Friday, February 27, 2015

“New Scientist” Reporter Goes Over Oregon Assisted Suicide Data with NDY’s Diane Coleman

This article was published by Not Dead Yet on February 26, 2015.

Diane Coleman

By Stephen Drake, researcher for Not Dead Yet.

A newly-published article in New Scientist includes a section in which reporter Clare Wilson reports on actual Oregon data on assisted suicide after a go-through with NDY CEO and founder Diane Coleman. It’s rare – almost unheard of – for a reporter to go into this kind of detail on assisted suicide in Oregon. The same is true of bioethicists weighing in on the topic. Here’s the section of the article dealing with data in "2015 a watershed year for assisted suicide in the US":
Diane Coleman, head of advocacy group Not Dead Yet, which opposes assisted suicide, says the Oregon Health Authority’s annual reports on the practice show the law there isn’t working as intended. She points to the motives people gave for choosing this option. According to the latest figures, released on 12 February, only a third of people who took a prescribed lethal dose of medication in 2014 cited pain or fear of pain as one of the reasons for doing so. 
Supporters of assisted suicide often cite pain as a primary reason why people should have the legal right to die. But the state’s report showed that people’s concerns tended toward loss of autonomy (91 per cent), loss of dignity (71 per cent) or being a burden on their family (40 per cent). Coleman is particularly concerned that people are choosing assisted suicide because they feel they are a burden. “To me that feels more like a duty to die than a choice to die,” she says. 
What’s more, according to the data available for Oregon, some people waited longer than six months between asking for the overdose and taking it. It isn’t stated how many times this happened, but at least some people lived a few years after obtaining the drugs. Coleman is concerned that this means people are being accepted for assisted suicide who don’t meet the criteria of having less than six months to live. “Those people were not actually terminally ill,” she says.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

One third of Dutch doctors would euthanize people with mental illness.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A study concerning the euthanasia practise in the Netherlands that was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics on February 18 found that 34% of Dutch doctors will consider euthanizing a person who is either mentally ill, living with dementia or "tired of living." This recent study proves that euthanasia is expanding and is contagious.

The researchers sent a questionnaire to 2269 eligible doctors with 1456 completing the questionnaire, a 64% response rate.

The results of the questionnaire indicated that 34% of Dutch doctors would consider euthanasia for a person with mental illness, dementia or who claims to be "tired of living."

When examining the data further, the study of doctors in the Netherlands indicates that: 

  • 40% would lethally inject someone who is living with early stages of dementia, 
  • 33% would approve of euthanasia for someone in the late stages of dementia, 
  • 27% would euthanize a person who is "tired of living" if they had other conditions,
  • 18% would lethally inject a person who claims to be simply "tired of living."
The data confirms the trend found in the Dutch annual euthanasia reports. The 2013 annual report showed a 15% increase in the number of assisted deaths to 4829 reported deaths. A disturbing statistic in the report is that 42 people with “psychiatric problems” up from 14 in 2012 and 97 people with dementia up from 42 in 2012 died by euthanasia in 2013. It is predicted that about 6000 people died by euthanasia in the Netherlands in 2014 which is up from 2636 reported euthanasia deaths 5 years earlier in 2009.

As concerning as the Dutch euthanasia statistics are, it is important to note that a Lancet study concerning the Dutch euthanasia practice in 2010 found that 23% of the assisted deaths were not reported and 310 assisted deaths were done without request.

Lawmakers shouldn't legalize assisted suicide

The following letter was written by Louis C. Breschi and published in the Baltimore Sun on February 23, 2015. This letter is worth considering in any jurisdiction.

As a practicing physician, I was disappointed to read about the proposed physician-assisted suicide legislation in Maryland ("Dying former official a focus of Maryland assisted suicide bill," Feb. 14).

The article ignores the serious flaws in the legislation, while not giving credit to the broad range of groups and individuals who are actively opposing the bill.

There are numerous reasons to oppose this legislation, and they aren't just issues raised by religious or disability groups.

To begin, the bill does not require a patient to receive a psychiatric evaluation before receiving the lethal medication. Further, the legislation only applies to those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and six months or less to live.

To illustrate the inaccuracy of a six-month terminal estimate, a family friend this week was "discharged" from home hospice care because he was eating well, gaining well and felt better. Physicians' prognoses for longevity are just that — general estimates that may or may not apply to individual cases.

Finally, no doctor or nurse is present when the lethal dose is taken. Patients must take up to 100 pills in order for the medication to be lethal — drugs they will pick up at the local pharmacy.

In some cases patients will ingest a lethal dose of a drug but fail to absorb most of the medication, causing acute intestinal distress and bodily discomfort. This is hardly death with dignity.

Unlike many bills considered by the General Assembly, this one literally is a matter of life and death. I can't imagine how legislators could pass something that could cause preventable deaths, especially when this is the first time such a bill has been considered.

Louis C. Breschi, Towson

Canadians need a right to good palliative care.

This article was published in the Winnipeg Free Press on February 24, 2015.

Dr Harvey Max Chochinov holds the Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care.

A few days after the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the prohibition against doctor-assisted suicide, I received a note from a wonderful colleague of mine saying that her closest friend’s 53-year-old son had just died of spinal cancer. Two weeks before his death, he had visited his doctor, experiencing “terrible pain.” Despite his anguish, his physician refused to give him morphine, claiming that because he was a smoker he was “more likely to become addicted.”

While this seems unfathomable, even grotesque, ignorance and lack of skill in attending to the needs of dying patients are still tragically common in Canada.

Despite the impressive strides that palliative care has taken in areas such as pain and symptom management, and sensitivities to the psychosocial, existential and spiritual challenges facing dying patients and their families, at their time of licensure, physicians have been taught less about pain management than those graduating from veterinary medicine. Most MDs have knowledge deficiencies that can significantly impair their ability to manage cancer pain.

Doctors are also not generally well trained to engage in end-of-life conversations, meaning that goals of care often remain unclear. Patients may not receive the care they want, nor the opportunity to live out their final days in the place they would want to die.

In light of the court decision, these issues have never been more important, nor the need to resolve them more pressing. The court has given Parliament a year to sort out how it will move forward and rewrite the Criminal Code. Within these deliberations, it should be noted that the authority to provide a hastened death will be conferred on physicians, many of whom lack competencies to care for dying patients.

To be clear, dying badly in Canada will rarely be the fallout of not having access to a lethal overdose or injection and, almost invariably, the result of inadequate or substandard end-of-life care. The time for physicians to learn how to look after their patients until the very end, is now.

Canada: Assisted Suicide Letter Writing Campaign.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) needs you to write letters to the national and local media or to your Member of Parliament.

On February 6, the Supreme Court of Canada made an irresponsible and dangerous decision by legalizing assisted suicide.

The majority of the letters published by newspapers have supported euthanasia. This means that you need to write letters.

2. Choose one topic to write about. Links to information on topics related to euthanasia and assisted suicide is accessed by clicking on the topic. Topics: 
A. Supreme Court of Canada decision, B. Euthanasia/Personal story, C. Elder Abuse, D. Euthanasia and Assisted suicide are not safe, E. Euthanasia/Medical Error, F. Euthanasia/Disability rights, G. Euthanasia/Palliative care, H. Euthanasia/Belgium, I. Euthanasia/Netherlands, J. Assisted Suicide/Oregon,

3. Link to the contact information for Members of Parliament in Canada.

4. This list contains the email address for most major newspapers in Canada. You should also write letters to your local newspaper.

The Globe and Mail:
The Gazette:
Le Journal de Montréal:
La Presse:
Le Soleil:
Le Journal de Québec:
Le Devoir:

Journal Metro:
Halifax Chronicle Herald:
Ottawa Citizen:
Toronto Star:
Toronto Sun:
Hamilton Spectator:
London Free Press:
Winnipeg Free Press:
Calgary Herald:
Edmonton Journal:
Vancouver Sun:
Vancouver Province:
Victoria Times Colonist:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Suicide prevention for everyone.

This article was published on February 23, on the HOPE Australia website.

Paul Russell
By Paul Russell, Director, HOPE: preventing euthanasia & assisted suicide.

There’s a subtle hypocrisy in our society in regards to suicide that also plays out in cases of wrongful death and euthanasia & assisted suicide arguments.

If a young person tragically dies by suicide we are rightly upset. We feel immense compassion for the young person and for their grieving families. It is entirely natural to observe that part of the tragedy is that he or she had ‘their whole lives ahead of them’. And so, in our western society where youth suicide is tragically far too common, we invest significant time, effort and finances in suicide prevention – and rightly so.

But when our media reports a suicide of an older person, they and we often see it differently. Often, but not always, the story talks about someone who has had a wonderful life and simply wants to be gone. Reasons vary from the fear of deterioration or a difficult prognosis to simply not wanting to grow old. Wrapped up like a sugar-coated yet bitter pill, we’re encouraged to consider that such a suicide is understandable, perhaps even okay. It is not. We are encouraged to celebrate his or her ‘courage to choose’ without thought for the reality that to make such a suggestion at the suicide death of a young person would be deemed rightly as cruel and invariably wrong.

I cannot help but think that the easy acceptance of suicide amongst the elderly is somehow subtly tied up in our own fears about what we will face ourselves. The lack of suicide prevention campaigns aimed at our elders tends to support this thinking and the idea of euthanasia and assisted suicide as being for the aged and infirmed further compromises suicide prevention initiatives.

While it is again entirely natural to feel compassion for the older person’s circumstances we cannot apply the ‘whole life ahead of them’ commentary because it is less of a reality. That said person may yet have had many years to live is less clear than for our putative young person. Does the fact that we cannot find easily a point of reflection upon what is nevertheless a tragedy mean that we should not be just as concerned as we are at a younger person’s suicide? Should it mean that we fail to ask the hard and sometimes unanswerable questions?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) Radio Campaign

The EPC radio ad will begin airing on AM 1010 Toronto on February 23.

Donate to the costs of the EPC Radio Campaign.

Link to the 30 second radio Campaign.
If euthanasia comes to Canada will safeguards protect patients from being euthanized without their consent? 
In Holland and Belgium where euthanasia is legal, patients have been euthanized without their consent or explicit request in spite of supposed safeguards. 
Choice is an illusion, someone else may decide when you die. 
Euthanasia is not health care. Euthanasia is killing. 
You need to know the truth about euthanasia.
Your life may depend on it. 
Contact the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition at: 
EPC is trying to raise $10,000 to play this ad in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and more.

EPC will give you permission to purchase air time on your local radio station for this ad. Contact us at: 1-877-439-3349 or

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Maggie Karner has the same condition as Brittany Maynard, except, Karner opposes assisted suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Maggie Karner is a mother of 3 who lives in Connecticut with the same condition that Brittany Maynard had, but Karner opposes assisted suicide.

In a recent interview with WFSB TV in Connecticut, Karner said that:
"The talking point that pro-assisted suicide people use is right to die. My fear is that it will quickly become the duty to die,"
This is not the first time that Karner has spoken out against assisted suicide. The Youtube video below is a message from Karner that explains how assisted suicide threatens her life.

Karner also produced a Youtube video (below) urging Brittany Maynard not to die by assisted suicide and join her in fighting the glioblastoma brain tumor.

Maggie Karner speaks from her heart when she says that the weakest among us - those who are vulnerable - and everyone need and deserve protections against assisted suicide.

Thank you Maggie for caring. Thank you Maggie for speaking out.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Canadian Supreme Court condemns disabled people to death

Kevin Fitzpatrick
By Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick (OBE)

The Supreme Court of Canada judgment confirms what people with disabilities have always known – assisted suicide and euthanasia (AS/E) are fundamentally rooted in the most heinous discrimination against disabled people – discrimination to death.

The assisted suicide lobby in the UK, as in Canada today, has scorned this idea, without rationale. There are terrible purposes at work. The press to legalise assisted death only thinly veils the view that the lives of people with disabilities are not worth living.

Etienne Vermeersch
The evidence is overwhelming and was, long before a Belgian government adviser angrily stated at a public debate in November 2013, that a man with no arms and no legs should want to die - and flaunted his ‘life’s mission’, to facilitate such wishes. We knew the root of his hatred is seeing disabled lives as worthless, to be disposed of at the point of a needle. When his doctor colleague openly linked Belgian euthanasia law with world over-population, Hannah Arendt’s words came back to haunt us: they do not want to share the Earth with us.

Arendt was speaking about Eichmann’s trial, as she reflected a truth: it was small steps taken in the late 19th century that were fostered, bolstered and implemented by doctors, leading to the program of euthanasia which ended in Auschwitz. Those steps included the application of the new branch of mathematics called statistics in connection with eugenics, the ends were catastrophic. Someone might have argued, once, that no-one could have foreseen such consequences. We have no such excuse today.

Canadian Bar Association (CBA) resolution should not wade into Rasouli territory

Hugh Scher
This article was published by Advocate Daily on February 20.

By Hugh Scher

A resolution on end-of-life decision-making to be considered by the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) is poised to help lawyers, but a Supreme Court ruling addressing doctors’ roles in these choices should be kept in mind during the debate, says Toronto human rights and constitutional lawyer Hugh Scher.

The CBA is set to consider the resolution, titled Clarifying Law About End of Life Decision-Making, at its mid-winter meeting Feb. 21 and 22 in Ottawa.

As counsel to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, which has intervened in several high-profile end-of-life cases, including Cuthbertson v. Rasouli, 2013 SCC 53, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 341 and Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5, Scher is no stranger to the controversial conversation around end-of-life decision-making or assisted suicide.
“We think this is an appropriate, helpful and positive contribution, but care must be taken to ensure it doesn’t extend into other unclear domains such as euthanasia and assisted suicide or unilateral authority of doctors, which has already been dealt with by the highest court,” says Scher.
In Rasouli, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal that would have permitted doctors to end life support for a disabled man without the consent of his family or a substitute decision maker.