Monday, July 21, 2014

Baroness Jane Campbell: Assisted suicide could lure me to the grave.

Last Friday, the UK House of Lords debated the Falconer assisted suicide bill, a bill that would legalize assisted suicide in a similar way to the Oregon assisted suicide law in the US.

Jane Campbell
Sign the petition against the assisted suicide bill in Britain.

In an article published in the Daily Mail, it was reported that Baroness Jane Campbell who lives with spinal muscular atrophy told her peers that assisted suicide:
'offers no comfort to me - it frightens me.' 
'I did not ask it and I do not want it, but it is about me nevertheless.'
Baroness Campbell spoke about the difficult times in her life. She told the House of Lords:
that in moments of despair, she might be tempted to ask for assisted dying - and if the law changed, doctors would not stop her. 
'It frightens me because in periods of greatest difficulty I know I might be tempted to use it. It only adds to the burdens and challenges life holds for me.'
In response to the criticism that she would not qualify under this assisted suicide bill, Campbell stated:
'Before anyone disputes this, imagine that it is already law and that I ask for assistance to die. 
'Do your Lordships think that I would be refused? 
Tanni Grey-Thompson
You can be sure that there would be doctors and lawyers willing to support my right to die.'
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, refuted in her speech the comment that only 80 people die each year by assisted suicide in Oregon. Grey-Thompson, a paralympic star stated:
Oregon has only 3million people, if the same trend was replicated in the UK some 1,600 people a year could take their own lives in doctors’ surgeries or Dignitas-style clinics.
The Daily Mail article then reported on the speech by Lord Tebbit, whose wife Margaret was paralysed by an IRA bomb. Tebbit said that in moments of despair his wife has stated:
“I would be better dead so that you could get on with your life.”

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Why euthanasia pioneers are changing their minds.

This article was written by Licia Corbella and published in the Calgary Herald.

Licia Corbella
By Licia Corbella, Calgary Herald columnist - July 18.


Recently, an influential and vocal supporter of euthanasia in the Netherlands changed his mind.

Theo Boer, who not only supported euthanasia, but was a member of one of five Dutch regional euthanasia review committees for nine years — which approved thousands of deaths — now admits that he “was wrong — terribly wrong.”

"I used to be a supporter of legislation. But now, with 12 years of experience, I take a different view,” writes Boer (whose column was published in the Herald on Friday, but was originally written for the Daily Mail in the U.K.) to urge British people to not head down the same “slippery slope” that the Netherlands has skated down at an alarming speed.

The numbers of Dutch residents who are seeking euthanasia “show an increase of 15 per cent annually, year after year,” complains Boer.
Theo Boer

“Euthanasia is on the way to becoming a default mode of dying for cancer patients,” he wrote.

Most troubling to Boer is the latest development in which the Dutch Right to Die Society, NVVE, has established a network of mobile euthanasia clinics, with the sole purpose of killing people who ask to die. “Doctors of the End of Life Clinic have only two options: administer life-ending drugs or send the patient away,” writes Boer.

In other words, don’t bother to seek anti-depressants or receive some grief counselling. It’s death or nothing. Nice. The new face of compassion.

In the first years after euthanasia became legal in the Netherlands in 2001, “hardly any patients with psychiatric illnesses or dementia were killed by their physicians, but those “numbers are now sharply on the rise,” states Boer.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Public support for Assisted Suicide in the UK drops to 43% when arguments against are heard.

This article was written by Dr Peter Saunders and published on his blog on July 18.

Peter Saunders
By Dr Peter Saunders

There is ample poll data showing that the majority of the British public support legalising assisted suicide (AS) in principle.

The former Voluntary Euthanasia Society (now rebranded Dignity in Dying) claims a figure of 80% although I have previously argued that such levels of support are uncommitted, uninformed and unconvincing.

However, there has been very little poll data gauging public attitudes in light of the various empirical and rational arguments against AS. That is, until now.

An extraordinary new poll has demonstrated that public attitudes change dramatically once some of the key practical implications of AS are considered.


In a new Comres/CARE poll published today and reported by the Daily Telegraph respondents were presented with the following scenario:
‘A new Bill is due to be debated in the House of Lords which is designed to enable mentally competent adults in the UK who are terminally ill, and who have declared a clear and settled intention to end their own life, to be provided with assistance to commit suicide by self-administering lethal drugs. Two doctors would need to countersign their declaration and be satisfied that the person has a condition which cannot be reversed by treatment and is reasonably expected to die within 6 months. In principle would you agree or disagree with this proposal?’
73% agreed (38% strongly), 12% disagreed and 14% were in the ‘don’t know’ category.

So far there’s nothing that surprising. It would be odd for people not to be moved by some of the tragic stories of the ‘hard cases’ and to say they support a means of alleviating such suffering.

But then those who supported AS in principle were asked which of the following arguments would make them change their minds. Each statement below was randomised throughout the survey in order to assess which argument moved opinion the most.

The answers were truly astounding.

Overall 42% of those who originally supported the bill changed their mind on the basis of at least one of the arguments.

When these were added back into the original sample, aggregating all who opposed as a result of the arguments put to them, and incorporating all who still supported AS having heard each argument, they found the following:

43% support AS, 43% oppose it and 14% don’t know.
So hearing the arguments against AS causes support for AS to collapse from 73% to 43% - that is, to less than half!

Here are the arguments with the percentage change each cause on those who initially backed Falconer’s proposals.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Québec - Medical aid in dying: Court challenge.




Montreal, July 17, 2014 – As announced when Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, was adopted, the citizen movement Living with Dignity (LWD) and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia (the Alliance), representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, have today filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal. The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of An Act respecting end-of-life care that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a euphemism used to describe euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.


The Alliance and LWD are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under the Criminal Code. It is a subject-matter which is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

In addition, the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, the Alliance and LWD request an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgement before the expected coming into force of the Act on December 10, 2015.

-30-

Sources: The citizen network Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against euthanasia.

For more information or to organize an interview, please contact: 

Nicolas Steenhout 
Director General, Living with Dignity 
438-931-1233

Care Not Killing Alliance: Falconer bill is a recipe for the abuse of elderly and disabled people

This article was originally published by Peter Saunders on his blog.

On the eve of the House of Lords’ debate on Lord Falconer's Assisted Dying Bill, Care Not Killing, an alliance of 40 organisations, has called on peers to reject the proposed legislation on grounds of public safety.

Campaign Director Dr Peter Saunders said, 

‘This bill is a recipe for the abuse of elderly and disabled people. The pressure vulnerable people will feel to end their lives if assisted suicide is legalised will be greatly accentuated at this time of economic recession with families and health budgets under pressure. It will quite simply steer them toward suicide.’ 
‘Any change in the law to allow assisted suicide or euthanasia would place pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden upon others. This would especially affect people who are disabled, elderly, sick or depressed.' 
‘In Washington, where assisted suicide is legal under a law very similar to that proposed by Falconer, 61% of people opting for assisted suicide give the fear of being a burden to family, relatives and caregivers as a key reason.’

The 85 assisted suicide deaths in 2012 in Oregon would equate with a similar law to 1,232 in England and Wales (14 times that of Oregon) and the Oregon experience raises many other causes for concern:
  1. There has been a steady increase in annual numbers of people undergoing assisted suicide in Oregon.
  2. The Oregon health department is funding assisted suicide but not treatment for some cancer patients.
  3. Patients are living for many years after having been prescribed lethal drugs for ‘terminal illness’ showing that the eligibility criteria are being stretched.
  4. The vast majority of those choosing to kill themselves are doing so for existential reasons rather than on the basis of real medical symptoms.
  5. Fewer than three per cent of patients are being referred for formal psychiatric or psychological evaluation.
  6. More than ten per cent of patients dying under the Act do not have terminal illnesses.
  7. Some doctors know the patient for less than a week before prescribing the lethal drugs.
  8. The fact that almost a third of patients dying under the Act report inadequate pain control or concerns about pain shows that palliative care provision in Oregon is unsatisfactory.
  9. The presence of no independent witnesses in over 80% of cases is a recipe for elder abuse.
  10. According to research 25% of cases of assisted suicide in Oregon involve people who are clinically depressed

Elder abuse and neglect by families, carers and institutions are real and dangerous and this is why strong laws are necessary. Action on Elder Abuse, for example, states that more than 500,000 elderly people are abused every year in the United Kingdom. Sadly, the majority of such abuse and neglect is perpetrated by friends and relatives, very often with financial gain as the main motive. It would be very naive to think that many of the elderly people who are abused and neglected each year, as well as many severely disabled individuals, would not be put under pressure to end their lives if assisted suicide were permitted by law.

Breaking news: Dr Nitschke has 48 hours to defend being struck off by medical board.

This article was originally published on July 17 by Paul Russell on the HOPE Australia blog.

B
Paul Russell
y Paul Russell, the Director of HOPE Australia (Preventing euthanasia and assisted suicide) and the Vice Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition - International.


The head of Exit International, Dr Philip Nitschke held a press conference ahead of an Exit meeting in Melbourne Australia today.

The Age Newspaper is reporting that Dr Nitschke claims that he has 48 hours to mount a defence against the medical board of Australia, AHPRA, whom the report says, wants Nitschke deregistered as a medical practitioner.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), now has a media statement on their website confirming this move, saying:

Immediate action is a serious step. The threshold for the Board to take immediate action is high and is defined in section 156 of the National Law. To take immediate action, the Board must reasonably believe that: 
because of their conduct, performance or health, the practitioner poses a ‘serious risk to persons’ and that it is necessary to take immediate action to protect public health or safety, 
or that the practitioner’s registration was improperly obtained, 
or the practitioner or student’s registration was cancelled or suspended in another jurisdiction.
Read the full press statement HERE:

The ABC News is confirming: Speaking in Melbourne, Dr Nitschke said 
"the Medical Board, under pressure, has suddenly decided that immediate deregistration seems to be the best option. So that's what they decided to do."
This detail comes on the back of an ABC 7:30 Report recently where it was disclosed that Dr Nitschke spoke and corresponded with a Perth WA man who admitted in an email to Exit that he intended to suicide. Suicide Prevention authorites were outraged that Dr Nitschke admitted on television that he did nothing to try and stop the man.

In what is seen by this writer as a very low blow, Nitschke is claiming that the man in question, Nigel Brayley, was a serial killer. As if that is some justification for not acting and for welcoming his death. It is known that Brayley did have an association with the death of two people - one his wife - but no charges had been laid against him and it remains unclear whether he was ever considered a suspect.

Care Minister (UK) promotes assisted suicide as treatment option for people with disabilities and the elderly.


Dr Peter Saunders
By Peter Saunders - Campaign Director, Care Not Killing Alliance.

There is really something quite chilling about seeing the Care Minister backing assisted suicide as a treatment option for disabled and elderly people.

But that is exactly what Liberal Democrat Minister Norman Lamb, the cabinet member responsible for providing care for dementia and other serious disabilities, has done today.

It is bitterly ironic that he has spoken out on the very day that the CEOs of four major charities representing elderly and disabled people have written to members of the House of Lords warning about the dangers of passing Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill and one day before disabled people’s representatives take to the streets of Westminster and the airwaves of the nation to protest.

Falconer's bill is no less than a recipe for the abuse of elderly and disabled people.

In Washington, where assisted suicide is legal under a law very similar to that proposed by Falconer, 61% of people opting for assisted suicide give the fear of being a burden to family, relatives and caregivers as a key reason.


The pressure people will feel to end their lives if assisted suicide or euthanasia is legalised will be greatly accentuated at this time of economic recession with families and health budgets under pressure. It will quite simply steer them toward suicide.

Elder abuse and neglect by families, carers and institutions are real and dangerous and this is why strong laws are necessary.

Any change in the law to allow assisted suicide or euthanasia would place pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives for fear of being a financial, emotional or care burden upon others. This would especially affect people who are disabled, elderly, sick or depressed.

Parliament has rightly rejected the legalisation of assisted suicide and euthanasia in Britain three times since 2006 out of concern for public safety - in the House of Lords (2006 and 2009) and in Scotland (2010) - and repeated extensive enquiries have concluded that a change in the law is not necessary.