Friday, April 24, 2015

EPC campaign to protect people from assisted suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) responded to the Supreme Court of Canada assisted suicide decision with a letter writing and post-card campaign to political leaders asking them to protect use the Notwithstanding Clause to protect Canadians from assisted suicide.

EPC sent-out 80,000 post-cards asking the Government to use the Notwithstanding clause.

EPC is now promoting the Give us time! campaign in English  and French.

The Give us time! campaign asks the Government of Canada to:
  1. Establish a Royal Commission on assisted suicide.
  2. Use the notwithstanding clause to give us time.
We are sending the postcards to the Hon Peter MacKay Justice Minister of Canada.

Give us time post-cards, in english or french, can be ordered from the EPC for free at: info@epcc.ca or by calling toll free at: 1-877-439-3348.

Luxembourg euthanasia report.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Luxembourg euthanasia commission has released its semi-annual report stating that 15 people died by euthanasia in 2013 - 2014, which was a slight increase from 14 people who died by euthanasia in 2011 - 2012.

Luxembourg is a small European country, with a population of 537,000 and approximately 3850 people deaths each year.

The media article states that no abuse of the euthanasia law occurred but the system of reporting euthanasia deaths, in Luxembourg, is not designed to uncover abuse.

In Luxembourg euthanasia reports are sent to the commission by the doctor who lethally injected the person, after the person has died. Since doctors are unlikely to self-report abuse of the law, therefore it is impossible to determine whether or not abuse has occurred.

A recent death study from the Flanders region of Belgium was published in the NEJM on March 19, 2015 found that 1.7% of all deaths in 2013 were intentionally hastened without explicit request and almost half of the assisted deaths were unreported in 2013. A similar study from 2007 found that 1.8% of all deaths were hastened without explicit request and almost half of the assisted deaths went unreported.

The Belgian death study was done by sending questionnaires to the doctors who certified the death certificates in 6188 deaths in the first half of 2013. The researchers received 3751 responses. Since the researchers are third-party researchers who investigated all deaths, they were able to uncover abuse of the Belgian euthanasia law.

In 2008, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg refused to sign the euthanasia bill into law. The Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies reacted by removing his constitutional power.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Do Not Kill Me - I oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC)

On February 6, the Supreme Court struck down Canada's assisted suicide law and gave parliament 12 months to bring in a new law to protect Canadians. 

Those who have read the Supreme Court assisted suicide decision are concerned by the irresponsible and dangerous language in the decisionEPC responded by establishing a letter writing/post card campaign.

EPC offers three ways to help protect you from euthanasia and assisted suicide.

1. The new - Do Not Kill Me - wallet card is available from EPC upon request or by sending EPC a donation. Please sign the back of the card. Contact EPC to order the Do Not Kill Me wallet card at: 1-877-439-3348 or info@epcc.ca.

2. The Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care is not new but it has been updated to ensure that it will protect you when you cannot make decisions for yourself.

This is a legal document that enables you to appoint someone that you trust to be your Power of Attorney for Personal Care. This document also makes clear statements concerning the medical treatment options that you need, when you are unable to make decisions for yourself. The document clearly states that you want to receive food and water, unless you are actually nearing death, and that you oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide.

EPC distributes the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for $25
Contact EPC at: 1-877-439-3348 or info@epcc.ca

3. EPC is working with Compassionate Community Care (CCC), a new service that offers practical advice and information (not limited to) to people when they or a loved one is: 
  • Being denied medical treatment or basic personal care, such as food and water; 
  • Has questions related to life-support measures; or 
  • Concerned that a loved one is being euthanized.
CCC plans to develop a community based model of support for people who are vulnerable to being coercion into euthanasia and assisted suicide. Contact CCC at: 1-855-675-8749.

The Disturbing End Game of the Assisting Suicide lobby.

Jennifer Popik
By Jennifer Popik, JD, Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics

In a record push, Compassion and Choices or C&C (formerly the Hemlock Society) has introduced bills in nearly half of U.S. states. Although they are promoted as simply another medical option at the end of life, comments made by C&C’s president that appeared in an April 17, 2015 USA Today article point to its real goal – euthanasia on demand for any reason.

Although there are still a handful of states that remain at risk this year for this dangerous legislation, such as California, these bills are being defeated one by one across the country. In state after state, the broad coalition of opponents including disability rights groups, the American Medical Society along with its state affiliates, and scores of other groups have successfully raised the alarm that these laws are just too dangerous.

C&C has gained attention using the case of Brittany Maynard, a California woman with a brain tumor. Maynard moved to Oregon–where it is legal to have a physician prescribe a lethal dose of barbiturates–to kill herself.

The case is being used to motivate death advocates and influence legislators, and in many states that did not advance legislation this year, we can be sure stronger efforts will be made in the next legislative session. The legislation being promoted in the states purports to allow doctor-prescribed suicide for competent terminally ill patients, so long as some illusory “safeguards” are followed.

Evidence that safeguards are not working is available from both Oregon and Washington. There are state-issued reports that provide evidence of non-terminally ill persons receiving lethal prescriptions.

Further, there is nothing in existing Oregon, Washington, or Vermont law that requires doctors to refer patients for evaluation by a psychologist or psychiatrist to screen for depression or mental illness. There is also no such requirement in any current proposal in any state. The doctors can make a referral, but nearly never do. In fact, according to the Oregon’s official state reports, in 17 years of legalized doctor-prescribe suicide, a mere 5.5% of death candidates have been referred for psychological evaluation.

In short, there is evidence that any so-called “safeguards” simply are not working. What is more shocking is that this is exactly what C&C President Barbara Coombs Lee wants. She would prefer to expand the list of those who can receive lethal drugs to any kind of discomfort a person might believe she or he is suffering from. In the USA Today article, “Half of U.S. states consider right-to-die legislation,” Coombs Lee told reporter Malak Monir that “It’s not as simple as pain. Everyone gets to identify their own definition of suffering.”

Alabama bill would clarify protections in law from assisted suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In 2015, 26 US states are debating bills to legalize assisted suicide.

Nearly every US state have laws that specifically protect people from assisted suicide. A few states do not have specific statutes protecting people from assisted suicide, but rather prohibit assisted suicide based on common law.

In Alabama, Rep Arnold Mooney is planning to introduce a bill to clarify protections in law from assisted suicide. The Alabama media reported that:
The Assisted Suicide Ban Act would prohibit a physician or other health care provider to help a person die by prescribing a drug or by other means, he said. 
Assisted suicide is prohibited under Alabama common law due to prior court decisions on the issue. Forty-three states have laws on the books prohibiting physician-assisted suicide.
Rep Mooney stated:
"The state has an interest in protecting vulnerable groups, including the impoverished, the elderly, and disabled persons from abuse, neglect and mistakes," 
"A ban on assisted suicide reflects and reinforces our belief that the lives of those in vulnerable groups are no less valued than the lives of the young and healthy."
In the past few years, Georgia and Arizona passed bills to clarify protections in law from assisted suicide.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Canadian physicians may be forced to kill by euthanasia.

This article was published on Wesley's blog on April 18, 2015.
Wesley Smith

By Wesley J. Smith

Medical martyrdom is coming, a term I coined to describe doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other such professionals being forced to choose between their callings and participating in the intentional taking of human life. 

Canada’s Supreme Court recently imposed euthanasia across the country, including for “psychological pain” caused by a diagnosable medical condition. The question now posed is whether doctors will be able to opt out. 

So far, it doesn’t look good. The Canadian Medical Association – already weak-kneed on assisted suicide/euthanasia – wants doctors protected. But the Ontario and Saskatchewan Colleges of Doctors and Surgeons want doctors forced, as in Victoria, to do the deed, refer, or if no references are available, forced to kill. 

Udo Schuklenk
Canadian bioethicist Udo Schuklenk agrees. From his blog
The very idea that we ought to countenance conscientious objection in any profession is objectionable. 
Nobody forces anyone to become a professional. It is a voluntary choice. A conscientious objector in medicine is not dissimilar to a taxi driver who joins a taxi company that runs a fleet of mostly combustion engine cars and who objects on grounds of conscience to drive those cars due to environmental concerns. Why did she become a taxi driver in the first place? Perhaps she should have opened a bicycle taxi company instead. 
The very idea that Schuklenk compares driving a taxi to practicing a medical profession, and worries about pollution to the active and intentional taking of human life tells you so much about what has gone wrong in bioethics. 

Moreover, when today’s doctors and nurses entered the profession, they weren’t required to kill. So, this is where we are heading fast: Kill or get out of medicine! More, don’t get into medicine in the first place if you are an orthodox religious believer or philosophically opposed to abortion and euthanasia. You have no place in the medical arts. 

It is worth nothing that Schuklenk supports Futile Care Theory. Thus, his anti-medical conscience attitude doesn’t extend to the ICU when patients want life-sustaining treatment the doctor thinks is “inappropriate.” Then, doctors should have a right to say no–even though the most fundamental job of doctors is to keep patients alive when that is what they want. 


Can we say, “culture of death?” When Dutch doctors were ordered by the Nazi occupiers to practice (then) German-style death medicine, they took down their shingles en masse, and won the victory. Will Canadian physicians have similar guts in a society in which dissenters are not murdered?

My visit to the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario Annual General Meeting.

This article was written by Adrian Rhodes and published on his blog on April 21.

A record of my visit to the RNAO meeting. Some comments based on my observations concerning the assisted suicide public seminar.

I ended up going to the RNAO Annual General Meeting on Saturday, April 18, 2015 and had no little trepidation about it. I had never done something like this before and so did not know what to expect. I left Markham via TTC on a beautiful cool Saturday morning with my small knapsack, a couple of notepads and a couple of pencils. I also took along a copy of Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Stephen Eric Bronner. I read that book on the way down on the bus and train. All told, it took me an hour and ten minutes to reach the hotel downtown.

The venue was beautiful; the hotel had been newly renovated and it showed. I looked around the lobby and found a sign for the RNAO meeting downstairs, reached via escalator. I went down and looked at the different displays before any people were around. There were between fourteen and sixteen displays, all related to the RNAO’s work in different parts of Ontario.

Before going downstairs, I asked at a table with an RNAO rep (and sign) if I needed to sign in for the public meeting and was told I did not. In addition, there were no open venues until that one meeting. It would begin at 11:30. As it turned out, the previous meeting, at ten, ran a little late. I decided to go upstairs and have a cup of coffee while I waited. Best five dollar coffee I ever had.

The service was good and I must have looked out of place: Cherry red 14 hole Doc Martens, blue jeans, grey t-shirt, blue alpha jacket and haversack. I certainly had the attention of the staff in the hotel. However, as they got used to my presence, I faded into the background as I enjoyed that aforementioned coffee at the bar.

I was at the bar watching football for about 45 minutes when I decided it would be time to go back downstairs. Even though I had been watching the escalators as I could, I was surprised by the number of people already gathered and gathering for the talk. Soon there were few standing spaces left outside the double doors that led us into the place.

Predictably, the previous meeting ran late.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Questionable judicial reasoning in Canadian assisted suicide case.

Alex Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Hamilton Spectator reported that Herbert Dilts, who pled guilty to assisted suicide in the death of Brian Nelson (71) was given a suspended sentence by Superior Court Justice Patrick Flynn 
on April 17, 2015.

Whether or not it was reasonable to give Dilts a  suspended sentence, I am concerned about the reasons given for the suspended sentence. According to the Hamilton Spectator report Justice Flynn stated:

the court had "sympathy" with Dilts' decision when handing the 57-year-old Hamilton man a suspended sentence and two years of probation. He also cited a recent Supreme Court ruling striking down Canada's law against assisted suicide.
The spectator article stated that Dilts unsuccessfully assisted in Nelson's suicide and then refused to continue participating. Justice Flynn found this to be an important factor but the law does not require that the act be sucessful. Section 241 of the Criminal Code states:
"whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence"
My primary concern relates to Flynn's reference to the Supreme Court of Canada assisted dying decision. On February 6, 2015 the Supreme Court struck down the assisted suicide law, but held the decision for 12 months. Further to that, the Supreme Court stated that assisted suicide must only be restricted to certain circumstances and done by a physician. Dilts is not a physician.

The Supreme Court decision should not have affected the sentencing of Dilts. Based on Flynn's reasoning, Justices already appear willing to expand the Supreme Court of Canada assisted dying decision.

Dilts pled guilty in January to assisting the suicide of his friend on February 19, 2012.

The Hamilton Spectator stated Dilts reacted to the decision by:

wiping his brow afterward and saying, "Whew" to his adult son, who was in court to support him. 
"I think it's a fair outcome," said Dilts. "The fact is I did assist him."
Previous article:

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Supreme Court Assisted Dying Decision: A New Social Disorder

By Jean Echlin RN, BScN, MScN

After 35 years of many fearing and rejecting hospice palliative care programs that provide life and death with dignity, we now have Canadians enamored with doctor provided death. The Supreme Court of Canada has abolished a portion of our Criminal Code that prohibits euthanasia and assisted suicide. They have designated physicians as the group in our society to carry out the act of putting patients to death upon request. The patient must be suffering in a manner that is intolerable to them including both psychological and physical issues. 

It must be remembered that nurses work closely with doctors following their orders and monitoring patients for any positive or adverse effects to treatment. Therefore nurses will automatically be assistants and collaborators in any type of inflicted death.  In addition social workers, chaplains and other members of the inter-professional team will be affected.

Inflicting death on another human being is considered the ultimate act of violence so I ask: “How dare we ask our doctors and nurses to kill us?” But this is exactly what is proposed. 

In my opinion, those who opt to carry out euthanasia and assisted suicide will no longer be trusted. As well I believe that acute and long term care institutions that enable patients to be put to death will not be trusted. Persons afraid of being euthanized will avoid admission on the basis of fearing an untimely death. 

Other valid questions are: “How will those who inflict death deal with the emotional/ psychological aftermath? Will they develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with its’ inherent anxiety, nightmares, depression and suicidal ideation? Will they have some type of devastating spiritual/existential struggle following the process of putting patients to death?”

There are many health care professionals who have an ethical framework that will not support participation and this must be honoured. To have any leaders or directors in our professional associations dictate to those in the trenches of front-line care on the necessity to provide euthanasia or refer to another source is unconscionable and intolerable. The last time I looked, we still live in a democratic society with freedom of belief and religion sanctioned and guarded by our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Do patients have a “right” to die?  

I suggest there is no choice, we all die. However we can demand from our provincial and federal politicians support for hospice palliative care that will ensure excellence in the management of pain and other noxious symptoms that cause suffering. We can call for and support quality end-of-life care for every Canadian. We can support those at highest risk in this new social disorder: the elderly; persons with physical and/or emotional disabilities; patients with chronic and life-altering or life-threatening diseases.

We can teach medical and nursing students how to support and care for those who are labeled terminally ill; continue to educate current care providers on the best practice guidelines to meet the gold standard in palliative care; support and come along side those amazing professionals and volunteers who are currently involved in providing pain and symptom management; support the development of hospice palliative care in all facilities and in our communities.

The Hospice of Windsor & Essex County is regarded as an exemplary model across our nation. The successful development of our Hospice here speaks to the outstanding citizens who have given so much to help so many. Windsor’s reputation as a caring community is now a part of our national heritage. I am proud to be part of this heritage. 

Jean Echlin RN, BScN, MScN
President: Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Nurse Consultant-Palliative Care & Gerontology
Adjunct Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing University of Windsor (ON)

Previous articles by Jean Echlin:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Systemic injustice of assisted suicide

This article was published in the Valley Reporter on April 16, 2015.

Meghan Schrader
By Meghan Schrader

I love Vermont. My family has owned a home here since the 1980s and I guess you could say that I've adopted the state as my own. I am also a disabled woman and much of my own identification with that community was forged here as I grew up role playing, painting and dreaming alongside the streams and rivers that run through the town of Waitsfield.

Being disabled has also made me very cognizant of the right-to-die movement. Since 2007, I have engaged in an extensive exploration of what disability studies scholar Rosemarie Garland Thompson refers to as the "cultural logic of euthanasia" which I incorporated into recently published research regarding the representation of disability and assisted suicide in film music. However, the issue of assisted death is personal for me, which is why I am dismayed that Act 39 was ever implemented in the first place.

For instance, in the course of doing research for my aforementioned book chapter, I had occasion to review the writings of many utilitarian bioethicists whose arguments concerning disability and death with dignity are framed in regard to familial burden, which tends to be situated as a legitimate reason for choosing or being obliged to die. Such statements are similar to hate speech I experienced growing up and I was shocked when I first saw it in bioethics literature.

I am an autistic person who struggles with executive functioning. I still live with my parents, who serve me in completing many daily tasks. This often makes me feel guilty. Moreover, the philosophical reflection that my studies engendered means that such ideas are in my mind. During a particularly horrible bout of depression, I thought, "Maybe the assisted suicide advocates are right; maybe God is allowing this to happen because it is OK; I am a burden to my family and so maybe it would be OK if I killed myself." I wound up hurting myself impulsively and going to the emergency room. I know that the people behind Act 39 do not intend for such things to happen, but that does not change my experience.