Friday, March 27, 2015

John Kelly and Alex Schadenberg on Radio Sputnik's “Brave New World”

This article was published on the Not Dead Yet website on March 27 2015.

John Kelly
At the end of February, John Kelly, the New England Regional Director of Not Yet Dead and Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, were guests on “Brave New World,” a show on Radio Sputnik. Also on the show was Gert Huysmans, the President of the Federation of Palliative care of Flanders (Belgium). John Harrison is the host of the show.

According to John Kelly, this show was better venue than he is used to – venues in which news hosts are often openly 

hostile to any opponent of legalized assisted suicide and euthanasia. John said (and the show recording and transcript confirm this) “he (Harrison) gave each of the participants a chance to describe the situation in our own country, thereby giving us a chance to make our points without being asked the “what do you say to Brittany Maynard” type of gotcha question. When he asked me the devils advocate question it was about a person with a disability, not someone “about to die in pain” or some such nonsense.”

Here are a couple of excerpts:

Gert Huysmans: What you mentioned in Flanders and in Belgium, euthanasia is not a right. You have the right to request for euthanasia, and that’s a world of difference. So it’s not that you have the right to choose your moment of dying with euthanasia. You have to follow certain conditions that are mentioned in the law. You have to have unbearable suffering caused by a disease or an accident, and the physician you request your euthanasia [from] should have the internal persuasion that euthanasia is the only proper solution for your problems and in some cases and in some circumstances euthanasia is acceptable, but it is not a right as such.
And, as news of the law’s actual application has shown, practice is only as narrow as the broadest comfort zone of any given individual physician.

John talks about the long-term resistance to “right to die” laws from the disability community:

JK: We in the United States, the disability rights movement have fought [for] a generation against the arrogance being displayed by the doctor, where the doctors can presume to judge the quality of life, and when it is correct to end it. We have a history of being judged to not have high quality of lives, and whenever suffering is the subjective criterion for deciding who gets to die, people with disabilities will always be the ones who are targeted.
This show is an excellent one. I encourage readers to listen to the show or to read the transcript.

Safeguards do little to control euthanasia in Belgium.

This article was published on March 27 by OneNewsNow.

Alex Schadenberg
Promised safeguards and controls for euthanasia and doctor assisted-suicide in Belgium apparently aren't working, according to the latest study.

In 2007, a study was conducted in Belgium, and figures released in the most recent examination of the practice from 2013 still show it is problematic. Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition tells OneNewsNow experts researched over 3,700 deaths.

“And in that data they learned that 4.6 percent of all the deaths were euthanasia, which is significant and huge,” he explains. “On top of that, they found that 1.7 percent of all deaths were what they call 'hastened deaths without request.'”
In other words, doctors or nurses decided to kill an ailing person who had not requested euthanasia.

According to Schadenberg, the absence of estimates on unreported cases is glaringly apparent. He says the practice is so out of control that even people suffering depression are assisted to die.

“So the fact is that there is a serious problem, and the Belgium government needs to stop it,” he tells OneNewsNow. “The problem with euthanasia right off the bat is once you allow someone else to cause your death, once you allow in law that someone else can kill you, the one question remaining is for what reason? And when they are promoting this to people they always say, Oh, but we will have safeguards.”
But Schadenberg says the regulations are neither safe nor do they guard against abuse. He says that's also true in states in America where assisted suicide has been legalized.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Doctor Death Nightmare

Published on March 24.

By Deborah Rankin

Margaret Somerville
A law professor at McGill University says that a recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada overturning the ban on assisted-suicide and euthanasia is a "nightmare" and "full of errors". Margaret Somerville, the Founding Director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill made these remarks recently to a rapt audience at a public forum organized by the Newman Centre for Catholic students and faculty.

She said that the SCC decision goes farther than simply striking down the ban against aiding someone to commit suicide, permitting euthanasia by physicians in certain circumstances, while cautioning that the ruling is unclear in this regard.

In physician assisted-suicide the doctor prescribes drugs that the patient takes, whereas in euthanasia the doctor administers a lethal injection - in either scenario, ostensibly at the patient's request. However, in jurisdictions where assisted-suicide has been legalized, there are multiple examples of abuse with people being euthanized without their consent.

This is especially true in the case of children and incompetent adults who can't give informed-consent: for example, the Groningen Protocol of the Netherlands permits so-called "voluntary euthanasia" of babies at the parents' request. Pro-euthanasia advocates refer to this gruesome practice as "post-birth abortion" while opponents say that it is really a form of "closet eugenics" - if the child is born with congenital defects the parents can request euthanasia on the pretext of preventing the child from suffering.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Atlantic - Pushing Killing for Organs

This article was published on Wesley Smith's blog on March 24, 2015.
Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

I have repeatedly warned about articles published in medical and bioethics journals advocating killing the profoundly disabled or dying for their organs. 

The assault on the “dead donor rule” has now filtered down to the popular media. The Atlantic has an article advocating that dying patients be killed for their organs rather than having to actually, you know, die first. From, “As They Lay Dying:” 
A more useful ethical standard could involve the idea of “imminent death.” Once a person with a terminal disease reaches a point when only extraordinary measures will delay death; when use (or continued use) of these measures is incompatible with what he considers a reasonable quality of life; and when he therefore decides to stop aggressive care, knowing that this will, in relatively short order, mean the end of his life, we might say that death is “imminent.”  
If medical guidelines could be revised to let people facing imminent death donate vital organs under general anesthesia, we could provide patients and families a middle ground—a way of avoiding futile medical care, while also honoring life by preventing the deaths of other critically ill people.  
Moreover, healthy people could incorporate this imminent-death standard into advance directives for their end-of-life care. They could determine the conditions under which they would want care withdrawn, and whether they were willing to have it withdrawn in an operating room, under anesthesia, with subsequent removal of their organs. 

There’s a name for that: Homicide. Doctors should never be killers, even for a “beneficial” purpose.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Almost half of the Belgian euthanasia deaths may not have been reported in 2013.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published  a new study concerning the Belgium euthanasia experience titled: Recent Trends in Euthanasia and Other End-of-Life Practices in Belgium.

Similar to previous studies, researchers sent a four page questionnaire to 6188 physicians who had certified death certificates in the first half of 2013 in Flanders Belgium. The study received a 60.6% response rate with 3751 returned questionnaires. The data represents about 6% of all deaths.

The data indicates that:

1. 4.6% of all deaths were euthanasia.
2. .05% of all deaths were assisted suicide.
3. 76.8% of the requests for euthanasia or assisted suicide were granted.
4. 1.7% of all deaths were hastened without explicit request.
The data did not include information concerning the number of unreported euthanasia deaths.

With help from a researcher in Belgium I learned that in 2013 there were 61,621 deaths in Flanders Belgium. Since the data from the 3751 questionaires indicated that 4.6% of all deaths were euthanasia, therefore there may have been as many as 2834 assisted deaths in Flanders in 2013.

Since the official Belgian euthanasia report stated that there were 1807 reported euthanasia deaths in Belgium, of which, 1454 were from the Flanders region, therefore about 1380 assisted deaths may not have been reported in Flanders Belgium in 2013. 

This means that almost half of all euthanasia deaths may not have been reported in Flanders in 2013.

The study also found that 1.7% of all deaths were hastened without explicit request. Since there were 61,621 deaths in Flanders, therefore about 1047 deaths may have been hastened without explicit request in Flanders Belgium in 2013.

The recent Supreme Court of Canada assisted death decision suggested that abuse of euthanasia laws in other jurisdictions was only anecdotal. Canada needs a Royal Commission to set the record straight. 

Euthanasia is out-of-control in Belgium.

To learn more about the abuse and extension of euthanasia in the Netherlands and Belgium purchase my book: Exposing Vulnerable People to Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.

Chilean girl who asked for euthanasia, changes her mind.

Alex Schadenberg
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Valentina Maureira
A 14-year-old Chilean girl, who asked the Chilean President, to allow her to die by euthanasia, has now changed her mind and wants to live.

Valentina Maureira, who lives with Cystic Fibrosis, created a youtube video last month asking the Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, to allow her to die by euthanasia. Valentina got the idea from the Brittany Maynard assisted suicide campaign.

On February 28 President Bachelet met with Valentina. Presidential spokesman Alvaro Elizalde stated that 'it's impossible not to be overcome by emotion with the girl's request, it's impossible to grant her wish,' because it's not allowed under Chilean law.

Valentina has changed her mind after meeting with a family from Argentina who also have children with Cystic Fibrosis.

Maribel Oviedo
Valentina's father said that his daughter was moved by a visit from a Argentina family, whose children also have Cystic Fibrosis.

He said Valentina was given hope by meeting someone who had survived beyond age 20 with the disease.

Maribel Oviedo and her father Ernesto traveled to Santiago to 'convey a message of hope.'

Maribel, 22, watched her sister Marisol die of cystic fibrosis in 2013. Mirabel received a lung transplant in 2012 and told Valentina that she now lives a normal life.

Mirabel offered to go to a doctor's appointment with her because she wanted to encourage her to live.

Valentina's story is emotionally charged. If Valentina had died by euthanasia, her options, potential treatment and opportunity to change her mind would have ended.

Now Valentina has hope.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Euthanasia doctor justifies death for depressed people.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Godelieva De Troyer died by euthanasia in 2012.
An interview with Wim Distelmans, the chairman for the federal euthanasia commission in Belgium, was published in HLN.BE   (google translated) on March 15. where Distelmans explains that there were 50 - 60 psychiatric patients who died by euthanasia in 2013 - 2014. Distelmans states:

"It is a small group, 50 to 60 patients. But it is not a negligible number:. 2 to 3 percent of the 1,924 people who were euthanized last year."
Distelmans then states:
"usually they are not old, but they suffer long. They do not belong in this world, they think.."
Distelmans promotes euthanasia for depressed people. He states (google translated):
"Manic-depressive patients are in their manic moments capable of the most improbable things, They spend their bank loot, for weeks at a five-star lodge, buy several cars one day. At that stage they are not competent. But in moments of depression they by their exhaustion come back to the baseline and are indeed competent. Then they can for instance say, "I live for thirty years crazy highs and lows, I've tried everything to break that infernal cycle Now that I'm back on the baseline, and I know that I have a couple of weeks left, back I for a dip in the depth or a jump in height. " These are people who are eligible for euthanasia."
Once euthanasia has become an acceptable solution to human suffering the only question that remains is what conditions will death become the solution for life.

Lethal injections for people with psychiatric conditions is based on a false compassion. Distelmans appears to be reacting to his fear of living with chronic depression.

New Euthanasia Bill in Tasmania

This article was published on the HOPE Australia website on March 20.

Paul Russell and
Alex Schadenberg
in Tasmania.
By Paul Russell, the director of HOPE Australia.

The Tasmanian MPs who tabled and pushed the last Euthanasia bill defeated in 2013, have said that they will try again later this year.

The then Premier, Lara Giddings MP and her then deputy, Nick McKim MP, now on the opposition benches made the announcement in The Examiner Newspaper on the 14th of March.

But bringing the issue to a vote in this new bill will not be as easy as it was when the then Premier and her Deputy were in control of the parliamentary debate from the treasury benches.

Moreover, whereas the vote in 2013 was resolved by 13 votes to 11, a cursory look at the chamber post the 2014 election suggests that the numbers are at least at that level if not more strongly against.

When Giddings and McKim had the privilege of office behind them, a faux discussion paper arising out of the Premier's Office and full control of the timing of the debate, they still could not find a majority on the chamber.

It is always possible that votes change and we must ever be vigilant, but I cannot help but observe that this seems more like grandstanding than it does about anything else.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Organ donation, euthanasia and assisted suicide.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Several days ago I received a phone call from Sharon Kirkey who was writing an article concerning the practice of organ donation after assisted death, an article that was published in the National Post. Kirkey asked me my thoughts on whether organ donation would occur after assisted death? It is interesting that she didn't include any of my quotes in the article. I said:
Sharon, you are asking the wrong question. Any person who signs their organ donor card and who dies by assisted death would be eligible for organ donation.
I then said to her:
The real question is whether or not, in the future, organ donation and assisted death will be coupled.
There was some silence on the other end of the phone. I continued.
If a person has signed their organ donor card and if they have been approved for assisted death, why wouldn't the organs be donated? Once assisted death becomes more common, why wouldn't they remove the organs before lethal injection? Death by lethal injection and death by removal of vital organs is the same thing, simply done in a different way.
Sharon questioned me further and I said:
My concern is that in the future euthanasia will be sold to the public as "good for society."
By coupling organ donation with assisted death, new social pressure will be created for people with healthy organs who are living with disabilities, depression or chronic conditions. They will be subtly encouraged to "voluntarily" die by "assisted death" for the "common good."
Whether I like it or not, if "assisted death" becomes legal, organ donation will soon be subtly promoted as a "good outcome" of assisted death and later become overtly promoted especially for people who are living with disabilities, depression, or chronic illnesses. The healthiest organs make for the best transplants.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

More than 1000 deaths were hastened without explicit request in 2013 in Belgium.

Alex Schdenberg
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

Contrary to the recent Supreme Court decision striking down Canada's laws that protect people from assisted death, in Belgium, where euthanasia has been legal since 2002, a significant number people are being killed without request. In fact a recent study showed that 1.7% of all deaths in 2013 in Belgium were intentionally acts to cause death without request. A similar study in 2007 indicated that 1.8% of all deaths were hastened without explicit request, no change.

Yesterday I wrote an article about the new study that was published in the NEJM on March 17, 2015  on the experience with euthanasia in the Flanders region of Belgium. The Belgian study was done by sending questionnaires to the physician who certified a death certificate in 6188 deaths in the first half of 2013. The data indicated that euthanasia represented 4.6% of all deaths and assisted suicide represented .05% of all deaths.

The Supreme Court of Canada assisted dying decision last month stated that abuse of euthanasia laws are anecdotal, but the previous Belgian study in 2007 stated that 1.8% of all deaths were hastened without explicit consent and the new Belgian study stated that 1.7% of all deaths were hastened without explicit consent in 2013.

The Associated Press article interviewed Belgian ethicist Freddy Mortier. The article stated:
Mortier was not happy, however, that the 'hastening of death without explicit request from patients,' which can happen when a patient slumbers into unconsciousness or has lost the capacity for rational judgment, stood at 1.7 percent of cases in 2013. In the Netherlands, that figure was 0.2 percent.
Since there are 61,621 deaths in 2013 in Flanders and according to the study 1.7% of the deaths were hastened without explicit request, therefore, it is possible that more than 1000 deaths were hastened without explicit request in 2013 in Flanders.

People need to recognize that euthanasia or assisted suicide laws will be abused.

Will assisted death be your choice?