Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Assisted suicide would bring a culture of death.

The following editorial was published on March 25, 2014 by The Telegraph UK. This editorial was published after UK Prime Minister David Cameron stated that he would be voting against the assisted suicide bill.

Legalisation leads to bureaucratisation, turning a matter of complex moral concern into one of legal box-ticking.

Prime Minister Cameron
David Cameron is right to warn of the dangers of legalising assisted suicide. Under the 1961 Suicide Act it is technically a criminal offence to help someone to die, but the Director of Public Prosecutions already issued guidelines four years ago to indicate that anyone who acted “out of compassion” would be unlikely to face charges. And yet Lord Falconer’s Bill to legalise assisted dying is before the Lords and the Government has indicated that it would permit a free vote on a measure that does not reflect a genuine need. Unless defeated, it could be the first uncertain step on a very slippery slope.

For a sense of what lies at the bottom of that slope, consider the Netherlands and Belgium. The Dutch liberalised euthanasia in 2001 and it was supposed to be limited to those with “unbearable and hopeless suffering” whose mental faculties were acute and who had no hope of relief. Since legalisation, the number of people dying through medical euthanasia has doubled – thanks in part to the operation of mobile euthanasia units that allow people to take their own life even if family doctors have refused to offer help. Among those who have died have been those with chronic depression and those in the early stages of dementia. In Belgium, meanwhile, euthanasia is now the cause of one in 50 deaths. A recent, high-profile example was that of 44-year-old Nathan Verhelst, who was helped to die when a botched sex-change operation left him with “unbearable psychological suffering”. Belgium has just become the first country in the world to permit euthanasia for chronically ill children.

Life can be full of pain and every sympathy should be extended to those who wish to die in dignity and peace. But legalisation leads to bureaucratisation, turning a matter of complex moral concern into one of legal box-ticking. Worse still, as we are seeing in the Benelux countries, it has the potential to become “normal”. Not only would this encourage ruthless relatives to persuade relatives to choose death, but it may also add to the wider societal pressure for the aged or the ill to see themselves as a “burden” on everybody else. We are already being bombarded with messages that our population is growing unmanageably old, fostering a culture of death. That is a culture that does not instinctively cherish all lives equally but rather directs attention and resources away from the infirm and towards the young and healthy.

One of the most important principles of medicine is “non-maleficence”, the ancient pledge to do no harm. The emphasis of health care must be to treasure life and safeguard it. The push for assisted suicide is a troubling challenge to that fine tradition.

People with disabilities don't want your pity and we don't want your death.

The following letter was published by the Hamilton Spectator on April 15, 2014.

Sign the Declaration of Hope to oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Steve Passmore protesting
euthanasia bill in 2009.
By Steve Passmore

I was born with cerebral palsy and I have lived all of my life with pain. I now have scoliosis which affects my mobility and gives me further pain. My prognosis is living with a wheelchair.

Steven Fletcher MP has introduced euthanasia bills with language that specifically focuses on people with disabilities because his bills are about him dying by euthanasia.

Fletcher is saying that he does not value his life, but I value my life and the lives of others with disabilities. His “right to die” ends at the point where it affects other people. Don’t take me down with your death wish.

As a member of parliament, Fletcher has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities, to work towards improving social supports and living opportunities, but his euthanasia bills say that our lives are not worth living.

People with disabilities are at risk from euthanasia because they are often dependent on others who legally have the right to make decisions for them. Any legislation that lessens protections in law for people with disabilities is very concerning.

I have overcome many physical and social barriers in my life, I am busy wanting to live, but Fletcher’s bill directly affects my right to live.

People with disabilities, who live with a positive mind-set, show society how to overcome challenges. We see these challenges as opportunities for personal growth.

Fletcher wants your pity. People with disabilities don’t want your pity and we don’t want your death.

The concept of euthanasia creates great fear for me. Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide abandons me as a person. That society would rather help me die with dignity, than help me live with dignity.

We will fight for the right of people with disabilities to live with equality, value and acceptance.

Steven Passmore
Hamilton Ontario

Links to similar articles:
People with disabilities are not disposable.
People with disabilities protest Bill C 384.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario will vote on a Pro-Euthanasia Resolution at May 1 - 3 AGM

All RNAO members need to attend this historic RNAO AGM to oppose this resolution.  
Register for the RNAO Conference/AGM

RNAO members can vote against this resolution online between April 15 - 30.

Non-members can voice their opposition to this resolution (contact link).

RN Voice in National Discussion Regarding End-of-Life Care

Submitted by: RNAO Board of Directors

Whereas a national discussion is underway regarding end-of-life care with specific emphasis on ‘dying with dignity’ which involves a review of assisted suicide and/or euthanasia; and

Whereas the final decision on permitting assisted suicide and/or euthanasia rests with the public; and

Whereas there is support from all three provincial political parties to engage in a discussion regarding end-of-life care; and

Whereas RNAO is being asked by stakeholders and media to comment on this issue;

Therefore Be It Resolved That RNAO urge the provincial and federal governments to engage in formal public dialogue on end of life issues and dying with dignity, including discussions, related to assisted suicide and/or euthanasia; and

Therefore Be It Further Resolved That the following principles be considered when discussing assisted suicide and/or euthanasia:
● Personal autonomy and justice are fundamental principles
● Ensuring timely access to evidence-based palliative care must remain a top priority
● The government must reject calls for involuntary euthanasia
● Assisted suicide and/or euthanasia must never be considered within the context of cost-savings
● Procedural safeguards must be enacted, including:
○ Restricting assisted suicide and/or euthanasia to competent adults with terminal illness;
○ Requiring that requests for assisted suicide and/or euthanasia be initiated by the person seeking the service and would be subject to a thorough review process that includes: independent confirmation on terminal illness; determination of capacity by a mental health-care professional (with appeal to the Consent and Capacity Board); providing access to all reasonable alternatives and establishing a waiting period.
● The practice of assisted suicide and/or voluntary active euthanasia must be restricted to professionals who have sought designated education and training.
● No health professional or organization should be required to participate in assisted suicide and/or voluntary active euthanasia.
● A provincial monitoring and reporting system must be developed, including a process for responding to complaints.
This resolution on End-of-Life Care contradicts the RNAO policy concerning Patient Safety.

Links to articles related to nursing and euthanasia:
● Legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide is not safe. Patient safety must come first.
American nursing association opposes assisted suicide.
● Nursing ethics and euthanasia.
● Quebec nurses and palliative care leaders so no to euthanasia.
Belgium nurses are involved with euthanasia without request - nearly half of the time.
Research article confirms that Belgian euthanasia law is abused.

Alex Schadenberg receives rave reviews for his presentations

The following is a review based on the feedback forms concerning my presentation at a conference on euthanasia in Des Moines Iowa on March 29, 2014.
Debating in Brussels Belgium
AlexSchadenberg, Executive Director and International Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, is an expert on assisted suicide and euthanasia around the globe.  
On feedback forms, attendees expressed amazement at Alex’ vast knowledge and described him as an “excellent presenter,” “so passionate,” “humorous,” and “super informative.” One wrote, “Loved his stories,” referring to the poignant real-life stories with which Alex peppers his talks.
You can book Alex as a speaker for your conference at: info@epcc.ca.

The next major conference that Alex is presenting at is the First National Symposium on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, May 2 - 3, 2014 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Minneapolis Minnesota. Register today.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Woman needed help not assisted suicide.

The following article was written by Richard and Judy and published in the Daily Express on April 12, 2014.

By Richard and Judy, Express - April 12, 2014.

Richard and Judy

In a week of disturbing stories right across the news gauntlet – Peaches, Pistorius, the political car-crash of Maria Miller – one dark and troubling tale went almost unnoticed: The death of a retired art teacher, only identified as Anne, by assisted suicide at the infamous Dignitas clinic in Switzerland. 

The truly disturbing nature of Anne’s story is this: she was not suffering from any form of terminal disease. True, at 89, she had had her health problems – diseases of the lung and heart, requiring spells in hospital (which she hated). But she wasn’t dying of cancer, or one of the nasties such as Huntington’s Chorea, or multiple organ failure.

Anne simply felt alienated from the modern world. Speaking days before she died – from a lethal dose of drugs provided by the clinic – she said she felt she faced a choice either to “adapt or die”, and announced she was not prepared to adapt to a world in which technology took precedence over humanity. She added that she had become frustrated with the trappings of modern life, such as fast-food, consumerism, and the amount of time people spend watching television.
“They say ‘adapt or die,’” she said, having already made the decision to take the latter option by drinking a deadly dose of barbiturates. “I find myself swimming against the current, and you can’t do that. If you can’t join them, get off... all the old fashioned ways of doing things have gone.”
Now you may or may not agree with Anne’s world view, but judging by her comments (and there were more in the same vein) it sounds very much to me as if the poor woman was suffering from a classic case of clinical depression – feelings of hopelessness, alienation, despair and suicidal thoughts.

Is that a condition Dignitas should be giving itself permission to treat with a lethal cocktail of drugs? I don’t think so. Its own rules state that it will only provide help in cases of “illness which will lead inevitably to death, unendurable pain or an unendurable disability”.

Anne’s niece, Linda, 54, accompanied her aunt to Zurich and was by her side when she died. She has said she “cannot think of a better death”.

Hmm. I don’t doubt her personal belief in that statement and I am sure she genuinely believes she did the right thing by her aunt. But Anne’s death raises disturbing questions. What if she’d been 10 years younger, say, 79, but held exactly the same bleak view of the world? Would she still have been offered assisted suicide?

Or what about 69? Or 59? At exactly what point does the combination of (undiagnosed) depression plus advancing years get the thumbs-up from the Dignitas doctors?

Personally I have always supported the principle of assisted suicide but Anne’s exit from this world has made me seriously wonder if it can ever be properly controlled.

This disturbing story could be the thin end of a very unpleasant wedge.

Belgium euthanasia: accelerating down the slippery slope

By Michael Cook, Mercatornet.com - April 13, 2014 (Link to the original).

Involuntary euthanasia is acceptable medical treatment, according to a recent official statement by the Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine. Although voluntary euthanasia is legal is Belgium under some circumstances, involuntary euthanasia is basically illegal.

The Society has decided (decreed may be a better word) that it is acceptable medical practice to euthanase patients in critical care who do not appear to have long to live -- even if they are not suffering, even if they are not elderly, even if their relatives have not requested it, even if they have not requested it and even if it is not legal.

The Society spells out its policy very carefully. It is not about grey areas like withdrawing burdensome or futile treatment or balancing pain relief against shortening a patient’s life. It clearly states that “shortening the dying process by administering sedatives beyond what is needed for patient comfort can be not only acceptable but in many cases desirable”.

“Shortening the dying process” is a euphemism for administering a lethal injection.

Most dying patients in intensive care have not made advance directives and “are usually not in a position to request euthanasia”. Therefore, “difficulty can arise when the purpose of the drugs used for comfort and pain relief in end-of-life management is misconstrued as deliberate use to speed the dying process.” The Society’s solution to this difficulty is to allow its members to kill the patients.

Effectively the Society has declared itself to be above the law. However, with the backing of the Society, it is unlikely that Belgian doctors would be prosecuted. It will be interesting to see how the government reacts.

The Society also says that intensive care doctors should inform relatives of a decision to euthanase a patient, but it does not instruct them to ask for the relatives’ permission. The policy applies to both adults and children. Furthermore, patients do not have to be suffering; “Shortening the dying process” can actually enhance death, the statement says.

The statement concludes by reassuring intensive care doctors that what they are doing is “not be interpreted as killing but as a humane act to accompany the patient at the end of his/her life.”

In February the lead author of the policy, Jean-Louis Vincent, a former president of the Society, published an op-ed in the leading Belgian newspaper Le Soir explaining the Society’s position. He complained that intensive care doctors were working in a “legal no man’s land” and that Belgium needs a law which bans overly aggressive therapy. He believes that advance directives are worse than useless and that doctors need to be able to give lethal injections to shorten lives which are no longer worth living, even if the patients have not given their consent. “The first purpose of medicine is to restore or maintain health, that is, the well-being of the individual, not life at all costs,” he wrote.

Does anyone need any more evidence to prove the existence of a slippery slope in Belgium?

Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.

Link to other recent article:
Belgium ICU doctors kill patients.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Voters in Quebec have spoken out against euthanasia, but that doesn't mean the issue has died.

The following article was pubished by OneNewsNow on Friday April 11, 2014.

Alex Schadenberg
Quebec lawmakers were considering legalizing euthanasia before the election was called.

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition tells OneNewsNow the election this week does not reflect public opinion on just one issue.
"I think there were many issues that had Quebecers vote against this government," Schadenberg advises. "The fact is though is that it's a big victory for people opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide because the ideological push for euthanasia has now been lessened in a serious manner."
OneNewsNow reported Wednesday that an effort by some to separate Quebec from Canada was defeated at the polls.
Even though the Quebec Liberals won a majority government over the separatists in the election, there are a few members of the Liberal Party that support euthanasia.
"The other sad factor in Canada is the issue of euthanasia will be going to the Supreme Court of Canada on October 14 this year," Schadenberg tells OneNewsNow. "So no matter what happens, the issue of euthanasia will be front and center in the Canadian context."
Also capturing the attention of Quebec voters was a proposal to bar government employees from wearing symbols of their faith such as the cross on the job.