Friday, August 27, 2010

Pastor centre of Euthanasia battle

This is today's article that was published in the Brampton Guardian:

By Peter Criscione - Brampton Guardian - August 27, 2010

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC), has launched a letter-writing campaign in a bid to stop what it says is the unjust treatment of a disabled patient at Brampton Civic Hospital.

EPC is urging residents to file letters en masse after the Consent and Capacity Board, an independent provincial tribunal whose mandate, in part, is to determine a person’s capacity to consent to or refuse medical treatment, gave a public guardian power of attorney over Kulendran (Joshua) Mayandy, a 48-year-old pastor who acquired a cognitive disability after suffering a heart attack in May.

Doctors have determined there is no hope of recovery and suggested all life-sustaining treatment be removed.

But without family members or appointed legal guardian in Canada, the Consent and Capacity Board placed the fate of the Sri Lankan native, a Pentecostal pastor at Humberlea Worship Centre in Etobicoke, in the hands of a Substitute Decision Maker (SDM).

This SDM, in turn, agreed with authorities that no special efforts should be made to prolong Mayandy’s life and on Aug. 17 gave doctors at Brampton the go-ahead to withdraw intravenous hydration and nutrition to speed up his death.

However, EPC members have condemned the decision on the basis that it contradicts Mayandy’s Christian beliefs.

Christians are generally opposed to the idea of interfering with the natural process of death.

“Other than the fact that Joshua is cognitively disabled, he is otherwise healthy and could possibly live many years in this condition,” states Alex Schadenberg, executive director of EPC-Canada. “This is not a case when hydration and nutrition need to be withdrawn because he is actually dying and nearing death, but rather the decision appears to have been made to intentionally cause his death by withdrawing IV hydration and nutrition because he is unlikely to recover from his disability.”

“Society cannot condone intentionally dehydrating a person to death because of their disability or the potential cost of long-term care,” he said.

Hospital officials have refrained from offering up specific details on the matter, stating patient confidentially limits them on what they can disclose publicly.

However, William Osler Health System, which runs Brampton Civic Hospital stressed everyone “involved in the patient’s care is in agreement with his treatment plan.”

“The treatment plan being followed for him has been determined to be medically in the best interests of Pastor Mayandy,” reads a statement prepared by William Osler on the matter. “It was developed according to Ontario law and with the input and oversight of the patient’s Substitute Decision Maker and their lawyer, as well as the patient’s independent lawyer. The course of care is clearly described in an Order of the Ontario government’s Consent and Capacity Board.”

Mayandy’s family, who live in Sri Lanka, and his supporters here, reject that notion, Schadenberg said. “The fact that Joshua did not write down his personal wishes or assign a person to make legal and health care decisions on his behalf in these circumstances, does not negate the fact based on his religious convictions it is unlikely that he would have agreed to death by dehydration,” writes Schadenberg in a blog post at http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com.

The EPC says Mayandy, who has been living with a Brampton family for the last 10 years, was admitted to Brampton Civic after collapsing in front of the emergency department on May 29.

He was revived, but sustained a significant brain injury and fell into a coma.

He was placed in the intensive care unit (ICU) and remained there until regaining the ability to breathe on his own, at which time he was transferred to the respiratory ward— where he still remains, according to EPC.

The group says Mayandy emerged from the coma and regained some ability to communicate.

“He (Mayandy) has the ability to recognize his closest friends and respond with one-word answers and sometimes with multi-word responses. He is able to move his body and appears to be physiologically stable,” Schadenberg states.

However, if Mayandy were physiologically stable, the order issued by the consent board states the attending physician must feed and hydrate Mayandy in the event he makes "a capable request for food or water."

Schadenberg told to The Guardian that EPC has consulted lawyers and is considering legal action. In the meantime, the EPC is encouraging people to send in letters to William Osler to express disapproval.

Link to the article: http://www.bramptonguardian.com/news/article/866362

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Still Dying of Thirst: Joshua (Kulendran Mayandi)

After a long discussion with our legal counsel concerning the possible legal avenues that could be taken to stop the dehydration of Joshua (Kulendran Mayandi) the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has determined that a legal action is possible.

For those who have not followed the story of Joshua, he is a pastor of a small pentecostal church in Brampton Ontario who is currently in the Brampton Civic Hospital (William Osler Health Centre) where IV fluids, nutrition and medicine has been completely withdrawn since August 17.

Links to the story:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2010/08/joshua-kulendran-mayandi-case-continues.html

http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2010/08/brampton-civic-hospital-imposes.html

The problem is that the cost of a legal intervention, which may or may not be successful, is significant and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition needs to know if we will have the financial support of our donors and members to go ahead with this endeavour?

Our original goal was to convince the court appointed Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) to change his mind and have the IV re-inserted.

Time is running out. If action is not taken soon, Joshua will begin to die.

You need to know that Joshua was a loved pastor. The members of the Church have been with him constantly.

If you are willing to help please email me your commitment. If you decide to make a donation today you can do so by contacting the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at: 1-877-439-3348 or online at: http://www.euthanasiaprevention.on.ca/Donations.htm

If you haven't sent a letter in support of Joshua yet send letters and emails to:
Brampton Civic Hospital - email: communications@oslerhc.org or call the Communications Hotline at: 905-494-2120, ext. 22505.
Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario - email: ccb@ontario.ca, Phone: 416-327-4142, Fax: 416-924-8873.
Letters to the editor - Brampton Guardian: letters@thebramptonguardian.com

Alex Schadenberg
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Phone: 1-877-439-3348
Email: euthanasiaprevention@on.aibn.com
Website: www.euthanasiaprevention.on.ca

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dying of Thirst: Joshua (Kulendran Mayandi)

Brampton Civic Hospital
On Friday, August 20, 2010, I published a blog post about Joshua (Kulendran Mayandi), a 48 year old pastor of a small pentecostal Church in Brampton who had a heart attack on May 29. Joshua is at the Brampton Civic Hospital (William Osler Health Centre) where his IV fluids, food and medication have been removed since Tuesday, August 17.

Link to my August 20 blog comment: Brampton Civic Hospital imposes euthanasia by dehydration through pressure tactics: http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2010/08/brampton-civic-hospital-imposes.html

Joshua was first in coma. He then came out of coma and has recovered a little but he remains cognitively disability.

He has the ability to recognize his closest friends and respond with one-word answers and sometimes with multi-word responses. He is able to move his body and appears to be physiologically stable.

Joshua is not otherwise dying. There is no indication that Joshua will experience a heart attack again. Other than the fact that Joshua is cognitively disabled he is otherwise healthy and could possibly live many years in this condition.

I have received an incredible number of emails supporting Joshua. Thank you to everyone who sent an email or a letter.

I have also received several emails questioning my point of view, especially in relation to the use of assisted techniques to provide hydration (fluid) and nutrition (food).

Therefore I will clarify my position.

Euthanasia is an action or omission of an action which of itself and by intention causes the death of a person for the reason of suffering.

In other words, to directly and intentionally cause the death of a person by action or omission, whereby the death is the result of the action or omission, is euthanasia, when the intention is to relieve suffering.

It is not euthanasia to withhold or withdraw medical treatment, especially when it is burdensome, extra-ordinary, disproportionate, etc.

Joshua is not otherwise dying. The intention is to directly cause his death by dehydration. If the SDM or the hospital do not provide hydration or nutrition, Joshua will intentionally die from dehydration.

Even if the law fails to recognize it, this is a form of euthanasia because death is directly and intentionally caused by dehydration and not by his medical condition.

In this case, Joshua may be capable of effectively eating and drinking by mouth, but due to the traecheotomy, he is currently unable to be fed or hydrated effectively without medical assistance.

Joseph has been breathing for a long period of time without medical assistance, why has the traech not been plugged?

Many people believe that providing assisted hydration and nutrition is always a form of medical treatment and therefore always optional. This is a false concept.

To provide fluids and food, by assisted means, should be considered normal care. Normal care is what we owe everyone in society. It is part of our social contract that enables us to live together in society in peace and harmony.

Fluids and food are not a type of medical treatment. In and of itself, fluids and food do not treat a condition but rather they simply allow the normal process of living to continue.

Assisted fluids and food can be provided at home by most people, when provided with a minimal level of training. It is not extra-ordinary, it is not disproportionate, it is not excessive or burdensome.

Fluids and food are a basic necessity of life.

Recently, Dr Jean Turner - executive director of Scotlands Patients Association (SPA), a GP and former independent MSP - warned that hundreds of patients, particularly the elderly, are languishing in hospital beds because they are not given help with feeding or hydration.

Turner referred to this problem as a form of euthanasia. She was right. We need a Canadian Patients Association to fight for people like Joshua.

Link to my blog comment on the Scottish article: http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2010/08/intentional-malnutrition-of-scottish.html

Joshua's case should not be compared to palliative care cases, when the person is actually dying and nearing death.

Joshua is not otherwise dying, but if his treatment plan is not changed, he will directly and intentionally die from dehydration.

When a person is actually dying the circumstance and the intention is very different. Providing fluids and food to a dying person will often, but not always, be more of a burden than a benefit.

When a person is dying they experience a process related to the shutting down of the body. When the body shuts down, the provision of fluids or food loses its purpose because the body becomes unable to absorb or assimilate it.

People with acquired disabilities, such as Joshua, should not be dehydrated to death because they are unlikely to fully recover. Many people live with cognitive, or other disabilities, and society does not have the right to determine whether they should live or whether they should die.

The hospital/doctor and the Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) should not have the right to decide who should live and who should die.

We need a legal system whereby the best interest of a person is guaranteed under the law.

Article 25 (f) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states: Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability. (http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml)

Just because a hospital and an SDM have agreed to withhold all IV fluids, food and medication, does not mean that they should have the legal right to do so. The law must always prevent the direct and intentional causing of death by medical means or omissions. Direct and intentional killing must be illegal outside the accepted practise of medicine.

For the sake of justice and equality for all, Joshua needs hydration (fluids) and nutrition, to once again be provided to him. He deserves the opportunity to recover, to whatever degree possible, and he deserves the right to live, even when society and others deem his life as not worth living.

Signs of dehydration: http://bodyandhealth.canada.com/channel_condition_info_details.asp?disease_id=153&channel_id=9&relation_id=10860

To prevent yourself from being dehydrated to death, contact the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at: euthanasiaprevention@on.aibn.com and order the Life Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care for $25 each.

Dignity in Dying proves that it lives in the same fantasy world as Ray Gosling

Last Februay 16, Ray Gosling, a British reporter admitted on a BBC program that he had killed his gay lover many years earlier and then stated he had "no regrets."

Link to the newsweek article about the story: http://www.newsweek.com/2010/02/18/the-compassionate-killers.html

Last week we learned that Ray Gosling has now admitted that he made up the story. He admitted that he never killed a gay lover. He stated that his story got out-of-control.

Link to an article on Ray Gosling's lie: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/aug/20/ray-gosling-charged-partner-aids

Now for the reason for this blog comment. George Pitcher wrote an excellent comment on this issue that was published in the Telegraph on August 20. I thought it was thought provoking and worth republishing.
------------------------------------------

Dignity in Dying proves that it lives in the same fantasy world as Ray Gosling

When veteran documentary-maker Ray Gosling fessed up mawkishly in a BBC documentary last February to smothering a gay lover some 20 years ago, I wrote here that I didn’t believe a word of it. It never rang true and, frankly, it was very odd that the BBC should broadcast his confession just ahead of the new prosecution guidelines on assisted suicide being published by the Director of Public Prosecutions. Now it emerges that the DPP is prosecuting Gosling for wasting police time, a six-month investigation having concluded that he made the whole thing up.

Anyone with any sense was highly sceptical of Gosling’s overtired and emotional claims at the time. But not so pro-euthanasia lobby group Dignity in Dying. Its chief executive, Sarah Wootton, was keen to milk Gosling’s story for all it was worth and had this to say in the wake of his “revelations”:

“The law is out of step with what society needs and wants. This case yet again demonstrates that this is a real and present problem, which can affect us all. Crucially, Ray Gosling’s loved one was terminally ill and clearly asked for help to die when he was suffering unbearably at the end of his life.This illustrates a need for formal assisted dying legislation to help those who want choice at the end of life, as well as protect people who may be vulnerable to coercion.”

Or, alternatively, this case shows no such thing because it was all made up.

Meanwhile, Jo Cartwright, Dignity in Dying’s press officer let it be known In The Independent that Gosling “was just one of many people in Britain living with the consequences of helping someone to die, often suffering higher rates of psychological damage and suicide” and echoed Wootton by adding solemnly:

“This highlights that there is an issue and a real and present problem with people having to get involved in the end of their loved one’s lives. But if you had safeguarded assisted dying, friends and families would not have to go through this. A retrospective police investigation would be pointless.”

Not as pointless, presumably, as a police investigation into something that never happened, but which Ms Cartwright swallows whole and believes “highlights that there is an issue and a real and present problem.”

So red faces all round at Dignitas in Dying. Of course the BBC should have checked that there was some validity in poor Gosling’s claims before airing them and that just shows how slack is the Corporation’s standards of verification when it comes to its support for one of its ultra-liberalising causes, such as euthanasia and assisted suicide.

But as for Dignity in Dying…well, if hard cases make bad law, invented cases should obviously not make law at all. This case was as fabricated as as its “stringent conditions” for assisted suicide, its ludicrous distinctions between “assisted dying” and euthanasia and its ridiculous claims that “helping people to die” will in some way protect the weak and vulnerable. But Dignity in Dying evidently will jump on any bandwagon, however absurd, to achieve its aims.

Meanwhile, the medical and legal professions, as well as the police and the legislature, deal with the real world. And Gosling, Wootton, Dignity in Dying and the rest of the cull-the-dying mob should be put in a corner somewhere safe with their fantasies, to protect the rest of us.

Link to George Pitcher's comment in the Telegraph: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/georgepitcher/100051146/dignity-in-dying-proves-that-it-lives-in-the-same-fantasy-world-as-ray-gosling/

Monday, August 23, 2010

Man in coma for 20 years

After working all day on the case of Joshua (Kulendran Mayandi) in Brampton, I thought that this article might be a way of defining what true love means. This article was published yesterday. It is about the mother of Daniel Lajeunesse who continues to visit her son everyday, even though he has been in coma for 20 years.

The euthanasia lobby will write about the cost of care and ask the question, did Danial want to live this way.

The fact is this is story of a mother who loves her son so much that she continues to care for him.

Is this not a better way to live ones life, rather than killing our vulnerable?

The story by Chelsey Romain, from the Timmins Daily Press follows:
---------------------------------------------------

Mother still visits daily

It's been 20 years since she's heard her son's voice, that day he was supposed to bring back a coffee, but Jeannine Lajeunesse-Beaulne still holds out hope she will hear it again one day.

It was 20 years ago last week that her son Daniel Lajeunesse lapsed into a coma and never regained consciousness. But every day his mother visits him on the third floor at Timmins and District Hospital, wondering if she will ever get back the son she lost.

After 20 years of silence, Lajeunesse-Beaulne remembers her shy and timid son as a man who loved to a laugh. He was a fan of hockey and Christmas. At the time of the incident, he was father to three young children, who have since grown into adults.

"I don't want him to be forgotten," Lajeunesse-Beaulne said. "I still see him and touch him and even though he doesn't talk back to me, I know he's alive."

Adding with a laugh she said, "to this day, 20 years later, I tell him I'm still waiting for that cup of coffee."

In all respects, Daniel is a medical miracle, one of few to have lived so long in a coma, and the only one in the Timmins area his mother knows of. Since the beginning, Daniel's family was told to prepare for the worst, because it wasn't likely he would live long, but time and time again he has beat those odds.

Just a couple weeks after the incident that left him in a vegetative state, Lajeunesse-Beaulne said the family was given the option to take Daniel off his life support.

"We brought in all the family members and agreed Danny needed a second chance at life," she said. "He was only 32 at the time."

After three weeks, doctors said there was nothing they could do, and Lajeunesse-Beaulne wanted to take her son home. His life support was removed, with only a feeding tube remaining, but Daniel's heart kept beating, becoming stronger and stronger.

Over the years, Lajeunesse-Beaulne admits she's been accused of being selfish for keeping her son alive, lying in a hospital bed, but she said she doesn't feel its her place to make the decision whether he lives or dies.

"If I take that feeding tube out, I will starve him and I can't find it in my heart to do that," she said. "It's God keeping him alive for one reason or another.

"His heart won't stop beating and until you've experienced the mystery of a coma you'll never know."

The removal of a feeding tube is often controversial, with the most well-known account coming out of Florida in recent years with the story of Terri Schiavo. Schiavo's husband Michael wished to remove the tube, but was opposed by her parents, who said their daughter was conscious.

In Daniel's case, his mother said he does have wake up periods, where he might yawn or stretch and even open his eyes, even though he is blind and paralyzed.

It was at a time when Daniel's children, young at the time, were visiting that she knew her son was still there.

"He would hear their voices and cry," she said. "That's when I realized Dan was still alive and trapped in his own body."

Lajeunesse-Beaulne still goes to visit her son every day. She'll talk to him and joke around or cut his now graying hair.

She said having a son in a coma has never been easy, but over the years it has become easier to deal with. And while there's a glimmer of hope that he will wake one day, reality is quick to sink in.

"It's easier to cope with now, because it's part of my daily life, but it's not easy," she said. "My hope is there and so is my faith, but the more time he's in a coma, the less I think it's going to happen."

Not long after the incident, Daniel was accepted into a coma intervention program in Illinois. It was right after the 30-day assessment Lajeunesse-Beaulne said she was told bluntly to go home and bury her son because he wouldn't be alive much longer.

While there, she had attended a support group, even without having much belief in them, and was eventually asked to speak. She told the group she felt fortunate even though she had lost her son.

"I gave birth to him, I saw his first day of school, I saw him grow up and fall in love, I saw him get married and become a father," she said. "There were children there seven-years-old, 16-years-old in comas and their parents never got to see those stages of their lives.

"I was lucky I lived those 32 years with my son."

Over the years, Lajeunesse-Beaulne and other members of Daniel's family have worked to keep Daniel's life and memories alive. In 1999 they began handing out a trophy in his honour to young hockey teams and players who demonstrated sportsmanship on the ice. On his 50th birthday, a special mass was held to honour him.

While people may not understand her choices, as a mother Lajeunesse-Beaulne just wants people to remember the person Daniel was.

"I ask that everyone who knew Daniel, to stop and remember one moment of happiness, fun, school days, working, anything," she said. "Please stop and remember him and realize how lucky you are that life is treating you well and not passing you by."

Link to the article at: http://www.timminspress.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2724196

Friday, August 20, 2010

Brampton Civic hospital imposes euthanasia by dehydration through pressure tactics.

Yesterday, I received a phone call and then an email from Bernard Stephenson, concerning Joshua (Kulendran Mayandi) the pastor of a small christian church in Brampton Ontario. The email outlined several significant concerns for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

First: Joshua (48), who is not otherwise dying, is being dehydrated to death (euthanasia by omission). This is not a case when hydration and nutrition need to be withdrawn because he is actually dying and nearing death, but rather the decision appears to have been made to intentionally cause his death by withdrawing IV hydration and nutrition probably because he is unlikely to recover from his disability.

Joshua has otherwise stabilized and would likely live for many years in this condition. Society cannot condone intentionally dehydrating a person to death because of their disability or the potential cost of long-term care. Article 25 (f) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states: Prevent discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability. (http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml)

Second: It is deplorable that the Consent and Capacity Board in Ontario, the hospital and the lawyer for the hospital, who are all paid by the government and have nearly unlimited resources to pressure people to consent to their will, appeared to appoint a Substitute Decision Maker (SDM) to make decisions on behalf of Joshua, based on that persons willingness to agree to a non-treatment plan, even though there is no proof that the plan of non-treatment represented the values of the person.

The Consent and Capacity Board was established to ensure that consent to treatment is based on the prior wishes or values of a person, before that person became incapacitated to make decisions for themselves. The fact that Joshua did not write down his personal wishes or assign a person to make legal and health care decisions on his behalf in these circumstances, does not negate the fact based on his religious convictions it is unlikely that he would have agreed to death by dehydration.

To pressure a person to agree to intentionally dehydrate a person to death, (euthanasia by omission) based on the cost of continuing the legal battle to defend the values of a person, is unconstitutional and inconsistent with Ontario law.

Everyone needs to strongly respond by sending letters and emails to:
Brampton Civic Hospital - email: communications@oslerhc.org or call the Communications Hotline at: 905-494-2120, ext. 22505.

Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario - email: ccb@ontario.ca, Phone: 416-327-4142, Fax: 416-924-8873

The letter should state:
I am disgusted with the decision by the Brampton Civic Hospital, its lawyer, and the physician for (Joshua) Kulendran Mayandi, to intentionally cause his death by removing his IV hydration and nutrition even though he is not otherwise dying (euthanasia by omission). If this decision is not reversed, it will create fear among the citizens of Brampton that if they experience a disability that they too would be killed by dehydration and starvation.

For the sake of justice and equality, I demand that you change your policy and once again continue feeding.


The following is the email from Bernard Stephenson:

Joshua is a 48 year old pastor of a small Brampton Church. He was admitted to the Brampton Civic Hospital (William Osler Health Centre), after collapsing in front of the ER on May 29, 2010.

He was revived but not before sustaining a significant cognitive disability.

He remained in the ICU, but after regaining the ability to breathe on his own, he was transferred to the respirology ward, where he remains.

He has regained some ability to communicate despite the fact that he has a significant cognitive disability.

He has progressed from being in a deep coma with signs of decerebration and decortication to almost full movement of his arms and legs and coherent use of mostly one-word answers and occasionally multi-word sentences with his sister over the phone.

He recognizes the family he was living with for the past 10 years, who have been at his bedside from morning to evening, 7 days a week.

From the beginning of his stay in the ICU until now, the doctors have repeatedly asserted that there is no hope of recovery, from a medical point of view, and they have strongly suggested that all life-sustaining treatment be removed.

His family, who live in Sri Lanka, and his supporters here have rejected these suggestions.

Nevertheless, the fact is that he had assigned no Substitute Decision Maker (SDM), and he has no immediate family living in Canada.

His first physician in the ward, removed his feeding tube, without consent, leaving him only IV fluids.

He was in this situation for over three weeks until his supporters appealed to the Ethics Committee adn the Consent and Capacity Board through a lawyer and forced the hospital to restart feeding through a nasogastric (NG) tube. Even though he was entitled to a long term gastric (G) tube the physicians refused the latter option, even though they had initially suggested it, citing that it is 'artificial' and possibly 'harmful'.

Currently, the only option the hospital and his current physician is offering is to withhold all life-sustaining treatment and care including IV fluids, food and medication.

The court first rejected Joshua's sister, Mallika Arumugan, as his (SDM) because they did not consider her capable of making medical decisions for Joshua, but she also did not agree to the demands of the hospital.

After the court rejected Joshua's sister as his SDM, a friend for 25 years became the next option. We were told that this friend would only be accepted as the SDM if he agreed to the preconditions – palliative care with the removal of all medications, IV hydration and nutrition. The alternative was a continuation of the costly legal battle before the Consent and Capacity Board or allowing the Public Guardian to take over. Since we were not able to sustain the costly legal battle and the family did not want Joshua to fall into the hands of the Public Guardian, this friend decided to accept the terms. He was subsequently granted SDM status with those limiting conditions.

Personally, I disagreed with the decision as it was immoral, unethical, inappropriate and wrong besides being totally useless.

Brampton Civic hospital on August 17 withdrew all life-sustaining treatment and care, including fluids and food, based on the forced agreement between the hospital and the SDM.

I deplore what the hospital and doctors are doing. They have a duty to inform people about quality of life and treatment options in a given situation, such as Joshua's, but they do not have the right to impose their preference for death or to assume that Joshua would not want to live the rest of his life in this condition. The Hospital and doctor's actions are both unethical and inappropriate.

Bernard Stephenson, M.D., M.Div.
Email: bernard@mcbc.on.ca

To contact Alex Schadenberg at the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition call: 519-851-1434 (cell phone)

To order the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care: http://www.euthanasiaprevention.on.ca/lifeprotectingpowerattorney/index.htm

Hong Kong euthanasia advocate goes home from hospital after 19 years.

Tang Sui-pun (41), a Hong Kong man who become quadriplegic 19 years ago, is now going home.

Tang Sui-pun become famous a few years ago when he demanded that the Hong Kong government legalize euthanasia. The article from the earthtimes indicated that Tang Sui-pun is still advocating for the legalization of euthanasia.

If this is true, then I would suggest that it is time for him to reconsider his former position.

Like Stephen Fletcher, a Canadian member of parliament and cabinet minister who lives with a condition that leaves him completely paralyzed below his neck, Tang Sui-pun has adapted his life in such a way that reports suggest that he is living a successful and happy life.

If Euthanasia were legal at the time of Stephen Fletcher or Tang Sui-pun's accidents, both men would likely be dead and yet both men have accomplished incredibly in life.

I consider Stephen Fletcher to be a personal inspiration and I prefer that he continues to live and serve our nation.

The earthtimes article about Tang Sui-pun: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/news/340071,right-to-die-debate-goes-home.html

A previous article about Tang Sui-pun: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2007-08/10/content_6020319.htm

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Assisted Suicide lobby leader calls for assisted suicide for those who are not terminally ill

We are told by the assisted suicide lobby that they are only interested in legalizing the direct and intentional involvement in the death of others when they are terminally ill and suffering. The fact is that the assisted suicide lobby has never limited its goals to death for terminally ill people.

Society should never allow people to urge, assist or counsel others to commit suicide.

The suggestion that assisted suicide would only be available to people who are terminally ill is a selling point and not an actual goal of the assisted suicide lobby. They know that society needs to become accustomed to intentionally killing vulnerable, terminally ill people before they will accept the idea that anyone should be killed by euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Further proof of the concept that terminal illness is not a pre-condition for the assisted suicide lobby was reported in an article that was written by Martin Beckwith and published today in the UK Telegraph.

Dr. Michael Irwin, known in the UK as "Dr. Death" was reported to have started a new group dedicated to legalizing assisted suicide for people who are older but not terminally ill.

The article states:
The Society for Old Age Rational Suicide (SOARS), led by a former GP known as “Dr Death”, says that pensioners should have the human right to declare “enough is enough” and die with dignity.

Dr Michael Irwin says he knows of an elderly English woman who is considering taking her life through Dignitas, the Swiss “suicide clinic”, as she is suffering from progressive arthritis and worsening eyesight.

The new group has commissioned a national poll that found 67 per cent of those questioned agreed that very elderly and mentally competent individuals should be allowed to receive a doctor's assistance to die, if they are suffering from health problems but not terminally ill. Only 19 per cent of the 1,009 adults questioned by ICM said they opposed the move while the rest were uncertain.

I wonder what question was asked in the poll?

Maybe they asked - If you are ancient, but mentally competent and if you are suffering uncontrolled and excruciating pain, should you be given "aid in dying"?

Possibly they asked - If you become a suffering useless eater, and you are expensive for the national pension plan, would you rather be dead?

The article then states:
SOARS, wants to legalise assisted suicide with the help of a doctor for those who are merely tired of life because of their age and health problems rather than a terminal disease.

Its hope is that a future law would allow two doctors and a legal witness to agree that the patient was mentally competent and not being pressured to die by relatives, then for the elderly person to be provided with the “necessary medication” after a two-month cooling-off period.

The article quotes the groups website which states:
“Besides those who are terminally ill (which, in today’s medical-legal terms, means someone who is expected to die within six months), there are many very elderly, competent individuals who, experiencing increasing physical and psychological suffering, get to the last years of their natural lives and have to seriously consider whether departing this existence will be much more attractive than struggling on."

The Telegraph article then quotes Irwin:
“Since March, I have been meeting a very elderly lady, who is suffering from progressive arthritis and increasing blindness, who is thinking seriously of going to Switzerland for a doctor-assisted suicide. She has become a member of Dignitas.”

The article concludes this way:
The new campaign will be fiercely resisted by religious groups and charities representing elderly and disabled people, who fear a right to die will be seen by many as a duty to die.

They believe any suggestion that society agrees some people’s lives are not worth living will be taken by the vulnerable as a sign that they should kill themselves to relieve the burden on carers.

As much as I recognize that the assisted suicide lobby has never limited its long-term goals to legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia for the terminally ill, the fact is that Irwin is helping the assisted suicide lobby achieve its first goals.

Irwin appears to be taking a radical position. Society will therefore view the demands of the assisted suicide lobby as being more moderate and therefore supportable.

The fact is that Irwin is not more radical, he is simply expressing what the assisted suicide lobby believes and he is unwilling to follow the politically correct game-plan of the Dying in Dignity, which is the largest group in the assisted suicide lobby in the UK.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Council of Canadians with Disabilities report to the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care

On June 16, 2010, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities presented their paper entitled: Deadly Compassion to the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care. The following comment is the current update that I received today from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities.

Deadly Compassion

16 June 2010, Ottawa, ON—People with disabilities are not strangers to the fact that nondisabled people cannot imagine life with a disability. They tell us that they would rather be dead than living with a disability. This is because disability is equated with pain, suffering, and dependency. At times, this attitude translates into a deadly compassion, where it is seen as a kindness to help a person with a disability to die. As a result, people with disabilities are being harmed. On 16 June 2010, two Canadians with disabilities, Rhonda Wiebe and Jim Derksen, appeared before the House of Commons Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care on behalf of CCD to explain how deadly compassion puts us in harm's way and to suggest how to improve the medical care and public policy environments, as both are affected by this insidious stereotype.

"When our colleague the late Mike Rosner, a Manitoban with disability, went to hospital with pneumonia, he expected treatment to cure his illness. However, his doctors offered to make him comfortable while nature took its course," stated Rhonda Wiebe, Chair of CCD's Ending of Life Ethics Committee. "Members of the disability community had to advocate on his behalf to get him the treatment he needed." People with disabilities are challenging the insidious stereotypes that bring harm to people with disabilities. We are challenging cultural practices that cause our society to abandon its fundamental respect for the dignity and human rights of people with disabilities. "We are speaking out to challenge the labels, to preserve our dignity and challenge how others see us," stated Wiebe.

We appeared before the Committee to defend ourselves in the public policy environment on several fronts. First, CCD opposes any process to amend the Criminal Code to legalize assisted suicide. Second, we oppose any policy, such as the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons Statement on Withdrawing and Withholding Life Sustaining Treatment, which uses a lack of ability as a criteria for ending life. Third, we seek the greater participation of people with disabilities in the education of medical professionals so that we can challenge stereotypical thinking about people with disabilities and the development of palliative care services. Fourth, we seek health care, including palliative care, that accommodates the needs of people with disabilities. For example, people with disabilities in palliative care need to have access to their own personal care attendants and technical aids. Presently, there are barriers that make it difficult for people with disabilities to access the necessary range of disability-related supports when in the medical system.

CCD shared a brief outlining its position with the Committee and the paper, titled, Canadians with Disabilities–We Are Not Dead Yet, is available on CCD's web site at: http://www.ccdonline.ca/en/humanrights/endoflife/euthanasia/Canadians-with-disabilities-we-are-not-dead-yet

Link to the Council of Canadians with Disabities: http://www.ccdonline.ca/

'Living with dignity' is group's message

The Montreal Gazette published the following article about the  group Vivre dans la Dignité in Quebec. The article explains their point of view and promotes the new english language website.

'Living with dignity' is group's message

Anti-euthanasia association opposes any move to legalize mercy killing

By Charlie Fidelman, The Gazette - August 13, 2010

MONTREAL - According to surveys, 80 per cent of Quebecers, including doctors, say they are in favour of "dying with dignity," but a new grassroots group is quietly building opposition to the campaign to legalize euthanasia.

"Our biggest concern -and what's at stake here -is that we don't want the practice of euthanasia smuggled into the public health care system under the guise of medical treatment," said Linda Couture, director of Living With Dignity, a nonpartisan, nonreligious group focused on end-of-life issues.

Couture's group has started an online campaign calling on Quebecers to say "no" to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

A separate group of about 50 McGill University professors, including several from faculties of medicine and pharmacy, recently warned that Quebec risks making doctors "society's executioners" by attempting to decriminalize euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Both groups submitted briefs to the National Assembly committee that is to hold public hearings on the issue in September.

"We want to make sure people know what's involved and what their rights are," said Couture, whose group sees itself as the "voice of the silent and vulnerable," including the elderly, the sick and the handicapped.

As soon as its English-language website went live last week (the French site was up in June), signatures on the manifesto jumped to more than 1,000, Couture said.

The group is concerned that the Quebec College of Physicians, the province's medical regulatory body, last year came out in favour of euthanasia as appropriate care under certain circumstances when death is imminent and inevitable.

A debate on end-of-life issues is a good thing but Quebecers are being asked to give their opinions on a topic few know much about, Couture said.

There's a lot of confusion with definition of terms in end-of-life care, Couture added -for example, between palliative sedation and euthanasia.

Few people want to suffer but there's no need to kill the patient to kill the pain, she said.

"We have a lot of unanswered questions: How much will it cost in Quebec? Who will pay for that? Who will practise (euthanasia) and where? How will that change the relationship between doctor and patient?"

Her concerns about terminology echo the Canadian Medical Association Journal position that confusion over euthanasia burdens the end-of-life debate. "Opposing sides use it to further their ideological views: murder vs. mercy; the right to live vs. the right to die with dignity; selfishness vs. compassion," Ken Flegel and Paul Hebert (senior editor and editor-in-chief) wrote in an editorial titled Time to Move on From the Euthanasia Debate.

They called on doctors to promote honest dialogue. For example, adding enough sedation to relieve pain and agitation and improve comfort in a cancer patient may increase the probability of death -but that's not euthanasia.

Those who oppose euthanasia are easy to mobilize, fanned by religion or ideology, said Helene Bolduc of the Association quebecoise pour le droit de mourir dans la dignite.

"It's not that we're fanatic about euthanasia. We want choice for those who are sick and suffering and can't go on anymore."

For information about the Living With Dignity english website: http://www.vivredignite.com/en/welcome.html

For access to the french website: http://www.vivredignite.com/

cfidelman@thegazette.canwest.com

Link to the article in the Montreal Gazette at: http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Living+with+dignity+group+message/3392380/story.html

Financial Elder Abuse – How Do We Stop It?

Dear readers: I was sent this guest comment from Paul Hench who writes on the topic of (masters in public health). The topic is financial elder abuse. Elder Abuse is a primary topic for this blog and I thought this article adds a worthy perspective. Please read:

Financial Elder Abuse – How Do We Stop It?

By Paul Hench

There’s no excuse for the abuse meted out to anybody, be it a child, an adult, or an elder. It’s worse in the case of children and the elderly because they’re helpless to prevent it and overwhelmed by the whole experience. In the case of the elderly, they’re exploited because they’re old and alone, helpless to defend themselves and forced to depend on the people who care for them. They’re especially vulnerable to financial abuse if they have some amount of money saved or a steady income.

And more often than not, it’s the caregivers who are responsible for the abuse. They may be family, distant relatives who have taken up the position hoping to get their hands on the money of the person they’re looking after; they may be people who are hired as caregivers and who hope to exploit the situation and milk it for all it’s worth. Whatever the reason, caregiver abuse happens because the elder they’re caring for has money and is ripe for the taking.

Some forms of abuse are direct – the caregiver threatens their charge either directly or using other people as a cover; but such cases may get reported to the police or to the family members of the elderly person. This is why most caregivers resort to underhand tactics to get the elderly to part with their money and/or valuable possessions. Some try to scam them into “donating” their money towards worthy causes; others pull on their heartstrings using sob stories about close relatives needing immediate medical attention or surgery. Yet others use tricks like telling them they’ve won the grand prize in a lottery, but that they need to cough up some money before they’re eligible to claim the winnings.

Some caregivers siphon money off the bank accounts of the elderly when they gain access to their credit cards, debit cards and ATM PIN numbers. They steal small amounts that are not immediately noticeable or bound to raise red flags. Others are more daring and resort to forging checks and transferring money to their own accounts or fictitious ones set up for this purpose.

I don’t mean to say that all caregivers are out to con the elderly they look after, just that the people who hire caregivers must check out their credibility before they allow them access to their homes and control over their lives. It’s not often possible to take every precaution there is, simply because the elderly cannot control every aspect of their lives – their lack of mobility, their tendency to contract mental illness, and their overall helplessness and weakness make them sitting ducks when unscrupulous caregivers choose to target them for financial abuse. It’s a social ill, one that only personal ethics and a sense of decency can cure.

By-line: This guest post is contributed by Paul Hench, he writes on the topic of mph degrees (http://www.mastersinpublichealth.net/). He welcomes your comments at his email id: paul.23hench@gmail.com.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Life My Death My Choice

Wesley Smith, one of the leading bioethicists in America, published this great blog comment on August 5. Since Smith said much of what needs to be said, then I thought you need to read this article also.
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My Life My Death My Choice

By Wesley Smith, August 5, 2010

The advocacy billboards appeared without warning in San Francisco and New Jersey: "My Life. My Death. My Choice." Paid for by the Final Exit Network (FEN), the promotional signs received widespread media coverage as a new wrinkle in the ongoing national campaign to legalize assisted suicide.

But there is much more to this story than controversial messaging on billboard. FEN doesn't just advocate assisted suicide: Its "counselors" make deadly house calls. Indeed, FEN members have been indicted in Georgia—including Ted Goodwin, its former head— and in Arizona for alleged assisted suicide activities. So far, two FEN members have pleaded guilty (in the Arizona case involving the suicide of a mentally ill woman).

FEN-style moral outlawry is nothing new, of course. In the 1990s, Jack Kevorkian plowed this particular field until convicted of second degree murder. (Proving that crime pays: Kevorkian has retired from his deadly avocation and receives $50,000 per speech, as he basks in the warm light of a sympathetic biopic starring AL Pacino. Kevorkian's Australian counterpart, physician Philip Nitschke, still travels the world teaching people how-to-commit suicide as he attempts to touts a suicide concoction called "the peaceful pill," which he opined in a National Review Online interview, should be made available to anyone who wants to die, including "troubled teens."

As outrageous as the FEN, Kevorkian, and Nitschke are, they do not pose the primary threat. In the last ten years, a new class of advocates has emerged pursuing a “professional” approach to assisted suicide promotion. Epitomized by the euphemistically named Compassion and Choices and funded in the millions annually by the likes of George Soros, well off and well tailored elites promote a so-called “medical model” for legalized “aid in dying” in meetings with medical and legal associations, in articles published in professional journals, and ubiquitously to the media. To assuage fears of abuse, unlike the moral outlaws, assisted suicide professionals assure a wary public that doctor facilitated suicide will be restricted to the terminally ill for whom nothing else can be done to alleviate suffering—a false premise designed to play into people’s worst fears about the dying process.

Yet, despite the clear differences in political tactics, both the moral outlaws and professional advocates pose a similar danger to the weak and vulnerable. Indeed, once society accepts the fundamental ideological premise that killing is a legitimate method of eliminating human suffering, the death remedy continually expands to ever growing categories of despairing people. After all, if the time, manner, and place of “my death” is merely a matter of “my choice,” simple logic dictates that “the right to die” will expand beyond the terminally ill—and as we shall see, even beyond “choice.”

A brief review of the jurisdictions where euthanasia and assisted suicide are allowed illustrate the truth of the above assertion. Consider:

The Netherlands: The Netherlands has allowed euthanasia and assisted suicide by doctors since 1973, formally legalizing mercy killing by doctors in 2002. In that time, despite the supposed guidelines to protect against abuse, Dutch doctors have euthanized the terminally ill who ask for it, the chronically ill who ask for it, people with disabilities who ask for it, and the deeply depressed who ask for it—the latter explicitly approved by the Dutch Supreme Court in a case involving the assisted suicide by a psychiatrist of a mother who wanted to die out of grief for her two dead children. Illustrating how profoundly accepting euthanasia consciousness alters human society, this year more than 100,000 Dutch citizens signed petitions requiring the Parliament to debate whether to permit the healthy elderly (age 70 or older) to receive euthanasia if they are "tired of life."

But it gets worse: According to several Dutch government and other studies, death doctors also commit some 800-900 non voluntary euthanasia killings—called "termination without request or consent" in Dutch euthanasia parlance—as well as the infanticide of babies born with disabling or terminal conditions.

Even though non voluntary euthanasia and infanticide remain murder under Dutch law, it is rarely prosecuted, and even when it is, doctors face no meaningful punishment.

Belgium: Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002, and fell off the same moral cliff as the Netherlands—only more quickly. Despite the legal requirement that all euthanasia deaths be asked for by the patient, Belgian doctors—and nurses—also commit non voluntary euthanasia. For example, a survey of Belgian nurses published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that of 248 euthanasia deaths, 120 (nearly 50%) were administered without request, and moreover, that many deaths were facilitated by nurses. Perhaps even more frighteningly, voluntary euthanasia has been coupled with organ procurement—potentially giving the despairing a reason to end their own lives as a way of serving others, while offering society a utilitarian stake in their deaths.

Switzerland: A very liberal Swiss assisted suicide law has led to a growing international industry in "suicide tourism" that has taken the lives of hundreds of sick and despairing people—including many people who were not terminally ill. Meanwhile, Ludwig Minelli—owner of the suicide clinic Dignitas, was reported by UK media to have become a millionaire from his suicide business, which caters to foreigners. Not coincidentally, the Swiss Supreme Court created a constitutional right to assisted suicide for the mentally ill.

Oregon: When faced with these facts—and many other horror stories too numerous to recount here—assisted suicide advocates point to Oregon to show that medicalized killing can be practiced in a restricted manner. But Oregon has also had its share of abuses. In 2008, for example, Randy Stroup and Barbara Wagner—both on Oregon's rationed Medicaid program—were prescribed chemotherapy to extend their lives when their terminal cancer recurred. When they asked for Medicaid to pay their medical bills, it refused but sent a letter offering to pay for their assisted suicides. Meanwhile, an article published in the Michigan Law Review by Dr. Kathleen Foley—one of America's most respected palliative care physicians—and psychiatrist Herbert Hendin—one of the Unites States' most notable experts on suicide prevention—revealed that Oregon's protective guidelines "are being circumvented" routinely by doctors because the state's bureaucrats too often act "as defenders of the law rather than protectors of the welfare of terminally ill patients."

All of this—and much, much more that could be written—demonstrates vividly that the assisted suicide movement is a clear and present danger to the lives of the weak, vulnerable, and despairing. Indeed, lurking beneath the loud assertions of "My life, my death, my choice," lurks an ideology that would lead us toward for profit suicide clinics—already proposed in Oregon —and a virtual death on demand social ethic. That is the ugly truth that simplistic billboard sloganeering just can't hide.

Link to Wesley Smith's blog comment: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/secondhandsmoke/2010/08/05/my-take-on-my-life-my-death-my-choice-fen-billboards/

The Dutch euthanasia lobby makes plans to compete with Dignitas

An article published in the Dutch news explains that the Dutch association Right to Die (NVVE) is investigating opening an assisted suicide clinic for people who do not currently qualify under the Dutch euthanasia law.

The article states:
NVVE director Petra de Jong told the Volkskrant, 'but one that misses out patients with dementia or chronic psychiatric problems with a serious wish to die.'

Around 500 of these patients request assisted suicide each year and only eight are helped to die.

In other words, the new clinic would focus on people with dementia or chronic psychiatric problems, and possibly other difficult situations.

But why would NVVE need to establish a suicide clinic for these difficult cases?

First: Ludwig Minelli, the founder of Dignitas has proven that there is incredible profit in running a suicide clinic. Link to my previous blog comment on this fact: http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2010/06/dignitas-founder-ludwig-minelli-is-now.html

Second: In 2006 at the World Federation of Right to Die Societies conference in Toronto, the then leader of the NVVE stated that their final goal was the legalization of the "last-will-pill". This is would be a suicide drug that could be taken by people who have decided that they have had enough of life.

I think that this clinic would be used for situations, including people who are "tired of living".

In other words, the clinic would be very profitable and it would allow the NVVE to push the thin boundaries of the law and possibly gain acceptance for the "last-will-pill".

The clinic would also enable NVVE to maintain a stronger membership base. Dignitas sells memberships with the membership fee giving them the right to use the clinic. If NVVE followed the same system they would increase their membership fee and ensure that people renewed their membership on a yearly basis.

Finally, if euthanasia and assisted suicide is about choice, then why would the NVVE be so concerned about arranging the deaths of people who are not capable of choosing?

This is obviously not an issue of choice. This is an issue of how society agrees to kill or cause the death of people based on whether society or the individual deems their life as not worth living.

Link to the original article: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2010/08/suicide_clinic_a_possibility.php

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Intentional Malnutrition of Scottish patients is a form of Euthanasia

I just received an email from one of our American supporters, telling me of what he has witnessed at the nursing home where his mother lives. The email describes what appears to be the intentional dehydration and malnutrition of the patients in that nursing home.

The email from the supporter caused me to remember this article that I am reprinting from the Sunday Herald in Scotland from July 4, 2010. The author, Caroline Wilson, is reporting the comments from Dr. Jean Turner, the executive director of the Scotland Patients Association. This article gets right to the problem.

Malnutrition of NHS patients is form of 'euthanasia'
By Caroline Wilson - Sunday Herald - July 4, 2010

One of the country's leading health campaigners has urged the Scottish Government to urgently tackle the problem of malnutrition of the elderly and vulnerable in the nation's hospitals, likening the problem to a form of "euthanasia".

Dr Jean Turner - executive director of Scotland Patients Association (SPA), a GP and former independent MSP - warned that hundreds of patients, particularly the elderly, are languishing in hospital beds undernourished because they are not given help with feeding.

She says nursing staff are often reluctant to air their concerns about patient welfare because of a fear of repercussions from senior management.

A recent report estimated that 50,000 patients are dying each year in NHS hospitals in a state of malnutrition, which may have hastened their end. New figures released by the British Dietetics Association earlier this week revealed that the problem costs Scotland's health boards around pound(s)1.3 billion each year. The SPA's warning follows a report by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, which was highly critical of a Lanarkshire hospital's care of a 66-year-old patient.

The woman died of kidney failure after spending 14 weeks in Wishaw General Hospital and the family believe poor standards of care, particularly in nutrition, contributed to her death.

Her family, who were too distressed to go public and wished to retain their anonymity, told the Sunday Herald that they were repeatedly told by staff that they did not have the time to assist her at mealtimes with eating or drinking.

One family member said: "Staff would tell me, 'It takes an hour to feed your mother and we don't have an hour'.

"I will never forget how a nurse pulled me into a side room. She took my hand and said, 'I will deny this if it comes out but you must put in a complaint. It's not the first complaint about this ward.'

"We believe that the care she received in that hospital is the reason she is not here today."

The hospital was ordered to carry out a review of nursing and ensure better systems are put in place for assisting patients with feeding.

Dr Turner said: "Sadly, this is not an isolated case. If patients do not manage to swallow food, nutritious or otherwise, and drink then they will not heal, their general health will deteriorate and death may be an outcome, sooner or later. The SPA would call this a form of euthanasia to allow dehydration and malnutrition to develop due to lack of awareness, lack of staffing or carelessness.

"Whatever happened to measuring input and output and keeping charts to prevent this? We are in no doubt many wards are short- staffed and staff do not have the time that they know is needed to provide the best care, but SPA would say it is down to all staff to be accountable and raise their issues of concern."

The Scottish Government said it has invested more than pound(s)1.75 million to tackle the problem, including on malnutrition screening before admission to identify patients at risk, and stricter food standards. A spokeswoman said: "Where ward staff are aware a patient has difficulties, we expect them to help that patient to eat, something that can be especially valuable with older or vulnerable patients."

Link to the original article: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/health/malnutrition-of-nhs-patients-is-form-of-euthanasia-1.1039063

Legalizing assisted suicide will not prevent murder-suicide

I was looking through my past emails and noticed that a letter that I wrote to the New Haven Advocate in Connecticut was printed on July 13. This letter was a response to an article entitled: Hot Topic: End of Life Debate. The following is a reprint of my letter.

Letters from our readers

I am the Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, and Chair for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, International. Your article (“Hot Topic: End of Life Debate,” June 17) reports on the claim of assisted suicide lobbyists that legalizing assisted suicide will prevent murder-suicides.

According to Donna Cohen, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, the typical murder-suicide case involves a depressed controlling husband who shoots his ill wife. “The wife does not want to die and is often shot in her sleep. If she was awake at the time, there are usually signs that she tried to defend herself.”

The proponents’ claim ignores this important fact: The typical wife in these cases does not “choose” her death. Rather, she is a victim of spousal abuse.

Legal assisted suicide, regardless, fails to guarantee “choice.” These laws instead empower doctors, family members and new “best friends” to legally pressure others to take their own lives, or even to directly cause the deaths.

In Canada, a bill that would have legalized assisted-suicide was just overwhelmingly defeated in our Parliament, 228 to 59. When I spoke with lawmakers who voted against the bill, many voiced the opinion that our government’s efforts should be focused on helping our citizens live with dignity, rather than developing strategies to get them out of the way.

Alex Schadenberg
London, Ontario, Canada

Link to the letter: http://newhavenadvocate.com/commentary/letters-euthanasia-and-nukes

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Is this the choice we want?

This is an excellent letter on "choice" that was written by Jan Tobin from Mount Vernon in Washinton State.

Is this the choice we want?

Washington State and Skagit County voters made suicide an acceptable choice. The word “choice,” once so mature and freeing, has been perverted. Choice becomes “pressure” on the ill, the elderly and those persons with a handicap to go quickly without being a burden to family or caregivers.

In June, an Anacortes man called Evans Funeral Chapel to state that he was taking the pills. Perhaps he didn’t want his family questioned. His death is recorded from his disease.

Ed Raintree, 68, is in Hospice care (Skagit Living section, July 18). Ed’s doctor told him one year ago he had six months to live. Has a required second doctor examined Ed and stated that Ed is terminal? Ed has permission (from Washington state voters) to take pills to kill himself. Ed thinks he will take the pills by 2012 if he isn’t gone by then. Ed says if he becomes horizontal, he will take the pills sooner.

A person can fly to Switzerland to get “aid in dying” for a fee. The same service is proposed to be offered in Oregon.

Australia’s Dr. Philip Nitschke personally set up his North American branch, Final Exit North, in Bellingham in November 2009. It is close to Montana and Oregon where physician-assisted suicide is also legal.

The number of covered Oregon medical procedures was reduced after Oregon voters chose to permit assisted suicide. People have been offered the death pill through a form letter. The form letter stated they would not be provided funds for a particular pill that would extend life and help relieve pain. The death pill would be paid for.

Is this what we want through "choice"?

Link to the letter: http://www.goskagit.com/home/article/letters_to_the_editor_august_1_2010/

Mandatory Euthanasia by age 80

A TV show in Australia segment called the Pitch has fallen into the clutch of the euthanasia lobby by producing a show whereby two advertising producers create the most persuasive commercial to approve mandatory euthanasia for people at age 80.

Link to the show on U-Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5neAm_wT3Q

The technique of asking an extreme question enables the Euthanasia lobby to appear moderate when they once again push to legalize euthanasia or assisted suicide in Australia.

Exit International, the group that was founded by Philip Nitschke, is featuring Kevin Macmillan who produced the winning ad for the Australian reality show segment - The Pitch. There promotion stated:

Compulsory Euthanasia for over 80s?

Kevin Macmillan from 'The Works' Ad Agency to Address Sydney Exit Meeting on his winning television ad

At the next Sydney Chapter Meeting of Exit, Kevin Macmillan (Partner of 'The Works' & the smarts behind the winning 'Pitch') will speak to his 'Compulsory Euthanasia for the over 80s' segment as recently screened on ABC TV's The Gruen Transfer.

This event is free for all Exit members. Others may join Exit on the day. August 6, 2010 at 10 am.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care will protect you.

Last week I received a call from a supporter of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) who was concerned about a family member (woman) who had a serious stroke.

The family was told by the physician that they would offer this woman no further medical treatment only comfort care. The woman who had the stroke was able to respond to questions, but she was considered to lack the capacity to make medical decisions for herself. When asked if she wanted treatment to continue she nodded YES and when asked if she wanted medical treatment to stop she nodded NO.

It is important to note:
1. Physicians are not legally obligated to provide medical treatment that they believe to be futile, burdensome, excessive.
2. In Ontario, decisions to provide no treatment are considered to be legal treatment decisions. You have the right to legally challenge treatment and non-treatment decisions.

The supporter asked me what to do?
I explained to the supporter the options that are available. I emphasized:
1. Who is the Power of Attorney or Substitute Decision Maker.
2. Was there a legal Power of Attorney document that expressed what this woman would want.
3. Since there was not a legal Power of Attorney document to refer to, I asked: Is the family united or is there division? This is an important question because without a legal Power of Attorney document in place, when a person is considered incapacitated, it is far easier to maintain the wishes or values of a person when the family is in agreement.
4. I gave this person information concerning possible legal avenues.

The next day I spoke to the supporter who had contacted me and I learned that the family was divided and it was confirmed that no Power of Attorney for Personal Care document was in place.

This was a problem. Some of the family disagreed and at least one family member agreed with the physician.

If the woman had legally signed and put in place a Power of Attorney for Personal Care document, then this problem could have been averted.

EPC sells the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care for $25 per copy. Thousands of people have purchased this document and many times family or friends later contacted us to tell us how smooth everything went after the physician finds out that they have legally in place the Life Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care.

The Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care will protect your life and it costs much less than a document, that may not protect your life, that you would purchase from a lawyer. The wording in the document was specifically chosen to assure that you will receive beneficial and necessary treatment, you will not be dehydrated to death, that your wishes will be upheld and that the person you designate will be the one who makes all medical and care decisions.

The Life-Protecting Power of Attorney can be used throughout Canada.

Link to the information on my website: http://www.euthanasiaprevention.on.ca/lifeprotectingpowerattorney/index.htm

To buy the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care through paypal: http://www.euthanasiaprevention.on.ca/Donations.htm

If you live in the USA and you need a document that is similar to the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care please go to the website for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide at: http://www.internationaltaskforce.org/adneeds.htm

I doubt whether we can draft assisted suicide legislation that is safe for human beings, with their full variety of situations.

I was going through my email this morning and came across a very good article by Onora O'Neill that was published in the Guardian newspaper on July 30, 2010. Her letter is titled: Real life is too complex, refering to - too complex to legalise assisted suicide without having colateral damage. I agree with her perspective completely. I oppose assisted suicide in order to protect others.

Real life is too complex

I doubt whether we can draft assisted suicide legislation that is safe for human beings, with their full variety of situations.

When and why should we respect individual autonomy? Does respect for individual autonomy demand a minimal state that legislates sparingly in order not to infringe individual autonomy, and in particular does not regulate action "between consenting adults"? The answers we give to these questions raise difficulties for any attempt to legalise assisted suicide.

If autonomy is taken minimally as a matter of sheer choice, then a claim that assisted suicide should be legalised in order to respect individual autonomy would mean that any choice to die – even one that reflects momentary whim, clinical depression, false beliefs, or deference to others – should be respected. I doubt whether such positions have serious supporters.

But if autonomy is not taken minimally and is not equated with sheer choice, then legislation to make assisted suicide lawful can only be justified by showing why some specific non-minimal conception of individual autonomy should command attention and respect and be enshrined in legislation.

This I think has been recognised in part in the bills to legalise assisted suicide that have come before and been rejected by the House of Lords. These bills typically have sought to include what are spoken of as "safeguards" to ensure that a choice to die indeed reflects more than a minimal conception of individual autonomy, that might reflect momentary desire, lack of comprehension or lack of information. The difficulties lie in specifying clearly the form or degree of individual autonomy that should be required for this irrevocable choice to be lawful.

Incorporating a few "safeguards" into legislation cannot, I believe, address the real difficulty of protecting patients (or others) against the consequences of choices that are not well grounded being visited upon them. A convincing non-minimalist account of individual autonomy has to take account of many ways in which individual autonomy may be limited. And here I believe our debates remain wholly inadequate.

Much popular coverage of assisted suicide has been marred by reliance on two assumptions that obstruct clear thinking.

The first assumption is a tendency to think mainly about individual cases that are so miserable that we are tempted to feel that anything must be an improvement. But of course legislation has to be framed to be safe for all citizens, not tailored for hard cases while risking the lives of others. Unless we can reliably specify the cases for which the legislation is intended, it will not be feasible to legislate. We can only legislate safely if we can reliably pick out the adequately autonomous patient (whatever that may mean) from patients whose choice is not adequately autonomous. Thinking about hard cases is not enough unless we can find clear distinctions between those cases and others.

A second assumption which mars these debates is that the image of the autonomous patient is often coupled with another stereotypical figure, namely the wholly compassionate relative, friend, carer or physician. But realities are more complex. Even the most loving families and friends may be greatly burdened by caring for a very ill person, not to mention impoverished. Even compassionate professionals are unlikely to be wholly compassionate. Compassion is often and understandably mixed with frustration and even anger, and even with hopes and interests in another's death.

How are we to tell which requests for help to commit suicide express robust individual autonomy and which do not? How can we tell which choices express compliance with the (spoken or unspoken) desires of burdened carers and relatives, or of expectant heirs, whose compassion may be limited? How we to tell which families and professionals are "wholly compassionate"?

If we are to draft safe legislation to make assisted suicide lawful we would need to distinguish and disallow requests for help that reflect either momentary despair or clinical depression, or weary compliance with, indeed deference to, the desires of relatives, carers, and professionals. Even deferential and frightened choices are choices, so minimally autonomous.

In a world of idealised wholly autonomous patients, and of wholly selfless and compassionate families and professionals, legislation providing for assisted dying might, if ethically acceptable, not be risky. But we do not live in that world, and I doubt whether we can draft legislation that is safe for human beings with their full variety of situations and dependence on one another. The philosopher Bernard Williams was, I think, right to suggest that "we should not put too much weight on the fragile structure of the voluntary".

Link to the original article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/jul/30/assisted-suicide-legislation

Onora O'Neill is a philosopher and a crossbench peer.