Saturday, October 31, 2015

Barrie: The Memoirs of Dr. L.L. deVeber

Dr L.L. (Barrie) deVeber, the founding President of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC). 

The newly published book - Barrie: The Memoirs of Dr. L.L. deVeber, is the story of the life of a man who was a pediatric oncologist, a hematologist, a researcher, an innovator, a leader, and a founder of many organizations.

Dr deVeber is historically known for his work in the development of the serum for treating Rh factor in pregnancies. Countless children survived thanks to this research by Dr. deVeber. 

Dr deVeber developed the first pediatric palliative care guidelines, that were developed while he was treating children who were dying from cancer in London Ontario. 

He authored and co-authored many research papers that remain important today.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is selling the book: Barrie for $25  (includes postage). Bulk prices and orders are available upon request.

Books can be ordered by calling the EPC office at: 1-877-439-3348 or email: info@epcc.ca or by purchasing by paypal (link). (please state Barrie in paypal purchase)

The editor states in the Forward of Barrie: The Memoirs of Dr. L.L. deVeber:
Dr. L.L. deVeber M.D., F.R.C.P. (C)
• Professor Emeritas Pediatrics and Oncology, University of Western Ontario
• Former Director Pediatric Oncology Children's Hospital of Western Ontario 
Dr. L.L. "Barrie" deVeber is internationally recognized as a pioneer in pediatric palliative care. 
His innovative work with children with cancer, pregnant woman and the Rh factor, and hemophilia patients, has affected the lives of many. His medical career has taken him around the globe, from Canada to England to the USA, to Saudi Arabia to Africa. 
Dr. deVeber is a founding member of various organizations including Camp Trillium, the Sunshine Foundation, the Montessori School of London ON, the Ronald McDonald House in London ON and the London and Area Right to Life. He is the founding President of the deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Barrie & Iola deVeber (2012)
Dr. deVeber spent a career challenging the status quo. He has made countless presentations to government and local communities on the importance of respecting all human life. 
Dr. deVeber is a man who has truly lived: his caring and compassion has touched the lives of thousands of people and his Irish charm has made him a friend of many. 
His story is worth reading.      S.M.S
The book is dedicated to Iola his wife of 61 years who passed away on June 19, 2015.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Montreal Euthanasia Symposium: Theory and Reality about Euthanasia

Media Release - October 30, 2015

The Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, the Living with Dignity network and the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) are coming together for a one day conference on Saturday October 31, 2015 at the Best Western Ville Marie hotel in Montréal, to discuss our common concerns and directions.

The Quebec euthanasia experiment is scheduled to begin on December 10. The vast majorityof physicians around the world have always rejected euthanasia, above all because it is a public safety hazard: it can drive people to throw away years of their lives and provide caregivers and heirs with enormous power. Although it gives an illusion of control, the option of euthanasia will undoubtedly erode medical diligence and creativity in the medical care of people both chronically disabled and acutely disabled by illness.  

Most patients fear suffering at the end of life. This has always been the case. But we must find a less dangerous option than the constant availability of “death on demand” to address these fears. In extreme cases, i.e. for the small minority of patients for whom other options are not completely effective, palliative sedation can answer all symptom control problems.

Quebec has the only law in the world which attempts to coerce doctors to refer patients for euthanasia. Such pointless authoritarianism, of which we already had a taste in September, is a dangerous precedent which must be formally rejected.   

From a logistical point of view patients do not need help from their treating physician to access euthanasia: the government could easily set up a system of self-referral to voluntarily licensed doctors who are willing to practice euthanasia. This would avoid trampling on the professional judgment and conscience of the rest of the medical profession. 

We reject the concept that euthanasia is any kind of health care. We reject bullying physicians into referring their patients for death. And we reject the concept that intentional death is a solution to human distress.

Dr Catherine Ferrier – President, Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia (514) 623-5737
Dr Will Johnston – Chair, EPC - BC (604) 220-2042
Dr Margaret Cottle – Vice President, EPC (604) 222-0288
Dr Marc Beauchamp – President, Living with Dignity Network.

Alex Schadenberg - Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (519) 851-1434

Symposium de Montréal : la théorie et la réalité sur l’euthanasie

Communiqué de presse 30 octobre 2015

Le Collectif  des médecins contre l'euthanasie, le réseau citoyen Vivre dans la dignité et la Euthanasia Prevention Coalition sont réunis pour une conférence ce samedi 31 octobre 2015 à l'hôtel Best Western Ville Marie pour discuter de nos préoccupations et de nos orientations communes.

Le 10 décembre marquera le début de l’expérimentation de l'euthanasie au Québec. Jusqu’à maintenant, la vaste majorité des médecins à travers le monde rejette l'euthanasie, entre autres parce qu’elle représente un danger pour la sécurité publique: elle peut pousser des gens à renoncer à des années de leur vie et donne un pouvoir immense au personnel soignant et aux héritiers. L’option euthanasie procurera certes une illusion de contrôle, mais il ne fait aucun doute qu’elle érodera la diligence et la créativité dans les soins médicaux, tant pour les personnes avec un handicap chronique que pour les personnes gravement affligées par la maladie.

La plupart des patients craignent de souffrir à la fin de leurs jours. Il en a toujours été ainsi. Mais nous devons trouver une solution moins dangereuse que la disponibilité constante de la « mort sur demande » pour répondre à ces craintes. Dans les cas extrêmes, c’est-à-dire pour la petite minorité de patients pour qui les autres options ne sont pas totalement efficaces, la sédation palliative peut répondre à tous les problèmes de contrôle des symptômes.

Le Québec a la seule loi au monde qui veut contraindre les médecins traitants à référer les patients pour obtenir l'euthanasie. Un tel autoritarisme inutile, manifesté publiquement en septembre dernier, constitue un dangereux précédent qui devrait être formellement rejeté.

D’un point de vue logistique, un patient n'a aucunement besoin de l’intervention de son médecin traitant pour avoir accès à l'euthanasie. Le gouvernement pourrait facilement mettre en place un système dans lequel le patient aurait accès par lui-même à des médecins certifiés et volontaires qui accepteraient de pratiquer des euthanasies. De cette façon, on ne foulerait pas aux pieds le jugement professionnel et la conscience des autres membres de la profession médicale.

Nous rejetons le concept que l'euthanasie constitue un quelconque soin de santé. Nous rejetons l'intimidation des médecins pour les forcer à référer leurs patients vers la mort. Et nous rejetons l'idée que la mort provoquée soit une solution à la détresse humaine.

Dr Catherine Ferrier - Le Collectif  des médecins contre l'euthanasie, (514) 623-5737
Dr Will Johnston - L'euthanasie Prevention Coalition - BC
Dr Margaret Cottle - L'euthanasie Prevention Coalition
Dr Marc Beauchamp - Vivre dans la dignité 

Alex Schadenberg
Directeur exécutif
L'euthanasie Prevention Coalition
(519) 851-1434

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Belgian Euthanasia Commission refers case for judiciary review.

This article was published by HOPE Australia on October 29, 2015.

Paul Russell
By Paul Russell, the director of HOPE Australia.

De Standaard newspaper is reporting today that, for the very first time since its inception in October 2002, the Belgian Euthanasia Commission has referred a reported euthanasia case to the judiciary for review.


The case in question is well known as it was recorded by the Australian SBS TV Network reporter, Brett Mason, in a Dateline documentary aired in Australia in September. As Mason reported:
“Simona de Moor is a physically healthy 85-year-old. She lives in a care home in Antwerp, but is still active and on no medication. 
However, she’s been unable to accept the death of her daughter Vivian from a heart attack three months earlier, and sees no reason to go on.”
De Standaard reports:
"The doctor in question has not complied with the conditions imposed by the law, ruled the 16 members on Tuesday unanimously. Palliative physician and co-chair of the Committee Wim Distelmans confirmed the news to the newspaper. "If there is any doubt about the terms, we must continue to court." 
The doctor in question is Marc Van Hoey, also chairman of the association "Right to die with dignity." He applied to euthanasia on Simona De Moor, a 85-year-old woman who died on June 22 of this year in Antwerp."
Van Hoey is no stranger to the controversies associated with the application of Belgium's euthansia laws. in 2013, in an interview for Canada's National Post newspaper, he was candid in his assessment of the law and his approach to it:
"Marc Van Hoey, a physician who performs euthanasia and is head of the Flemish death-with-dignity association, said there has been a shift toward euthanasia of what he called the high elderly. “Recently I went to see a lady of 95 years old, sitting in a nursing home all by herself. All her friends and family had died. The only people she had good contact with were the nursing team. She said every evening she goes to bed, she hopes, ‘Don’t let me wake up any more,’ ” he said. He told her she was a candidate for euthanasia. 
“Why do I say that? Because maybe if you say to that kind of person, ‘We are not going to give you euthanasia,’ they open the window on the fourth floor and jump down. And that’s traumatic for everyone.” 
"Dr. Van Hoey is remarkably frank about how flexible the euthanasia law is. It requires a written request for euthanasia from a patient, but it can be written on a napkin, he said. The control commission has even approved euthanasia when there was no written request, taking the doctor’s word that an oral request had been made. 
"Assisted suicide — when the doctor prescribes a patient lethal medication instead of administering it himself – is not legal in Belgium. But Dr. Van Hoey said he has aided the suicides of two of his patients, including one a few years ago who had been refused euthanasia. The 56-year-old businessman was half-paralyzed after a stroke and did not want to live, but he had trouble finding a psychiatrist who would approve euthanasia. Dr. Van Hoey said today he would have gone ahead and performed the euthanasia without the approval of a psychiatrist instead of surreptitiously prescribing lethal drugs. He noted that Belgian law only says a third doctor must be “consulted” if death is not imminent. “It is not said [the doctors] have to agree,” he said."
Van Hoey is also the head of the Flemish 'right to die' association.

De Standaard says that the referral of this case to Justice was a unanimous decision of the 16 member evaluation commission on the basis that, in their conclusion, Simona de Moor was euthanased because she was 'tired of life', a category not yet allowed under the current interpretation of the Belgian law. But that is not necessarily the case.

Jacqueline Herremans, president of Belgium's francophone death-with-dignity association and a member of the control commission told the National Post in the same article (above): “Being tired of life is not an acceptable diagnosis... But if, for example, someone is afflicted with osteoarthritis, can no longer leave the rest home where she lives, is losing her eyesight, losing her hearing, in that case you have the necessary information about the person’s medical condition.” Having lost a spouse can also be a factor. “It sometimes enters into the consideration of suffering,” she said."

Is there a valid distinction to be made here between grief at the loss of a spouse and the loss of a child? It would seem so.

But there's more to it than that. Official records and studies based on death certificates in both Belgium and Holland show that not all euthanasia deaths are reported as the law demands. In a De Standaard interview in January 2014, Dr Marc Cosyns frankly admitted, in the presence of the co-chair of the euthanasia commission, Dr Wim Distelmans, that he has never reported his own cases, as required by law. Distelman's replies" “But Marc...you cannot ignore the criminal law.” And yet nothing happens.

Perhaps Dr van Hoey is guilty of two mistakes: firstly, allowing the filming of de Moor's death and, secondly, making out the official report.

Distelmans and the commission could perhaps be accused of a selective application of the law; apply an intepretation of qualification but do nothing about known cases that are not reported. The message here to Belgian doctors is clear: if you don't want any trouble, don't fill in the paperwork. This only serves to further undermine the flimsy pretence that the commission and the law are effective tools in protecting Belgian citizens.

The commission may well be making an example of Dr van Hoey for good reason, but they may just as easily be reacting to the negative sentiment arising out of the SBS Documentary and the continuing international scrutiny.

One swallow does not a summer make.

see also: SBS Dateline special report: Allow me to die

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) Declaration on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.

Link to the Declaration on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.

Assisted suicide and euthanasia raise profound social, moral, legal, theological and philosophical questions -- questions that go to the very core of our understanding of who we are, the meaning of life, and the duty of care we owe to each other. The recent Supreme Court of Canada decision has brought this issue to the forefront of public discussion and compels each of us as Canadians to reflect upon our personal and societal response to those who need our compassion and care. 

We, the undersigned, each from the basis of our sacred teachings and enduring traditions, affirm the sanctity of all human life, and the equal and inviolable dignity of every human being. This is an affirmation shared by societies and cultures around the world and throughout history. Human dignity is not exclusively a religious belief, although for us it has a significant religious meaning. Furthermore, we affirm that reverence for human life is the basis and reason for our compassion, responsibility and commitment in caring for all humans, our brothers and sisters, when they are suffering and in pain.

The sanctity of human life is a foundational principle of Canadian society. It has both individual and communal import: it undergirds the recognition of the equal dignity of each individual regardless of their abilities or disabilities and shapes and guides our common life together, including our legal, health care and social welfare systems. It engenders the collective promotion of life and the protection of the vulnerable. 

While Canadian society continues to affirm the importance of human dignity, there is a worrisome tendency to define this subjectively and emotionally. For us, human dignity is most properly understood as the value of a person’s life before her or his Creator and within a social network of familial and societal relationships. We are convinced the only ways to help people live and die with dignity are: to ensure they are supported by love and care; to provide holistic care which includes pain control as well as psychological, spiritual and emotional support; and, to improve and increase resources in support of palliative and home care. 

On the basis of our respective traditions and beliefs, we insist that any action intended to end human life is morally and ethically wrong. Together, we are determined to work to alleviate human suffering in every form but never by intentionally eliminating those who suffer. 

The withholding or withdrawal of burdensome treatment must be distinguished from euthanasia and assisted suicide. The intention in such cases is not to cause death but to let it occur naturally. We understand that under certain circumstances it is morally and legally acceptable for someone to refuse or stop treatment. The refusal of medical treatment, including extraordinary measures, is very different from euthanasia or assisted suicide. Euthanasia is the deliberate killing of someone, with or without that person’s consent, ostensibly in order to eliminate suffering. Assisted suicide occurs when one person aids, counsels or encourages another person to commit suicide. There is a fundamental difference between killing a person and letting her or him die of natural causes. 

Euthanasia and assisted suicide treat the lives of disadvantaged, ill, disabled, or dying persons as less valuable than the lives of others. Such a message does not respect the equal dignity of our vulnerable brothers and sisters. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Margaret Somerville - What the top court left out in assisted suicide decision.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

M
Margaret Somerville
argaret Somerville, the founding director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill University, wrote an insightful article titled - What the top court left out in judgement on assisted suicide - that was published in the Globe and Mail on October 27.

In her article, Somerville comments on the Supreme Court of Canada assisted suicide decision:

A central question in legalizing physician-assisted suicide is where the balance between respecting individual rights to autonomy and protection of the “common good” (protection of others and society, including its important values) should be struck. In this case, there was almost no such balancing. 
Rather, both the trial court and the Supreme Court focused almost exclusively on the rights of individual persons, so that the factual findings and legal reasoning were intensely individualistically based. 
Both courts adopted a narrow definition of Parliament’s purpose in prohibiting assisted suicide (namely, that it was to protect a vulnerable person in moments of weakness from acting on suicidal ideation) and concluded that an absolute prohibition was not needed to achieve this. Indeed, the courts accepted the evidence of plaintiff Gloria Taylor, who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease, that she did not need this protection as showing that she and people like her did not – that is, they were “not vulnerable.”
Then Somerville asks - But was the court correct in its assessment of vulnerability? She explains:

Prof. Henk ten Have, a physician-ethicist at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, recently published a paper proposing that vulnerability is an innate human characteristic that we all experience throughout our lives, because it “comes from the social dimension of human existence.” In short, we are not free-floating autonomous atoms.
Somerville explains:
Vulnerability is linked to dependence on others. We are all interdependent, which means we are all vulnerable. This is not necessarily bad, as we might at first assume when we hear the word “vulnerable.” 
Somerville then concludes that Supreme Court missed the common good or the importance of people caring for one another. She concludes:
The Supreme Court saw the antidote to suffering as recognizing individuals’ right to autonomy and its use to consent to the infliction of death. An alternative is a communal response of providing fully adequate palliative care, which affirms our bonds with those who are in need and are especially vulnerable. 
In balancing autonomy with conflicting values, the Supreme Court failed to consider what is necessary to protect the “common good,” to protect all of us as vulnerable people by upholding “respect for life” (a preferable term to “sanctity of life”) in society as a whole. 
I suggest it requires, as it always has until now, the prohibition of intentionally killing an innocent human being or helping them to kill themselves.
Margaret Somerville will be speaking on October 31 at the Euthanasia Symposium in Montreal.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Exit appears to have established a suicide promotion website in Canada

Paul Russell
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

The Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) placed restrictions on Philip Nitschke, the founder of Exit International, an Australian based group that promotes and sells suicide drugs, devices, information and books. The AHPRA was responding to 12 complaints that the AHPRA received concerning Nitschke and Exit.

Paul Russell, the Director of HOPE Australia, responded to the AHPRA decision by stating:
“The medical board are implicitly stating that suicide advocacy is not an appropriate pursuit for a doctor. If not for a doctor, then we say: not for anyone.” 
“This murky world of suicide advocacy needs to be put to a stop for the sake of vulnerable people of all ages.”
HOPE Australia is calling for:
"a full inquiry and investigation into Exit International and the entire suicide death industry."
In response to the HOPE Australia call for a full inquiry into Exit International, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) is urging the federal and provincial governments in Canada to investigate an Exit International website that was recently launched in Ontario to sell suicide drugs, devices, information and suicide guide books.

This website violates every restriction that the AHPRA placed on Philip Nitschke and Exit.

This suicide promotion website was launched shortly after the irresponsible and dangerous Supreme Court decision to strike down Canada's assisted suicide and euthanasia laws. 

Due to concern for Canadians who live with depression and other psychiatric conditions that leave them vulnerable to suicide, we will not publicly name the website.

HOPE Australia calls for a national inquiry into Exit

This article was published by HOPE Australia on October 26.


The Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency, the Medical Board, moved today (26th Oct) to curtail the suicide advocacy of Dr Philip Nitschke in creating an unprecedented 25 restrictions upon his licence to practice medicine.

Paul Russell: The director of HOPE.
This action is the culmination of a dozen complaints the agency had received, dating back almost four years, including one by the author over three years ago about the promotion of hypoxic death methods utilizing nitrogen gas.

Originally, the 12 complaints were to have been aired in medical tribunal hearings scheduled for Darwin (NT) in November. Nitschke admitted, in various news reports today that he had ‘reached an agreement’ with the medical board in September this year to accept the boards restrictions rather than facing ‘four to six weeks of "costly" tribunal hearings.’ He may have been concerned for the cost after recently incurring significant legal fees in successfully appealing an earlier suspension.

However, it is perhaps more likely that his ‘agreement’ with the medical board was more about trying to avoid the airing of the substance of the 12 complaints in a public forum.

In essence, the board restrictions convey a very clear message that it is not proper for a medical professional to be involved in suicide advocacy or suicide coaching. We question whether anyone should be involved. But, in deference to the medical board, they can only make a judgement within their competency.

The only other action the board could have taken would have been to cancel Nitschke’s medical practice certificate outright. I’m glad they did not take this course. If they had, we would not now have the itemized list of 25 particular matters of concern to the board in the operation of Exit International.

The most significant restrictions will mean that Nitschke can no longer have any formal involvement in the work of Exit. No workshops, no advice, name removed from his published handbook, name and association removed from the website and the removal of all advocacy videos from the internet etc. It would be foolish to assume that this spells the end of Exit; it does not. His partner, Fiona Stewart has promised to continue his work and Nitschke has indicated that, upon his return to Australia, he will consider whether or not to abandon his medical licence completely.

All the while the Australian public remain in the dark about these 12 complaints and the macabre and clandestine practices that see a continuing escalation in the body count. The suicide statistics are now showing an increase in the number of suicides using Exit-preferred methods and amongst a younger cohort.

The medical board have done all that they can under their charter and we applaud their efforts. Hope is now calling for a national inquiry into Exit and Dr Nitschke as a matter of public safety. All Australians deserve to know, those that have lost loved ones deserve justice and vulnerable people deserve to be protected.

In May this year at the inaugural HOPE International Symposium in Adelaide, two courageous women who had lost loved ones to Exit methods told their stories. There are, unfortunately, others; many others besides. I dedicated the conference to them, their loved ones and to their courage and the pursuit of justice.

Today some justice was metred out. But while ever Exit can operate in the shadows and ply its grotesque trade others are at risk. We would not tolerate this under any other guise or circumstance.

As a matter of some urgency, we have called upon those in power to create an inquiry into Exit and its activities. The suicide coaching must stop.

It is not over until it is over.

You can view the AHPRA decision HERE. (Follow links for details)

Medical Board Acts Against Dr Nitschke

The following is the media release from HOPE Australia from October 25, 2015


HOPE MEDIA RELEASE

Medical Board decision on Philip Nitschke:
A sound decision to protect the vulnerable but more needs to be done.
Paul Russell

Paul Russell, Director of HOPE: preventing euthanasia & assisted suicide welcomes the decision of the Medical Board, AHPRA to severely restrict Philip Nitschke’s medical licence in respect to his relationship to the work of Exit International.

AHPRA Media Release: Board imposes conditions on Dr Phillip Nitschke, ending legal process.

“The decision of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) in response to a number of complaints about the activities of Exit and Philip Nitschke is most welcome.” said Mr Russell.

Mr Russell made a formal notification to AHPRA in respect to one aspect of the work of Exit and Philip Nitschke in August 2012.

“This is a vindication of our complaint and will hopefully provide some comfort to those who have lost loved ones to suicide by accessing Exit’s methods.’ said Mr Russell.

HOPE and Mr Russell say that more still needs to be done. “The medical board are implicitly stating that suicide advocacy is not an appropriate pursuit for a doctor. If not for a doctor, then we say: not for anyone.” said Mr Russell, adding a call for further investigations. “This murky world of suicide advocacy needs to be put to a stop for the sake of vulnerable people of all ages.”

HOPE is now calling for a full inquiry and investigation into Exit International and the entire suicide death industry.

HOPE: preventing euthanasia & assisted suicide Inc. is a national network of people and organisations who work to oppose euthanasia & assisted suicide legislation.

HOPE is a member of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition International based in Canada. Paul Russell is vice chair of the international body.

For further comment contact: Paul Russell Executive Director, HOPE M: 0407 500 881

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Euthanasia doctor convicted in France.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


A French court convicted an emergency room doctor of euthanasia.

Nicholas Bonnemaison was found guilty and given a two year suspended sentence for deliberately killing an 86 year-old woman . He was originally prosecuted for seven counts of intentionally killing patients, but the court acquitted him on the six other charges. 

According to The Local Bonnemaison also lost his medical license:
Bonnemaison, who has been struck off the medical register, was accused of "poisoning particularly vulnerable people" -- five women and two men who died between March 2010 and July 2011 soon after being admitted to the hospital in the southwestern city of Bayonne where he worked.
Bonnemaison was not accused of overdosing his patients, accidentally or otherwise, he was accused of intentionally killing his patients by lethal injection.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

California's Assisted Suicide Law: Whose Choice Will it Be?

Margaret Dore
This guest column was published by the Jurist on Oct 24, 2015
By Margaret Dore, a lawyer in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal who has been licensed to practice law in since 1986.
California has passed a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide, which is scheduled to go into effect during 2016. "The End of Life Option Act" was sold as giving patients choice and control at the end of life. The bill, in fact, is about ending the lives of people who are not necessarily dying anytime soon and giving other people the "option" to hurry them along. The bill is a recipe for elder abuse and family trauma.
The American Medical Association (AMA) defines physician-assisted suicide as occurring when "a physician facilitates a patient's death by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act."  The AMA gives the example: "[A] physician provides sleeping pills and information about the lethal dose, while aware that the patient may commit suicide." Assisted suicide is a general term in which the assisting person is not necessarily a physician. Euthanasia, by contrast, is the direct administration of a lethal agent with the intent to cause another person's death. 
The AMA rejects assisted suicide and euthanasia stating that they are 
"fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks."
In the last five years, four states have strengthened their laws against assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is no longer legal in New Mexico due to a court decision. There are just three states where assisted suicide is legal: Oregon, Washington and Vermont. In a fourth state, Montana, case law gives doctors who assist a suicide a potential defense to a homicide charge.
 
The California bill applies to persons with a "terminal disease," which is defined as having a medical prognosis of less than six months to live. Such persons can, in reality, have years to live, with the more obvious reasons being misdiagnosis and the fact that predicting life expectancy is not an exact science. Doctors can sometimes be very wrong
        
In Oregon and Washington, where assisted suicide laws use a nearly identical definition of terminal disease, terminality is determined without treatment. Consider, for example, Oregon resident Jeanette Hall who was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 and wanted to do assisted suicide. Her doctor convinced her to be treated instead. Twelve years later, she stated:
"This last July, it was 12 years since my diagnosis. If [my doctor] had believed in assisted suicide, I would be dead." 
Elder Abuse
Elder Abuse is a problem throughout the United States. Perpetrators are often family members, some of whom feel entitled to the older person's assets. They often start out with small crimes, such as stealing jewelry and blank checks, before moving on to larger items or coercing victims to sign over deeds to their homes, change their wills or liquidate their assets. Victims may even be murdered.
In California, prominent elder abuse cases include: Victorino Noval, whose daughters allegedly told doctors to medically kill him, so as to obtain inheritances; and the "Black Widow" murders in which two women insured the lives of homeless men and then killed them to collect the money. Paul Vados, a 73-year-old man, was one of the victims.
How the California Bill Works
The bill, ABX2-15, has an application process to obtain the lethal dose, which includes a written lethal dose request form with two required witnesses. Once the lethal dose is issued by the pharmacy, there is no oversight over administration. No one, not even a doctor, is required to be present at the death.  
 
ABX2-15 allows one of the two witnesses on the lethal dose request form to be the patient's heir, who will financially benefit from the patient's death. This is an extreme conflict of interest. Indeed, under California's Probate Code, similar conduct (an heir's acting as a witness on a will) can create a presumption that the will was procured by "duress, menace, fraud or undue influence." ABX2-15, which specifically allows the patient's heir to be a witness on the lethal dose request form, does not promote patient choice. It invites duress, menace, fraud and undue influence. 
Patients are also at risk due to the lack of oversight at the death. Alex Schadenberg, of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, explains:
"With assisted suicide laws in Washington and Oregon [and with ABX2-15], perpetrators can ...take a "legal" route, by getting an elder to sign a lethal dose request. Once the prescription is filled, there is no supervision over administration ... Even if a patient struggled, "who would know" (Emphasis added)."
In 2011, the lack of oversight over administration of the lethal dose in Oregon prompted Montana State Senator Jeff Essmann to observe that studies claiming that Oregon's assisted suicide law is safe are invalid. During a legislative committee hearing, he stated:
"[All] the protections end after the prescription is written. [The proponents] admitted that the provisions in the Oregon law would permit one person to be alone in that room with the patient. And in that situation, there is no guarantee that that medication is self-administered. So frankly, any of the studies that come out of the state of Oregon's experience are invalid because no one who administers that drug ... to that patient is going to be turning themselves in for the commission of a homicide."
The Death Must Be Certified as "Natural"
ABX2-15 states, "Actions taken in accordance with this [act] shall not, for any purposes, constitute suicide, assisted suicide, homicide or elder abuse under the law." In Washington State, similar language, interpreted by the Department of Health, requires Medical Examiners, Coroners and Prosecuting Attorneys to certify a death as "Natural" if Washington's assisted suicide law was used. If California follows this interpretation, no matter what the facts, even a "murder for the money" will be certified as natural if the California bill is used. The significance will be a lack of transparency and a legal inability to prosecute criminal behavior. The opportunity will be created for the perfect crime.
Trauma
In 2012, a study was published addressing trauma suffered by people who witnessed a legal assisted suicide in Switzerland. The study found that one out of five family members or friends present at an assisted suicide were traumatized. These people "[E]xperienced full or sub-threshold PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) related to the loss of a close person through assisted suicide."
Two of my clients, whose fathers signed up for the lethal dose in Washington and Oregon, suffered similar trauma. In the first case, one side of the family wanted the father to take the lethal dose, while the other side did not. The father spent the last months of his life caught in the middle and torn over whether or not he should kill himself. My client, his adult daughter, was severely traumatized. The father did not take the lethal dose and died a natural death. In the other case, it is not clear that administration of the lethal dose was voluntary. A man who was present told my client that the client's father had refused to take the lethal dose when it was delivered, stating: "You're not killing me. I'm going to bed." But then took the lethal dose the next night when he was already intoxicated on alcohol. My client, although he was not present, was traumatized over the incident, and also by the sudden loss of his father.
How Did We Get Here?
ABX2-15 was passed by the California legislature via an expedited process during a special session. Many legislators debated the bill in religious, moral and personal terms; there was little debate over what the bill said and did. California Governor Jerry Brown, in a poignant letter explaining his decision to sign ABX2-15, continued this theme, stating that he had considered "theological and religious perspectives." He also said "The crux of the matter is whether the State of California should continue to make it a crime for a dying person to end his life..." There is, however, no such crime in California. Governor Brown did not understand what he was signing.
California's new law is promoted as assuring choice and control. The bill instead creates new paths of elder abuse, which will be legally permissible. There will be family trauma. Persons with years, even decades, to live will be encouraged to throw away their lives. In Vermont, which is the only other state to have enacted assisted suicide via a legislature, there is an active repeal movement. Californians should do the same. 
Margaret Dore is a lawyer in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. She has been licensed to practice law in since 1986. She is a former Law Clerk to the Washington State Supreme Court and a former Chair of the Elder Law Committee of the American Bar Association Family Law Section. She is also president of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Suggested Citation: Margaret Dore, California's New Assisted Suicide Law: Whose Choice Will it Be?, JURIST - Professional Commentary, October 24, 2015, http://jurist.org/hotline/2015/10/margaret-dore-physician-assisted-suicide.php

More quasi academic euthanasia reports from Jocelyn Downie

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Jocelyn Downie
Dalhousie University professor and euthanasia activist, Jocelyn Downie, has recently received a Trudeau Fellowship to conduct end-of-life research. According to the Dalhousie media release:

Prof. Downie ... will receive $225,000 over three years and has already begun her research associated with the fellowship. In June, she gathered a group of international end-of-life experts in Amsterdam to discuss how to best track incidences of assisted dying in Canada.
Downie is a leading euthanasia activist who published the book Dying Justice: A case for decriminalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada (2004) and who is responsible for several "one-sided" quasi academic reports that were written by stacked committee's of like-minded academics without effective input from academics who disagree.

One report was the Royal Society of Canada End-of-Life Decision Making report that was written to undermine opposing positions to euthanasia and assisted suicide and to promote euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Another report was: A Model Conscientious Objection Policy for Canadian Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons from the Conscience Research Group, which was another stacked committee of like-minded academics. The "Model Conscientious Objection Policy" is designed to force healthcare professionals, who refuse to participate in procedures that they deem to be wrong, such as euthanasia and assisted suicide, to be required to refer their patients to a physician who will be involved with causing death.

The most recent is the Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician-Assisted Dying that features a stacked committee of pro-euthanasia leaders and academics to produce quasi academic one-sided reports that are sold to the world as legitimate research. 

I challenge her to accept and include legitimate opposing input and positions that are published within her "research."

Thursday, October 22, 2015

California Seniors group is collecting signatures to overturn assisted suicide bill.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Seniors Against Suicide, a group that opposed the California assisted suicide bill that was signed into law by Governor Brown on October 5, filed papers on October 7 to place the issue of assisted suicide on the State ballot in 2016

On October 20, Secretary of State, Alex Padilla announced that opponents of assisted suicide have received permission to collect signatures to qualify a referendum to overturn the assisted suicide law. According to my news LA:
Stephanie Packer, who described herself as a “wife, mother and patient suffering from scleroderma,” wrote in a letter to the Attorney General’s Office submitting her name as a proponent of the referendum effort, that “when confronting the reality of a terminal diagnosis, it is understandable why many look to suicide. 
“It is wrong for our collective response to the depression and emotional pain that follows a terminal diagnosis to offer suicide as the treatment,” Packer wrote Monday. 
“Those confronting their most difficult days should be treated with compassion, understanding and support. Our medical response should not be to encourage them to end their lives prematurely.”
The California coalition of groups opposing assisted suicide are required to submit 365,800 by January 4, 2016 to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition urges every group that opposes assisted suicide to join the signature collecting campaign. Assisted suicide causes the death of people at the most vulnerable time of their life. Support caring not killing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Elder abuse rates are rising in Oregon.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Oregon Stateman Journal published an article, by Carol McAlice Currie indicating that the Oregon Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations (OAAPI) had a 10% increase in allegations (38,000) for elder abuse in 2014. The OAAPI also reported that the number of elder abuse investigations increased by 10% to 18,185 in 2014. The State attributes much of the increase in allegations to the aging population and greater awareness of how to report it.

The report didn't specify the number of financial abuse allegations as opposed to the number allegations for physical abuse or neglect, nonetheless, the prevalence of elder abuse is a significant scourge on society.

The other interesting fact is that allegations were more likely to be received from people who were not obligated to report, as opposed to those who are obligated to report. According to the Statesman Journal article:
non-mandatory reporters in communities, such as bankers and financial service workers, continued across the board to outnumber mandatory reporters in reporting possible abuse or neglect by a 51 to 49 percent margin, said Joe Merrifield, who manages the research and prevention unit of OAAPI.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition recognizes that scourge of elder abuse is a sad reality in our culture that is hard to detect, even by professionals who are obligated to report the abuse. The fact is that legalizing assisted suicide, such as the Oregon assisted suicide act, creates new paths to abuse. The only difference is, in the case of assisted suicide is the victim always ends up dead and the doctor calls the death "personal autonomy." 
 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New York court upholds law protecting people from assisted suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A New York State judge rejected a legal challenge to the state laws that protect people from assisted suicide. The New York Daily News reported that:
state civil judge Joan Kenney said that while she was sympathetic to their plight, their doctors would have to stay on the sidelines. 
Kenney said in her ruling that the U.S. Supreme Court has already found that New York state laws prohibit assisted suicide, and the statutes are not in violation of a patients civil rights. 
“In New York, as in most states, it is a crime to aid another to commit or attempt suicide,” Kenney said in her ruling. “But patients may refuse lifesaving medical treatment.” 
Doctors could face prison time if convicted of aiding a suicide.
The case was based on three people who are seeking to die by assisted suicide in New York.

Judge Kennedy joins three other judges in upholding state assisted suicide laws. In the past few months, a Tennessee Judge upheld the state assisted suicide law, the New Mexico court of appeal and two California judges have upheld laws that protect people from assisted suicide.

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