Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Belgium’s euthanasia establishment hisses back.

Paul Russell
This article was published by HOPE Australia on June 26, 2015 and Mercatornet on June 30, 2015.

By Paul Russell, the director of HOPE Australia: preventing euthanasia & assisted suicide,

The name and the story of Belgian chemist Dr Tom Mortier has become known throughout the world. His physically well mother was clinically depressed. Yet in 2012 she was euthanised without his knowledge in Belgium. He and his sister were left to pick up the pieces.

His experience was recently described in a stunning feature in The New Yorker by journalist Rachel Aviv. Ever since his mother’s death Tom has been campaigning against legalized euthanasia in Belgium, much to the consternation of figures in the euthanasia establishment who have become the darlings of the media.

“I am afraid that the notion of ‘free will’ has become dogma, behind which it is easy to hide,” Tom wrote in a Belgian medical journal. “Wouldn’t it be better to invest in mental health and palliative care?”
The establishment was indignant at this impertinence. Etienne Vermeersch, who has been called the most influential intellectual in the country, complained that Tom was conducting a “smear campaign”. Seven thousand people signed a petition objecting to the criticism. At least he knows who his enemies are…

Tom Mortier in Adelaide.
Tom spoke recently about his experiences at a symposium I organised in Adelaide, South Australia, and two weeks later in Dublin. We have corresponded and talked on and off for the last few years after meeting briefly in Brussels in November of 2013.

Tom is incredibly open and honest about his personal history: his father’s suicide when Tom was small; becoming both child and carer for his mentally-ill mother; their later estrangement; and his own difficulties in dealing with depression and mental health issues.

His mother’s death and the trials that followed as he struggled to understand the how and the why can be easily understood to be stressful and challenging.

Tom and I went fishing for a few days after our event. He’s a warm and intelligent man with a zany sense of humour. He is also a husband and father. We spoke about his grief following his mother’s death, what he has learned since about euthanasia practice in Belgium. Tom says, “I did not ask for any of this.” I am in awe of Tom, his inner strength, his lucid thinking and his drive for justice. He is a survivor, not a statistic.

Tom Mortier's mother
But any suggestion that Tom’s behaviour, the path he has pursued and the questions he has asked of those involved in his mother’s death, are the actions of someone who is not in control of his faculties, who sought, “self-treatment with lawsuits to the European Court of Human Rights” is beyond the pale. But that is precisely what Dr Jan Bernheim and Professor Etienne Vermeersch did in defending their euthanasia colleagues in the De Morgen newspaper after Tom’s story was the focal point of an extensive article in The New Yorker magazine recently.

Bernheim, like Dr Wim Distelmans who killed Tom’s mother, is an oncologist. Vermeersch is a philosopher. Along with Distelmans, they are part of the foundation movement that brought euthanasia to Belgium in 2002. None is a psychiatrist and yet Distelmans cleared a mentally-ill woman for euthanasia while his colleagues “diagnosed” her son as suffering “pathological grief” in a newspaper – no issues of confidentiality for them!

There’s a very distinct empathy deficit here; a deficit, I submit, that characterises the Belgian euthanasia experiment over these last 12 years.

Think of the pain and distress this De Morgen article visits upon Tom and his family. If Bernheim and Vermeersch had the slightest shred of decency they would have taken a more humane and sensitive route in defence of their colleagues.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Disability rights advocates fight California assisted suicide bill.

Anthony Orefice
By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

USA Today published a very interesting article by Anna Gorman of Kaiser Health News concerning the role of disability rights activists in the assisted suicide debate in America. For instance Anthony Orefice from Valencia California who had a motorcycle accident when he was 19.
Anthony Orefice hit a telephone pole on his motorcycle going 100 miles per hour. Doctors told his family he wouldn't survive. He did, but the accident left him paralyzed from the chest down ... All you are thinking is the worst, worst, worst – everything you can't do," ... "I wanted to be dead. 
Orefice, who is now 40, is married, has a 7-year-old son, owns a medical supply company and counsels people who are newly disabled with spinal cord injuries. Orefice says that:
"Depression,... is part of the healing process." 
Marilyn Golden (on right)
Orefice is one of many disability rights activists who are speaking up against the California assisted suicide bill. He and others are concerned that:

depression and incorrect prognoses may lead people with serious disabilities to end their lives prematurely.
Marilyn Golden, the senior policy analyst at Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, argues that the assisted suicide bill poses "considerable dangers" to people with new disabilities who may have suicidal thoughts. Golden states that:
"It would almost be too easy to make an irrevocable choice,"
Golden added:
many people who initially received terminal diagnoses have "lived full lives (for) years or even decades" longer than expected.
John Kelly
John Kelly, with the disability rights group Not Dead Yet, explained that the disability rights groups were less organized when the Oregon and Washington State and Vermont passed assisted suicide bills, but since then they have effectively defeated assisted suicide bills in many states including Massachusetts, Colorado and Connecticut. Kelly is quoted as saying:

"We have had success after success in stopping these bills," ... they are determined to defeat any bill, including the one in California.
The disability rights coalition is actively opposing the California assisted suicide bill SB 128. Deborah Doctor, a legislative advocate for Disability Rights California, wrote in a letter to State Senator Lois Wolk:
disabled people are vulnerable to abuse and could be coerced by family members not acting in the patients' best interests. Relatives, she said, could put pressure on people to take life-ending medication. 
"Our responsibility is to think of people who are the most vulnerable to coercion, abuse and pressure."
Doctor is also concerned that:
physicians may simply be wrong about how long someone has to live. Insurance companies also might overrule treatment for people with disabilities because of the cost of care.
Laurie Hoirup is another disability rights activist who strongly opposes assisted suicide, based on her personal experience. Hoirup has had spinal muscular atrophy since she was a toddler. She has a curved spine and rods in her back, she cannot eat, bathe or go to the bathroom on her own and has trouble breathing. According to Gorman, Hoirup said that:
Physicians told her family that she wouldn't live past 10 years old.
Anyone could be given the wrong diagnoses, I am certainly the perfect example of that.
Laurie Hoirup
Hoirup, who is now a grandmother, spent many years working in government and other positions on behalf of people with disabilities.

The article concludes:
Orefice, who wished for death when he was 19, said he is now glad for what he calls the years of "bonus time." 
But Orefice said he doesn't dwell on his disability or think much about death. Instead, he focuses on his family and thinks what he's been able to accomplish and what he still hopes to. He paddle boards, plays wheelchair hockey and races specially equipped off-road vehicles. 
"I have affected more lives than I would have if I was walking," he said. "When you are in the trenches, you don't see that."

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Parents of cognitively disabled man appeal death by dehydration order in France.

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

On June 5, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg Germany decided that Vincent Lambert, a cognitively disabled man who lives in France, could have his food and water withdrawn causing his death by dehydration.

Yesterday, the French media reported that Lambert's parents appealed the decision of the European Court of Human Rights. His parents and two siblings intend to protect him from death by dehydration. After the Strasbourg court decision Lambert's mother, Viviane stated:
“It’s scandalous. They are condemning my son. We will remain by Vincent’s side and will continue to fight,"
Vincent Lambert's mother
Lambert's parents referred to death by dehydration as being "akin to torture."

The Strasbourg court decision should concern people who believe in human equality. Lambert is not dying, but is cognitive disabled. This precedent setting court decision may cause other people with cognitive disabilities to be dehydrated to death.

Letter: Collateral damage of assisted suicide

This letter was written by disability rights attorney, Christopher Knauf, and published on June 25 in the Glendale News-Press

Dan Evans' recent op-ed, “Start the presses: Debating doctor assisted death,” avoids any mention of the serious and permanent collateral damage that accompanies physician-assisted suicide laws.

Assisted suicide offers no second chances. Terminal diagnoses are often wrong. Countless patients have been given “six months to live,” only to continue living for years.

Additionally, people who may technically be “mentally competent” but who are experiencing depression and decreased mental capacity are at great risk. Studies have found that a large percentage of those with dementia, for example, remain undiagnosed. Do we doubt that such people are at great risk of greedy family members or caregivers?

Wherever assisted suicide is legalized, too often, patient choice and control over one's healthcare is removed. Assisted suicide pills cost much less than the medical treatment for a chronically ill patient, or someone living with a disability who may need greater-than-average care. Do we really trust insurance companies to do the right thing — or the cheapest thing?

As disability rights advocates, we fear that family pressure, misdiagnosis, doctor-shopping, and meaningless safeguards will put our colleagues, friends and clients at grave risk. The stigma of severe disability — and the desire to die rather than live with a disability - is sadly real and rampant. Every major disability rights organization in the nation that has taken a position on this issue is opposed to physician-assisted suicide. While well-meaning at first glance, the debate loses sight of the very people it claims to help — the ill patients who stand to be permanently harmed.

Twelve states have rejected assisted suicide bills this year alone. California should follow suit.

Christopher Knauf
Santa Monica

Christopher Knauf is a disability rights litigation and special education attorney. He is a board member of the Westside Center for Independent Living, and was a Founding Member and Former Chair of the Santa Monica Disabilities Commission.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Belgium euthanasia promoters attack man whose mother died by euthanasia.

This article was written by Professor Tom Mortier and published on his blog.

Professor Tom Mortier
he Flemish newspaper De Morgen has been discrediting me for three years now. 

Today this newspaper gave Bernheim & Vermeersch the opportunity to publish an ad hominem viewpoint where they show no empathy at all and where they attack me enormously. 

I have never spoken with these two people although I have questioned the work of Bernheim in the scientific literature because I don't think that what he has published is a good example of true science. And yes, I do think now that Vermeersch is not practicing scientific thinking. He has no other arguments than to attack me personally without ever having had a conversation with me. From now one, I will continue to question these nihilistic thinkers who can't bear criticism and I will continue to ask questions about what's truly happening in my country. 

Professor Tom Mortier's depressed mother died by euthanasia on December 19, 2012.
Dr's Jan Bernheim and Etienne Vermeersch are long-time promoters of euthanasia in Belgium.

Belgium: ‘Euthanasia leads to the decline of a society?

This article was published on the HOPE Ireland website.

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick
Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick is the director of HOPE Ireland.

Hermann de Dijn, emeritus professor of philosophy at the Belgian University of Leuven, says: ‘Once the law is there, you have people asking themselves new questions… ‘Do I really have quality of life? Am I not a burden on others?’

De Dijn believes that ‘human dignity should include not only respect for personal choices but also for connectedness to loved ones and society.’ The concept of human dignity in Belgium has been ‘reduced to the ability to have certain experiences’.[1]

He is absolutely right of course. The concept has been stretched beyond its limits. It has lost all meaning in Belgium.

We must now, ever more urgently, return to clear ground, to be sure we are really speaking about dignity, not some corrupted notion which has no actual bearing on what should be our proper concerns.

If the questions are not exactly new, the locus of them is: Belgium’s veneration of death – the lazy moral thinking in a whole society which has allowed itself to be led on a leash to accept the idea that death is, and should be, the default ‘treatment’ for all ailments. This is the societal tectonic shift that allows a young woman, just 24 years old, with apparently serious mental health issues, to apply for and be granted a euthanasia death (believed to be scheduled for August this year), and to say she finds ‘euthanasia a nice idea’.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Healthy 24-year-old woman to be euthanised in Belgium - Update.

Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Belgian euthanasia insanity continues with the case of a 24-year-old healthy woman (Laura) who will die by euthanasia this summer for psychological reasons, now the Inquisitr has provided more information on this horrific story. (Original article).

The June 19 DeMorgen article by Simone Maas explains (google translated):

She has good friends, loves good coffee and theater. And she has felt that she wanted to die ever since childhood. Laura (24): "Life, that's not for me." This summer, euthanasia will end her life full of inner conflict, depression and self-destruction. 
I met the West Flemish Laura at the presentation of the book 'Libera me' euthanasia for psychological reasons. Writer Lieve Thienpont is one of the psychiatrists who gave Laura a positive opinion for euthanasia.
Today the Inquisitr published an interview with Laura that explains the story in an even more shocking manner. According to the Inquisitr, Laura experiences suicidal thoughts, otherwise known as suicidal ideation.
Laura, a 24-year-old woman is planning on dying this summer via euthanasia. Unlike many cases before, Laura is not sick with cancer or dying. She simply has had suicidal thoughts since childhood and claims, “Life, that’s not for me.”
Laura claims that she has been living with suicidal ideation since kindergarten. The medical news defines suicidal ideation as:
Suicidal thoughts, also known as suicidal ideation are thoughts about how to kill oneself, which can range from a detailed plan to a fleeting consideration and does not include the final act of killing oneself. The majority of people who experience suicidal ideation do not carry it through.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts contact Your Life Counts.

According to the Medical news suicidal ideation can be triggered by other suicides.

Researchers reported in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) that suicide can be contagious.

Dr. Ian Colman, from the Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine and Canada Research Chair in Mental Health Epidemiology, explained that one person's suicide can have an impact on another's suicidal thoughts or behavior, especially among teenagers. 
He adds that the teenagers do not necessarily have to be associated with the person who died by suicide to start having suicidal thoughts or attempting to end his/her own life.
It appears that Laura's suicidal ideation may be linked to the euthanasia death of Sarah. The Inquisitr stated:
Due to these issues, she began seeking treatment in a psychiatric institution over the last three years. Laura says she first began considering euthanasia when she became friends with another woman named Sarah, who also ended her life about a year and a half ago. Now, Laura is also a candidate for euthanasia for psychological reasons, which is when a patient is in mental pain and wants to die.
Euthanasia for psychological reasons is done when a psychiatrist agrees that the psychological pain that a person is experiencing cannot be relieved in a way that the individual finds acceptable.

Godelieva De Troyer
That means, Laura may be treatable, but she has decided to only accept death as a "treatment."

Similar to the euthanasia deaths of Godelieva De Troyer (64), a healthy Belgian woman who was living with depression or Ann G (44) who asked for euthanasia for psychological pain after being sexually exploited by her psychiatrist, Laura has been approved for lethal injection, even though she is physically healthy and only 24-years-old.

In March, the chairman of the federal euthanasia commission in Belgium admitted that 50 to 60 euthanasia deaths are done on psychiatric patients each year.

Similar cases are occurring in the Netherlands, where a report indicated there were 42 euthanasia deaths for psychiatric reasons and 97 euthanasia deaths for people with dementia in 2013.

France Senate rejects Euthanasia by Dehydration.

This article was published by Wesley Smith's on his blog on June 23.

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

Recently I wrote about how the French Senate was considering legalizing terminal sedation as a way to kill the terminally ill.

That column also distinguished between the slow motion euthanasia by dehydration/starvation and terminal sedation and the legitimate and ethical pain controlling technique of palliative sedation. 

I won’t repeat it here. If you are interested, hit this link

In any event, the French Senate wisely said no to slo-mo killings. From the AP story
France’s senate has voted against a bill allowing the sedation of terminally ill patients, fearing it would lead to allowing euthanasia, which is illegal in the country. Senators in Paris rejected the law by a vote of 196 - 87. 
Unfortunately, that isn’t the end of it as the National Assembly has passed the bill. Under the French system, that means more legislative process, with the Assembly apparently having the final say...

But the Senate’s overwhelming rejection is good news for ethical medicine–at least for now.

Dutch Pediatricians Want to Euthanize Children.

This article was published on Wesley Smith's website on June 19.

Wesley Smith
By Wesley Smith

There is no limit to the culture of death once it is fully off the leash. 

Dutch law allows euthanasia for children age 12 and over. But now a prominent pediatrician wants the age limits erased. From the AFP story
Terminally ill children in unbearable suffering should be given the right to die, the Dutch Paediatricians Association said on Friday, urging the suppression of the current 12-year age limit. 
“We feel that an arbitrary age limit such as 12 should be changed and that each child’s ability to ask to die should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis,” said Eduard Verhagen, paediatrics professor at Groningen University who is on the association’s ethics commission. 
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill! 

And don’t think the “terminal illness” restriction would last two weeks. Dutch law does not require that people be dying to be euthanized. 

It should be noted that Verhagen–who co-authored the Groningen Protocol–commits infanticide. (The GP is a bureaucratic protocol under which doctors kill newborn babies born with disabilities and terminal illnesses.) 

Think that will never happen? It’s already the law in Belgium. 

As I said, there is no limit to the culture of death once it is fully off the leash.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Assisted suicide for disabled people – democracy in Britain?

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE, Director of Hope Ireland, published on the Hope Ireland's blog.
Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick
Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor’s recent research results[1] are extremely important.

As Baroness Helena Kennedy QC said in a public debate (Southbank, January 28 2012), ‘This is about the kind of society we want to live in’.

Cohen-Almagor’s paper reprises a truth Baroness Jane Campbell, founder of Not Dead Yet UK, has spent years trying to help people understand. We have clear evidence that assisted suicide/euthanasia laws are aimed primarily at disabled people. Lord Falconer has now openly admitted this on the Daily Politics show (BBC 9 June 2015).

Pain, we have repeatedly said, is not the primary reason for asking for assisted suicide. Falconer agrees: ‘…pain…can be dealt with…it is the sense of people losing independence and being reliant on other people…there’s a small number of people who…find that an intolerable position…’ Yes, 61% of people in Washington State US say they want to die because they feel themselves ‘to be a burden on others’.[2] No small number that.

Rob Marris, MP is now determined to bring forward in the House of Commons the Assisted Dying Bill. But this softened language is mere disguise according to page 39 of Lord Falconer’s own ‘commission’ report: ‘assisted dying’ just means ‘Assisted suicide/euthanasia’.[3]

Marris topped the ballot for a Private Member’s Bill. Falconer came twenty-first. Suddenly, Marris had adopted Falconer’s Bill as his own project. I cannot help but wonder how the other nineteen who came out of the hat before Falconer now feel. Is this really democracy in action? So that people may die if they fear the kind of ‘dependence’ millions of us disabled people accommodate every day?