Saturday, July 26, 2014

"People with disabilities feel threatened by moves to legalize killing by the state"

This article was written by Audrey Cole and published in the Calgary Herald on July 22 under the title: Living through war made us value life more.

Audrey Cole
I wonder why discussion of end of life options comes mostly from people younger than I am.

Recently, I was on a panel at a meeting of Liberal senators. Their open caucus initiative reaches beyond politics and invites other Canadians to share information and discussion on topics of national importance — an admirable endeavour.

The topic was end of life care choices. The first speaker was the MP whose private member’s bills in the Commons would legalize doctor-assisted dying in Canada. Three of us spoke from personal knowledge of people who have disabilities; another from the perspective of dying with dignity; another about palliative care. Personally, I believe that palliative care should not be considered an option, but as good medical practice. That it is not available to all who need it, is to our collective shame.

After almost 50 years of voluntary effort in the disability community, it is not unusual for me to be the oldest person in a room. On this occasion, most of the others were also seniors. Yet, with mandatory retirement at 75 for senators, there was still more than a decade between our ages. By the birth date of the eldest of Canada’s senators, I had completed my first year in high school.

“With our aging population, the numbers in need of end of life options will only increase,” said the invitation. I was struck by this implied link between the demand for options and aging. I had never considered needing end of life options. I grew up believing life was a precious gift that we should respect as we lived it fully but carefully until, at some time in the future (hopefully far distant), we would die. It is relatively recently that we have been hearing about options in the dying process to which many Canadians believe we are, or should be, entitled.

Conversations about how people with disabilities have died are not unknown in the disability movement. We can tell horrific real-life stories that are unbelievable to citizens unfamiliar with the realities of living with a disability in a society that tends to see such people as “other” or “them” rather than ”us.”

People with disabilities feel threatened by moves to legalize killing by the state of those who request it. They know what it is to be unwanted in an uncaring society and they know that the steps that would further threaten their lives and social image are much smaller and easier to take than most would care to admit or believe.

I have also had conversations about dying with older friends from school days in the U.K., where I was born. We all married and remained with our partners until their deaths. None of us talked about options with respect to that final reality. I don’t know any people my age or older who talk about options.

If the expectation of availability of those options is linked to aging, I found myself wondering why it had occurred to the senators, but not to me or to others of my age that I knew? What was it about that decade or so difference in our ages that had changed long-standing life and death expectations? Could it have something to do with the Second World War?

People of my age and older learned much during the war about dying, particularly dying before one’s expected time. We attended memorial services for friends, neighbours, perhaps relatives, none of whom had asked to die. Full of life when they left to serve their country, they never came home. No “options” for them.

But we also learned about sharing life. There was certainly fear and threat, but there was also a sustaining unity in the war years. People of all ages volunteered in that united effort on the home front. Guides, Scouts, Girls’ Training Corps, Cadets, all contributed. Adults too old or too young for the armed forces joined the civilian war effort — Home Guard, Air Raid Wardens, Women’s Voluntary Service — in my case, the Women’s Land Army, women who worked the farms until the men returned.

The war experience had great influence on my life and the lives of millions. It was that sense of unity and selflessness epitomized by those who will never return that helped to provide the foundations for the United Nations and for laws on fundamental human rights, the benefits of which we all now share. But other elements are creeping into that recognition of equality and mutual respect. Now we hear mostly about autonomy, the freedom to live life without external influence, the presumed right to exercise one’s will irrespective of its implications for others, even a “right” to have the state assist us in dying the way we, individually, might want to die. Deep down, I know that those are not the rights for which my friend, Jack, my occasional dance partner; Jimmy, my neighbour; Lou and countless others, gave their lives.

Audrey Cole, 86, has deep roots in Canada’s Community Living movement. The birth of her now 54-year-old son with Down’s syndrome, energized her advocacy in human rights, values and ethics and the social well-being of disadvantaged people. She shares the concern of the disability rights movement that the incessant call for assisted suicide sends a cruel but implicit message that life with disabling conditions is a life not worth living.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ohio man charged with fatally drugging his wife.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Jon James Costell

The Marysville Journal-Tribune reported yesterday that Jon James Costell (56) of Milford Center Ohio has been charged with:
one count each of aggravated murder, failing to provide for a functionally impaired person, domestic violence and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of his wife.
The news report indicated that Ohio Medicaid was paying for in-home help for Debra Lynn Costell, who had medical conditions causing paraplegia. The report stated that due to prior domestic violence convitions, authorities were concerned when she Debra died. The report stated that:
Mr. Costell has three prior domestic violence convictions — two in 1998 in the Marysville Municipal Court and a felony conviction in 2002.

Capital Punishment, Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia.

This article was written by Wesley Smith and published on his blog on July 24 under the title: Another Cruel and Unusual Death with Dignity.

By Wesley Smith

The drugs that are used in lethal injection executions are also used in assisted suicide/euthanasia.

Yet, we are told with regard to the former lethal use, that they cause pain and suffering–but with the latter use, it is peaceful, calm “death with dignity.”

Another execution using lethal injection has gone wrong. From the FNN story:
A so-called botched execution in Arizona is reigniting the debate over the death penalty and how lethal injections are administered. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer ordered a review of the state’s execution process after a convicted double murderer gasped and snorted for more than an hour and a half before his death Wednesday.
Studies have shown that euthanasia and assisted suicide killings can also take much time and cause adverse side effects – other than death, I mean–such as vomiting and seizures.

But that fact interferes with the death with dignity narrative, while promoting these problems furthers the cruel and unusual punishment meme.

Which is why I calls stories like this, “cruel and unusual death with dignity.”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Nitschke heads a suicide cult that must be stopped.

By Paul Russell, the director of Hope Australia (Link to the original article).

Paul Russell
Following The Australian's news story about another young life lost that was related to Philip Nitschke and Exit, senior journalist, Angela Shanahan says that Nitschke and Exit must be stopped.

Shanahan opens:
Philip Nitschke, contrary to his claims as an advocate of euthanasia for the terminally ill, is the chief mover of something resembling a suicide cult. 
The case histories of Lucas Taylor, 26, and Joe Waterman, 25, who committed suicide after being in contact with Nitschke’s group, Exit, leave little doubt of that. 
Lucas Taylor was the subject of the other article in today's paper while Joe Waterman's story was covered earlier in the ABCs 7:30 Report that created the original furore leading to the medical board suspending Nitschke's practicing licence today.
Covering the information Judi Taylor found on her son's computer after his death the story adds:
His heartbroken mother realised that her son was not the only young person on this site. Nor was anyone on the site interested in the motivation for his thoughts of suicide, nor in helping Lucas to overcome his feelings. 
“They were only interested in the ‘endgame’,” she said, including detailed advice about where and when and how to go about it.
Again, this destroys any pretence that Nitschke and Exit are only involved in advising sick and dying people about how to commit suicide. This is a macabre and clandestine death industry. 

Hope joins with Angela Shanahan in calling for this organisation to be stopped and is joined now in our call for a National Inquiry into Exit and other euthanasia organisations by the mothers of both of the young men mentioned in this article.

Shanahan closes her article by saying: 
Nitschke’s claim of political persecution is risible. He and his organisation must be stopped.
Links to similar articles:

Andrew Lloyd Weber changes his mind on Assisted Suicide.

By Wesley Smith, published on his blog on July 17, 2014.

Andrew Lloyd Weber might not still be here if assisted suicide had been legal in the UK. He wanted to die and almost was set to go to Switzerland. Now, he’s glad he didn’t. From theTelegraph story:
Lord Lloyd-Webber, the West End impresario, was so convinced he wanted to die last year that he took steps to join Dignitas, the Swiss assisted suicide clinic, he has disclosed. The composer said he now believes that taking such a step would have been “stupid and ridiculous” but that it was all he could think of amid a bout of deep depression triggered by the pain from a series of operations. 
He is among members of the Lords likely to oppose the bill tabled by Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor, to legalise “assisted dying”, which will have its first parliamentary airing today. It came as Dominic Grieve, who until this week’s reshuffle was the Government’s chief law officer, said the proposals could open the door to a form of “legalised execution”. “It is not something that a civilised society should do,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

Nitschke is not fit to practice medicine in South Australia.

Paul Russell
This article was written by Paul Russell, the director of Hope Australia and published on their website on July 24 under the title: SA Health Minister critical of Nitschke and Exit.

While the media attention today was focusing on Exit International and the suspension of Philip Nitschke's medical licence, the South Australian Health Minister launched his own attack in answering a question in the South Australian Parliament today.


Minister, what is the South Australian Government’s response to last night’s decision by the Australian Medical Board, to suspend Phillip Nitschke from Medical Practise?

Health Minister, The Hon Jack Snelling MP: I thank the member for this question.

Hon Jack Snelling
Mr Speaker,

Last night, the Australian Medical Board suspended Philip Nitschke from practising medicine in Australia, stating that he "presents a serious risk to public health and safety”. This follows from his conduct in providing advice to Perth man, Mr Nigel Brayley, who then took his own life.

Euthanasia, Voluntary Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide are illegal in South Australia, and while they have debated by previous Parliaments in this place, as far as I am aware, Philip Nitschke’s resolve to provide support to a healthy man, with no terminal illness, in ending his life, goes beyond the scope of any piece of legislation that any house in any parliament in Australia, has ever considered.

Mr Speaker, 

Let me make it clear to the House, any medical practitioner who feels that suicide is an option for depressed and mentally ill people, is not fit to practice medicine in South Australia.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nitschke's website linked to UK suicide death.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In the investigation into the suicide death of Gillian Clarke, the Telegraph Argus news reported that a coroner in Bradford (UK) warned that internet sites that provide suicide advice should be named to allow scrutiny.

In his inquiry, Dr Dominic Bell, the assistant coroner, named Philip Nitschke's organization and book as influencing Clarke to commit suicide. Bell stated that:
"There are potential vulnerable people out there who may well be informed or manipulated by exit organisations and it's only by making this public record that attention can be drawn to such circumstances. It is important that some scrutiny is given to these organisations to limit the adverse possibilities on vulnerable individuals."
Nitschke has just been informed that he is losing his medical license in Australia. 

The article in the Telegraph Argus reported that:
Miss Clarke's death was suicide and that it had been clear from evidence from doctors she had been incredibly troubled by a series of medical disorders, for which there had been no one specific diagnosis or treatment that could restore her well-being. 
Miss Clarke, who had a previous history of depression, had been suffering stomach problems, weakness in her legs, appetite and weight loss yet all medical tests had come back normal - however, she was due to go back to hospital for more investigations because she had grown so thin.
Internet related suicide deaths have sadly become common. Society needs to protect vulnerable people by identifying and monitoring internet suicide sites.