Thursday, February 11, 2016

Canada's euthanasia lobby pushes euthanasia for people who cannot consent.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A recent poll commissioned by the euthanasia lobby was designed to pressure Canada's parliament to approve euthanasia for incompetent people with advanced dementia.

The Supreme Court February 2015 Carter decision permitted euthanasia for:
“a competent adult person who
(1) clearly consents to the termination of life and
(2) has 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 decision stated that the person must clearly consent, but the euthanasia lobby is not satisfied with limiting euthanasia to consenting adults so they designed a poll to suggest that 80 per cent of Canadians agree that individuals with a terminal medical condition like dementia should be permitted to consent to assisted death in advance. 

According to a recent study from Belgium, where assisted death was legalized for competent adults in 2002, there were more than 1000 assisted deaths without explicit request in 2013.

The euthanasia lobby wants you to believe that they only support euthanasia for people who are competent, terminally ill and suffering, but in reality they also want euthanasia without an explicit consent for incompetent people. 

If this is about "freedom of choice," as the euthanasia lobby claims, how can it be assured that the person with dementia is freely choosing to be killed? 

The euthanasia lobby is not satisfied with the Supreme Court decision to limit killing to people who clearly consent, they also want death for people who they define as better off dead and who cannot consent.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Transparency essential in assisted dying applications.

This article was published by Advocate Daily on February 10, 2016.

Hugh Scher
While some anticipate that those seeking personal constitutional exemptions for physician-assisted suicide will want anonymity, Toronto human rights and constitutional lawyer Hugh Scher tells Lawyers Weekly that scrutiny and transparency in end-of-life practices are key to detecting and deterring abuse.

Although the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the ban on physician-assisted suicide unconstitutional in its landmark decision last year in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), the ban has been left in force until June to allow Parliament time to draft a new law. In mid-January, the Supreme Court ruled that those who meet the criteria the court set out last year may apply to a superior court to be exempted from the Criminal Code’s blanket prohibition of assisted suicide.

In the meantime, Lawyers Weekly says some lawyers and judges could be faced with questions such as when should a lawyer take on this type of case, and should counsel seek anonymity for clients.

However, Scher, of Scher Law, counsel for intervener Euthanasia Prevention Coalition before the Supreme Court in the Carter case and in the case of Cuthbertson v. Rasouli, 2013 SCC 53, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 341, tells Lawyers Weekly:
“The court has not provided an open-ended right to kill people…I think it’s absolutely essential that there is the ability to have clear transparency, that these proceedings be public, that they be accountable, and they are subject to appeal where appropriate.”
In some circumstances, says Scher, court interventions will also be in order, as they have been in cases involving patients’ objections to withdrawal of medical treatment, such as in the Rasouli case.

“I think it is important, in appropriate cases, that there be the means for interventions from publicly interested organizations who can help to define and explain the law to the courts, and serve a useful role as friends of the court to attempt to flesh out some of these concepts, and what the limits and parameters are," or should be, Scher says.

Ultimately, Scher says he doesn’t expect Carter applications to turn into legal battlegrounds, but that identifying vulnerability through before the fact judicial oversight should be a permanent requirement in any case of assisted suicide to ensure compliance with legislative or court-imposed safeguards.

For lawyers who do take on such cases, Scher says it is essential to “document, document, document. Be aware of the requirements," he says, both in terms of obtaining proper medical information and evidence and making sure that all second opinions relative to palliative care, capacity assessment, voluntariness and to psychiatric concerns have been accessed and met.
“Take all steps to identify vulnerability…because if you’re going ahead with somebody who is truly vulnerable in nature, that can potentially expose lawyers to other risks. You don’t want to be perpetrating a fraud on the court by effectively going through with somebody that is trying to unduly influence, or effect coercion, on somebody.”
It would also be prudent to videotape meetings and instructions, he says.

“You want to be able to truly assess the independence, the judgment of the person, [to] make sure the person you are taking instructions from has the capacity to give those instructions,” and isn’t being unduly influenced by outside sources, including family members.

Wesley Smith: Canada's Death Courts

This article was published by Wesley Smith on his blog on February 10, 2016.

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

Until Canada’s radical Supreme Court ruling imposing a positive right to euthanasia on the entire country goes into effect, suicidal ill and disabled people can apply to a court for a license to be killed. 

Death courts. 

From the “Practice Advisory” published by the Ontario court: 
Commencement of Application  
An application to the Superior Court of Justice for authorization for a physician assisted death shall be commenced by notice of application under Rule 14 of the Rules of Civil Procedure and be in accordance with this Practice Advisory.  
Content of Notice of Application  
The notice of application shall state that the application shall be heard by a judge on a date to be fixed by the registrar at the place of hearing, such date not being earlier than fifteen days after the application is commenced and not being later than thirty days after the application is commenced. Depending upon the circumstances, certain applications may be heard sooner on an emergency basis. The nature of the relief sought on the application must be brought to the attention of the registrar by the applicant at the time of filing so that a hearing date within these time periods, or sooner, can be fixed. 
This is just stunning. A judge is going to dispassionately review an application to be killed, and then, rule thumbs up or down. 

I doubt there will be many refusals. The Supreme Court’s ruling is so broad and radical that virtually any medical condition beyond a tooth ache can qualify for euthanasia. 

And once the ruling goes into effect, even this minor impediment to death will be erased. 
This from a country that considers itself too enlightened to countenance a death penalty.
Poor Canada. We hardly knew ye.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Native leader: Assisted suicide is not part of our system of life.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Francois Paulette
Francois Paulette, the Dene Nation Elders Council Chair told Rachel Zeiniker from CBC news that:
"Traditionally, that (assusted death) is not part of our system of life," 
"We have a very high standard of looking after our people that are sick."
Paulette said that the indigenous perspective has been left out of the assisted death debate. He told CBC:
I think the leadership really needs to get on top of this and find a way for indigenous people to have a seat at the table so legislation respects and honours the UN Declaration of Indigenous People's Rights and treaty rights. 
I hope either the federal or territorial government provides assistance and money to bring leaders together.
Paulette hopes that the guidelines will be "respectful of traditional values and principles." 

The concerns of the native community, the disability community and minority communities have so far been ignored in the quest to impose euthanasia and assisted suicide upon Canadia.
The N.W.T. government has begun to solicit opinions from people in the territory. It has sent letters to stakeholders, and is accepting public feedback on its website until Monday, Feb. 15.

Another euthanasia scandal behind the euthanasia curtain.

This article was written by Michael Cook and published today by Careful.

Tine Nys (in the centre) with her sisters.
By Michael Cook.

Another euthanasia scandal in Belgium. Two sisters have complained on a television program, Terzake, about the euthanasia of their sister. Tine Nys was 38 at the time and had broken up with her live-in boyfriend. On Christmas Eve 2009 she announced that she was going to be euthanased.

After interviews with doctors, she was given a lethal injection on April 24, 2010, with her mother and father and her two sisters, Lotte and Sophie, at her bedside.

Belgium allows people to request euthanasia if they have unbearable psychological suffering, not just a terminal illness. Tine was obviously a troubled woman and 15 years before she had been seeing a psychiatrist regularly. But she was recovering from a love affair, not suffering unbearable mental anguish.

Three doctors were supposed to concur that she met all requirements: a psychiatrist and two other doctors. This time a psychiatrist casually made a diagnosis of “autism”. The sickness from which euthanasia candidates are suffering is supposed to be incurable. Autism may not be curable, but Tine was functioning adequately. None of the doctors made an effort to treat her – but they were willing to kill her.

What horrified her sisters was their callousness and how little interest they took in persuading her to live.

The day of her death was immensely distressing for the family. The doctor was so incompetent that he failed to bring bandages to hold fast the needle for the lethal injection. Instead, he asked Tine’s father to hold it on her arm. There was no place to hang the infusion bag with the toxic drug so the doctor placed it on the arm of Tine’ armchair. To the dismay of her grieving family, it plopped onto her face as she died. Then the doctor asked her parents to use his stethoscope to see that she was well and truly dead.

The doctor even described Tine’s death as “a lethal injection administered to a favourite pet to end its suffering”.

Even though defenders of Belgian euthanasia claim that safeguards are an integral part of the system, none of them seem to have worked. Tine had shopped around for compliant doctors and the three who ticked the boxes had not communicated with each other. The paperwork was not done within the legally required time. However, the government’s euthanasia commission still approved the doctor’s handiwork.

Lotte and Sophie described the death to the Terzake journalist as an act of “perverse” cruelty.
"I hope this was bad luck, but I fear that this is not an isolated case," said Joris Vandenberghe, a Flemish psychiatrist, told Terzake. "This is really very worrying. "The bar for euthanasia should be higher.”
The teary television interview has succeeded in getting some politicians to express misgivings about euthanasia. A former finance minister and he head of the Flemish Christian Democrats in the Belgian Senate, Steven Vanackere, now says that there are many shortcomings in the law, that the definition of mental suffering is too loose and that in 13 years only one case had been forwarded to the police.

On the other hand, it seems clear that most Belgian politicians and voters support the law. Tine Nys’s sisters have said that they don’t oppose the principle of euthanasia. So even if they investigate the appalling treatment she received, the euthanasia juggernaut will roll on.

But what if the complaint of these women is the tip of an iceberg of unresolved grief over euthanasia? It took them more than five years to bring their story before the public. What if euthanasia is so painful a topic for families that they cannot bring themselves to complain until many years afterwards, as happens with cases of childhood sexual abuse?

Euthanasia was only legalised in Belgium in 2002. Eventually Belgium could be buried under an avalanche of pent-up sorrow. A single death touches an entire family – and the doctor as well. If only a small proportion of cases have as incompetent and callous as Tine’s, there could be scores, if not hundreds of patients whose loved ones are suffering from repressed grief and anger. Who knows? But sooner or later the Belgians will find out.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Euthanasia movement destroys its archives.

This article was published by Wesley Smith on his blog on February 6, 2016.
Dowbiggin's historical book - A Merciful End - is available on Amazon.
Wesley Smith

B y Wesley Smith 

Historian Ian Dowbiggin wrote a splendid history of the euthanasia movement back in 2003. 

It was thorough, detailed, and objective. The movement cooperated with Dowbiggin by making its archives available for his use. But now, they may have been destroyed. From, “A Scandal in the Euthanasia Archives:” 
Imagine for a moment that reporters broke the news that the Vatican had destroyed the bulk of its archival records. 
Researchers around the world justifiably might accuse the Roman Catholic Church of a deliberate cover-up.  
Well, the Vatican has done no such thing. But it appears as if the right-to-die movement has. If so, one might well ask; why did people in the movement do it? Are they trying to hide something about their past?  
One thing is clear: if the euthanasia movement’s records have indeed been destroyed, a lot of history has vanished, Orwell-like, down a cavernous memory hole. And with it, information the right-to-die movement doesn’t want you to know. 
A Merciful End.
What is the evidence? 
About five years after the book’s publication, I was contacted by a US graduate student researching the history of euthanasia. She told me that in trying to track down the ESA records she had been informed that the collection had been intentionally destroyed. Just this year another US graduate student got in touch with me, also trying to locate the ESA archives.  
She too has been told the records no longer exist, although she is still investigating. Of course, it might be that the ESA records are sitting somewhere safe and sound. Yet why do groups like Compassion and Choices ignore my own requests for information? Why, when a published scholar in the history of medicine enquires about the whereabouts of this important archive, is there a resounding silence? 
Ian Dowbiggin
What might they want to erase: 
Not only did these activists urge governments to permit voluntary mercy-killing and physician-assisted suicide, many also supported the involuntary mercy-killing of handicapped people. For example, despite his knowledge of widespread Nazi murder of people with disabilities, in 1943 the ESA’s president thought it was a good idea to legalize euthanasia in time for returning veterans who suffered from mental and physical wounds. 
The euthanasia movement spent more than one hundred years looking for the right words and impetus to convince people to follow their dark calling. They think they have found it in “compassssssionnnn.” 

That is part of it, in a twisted way. But there is so much more to it than that–a malign side–and that is what the modern euthanasiaists may not want people see.

Dana Palmer: Against Colorado's assisted suicide bill.

This article was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette on February 3, 2016.

Dana Palmer
My name is Dana Palmer. In 2005, I was diagnosed with Glioblastoma-terminal brain cancer. My prognosis was only 3-12 months. Shortly after my diagnosis, my doctor received a form asking, "When will the patient recover sufficiently?" He drew a horizontal line through it, and wrote never!

My experience is similar to that of thousands of Coloradans who every year face terminal diagnoses and the stigma that they don't have a chance to live, and may be better off dead!

Assisted suicide only worsens this stigma.

After surviving my terminal prognosis for 10 years, I heard the story of the young California woman named Brittany Maynard who faced the same disease I did, and at the exact same age. She took her cancer story public, and it was used to headline a national effort to "normalize" assisted suicide. Immediately, she and other assisted suicide supporters sent a message to patients across the country: Assisted suicide is for you" and "There is no reason for hope." This is a very dangerous message for current and future patients!

Assisted suicide supporters call it a "choice," but to people facing a diagnosis like mine it can be interpreted as an obligation since many patients already feel like a burden. At any time after a terminal diagnosis emotions can run wild, and minds often change daily regarding treatment and care. But assisted suicide is final, it's an action that can't be undone. It can leave doctors and loved ones with regrets.

Under a bill currently proposed in Colorado, I would be eligible for assisted suicide based on my diagnosis. I would be permitted to see any doctor regardless of whether I had a previous relationship with them, and receive a lethal prescription in just a matter of days. Recently, I had a recurrence and battled my insurance company for a month to try to get approval for an out of network consultation at a major cancer facility that specializes in brain cancer. While I was appealing their decision, the cancer became more aggressive!

Sadly, had I asked for a lethal prescription - saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars - it would have likely been approved the same day and I would be dead right now! My family would not be required to know, and I would not be required to be evaluated by a psychologist or psychiatrist.

My journey hasn't been easy; however, people facing serious or terminal diseases have much better options than assisted suicide. And while no option is perfect, assisted suicide legalization sends a dangerous message to people like me about what the government thinks is my best option. I urge the Colorado Legislature to reject the idea that lethal drugs are an answer to serious illness or terminal diagnoses.

Ultimately, physician assisted suicide takes away the patient's choice to fight and live, and puts the power in the hands of doctors (that may have limited experience with the diagnosis and long term survivors) in a profit-driven health care system or to over-burdened caregivers.

Why should anyone die before their time, if in fact there may be a reason for hope?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Assisted Death: I never thought this day would come.

This article was published as a CMAJ blog on Feb 3, 2016 and republished with permission.

Diane Kelsall
By Diane Kelsall, 
Deputy Editor at CMAJ, and editor of CMAJ Open.

In June 1993 I attended my first international research meeting. WONCA (World Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians) was having its annual meeting in The Hague and I had gotten funding from my fellowship program to attend.

It was all very exciting for someone new to the research world to see the hustle and bustle, and feel the energy, that accompanies such a large meeting. Even Queen Beatrix attended.

But that’s not what I remember most about the meeting.

One of the sessions put on by the local organizers focused on euthanasia (that was the term used at the conference). At the time, the Netherlands was the only jurisdiction in the world where this practice was legalized. Many attended out of curiosity—and the collective response was interesting. Numerous attendees filed out of the session in silence, clutching handouts that described euthanasia protocols:

Administer this. If the patient is still breathing, administer that. If the patient’s heart is still beating, do this.
We stood in small groups, hardly able to grasp what we were reading. This was so contrary to everything we had been taught and everything we believed. How could physicians have crossed this line? When did “above all do no harm” turn into an algorithm for death?

When I returned home, I put the protocols away in my desk. Every few years, I would stumble across them—and each time, I felt chilled as I read them.

Fast forward to February 2, 2016,,,
I received an email outlining interim guidance from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario on physician-assisted death. As I read through the guidance, I came across this statement: “College members may wish to consult resources on drug protocols used in other jurisdictions. Examples of such protocols are available in the Members’ section of the College’s website.”

More than twenty years after my trip to The Hague, I was again being given access to protocols to end patients’ lives.

Only, this time, it was in my own country. In my province. From my College.
I never thought this day would come. And I am still chilled.

Assisted suicide lobby: force doctors to kill.

Wesley Smith
This article was written by Wesley Smith and published by the National Review on February 4, 2016.

By Wesley Smith

When seeking to convince a wary public to legalize assisted suicide, euthanasia pushers ooze with promises and assurances that it will only be a last resort–never actually a legal requirement–and that doctors and religious facilities can always opt out.

But once euthanasia consciousness is widely accepted by a population, we find that these promises were made to be broken.

In Oregon, doctors are protected in law if they don’t wish to assist suicides, and religious medical institutions can legally opt out–which many do.

That doesn’t sit well with David Grube, a national medical director for Compassion and Choices–the George Soros-funded assisted suicide promoting and facilitating death organization. Based on a column published in the Register Guard, he wants religious medical facilities forced into cooperation.

From the column:
However, some dying and suffering Oregonians are still not allowed the choice of a death with dignity as they would define it. Some private institutions, particularly those owned and operated by religious institutions, do not allow their employed staff (physicians, hospice workers, etc.) to participate in the process.
Because there can never be enough assisted suicides. 

Besides, C & C has a list of death doctors ideologically predisposed to lethally prescribe. Indeed, the majority of Oregon’s assisted suicides have the hemlockers’ finger prints on them.

What to do? Coerce!
No physician who is personally opposed to helping her or his competent and dying patients end their suffering is obliged to participate. But all physicians should consider referring their patients when the occasion arises — and, in my opinion, no institution should prevent their medical providers from considering legal medical decisions. The state of Oregon, not the church, licenses physicians and determines their competencies and privileges. 
Institutions have the right to choose who can be on their medical staffs. Forcing a Catholic hospital (say) to employ or give staffing privileges to death doctors would violate the free exercise of religion, the right to free association, and all the (false) assurances made by the right to die crowd when they cajole people into legalizing prescribed death.

Lest you think religious institutions will never be forced to act lethally, they already are in Quebec, where euthanasia is euphemistically called “aid in dying,” and from all appearances, an approach that will be taken throughout all of Canada when the euthanasia-is-a-right Supreme Court decision goes into effect nationally.

This despite the Canadian Charter’s guarantee of “freedom of conscience and religion.”

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Charlie Lewis: Why I oppose assisted suicide.

By Charlie Lewis

For those who know me or have heard me speak against assisted suicide and euthanasia, you will be familiar with my struggle with spinal problems. I realize that my testimony about my own experience with horrific pain was fair game to use in my arguments against legalized euthanasia, given that legalized killing in this country would also include those with chronic pain.

Pain is universal. It is almost a common denominator of our humanity. Some lucky few will escape the worst of it or will only be plagued for a short time. For me it is now four years and counting. During that time I was forced to leave my beloved newspaper, The National Post, and my position as religion reporter — the greatest beat I had during my 33 years in journalism. And with that I lost the addictive camaraderie of the newsroom.

I was forced to cease nearly every activity I loved: cycling, hiking in the Rockies and moderate consumption of beer and wine — as well as the odd glass of bourbon or single malt scotch. The decision to stop drinking was not my own choice but the reality that after taking morphine every day it is simply too dangerous to consume alcohol.

None of these things should elicit pity. But my condition, along with two surgeries, knocked me into a world I did not expect to visit for many more years.

Pain is isolating. It can play mental tricks on you. It can make you sick to your stomach on some days and cause long bouts of insomnia. And then there is the isolation and the overriding feeling of worthlessness when you are no longer vital and creative.

In the Netherlands and Belgium those with chronic pain, as well as those with depression and other forms of mental illness, can qualify for state-sanctioned suicide. It appears from the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision of last February, when the Court ruled on assisted suicide and by extension euthanasia, that it will not only be the dying who will be granted the wish to die from a physician’s needle.

People who know more than me say that if I were a resident of either Holland or Belgium I could find a fast exit from this life. I believe sadly that the same option will be available to me and others like me in the near future in Canada.

While I was in the worst of the pain, I began to take stock of my situation. One thing about being alone and also suffering from insomnia that was there is plenty of time to think.

I realized that for all my problems, I was still in a good situation. In other words, it was easier for me to be sick than many others.