Saturday, November 22, 2014

Assisted suicide opponents meet in Connecticut

By Alex Schadenberg 
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

(right side of the room)
The Associated Press reported on the East Coast Conference Against Assisted Suicide today.

The Associated Press reported that:

Organizers say about 140 people have turned out for a daylong conference on assisted suicide. 
The two-day event, dubbed East Coast Against Assisted Suicide, was wrapping up on Saturday in Windsor Locks. It was sponsored by several groups that oppose legislation legalizing the practice, including the Connecticut-based Family Institute of Connecticut and Second Thoughts Connecticut. 
Other sponsors included the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Second Thoughts Massachusetts. 
Speakers include experts from the region and around the world who oppose assisted suicide legislation in the U.S., particularly the East Coast. 
Last year marked the second straight year that a Connecticut legislative committee held a public hearing on legislation allowing physicians to prescribe medication to help terminally ill patients end their lives. The bill was not brought up for a vote.
The East Coast Conference Against Assisted Suicide was an incredible success. It was organized to train people from all political and social points of view to understand the issues related to assisted suicide and to effectively oppose it in their state.
Read more here:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may need to Veto assisted suicide bill

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Sign the petition urging New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to veto the assisted suicide bill.

Governor Chris Christie
It seems likely that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will need to veto the State assisted suicide bill. 

The media has reported that Stephen Sweeney (D), the President of the New Jersey State Senate, has agreed to be the primary sponsor for New Jersey Senate Assisted Suicide Bill 382, after Joseph Vitale (D) withdrew his sponsorship of the assisted suicide bill.

Vitale, the Chairman of the State Senate Health Committee, told the New Jersey media:
“I initially supported the idea of the bill and signed on. After a time, I had more questions and concerns than answers. So I thought it was honest to remove my name and continue to think about it.”
On November 13, the New Jersey State Assembly passed the assisted suicide bill A 2270 by a vote of 41 to 31 after pushing for a quick vote on the bill while the Brittany Maynard story was fresh in the minds of the state legislators.

New Jersey citizens are urged to contact their State Senators to defeat the assisted suicide bill.

Everyone can sign the petition urging New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to veto the assisted suicide bill.

Links to more information:

Swiss Federal Court drops charges by assisted suicide campaigner against police and forensic team

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Criminal trespassing charges filed by Ludwig Minelli, the founder of the Dignitas assisted suicide clinic against Swiss police and a forensic medical team was rejected by the Swiss Federal Court.

According to the Swiss media:

The court decided that there would be no criminal proceedings against seven members of canton Zurich’s prosecution, police and forensic medicine teams. In August 2012, they were called to a house in Pfäffikon for a legal inspection involving a person who had committed assisted suicide. In another room, they noticed a second person who was not dying as expected but gasping for air. 
The civil servants decided to take the 67-year-old woman ... to the hospital, where she received painkillers and died the same day. The government employees stayed at the house owned by Dignitas until the paramedics arrived.
Ludwig Minelli
Minelli filed criminal trespassing charges because the authorities didn't leave the Dignitas suicide clinic after he asked them to leave. The media article stated:

...the Federal Court in Lausanne concluded that it is understandable that the people present had assumed that something had gone wrong in the case of the second accompanied suicide, and that they had tried to uphold the rights of the unconscious woman. The judges said that by virtue of their function it was correct to stay in the Dignitas house and take measures to protect her.
The Dignitas assisted suicide clinic has been associated with several controversial assisted suicide deaths. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Few Swiss doctors will participate in assist suicide

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A study published today by the Swiss Academy of Sciences found that the majority of Swiss doctors are unwilling to participate in assisted suicide while the majority approved of assisted suicide.

The Swiss Academy of Sciences sent questionnaires to 4800 Swiss physicians and received only 1318 responses (27%). Due to the low response rate the results of the survey may not be accurate.

The Swiss media reported that:

For the majority of the 1,318 respondents, support for assisted suicide depended on the specific situation: the more clearly a purely physical and terminal disease is present, the greater the acceptance of physician-assisted suicide. Three-quarters were opposed to assisted suicide in the case of people who are old but otherwise healthy, while over half rejected assisted suicide for patients with mental illness.

The study, also examined physicians’ personal experiences in this area: 
less than half of the respondents had, on at least one occasion, received a serious request for assisted suicide.

About a quarter had, at least once, evaluated whether the eligibility criteria for assisted suicide were met. Most of the physicians concerned have done so very rarely, while individual respondents have undertaken such an evaluation at least 50 times.
In jurisdictions where euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal, very few doctors are willing participate in causing the death of their patients. Out of the 1318 physicians who responded to the study, only 111 had participated in an assisted suicide.

In Switzerland, assisted suicide is carried out by assisted suicide groups. The physician assesses the person who requests assisted suicide and prescribes a lethal dose, but the assisted suicide groups facilitate the death.

Barbara Kay: Euthanasia is killing

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The National Post published an excellent article by Barbara Kay, one of Canada's most respected columnists, titled: Beware of euthanasia's friendly face.

Barbara Kay
Kay's article accomplishes two tasks: it properly defines the language and purpose of Bill 52, the Québec euthanasia bill that passed last June, and she reports on her experience at a dinner organized by the Physicians for Social Justice opposing Québec's euthanasia law, that was held in Montréal.

Kay points out that the Québec euthanasia law, that is scheduled to come into effect in December 2015, legalizes euthanasia and not assisted suicide. Kay wrote:
In general, even intelligent and educated people have rather fuzzy notions about euthanasia (which is not assisted suicide, though many people conflate the two). The only reason the Quebec government is calling euthanasia “medical aid in dying” is that they believe it creates an end run around the Criminal Code, which proscribes the killing of patients by doctors. But euthanasia is killing by doctors. Surveys show 60% of Quebecers do not realize the bill provides for death by lethal injection, just like the death penalty in the U.S. — and euphemisms do not change that. 
There is only one form of medical treatment that can accurately be described as “medical aid in dying,” and that is palliative care. Which is why palliative care doctors, as well as many family physicians, are almost as appalled by the wording of the bill as they are by euthanasia itself.
Kay then writes about the response from prominent Québec physicians to the euthanasia law:
I spoke with Manny Borod, a palliative care physician at the Montreal General Hospital, who articulated the grievances his peers feel. Foremost is the illicit intrusion of the government into medicine’s jurisdiction. Governments should not be in the business of deciding what is or what is not a medical treatment. If the government can decide euthanasia is a medical treatment, Dr. Borod asks, “what’s to stop them from legislating other medical treatments?” Like many of his colleagues, he would like to see less aggressive, technology-heavy treatment applied to dying patients and more attention paid to enriching and enlarging the palliative resources that would give those patients a better death.
Dr Balfour Mount
Kay then wrote about the speech given by Balfour Mount, at the event. Dr Mount is the father of palliative care in North America and a leading opponent of euthanasia: Kay wrote:
Most galvanizing were the words of Balfour Mount. ... Dr. Mount’s passionate disdain for the medicalization of euthanasia remains undimmed. Calling euthanasia “medical aid in dying” is a “cowardly distortion of language,” he said. The dying do not want to be killed; they want an “easy death,” and “that is what palliative care gives them.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Petition urging New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to Veto the Assisted Suicide Bill.

Dear Governor Christie, 

Sign the petition urging New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to veto the assisted suicide bill.

I urge you to veto the assisted suicide bill A2270. 

Through this bill vulnerable elders will be put at risk. Every year in New Jersey, it is estimated that out of 1 ½ million people over age 60, there are 175,000 reported and unreported cases of abuse.

Depressed people will be harmed by this bill. Oregonian Michael Freeland, where assisted suicide is legal, easily obtained a lethal prescription for his terminal diagnosis, despite a 43-year history of severe depression, suicide attempts, and paranoia. The prescribing doctor said he didn't think a psychological consult was "necessary." Oregon’s statistics for the last four years show that an absurdly low 2% of patients who died by assisted assisted were referred for a psychological evaluation.

Governor Chris Christie
Please think about New Jersey residents, elders and disabled people who may be vulnerable and without the sort of support and control assisted suicide proponents take for granted, innocent people who will be impacted by this piece of bad social policy.

A2270 is not safe. Assisted suicide is not safe.

Links to more information:

Dutch Health Minister calls for tighter euthanasia guidelines

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Edith Schippers
Dutch Health Minister, Edith Schippers, reacted to comments by Professor Theo Boer by calling for tighter guidelines for euthanasia. Boer, an ethicist who was a member of a Euthanasia Review Committee for 9 years and oversaw more than 4000 euthanasia cases in the Netherlands.

Recently Boer wrote an article calling for reform of the Dutch euthanasia law. Boer stated that euthanasia is being granted to people who have years to live. 

The media reported that Schippers is calling for tighter guidelines on euthanasia. The article stated:
Minister Schippers wants a geriatrician to be always involved in euthanasia of people with dementia and in the case of psychiatric patients a psychiatrist must always play a role. The latter often happens in practice though, but it should be according to Schippers clearly laid down in guidelines.
Schipper also wants: 
 a second specialist to always be involved in complex euthanasia cases.
Theo Boer
Last July Boer wrote an article opposing euthanasia where he stated:

I used to be a supporter of euthanasia. But now, with twelve years of experience, I take a different view.

Boer argued that the number of euthanasia deaths, and the reasons for euthanasia have greatly expanded since the introduction of the euthanasia law in 2002. Boer stated that:
"Cases have been reported in which a large part of the suffering of those given euthanasia or assisted suicide consisted in being aged, lonely or bereaved. 
Whereas the law sees assisted suicide and euthanasia as an exception, public opinion is shifting towards considering them rights, with corresponding duties on doctors to act. 
Pressure on doctors to conform to patients’ (or in some cases relatives’) wishes can be intense. Pressure from relatives... is in some cases an important factor behind a euthanasia request."

Monday, November 17, 2014

New Jersey Assisted Suicide bill sponsor withdrew sponsorship.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Senator Joseph Vitale (D)
New Jersey Senator, Joseph Vitale, (D) withdrew sponsorship of the New Jersey Senate Assisted Suicide Bill. Vitale, who is the Chairman of the State Senate Health Committee, told the New Jersey media:
“I initially supported the idea of the bill and signed on. After a time, I had more questions and concerns than answers. So I thought it was honest to remove my name and continue to think about it.”
On Thursday November 13, the New Jersey State Assembly passed the assisted suicide A 2270 by a vote of 41 to 31.

Vitale will hold hearings on the assisted suicide bill in the State Senate Health Committee. The New Jersey Assisted Suicide bill may be defeated in the State Senate. If it passes in the Senate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie must uphold his promise and veto the bill.

Links to more information:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Assisted Suicide groups are allowed into Swiss nursing homes.

This article was published by Bioedge on November 15, 2014.

By Michael Cook

The legislature of the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel has voted overwhelmingly to force government-funded nursing homes to allow representatives of assisted suicide groups to advertise their services.

(Neuchâtel is in the west of Switzerland, bordering on France, and is predominantly French-speaking.)

There are no exemptions for conscientious objection by managers in the homes. The only critierion, according to, is the personal choice of the patients. Personal autonomy must take precedence over the rules of the nursing homes. About 60 institutions will be affected by the decision.

The new regulations specify that nursing home personnel will not be allowed to interfere if a patient chooses to die. In fact, they are required to set aside a room where the staff of the assisted suicide organisation Exit will help the person to die.

The law establishes some conditions for such procedures. The disease or condition must be serious and incurable and other end-of-life options must be discussed. If the nursing home refuses to cooperate, the patient can complain to the authorities. Only homes which do not accept government funding will be allowed to close their doors to Exit.

Exit (whose full name is Exit ADMD Suisse Romande) caters for French-speaking Swiss. Another group, called simply Exit, caters for German-speakers. Last year the French Exit began to offer its services to elderly people who did not have a terminal illness but wished to die. According to one report, it assisted the suicide of 155 people last year, and its German counterpart 459. Apparently nursing homes in the German cantons are far more amenable to visits by Exit.

Friday, November 14, 2014

German Parliament opposes assisted suicide groups.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

German Bundestag
The German Bundestag debated the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide yesterday. German legislators did not debate a bill but rather they debated the general issues related to euthanasia and assisted suicide in order to determine the direction of future legislation. The media stated:

An unusual, highly emotional debate in German parliament ended with the majority expressing support for prohibiting organized assisted suicide. But not all representatives called for an outright ban of the practice.
The Majority of the members were opposed to the assisted suicide business. Volker Kauder (CDU) pointed to a recent development that he said is a cause for concern:
Organizations that offer assisted suicide services to their members. He said it was a "perversion" that, according to the amount in membership dues paid, assisted suicide services would be provided either immediately, or after a certain waiting period. "What does that have to do with humanity? " he asked. "Is that something we want to have in our society?"
According to the media, the German Health Minister opposes assisted suicide.
Health Minister Hermann Groehe said he opposed doctor assisting suicide. He said Germany should instead expand its network of hospices, so everyone has access to palliative care and the best painkillers while dying.
The media reported that the German Health Minister will likely introduce an assisted suicide bill in February 2015.