Saturday, April 22, 2017

Nitschke encouraged Adam Maier-Clayton suicide.

This article was originally published by Hope Australia on April 22, 2017.

Paul Russell
By Paul Russell

Anyone who has ever sat on an awards committee knows well that there are standards to be met. Make the award too easy to attain or provide it to someone who has not met the criteria and the currency of the award is diminished. Raise the bar too high and no-one applies.

At Exit International they must have ridiculously low standards. Exit boss and former medical doctor, Philip Nitschke recently awarded his so-called 'Peaceful Pill Prize' to an elderly Australian couple essentially because the woman concerned recently cried a patronising 'bullshit' at Professor Margaret Somerville on an Australian National current affairs program.

Nitschke claimed that Mr & Mrs Fellows' comments were 'forthright' and 'a significant contribution to the Australian Euthanasia debate'. Crass and undignified more like it!

There was a time when everyone understood that to raise one's voice or to swear in the context of a debate was to lose the argument. Maybe not so much nowadays; after all, the show's presenter, Tony Jones said that the 'bullshit' comment was 'refreshing' which seemed to me, at the time, to be a ringing endorsement of Mrs Fellows' sentiment.

Nitschke's endowment upon the Fellows', it seems, was no accident either. He admits that the couple are members of his Exit organisation and exemplars, one suspects, of Exit's new militant wing, Exit Action. Is it just me or does anyone else reason that Exit is synonymous with militancy; so why the need for tautology? If the Fellows' have set the standard perhaps we can expect more of this revolting behaviour as other card-carrying Nitschke-ites vie for the same prize.

So, what do the Fellow's gain for their inglorious moment? Steak Knives? Champaign perhaps? No. 'Two redeemable vouchers for 12mg packages of pure sodium pentobarbital (nembutal).' I suppose an alternative might have been a lifetime membership, but I digress.

The award ceremony will surely raise the interest of Border Protection & Customs Police. But, of course, Nitschke's not stupid: "As possession of this drug in Australia is illegal, the details of the delivery of the prize will be kept confidential. Delivery will be by unconventional means" said Nitschke. He added that the prize would amount to a 'safety net' for the Fellows - how bizzarre.

The Fellows, by their own admission are not unwell but simply don't want to live in a nursing facility in their decrepitude. None of us does, really, let's be honest. That's an issue that many of us will face; but few, I suspect would want to try to foister upon society a euthanasia regime with all its attendant and irretrievable risks simply for the sake of getting our own way. That's tyranny clothed as autonomy.

The Fellows may not have thought that through. Maybe they are unaware of the trail of grief created by Nitschke's 'collateral damage' in the deaths of young people via Exit methods; young men like Lucas Taylor, for example.

But people who are used to getting their own way don't necessarily consider much else in the drive for autonomy. The well, well-off but worried have a very blinkered view re-enforced by the Nitschke mantra of rationality.

Such was the assurance given by Exit's youngest member-now-statistic, Adam Maier-Clayton who died by suicide recently in Canada. 27 year old Maier-Clayton had some significant mental health issues yet claimed to be entirely 'rational'.

According to one report, he suffered anxiety, mood disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder and tried all sorts of remedies and relief to no avail; difficulties that should not be discounted. He spent the last few months campaigning for the inclusion of mental illness within the scope of Canada's new death legislation, arguing that it is not only those who are near death suffer refractory symptoms.

In January he posted a picture of himself wearing an Exit T Shirt with an image of Nitschke emblazened across it, saying that he was, 'rocking his Exit International Official membership' adding that he felt that he was 'absurdly rational' and should not be excluded from Canada's death laws.

Notwithstanding Mrs Fellows' expletive, just because someone can engage in a process of thought does not necessarily make them truly rational. It is not necessarily thought processes that suffer through depression, unremitting pain and the like; it is, in my own experience, the connection with others that diminishes - the threads that bind us to each other. In other words, the context of one's life can seem strangely distant. Blurred by pain, remove the context of care, of family of future from the equation and thought - even seemingly rational thoughts - and logic becomes an untrustworth guide.

So explained columnist, Andrew Lawton recently in the Canadian Global News:

"This idea that suicide is dignified and painless is a dangerous one. Take it from someone who tried and failed. 
"Nearly seven years ago I overdosed on dozens of pills — causing multiple cardiac arrests and weeks in hospital on life support. 
"I survived, but only narrowly so. 
"Everything from the method to the date and time was meticulously thought out. 
"I picked the day because I didn’t have any other appointments scheduled — as though missing a meeting would have been the only problem with my plan any other day. 
"Suicidal people are irrational. This is true even when decisions appear to be made through logic and reason. 
"I saw suicide as the answer to pain I was convinced wouldn’t abate. 
"It wasn’t just about picking the easy way out of an unpleasant situation — it was the only way. I saw no way my life would improve. 
"Spoiler alert: it did. 
"Like Maier-Clayton, I had tried myriad therapies, medications, and treatment throughout my years-long battle with depression. By the time I tried to pull the plug on my own existence, none had made an impact. 
"But after the attempt, that changed. Healing didn’t happen overnight, but things that hadn’t worked previously showed positive results. 
"My circumstances didn’t change, but my outlook did."
It must surely be amongst the very last things that a society would want to have to someone like Nitschke telling suicidal people that their desire for death is 'rational'. It's an endorsement. Like euthanasia & assisted suicide, it runs counter to suicide prevention.

Likewise, telling those who understandably fear their demise that they have a 'way out', that, effectively, they don't need to address their fears nor find a path through them to a fulfilling life inspite of them, is reckless.

But these are precisely the messages that euthanasia and assisted suicide laws send - with the added weight of government approval. We need to learn not to reward bad behaviours and bad ideas.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

More than 1324 euthanasia deaths in Canada since legalization.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Nicole Ireland with CBC news reported that there have been more than 1324 euthanasia deaths in Canada. The CBC article that promotes euthanasia states:
more than 1,300 people in Canada who have died with medical assistance since the option became law. For most of the country, that's been less than a year, as Bill C-14 governing medical assistance in dying passed on June 17, 2016. Quebec legalized medical assistance in dying six months before that, on Dec. 10, 2015. 
Although CBC News has counted 1,324 medically assisted deaths in Canada through data requested from health ministries and coroners' offices in each province and territory, the actual number is likely higher, as some provinces were unable to provide up-to-date information.
According to the CBC data, there were more than 1324 euthanasia deaths, since the data from Québec, British Columbia and New Brunswick is not up-to-date. 

The article also quotes Amy Hasbrouck speaking on behalf of the disability rights group, Not Dead Yet:
"This is very personal for me," says Amy Hasbrouck, who is legally blind and speaks for Not Dead Yet Canada. "These are public policy decisions that end up sacrificing the lives of old, ill and disabled people."

Normalizing medically assisted death, these advocates say, sends a message that the life of a person who is ill, disabled or elderly is not worth living. The government should instead be investing in improving the quality of their life, they argue, by investing in better supports for people with disabilities, as well as better palliative care.
Amy Hasbrouck is the President of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Netherlands recently reported that there were 6091 reported assisted deaths in 2016 representing 4% of all deaths. Based on the current number of assisted deaths, it is possible that Canada will surpass the Netherlands and Belgium.

It is also concerning that the euthanasia lobby are pressuring to have euthanasia extended to people with mental illness, people who are under 18 and for people who are incompetent, but who stated in their power of attorney document that they would want to die by euthanasia.

Health Professionals opposing euthanasia require conscience protection

Helen McGee (left)
Dr Novosedlik (right)
Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


Medical professionals in Ontario are urging the provincial government to recognize their right to conscientiously object to participating in euthanasia and assisted suicide (MAID). Physicians and other medical professionals in Canada formed the Coalition for Healthcare and Conscience to protect their conscience rights.

Dominik Kurek interviewed a palliative care doctor and a mental health nurse for the Scarborough Mirror concerning their work protecting conscience rights in Ontario.

Natalia Novosedlik is a palliative care doctor who believes that euthanasia and assisted suicide are contrary to her role as a physician. The Mirror reports:

“I really feel we’re here to heal and to support people. To me that can’t include ending life,” she said. 
“I feel that if I were to make a referral and directly be responsible for engaging a patient in a process which has the potential to lead to their life being ended, that to me is a form of active participation in the act of ending a life.”

Helen McGee is a registered nurse who works with people who are living with mental illness. The Mirror stated:
Helen McGee who has provided care to people suffering from mental illness is concerned what MAID laws could mean for her patients. Mental illness alone is not enough to qualify a person for MAID, but mental illness and another disease, such as cancer, is. She worries that future amendments to the law could allow for mental illness to be the sole reason for MAID.
Novosedlik and McGee both presented to the Ontario government committee urging the government to include conscience rights in Bill 84, the bill to regulate euthanasia in Ontario.

More articles on this topic:


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Shedding Light on Assisted Suicide in America



The new pamphlet from the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) - Shedding Light on Assisted Suicide in America (Shedding Light) counters the myths that assisted suicide laws are safe and without abuse. Shedding Light explains how the assisted suicide laws in Oregon and Washington state work and why they provide no effective oversight.


Order Shedding Light for $35 for 100 copies, $90 for 300 copies or $150 for 600 copies (plus shipping and taxes) by contacting the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) at: info@epcc.ca or by calling 1-877-439-3348.

Featuring stories from:
Dr Charles Bentz, a doctor in Oregon, describes how his depressed patient died by assisted suicide. From personal experience, Bentz proves that the depressed people are dying by assisted suicide in Oregon. 
Kathryn Judson, an Oregon resident, wrote that she was afraid to leave her husband alone with doctors and nurses after a doctor gave her husband a "sales pitch" for assisted suicide. Judson's story undermines the myth that assisted suicide requests are based on a person's "free choice." 
Jeanette Hall, an Oregon resident, in 2000 was diagnosed as terminally ill and she wanted to die by assisted suicide. Hall is thankful to Dr. Kenneth Stevens who encouraged her not to give up. She is happy to be alive. Assisted suicide steers people with years to live to suicide.
Attractively designed and easy to read, Shedding Light explains how the assisted suicide laws work, how these laws are abused and why assisted suicide is wrong.

The fears that lead someone to consider assisted suicide are real and legitimate. We believe that a caring society offers real answers to these concerns. A caring society assures that each individual is properly cared for, not abandoned in their time of need.

We support a society that cares for its citizens, not kills them.

Order Shedding Light for $35 for 100 copies, $90 for 300 copies or $150 for 600 copies (plus shipping and taxes) by contacting the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) at: info@epcc.ca or by calling 1-877-439-3348.

Maine Governor LePage says he will veto assisted suicide bill.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Governor Paul LePage, of Maine stated that if passed he will veto the assisted suicide bill.

Governor LePage
According to the Portland Press Herald Governor LePage told a local radio show that he is against assisted suicide.

“I’m against it,” he said Monday during a radio interview on WVOM’s “George Hale and Ric Tyler Show.” Asked if the bill is destined for a veto, LePage said, “Yes. Here we are talking about death with dignity and we’re sitting there, human beings, passing judgment on who can live and who can die. No, I don’t believe in it.”
The Portland Press Herald reported that:
The primary bill, “An Act to Support Death with Dignity,” is scheduled to be discussed by the members of the Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday. A second ... bill, “An Act to Promote Life with Dignity,” also will be discussed Wednesday. The two bills are similar and will likely be combined before the committee votes to send its recommendation to the full Legislature. 
The outlook for passage has been uncertain. A similar proposal failed in 2015 by a single vote in the Maine Senate. 
However, LePage’s promise of a veto means the proposal now needs the support of two-thirds of the House and Senate, and it would require Republican supporters who vote for the bill to also vote to override a LePage veto.
Legalizing assisted suicide gives physicians the right in law to be directly involved with ending a patient. We believe in caring and not killing people.

The push to allow euthanasia for the mentally ill in Canada.

This article was originally published on Wesley Smith's blog on April 18, 2017,

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith


Euthanasia/assisted suicide is NOT about terminal illness. The issue is about normalizing killing as a response to human suffering. 

Sure, the initial sales pitch would restrict doctor-administered or prescribed death to the dying. But that’s just to get people comfortable with the concept. Once a society accepts the principle, logic quickly takes it to a broad euthanasia license. 

Canada is a prime example. Before the Supreme Court imposed a national euthanasia right on the country, the debate was all about terminal illness. But now that euthanasia is the law throughout the country, the push is on to allow doctors to kill the mentally ill who ask to die. 

The Globe and Mail’s pro-euthanasia health columnist, André Picard uses the suicide of a mentally ill person to push that agenda. From, “The Mentally Ill Must Be Part of the Assisted Suicide Debate:” 
We should not discriminate or deny people rights because it makes us queasy or because of our prejudices. This case reminds us just how severe mental illness can be. “Non-existence is better than this,” Mr. Maier-Clayton said. “Once there’s no quality of life, life is akin to a meaningless existence.”  
Opponents of assisted death argue that those who suffer from mental illness cannot make rational decisions, that they need to be protected from themselves.  
But we’re not talking about granting assisted death to someone who is delusional, or suffering from psychosis or someone who is depressed and treatable. The suffering has to be persistent and painful, though not necessarily imminently lethal. 
I would hasten to add, as defined by the suicidal person and regardless of ameliorating treatments that could be administered. But anyone who is suicidal believes his or her suffering is unbearable. Otherwise, they wouldn’t want to die. 

This ever-broadening death license is only logical. If killing is indeed an acceptable answer to suffering, how can it be strictly limited to people diagnosed with a terminal illness? After all, many people suffer far more severely and for a far longer time than the imminently dying. 

The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and now Canada, demonstrate that over time, it won’t be. 

Meanwhile, California has a regulation requiring state mental hospitals to cooperate with assisted suicide for their involuntarily committed patients with terminal illnesses–despite supposed protections in the law for those with mental conditions that could affect their decisions. 

Meant to be compassionate, assisted suicide is actually abandonment most foul. Compassion means to “suffer with.” Euthanasia is about eliminating suffering by eliminating the sufferer

Or, to put it another way, euthanasia endorses suicide. It’s not choice, it is the end of all choices. 

In any event, this is the debate we should be having. Whether one agrees or disagrees with my take, surely as we in the USA should debate the issue with intellectual integrity and honesty. 

But we won’t because pro-euthanasia forces know they would lose. The obfuscating claim that assisted suicide will only be about the terminally ill for whom nothing else but death can eliminate suffering is just the spoonful of honey to help the hemlock go down.

Killing by lethal injection. A psychological torment.

This article was published by Living With Dignity Quebec on April 18, 2017.


Who said that medical aid in dying is not killing? When one uses the right words, logic and common sense do the rest:
Medical aid in dying = lethal injection = euthanasia = killing = psychological torment for executioners & psychological torment for doctors.
Conclusion:

Killing (medical aid in dying / euthanasia / assisted suicide) is not a health care.

"Unlike the “kill or be killed” mindset in war or other forms of self-defense, carrying out executions felt very much like participating in premeditated and rehearsed murder. Either from religious training (“thou shall not kill”) or established societal norms, every person knows that taking a human life is one of our culture’s most serious offenses. It exacts severe mental trauma - even when done under the auspices of state law." (Link)
Dr. Ault, former commissioner of the Georgia, Mississippi and Colorado Departments of Corrections.

Euthanasia: The stakes are insanely high.

By Charles Lewis


Most people reading this article are probably opposed to euthanasia. Your involvement maybe nothing more than talking to friends and neighbours about the dangers of our new world. You may have spoken about euthanasia, signed petitions, sent the letters or supported conscience rights.

Whatever you do helps. But in the not-too-distant future we are all going to have to ramp up. As many of you know Health Canada has struck a committee to add "mature minors" and those with mental illness to the categories of people who can legally be killed by their physicians. They are also considering allowing Canadians to put their death requests in a living will. The committee will report back by December 2018.

I wondered why so long to wait. The only answer I can come up with is that by then more Canadians will have simply become used to living in a death-mad country.

On April 17, a story appeared in the Globe and Mail about a tragic young man who lived with mental illness. He could not access euthanasia so he killed himself by suicide. The point of the story as I can best tell was not his tragedy but more about the need to extend euthanasia to people with mental illness.

I will bet that the recommendations will be accepted and likely by 2019 those categories will be included. Interesting that they are not looking at chronic pain -- something of a hobby of mine. But really they don't have to. Chronic pain can create great emotional stress which can easily turn into depression. But I won't be surprised that after Trudeau and his pro-death friends get teens and mentally ill in they will expand to chronic pain and perhaps even a category of just dying for the hell of it.

This is an awful future to contemplate but believe it or not there maybe a reason for optimism. Maybe, just maybe, this new move might worry many Canadians who have shrugged their shoulders at legalized euthanasia. Maybe when they start to think of their 20-year-old sons or daughters killing themselves because they are depressed about being dumped by a someone they love or failing to get into medical school might start to alarm otherwise passive Canadians. Maybe their son or daughter lives with chronic depression?

We are going to have to increase our efforts and make this spectre known, to prove to others, who do not feel the way we do, that maybe it is time to scream NO.

It will also mean that we are going to have to make sure that religious institutions do not dawdle. Warnings from the pulpit are going to have to come early, not one month before the committee reports.

This maybe our only real chance to stem the tide. We must not blow it. The stakes are insanely high.

Charles Lewis is a former editor with the National Post. He is currently a columnist with the Catholic Register.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Netherlands 2016 euthanasia deaths increase by another 10%

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


The Dutch News reported that the number of reported assisted deaths increased by 10% in 2016 with 6091 reported assisted deaths, representing 4% of all deaths in the Netherlands up from 5561 reported assisted deaths in 2015. There were 5875 euthanasia deaths and 216 assisted suicide deaths.

Since 2006, in the Netherlands, there has been a 317% increase in assisted deaths.

There were increases in euthanasia deaths based on dementia or psychiatric reasons. There were 141 people who died by euthanasia based on dementia in 2016, up from 109 in 2015. There were 60 people who died by euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in 2016, up from 56 in 2015. There were also 244 people who died by euthanasia based on "advanced age."

In 2016, there were 10 cases referred by a Regional Euthanasia Control and Evaluation Commission for investigation.


Every five years the Netherlands conducts a major study on euthanasia. The 2010 study that was published in the Lancet (July 2012) indicated that 23% of all assisted deaths were unreported in the Netherlands. If this trend continued, that may have been 1400 unreported assisted deaths in 2016.


Netherlands euthanasia news stories in 2016:

In January 2016, the Netherlands decided to extend euthanasia to people with severe dementia

A study published on Feb 10, 2016 in the Journal of Psychiatry concerning euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in the Netherlands uncovered significant concerns. According to researcher Scott Kim:

in one EAS case, a woman who died by euthanasia was in her 70s without health problems had decided, with her husband, that they would not live without each other. After her husband died, she lived a life described as a "living hell" that was "meaningless." 
A consultant reported that this woman "did not feel depressed at all. She ate, drank and slept well. She followed the news and undertook activities."

In May, the Netherlands euthanasia clinic lethally injected a woman who was sexually abused as a child.

In October, the Netherlands government stated that it planned to extend euthanasia to people who are not sick or dying but claim to have a "completed life." Recently, the Dutch Medical Association opposed changing the euthanasia law.

In November, a Dutch journalist reported that he was writing a book about his brother who died by euthanasia based on chronic alcoholism.

In January 2017, a Regional euthanasia Review Committee decided that a forced euthanasia on a woman with dementia, where the doctor sedated the woman by secretly putting the drugs in her coffee and then had the family hold her down to enable the lethal injection, did not follow the rules but found that it was done in "good faith."

The Netherlands euthanasia law continues to expand. Once the law allows one person to kill another person, then the line has been crossed and the only remaining question is - who can be killed?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ontario doctors shouldn't be forced to refer their patients for euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


The Ontario Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs did a clause-by-clause consideration of euthanasia bill Bill 84, "An Act to amend various Acts with respect to medical assistance in dying" today.

The committee rejected all amendments to Bill 84 including an amendment to protect conscience rights for medical professionals.

Yesterday, a group of doctors held a press conference urging the Ontario government to protect conscience rights for medical professionals by amending Bill 84. CHCH news reported:

Doctors speaking out say they shouldn’t be forced to refer their patients to another doctor who is willing to help them die if they disagree with the practice. 
“None of us ever envisioned whether we took our hippocratic oath 40 years ago or 4 years ago that we would one day be legislated to cooperate in the death of our patients.”
Doctors who oppose killing patients by lethal injection will also oppose sending their patients to a doctor who will kill their patients. An "effective referral" to a doctor who will kill is similar to killing the patient yourself.

Since Ontario has a Liberal majority government and since the Ontario Liberal government policies have made them unpopular, it is time that the Liberal caucus wake up and buck the unpopular policies of the own government. Protecting conscience rights for medical professionals is a good place to start.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Oklahoma Death Certificate Accuracy Act (HB 1495) passes.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In most jurisdictions where euthanasia and/or assisted suicide have been decriminalized, the statutes state that the physician must lie on the death certificate by listing the cause of death as the disease or injury that led the person to request death by lethal drugs.

For instance, Ontario's Bill 84 requires physicians and Coroners to lie on the death certificate by stating that the person died as a result of the injury or disease, and not medical assistance in dying (euthanasia). Bill 84 states:

Medical assistance in dying
2.2 For the purposes of this Act, a worker who receives medical assistance in dying is deemed to have died as a result of the injury or disease for which the worker was determined to be eligible to receive medical assistance in dying in accordance with paragraph 241.2 (3) (a) of the Criminal Code (Canada).
Oklahoma, where assisted suicide is prohibited, passed HB 1495 in the House (62 - 26) to counter the concept that physicians or coroners can / must lawfully lie on death certificates.

I have always stated that if there is nothing wrong with assisted suicide, why are doctors required to lie about it?


Thank you Oklahoma legislators for identifying one of the assisted suicide lobby lies. Lying on a death certificate denies effective oversight of the assisted suicide law.

Ontario's euthanasia bill - no physician conscience rights.

This article was published in the Toronto Sun on April 7, 2017.


Dr Mark D'Souza

Bill 84 is the Ontario government’s proposed legislation designed to implement Ottawa’s law on medically assisted dying.

It ignores the conscience rights of doctors like myself, who oppose euthanasia on ethical grounds and, in its current form, will decrease public access to palliative care.

In 2015, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario changed its human rights policy to say doctors who oppose euthanasia must refer their patients who want to be considered for it to another doctor to carry out.

Doctors like myself argue this provision — known as effective referral — involves us in the euthanasia process against our will.

This despite the fact the federal law encourages provincial legislation to uphold the conscience rights of doctors.

Every other jurisdiction in the world that offers euthanasia to patients — including the other Canadian provinces — protects the conscience rights of doctors.

Every major religion and even secular humanist organizations have denounced effective referrals.

The Canadian, American, and Ontario Medical Associations all say they are unnecessary.

And yet one Ontario university medical school is already screening candidates’ views on euthanasia in their interview process — a discriminatory filtering practice.

Isn’t freedom of conscience enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Why pit doctors’ conscience rights and patients’ rights to treatment against each other?

The solution is simple. It is to establish a government service by which patients can initiate on their own their request to be assessed for a medically assisted death, and recognize it in Bill 84.

The irony is the Ontario government has said it intends to create such a service, but has not agreed to give this process legal recognition in Bill 84 as an alternative to effective referral.

I am one of a group of six doctors who visit palliative care patients in their homes in Scarborough.

We are all conscientious objectors, but we would have no problem giving our patients or their families considering euthanasia a central phone number or website to contact.

Last week I accepted my final palliative care patient.

I will not abandon my current patients but I will not accept new ones until I know my conscience rights as a physician are guaranteed in law.

Though we all find this work very meaningful, half of our group is considering leaving the field, a microcosm of what is to come in Ontario.

As it is, Scarborough’s palliative care system is grossly under serviced.

We reached a wait list high of 32 patients now living in their homes last month.

Imagine being told your days are numbered, you’re in severe pain, and now you’re 30 patients away from a doctor being able to take care of you in your home.

That number will multiply.

Much of this can be prevented with a simple amendment to Bill 84.

The government’s refusal to act will further compromise your already scarce right to basic palliative care at home.

Bill 84 will be voted on in the second week of April.

Let’s protect doctors’ conscience rights by removing mandatory effective referral, while providing patients with effective access to medically assisted dying, as does the rest of the world.

This government needs to remember that health care is delivered at the bedside, not at a bureaucrat’s desk, and that patients never come first when doctors are put last.

D’Souza is a family, ER and palliative care physician, a board director of Concerned Ontario Doctors and chair of OMA District 11 (Toronto)

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Ontario “death hotline” does not provide conscience protection for physicians.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On April 2, the Canadian Press reported that the Ontario Ministry of Health was setting up a toll free number to provide access to “medically assisted death,” euthanasia and assisted suicide in Ontario.

The Associated Press reported Ontario Health Minister, Eric Hoskins saying:
…a “care co-ordination service” for medically assisted death will be up and running as early as May. 
The service will allow patients to contact central staff who will connect them with health-care providers prepared to handle requests for a medically assisted death. 
“That patient, or their family members or their caregiver would have the ability to be in contact with the care-co-ordination service directly,”
The article suggests that the death hotline will enable people to bypass doctors who conscientiously object to killing their patients, while protecting the conscience rights for healthcare professionals.

The death hotline does not protect conscience rights for medical professionals in Ontario, even though it will reduce the likelihood that doctors will face disciplinary hearings for not referring their patients to death doctors.

The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons still requires physicians, who will not kill their patients, to “effectively refer” their patients to a doctor who will kill.

Further to that, even though the death hotline will be promoted throughout Ontario by the Ministry of Health, doctors will be forced to provide information about the “death hotline” to patients who ask about euthanasia.

The Associated Press article also stated that from June 2016 - March 30, 2017 365 people died by euthanasia in Ontario.

The death hotline will accelerate the number of assisted deaths by streamlining the process of finding a doctor who will kill.

The death hotline will not protect conscience rights for medical professionals in Ontario and it will increase the number of euthanasia deaths by streamlining access to death by lethal injection.

Ontario must amend its assisted dying legislation to recognize conscience rights.

This article was written by John Milloy and published by National Newswatch on April 4.

John Milloy 
is a former Ontario Liberal MPP and cabinet minister

Canadians ask a lot of our physicians – years of education, long hours, complex cases and demanding patients (full disclosure – I am married to a doctor).

Since June of last year, we have also been asking them to help some of their patients take their own lives.

No matter how you feel about assisted dying, you have to admit that having a role in the act is a burden that few of us would never welcome. And yet as a society we seem to forget that doctors are no different. As Dr. Jeff Blackmer, a vice-president of the Canadian Medical Association, recently told the National Post: 
“The act is performed out of care and compassion … But for most [doctors], it doesn’t make the psychological impact of that final, very definitive act, any less than it would be for anybody …”
Should we not respect the fact that some doctors and other health-care providers simply don’t want to be involved in assisted dying for reasons of conscience?

In fairness, the current system does not force any medical professional actually to administer the procedure. But what happens when a patient under his or her care wants to access physician-assisted dying?

According to guidelines issued by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, a doctor who objects must take steps to refer the patient to a physician or healthcare provider who is open to performing the procedure – what is technically known as an effective referral.

To some physicians this is tantamount to indirect participation. They have no interest in abandoning their patient and are prepared to work with them to try to address their concerns, including pain management, counselling and other measures. They do not, however, want potentially to be the starting point of the process that leads them to euthanasia or assisted dying and they refuse to be in involved in an effective referral.

The college has refused to recognize their concerns, resulting in a legal challenge from a number of physician groups.

The Ontario government recently introduced Bill 84, designed to bring provincial laws in line with the new federal law. Here was a perfect opportunity to clarify the rules around effective referrals and allow physicians to opt out fully due to reasons of conscience.

Yet the bill is silent on the matter.

This is not an impossible circle to square. Objecting physicians have asked the province to create a care co-ordination system that could be accessed by patients wishing to be assessed for medical assistance in dying, relieving their physician of the need to refer

It’s a system that has been established in Alberta. There, an objecting physician can simply provide patients with the contact information of a care co-ordination service that will provide them with assistance.

The irony of the situation is that the Ontario government recently announced its intention to establish a similar co-ordination service in Ontario, making it simple to adopt conscience protections mirroring those that exist in Alberta.

And it’s not just Alberta: A number of other provinces have adopted similar pathways for objecting physicians. In fact, experts in the field note that outside of Canada there is no jurisdiction allowing physician-assisted dying in the world that doesn’t allow doctors to opt out of any form of involvement.

It is unclear why the Ontario Liberals are refusing to take this step. The Progressive Conservatives have taken up the cause and are promising to introduce amendments to the bill at committee stage. Among the most vocal Conservative MPPs have been prominent social conservatives like Monte McNaughton. Many see this group as being on the “wrong side” of numerous hot button issues like abortion, LGBTQ rights and the new sex-ed curriculum.

Let’s not turn conscience rights into a “hot button” issue and dismiss the legitimate concerns of physicians.

Yes it is true that many physicians object to physician-assisted dying due to their religious faith – a faith whose tenets concerning care for the most vulnerable may have attracted them to the profession in the first place. Why should these beliefs be dismissed? What message is Ontario sending when we tell doctors that their religious faith or other deeply held values can’t be accommodated the same way it is in other jurisdictions?

I remember the outrage at Queen’s Park over the proposed Quebec charter of values. Aimed at further secularizing the government, the charter would have, among other things, banned those in the Quebec public sector, including doctors, from wearing religious symbols, such as turbans or hijabs.

Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration at the time, Michael Coteau, put out a statement criticizing the legislation and confirming the Ontario government’s commitment to “freedom of expression and religion.” I remember that many of my colleagues cheered when an Ontario hospital blatantly tried to recruit Quebec doctors by highlighting Ontario’s respect for their beliefs.

Why did we try to persuade doctors that our province respects their freedoms back then and yet can’t take their freedom of conscience seriously now? What has changed?

John Milloy is currently serving as the co-director of the Centre for Public Ethics and assistant professor of public ethics at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, and the inaugural practitioner in residence in Wilfrid Laurier University’s Political Science department. He is also a lecturer in the University of Waterloo’s Master of Public Service Program. John can be reached at jmilloy@wlu.ca

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Québec pushes the euthanasia boundaries again.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
 

Québec pushed the boundaries by legalizing euthanasia, through Bill 52, before the criminal code was amended by defining lethal injection as medical treatment.

Gaétan Barrette, Québec's Health Minister, is now considering incrementally extending euthanasia to incompetent people with Alzheimer's or Dementia, even though the law states that "medical-assistance-in-dying" is limited to competent people.
 

The Federal government is also examining extending euthanasia to persons under 18, people who are incompetent with Alzheimer's or Dementia and people who are "psychologically suffering" but not dying.

Konrad Yakabuski expressed his concerns with permitting "MAID" for incompetent people in an opinion article published in the Globe and Mail yesterday. Yakabuski stated:
On March 24, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette announced a three-pronged approach aimed at potentially broadening the eligibility requirements for medical aid in dying. First, a provincial commission will examine the more than 250 requests for the procedure that have been either rejected or withdrawn since the practice was legalized. A group of experts will subsequently re-examine the question of allowing advance consent for MAID by people diagnosed with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Quebec’s Justice Ministry, meanwhile, will ask the courts to clarify the federal MAID law’s limit of the practice to only those facing a “reasonably foreseeable” death, which health professionals have complained is too vague.
When the Québec government was debating euthanasia, they insisted that they would implement the law carefully. Now that euthanasia is legal, the Federal and Québec governments are making plans to expand the law, just as we had predicted.

Yakabuski states his concerns:
None of this will make the path we have embarked on any less fraught with ethical red flags than it should be. There can be nothing ethically clear-cut about deciding when to end the life of an Alzheimer’s sufferer who is no longer cogent enough to consent. The whole notion of “unbearable suffering” (one of the federal law requirements for MAID) is in itself inscrutable when it comes to Alzheimer’s and dementia. Unbearable for whom? Just whose suffering is being alleviated when loved ones ask God or the state for their dementia-stricken ward to die?

For what it’s worth, the Alzheimer Society of Canada argues that “MAID should only be possible when a person is deemed competent at the time of MAID. … [P]eople with dementia need to be safeguarded as they will be extremely vulnerable at the end of their life [and] do not have the capacity to make an informed decision and consent to end their life at the later stages of the disease.”

Personally, that’s enough guidance for me.
When the government permits the killing of its citizens by lethal injection, it crosses the clear line, that killing a human being is always wrong. Now that one person can kill another person in Canada, the only question that remains is for what reason will it be permitted to kill. Incremental extensions are inevitable. 

The answer is to Care for people and not kill people.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Alaska Assisted Suicide bill HB 54 - Bad Things Happen in the Dark

This article was originally published on April 2, 2017 on the Choice is an Illusion website.

Margaret Dore
By Margaret K. Dore, Esq., for a pdf version, click here.

HB 54 legalizes physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia as those terms are traditionally defined. The bill is based on a similar law in Oregon, which has a near complete lack of transparency.


If Alaska enacts HB 54 and follows Oregon practice, there will be a similar lack of transparency. The safety and welfare of individual patients will be unverifiable from Alaska State sources.

DISCUSSION

A. If Alaska Follows Oregon’s Interpretation of “Not a Public Record,” the Department of Health & Social Services will be insulated from review, even by law enforcement.

HB 54 charges the Department of Health and Social Services with issuing an annual statistical report based on data collected pursuant to the bill.[1] The bill also states:

The information collected is not a public record under AS 40.25.110, and the department may not make the information available for inspection by the public. (Emphasis added).[2]
Oregon’s law has a similar provision, as follows:
Except as otherwise required by law, the information collected shall not be a public record and may not be made available for inspection by the public. (Emphasis added).[3]
In Oregon, this similar provision is interpreted to bar release of information about individual cases, to everyone, including law enforcement. Oregon’s website states:
[T]he Act specifically states that information collected is not a public record and is not available for inspection by the public (ORS 127.865 (2)). The protection of confidentiality conferred by the Death with Dignity Act precludes the Oregon Health Authority [which oversees Oregon’s Department of Health] from releasing information that identifies patients or participants, to the public, media, researchers, students, advocates, or other interested parties....[4]
Consider also this e-mail from Alicia Parkman, Mortality Research Analyst for the Oregon Health Authority, which states:
We have been contacted by law enforcement . . . in the past, but have not provided identifying information of any type. (Emphasis added).[5]
If Alaska enacts HB 54 and follows Oregon’s interpretation of “not a public record,” there will be a similar lack of transparency in which even law enforcement will have no access to information about individual cases. The bill will create a government entity above the law.

B. If Alaska follows Oregon’s data collection protocol, patient identities will not be recorded in any manner, source documentation will be destroyed


Oregon’s website describes the data collection protocol for its annual reports, as follows:

The identity of participating physicians is coded, but the identity of individual patients is not recorded in any manner. Approximately one year from the publication of the Annual Report, all source documentation is destroyed. (Emphasis added).[6]
Alicia Parkman, Mortality Research Analyst for the Oregon Health Authority, makes a similar representation as follows:
To ensure confidentiality, our office does not maintain source information on participants. (Emphasis added).[7]
The significance is that Oregon’s annual reports are unverifiable. If Alaska, based on its similar statutory language, follows Oregon, Alaska’s annual reports will also be unverifiable.

C. If Alaska follows Oregon, Compassion & Choices, a non-governmental entity, will displace the department of health and social services to become the defacto “agency” overseeing HB 54

Passage of HB 54 is being spearheaded by the suicide promotion group, Compassion & Choices. In Oregon, this organization has used the Oregon law to disable and largely displace the Department of Health as the entity overseeing Oregon’s law. See below.

1. In Oregon, the police officer assigned to the case was not able to get information from the State; the decedent’s death certificate was falsified; the officer obtained information from Compassion & Choices
In 2010, I had client who wanted to know if his father had died under Oregon’s law. I referred him to an Oregon attorney, Isaac Jackson, who asked the police to investigate. Jackson’s subsequent declaration states:
2. I write to inform the court regarding a lack of transparency under Oregon’s assisted suicide act. Even law enforcement is denied access to information collected by the State of Oregon. Moreover, according to the current Oregon State website, this lack of access is official Oregon State Policy. 
3. In 2010, I was retained by a client whose father had apparently died under Oregon’s law. The client wanted to know whether that was true. I therefore made inquiry on his behalf. However and unlike other deaths I have investigated, it was difficult to get information. . . . 
6. I . . . received a copy of the decedent’s death certificate, which is the official death record in Oregon. A true and correct, but redacted copy, is attached hereto . . . . The “immediate cause of death” is listed as “cancer.” The “manner of death” is listed as “Natural.” 
7. Per my request, a police officer was assigned to the case. Per the officer’s confidential report, he did not interview my client, but he did interview people who had witnessed the decedent’s death. 
8. The officer’s report describes how he determined that the [father’s] death was under Oregon’s assisted suicide law due to records other than from the State of Oregon. The officer’s report also describes that he was unable to get this information from the Oregon Health Authority, which was not willing to confirm or deny whether the deceased had used the act . . . . (Emphasis added).[]
I also read the officer’s report. According to the report, Compassion & Choices provided the records necessary for the officer to determine that the decedent had, in fact, died under Oregon’s law. In Oregon, Compassion & Choices, a non-governmental entity, has displaced the Department of Health as the agency overseeing Oregon’s law.
2. In Oregon, Compassion & Choices is like “the fox in the proverbial chicken coop” reporting to the farmer what’s happening in the coop
In 2008, the Editorial Board for The Oregonian, which is Oregon’s largest newspaper, urged Washington State voters to reject its then pending assisted suicide measure. The Editorial Board stated:
Oregon’s physician-assisted suicide program has not been sufficiently transparent. Essentially, a coterie of insiders run the program, with a handful of doctors and others deciding what the public may know. (Emphasis added).[11]
Four days later, Oregon doctors, Kenneth Stevens and William Toffler, published a follow up article, stating:
The group promoting assisted suicide, so-called "Compassion and Choices (C&C)", are like the fox in the proverbial chicken coop; in this case the fox is reporting its version to the farmer regarding what is happening in the coop. . . .  
In 2006, C&C's attorneys intimidated the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) to change to euphemisms in referring to Oregon's assisted suicide law. The limited DHS reports of assisted suicides is another indication of this organization's influence. Information that is damaging to the "good public image" of Oregon's assisted suicide law is hidden or glossed-over in the DHS reports. . . . [12]
Conclusion

The proposed Oregon-style “oversight” is a sham and will create the opportunity for a non-governmental entity to displace a government agency. The safety and welfare of individuals will be unverifiable from state sources. 


I urge you to vote “No” on HB 54.

Footnotes:

[1] HB 54, Sponsor Substitute Version, Section 3, § 13.55.210.
[2] Id., § 13.55.210 (c).
[3] ORS 127.865 s.3.11(2) .
[4] Oregon Data Release Policy, copy attached in this link at page A-62.
[5] E-mail from Alicia Parkman to me, 01/04/12, copy attached in this link at page A-63.
[6] Oregon Health Authority, Frequently Asked Questions, copy attached in this link at page A-67. a
[7] Supra at note 5.
[8] Compassion & Choices is a successor organization to the Hemlock Society, originally founded by suicide promoter, Derek Humphry. See newsletter attached in this link at page A-73
[9] Isaac Jackson, Declaration of Testimony, 09/18/12, attached in this link at pages A-57 to A-58
[10] The Oregonian Editorial Board, “Washington state's assisted-suicide measure: Don't go there,” The Oregonian, September 20, 2012,
[11] Id.
[12] Kenneth Stevens MD and William Toffler MD, “Assisted suicide: Conspiracy and control,” The Oregonian, September 24, 2008.

Respectfully submitted this 31ST day of March 2017

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA
Law Offices of Margaret K. Dore, P.S.
Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation
www.margaretdore.com
www.choiceillusion.org
1001 4th Avenue, Suite 4400
Seattle, WA 98154
206 697 1217

Medical Assisted Suicide Is Disability Discrimination

This article was written by Mark Pickup and published on his blog on April 2, 2017.

Mark Pickup
In 2015, Canada’s Supreme Court struck down the nation’s laws against assisted suicide. It sent shock waves across the country: People opposed to legalization of assisted suicide were appalled the high court would do such a thing; advocates of assisted suicide were shocked that the court went so far – even beyond their fondest dreams. The foundation beneath the high court’s ruling was the new high ideal of personal autonomy. Apparently, in Canada, people now have a right to assisted suicide if they have a “grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.”

The Supreme Court said that self-defined grievous and irremediable medical condition ”does not require the patient to undertake treatments that are not acceptable to the individual.” Everything hinges on the patient’s perceptions and feelings -- and they need not take treatments they don’t like.

Something significant happened to shake the historical taboo of killing the sick and disabled. More than 700 years of Common Law, that discouraged, prohibited or otherwise punished assisting someone’s suicide was brushed aside by one judicial decree.[1] How did this happen?

If the Supreme Court was to rule in favour of assisted suicide they had to confront a problem: The Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms – which acts as a constitution in Canada – states in Section 7 that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person …”. The judges’ had to suppress the ‘right to life’ and accentuate a false notion of liberty and emphasise ‘security of the person’. The problem with trying to suppress the right to life is that all other rights depend upon it. Liberty and security of the person become tenuous if the right to life is not guaranteed. Self-destruction eliminates liberty and assisting in a suicide is license, not liberty.



The Supremes paid obligatory but shallow homage to the concept of the sanctity of human life, then discounted the right to life in one paragraph. They wrote:
“…[W]e do not agree that the existential formulation of the right to life requires an absolute prohibition on assistance in dying, or that individuals cannot “waive” their right to life. This would create a “duty to live”, rather than a “right to life”, . . . The sanctity of life is one of our most fundamental societal values. Section 7 [of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms] is rooted in a profound respect for the value of human life. But Section 7 also encompasses life, liberty and security of the person during the passage to death. It is for this reason that the sanctity of life “is no longer seen to require all human life be preserved at all costs.”
Continuing in their cleaver distortion, the judges wrote: 
“Underlying both these rights [liberty and security of the person] is a concern for the protection of individual autonomy and dignity.” 
I do not believe the architects of the Canadian Charter envisioned a vehicle to autonomy and dignity included a right to suicide. The right to death is not mentioned in the Charter – the right to life is. Do you see how they were twisting things? They went on to say:
“The law has long protected patient autonomy in medical decision making.” 
Granted, but Canadian law has only recently sanctioned medical killing by assisted suicide or euthanasia.

The dramatic departure from legal and moral traditions went from the court to the Canadian Parliament and assisted suicide became legal in June 2016. The legislation (bill C-14) was enacted under the euphemistic and deceptive title “medical assistance in dying”. I used the words 'deceptive' because those who are eligible for ‘medical assistance in dying’ do not have to be dying. The odious new law defines grievous and irremediable medical conditions eligible for medical killing:
“A person has a grievous and irremediable medical condition only if they meet all of the following criteria:

(a) they have a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability;
(b) they are in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capacity;
(c) that illness, disease or disability or that state of decline causes them enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them and cannot be relieved under circumstances they consider acceptable; and
(d) their natural death has become reasonably foreseeable, taking into account all their medical circumstances, without a prognosis having been made as to the specific length of time that they have remaining.”
In the first 6 months after the law passed, at least 744 Canadians received “medical assistance in dying”. There’s that deceptive euphemism again! Not all recipients were dying. According to Canadian reporter, Graham Slaughter, (what an apt name!) most of the patients have cancer, ALS or multiple sclerosis.[2] Multiple sclerosis is rarely terminal. Life expectancy for people with MS is only 7 years shorter than normal life expectancy. I have had MS for over 32 years. I use an electric wheelchair but I’m hardly dying. Medical assistance in dying becomes medical killing.

It should be noted that in 2012 Canada’s Parliament gave UNANIMOUS support to the idea of developing a National Suicide Prevention Strategy. In 2016 they legalised assisted suicide for people who are sick or disabled. So let me get this straight: Healthy and abled-bodied Canadians who become suicidal get suicide prevention support, sick and disabled suicidal Canadians get help killing themselves? Yup.

Disability advocates have fought to advance equality and inclusion for over 40 years. Canada’s assisted suicide legislation caused a severe setback to those goals. This did not go unnoticed in America. Many American disability groups oppose legalization of assisted suicide, including the American Association of People with Disabilities, the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, and Not Dead Yet, just to mention a few. Diane Coleman and Stephen Drake of Not Dead Yet commented on the Canada’s Supreme Court Decision:

“The Canadian Supreme Court ruling openly targets people with non-terminal disabilities … The Canadian high court’s holding is a shockingly blatant mandate of lethal discrimination based on disability and should be rejected outright by any human society.” [4]
Is the Canadian situation Supreme Court decision a harbinger of things to come across America? Medically assisted suicide (MAS) has been legalised in 6 states under various parameters. Someone may say that the disabled are not eligible for MAS in most states. Proponents of MAS refuse to acknowledge almost all the people dying under these laws are disabled.


Not Dead Yet asserts 
“assisted suicide violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by establishing a system of unlawful discrimination whereby most suicidal people, those who reveal their intentions, receive suicide prevention services, while old, ill and disabled people receive suicide assistance instead.” 
They’re right.

Old prejudices against the disabled have appeared again under the guise of death with dignity. Can you hear a chorus calling out from a multitude of disabled people, “Must we die to find dignity?” I hope not.

If there is dignity to be found, it is found in life.

Mark Pickup
____________________________________
[1] Paraphrase of Chief Justice William Rehnquist on assisted suicide, Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S.702(1997). http://www1.law.umkc.edu/academic/Spring2011/assignments/Washington%20v%20Glucksberg.pdf . Canadian and American law and legal traditions have deep roots in British Common Law, which dates back to the Middle Ages.

[2] Graham Slaughter, “At least 744 assisted deaths in Canada since law passed: CTV News analysis,” CTVNews.ca, 28 December 2016 (http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/at-least-744-assisted-deaths-in-canada-since-law-passed-ctv-news-analysis-1.3220382)

]3] See National Multiple Sclerosis Society website (http://www.nationalmssociety.org/About-the-Society/News/Study-Shows-Life-Expectancy-for-People-with-MS-Inc)

[4] Diane Coleman and Stephen Drake, “Statement of Not Dead Yet (USA) to Canadian Panel on Carter Case Decision”, 14 October 2015, (http://notdeadyet.org/statement-of-not-dead-yet-usa-to-canadian-panel-on-carter-case-decision)

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