Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ohio voting on bill to make assisted suicide a felony.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Ohio Senate
The Ohio Senate is voting on House Bill 470, a bill that would make assisting a suicide a felony in Ohio. HB 470 passed in the Ohio House last May by a vote of 92 - 5.


Jeremy Pelzer, reporting for Cleveland.com wrote:

House Bill 470, which may face a final Senate vote on Thursday, would make knowingly assisting in a suicide a third-degree felony in Ohio, punishable by up to five years in prison. 
Currently, Ohio law only permits a court to issue an injunction against anyone helping other people to kill themselves. 
If the Senate passes the bill on Thursday - expected to be the last day of the legislative session - it would head to Gov. John Kasich for his signature. The measure passed the Ohio House 92-5 last May. 
State Sen. Bill Seitz, the Cincinnati Republican who authored HB 470, said the legislation mirrors Michigan's 1998 ban on assisted suicide, which was passed in response to Dr. Jack Kevorkian's well-publicized campaign to help more than 130 terminally ill patients end their own lives.
In the past few years, Alabama,  Georgia and Arizona have passed bills to increase protection from assisted suicide.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Viktor Frankl: Finding meaning in suffering.

This article was written by Stephanie Gray and published on her blog on December 7, 2016.

By Stephanie Gray

Image Source: Prof. Dr. Franz Vesely,
Viktor-Frankl-Archiv, Wikimedia Commons
When acceptance of assisted suicide was written into Canadian law earlier this year, one of the criteria for it became this: that the person “have a grievous and irremediable medical condition” which is defined, in part, as an “illness, disease or disability or …state of decline [that] causes them enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them and that cannot be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptable.”

Everyone suffers at some point or another, but most do not select suicide. So to suffer so much that one chooses death over life is to suffer to the point of despair. Rather than assisting with a despairing person’s suicide, we ought to instead consider the insight of psychiatrist and Holocaust-survivor Dr. Viktor Frankl. In this interview he talks about the following mathematical equation his observations and lived experiences caused him to create:

D = S – M

He explains it as follows: Despair equals Suffering without Meaning. Some people get cancer. Others get hurt in car accidents. These are very real cases of suffering—not to be minimized. But whether someone despairs in light of these experiences is in direct proportion to whether they find meaning in the situation or not.

Dr. Frankl cites a teenager in Texas who became a quadriplegic—undoubtedly, an experience of suffering. And yet she did not despair as others in her situation have. What set this young woman apart was not her experience of suffering but her response to it: She spent her days reading newspapers and watching the news for an important purpose—whenever there was a story about someone experiencing difficult and challenging times, she would ask that a stick be placed in her mouth so she could use it to press keys to type out letters of encouragement, consolation, and hope to the people she read about. Dr. Frankl said, “She’s full of confidence. She has a strong sense of abundant meaning in her life.” She turned her experience of suffering into a springboard to reach out to others; it enabled her to have empathy and share hope. In short, she found meaning.

Or take another person with quadriplegia, a young man who became paralyzed at 17 years old. Dr. Frankl received a letter from him: “I broke my neck but it did not break me. I am at present helpless and this handicap will remain with myself apparently forever.” Why, like the aforementioned young woman, did this man not despair? Because he found meaning in his situation: “I want to become a psychologist to help others,” he said in explaining his decision to pursue post-secondary education. “And I’m sure that my suffering will add an essential contribution to my ability to understand others and to help other people.”

When speaking of individuals like the two mentioned, Dr. Frankl noted, “They can mold their predicament into an accomplishment on the human level; they can turn their tragedies into a personal triumph. But they must know for what—what should I do with it?”

The brilliance of this philosophy is that it empowers everyone. While we cannot necessarily escape suffering, we can escape despair, and we can escape it in direct proportion to the meaning we allow ourselves to find in a situation. In other words, when circumstances prevent us fromeliminating suffering, perspective allows us to add meaning, and that, in turn, helps alleviate the suffering itself.

This can happen in profound ways. Dr. Frankl told a story about a man who was electrocuted and all four of his limbs had to be amputated. That patient wrote, “Before this terrible accident I was bored, always bored, and always drunk. And since my accident I know what it means to be happy.”

This is proof that happiness is not determined by physical wellbeing but by an attitude of the mind. So if someone is struggling in this area and requests assisted suicide, it’s our job—not to facilitate their despair—but to facilitate their search for meaning.

If a Holocaust survivor, amputee, and quadriplegics can do this, why can’t we all?


Wesley Smith was right. Assisted suicide is not limited to physical suffering.

This article was written by Wesley Smith and published on his blog on December 7, 2016. 

Y

esterday I righteously accused assisted suicide-committing-and-promoting doctor, Timothy Quill, of being “full of crap” for pretending legalized assisted suicide should be limited to relieving physical suffering. 

That’s how it is sold, to be sure, wrote I, but no law legalizing assisted suicide in the USA actually requires that standard be met before a terminally ill patient can receive a lethal prescription. 

Over at Mother Jones, blogger Kevin Drum took exception to my characterization of Quill’s advocacy. From ”What Counts as ‘Physical Suffering?’:” 
Wesley Smith is an absolute foe of assisted suicide in any form, for any reason, at any time. 
Guilty as charged, although better stated, I am against laws authorizing assisted suicide in any form, for any reason, at any time. 

You see this is a public policy issue, not–by definition–about individual decision making to end one’s life. 

Rather, it is about the state authorizing a joint enterprise to make someone dead. It is about how a loving community responds to suicide ideation, regardless of its cause. 

For reasons presented in two books, as well as hundreds of articles and blog posts–written over the last 23 years–I have presented a plethora of reasons why assisted suicide is bad medicine and even worse public policy, and also demonstrated that wherever it is legalized, preventing physical suffering not required to access death. 


Drum claims Quill is a reasonable voice because he advocated what the Mother Jones scribe believes to be significant limitations on assisted suicide: 
Quill isn’t especially making the case that physical suffering is a major component of assisted suicide laws, he’s using it to argue against broadening the justification for assisted suicide to include “psychological or spiritual suffering.”  
You’d think Smith would appreciate at least that much, but apparently not. 
No I don’t. It is a false flag, and Quill knows it. 

Indeed, as I wrote in my book Forced Exit, Quill came to prominence in 1991 for writing in the New England Journal of Medicine that he had assisted the suicide of a patient he called Diane who had a history of alcoholism and depression, had overcome vaginal cancer, and was then diagnosed with leukemia. 

Diane had a 25% chance of successful treatment–which she refused–was depressed and scared of future suffering–existential, not physical–but was not then in the kind of pain Quill describes in his interview as necessary in legalization schemes. So, though his act was illegal, Quill did not require intense physical suffering before assisting Diane’s suicide. 

And waddya know: After criticizing me and defending Quill’s assertion, Drum ends his piece by tossing the physical suffering requirement over the side: (my emphasis): 
However, on one thing Smith is unquestionably correct: the assisted suicide laws on the books today don’t require a show of physical suffering. 
So the whole conversation is moot anyway.  
Nor do I see what good it would do if they did. It would just require patients to claim they were in a lot of physical pain. There’s no way to prove this one way or the other, so why bother? 
In other words, I am right. People diagnosed with a terminal illness can commit assisted suicide where it is legal in the USA for any reason they want. 

Let’s recap: Quill was selling assisted suicide laws as being limited to physical suffering. Drum admits that physical suffering is not a requirement for assisted suicide where it is legal, and doesn’t believe it should be. 

Hence, as I wrote, Timothy Quill and other proponents peddling the physical suffering meme as the excuse for legalization are so full of crap.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Supreme Court rejects euthanasia in South Africa.

Euthanasia Exposed protest (November 2016)
Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Supreme Court of South Africa rejected euthanasia and assisted suicide by overturning the lower court decision that approved death of Robin Stransham-Ford, of Cape Town, by euthanasia or assisted suicide by Judge Hans Fabricius on April 30, 2015.

Judge Fabricius legislated from the Bench when he ruled that:
"The applicant is entitled to be assisted by a medical practitioner either by the administration of a lethal agent or by providing the applicant with the necessary lethal agent to administer himself."
Stransham-Ford died of cancer two hours before the order was granted.

Euthanasia Exposed, a group that formed to oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, sent out a media release (by email) stating:
BREAKING NEWS: Today, 6 December 2016 the South African Supreme Court of Appeal said that Judge Fabricius was wrong in his 2015 judgement authorising Robert Stransham-Ford to have assisted sucide/euthanasia.
The court confirmed this is really a matter for elected parliament and not judges to decide. The decision was made in haste and did not properly consider South African law, the international context, our social values or the impact on the right to life. The medical information provided to the court was flawed and contradicted the real medical records, which were withheld until a court order was issued. The case was manipulated by the euthanasia lobby group, its lawyers and the estate, and the medical records indicate Stransham-Ford was actually asking if he could back out of euthanasia/assisted suicide. 
The court judgment used many of the same reasons which we wrote in our article 'Why judge Fabricius was wrong':
  • The separation of powers requires that parliament as representatives of the country as a whole should decide any changes on the law rather than requiring judges to decide.
  • The applicant died before the ruling was given.  Circumstantial evidence seems to indicate this information may have been deliberately withheld from the court.
  • Judge Fabricius ruling was decided in haste (one day) on a matter of national importance, an urgency apparently manufactured on an individual case by the lobby group Dignity SA.
  • The applicants attorneys had refused to provide the opposing friend of the court legal teams with information they needed to respond.
  • The South African situation is different to the juristictions where euthanasia is legal, which argues against foreign cases being used as precedent. We have different social values, a different socio-economic and policing situation.
  • The applicants affidavit was factually and medically doubtful on many points.
  • The organisation Dignity SA was publicly raising funds to pay for the court case, but the application insisted it was just on behalf of the individual.
  • The hasty Fabricius judgment did not properly consider South African law or international precedent cases.
  • Judge Fabricus was wrong to assume that the common law on murder needed to change to accommodate assisted suicide and euthanasia. The court needs to consider whether its decision would undermine the foundational value of the right to life or be supportive of it.
Further reasons emerged from the judgment, which we were not aware of:
  • The picture of Mr Stransham-Ford's final illness as depicted in the legal affidavits bore little resemblence to reality as found in his medical records.  
  • The psychologist who declared the applicant Robert Stransham-Ford to be psychologically fit and his desire to apply for suicide, did not provide reasoning on how the conclusion was reached and previously lived in the same street as him, which raises questions of independence.
  • The applicants doctors medical records indicate he was wavering in his desire for suicide/euthanasia and asked his doctor if he could change his mind and that his real medical situation was very different to that described in the affidavits. The estate of Stransham-Ford had refused to release these medical records until a court order was issued for them. [Our comment on this is that it is very normal for people to waver in their desire for suicide, but suicide is irreversible, and this is a strong argument against legalising suicide.]
The Centre for Applied Legal Studies, at Wits submitted argument to the court that euthanasia and assisted suicide were working well overseas. The Health Professions Council of the State and the State submitted detailed evidence rebutting these claims and giving evidence of numerous abuses and problems overseas. The court provisionally accepted this evidence but after reviewing it, decided that it was too complex and detailed to sift through or decide on.
Euthanasia Exposed (SA) formed to oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide in South Africa, prepared an excellent opposition to the Fabricius decision that is published on their website.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Euthanasia activist demands euthanasia without restrictions.

Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Euthanasia activist, Philip Nitschke, has established a political action group to pressure governments to legalize euthanasia without restrictions.

Nitschke does not support the "medical model" of euthanasia legislation and has decided to take direct action to legalize euthanasia. According to the Guardian report:
Exit Action said it would take “a militant pro-euthanasia position” to coordinate direct action strategies and force legislative change. 
“Exit Action is critical of the ‘medical model’ that sees voluntary euthanasia as a privilege given to the very sick by the medical profession,” the organisation said. 
“The standard approach for years has been to get the very sick to tell their stories of suffering to the public and politicians, in the hope that politicians might take pity and change the law.”
Nitschke is pushing for the final strategy of the euthanasia lobby. The mainstream euthanasia lobby agrees with Nitschke, but they are committed to incremental strategies.

Several years ago I attended the World Federation of Right to Die Societies conference in Toronto. One of the debates, during the conference, was whether activists, like Nitschke, are hindering the euthanasia lobby from achieving their incremental goals. One of the goals, as expressed by the Netherlands euthanasia lobby was the acceptance of the "last will pill." 


The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) produced the Euthanasia Deception documentary to make known stories of people with direct personal experience with euthanasia. Order the Euthanasia Deception documentary today.

Sadly, it didn't surprise me when the Dutch government recently announced that they will expand the euthanasia law to include people who are not sick or dying, but have lived a "completed life."

Nitschke is simply pushing for the final strategy. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Switzerland: 26% increase in assisted suicide deaths.

Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition



The Swiss media are reporting that the federal statistical office reported that 999 people died by assisted suicide at the Dignitas and Exit suicide clinics in 2015 an increase of 26% in one year.

In October Swissinfo.ch news reported:
The Federal Statistical Office reports that in 2014 Switzerland saw 742 cases of assisted suicide, more than 2.5 times as many as five years previously. In the latest statistics, assisted suicide accounted for 1.2% of all deaths in Switzerland that year. 
Men and women were nearly equally represented in the assisted suicide numbers, with ten out of 100,000 men and nine out of 100,000 women choosing to die in that way when spread out over Switzerland’s resident population. 
In 42% of cases, assisted suicides followed illnesses caused by cancer. Neurodegenerative disorders led to 14% of assisted suicides, followed by cardiovascular illnesses at 11% and musculoskeletal maladies at 10%.
Even though the Federal Statistical Office recently published this information, the data is not new. The Exit suicide clinic reported a 34% increase in 2015 with 782 assisted suicide deaths. The report from Exit suicide clinic indicated that of the assisted suicide deaths, 55% were women and 45% men in 2015.

Pietro D'Amico
In August 2015 a healthy depressed British woman died by assisted suicide in Switzerland.

A 2014 Swiss assisted suicide study found that 16% of people who died at Swiss suicide clinics had no underlying illness.

In February 2014, Oriella Cazzanello, an 85 year-old healthy woman died at a Swiss suicide clinic. The letter she sent her family stated that she was unhappy about how she looked.

In May 2014, the Exit suicide clinic extended assisted suicide to healthy elderly people who live with physical or psychological pain. This decision has led to an increase in assisted deaths.

In April 2013, Pietro D’Amico, a 62-year-old magistrate from Calabria Italy, died by assisted suicide at a suicide clinic in Basel Switzerland. His autopsy showed that he had a wrong diagnosis.

The Swiss assisted suicide statistics prove that when assisted suicide is accepted then deaths by assisted suicide continually increase and the reasons for assisted suicide expand.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Italian doctor and nurse may have killed dozens.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


Dr Leonardo Cassaniga
An Italian doctor and nurse were arrested yesterday for allegedly causing the deaths of 10 people between 2011 - 2014 and are being investigated in connection to 50 suspicious deaths at the hospital in Saronno Italy.

Yahoo news reported that:

Emergency room anaesthetist Leonardo Cazzaniga, 60, and nurse Laura Taroni, 40, were held on Tuesday over the deaths of at least five patients but prosecutors are now examining the medical files of more than 50. 
The couple is also suspected of killing Cazzaniga's father, as well as Taroni's mother and Taroni's 45-year-old husband, who the couple reportedly tricked into believing he was diabetic. 
Taroni's spouse died on June 30, 2013 after regularly taking medicine that was "absolutely incongruous with his actual health conditions, weakening and eventually killing him," according to a police report.

Based on the Yahoo news report, Cazzaniga and Taroni may have had an obsession with killing:
Wiretapped conversations allegedly in the possession of investigators recorded the couple talking about killing other relatives, as well as Taroni discussing the "perfect murder" with her 11-year-old son. 
In one of the most disturbing calls, Taroni told Cazzaniga she was also prepared to kill her son and her eight-year-old daughter, wiretaps allegedly reveal. 
"If you want, I'll kill the children," she told Cazzaniga, who replied: "No, not the children." 
There is no evidence that Cazzaniga and Taroni were practising unauthorised euthanasia or that they were motivated by compassion. 
"Every now again I have this urge to kill someone - I need to," Taroni allegedly told Cazzaniga in an intercepted conversation. 
According to one of Cazzaniga's colleagues, the anaesthetist frequently referred to himself as an "angel of death".
Legalizing euthanasia provides a perfect cover for medical killings. Yahoo news reported that the Saronno hospital is also being investigated for either covering up the suspicious deaths or simply not investigating.
Prosecutors are also probing 14 people, including the top management of Saronno hospital, for failing to investigate the suspicious deaths. Regional health authorities have pledged to set up a committee of enquiry over the issue. 
One of the people under investigation, a female doctor, is allegedly suspected of blackmailing the hospital into hiring her in exchange for keeping quiet about the murders and of helping Taroni falsify blood tests results to convince her husband he had diabetes.

A 2103 study found that 1.7% of all deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium were hastened without request. It is likely that other cases of medical killings would be found if an indepth investigation were done.

Considering the cases of medical killing and how the medical system rarely uncovers these acts, we cannot expect that effective oversight will be provided, where euthanasia is legal.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Assisted suicide: Vulnerable to abuse

The following letter by John Kelly was published in the Cape Cod Times on November 28.
To the Editor: 
John Kelly
Proponents of legalization like Elias Lieberman (My View, 11/16) present assisted suicide as a fairytale in which doctors can predict the future and everyone wants the best for you.
 
In the real world, legalized assisted suicide inevitably leads to the tragic deaths of innocent people, through mistakes and abuse. 
Every year nationally, thousands of people prove doctors wrong by outliving their mistaken terminal diagnosis. Every year in Oregon and Washington, doctors prescribe suicide for people who are not terminally ill. You may have months, years, or decades of life left, but with assisted suicide it takes just one mistaken doctor and their colleague to put you in the ground. 
One out of every 10 older adults is abused every year, mostly by adult children and caregivers. Someone in line to inherit your estate can help sign you up, pick up the prescription, and then take action against you. No witness is required at the death, so who would know? 
Insurers always cover assisted suicide because it’s the cheapest “treatment.” Meanwhile, they routinely deny seriously-ill people medical treatment prescribed by their doctors. 
Let’s protect innocent people like ourselves from a law that could send us to our early deaths. 
John B. KellyDirectorSecond Thoughts MA: Disability Rights Advocates against Assisted Suicide
Link to previous articles by John B Kelly.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Elder Abuse, Power of Attorney/Substitute Decision making.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

After speaking this morning to a caring daughter I felt compelled to write about the abuse of power by people who are designated as the power of attorney/substitute decision maker.

We often receive calls or emails from friends or family members of a competent person who is being pressured or controlled by the power of attorney/substitute decision maker.

This morning I spoke to a caring daughter who told me her brother, who is the power of attorney, is preventing her from visiting her mother and refused to release money, from her mother's bank account, to pay for her mother's prescription glasses. The mother is elderly but she remains competent to make decisions for herself.

The daughter said that her mother is afraid of her son. This is a serious problem and a form of elder abuse.

I received a call, a few weeks ago, from a daughter, whose mother was living with ALS. Her mother wanted a life-preserving medical intervention, but the hospital was refusing. The hospital abused her mother's rights by pressuring the "power of attorney" to refuse treatment, even though the mother was competent.

It must be stated that this type of abuse has also been expressed by disability advocates.


Family, friends, medical institutions, nursing homes, etc., should know that it is a form of elder abuse to ignore the rights of people who are elderly or living with a disability.  Just because someone has difficulty communicating doesn't mean that they are incompetent.

Elder and disability abuse is a scourge on the culture. 

Now that euthanasia and assisted suicide have become legal in Canada, the attorney for personal care may assume the "right to decide" if the person lives or dies. 

Order the Life Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care for $10 by contacting the EPC office at: 1-877-439-3348 or info@epcc.ca.

What do you need to know:
  • The person who you designate as your power of attorney or substitute decision maker only has the right to make decisions,  on your behalf, when you are deemed incompetent.
  • When you are competent, you can sign a new representation agreement (power of attorney) at any time, so long you sign it and have it witnessed by unrelated persons.
  • You are considered competent until you have been declared incompetent.
  • The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition distributes the Life Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care for $10. This legal document will protect you.
Order the Life Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care for $10 by contacting the EPC office at: 1-877-439-3348 or info@epcc.ca.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Caring not Killing pamphlet

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has published new Caring Not Killing pamphlet.

The Caring Not Killing pamphlet explains:
  • Why people ask for euthanasia or assisted suicide,
  • Why euthanasia or assisted suicide are not necessary,
  • Why we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide,
  • What is proper palliative/hospice care, and
  • How you can make a difference.
Order the Caring Not Killing pamphlet by calling: 1-877-439-3348 or email: info@epcc.ca.

The Caring Not Killing pamphlet is designed to be distributed in your community as a bulletin insert (Church) or to provide information at schools, etc. 

We need groups and individuals to order the Caring Not Killing pamphlet to distribute through Churches or mail boxes.

  • $25 for 100 pamphlets + (shipping and taxes)
  • $100 for 500 pamphlets + (shipping and taxes)
Order the Caring Not Killing pamphlet by calling: 1-877-439-3348 or email: info@epcc.ca.

EPC is working to build a culture of caring, not killing.

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