Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Stephanie Gray: You Before Me is Better than Me Before You.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has urged its supporters to boycott Me Before You.
The disability rights group, Not Dead Yet has urged people to protest Me Before You.

S
Stephanie Gray
tephanie Gray wrote an
excellent blog article on the book that the movie - Me Before You is based upon. She begins her article by stating that a friend texted her urging her to read the book Me Before You. Her friend said it will make you raaaaage. This what Stephanie wrote:

So on the weekend, as it poured rain, I curled up and got caught up in the world of the main characters Louisa Clark and Will Traynor. So would I recommend it? Absolutely not. It’s dangerous—very dangerous. Setting aside the obvious problems of blasphemous language and sexual references, the storyline supports assisted suicide—but it does so in a sneaky way, making it all the more dangerous.

Initially Louisa, hired to be a companion and helper to wheelchair-bound Will, was my hero. She was from a family that, while it had its own dysfunctions, overall lived a self-less philosophy:

· Louisa worked so as to help provide for her poverty-stricken family. You before me. 
· Her parents welcomed her sister home when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, and helped care for their grandson. You before me. 
· Her mom quit work to care for the family’s ailing grandfather. You before me.

But the world of you before me was about to collide with another world—the ugly world of me before you. The Traynor family had it all—by the world’s standards: unlimited wealth and the ability to go wherever and do whatever. But they were all miserable because they lacked love:
· Mr. Traynor was having an affair (not his first). Me before you. 
· When Will’s sister Georgina visits and learns of his plan to have assisted suicide in 6 months she gets angry that he would do it, but instead of using the 6 months to give him the gift of time, attention, and love, to try to convince him he’s valuable and should stay alive, she returns to Australia saying, “…this was just a visit…It’s a really good job…the one I’ve been working toward for the past two years…I can’t put my whole life on hold just because of Will’s mental state.” Me before you. 
· Will himself, pre-accident, lead a life of self-indulgence. Me before you.
So why was Louisa my hero initially? When she learns that the parents have agreed to assist Will in his suicide in 6 months’ time, she quits because she doesn’t want to be part of killing. Louisa, you’re my hero. Then she decides to return to work, realizing she can spend the next few months trying to make Will’s life as incredible as possible so he doesn’t choose suicide. Louisa, you’re my hero. Then she takes Will on a life-creating and spirit-building vacation and tells him she wants to devote her life to loving and serving him, but he refuses saying he still plans to commit suicide, so she cuts him off in a decision to remove herself from the killing. Louisa, you’re my hero.

But then it all goes downhill. And I understood why my friend said “It’s going to make you raaaaaaaage.” Almost every single character caves. Mr. and Mrs. Traynor, Georgina, Mr. Clark, Louisa’s sister. And Louisa herself. They all cave. They all encourage, facilitate or are actually present at Will’s suicide the way he wants it.

And a morally un-formed reader will think, “Maybe it’s not so bad after all. Maybe, by being present, that was the loving thing to do.” No, no it’s not. Would they have been present if Will was killing a child? Then why would they be present when Will killed himself? His life is just as unrepeatable, and just as irreplaceable, as a child’s. Life, whether our own or someone else’s, is not ours to take. Moreover, Will couldn’t have gotten to the suicide clinic without their help. So his act of suicide actually turned into their act of homicide. Had they refused to “help” him, especially when, as a result of Louisa’s involvement in his life, he admitted those were the best 6 months of his entire life, Will may have gone on to thrive in a world of human connection and a world of you before me. But we will never know. Because he’s dead. And they helped kill him.

Will was obsessed with control, and argued he needed to end his life because it was the one thing he could control. But he could control more than death—he could control his perspective. Holocaust survivor Dr. Viktor Frankl wrote in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances…”

When someone is despairing so much that they can’t see they can choose their attitude, it’s the job of people who care to help them see this, not to feed into despair. As one palliative care website says for why they don’t allow or encourage assisted suicide, “In our experience, the issue of physician-assisted suicide often arises as a response to a complex set of problems which we help people sort through and address.” If only Louisa et al had helped Will sort through and address his problems.

So when the movie is released this Friday, and unsuspecting movie-goers who’ve seen the trailer may have no clue it’s actually about assisted suicide, please boycott the film and encourage others to do the same. And when someone asks why, you could begin by explaining, “You before me is better than me before you…”

Monday, May 30, 2016

Euthanasia for Psychiatric reasons is complicated.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Doctor K Suno Gaind, who ishe President of the Canadian Psychiatric Association and an associate professor at the University of Toronto wrote an article that was published in the Globe and Mail on Friday May 27, 2016; where he states that there are no known standards for approving euthanasia for psychiatric reasons.

Dr K Suno Gaind
Dr Gaind questions how euthansia fits with  - Do No Harm - ethic:
Do no harm. How do we square this guiding tenet with medically assisted death? Which is the greater harm – helping a person to end his life, or allowing continued suffering when he seeks death? 
When it comes to mental illness, it is even more complicated. The 2015 Supreme Court decision emphasized the need to protect the vulnerable from seeking suicide at a time of weakness. Less clear is how we actually do that. 
Mental illness can affect how a person thinks. Depression fuels negative self-thoughts, self-blame, hopelessness and struggling with one’s place in the world. Negative events are dwelt upon and positive ones discounted, with emotional resilience lowered until mundane stresses seem overwhelming. 
This is not to deny the real pain and suffering of mental illness, nor to imply that it invariably compromises clarity of thought. However, in severe cases, teasing apart how illness-based cognitive distortions can influence decision making is a formidable challenge. Heart disease might produce suffering but not necessarily alter thought processes; with depression, people often say they no longer feel or think like themselves. 
This predicament could be moot if suffering continued indefinitely. The value of suicide prevention is not to stay alive with intolerable suffering, but to avoid ending life during a vulnerable period. Unfortunately, cognitive distortions can lead some to decline treatment and seek death, despite the prospect of a healthy future. 
Dr Gaind explains how difficult it is to assess irrmediable suffering of psychiatric patients. 
Assessing irremediability in mental illness is very difficult. In neurodegenerative diseases with continued decline, irremediability can confidently be predicted. Not so with mental illness; in most cases, we can’t say when there is no chance of improvement.
  

Remediability goes beyond biomedical symptoms. Social isolation, underemployment, poverty or lack of housing all have an impact on the suffering from mental illness. It may be more a societal question, but the question is, at what point are these irremediable? These concerns aren’t academic: In the Netherlands, most of the people receiving a medically assisted death for psychiatric conditions cited depression and unresolved loneliness. 
The Canadian Psychiatric Association has cautioned that there is no established standard of care in Canada for defining when typical psychiatric conditions are irremediable. We are not alone in struggling with this. I have spoken with leaders of psychiatric associations from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, and none is any further ahead at defining this. 
Dr Scott Kim
This lack of standards is troubling for medically assisted dying assessments based on irremediability. As University of Michigan researcher Scott Kim recently warned the Senate committee looking into Bill C-14, lack of standards leads to clinicians basing decisions on personal beliefs rather than on sound medical science.
Dr Gaind then assesses problems associated with Bill C-14:
Bill C-14, the legislation to govern medically assisted dying, advises needing further study when mental illness is the sole criterion, leading some to charge discrimination. Such arguments are specious. The fight against stigma and discrimination includes appreciating that “equity” does not mean everything is “the same.” Equity involves impartial and fair evaluation of situations. It is not discrimination for illnesses such as epilepsy to have reporting requirements about driving, for example; nor is it discriminatory to have dedicated parking spaces for people with disabilities. 
Opening the door to assisted suicide for people with mental illness, involving inconsistent application of non-existent standards, would itself be discriminatory against this vulnerable population.
Dr Gaind then comments on the recent decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal to approve euthanasia for a woman with a psychiatric condition:
Consider the recent case in which the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled that a woman suffering from a psychiatric condition known as conversion disorder (which leads to unexplained physical symptoms) has a constitutional right to medically assisted death. The ruling emphasized that her suffering was from physical symptoms, noted that she was “not suffering from depression,” and acknowledged the case’s uniqueness, stating that each authorization for medically assisted death “is specific to that person and their unique circumstances” and “the antithesis of precedential.” The court also noted that a psychiatrist who opined in the case had reviewed the woman’s medical file “although he did not examine her,” which again emphasizes the need for established standards. 
In making the shift from a death-denying society to one that views death as another treatment option for illness, we must appreciate the nuanced differences leading to the common endpoint of death. Complex decisions without standards become value judgments or best guesses, and we should not be gambling with the vulnerable lives. 
While modern realities may preclude absolute adherence to the “do no harm” principle, surely we should aim to do the least.
Euthanasia for psychiatric reasons simply cannot be controlled because it is based on one's personal feelings, that cannot be known by another person, even for a professional.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Action Alert: Protest Disability Snuff Film “Me Before You”!


ACTION ALERT: 

PROTEST DISABILITY SNUFF FILM ME BEFORE YOU! 

WHEN: JUNE 3, 2016, 0NE HOUR BEFORE A SHOWING OF ME BEFORE YOU

WHERE: YOUR LOCAL MOVIE THEATER, MANY CITIES, USA & WORLDWIDE

WHAT: PEACEFULLY DISTRIBUTE A LEAFLET (TO BE POSTED ON NDY WEBSITE)

WHY: TO OPPOSE ABLEISM & THE FILM’S MESSAGE THAT DISABLED PEOPLE ARE

BETTER OFF DEAD (AND OTHERS ARE BETTER OFF WITHOUT US)

“Me Before You” is the latest Hollywood blockbuster to grossly misrepresent the lived experience of the majority of disabled people. In the film, a young man becomes disabled, falls in love with his ‘carer’ and they have an incredible 6 months together. Despite her opposition, however, our hero does the “honorable” thing by killing himself at the Swiss assisted suicide clinic Dignitas – so she can move on and he is no longer a burden to her. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, “Me Before You” is little more than a disability snuff film, giving audiences the message that if you’re a disabled person, you’re better off dead.

WAYS YOU CAN PROTEST:

  • Two or more people can peacefully hand out a leaflet that will be posted on the Not Dead Yet website at notdeadyet.org
  • Send a press release or use NDY’s release (coming soon) to send to your local media. 
  • Join the worldwide social media Thunderclap
  • Twitter using #MeBeforeYou #LiveBoldly #MeBeforeEuthanasia #MeBeforeAbleism 
  • Share the articles linked below with friends and colleagues. 
For more information, see the following articles:
For More Information or to discuss your plans, contact John Kelly (jkelly@notdeadyet.org) or Diane Coleman (dcoleman@notdeadyet.org).

Friday, May 27, 2016

Elder Abuse - a very real concern

This article was published by Hope Australia on May 27.

P
Paul Russell
aul Russell is the director of Hope Australia.


Elder Abuse is a serious issue. The abuse of elderly people by unscrupulous relatives or carers or people who befriend a lone elder with sinister motive vexes authorities.

Why? Because it is a mostly hidden phenomenon of people who will have a diminished ability to speak out by virtue of the abuse itself or because of their isolation.

Characterised mostly by greed over finances, elder abuse has also been noted as physical, emotional and even sexual abuse of a vulnerable elderly person.

The image of such a person is perhaps of one who is aware of the abuse but has no ability to complain. This may not always be the case. It is also possible that a person offers excellent care and support of an individual at all times and uses their friendship and influence to have the elderly person make over their estate to them at the exclusion of any other beneficiary.

The recent story of a nurse gaining the full estate of an elderly Melbourne man may well be such a case. I say 'may be' deliberately because, to date, no case has been proven against Abha Anuradha Kumar, who managed aged care facility Cambridge House, where Lionel Cox was being cared for.

Friends of Mr Cox have questioned the new will created only weeks before Mr Cox passed away witnessed by two other staff at the care facility. Spellng corrections, shaky handwriting and other errors in the drawing up of the newest will cast additional suspicions. Ms Kumar stands to gain more than $AU900,000.

The parent organisation fo the nursing home, St Vincent's Health, conducted an inquiry and could not prove any wrong doing. A spokeswoman for St Vincents said that:
"The staff member has indicated they have not, and do not want to financially benefit from the resident's Will, and intends to donate the proceeds of the estate to charities named by the deceased in a previous unsigned Will he had prepared by his solicitor."
Friends and neighbours of Mr Cox remain sceptical.

Kathy Wilson, a specialist wills and estates lawyer and principal at Aitken Partners, told The Age Newspaper that 'there was very little protection against financial elder abuse with wills, and that there is no criminal offence for coercion or manipulation of a person in relation to their will.'

'She said there were weaker rules regarding who could witness a will than for appointing somebody Enduring Powers of Attorney. The law for the latter has recently been updated to include specific qualifications for witnesses.' 
'Ms Wilson said it was also very difficult to prosecute a case of undue influence with wills because it was hard to prove under the current law.'
If it is difficult to prove financial abuse in such cases, then it is difficult to detect all kinds of abuse of a vulnerbale elderly person. This one reason why euthanasia and assisted suicide should never be made law.

Andrew Denton dismissed this argument on one occasion claiming that the person would need to have a terminal illness or unbearable suffering. In terms of abuse of euthanasia and assisted suicide laws, it would rather depend on how the law was written. Certainly, in most cases, two doctors would need to be involved and, yes, that may reduce the risk. But given that the existence of laws allowing people to be made dead may well add to the sense that the elderly often have of being a burden; and adding to that suggestions or even direct pressure on the person in private, the risk cannot be eliminated.

The risk is perhaps even more acute for assisted suicide laws. An elderly and suffering person may well request assisted suicide voluntarily and with clear intent. But it still remains that, once the doctor is gone, a relative could easily pressure such a person to 'take the lethal dose' when, as seems often to be the case, they had determined to put off the suicide to a later date or even not at all. Who would ever know?

The risk to vulnerable people, for which elder abuse is a particular subset, can never be fully accounted for in euthanasia or assisted suicide law. The first major investigation of the issue by The UK House of Lords Select Committee on Medical Ethics found as much and it remains true today.

Speaking to the Report in The Lords, Lord Walton, in summary observed:

One compelling reason underlying this conclusion was that we do not think it is possible to set secure limits on voluntary euthanasia. As our report shows, we took account of the present situation in the Netherlands; indeed some of us visited that country and talked to doctors, lawyers and others. While we accept the sincerity of those who fervently advocated the present procedures that exist there, and while it would not be proper for me to criticise the decisions of the medical and legal authorities in another sovereign state, we nevertheless returned from our visit feeling uncomfortable, especially in the light of evidence indicating that non-voluntary euthanasia—that is to say, without the specific consent of the individual—was commonly performed in Holland, admittedly for incompetent, terminally ill patients. We also learned of one specific case in which voluntary euthanasia was accepted by both doctors and lawyers for a physically fit 50 year-old woman alleged to be suffering from intolerable mental stress. We felt particularly uncomfortable about that and about other examples. We concluded that it would be virtually impossible to ensure that all acts of euthanasia were truly voluntary and that any liberalisation of the law in the United Kingdom could not be abused. We were also concerned that vulnerable people—the elderly, lonely, sick or distressed—would feel pressure, whether real or imagined, to request early death.
It remains to euthanasia and assisted suicide enthusiasts to prove that such risks have been eliminated; not reduced, but eliminated. Passing any law without marking such full and complete protection of vulnerable people is extremely reckless and speaks of abandonment of those most in need of protection.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Boycott - Me Before You - "disability death porn."

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


The movie - Me Before You will be released in theatres across North America on June 3.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is urging its supporters to boycott Me Before You to not give any money to the production of movies that perpetuate the ideology that death is better than living with a disability.

We also urge our supporters to donate the admission price to either: Not Dead Yet (donation), Not Dead Yet UK (donation), Toujours Vivant - Not Dead Yet (donate through the Council of Canadians with Disabilities) or the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (donation).

This is not a campaign to obstruct free speech, this is a campaign to oppose the "disability death porn" that this movie promotes.

In the Me Before You plot (Will Traynor) a man who was paralysed in an accident, decides to die by assisted suicide at a Swiss suicide clinic. His family, who are incredibly wealthy, hire Louisa Clark, as his care-giver. 


As the story progresses, Clark falls in love with Traynor, but Traynor has decided that death is better than living with a disability. Traynor dies by assisted suicide in Switzerland and of course he loves Clark so much, that he leaves her an inheritance.

What is most insidious about the movie is that Traynor’s suicide is sold as an act of love. For me that borders on what I call “disability death porn.”

People with disabilities are fighting for social and attitudinal change. Me Before You perpetuates the idea, that death is better than living with a disability.


To understand the disability perspective, I urge you to read the comments by people with disabilities concerning Me Before You.

William Peace (center)
William Peace, a Syracuse University professor, known as Bad Cripple, wrote an excellent article: A Second Class Existence: Me Before You Gets It All Wrong. Peace writes:

The obliviousness here is nothing short of stunning even for a quadriplegic wants to die snuff film. The main character, Will Trayner, is never given a voice. He is a mere foil for Louisa Clark. In a New York Times review of the book the reviewer put it succinctly; 
"Lou has never fully lived: Will has, but no longer can... He had scaled rock faces at Yosemite, swum in volcanic springs in Iceland, sampled warm croissants in the Marais and had his pick of glamorous, leggy girlfriends. After the accident, he can't walk, can't feed himself, can't have sex. The only power he believes he retains is the power to end his life; and, as a man of action, he wants to exercise that power". 
This is a first. Will is the first asexual romantic hero who wields his power to die. It is a given, he will die because, well, that is what all people who are not quadriplegics believe. The only quadriplegics that want to live are asexual, bitter, angry people who lash out at all the people foolish enough to engage them. Even when a quadriplegic like Will has it all--he is rich beyond belief, lives a life of luxury and can do pretty much whatever he wants--still chooses to die. Out of the goodness of his soul he will not allow himself to ruin Louisa's life hence after his death he wills her his money. Only Hollywood could come up with such a story line that is so grossly convoluted and devoid of reality. 
Predictably, there are more than a few angry people with a disability who deeply object to the book and film. If the film is a hit, and I believe it will be, there is no doubt organizations such as Compassion and Choices will exploit its popularity to help pass assisted suicide legislation. Multiple people with a disability have already weighed in with scathing words. I doubt their words will resonate beyond the disability rights community but they reinforce I am not alone. Here are a few links: 
Sane Clifton: https://shaneclifton.com/2016/02/05/why-i-hate-jojo-moyes-me-before-you/ 
Dominick Evans: http://www.dominickevans.com/2016/02/hollywood-promotes-the-idea-it-is-better-to-be-dead-than-disabled/ 
Pretentious Best Friend: http://pretentiousbestfriend.blogspot.com/2016/05/me-before-you-fetishization-of.html 
Crippled Scholar: https://crippledscholar.wordpress.com/2016/05/21/why-are-you-complaining-some-people-actually-feel-that-way-a-critique-of-me-before-you/
The cultural promotion of suicide and assisted suicide was bad enough, now Me Before You and its disability death porn, defines death as an act of love for a person with a disability.

Some thoughts on a drive through traffic hell to rail against euthanasia.

By Charles Lewis

Many of you know I have been doing speeches against euthanasia since retiring from the National Post in January 2014. Most also know that I have a very painful spinal issue that limits my activities.

So it was with some trepidation that I agreed, many months ago, to speak at a dinner in Cambridge Ontario. I figured by the time it rolled around I would be feeling much better.

I was so wrong.

But a promise is a promise so on a recent Thursday I headed out to Cambridge west down the dreaded 401. What should have taken 70 minutes with no traffic or two hours with some traffic turned into three hours of misery. Then to add to the fun I got lost. Urbanites like myself do not do well with regional roads.

So at some point, in pain and with a throbbing headache from said pain, I ended up in a nearby city. I don't own a cell phone but I figured I'd be able to use a phone at a gas station or find a pay phone. Guess what? No one likes to let you use his or her phones for fear you'll call your Oma in Berlin or you favourite Aunt in Hong Kong. And, as I discovered, there are no pay phones.

Finally some good soul took pity on me and lent me his cell phone. The connection was so bad that I couldn't hear what was being said so I finally broke down babbling and yelling that I would never make it. It wasn't one of my proudest moments but every once in a while I cut myself a break.

Someone standing by where I was yelling heard me mention the conference centre. He gave me simple directions and miracle of miracle I did find the right Canadian Tire at the bottom of the right hill.

By the time I arrived at the conference centre I was in massive pain and sweating. As I got out of the car, hobbled, I thought that there was no way I can pull this off. Though I did.

I had enough personal fury to carry me through. For as angry as I was for getting lost and being in severe pain it could not match my disgust with what is happening in Parliament and how we are being kicked down the road to perdition.

It didn't help that CBC radio was doing endless stories of what some dim light named "elbowgate" — the ridiculous event in Parliament when our illustrious prime minister ran across the floor and grabbed the Tory Whip (very kinky sounding to an American) and in the process elbowed a NDP MP by accident. I nearly punched the dashboard when I heard that some Tory MP accused Justin Trudeau of molestation. Oy vey!

The CBC report kept replaying the endless "profound" apologies of Trudeau's. Then there were the endless discussions about what his misbehaviour meant for his future and the future of the House of Commons.

I'm not a wise guy but I knew the answer: Nothing.

But barely mentioned on CBC or in the newspapers following the “incident” was what drove Trudeau across the floor. He was attempting to close debate on Bill C14, the euthanasia bill.

Two things here: We know that Trudeau, despite his claims otherwise, is anti-democratic. This was the same man who banned pro-life candidates from the Liberal Party. Then this motion to limit debate also showed a strong authoritarian streak. What is the purpose of Parliament if not to air important issues? Though as many of us who oppose euthanasia know that this is not really an important issue. Just another bill in the business of Parliament.

It's shameful enough that there was no debate during the federal election concerning euthanasia but now it's barely taking place in Parliament. That is what was driving my fury. Shouldn't the media in this country be outraged at that? I understand procedure and the need for it to be followed but walking across the floor of the House is not exactly a nuclear attack or molestation.

I don't remember much about my talk in Cambridge. It seemed to come out of me without barely looking at my notes. I can only say for certain that I was on fire. It was as if something else took over and I gave way to my disgust and anger about what is going on in our country. Clearly the listeners caught my mood given the number of ovations and the questions that followed.

Let me add one more thing. The last question of the night was from a very thoughtful woman who asked the following: 

"Have we as a nation become complacent?"
I was about to answer but stopped myself. Instead I asked the woman a question: 
"Have you become complacent?"
The question stopped her dead.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

June 1 rally on parliament hill: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Are Not The Answer.



Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Are Not The Answer

Join the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, the Living with Dignity Network and the Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia for a demonstration on Parliament Hill on Wednesday June 1, 2016 (12 noon to 1:30 pm)
.

To ride the bus from Toronto for the Rally. Contact: Bernadette Cheng at: 647-221-8410.

The Supreme Court of Canada imposed a June 6 deadline upon parliament to pass a bill to regulate euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. Parliament could follow the Supreme Court decision and still protect Canadians from euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Bill C-14 is a dangerous bill that does not protect vulnerable Canadians. Bill C-14 provides a perfect cover for murder.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Netherlands: New push for suicide pill

This article was published on the HOPE Australia website on May 24.

B
Paul Russell
y Paul Russell, the director of Hope Australia

There’s a question that I have put to those who are pushing for euthanasia and assisted suicide laws on occasion. Put simply I ask: If you are successful in your push for law reform on this subject, will you celebrate your victory and then close down your organisation? After all, if the objective is reached, what else is there to do?

I expect that there would be ‘rank-and-file’ members of the various societies and organisations on this bandwagon who may well think: job done, back to the gardening (or other pursuits). But not so the leadership.

Unless a parliament is willing, in the first instance, to legislate euthanasia and assisted suicide for everyone in any circumstance, there will always be more to agitate for. Of course, such a bold initial push is never likely to happen. That’s why, in observing repeated attempts to legislate in my home state of South Australia, we see variations on the theme in the many different ways that bills have been designed and presented, all with the primary goal of getting something (anything!) on the statutes. Go for the full agenda and failure is guaranteed; go for a minimalist approach and maybe success will come, enabling, thereafter, the possibility of an incremental agenda.

We are seeing this in Canada at the moment with the excise of euthanasia and assisted suicide for minors and for mental health issues from the debate and the promise of revisiting that agenda in three years’ time. Even in Belgium, which enacted the most liberal of euthanasia laws in 2002, we saw the amendment to include children pass in the parliament in 2013. In Holland there is continued agitation for euthanasia under the term ‘tired of life’ or ‘completed life’, ostensibly for people over the age of 70. The Dutch parliament is also looking into child euthanasia whilst already having euthanasia available for ‘emancipated minors’ from the age of 12.

Today the Dutch news is reporting that two euthanasia organisations are renewing their push for the so-called ‘Drion Pill’ to be available ‘for people who do not qualify for euthanasia.’

Note: The 'Drion's pill' is a suicide pill proposed originally by Huib Drion, a former Dutch Supreme Court judge and professor of civil law, who argued that people aged 75 or over should be able to end their own lives.

The Dutch Times says that ‘The NVVE wants to launch a test with a suicide pill for people age 75 years and older next year. The Cooperatie Laatste Wil wants the experiment to include all legal adults, people 18 years and older.’

The report adds that both groups will soon submit proposals for such ‘experiments’ and that the Dutch Democrats will propose such an experiment ‘by the end of the year’ with the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy signalling possible support.

What they expect to find from such an ‘experiment’ is not stated. I’m guessing that deaths will be marked as a success.

Imagine the pressure felt by elderly people in Holland if this pill were ever made available. Rather than people necessarily justifying a request to be made dead, their elderly will find themselves having to justify their will to live!

Even here we see the possibility of a further incremental agenda with one group pushing for more (all adults) than the other (over 75 years of age).

Note well that this agenda is for those who would not qualify for euthanasia. So, while there is no suggestion of a reform to the Dutch euthanasia law of 2001 – one form of incrementalism – we can clearly observe that the broader agenda of the euthanasia groups is still served by this move.

Consider also that if such an idea was presented to parliaments in countries where euthanasia and assisted suicide remained illegal it would be laughed out of session and dismissed as being totally unacceptable. The link between the existence of a euthanasia and assisted suicide regime and the development of what would otherwise be unthinkable cannot be denied.

Make no mistake, once a society accepts that killing patients or helping them to suicide is an acceptable response to any kind of suffering, there is no limit that will hold.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Military Veterans Threatened by Assisted Suicide.

This article was published by True Dignity Vermont on May 14, 2016.

Rep Al Baldasaro
Representative Al Baldasaro of the New Hampshire Legislature on gave an impassioned speech on May 11 against a proposed “study committee” to look at “end of life choices.” Speaking on behalf of Veterans’ PTSD/TBI Commission, he cited the fact that New Hampshire is facing an epidemic of suicides among Veterans, and said: 
“What message are you sending to the community out there and all the good work every one of us has done to protect people from killing themselves? Now we want to make it easy?”
Link to the video/speech by Representative Al Baldasaro.

He said that opening the door to such a practice would have grave consequences for veterans at risk for suicide, and that even studying such a bill would threaten efforts to help veterans. He clearly states that euphemisms such as “aid in dying” don’t change the fact that such laws promote suicide and threaten efforts to protect people from killing themselves.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Andrew Coyne: "extending assisted suicide to children and the mentally incompetent, once derided as “slippery slope” alarmism, is now the next item on the agenda."

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada's assisted suicide laws and used language to allow for the legalization of euthanasia. In their decision, the Supreme Court ordered parliament to legislate on the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

One argument employed by the Supreme court in their decision  clearly protected people was that Canada would employ a rigorous set of safeguards that would ensure that abuse of the law does not occur and there is no proof that Canada will experience an expansion of the law, that many of those who intervened against euthanasia and assisted suicide had predicted.

Well, Bill C-14 is not the law yet, the predicted expansion of the law is already occurring.


Andrew Coyne
Andrew Coyne, a National Post columnist exposes the push to expand euthanasia, in his column: Who says the Supreme Court of Canada won't change its mind on assisted suicide - yet again
Coyne points states that:
Advocates of assisted suicide have already served notice they will challenge the legislation in court: because it does not apply to children, or the mentally incompetent; because it defines “grievous and irremediable” to mean, in part, that the patient’s “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable;” even for imposing a 15-day waiting period (since amended to 10). 
They will not rest, in short, until there is an unrestricted right to death on demand.
Coyne explains the inconsistency of the claims for euthanasia expansion:
...it is bizarre to see the same people discover, in a ruling that was expressly limited to mentally competent adults, a right to assisted suicide for children and the mentally incompetent. Bizarre, but not necessarily wrong. It is difficult to say how this Court will rule on any given question, and indeed the Court’s own logic, in finding in the Charter’s “right to life” a right to death, redefined as relief from suffering, would leave it little room to refuse that relief on the basis of age or infirmity, when the case is brought.

If, likewise, the court could reverse its own decision before, it may be persuaded to do so again. The justification offered for overturning Rodriguez was that in the interval the “matrix of legislative and social facts” had changed; that the fear that had justified the law then, namely that assisted suicide would otherwise come to be applied to a wider and wider expanse of the population, had been disproved by experience; or at any rate that whatever might have happened in Belgium and the Netherlands — where the numbers of those euthanized annually has skyrocketed, and where it is now available not only to children and the mentally ill but for the relief of all manner of ailments — could not happen here, on account of our differing “medico-legal cultures.”
In other words, the incremental expansion of the law is already occurring, even before Bill C-14 has passed into law. The hubris of the Court has already proven to be wrong. Coyne ends by stating:
But even if that were true at the time of the court’s ruling, it is clearly not true any more. The notion of extending assisted suicide to children and the mentally incompetent, once derided as “slippery slope” alarmism, is now the next item on the agenda. So it would be entirely open to the Court to find that the matrix of legislative and social facts had shifted again.

I’m not saying it will. But it certainly won’t if it is not asked.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition will never stop working to protect people from euthanasia and assisted suicide, through supports and through the courts.

Shakira Hussein: Why I don't support euthanasia (and you shouldn't either).

This article was published by Hope Australia on May 19, 2016

Paul Russell
By Paul Russell

The Victorian Parliament's Committee looking into end-of-life issues is due to table a report into its 10 month investigation at the end of this month. Time will tell whether or not they have given appropriate weight to the many excellent submissions from professionals and professional organisations working in palliative medicine. I have my doubts.

Recent press from Victoria suggests that the report will recommend some form of 'assisted dying', whatever that means.

Melbourne academic and commentator, Shakira Hussein, in a recent article at Crikey.com notes the momentum behind the push for law change including media focus on particular cases and, of course, the podcast series and other media appearances by journalist, Andrew Denton.

Of these interventions, she observes that, 'they received a sympathetic response from many who fulminated about right-wing religious politicians refusing to allow patients to choose the time and manner of their deaths. And it’s an issue that is gaining momentum' adding that it, 'is widely supported by many who would consider themselves to be broadly left-wing and/or feminist. Yet I would argue that this constituency ought to be very wary of the attitudes and assumptions underlying legalised euthanasia.'

Hussein bursts the bubble of euthanasia mythology that would have us believe that opposition is the sole preserve of the right of politics. There are legitimate arguments and reasons for not supporting euthanasia and assisted suicide from across the full spectrum on political thinking; reasoning that is accessible to anyone with a mind to think beyond the sloganeering.

Under the appropriate and thought provoking title: Why I don't support euthanasia (and you shouldn't either) - (tag line: Euthanasia marginalises an already vulnerable group and should not be legalised) Hussein writes at Crikey about how her own developing disability caused her to reflect on euthanasia and assisted suicide:
"I did not give the issue of euthanasia any serious consideration until after my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Like so many others, I considered that opposition to euthanasia was a cause for right-wing social conservatives, not for leftie feminists like me. However, as the disease becomes more active, I began to see the ways in which the campaign to legalise euthanasia devalues the lives of people living with a disability and/or chronic disease."
This is intensely personal. When disability advocates speak of their concerns it is always so. I have argued elsewhere that consideration of the disability perspective we are not considering a 'lowest common factor' situation but, rather, a 'highest common factor' principle. Not because people in marginalised communities such as those living with disability are inconvenient or different but because they are part of our human story; that hearing their voices cannot fail to provide insight and benefit to the whole nation. I’m arguing that listening well to those deeply held ‘world view’ concerns and accepting that to ignore them is to risk damage to society, we raise a benefit. We actively elevate and esteem those that we listen to. We enhance our understanding by applying empathy. We destroy barriers through gaining understanding. We draw closer together.

Canada’s Bill C-14, which seeks to codify assisted suicide and euthanasia, is a recipe for elder abuse.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE THURSDAY MAY 19, 2016 

Proposed recommendations by the Senate Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee do not solve the bill’s problems. The bill violates the Canadian Supreme Court case, Carter v Canada. Recent news stories have proven Carter wrong. This justifies a new look at the issue, including time for more study or a new law prohibiting euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Margaret Dore
Contact: Margaret Dore: (613) 899-0366
margaretdore@margaretdore.com

Ottawa - Lawyer Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion, which has been fighting efforts to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in the United States, Canada and other countries, made the following statement in connection with Canada’s Bill C-14:

"The Senate Committee's thoughtful recommendations include that patient 'eligibility' be defined as a 'terminal illness, disease or condition' for people at the end of life," said Dore. "In Oregon, which has a similar criteria, chronic conditions such as insulin dependent diabetes qualify,

Dore said, "This is because the the eligibility determination is made without treatment. The typical insulin dependent 18 year old with treatment will have decades to live, but without treatment will have less than a month to live to therefor qualify for assisted suicide or euthanasia. (William Toffler, MD declaration) The Committee’s recommendation, if adopted and interpreted according to Oregon's precedent, will encourage people with years, even decades to live, to throw away their lives.”

“Doctors can, regardless, be wrong about life expectancy, sometimes way wrong,"said Dore. "This is due to actual mistakes and the fact that predicting life expectancy is not an exact science. For this reason also, the bill encourages people with years, even decades to live, to throw away their lives

"The bill is also a recipe for elder abuse, with the most obvious reason being a complete lack or oversight at the death" said Dore. "In the case of assisted suicide under the bill, no doctor, not even a witness is required to be present. This creates the opportunity for someone else, such as an heir who will financially benefit from the death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient, in private without consent. The drugs used are water and alcohol soluble, such that they can be administered to a restrained or sleeping person. Even if the patient struggled, who would know?"

“The bill is a response to the Canadian Supreme Court decision, Carter v. Canada, which envisioned a ‘carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards, ” Dore said. “With no required oversight at the death, the bill has no such system.” The bill violates Carter.

"Carter understood that that the 'slippery slope' phenomenon, in which restrictive legal euthanasia blooms into expansive euthanasia for all types of conditions and people, including children, would not happen in Canada," said Dore. (Carter, paragraphs 111 to 120) "Recent news stories prove this understanding wrong as euthanasia proponents now demand such expansion, This new development gives Parliament an opening to follow its own path, to protect the public. This could include more study or a new law prohibiting assisted suicide and euthanasia." Dore concluded, "This is the only sure way to protect the public."

For more information, see:

1. Margaret Dore, Legal/Policy Analysis of Bill C-14, May 15, 2016. Memo available here: https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/memo.pdf Attachments available here:

https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/memo-index-final.pdf

2. Margaret K. Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," King County Bar Association, Bar Bulletin, May 2009,

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Canada: Senate Report Recommendations Will Not Solve the Bill C-14 Problems.


Margaret Dore
Canada’s Bill C-14, which seeks to codify assisted suicide and euthanasia, is a recipe for elder abuse.

Proposed recommendations by the Senate Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee will not solve the bill’s problems. The bill will encourage people with years, even decades, to live to throw away their lives. The bill will remain seriously flawed and contrary to the Canadian Supreme Court case, Carter v. Canada, which envisioned a “carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards.” The bill must be rejected.

Contact: Margaret Dore: (613) 899-0366


Ottawa - Lawyer Margaret Dore, president of Choice is an Illusion, which has been fighting efforts to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in the United States, Canada and other countries, made the following statement in connection with Canada’s Bill C-14:

“The recommendations made by the Senate Committee’s thoughtful report will not solve the bill’s problems,” said Dore. “Consider, for example, the recommendation to define ‘eligibility’ as a ‘serious and incurable terminal illness, disease or disability [for a person who has] been determined to be at the end of life.’ In Oregon, which has a similar terminal criteria, chronic conditions such as insulin dependent diabetes qualify. This is because, in practice, the eligibility determination is made without treatment. According to Oregon doctor, William Toffler, MD, the typical insulin dependent 18 year old with treatment will have decades to live, but without treatment will live less than a month. The Committee’s recommendation, if adopted and interpreted according to Oregon’s precedent, will encourage people with years, even decades to live, to throw away their lives.”

“The recommendations also raise a valid concern that there is nothing to ensure patient consent when the lethal is administered,” said Dore. “Indeed, there is a complete lack of oversight at the death. In the case of assisted suicide, no witness, not even a doctor is required to be present.”

Dore elaborated, “People who sign up for assisted suicide or euthanasia do not necessarily intend to go through with it. Maybe it was somebody else’s idea, maybe they were ambivalent or maybe they signed up “just in case” things get bad. A patient can also change his or her mind. There are many people, including heirs, who can benefit from a patient’s death. If the patient was tricked, objected or struggled, who would know?"

“The bill is a response to the Canadian Supreme Court decision, Carter v. Canada, which envisioned a ‘carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards, ” said Dore. “The bill has no such system.”

“Under current law, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act requires that all inmate deaths be investigated,” said Dore. “Bill C-14, however, amends the Act to create an exception for inmates who die by assisted suicide or euthanasia, to thereby discourage investigations.” Dore continued, “With existing investigations discouraged, the idea of a ‘carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards’ is undermined. Carter is violated.”

Dore added, “The bill also amends the Pension Act and the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-Establishment Act to deem that any deaths occurring via assisted suicide or euthanasia be treated as a result of an ‘illness, disease or disability.” Dore said, “The significance is a legal inability to prosecute criminal behavior, for example, in the case of an outright murder for the money. The cause of death, as a matter of law, is an ‘illness, disease or disability.’ The bill thereby creates the perfect crime.”

“Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, ‘everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice,’” said Dore. “It is not fundamentally just to allow people to be killed for their money or due to another bad motive under a regime that has no required oversight at the death, which discourages investigations and which deems deaths to be the result of an ‘illness, disease or disability,’ as a matter of law, to thereby prevent prosecution.” Dore concluded, “The bill, which creates the perfect crime, must be a violation of the Charter. It must be rejected.”

For more information, see:

1. Margaret Dore, Legal/Policy Analysis of Bill C-14, May 15, 2016. Memo available hereAttachments available here.

2. Margaret K. Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," King County Bar Association, Bar Bulletin, May 2009,

Monday, May 16, 2016

Netherlands euthanasia clinic approves lethal injection for a woman who was sexually abused as a child.

Alex Schadenberg
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

On May 14, the Daily Mail reported that a 45 year old woman, known as "Jackie," was approved for euthanasia based on psychiatric issues related to sexually abuse.

"Jackie" is the most recent case in a trend of increasing numbers of euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands combined with increasing numbers of euthanasia deaths for psychiatric reasons.

The 2015 Netherlands euthanasia report stated that there were 5561 reported euthanasia deaths in 2015, up from 5306 in 2014, there were 109 reported euthanasia deaths for dementia, up from 81 in 2014, and there were 56 reported euthanasia deaths for psychiatric reasons, up from 41 in 2014.

News about this recent case comes after the shocking case of a physically healthy woman, in her 20's, died by euthanasia in the Netherlands for psychiatric reasons related to being sexually abused.

According to the Daily Mail article by Sue Reid, in the most recent case, Jackie's sister stated:
This follows a traumatic childhood experience when she was sexually abused at five years old and developed depression as a result.
The Daily Mail reported that the euthanasia clinic received 1234 requests and was responsible for 36 of the 56 psychiatric euthanasia deaths in 2015.

Earlier this year, a study examining 66 cases of euthanasia for psychiatric reasons uncovered several significant concerns. The report indicated that women represented 70% of the psychiatric deaths. The researchers noted that controversial cases included:
a woman in her 70s without health problems had decided, with her husband, that they would not live without each other. After her husband died, she lived a life described as a "living hell" that was "meaningless." 
A consultant reported that this woman "did not feel depressed at all. She ate, drank and slept well. She followed the news and undertook activities."
The "End of Life" euthanasia clinic opened March 2012 with mobile euthanasia units in order to offer death to people who were either turned down by their doctor, or they people who lack mobility, sucha as people with disabilities and the frail elderly.

According to the Daily Mail article the first case of psychiatric euthanasia was also controversial:
After the clinic opened in 2012, its first psychiatric patient was a 54-year-old woman who had mysophobia (a pathological fear of germs or dirt). She, like other End Of Life patients, was killed at home after first being injected with a strong sedative and then a muscle relaxant which stops the heart. 
Gerty Casteelen, one of the clinic's psychiatrists, conducted eight hours of interviews with her before deciding that she really wished to die. 'It was a long process', the medic recalls. 'I came to understand that her fears completely controlled her life. 
'All she could do all day was clean. It was impossible for her to maintain a relationship. Her whole development had stalled.'
Other psychiatric euthanasia deaths attributed to the Netherlands euthanasia clinic include a woman who was going blind and obsessed with cleanliness

The Supreme Court of Canada stated in its Carter decision that euthanasia could be permitted for physical and psychological suffering. They did not define psychological suffering.

Canadians should be concerned that we are following the Dutch path.

Further reading:

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Woman, who was sexually abused in her 20's, dies by euthanasia in the Netherlands.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The 2015 Netherlands euthanasia report that was recently released states that there were 5561 reported euthanasia deaths in 2015, up from 5306 in 2014, there were 109 reported euthanasia deaths for dementia, up from 81 in 2014, and there were 56 reported euthanasia deaths for psychiatric reasons, up from 41 in 2014.

Shockingly, a woman who died by euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in 2015 was in her 20's and had been sexually abused.

The Daily Mail news reported:
The woman, in her twenties, was given a lethal injection after doctors and psychiatrists decided that her post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions were incurable. 
It went ahead despite improvements in the woman's psychological condition after 'intensive therapy' two years ago, and even though doctors in the Netherlands accept that a demand for death from a psychiatric patient may be no more than a cry for help. 
The woman, who has not been named, began to suffer from mental disorders 15 years ago following sexual abuse, according to the papers released by the Dutch Euthanasia Commission.
The Daily Mail reported that the Netherlands government released information about the case to prove that the case fulfilled the requirements of the law. According to the Daily Mail report:
the woman had post-traumatic stress disorder that was resistant to treatment. Her condition included severe anorexia, chronic depression and suicidal mood swings, tendencies to self-harm, hallucinations, obsessions and compulsions. 
She also had physical difficulties and was almost entirely bedridden. Her psychiatrist said 'there was no prospect or hope for her. The patient experienced her suffering as unbearable'. 
However, the papers also disclosed that two years before her death the woman's doctors called for a second opinion, and on the advice of the new doctors she had an intensive course of trauma therapy. 'This treatment was temporarily partially successful,' the documents said.

The patient, they said, was 'totally competent' and there was 'no major depression or other mood disorder which affected her thinking'. A final GP's report approved the 'termination of life' order and the woman was killed by an injection of lethal drugs, the report said.
In 2010 there were 2 reported cases of euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in the Netherlands and in 2015 there were 56 reported cases.

A recent study examined 66 cases of euthanasia for psychiatric reasons between 2011 and 2014 in the Netherlands. 

One of the cases was a healthy woman who decided that she could not live without her husband. After her husband died, she wanted to die by euthanasia. She was lethally injected, even though one of the consultants reported that she:
"did not feel depressed at all. She ate, drank and slept well. She followed the news and undertook activities."
Lead researcher, Dr Scott Kim was reported by CTV news as stating:
"There is no evidence base to operationalize 'unbearable suffering,' there are no prospective studies of decision-making capacity in persons seeking EAS for psychiatric reasons, and the prognosis of patients labeled as 'treatment-resistant depression' varies considerably, depending on the population and the kind of treatments they receive."
Canada's Bill C-14, that is being debated in parliament, would legalize euthanasia for physical and psychological suffering. The concept of euthanasia should be disturbing, but the concept of euthanasia for psychiatric reasons should be considered unthinkable.

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