Thursday, January 19, 2017

Promoting assisted suicide: A form of coercion.

The Victoria Times Colonist printed this excellent letter on January 19 by Paul Jungwirth
Noreen Campbell chose to end her life by means of physician-assisted suicide, as was her right under Canada’s new law. 
Since that law was passed, more than 744 people have also chosen to end their life this way. 
But apparently Campbell’s dying wish was that even more people would avail themselves of this new right. 
She wanted her story about ending her life to “open the door for others” and “draw attention to the gaps she saw in the process,” because, as a member of the assisted-suicide advocacy group Dying with Dignity, she felt the law doesn’t go far enough. 
The ease with which she embraces killing as a good solution to suffering is simply appalling. 
Her opinions about why people should go the same route as she did contributes nothing new to this discussion — it’s all about fearmongering and undermining people’s expectations about what palliative care can achieve. 
According to her, taking a lethal injection is preferable to the alternatives, and promoting this idea is an insidious form of coercion that will only result in more needless premature deaths, and an increasingly callous approach to people who might be suffering near the end of life. 
Paul Jungwirth 
Burnaby BC
Previous article on this topic: How many people have died by euthanasia in Canada?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I'm terminally ill and the euthanasia debate scares me.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Julie Morgan
New South Wales Australia will soon be debating the legalization of euthanasia. At least one terminally ill woman, Julie Morgan, says that the euthanasia debate worries and scares her on several levels.

Morgan, in her article published in the Sydney Morning Herald says that her experiece with fighting cancer for four years has enabled her to understand and oppose euthanasia:
the past four years have given me a unique window into the complexity of death and dying, of living and loving, and of holding on and letting go.
Morgan first explains her personal life experience:
The doctors have told me I have a few months to live. The cancer that began in my breast four years ago has spread to my spine, ribs, hips and, more significantly, to my lungs. The surgeries, extensive chemotherapy, and radiation that I went through back then, plus the on-going hormone therapy, didn't do the trick. And so now, in my mid 50's, I'm terminally ill. It often doesn't seem real, yet it is. But there's so much more that I want to do – I am not ready to go!
Morgan expressed why the euthanasia debate scares her:
The debate worries and scares me on several levels. Fortunately we just don't go around killing each other any more, so the notion that it's a person's "free choice" to die just doesn't make sense. Recognising the full scope of human dignity, we stopped capital punishment a long time ago. Now bringing in legislation that allows a group of experts to determine who can "legally" die, seems a retrograde move. Intellectually, that worries me. And once the legislation has been approved, experience tells us that it is likely to grow exponentially. I can imagine a time when particularly frail and vulnerable people will succumb to the thought that it might be best for their families and for society in general for them to let go and die – they will agree to something because they think they ought to. That scares me.
Morgan concludes her article by defining what true death with dignity is:
I have always been an extremely private person, so the thought that my increasingly frail body will need intimate help does not thrill me. But just as I cared for and loved my friend in all her messiness and fragility, I will have to let others care for and love me in the same way. There is nothing undignified about that. So my experience of being a primary carer tells me that as I'm dying, the presence of people who have the emotional capacity to sit with me during long hours, who have the strength to continually stroke my arm, to bring me cups of water in the night, to tell me that they love me and to stay with me even if it seems that I am no longer present to them is of beyond measure. I'm sure that I will know their voices, and that I will know their touch. So as the doctors relieve my physical pain, I trust that my family and friends will abide with me so that just as I have lived, so will I die, with integrity and grace.
In November 2016, South Australia debated and defeated a euthanasia bill and the Australian Medical Association re-affirmed its opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Paul Russell and Hope Australia have once again prepared an effective opposition to the proposed euthanasia legislation. Thank you Julie for expressing your real fears about euthanasia.

How many people have died by euthanasia in Canada?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Globe and Mail published an article by Kelly Grant featuring a BC couple who wanted to die by euthanasia together, but ended up dying by euthanasia four days apart.

I had hoped that the pro-euthanasia propaganda media articles would lessen now that euthanasia is legal in Canada, but in fact the media continues to ramp up the propaganda.

Nonetheless, the Globe and Mail article states that at least 784 people have died by euthanasia in Canada since June 2016.

On December 29, I reported on a CTV News article stating there were at least 744 people who died by euthanasia since June.

Both articles clearly state that there could be more and both articles use 
data from a Québec report that was published more than two months ago, on November 1.

I believe that the number of euthanasia deaths will continuously increase as long as the media continues to publish articles promoting euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Comparing the data from the Dec 29 CTV news article to the Jan 18 Globe and Mail (G & M) article:

  • BC 154 (CTV)  -  195 (G & M),
  • Alberta 63 (CTV)  -  71 (G & M),
  • Saskatchewan 8 (CTV)  -  11 (G & M),
  • Manitoba 18 (CTV)  -  32 (G & M),
  • Ontario estimated 180 (CTV)  -  200 estimated (G & M)
  • Québec 300 estimated (CTV)  -  262 (data based on November 1 report) (G & M)
  • Nova Scotia 16 (CTV)  -  16 (G & M),
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 4 (CTV)  -  4 (G & M),
  • New Brunswick 0 (CTV)  -  0 (G & M),
  • Prince Edward Island 0 (CTV)  -  0 (G & M),
  • Northwest Territory 0 (CTV)  -  0 (G & M),
  • Yukon Territory 1 (CTV)  -  1 (G & M),
  • Nunavut did not release data (CTV)  -  0 in Nunavut (G & M), 
The Globe and Mail report has under-estimated the number of euthanasia deaths in Québec.

Further to that, the government monitors "assisted death" with a self-reporting system. The reporting system requires the doctor or nurse practitioner who carries out the euthanasia to also report the death. 

The Netherlands and Belgium also employ a self-reporting system to collect data on euthanasia. Based on studies, it is estimated that (20% - 23%) of all euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands are not reported and more than 40% of the euthanasia deaths in Belgium are not reported. Underreporting of assisted suicide also occurs in Oregon and Washington State.

The only way to uncover abuse of the euthanasia law is through family and friends who are willing to share their story. Several stories have already been uncovered.

If you are willing to share information about the euthanasia death of a family member or friend please call Compassionate Community Care at: 1-855-675-8749.

EPC looking for a story for our next documentary. If you seriously considered dying by euthanasia or assisted suicide or felt pressured toward an assisted death, please call us at: 1-877-439-3348.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Canadian bioethicists call for organ donation euthanasia.

This article was written by Michael Cook and published by MercatorNet on January 16, 2017

By Michael Cook

Well, well, that didn’t take long, did it? Euthanasia became legal in Canada in June and by December Quebec bioethicists had already published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics calling for organ donation after euthanasia. In fact, they were reflecting the positive opinions of the both the Quebec government and of Transplant Quebec, the professional association of transplant surgeons

The authors, Julie Allard and Marie-Chantal Fortin, bioethicists at the University of Montreal, argue that their proposal is a kind of homage to autonomy:

“MAID (medical aid in dying) has the potential to provide additional organs available for transplantation. Accepting to procure organ donation after MAID is a way to respect the autonomy of patients, for whom organ donation is an important value. Organ donation after MAID would be ethically acceptable if the patient who has offered to donate is competent and not under any external pressure to choose MAID or organ donation”.
However, they insist that the decision to donate should be separate from the decision to be euthanized. They point out that such a policy could have a negative impact upon the public’s perception of organ donation, so they urge that further studies be done.

Not very publicized, but pre-dating the publication of the JME article, are position statements from Transplant Quebec (no link available) and an ethics committee of the Quebec government. The latter stated on May 11 that:

Considering that a request for medical help in dying is a right, that organ donation is socially acceptable and it is an express request of the patient, and considering that the Commission [Commission de l'éthique en science et en technologie] has always praised organ donation in preceding position statements, the Commission recommends that all the institutions responsible set in place the necessary conditions for making these two requirements compatible.

Allard and Fortin contend that organ donation euthanasia will always be a rare option, because most patients who request euthanasia are dying of cancer, which would normally make them unsuitable as an organ donor.

As a policy, it has only been rolled out in Belgium and the Netherlands. Between 2005 and 2015, 21 Belgians donated organs following euthanasia. The Dutch lag behind, but so far 15 patients have asked to donate organs following euthanasia.

What is the ethical reasoning behind such a procedure? It is based upon respect for the patients’ autonomy.

Several countries, including Canada and the USA, believe that a person who is able to give free and informed consent (or refuse such consent) is entitled to decide what will happen to his or her body.
Allard and Fortin acknowledge that there might be some ethical complications. Patients might feel that they are a burden and could only be useful if they were to give their organs. This would constitute a subtle form of coercion. However, Allard and Fortin are confident that this can be overcome.
It will be difficult to disentangle patients' motivations for requesting MAID, but the complete separation of the two decisional processes should help to ensure that the MAID request is motivated by unbearable suffering, as required by law, and not by the feeling that one's value is limited to one's organs.

Of all the bad ideas associated with euthanasia, this must be one of the worst. The potential for exploiting vulnerable people is immense. Imagine that you have recently become a quadriplegic after a motorcycle accident. You are lonely, frustrated, discouraged; you think that life has no meaning, that you are a useless encumbrance on your family and society. You don’t believe the doctors who insist that paraplegics can and do live fulfilling and happy lives.

One day, from your hospital bed you see a TV program in which a transplant surgeon praises the unforgettable generosity of So-and-so whose life was not worth living but found a way to give life to others, etc, etc. Wouldn't you think of ringing up the doctor and asking him how to go about it?

It could get even worse. What if organ donation organisations promoted an standard advance directive which instructs your next-of-kin to arrange for organ donation euthanasia if you become seriously demented? There is no reason why this could not happen. In Belgium, demented people can be euthanized and organs are being accepted, even from elderly people. That would clean out the nursing homes and shorten the kidney waiting list.

How is Canada going to stop this from happening?

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet. An earlier version of this article was published in BioEdge, which he also edits.

Fighting assisted suicide in your state.

2017 will be an active year for those who protect people from assisted suicide.

EPC - USA has organized an Assisted Suicide Training Session to provide you with the tools to fight assisted suicide in your state.

The assisted suicide lobby has identified at least 21 states where they plan to introduce bills or launch a court case to legalize assisted suicide in America.

Those states include: Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Utah. There will also be a federal debate as to whether the District of Columbia assisted suicide law will be overturned.

The event begins at 6 pm until 9 pm and is followed by the screening of the Euthanasia Deception documentary.

We have limited seating. To book your seat at this event. (Link).

Friday, January 13, 2017

Ontario nurse faces six more charges. Is legalizing euthanasia more dangerous?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Elizabeth Wettlaufer (October 25)
On October 25, 2016, EPC reported that Elizabeth Wettlaufer, 49, a nurse from Woodstock, was charged with 8 counts of first degree murder in what is being defined as possibly the worst case of a seriel killer in Canadian history. 

EPC responded to this news by demanding an in-depth investigation into care homes in Canada, especially now that euthanasia is legal.

Wettlaufer is now facing six more changes related to the abuse of patients in Woodstock and Paris Ontario.

It is important to note that Wetlauffer's alleged acts of murder were not uncovered by an investigation or by "quality control" but rather by a tip received by Wettlaufer's psychiatrist.

Further to that, on December 7. the London Free Press reported that Susan Muzylowsky, a nurse who worked at the Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care in London ON confessed to charges of professional misconduct relating to 19 patients.

As Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, I regularly receive calls from people who believe that their loved one was prematurely killed or neglected in a hospital or nursing home. These cases are frustrating because, based on privacy, it is nearly impossible to prove that such an act has occurred and the financial and personal costs associated with gaining justice is prohibitive.

I am convinced that Elizabeth Wettlaufer is one of many "care-givers" who have caused the death, neglected or abused patients in care homes. In fact, I am convinced that if an honest, third-party, in-depth investigation was done into the care of vulnerable persons in Canada that a significant number of horrific cases would be uncovered.

Now that euthanasia is legal in Canada, should you be concerned?

There is no effective oversight of the euthanasia law. If a person dies by euthanasia, the reporting procedure requires the doctor or nurse practitioner who did the lethal injection to submit a report to the authorities. Therefore, the person who causes the death is required to self-report of the death. There is no effective oversight of the law.

Further to that, the flawed language in Canada's euthanasia law provides legal immunity to anyone who participates, in any way, in an act of euthanasia or assisted suicide. The law states:
Section 241(3): No person is a party to an offence under paragraph (1)(b) if they do anything for the purpose of aiding a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner to provide a person with medical assistance in dying in accordance with section 241.‍2.
No other jurisdiction in the world provides this level of blanket immunity for euthanasia.

Legalizing euthanasia in Canada has given medical professionals the ability to cover up acts of murder, abuse, negligence or medical error.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Finland set to debate euthanasia

This article was written by Paul Russell, the Director of HOPE Australia, and published by HOPE Australia on December 31, 2016.

By Paul Russell

A citizen's initiative to raise the issue of euthanasia in the Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta) has passed the requisite 50,000 signatories required to trigger a parliamentary debate.

As in many countries, Finland has been dicing with euthanasia for some years now. The pro-euthanasia lobby, Exitus has been active since the early 1990s. As in many countries, the notional public support for euthanasia is above the two-thirds mark. Support amongst the nations doctors has also been steadily increasing in recent years with support and oppose numbers in the medical profession both at 46% in 2014.

As with all Finnish Citizen's Initiatives, the 'Euthanasia initiative includes a prescription of the form of the Bill to be debated. The presented model is for euthanasia for people experiencing an 'incurable fatal disease, and death takes place in the near future'. The registered signatories now exceed 62,000 which should ensure that, after exclusion checks, that a formal bill is developed and that the parliament is compelled to move to a vote.

The sponsor for the initiative is former Finnish MP, Esko Olavi Seppänen. Seppänen, a member of the Left Alliance Party and earlier the Finnish Communist Party, he was also a Member of the European Parliament from 1996 to 2009 as a Member of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL).

The Finnish Medical Association is opposed to the initiative. Association head Heikki Palve said that the majority of palliative care doctors working with dying patients object to legalising euthanasia. A 2010 survey of doctors attitudes found that, in their opinion, more training on palliative care would diminish requests for active euthanasia and improve physicians’ skills in dealing with the difficult challenges faced in end-of-life situations and care.

Timo Soini, the chairperson of the Finns Party, has confirmed his intention to vote against the citizens' initiative to legalise euthanasia in Finland. Finns is the second largest party in the four-party governing coalition in Finland and has a socially conservative base. Amongst its coalition partners both the National Coalition and the Centre Party hold within their ranks notional majorities of socially conservative MPs.

It is not clear at this time when a bill will be tabled for debate.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Congress will vote to protect people from assisted suicide in DC.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Congressman Jason Chaffetz
The Washington Post reported on January 10th that Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that oversees District affairs told reporters that he intends to stop the DC assisted suicide bill. Chaffetz stated that he:

fundamentally disagrees with the bill
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the assisted suicide bill on December 19. The US Congress has 30 working days to vote NO to assisted suicide in DC.

The Washington Examiner reported that:
It is not clear if Congress will approve the legislation. It has blocked D.C. legislation before, most recently the city's recreational marijuana law. Under the Constitution, Congress has to sign off on all D.C. laws.
EPC - USA President, Nancy Elliott stated:
Rep. Jason Chaffetz is doing the right thing. Assisted Suicide is dangerous public policy, preying on people who are not necessarily dying, such as diabetics and is open to elder abuse, disabled abuse, death because of wrong diagnosis, suicide steering and suicide contagion. Having this law in our nations' capital is a black eye on our country.
Petition: Tell US.Congress to vote NO to assisted suicide in DC.

Contact your representative.

Massachusetts Judge urged to dismiss assisted suicide court case.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In late October 2016, two doctors filed a court case challenging the Massachusetts assisted suicide law in order to give them the right to prescribe lethal drugs for assisted suicide.

Patricia Wen of the Boston Globe reported, on January 9, that Attorney General Maura Healey and Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe urged the judge to dismiss the case based on the principle that issues, such as assisted suicide, are properly decided by the legislature and not the court.

Dr Roger Kligler, who has metastic prostate cancer, is the plaintiff in the case and Dr. Alan Steinbach, also from Cape Cod, is willing to prescribe lethal drugs to Kligler or others who, if proven mentally sound, want to die due to their terminally ill state.
Dr Kligler has not been deemed to be terminally ill. 

Kligler and Steinbach are acting on behalf of the suicide lobby group, Compassion & Choices.

According to the Boston Globe article, O'Keefe told the judge that:
he is “very sympathetic” to patients like Kligler, but that the doctor is making his petition “to the wrong branch of government.”
Compassion & Choices failed in New Mexico, Connecticut, Tennesee, California and New York with similar court cases.

The Massachussets Superior Court should reject this case and honor the results of the voter initiative whereby Massachusetts residents rejected assisted suicide in 2012.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Outgoing Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin’s Father’s Death was an Assisted Suicide

This article was published by True Dignity Vermont on January 6, 2017.

Peter Shumlin, the outgoing governor of Vermont, fought hard to legalize assisted suicide in the state; so it was no surprise when he listed it among other “accomplishments” in his farewell speech this week. A big surprise, however, came when the governor revealed that his own father died from assisted suicide. (Link to Youtube video) comments begin at minute 54:50.

Bristling with pride, Shumlin said that never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that his own father would die in this way. In May of 2011, however, True Dignity commented on a speech he made at a VT showing of the film “How to Die in Oregon”. The speech can be viewed at (Link to youtube video) comments begin at Minute 1:40. Speaking about how much he hoped VT would enact legal assisted suicide, he actually used his parents as illustrations of why he felt legalization was important.

Here, in italics are our comments at the time:
We were offended by the governor’s filmed jokes about how his apparently healthy but aged parents haven’t responded as he would have liked to his attempts to have “the conversation” to plan for their dying (in the video the audience laughs when he says he asked where they planned to be in ten years). 
… We need….to fight against the seduction of his not so soothing words about how Vermonters “take care of each other”, when he speaks words like these in the context of a conversation about assisted suicide.
In 2017 we are even more offended than we were in 2011. It is hard to believe that any governor would brag about facilitating a single suicide in his state. It is even harder to hear that governor brag about facilitating the suicide of his own parent.

Back in 2011, we were sorry for and feared for Peter Shumlin’s parents. It is self-evident to us that any suggestion that suicide is a viable end of life option for another person is itself pressure and can never be anything else If we heard the words Shumlin spoke in 2011 from one of our adult children, we would feel pressured, and we would not forget. No act done under pressure, even the most well-meaning pressure, is ever completely free.

We hope one day to live again in a state in which the sick and elderly are legally protected from such pressure, however well-meaning or inadvertent. Our new governor, Phil Scott, voted against legal assisted suicide when it was passed in 2013. Let’s ask him to work for its repeal now. Contact information will follow in the coming weeks.