Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rasouli case may be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada


Rasouli Family
 The Globe and Mail has been featuring articles on end-of-life care and decisions in Canada. An article, written by Lisa Priest on November 29, focused on the Rasouli case, a case which concerned who has the right to withdraw life-sustaining treatment. The doctors, in this case, are argueing that they have the unilateral right to withdraw life-sustaining treatment and the family was arguing and the courts agreed, that the doctors require consent before they can withdraw life-sustaining treatment.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition intervened in the Rasouli case at the Ontario Court of Appeal. We argued that doctors are required to obtain consent before withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, and when a disagreement occurs between the family and the doctors, both parties have the right to have their case brought before the Consent and Capacity board. Link to an article on the case.

The Cost of Taking a Life

I was going through my emails and found this excellent letter to the editor by Winnipeg citizen Anna Desilets. This letter was printed in the Winnipeg Free on November 19, 2011 as a Letter of the day.

The letter stated:
The cost of taking a life

Re: Ottawa begged to decriminalize euthanasia, (Nov. 16). Those seeking the "right" to die are in fact seeking a so-called right to be killed at a time of their own choosing.

The argument used is a familiar one: "It's my body and I can do with it what I want." Yet by the time a person wishes to die, they are unable to take their own lives and must oblige others to kill them. Their dying thus becomes not a mere personal question, but one for the society, which must supply both the killer and the means.

How much must a person, be it a doctor or other, have to harden him or herself to take another's life? What does this killing do to the killer? At a time of increasing older and ill populations and decreasing health-care dollars, how long will it take for the ill to feel the subtle message that their living is a burden to be disposed of?

I am a volunteer at a long-term health-care facility and am in awe at the courage of people living with long-term illnesses. They deserve our help to live well in spite of illness. They deserve our compassionate care, our love, our palliative care. Killing negates all positive thinking and acting. We would, as a society, be well-advised to mark the cautionary words of John Updike: "Death, once invited in, leaves its muddy boot prints everywhere."

International Day of Persons with Disabilities marked by conflicting messages

News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Beaumont, Alberta, November 30th 2011

Mark Pickup
The United Nation’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities will be observed globally on December 3rd 2011. Canadian advocate for disability inclusion, Mark Davis Pickup applauds UN initiatives to give people with disabilities a voice in their communities and countries as well as inclusion and afforded full equality rights. Pickup observed that although Canada has made strides in areas of accessibility, citizens with disabilities are getting mixed messages. He stated:  
“This past October the House of Commons gave its unanimous support to a National Suicide Prevention Strategy and now in November the British Columbia Supreme Court is considering a challenge (Carter case) to whether Canada’s law against assisted suicide should be overturned for the terminally and chronically ill and disabled.”
Pickup is chronically ill with aggressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and is electric wheelchair dependent. He continued:
“Let’s understand the message people like me will hear if the BC court rules in favour of the assisted suicide lobby. The healthy population should receive suicide prevention when suicidal. The old, sick and disabled get help committing suicide.”
Mark Pickup supports the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition’s intervener standing in the Carter case to protect people with disabilities, the chronically ill and elders. Their efforts to preserve Canada’s laws that protect people from euthanasia and assisted suicide must be supported. Pickup believes that laws and public policy must promote life with dignity for people with disabilities through supports for Canadians with disabilities to reach their full potential as individuals and citizens. Ensuring access to education, transportation, appropriate housing, recreational opportunities and other forms of reasonable accommodation can help full inclusion in society.

Contact:
Mark Davis Pickup
4417-51 Street,
Beaumont, AB
Tel: (780) 929-9230    

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Canadian Assisted Suicide case sparks dueling letters on Disability


Diane Coleman, the founder of the disability rights group Not Dead Yet, has written an excellent blog article concerning attitudes and articles about people with disabilities in relation to the Carter case. The article that was published today on the Not Dead Yet blog is titled: Canadian Assisted Suicide Case Sparks Dueling Letters on Disability. The article starts by explaining what the Carter case intends to do. Diane quotes an article that was partly written by myself she writes:

Diane Coleman
The public debate is well underway.  On November 13, the Calgary Herald published an op ed by three opponents of legalization entitled “Why we should be afraid of assisted suicide.”  The authors describe the case as follows:
Carter vs. Attorney General of Canada brings a constitutional challenge to Canada's laws prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia. The case also seeks to legalize these practices as a medical treatment. Last year, a bill in Parliament seeking a similar result was overwhelmingly defeated…. The vote was 228 to 59.

Carter seeks to allow a medical practitioner or a person "acting under the general supervision of a medical practitioner" to assist a patient's suicide. … In the context of traditional medical treatment, "a person acting under the general supervision of a medical practitioner" would include a family member.

The Eyeless "I" of Assisted Suicide

Disability Rights Activist, Mark Pickup, wrote this response to a woman who asked for his thoughts on the legalization of assisted suicide or euthanasia.



Mark Pickup
A Canadian court is considering a challenge to the nation’s law prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia. Consequently the topic is in the news. I received an email from a woman who doesn’t know what to think as the assisted suicide camp is pulling out all their compassionate sounding euphemisms to promote death. She wanted my thoughts. Below is the text of my comments to her: 
Assisted suicide is not about pain control. Palliative care in the 21st Century has come so far as to be able to eliminate virtually all physical pain. Assisted suicide is about the illusion of personal control even over death.
Death is not a right, it is an eventuality that will visit us all regardless of what any law may state. It is life that must be protected. All the great human rights documents such as the American Declaration of Independence, the UN’s Declaration of Universal Human Rights and even Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms place the Right to Life as the first legal right. Why? Without the Right to Life assured all other rights become arbitrary and uncertain.

A truly progressive and compassionate society is concerned about life with dignity – especially for those who do not have it. Death with dignity is not an event, it is the natural conclusion of having lived with dignity. Dignity is not achieved by withholding water and food or injecting poison into a person’s bloodstream when they are at their lowest point. That is not dignity: it is profound abandonment! We have a right to expect the best palliative care and pain management.

Ask yourself how assisted suicide acceptance serves the Common Good? It doesn’t. It will put vulnerable people at risk.

The push for assisted suicide is the natural conclusion of personal autonomy gone amuck.

Gloria Taylor wants assisted suicide for herself which is different from suicide because it obviously requires assistance — a coarsening of some other person’s conscience. The eyeless “I” of assisted suicide1 does not consider the consequences to others.

Autonomy is diametrically opposed to community. The natural conclusion to unfettered autonomy is the right to even self-destruction. That is what is being considered in the BC Supreme courtroom as I write these words. Acceptance of the autonomy of suicide (assisted or otherwise) is to reject the interconnectedness of community. It proclaims with a final shout and sneer, “I am my own island!”

Canada is not 33 million little islands entire unto ourselves. As the 17th Century poet and divine, John Donne wrote “No man is an island entire unto itself. Every man is a part of the continent, a part of the main. … any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Only independence and autonomy — the eyeless “I” — sees self and self alone. Interdependence and the interconnectedness of community call for consideration for others — especially the weakest.

You see, I do not have a right to ask or demand something that may hurt others. The independence of the individual must only exist within the interdependence of the community. If the desire of the individual threatens the security of whole then individual desires must give way to the greater interest of the community. Otherwise we are only left with 30-million little islands without the whole of a continent, a nation, a community that protects the interests of the weakest against the interests of the powerful.

And so the choice before us is stark: Independent and autonomy versus interdependence and community. Laws must protect the weakest and that’s what Canada’s law against assisted suicide does.

Monday, November 28, 2011

United States Overview

By Margaret Dore - Choice is an Illusion. Link to the original article.
 
There are two states where physician-assisted suicide is legal: Oregon and Washington. In these states, statutes give criminal and civil immunity to doctors and others who participate in a qualified patient's suicide.  Oregon's act was enacted via a ballot initiative in 1997. Washington's act was enacted via a ballot initiative in 2008 and went into effect in 2009.  Washington's act is modeled on Oregon's act. 

In Oregon and Washington, assisted-suicide laws apply to "terminal" patients, defined in terms of having less than six months to live. Such persons are not necessarily dying. Consider, for example, Jeanette Hall, alive 11 years after her terminal diagnosis. More recent proposals to legalize assisted suicide have included people who are clearly not dying. See here, here and here.   

In MontanaBaxter v. State gives doctors who assist a patient's suicide a potential defense to prosecution for homicide. Baxter does not legalize assisted suicide by giving doctors or anyone else immunity from criminal and civil liability although proponents argue that this is the case. This year, a bill to reverse Baxter's potential defense was defeated. In Montana, the leading group against assisted suicide is Montanans Against Assisted Suicide & For Living with Dignity.


This year, Idaho enacted a statute strengthening its law against assisted suicide. This was after proponents falsely claimed that assisted suicide was already legal. For more information, click here.

This year, bills to legalize physician-assisted suicide were defeated in Montana, Hawaii and New Hampshire. In Vermont, identical legalization bills were introduced in the House and Senate, but not put on for vote before the legislative session ended.

In Hawaii, where a bill to legalize assisted suicide was defeated this year as well as in prior years, proponents claim that assisted suicide is legal. For more information, click here. See also Hawaii Against Assisted Suicide & For Living with Dignity.

In Connecticut, a lawsuit to legalize physician-assisted suicide was dismissed in 2010.

In Massachusetts, there is a pending ballot initiative to enact an Oregon/Washington style act that applies to "terminal" patients defined as having less than six months to live. For more information, see The Massachusetts Assisted Suicide Initiative:  "Choice" is an Illusion.

In the US, no assisted suicide/euthanasia law has ever made it through the scrutiny of a legislature despite more than 100 attempts.

It's too dangerous to allow others to kill us

An interesting article by Brian Purdy, a freelance writer and former Crown Prosecuter, was published today in the Calgary Herald titled: It's too dangerous to allow others to kill us. Brian wrote about the death of his mother and examines the questions of who would make the decision to end her life and why?


Purdy begins his article by stating:
The debate about the legalization of assisting suicide is in the news again, with another court case approaching the Supreme Court of Canada. 
There are two points of view. The first is that every person has a right to end one's own life, so why should it not be legal to assist someone to do so? A person at the end of life can get help to end suffering and an unbearable dwindling away to an inevitable end. Why should a doctor or anyone else be made a criminal for an act of mercy? 
The second view is that legalizing assisting a suicide is a dangerous slippery slope. Lord Acton, who famously said "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," also said something else about power. He said, "do not grant powers on the assumption they will not be abused."

Friday, November 25, 2011

TV Ontario show debated the one-sided report from the Royal Society of Canada.

I was on the TV Ontario - The Agenda show - with Steve Paikin last night (November 24, 2011).


It was interesting that Udo Schuklenk, who was the chair of the Royal Society of Canada End-of-Life Decision Making panel, was uncomfortable with the one-sided membership of the panel. 


After the show he stated to the rest of us that:
"he would have assembled the panel differently."
Read the comment by John Coppard on the TV Ontario website concerning this show. (Link).

To find the video of the show go to (link) and scroll down to the November 24, 2011 program on euthanasia and assisted suicide. If not try this (link).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands increased by 19% in 2010.

e
Netherlands
Recent news articles concerning the push by the euthanasia lobby in the Netherlands to create mobile euthanasia teams to make euthanasia more accessible to people with disabilities and the frail elderly, also reported that the 2010 Dutch euthanasia statistics indicate that there were 3136 reported euthanasia cases which represents an increase of 19% since 2009.

It is important to note that the reported cases of euthanasia rose 13% in 2009.

The Dutch are very careful reporting their euthanasia statistics. here were 3136 reported euthanasia deaths, approximately 100 of those deaths wre assisted suicide deaths. The latest reports indicate approximately 500 deaths without consent. Approximately 10% of all deaths involve involve terminal sedation, that is done by intentionally dehydrating the person to death. We also know from the most recent Dutch euthanasia reports that approximately 20% of all euthanasia deaths are not reported.

It is important to note that the Dutch Medical Association has also recently approved euthanasia for people with dementia and alzheimer's and even for lonliness. So much for euthanasia requiring consent and capacity.

Recently the Royal Society of Canada released a report on - End of Life Decision Making. This report suggested that there was nothing to be concerned about in the jurisdictions where euthanasia is legal.

Too bad the Royal Society of Canada report was a one-sided sham that was written by leaders of the euthanasia lobby, whereby 5 of 6 of its "experts" were well known euthanasia advocates.

Euthanasia in the Netherlands is out-of-control.

Let's protect our citizens by keeping euthanasia illegal.

Help with depression, not assisted suicide.

Dr Charles Bentz
Dr. Charles J. Bentz, who is a physician in the department of General Medicine and Geriatrics at the Oregon Health & Sciences In Portland Oregon responded to the series of articles and letters that have been published in the Victoria Times Colonist. His letter was printed today.

Bentz refers to a depressed patient of his who died by assisted suicide in Oregon. This is what he said:

I am a physician practicing medicine in Oregon where physician-assisted suicide is legal. I disagree with a writer's assessment that Oregon's law has worked well. 
As one example, a few years ago, my patient, a 76 year-old man presented with a sore on his arm which turned out to be cancer. I referred him to an cancer specialist for evaluation and therapy. He was an avid hiker and as he went through his therapy, he became less able to do this activity and became depressed, which was documented in his chart. 
He expressed a wish for assisted-suicide to the cancer specialist, but rather than taking the time and effort to address his depression, or to contact me as his primary physician and as someone who knew him, she asked me to be the "second opinion" for his suicide. I told her that I did not concur and that addressing his depression would be better than simply giving him a lethal prescription. 
Unfortunately, two weeks later my patient was dead from an overdose prescribed by this doctor.
In most jurisdictions, suicidal ideation is interpreted as a cry for help. In Oregon, the only help my patient got was a lethal prescription intended to kill him. 
Don't make Oregon's mistake.
Charles J. Bentz, MD
It appears that depressed people are dying by assisted suicide in Oregon.

Royal Society of Canada - Euthanasia report was fixed from the beginning.

Wesley Smith

This is a reprint of the blog comment by Wesley J Smith that he published on Wednesday, November 16 under the title: I Told You The Fix Was In On Canadian Euthanasia Panel.

It is interesting that, even though Smith and Schadenberg both identified the Royal Society of Canada commission as fixed from the beginning, that the media continue to refer to them as an "expert panel."

I Told You The Fix Was In on Canadian Euthanasia Panel.

The in-the-tank media is huffing and puffing, trying to make something important out of an entirely predictable recommendation by the Royal Society of Canada commission to legalize euthanasia.  But commissions can be created to obtain a specific result, as this one was and did.

In fact, I told you this very thing would happen two years ago, to be precise, on October 28, 2009.  Here’s theSecondhand Smoke post, “Stacking the Deck for Euthanasia in Canadian ‘End of Life’ Commission” in its entirety:”

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide - Ugly issue back again.

Jean Echlin
Jean Echlin who is a nurse consultant and adjunct associate professor at the University of Windsor Faculty of Nursing and the founding VP of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition wrote an article on the current euthanasia and assisted suicide debate in Canada that was published in the Windsor Star today under the title: Ugly issue back again.

The following is an edited version of the excellent article by Jean Echlin.

Glad to be alive - Alison Davis responds to Calgary Herald article.

Alison Davis

Alison Davis, the founder of the disability rights group, No Less Human, responded to the editorial that was in the Calgary Herald on November 20, 2011 entitled: "No right to be killed; Doctor assisted suicide should not be allowed." Her response was printed in the Calgary Herald today under the title of "Glad to be Alive." This is what Alison Davis stated:

Re: "No right to be killed; Doctor assisted suicide should not be allowed," Editorial, Nov. 20. 
I was glad to see your excellent editorial stating the case against euthanasia. If it had been available to me some years ago, I wouldn't now be writing to you. I have several severe disabling conditions. I use a wheelchair full time and a vent at night. I have severe pain, which even morphine can't control. 
I wanted to die for more than 10 years, at a time when doctors thought my life expectancy was very short. I attempted suicide seriously several times, and was saved, only because friends found me in time and took me to the emergency room, where I was treated. 
At first, I was angry with them for thwarting my wishes. Now, I'm eternally grateful. I want to live now, even though my pain is worse than it was when I wanted to die. What changed my mind is friends who refused to accept my view that my life had no value, and a group of very poor children, who loved me wonderfully and overwhelmingly. I found a reason to live in reaching out to help others, rather than turning the negativity on myself. If assisted suicide had been available then, no one would ever have known the doctors' prognosis was wrong, or that I'd be missing the best years of my life.
Alison Davis, Blandford Forum, U.K.

Suicide Prevention - Not Dead Yet opposes assisted suicide

Diane Coleman
Diane Coleman, the founder of the disability rights group - Not Dead Yet, wrote a response to the letter by James Swanson. Swanson advocated that euthanasia or assisted suicide be legalized for people who he described as "Trapped Alive". Coleman's letter was published in the Calgary Herald today. She responded this way:


Re: "Trapped alive," Letter, Nov. 21. 

James G. Swanson's letter demonstrates the profound devaluation that too many feel toward those of us with severe physical disabilities. Swanson describes his father and a friend, disabled by an accident and ALS, respectively, as "trapped" and "condemned to a life in hell." Social messages that one is "better off dead than disabled" permeate society, including our families. 

Swanson's solution to the so-called problem of disability is assisted suicide. Like most, he hasn't noticed the difference between suicide and assisted suicide. Apparently, he doesn't think it matters if someone's family views their life as devoid of quality. There's no sign of concern that we might feel that our existence is a burden to those closest to us. The Council of Canadians with Disabilities rightly opposes assisted suicide. A society that not only agrees with a disabled person's suicide, but guarantees that our suicide attempt results in death, is not treating us as equals. We deserve the same suicide prevention as everybody else, not a streamlined path to death.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Elder Abuse a Hidden Crime

Bruce Campion-Smith, wrote an article that was published in the Toronto Star on November 17 concerning the release of the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care report in Ottawa Canada last week. The article titled: Elder Abuse: A 'Hidden Crime': MP says - looked at the recommendations in the Parliamentary committee report and the comments made by Frank Valeriote (Lib) MP Guelph.

The article states:

A criminal crackdown and greater public awareness are needed to combat the growing problem of elder abuse in Canada, which leaves thousands of seniors “wounded and frightened” every year, a new study says.
Just as society turned a blind eye to child and spousal abuse decades ago, abused seniors are suffering from the same neglect today, warns an all-party committee of MPs.
Their report issued Thursday calls for a “cultural transformation” to ensure that elder abuse is seen as “absolutely unacceptable.”


The report estimates that 400,000 seniors have been abused in Canada, often by someone they know — a family member, caregiver, neighbour or landlord.

Not Dead Yet: Articles concerning "mobile euthanasia teams" is inaccurate

Stephen Drake, the research analyst for the Disability rights group, NOT DEAD YET, published an excellent commenary on their blog, last Thursday, about the article in the Associated Press concerning the new push in the Netherlands for "mobile euthanasia teams." It appears that the Dutch euthanasia lobby believes that people with disabilities would benefit from "mobile teams" coming to a persons home and lethally injecting them.

NOT DEAD YET not only comments on the concept of "mobile teams" that will euthanize the unfortunate people with disabilities, but they also commented on the clearly false statements by the Associated Press. Please read the following article that is reprinted for your pleasure.
------------------------------------------

Monday, November 21, 2011

Canadian Cancer Society Welcomes Caregiver Support and Palliative Care Recommendations in Report Released by Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care



TORONTONov. 17, 2011 /CNW/ - The Canadian Cancer Society applauds recommendations about family caregiver support and palliative care in a report released today by the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care (PCPCC) and urges the federal government to take action.

The report - Not to be forgotten: care of vulnerable Canadians - focuses on elderly, dying and vulnerable Canadians and provides recommendations for improving palliative care, family caregiver support, elder abuse and suicide prevention. The PCPCC is an ad-hoc, all party group of federal MPs who formed the committee on their own initiative. The report reflects testimony from hundreds of people at 24 hearings and local round tables across Canada.

"The spirit of non-partisan collaboration shown by the MPs on this committee is a great example of Parliament working at its best - MPs working across party lines on issues of concern to Canadians," says Dan Demers, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Professor Tom Koch responds to Royal Society of Canada one-sided report.

Professor Tom Koch, a consultant in bioethics and gerontology in Toronto and Vancouver and works in chronic care and hospice, responded to the Royal Society of Canada pro-euthanasia propaganda report, in an article that was printed in the Toronto Star on Wednesday, November 16, 2011.

The article follows:


Confusing the issue

By Tom Koch
Forget issues of terminal illness and the end of life. The court case that began Monday in the B.C. Supreme Court is not about the right to die (you will die) or a right to life (you’ve got that). It is not about the right to be free of pain in the midst of an illness. Palliative care, all agree, is the basis of good chronic care medicine.

One of the confusions in the case and in the Royal Society of Canada’s report on end-of-life decision-making released Tuesday is that they pretend to concern termination by physicians in the late stage of inevitably terminal illness. They are, however, framed to include potentially anyone who, dissatisfied by life, seeks state approval for a medically assisted termination.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Doctor-assisted suicide is dangerous for us all

Licia Corbella

The following article was written by Licia Corbella and published in the Calgary Herald on November 19, 2011.

It’s been a sickly couple of weeks for life. This past Monday, a B.C. Supreme Court case kicked off in which five people are seeking the right to choose to be killed by a physician. The very next day, the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) released a report that urges the federal government to legalize assisted suicide in Canada. A summary of the End of Life Decision Making report states:
“The evidence from years of experience and research where euthanasia and/or assisted suicide are permitted does not support claims that decriminalization will result in vulnerable persons being subjected to abuse or a slippery slope from voluntary to non-voluntary euthanasia.”
Wow. The RSC panel members must be really lousy researchers. At the very least, someone should teach them how to use Google. Why? Because on Nov. 9, it was announced that a woman with advanced Alzheimer’s disease was euthanized in the Netherlands in March. In Holland, this was not even big news.

The horror stories in the Netherlands, where euthanasia was legalized in April 2002, but where it was practised for years prior to that without censure, go way back and prove that there is not just a slippery slope, but a veritable vertical skating rink. Two comprehensive studies, headed up by the Attorney General of the High Council of the Netherlands — Prof. J. Remmelink — reveal utterly shocking examples of abuse, or rather, murder.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care offers great hope to Canadians.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition 

A great gift was given to Canada yesterday. The Report of the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care was released yesterday in Ottawa. The report titled: Not to be Forgotten: Care of Vulnerable Canadians, focusses on improving palliative care for all Canadians, suicide prevention strategies and protecting people from elder abuse.

The Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care is an all-party committee that grew out of a common goal of identifying concrete ways to improve the care and protection for all Canadians when they are experiencing difficult circumstances.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) stated in our media release that we endorsed the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care. Our legal counsel, Hugh Scher, stated:
"Implementation of the recommendations of this Parliamentary report should eliminate any further call for legalized assisted suicide or euthanasia in Canada by vastly improving care for every Canadian, especially those who are vulnerable."
At the press conference, in Ottawa, for the release of the report, Joe Comartin (NDP) - Windsor Riverside, Harold Albrecht (CPC) - Kitchener Conestoga, and Frank Valeriote (Lib) - Guelph, spoke on the different areas within the report.

Joe Comartin
Joe Comartin spoke on the palliative care recommendations in the report. He stated that only 16 - 30% of Canadians have access to palliative care. Palliative care services are a patch-work quilt with varying levels of care within every region. Even within Toronto there are regional disparities of access to palliative care.

Joe Comartin emphasized the need for: 

* a new palliative care secretariet, 
* the need to improve chronic care for people who live with pain and 
* he emphasized the need for greater flexibility in the provision of compassionate care benefits,
* the importance of building a greater infrastructure of local palliative care services to enable people to receive care and support in their own communities.

Harold Albrecht
Harold Albrecht spoke about the suicide prevention section within the report. He explained how suicide is almost always preventable but that the resources, information and support is simply not available in Canada. Canada does not have a national suicide prevention strategy, even though the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention has developed a national strategy for suicide prevention, the resources to implement the strategy have not been provided.

Harold Albrecht emphasized that * a coordinating body would be required to implement a National Suicide Prevention Strategy.



Frank Valeriote spoke on the recommendations related to elder abuse. He spoke about the fact that 4 - 10% of elders experience abuse and some recent studies are suggesting that the rate of elder abuse may be as high as 20%. Most elder abuse is carried out by care-givers, family members and friends. The reason elder abuse remains under-reported is the fact that the person is often dependent on the abuser.


Frank Valeriote
Frank Valeriote emphasized the need for * an elder abuse awareness and prevention office, * an elder abuse prevention strategy that would focus on prevention and intervention.

Rene Ouimet from the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention (CASP) spoke next about the progress that is being made towards implementing a  suicide prevention blueprint. She stated that CASP supports the recommendations in the report.

Dan Demers from the Canadian Cancer Society stated that they supported the recommendations within the report. He spoke about how some patients are still suffering needlessly. He emphasized that people, at the end of life, are vulnerable and must not be abandoned. He decried the fact that less than 30% of Canadians have access to excellent palliative care.

Jean Guy St. Gelais from the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse spoke next. He supported the need for an elder abuse prevention strategy and thanked the committee for the report.


Dr John Haggie
The final speaker was Dr John Haggie who is the current President of the Canadian Medical Association. He stated that the improvement in palliative care required urgent attention. He spoke in favour of the emphasis on patient centred care that the report promotes. He suggested that fixing palliative care can be used as a model for transforming health care in Canada.

The media then asked a series of questions.

The first question concerned the fact that many of the areas that the report was concerned with were within provincial jurisdiction. Joe Comartin answered the question by emphasizing the importance of the report being implemented by all levels of government. He then emphasized how some of the recommendations would lead to significant cost savings. He stated that too many people were dying in acute care hospital settings. If there were palliative care placements available, the cost would be significantly less. He also stated that excellent pain management will provide significant savings for the economy. Frank Valeriote then emphasized the need to share information especially to serve the needs of minority communities.

The second question concerned the decriminalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Dr Haggie, the President of the CMA stepped forward and stated that euthanasia is a complex issue but access to good palliative care would change the euthanasia debate. Dr Haggie then stated:

"requests for euthanasia usually reflect a failure to access adequate palliative care." 
Dr. Haggie then stated that Canada needs a national palliative care strategy. We need to transform the medical system with best practises and we need innovation funds to improve care.

The next question concerned the national suicide prevention stragegy. Harold Albrecht spoke about the fact that CASP has developed a blueprint strategy and he stated that government leadership is needed. He then mentioned his private suicide prevention members bill that is before parliament.

It was then stated that the blueprint strategy that was developed by CASP has been implemented in other countries resulting in the lowering of suicide rates in their countries.

Harold Albrecht then mentioned how progress is already occurring. The #10 recommendation in the palliative care section of the report has already been inserted in the current government budget.


EPC would like to thank the 55 MP's who supported the Palliative and Compassionate Care committee. We would like to thank Michele Simson, who was the Liberal co-chair of the committee but was defeated in the last election. We would like to thank George for writing the report.

Anti-suicide laws have served him well

John Coppard

By John Coppard, Times Colonist - November 18, 2011


The editorial "Time to talk on right to die" asserts the time is now right to discuss this critically important topic (Nov. 16).

I submit that the time passed a little over a year ago, when parliamentarians overwhelmingly rejected private member's bill C-384 seeking to legalize physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia by a vote of 228 to 59.

Representatives of all parties recognized the dire risks to public safety of giving physicians the legal right to take their patients' lives, and our health-care system, and even friends and relatives, the legal right to steer ill people toward suicide. Our democratic representatives correctly saw this as open to abuse, and bad public policy.

The "Carter case" now ongoing in Vancouver is an attempt to end-run Parliament.

As a person who is "grievously and irremediably ill" with Grade IV brain cancer, I would be affected should this case succeed. Two and a half years after being given a 20 per cent chance of surviving five years, I am doing very well on a medication approved by Health Canada only a year ago, within a week of my cancer coming back.

Had I been given the legal choice of assisted suicide when I first received my terrible prognosis, or when my cancer returned, when I felt hopeless, I don't know what I would have done.

Now I'm doing very well, thanks to medical advancements that are coming faster than at any time in our history. Our anti-suicide laws protected me and gave me a chance for a long and happy life, just as they were intended to do.

John Coppard
Victoria BC

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition Endorses Recommendations of Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee


TORONTO, Nov. 17, 2011 - CanadaNewsWire

The Parliamentary Committee on Palliative and Compassionate Care released its report entitled: NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN: CARE OF VULNERABLE CANADIANS.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition endorses the recommendations made by the committee in respect of improved palliative and end-of-life care, suicide prevention strategies, and the prevention of elder abuse.  EPC executive director Alex Schadenberg states:

   
  The Parliamentary report represents a blueprint of proactive positive steps that will improve end-of-life care for all Canadians.

EPC-BC chair Dr. Will Johnston states:

          I see elder abuse in my family medical practice.  There is a clear need for action and the Parliamentary report sets out a blueprint for action. 

EPC legal counsel, Hugh Scher states:

          Implementation of the recommendations of this Parliamentary report should eliminate any further call for legalized assisted suicide or euthanasia in Canada by vastly improving care for every Canadian, especially those who are vulnerable.


For further information:
Alex Schadenberg, EPC Executive Director: 519-439-3348, info@epcc.ca
Dr. Will Johnston, EPC-BC Chair: 604-220-2042, willjohnston@shaw.ca
Hugh Scher, EPC Legal Counsel: 416-816-6115, hugh@sdlaw.ca

Link to the report.

Council of Canadians with Disabilities hopes court will rule no on killing

Media Release - November 17, 2011

CCD hopes court will rule no on killing

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), a national organization of people with disabilities working for an accessible and inclusive Canada, is alarmed by the case, Carter v. Attorney General of Canada, which is a constitutional challenge to Canadian law prohibiting physician-assisted suicide. Legalized assisted suicide is a recipe for lethal abuse.

In 2010, the House of Commons voted (228 to 59) against legalizing assisted suicide, striking down Bill C-384, which would have removed Criminal Code provisions against assisted suicide. CCD applauded the defeat of Bill C-384 and believes nothing in the intervening time has occurred that necessitates the overturning of a law designed to protect Canadians from being killed. With their vote on C-384, our elected representatives said no to killing; we urge Canadian judges also to say no to killing.

Dr. van der Wal of Holland testified before the Senate Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide that people who had not made an explicit request for an assisted suicide nevertheless were being killed under the auspices of that country’s assisted suicide provisions.

Through personal experiences, people with disabilities know that we are often perceived to be suffering pain and enduring lives that are not worth living. Such misconceptions can lead to unwanted assistance in dying. Many of us with disabilities want the protection afforded by the Criminal Code’s prohibition against assisted suicide to continue.

The assisted suicide debate is a conflict between some individuals’ desires for an extreme form of personal autonomy—assistance in executing their own death at a time of their own choosing—and other individuals’ desires to prevent the lethal abuse of people, particularly those who are socially devalued, such as people with disabilities. One unwanted death due to misconceptions about quality of life is too many.

An important first step to preventing lethal abuse of our human right to life is preservation of the Criminal Code’s prohibitions against assisted suicide. Canada’s legislators got this question right in 2010. We hope that the court, when deciding the Carter case, pays heed to the decision taken by Canada’s Members of Parliament on the question in 2010.
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For more information contact:
Rhonda Wiebe, Co-chair, CCD Ending of Life Ethics Committee, Cell: 204-952-1514
Dean Richert, Co-chair, CCD Ending of Life Ethics Committee, Cell: 204-951-6273
Jim Derksen, Member, CCD Ending of Life Ethics Committee, Tel: 204-786-7937
Laurie Beachell, CCD National Coordinator, Tel: 204-947-0303

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vivre dans la Dignité/ Living with Dignity's Media Release on the Quebec Consultation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Montreal, November 16, 2011
Quebecers have overwhelmingly told the provincial government to respect existing laws banning euthanasia and focus instead on providing high quality palliative care, a study of submissions to the Special Commission on Dying with Dignity shows clearly.

“The numbers are black and white. In the presentations to the Commission there was 99 per cent agreement that palliative care is the dignified choice Quebecers want available at the end of life.

At the same time, 60 per cent of the submissions opposed any opening for euthanasia. The government’s democratic direction should be clear,” said Linda Couture, director of the nonpartisan, grass roots group, Living With Dignity.

Couture said an exhaustive Living with Dignity independent analysis of the 427 oral presentations and written submissions to the Commission, shows a mere two per cent of the submissions support assisted suicide.

Four per cent of those who made submissions did not have a clear position.

Only about a third of those who submitted to the commission were either somewhat or strongly in favor of euthanasia, Couture said: “This is a far cry from the inflated survey numbers often used in the media by advocates for legalizing or decriminalizing euthanasia in Quebec.”

A further analysis of the content of the submissions of those who apparently favored euthanasia showed significant confusion between directly taking a patient’s life – outlawed under the Criminal Code – and ceasing futile treatment, which is universally acknowledged as ethical and proper.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Legalizing Assisted Suicide 'a recipe for elder abuse,'

John Coppard
The Vancouver Province published a thorough article by Sean Sullivan today about the protest that was organized by EPC-BC on the steps of the court house in Vancouver. The article is titled: Legalizing Assisted Suicide 'a recipe for elder abuse.' says protesters.

The article also featured John Coppard, who was diagnosed with brain cancer two years ago. Coppard contacted us with his story. The following is a reprint of the article:

Legalized Assisted Suicide 'a recipe for elder abuse,' says protesters
Protesters opposed to changes in Canada’s suicide law gathered in front of the Vancouver Law Courts Monday morning, warning that legalizing assisted suicide would open the floodgates for elder abuse.

A court challenge launched in B.C. Supreme Court has the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and Gloria Taylor, a 63-year-old woman suffering from ALS, challenging Canada’s laws that forbid doctor-assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

Opponents, however, argue that physician-assisted suicides will see the medical system steer patients toward suicide and allow greedy children intent on inheriting their parents wealth will force them into choosing death.

“In the messy real world that I work in as a family physician, I have no illusions but that improper inducement to end their lives prematurely would be given to a lot of the elderly,” Dr. Will Johnston said.

“We need a strong law that prevents people urging or facilitating others to commit suicide.”

Speaking in his experience as a doctor who provides capability assessments on “frail, elderly people,” Johnston said it’s typical to see victims who have been induced to do things that are completely against their self-interest. Gutting the law against assisted suicide will do more harm than good, he said.

“Sadly, children are the worst abusers of the elderly. We have a national problem with suicide and a natural problem with elder abuse.

“And here we have a case that would undercut our efforts to constrain both of those problems.”
About 70 people, holding signs with messages such as “Assisted suicide a recipe for elder abuse,” braved the brisk, fall wind to stand on the steps of the Law Courts Monday.

Among them was John Coppard, 45, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, in 2009. A new medication helped him recover, though he said that at his “lowest points,” he may have chosen assisted suicide had it been offered to him.

“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the law that disallowed assisted suicide,” Coppard said. “The illnesses people are talking about inside (the court) are not death sentences any more.

“People (diagnosed with a terminal illness) can live for decades,” he said.

Afghanistan veteran with brain cancer urges Canadians to support laws against assisted suicide

Afghanistan veteran with brain cancer urges Canadians to support laws against assisted suicide.

Nov. 14 – At the Vancouver Law Courts this morning, a trial begins that may result in the legalization of assisted suicide. The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of B.C., an intervener in the case, is staging a demonstration to help inform Canadians about what such laws will mean for individuals.
Media are invited to attend today’s demonstration at the corner of Nelson and Hornby, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Onsite, EPCBC offers people who can explain why legalized assisted suicide would be bad for Canadians.
Afghanistan and Bosnia vet John Coppard, 45, is one of those people. Diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer two years ago, a Glioblastoma Multiforme, the Victoria resident became depressed when he realized his career was over, he’d probably never be a father or a grandfather, and his chance of surviving even five years was just 20 per cent.
If assisted suicide had been legal at the time, he believes he may have considered killing himself. But since then his condition has stabilized on a newly-approved medication. He even bought a sailboat.
“For those of us living with life threatening conditions, the system as it is offers us incredible hope,” Coppard said. “New therapies are discovered all the time. Everyone knows someone who was offered a terrible prognosis that turned out to be wrong. Doctors work hard to offer us the best chance at a long life and sometimes, recovery. I know mine are”
Assisted suicide, he said, undermines Canadians’ relationship with care providers.
“When you’re diagnosed with something like brain cancer or ALS, your treatments are very complex. You put a lot of trust in your doctors, your health care system and those closest to you to steer you through your illness. In my case I trust them completely. If assisted suicide is on the table, however, who will I be able to trust?” 
“I don't want any heroics. I'll go when it's time for me to go. But not when my medical system thinks it's too expensive to keep me alive, or when my doctor thinks I'm too much work.”
EPC BC’s spokespeople will be available for comment throughout the four-week trial.
Media contacts:
Cancer patient John Coppard 250-508-3446
Will Johnston, MD, president of EPCBC www.epcbc.ca, willjohnston@shaw.ca 604-220-2042
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of EPC Canada www.epcc.ca, info@epcc.ca 519-851-1434

Royal Society of Canada one - sided euthanasia report to be released tomorrow.

EPC was shocked in October 2009 when the Royal Society of Canada announced that they had established an "expert panel on end-of-life decision making" that appeared to be made up of advocates from the euthanasia lobby.
Jocelyn Downie

When reading the media release, it appeared that this "expert panel" was assembled by long-time euthanasia advocate Jocelyn Downie. When we further investigated the panel members it was clear that when this report would be a pro-euthanasia propaganda report.

When the Royal Society of Canada announced the formation of this "expert panel", EPC suggested that they should have at least appointed members who supported euthanasia and members who opposed euthanasia and allow them to offer two equal perspectives. But this did not happen. Wesley Smith, a leading American bioethicist stated that the Royal Society panel had "stacked the deck".

Tomorrow, the Royal Society of Canada "expert panel" on end-of-life decision making will release its report.

We expect that it will suggest - for the most part - that all is fine and good with euthanasia in jurisdictions where it is legal, that there is more abuse in jurisdictions where euthanasia is illegal, that concerns about death without request or consent or the euthanasia of infants with disabilities or euthanasia of people with dementia are rare and overblown and that Canada, and other nations, should go ahead and legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide and treat it like a form of medical treatment.

If I am accurate, it is because it is what I expected from the beginning. Simply read the EPC November 2009 newsletter.

Jocelyn Downie, who has written a book to promote the legalization of euthanasia in Canada, who has stated in speaking engagements that she has designed the "perfect law" for legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada, recently sent this letter to the Deans of Medicine across Canada stating:
"I am working (pro bono) on the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association challenge to the Criminal Code prohibition of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada."
The BCCLA Carter case, is currently being heard in the BC courts to decriminalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

If this report is similar to the Margaret Battin report from a few years ago, it will be designed to prove its hypothesis, and it will miss, ignore or simply write off as a non-issue any study or legitimate concern that disproves their hypothesis.

The most recent media release states that: "the Royal Society does not have an opinion on these matters." If this report were a thorough, independent and honest examination of the facts, then the Royal Society would be happy to place their seal of approval on it.

In other words, this report represents the long-held opinion of its key members.

I wonder how the "expert panel" will write off the study published last year that stated that 32% of the euthanasia deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium were without explicit request or consent?

What about the study published last year that stated that only 52.8% of all euthanasia deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium are reported?

What about the study by the pro-euthanasia Dutch Oncologist Marije van der Lee that was published in 2005 that showed that depressed people were 4.1 times more likely to request euthanasia?

How will they discount the disability perspective? Consider the article by Marilyn Golden titled: Killing us Softly.

I am interested to read the verbal gymnastics in this report.