Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Oregon 2016 assisted suicide report. Under-reporting of assisted suicide deaths?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The 2016 Oregon annual assisted suicide report is similar to prior years. The report implies that the deaths were voluntary (self-administered), but the information in the report does not address that subject.

According to the 2016 Oregon assisted suicide report.

  • There were 133 reported assisted suicide deaths.
  • There were 204 lethal prescriptions obtained.
  • There were 8 deaths from "other illnesses" which included illnesses such as diabetes, hepatitis and alcoholic liver disease.
Oregon's assisted suicide law lacks effective oversight. 

The Oregon law enables two doctors to approve death by assisted suicide. There is no further oversight once the prescribing physician writes the lethal prescription. The prescribing physician was present at the assisted death in only 13 of 133 reported deaths in 2015, creating the opportunity for an heir, or someone else who will benefit from the patient's death, to administer the lethal dose. "Even if he struggled, who would know?"

After the person dies by assisted suicide, the physician who prescribed the lethal dose is required to submit a report. The information in the annual reports are based on the data self-reported by the doctors who prescribe the lethal dose. The physician is rarely at the death, and the physician is required to self-report. This means the system enables abuses of the law to be covered-up. Doctors will not self-report abuse of the law. 

There may be more assisted suicide deaths.

According to the 2016 Oregon report, the ingestion status was unknown in 10 of the deaths, up from 5 in 2015. 

The report states that numbers are excluded when the ingestion status is unknown since they do not know whether or not the person died by assisted suicide. It is possible that some or all of the 10 unknown deaths were assisted suicide deaths. These deaths could represent unreported assisted suicide deaths.
Legalizing assisted suicide gives physicians the power over life and death. It is the physician who decides, it is the physician who prescribes the lethal dose, and it is the physician who is required to self-report the act to the Oregon Health Authority.

We believe in Caring for people, not killing.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Dutch nursing home death – more excuses, more killing

This article was originally published on January 29, 2017 on the HOPE Australia website.

Paul Russell
By Paul Russell, the director of HOPE Australia.

Once you create a situation at law where killing of another person is allowed in certain circumstances, not only will the circumstances in which such killing is endorsed or allowed change over time, but the boundaries, however originally drawn, will be entirely ineffective in providing moral, legal and ethical guidance and restraint.

In Belgium and The Netherlands in the thousands of euthanasia deaths since their laws came into being in 2002 few cases have ever been referred by the review systems to justice for further scrutiny. In Belgium that number is one; one case only. …

According to a multiplicity of reports, an un-named woman–an octogenarian living in a nursing home and experiencing dementia– was euthanized against her will. She had made a comment in her advanced directive that she would like euthanasia “when I myself find it the right time.”

The woman had been a resident in the nursing home for only seven weeks. During that time she was noted as being ‘frightened and angry’ wandering the halls of the facility at night and missing her family. This, the nursing home doctor concluded, meant that she was suffering unbearably. She assessed that the woman was no longer mentally competent and accepted that the written declaration she had made earlier in her advanced directive was an acceptable request for euthanasia.

The Dutch Law allows for a request for euthanasia in an advanced directive to be acted upon after the satisfaction of all the other qualifying criteria. The law considers such a written statement as a ‘well considered request for euthanasia’. How it can be known for certain that, at the time the request was written down, that the person understood fully the nature of their request is never explained.

Compounding the problem, the woman’s expression of intent in her directive was not clear and should not have been accepted as an advance request according to the Dutch Euthanasia Commission. She had written, concerning euthanasia, that she wanted it, “when I myself find it the right time.” At the very least, this expression suggests that the woman wanted to approach the matter when she thought it was appropriate, implying that her own capacity to make a contemporary decision was important to her. Paradoxically, the doctor’s determination that capacity had been lost should have rendered her statement null.

Various media reports point out that the woman was provided with a sedative in her coffee ‘to calm the woman down’. She was unaware that the sedative had been provided. The Trouw newspaper’s editorial discussed the issue of the provision of a pre-euthanasia sedative without the person’s knowledge, pointing to a recent case where a similar sedative was provided without consent in a bowl of apple sauce. They note that the Dutch Euthanasia Review Commission rightly considers such behavior as ‘deceptive’.

The Trouw editor concluded that the problem was really that the coffee-carried dose was too low. Why? Because the woman resisted when later the doctor moved to apply the lethal dose via syringe. The NLTimes described it this way:
‘But when the infusion was inserted she “pulled back”, and while the doctor injected the euthanasia agent, she moved as if to get up. The doctor decided to continue while family members held the patient down. The woman died shortly afterwards.’
According to the UK Mirror, this story came to light via a report prepared by a Dutch Coroner for review by the Dutch Euthanasia Regional Review Committee. The Mirror says that the woman had said clearly several times “I don’t want to die” in the days before her death.

The Euthanasia Review Committee is charged with reviewing the file and making a recommendation that would need to be endorsed by a second review committee.

The Mirror concludes:
“The committee concluded though the doctor had acted in good faith, she should have stopped when the patient resisted. 
“Committee spokesman Jacob Kohnstamm added he was in favour of the case going to court: “Not to punish the doctor, but to get judicial clarity over what powers a doctor has when it comes to the euthanasia of patients suffering from severe dementia.” 
“The committee’s recommendations are now reportedly being considered by prosecutors and health officials.” …
Euthanasia or assisted suicide laws create an exception to the laws prohibiting homicide if certain criteria are observed. They were not observed in these cases, therefore the exception should not be applied. In Holland it would seem that ‘good faith’ is enough to be let off with a little less than a slap on the wrist. But deciding what is and is not an act in ‘good faith’ is a tricky business. A wrongful death – even in ‘good faith’ is still a homicide and not simply a misdemeanor.

It may be that this situation is being used deliberately to further the current debate on euthanasia and dementia and euthanasia and ‘tired of life’. It may be that the doctor was lax in her application to the paperwork; a simple mistake. But it just may be about a death outside of the confines set by the parliament – deliberately or otherwise – a homicide.

Whatever the outcome, what is abundantly clear is that once we create legal excuses for killing there will be more excuses and more killing.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Oregon Senate Bill 494 will starve and dehydrate incompetent people to death.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In Oregon, the Senate is debating a deceptive bill (SB 494) that appears to simply replace the current advanced directives legislation, but in fact it promotes the withholding or withdrawal of nutrition and hydration (food and water) from people who are incompetent and not dying.

In 2006, I attended the World Federation of Right to Die Societies Conference. One of the topics discussed at the conference was death by voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED). I remember the leader of the Dying in Dignity group (UK) stating that they do not promote VSED because, in their experience, it can be a terrible way to die.

Even though Oregon legalized assisted suicide 20 years ago, euthanasia is a prohibited. Euthanasia is an act whereby one person directly and intentionally causes the death of another person, whereas assisted suicide is an act whereby one person directly and intentionally assists another person in causing their own death. SB 494 opens the door to euthanasia of incompetent people in Oregon.

SB 494 is deceptive and dangerous piece legislation because it is sold as a bill to update current legislation but in fact it changes current legislation to ensure that incompetent people, who may or may not be otherwise dying, can be intentionally killed by dehydration.

Advanced directives are only relevant when a person is incompetent to make decision for themselves. Therefore SB 494, by definition, does not ensure that competent people can die by dehydration, but rather that incompetent people can be dehydrated to death.

SB 494 states:

____ I do not want my life to be prolonged by life support. I also do not want tube feeding as life support. I want my health care provider to allow me to die naturally if my health care provider and another knowledgeable health care provider confirm that I am in any of the medical conditions listed below.
So what are the conditions that are listed below?
a. Close to Death.   
b. Permanently Unconscious. 
c. Advanced Progressive Illness.
d. Extraordinary Suffering.
If a person is nearing death, based on the actual condition of the person, withholding or withdrawing fluids may be appropriate. But this decision should be based on a factual assessment that providing food and water has ceased to benefit and may be harming the person. We do not oppose withholding or withdrawing fluids from a person, when providing it has become useless, burdensome or without benefit.

If a person is incompetent then the person cannot consent to death by dehydration. To withhold fluids, even if the person while competent expressed this desire, is in fact dehumanizing the person by denying that person the basic necessaries of life. Withholding or withdrawing fluids from a person, who is not otherwise dying, will cause the person to die by dehydration. This is often a terrible death, even when the symptoms are masked by morphine and other analgesics. It is also a form of abandonment to deny a person the basic necessaries of life.
SB 494 opens the door to euthanasia of incompetent people in Oregon because death by lethal injection is more compassionate than dehydrating a person to death.

It is simply not necessary to change the current Oregon Advanced Directives legislation in order to specifically promote death by dehydration. SB 494 must be defeated.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tell the Hawaii Legislature to Vote “No” on assisted suicide Bill SB 1129

This article was published on February 15, 2017 by Choice is an Illusion Hawaii.

By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA

SB 1129 legalizes physician-assisted suicide and allows euthanasia as long as actions are taken in “accordance” with the act.

The proposed Oregon style act applies to people with years or decades to live. The act is a recipe for elder abuse.

To view a legal analysis opposing the bill, with supporting documentation, click here. To view the analysis without the supporting documentation, click here.

Tell the Hawaii legislature to vote “No” on SB 1129. Contact info.


• Passing the proposed act will encourage people with years, even decades, to live, to throw away their lives. 
• The proposed act is sold as completely voluntary, but does not even have a provision requiring administration of the lethal dose to be voluntary. 
• Administration of the lethal dose is allowed to occur in private without a doctor or witness present. If the patient objected or struggled, who would know? 
• Elder abuse is already a not well controlled problem. Passing the proposed act will make the situation worse, to effectively allow legal murder. 
• Assisted suicide, even when apparently voluntary, can be traumatic for patients and families.

• Passage will create a risk of suicide contagion.

• The proposed Oregon-style “oversight” is a sham and will create the opportunity for a non-governmental entity to displace the proper role of government.
Tell the Hawaii legislature to vote “No” on SB 1129. Contact info.

Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA
Choice is an Illusion
206 697 1217

Not Dead Yet leader, Anita Cameron, submits testimony against Hawaii assisted suicide bill.

The testimony by Anita Cameron was posted on the Not Dead Yet website on Feb 14, 2017

Testimony in Opposition to SB 1129
Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Good day. Thank you very much for allowing me to offer my thoughts to you today.

Anita Cameron
y name is Anita Cameron. I am a 51-year-old with multiple disabilities, two of which are degenerative, and one which will take my life. I am writing in opposition to SB 1129, the Death with Dignity Act.

I will not use the euphemism that is the name of this bill, but will refer to it by exactly what it is – physician assisted suicide. It is very important to be up front, clear and honest about what this is. Couching it in pretty language and hiding the truth is disingenuous at best, and dangerous, at worst.

I am Director of Minority Outreach for Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights organization opposed to physician assisted suicide and euthanasia as deadly forms of discrimination against people with disabilities. I live in Rochester, New York, but work with people of color around the nation.

My primary reason for opposition to this bill and others like it is that disabled BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People Of Color) are at particular risk of being harmed by it.

Our health care system is inherently racist. Studies show that Blacks and people of color receive inferior medical treatment compared to Whites. We are less likely to receive adequate treatment for heart conditions, diabetes, cancer and chronic pain.

The lives of people with disabilities are largely devalued by doctors and society, in general. The lives of BIPOC with disabilities are even more devalued due to racism and stereotypes about our communities.

As a Black Indigenous Latina, I could never wrap my head around the assisted suicide phenomenon. I thought that it was some odd thing that privileged White people were into. My thoughts were confirmed when I learned that the Pew Research Center recently found that while 54% of Whites supported assisted suicide, 65% of Blacks and Latinos opposed it.

Although assisted suicide requests in Oregon are lower among Blacks and people of color, that doesn’t mean that this won’t change in more diverse areas, especially as healthcare support lessens and assisted suicide becomes more acceptable due to the efforts of groups like Compassion and Choices.

Another reason for my opposition is that doctors would be the gatekeepers of people’s lives (anyone can ask for assisted suicide, but it is the doctor that decides who gets it), and can decide for you about your quality of life.

Further, doctors often make mistakes about whether a person is terminal or not. In June, 2009, while living in Washington state, my mother was determined to be in the final stages of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and placed in hospice. Two months later, I was told that her body had begun the process of dying. My mother wanted to go home to Colorado to die, so the arrangements were made. A funny thing happened, though. Once she got there, her health began to improve! Almost eight years later, she is still alive, lives in her own home in the community and is reasonably active.

Because of the racist nature of our health care system and the tendency of doctors to devalue the lives of disabled and people of color, assisted suicide has no place as an option in Hawaii. Please vote NO on SB 1129!

Thank you for your attention.

Anita Cameron is the disability rights group - Not Dead Yet, director of minority outreach.

Monday, February 13, 2017

New Mexico assisted suicide bill moves toward Death on Demand.

This article was published by National Review on February 12, 2017
Wesley Smith

By Wesley Smith

Assisted suicide pushers are–to put it kindly–disingenuous.

For example, they often offer smooth assurances about “safeguards” to protect against abuse. Yet, new legalization schemes often dilute the traditional already-as-thick-as-water limitations in place where lethally prescribing is now legal.

For example, most laws require doctors to diagnose and prescribe lethally.

But a bill in New Mexico would open those who can help kill to nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants.

Generally a suicidal person needs to be terminally ill in US proposals (not so internationally), defined as 6 months left to live. (Some people so diagnosed never die of their condition, or live for years.)

But even that illusory protection is too strict for the New Mexico bill’s sponsors. Rather, it would institute far broader ”foreseeable” standard, first introduced by the Canadian government in its euthanasia law.

From House Bill 171:
F. “terminal illness” means a disease or condition that is incurable and irreversible and that, in accordance with reasonable medical judgment, will result in death within a reasonably foreseeable period of time.
“Reasonably foreseeable” could include illnesses like terminal breast cancer, in which longevity can be measured in years with aggressive treatment. Ditto, early Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Heck when you get down to it, being a frail 90 years old could be construed as a “condition” qualifying for a lethal prescription, since the death of someone that age experiencing morbidity is certainly foreseeable.

And, like Washington State, the bill would require prescribers to lie on death certificates:
The cause of death listed on an individual’s death certificate who is deceased pursuant to self-administration of medical-aid-in-dying medication pursuant to the End of Life Options Act shall be the individual’s underlying terminal illness.
The point of such legally mandated corruption is to destroy all transparency.

And look at this: Doctors must meet professional standards of care when treating patients. But in helping kill them? All they–and caregivers–need is the “good faith,” a completely subjective standard, which also applies to caregivers and family members.
A. A person that acts in good faith to comply with the provisions of Section 3 the End of Life Options Act shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability or professional disciplinary action for such action. 
This immunity extends to attending health care providers, a patient’s caregivers and another person that acts to assist the attending health care provider or patient.
And get this, there are no waiting periods required from request for a lethal prescription to its writing. That means a patient could be told she is foreseeably terminally ill, ask for the poison, and receive it, and kill herself on the same day. That’s almost akin to death on demand. Those pushing to permit medicalized killing pretend to want a very narrow license.

As I said above, and to put it as kindly as I can, that is… Aw to heck with tact: They are utterly mendacious. The Patients Rights Council (for which I am a paid consultant) offers a more detailed analysis of the New Mexico bill.

Canadian doctors are struggling with euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Jeff Blackmer, the former ethicist and current Vice President for medical professionalism with the Canadian Medical Association told Ryan Turnitty from Metro news that Canadian doctors are struggling with participating in "assisted dying" procedures.
doctors have been telling his group that they struggle with taking part in assisted-death procedures. 
He said physicians who have agreed to help a patient they knew well may find it difficult to help subsequent patients. 
“They will say, it was just too difficult and too traumatizing physiologically and it is not something I will go through again,” he said. “They really struggle with it, and for some of those that is the only one they will do.”

Blackmer said some of Canada's physicians are entirely ruling out providing end-of-life assistance to future patients. 
“In some provinces where they have a list of providers where they may be willing to participate, I know from speaking to colleagues that some of those lists are getting shorter.”
Note: When Blackmer says end-of-life assistance, he actually means lethal injection. 

Blackmer says he has not received reports of doctors being pressured to do euthanasia.

The reality is that killing another human being, even by request, is innately wrong and dangerous. People should be concerned about doctors who do not have a problem with killing their patients.

Crucial vote in the US Congress on Assisted Suicide.

Contact your member of Congress immediately to support Resolution 27.

The resolution to stop the Washington D.C. Assisted Suicide Act is coming up for a crucial vote. 

Now that H.J. Res 27 advanced from the House Committee on Oversight and Government on Monday February 13, by a vote of 22 - 14, Res 27 now must go to a vote in Congress soon.

Please email Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government urge him to bring H.J. Res 27 to a vote in Congress.

Contact your Member of Congress to vote for H.J. Res 27! Tell your member of congresss that you oppose assisted suicide and to vote YES on H.J. Res 27. 
Once you are connected, tell the staffer on the line that you are a constituent and would like the Representative to know that you support Resolution 27 and you oppose assisted suicide.

For more information:

Friday, February 10, 2017

Dutch doctors oppose euthanasia for dementia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalitio

The NL Times reported today that 220 doctors in the Netherlands sponsored an ad to oppose euthanasia for people with advanced dementia.

The article by Janene Pieters published in the NL Times today, states that:
A group of 220 Dutch doctors took out an advertisement in NRC on Friday to show that they are against granting euthanasia to advanced dementia patients. The doctors believe it's wrong to give euthanasia based on a statement which the patient can no longer confirm. 
"Our moral reluctance to end the life of a defenseless human being is too big", the ad reads. Among the signers are also doctors specialized in helping patients die.
The article states that there have been three cases of people with advanced dementia who died by euthanasia since December 2015. The article explains:
The rules for euthanasia for elderly people with dementia were adjusted in December 2015. The Ministries of Public Health and Security and Justice changed the euthanasia guidelines to state that euthanasia can be granted to advanced dementia patients if they made a written declaration with this wish while they were still lucid. Before this adaption, a patient had to express the desire for death himself. But this is no longer required.
Recently a Netherlands euthanasia review committee decided that a woman with dementia who had previously stated in an advanced directive that she wanted euthanasia, that the doctor should not have put a sedative in her coffee and should not have had her family hold her down while lethally injecting her. But the committee also stated that the forced euthanasia was done in "good faith."

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Euthanasia: 'safeguards' soon seen as 'hurdles.'

This article was published by National Review online on February 7, 2017

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

Just a quick post to show you how the slippery slope slip slides away.

Canada’s Supreme Court imposed a nationwide regime on the entire country. An obedient Parliament passed enabling legislation, including “safeguards” to protect against abuse.

Now, these supposedly vital protections — in actuality, they are loosey-goosey — are increasingly seen instead as “hurdles” that interfere with the right to be made dead.

Here’s an example from a journalist’s opinion column out of London, Ontario:
Canadians should be forewarned that the road to a medically assisted death is paved with speed bumps and potholes: that the law and its regulations were hastily devised and are imperfect; that the supply of doctors who are both willing and competent enough to safely assist in a patient’s death is severely limited; and that the pathway to release from suffering can take unexpected and sometimes inexplicable detours. 
Our parliamentarians should look to improve the legislation sooner rather than later.
These “improvements” will likely include such culture-of-death agenda items as a legal mandate for MDs to participate in killing — even if they have religious or moral objections — an expansion of eligibility to specifically include non-terminal conditions, and authority to kill Alzheimer’s patients who asked to be killed in an advance directive.

We need to think about this as the assisted suicide argument unfolds here: Accepting euthanasia changes a society’s collective consciousness.

The impetus to protect life soon morphs into a drive to embrace death.