a better quality of life. First adults. Then children.

Who’s next?

Link to this blog article by Mark Mostert: http://disabilitymatters.blogspot.com/2010/01/gotta-love-dutch-those-merciful-killers.html