Elder Abuse - a very real concern

This article was published by Hope Australia on May 27. Paul Russell is the director of Hope Australia.

Paul Russell

Paul Russell

Elder Abuse is a serious issue. The abuse of elderly people by unscrupulous relatives or carers or people who befriend a lone elder with sinister motive vexes authorities.

Why? Because it is a mostly hidden phenomenon of people who will have a diminished ability to speak out by virtue of the abuse itself or because of their isolation.

Characterised mostly by greed over finances, elder abuse has also been noted as physical, emotional and even sexual abuse of a vulnerable elderly person.

The image of such a person is perhaps of one who is aware of the abuse but has no ability to complain. This may not always be the case. It is also possible that a person offers excellent care and support of an individual at all times and uses their friendship and influence to have the elderly person make over their estate to them at the exclusion of any other beneficiary.

The recent story of a nurse gaining the full estate of an elderly Melbourne man may well be such a case. I say 'may be' deliberately because, to date, no case has been proven against Abha Anuradha Kumar, who managed aged care facility Cambridge House, where Lionel Cox was being cared for.

Friends of Mr Cox have questioned the new will created only weeks before Mr Cox passed away witnessed by two other staff at the care facility. Spellng corrections, shaky handwriting and other errors in the drawing up of the newest will cast additional suspicions. Ms Kumar stands to gain more than $AU900,000.

Link to the full article

Some thoughts on a drive through traffic hell to rail against euthanasia.

By Charles Lewis

Many of you know I have been doing speeches against euthanasia since retiring from the National Post in January 2014. Most also know that I have a very painful spinal issue that limits my activities.

So it was with some trepidation that I agreed, many months ago, to speak at a dinner in Cambridge Ontario. I figured by the time it rolled around I would be feeling much better.

I was so wrong.

But a promise is a promise so on a recent Thursday I headed out to Cambridge west down the dreaded 401. What should have taken 70 minutes with no traffic or two hours with some traffic turned into three-and-a-half hours of misery. Then to add to the fun I got lost. Urbanites like myself do not do well with regional roads.

In the directions I was given I was told turn left at the bottom of a hill at a Canadian Tire gas bar. Guess what? There are a many Canadian Tire gas bars and many hills. So at some point, in pain and with a throbbing headache from said pain, I ended up in Guelph. I don't own a cell phone but I figured I'd be able to use a phone at a gas station or find a pay phone. Guess what? No one likes to let you use his or her phones for fear you'll call your Oma in Berlin or you favourite Aunt in Hong Kong. And, as I discovered, there are no pay phones.

Finally some good soul took pity on me and lent me his cell phone. The connection was so bad that I couldn't hear what was being said so I finally broke down babbling and yelling that I would never make it. It wasn't one of my proudest moments but every once in a while I cut myself a break.

Someone standing by where I was yelling heard me mention the conference centre. He gave me simple directions and miracle of miracle I did find the right Canadian Tire at the bottom of the right hill.

By the time I arrived at the conference centre I was in massive pain and sweating. As I got out of the car, hobbled, I thought that there was no way I can pull this off. Though I did.

Link to the full article

June 1 rally on parliament hill: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Are Not The Answer

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Are Not The Answer

Join the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, the Living with Dignity Network and the Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia for a demonstration on Parliament Hill on Wednesday June 1, 2016 (noon to 1:30 pm).

The Supreme Court of Canada imposed a June 6 deadline upon parliament to pass a bill to regulate euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada. Parliament could follow the Supreme Court decision and still protect Canadians from euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Bill C-14 is a dangerous bill that does not protect vulnerable Canadians. Bill C-14 provides a perfect cover for murder.

Boycott - Me Before You - "disability death porn."

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The movie - Me Before You will be released in theatres across North America on June 3.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is urging its supporters to boycott Me Before You to not give any money to the production of movies that perpetuate the ideology that death is better than living with a disability.

We also urge our supporters to donate the admission price to either: Not Dead Yet (donation), Not Dead Yet UK (donation), Toujours Vivant - Not Dead Yet (donate through the Council of Canadians with Disabilities) or the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (donation).

This is not a campaign to obstruct free speech, this is a campaign to oppose the "disability death porn" that this movie promotes.

In the Me Before You plot (Will Traynor) a man who was paralysed in an accident, decides to die by assisted suicide at a Swiss suicide clinic. His family, who are incredibly wealthy, hire Louisa Clark, as his care-giver. 

As the story progresses, Clark falls in love with Traynor, but Traynor has decided that death is better than living with a disability. Traynor dies by assisted suicide in Switzerland and of course he loves Clark so much, that he leaves her an inheritance.

What is most insidious about the movie is that Traynor’s suicide is sold as an act of love. For me that borders on what I call “disability death porn.”

People with disabilities are fighting for social and attitudinal change. Me Before You perpetuates the idea, that death is better than living with a disability.

To understand the disability perspective, I urge you to read the comments by people with disabilities concerning Me Before You.

Link to the full article

Netherlands: New push for suicide pill

This article was published on the HOPE Australia website on May 24.

By Paul Russell, the director of Hope Australia

Paul Russell

Paul Russell

There’s a question that I have put to those who are pushing for euthanasia and assisted suicide laws on occasion. Put simply I ask: If you are successful in your push for law reform on this subject, will you celebrate your victory and then close down your organisation? After all, if the objective is reached, what else is there to do?

I expect that there would be ‘rank-and-file’ members of the various societies and organisations on this bandwagon who may well think: job done, back to the gardening (or other pursuits). But not so the leadership.

Unless a parliament is willing, in the first instance, to legislate euthanasia and assisted suicide for everyone in any circumstance, there will always be more to agitate for. Of course, such a bold initial push is never likely to happen. That’s why, in observing repeated attempts to legislate in my home state of South Australia, we see variations on the theme in the many different ways that bills have been designed and presented, all with the primary goal of getting something (anything!) on the statutes. Go for the full agenda and failure is guaranteed; go for a minimalist approach and maybe success will come, enabling, thereafter, the possibility of an incremental agenda.

We are seeing this in Canada at the moment with the excise of euthanasia and assisted suicide for minors and for mental health issues from the debate and the promise of revisiting that agenda in three years’ time. Even in Belgium, which enacted the most liberal of euthanasia laws in 2002, we saw the amendment to include children pass in the parliament in 2013. In Holland there is continued agitation for euthanasia under the term ‘tired of life’ or ‘completed life’, ostensibly for people over the age of 70. The Dutch parliament is also looking into child euthanasia whilst already having euthanasia available for ‘emancipated minors’ from the age of 12.

Today the Dutch news is reporting that two euthanasia organisations are renewing their push for the so-called ‘Drion Pill’ to be available ‘for people who do not qualify for euthanasia.’

Link to the full article

Military Veterans Threatened by Assisted Suicide

This article was published by True Dignity Vermont on May 14, 2016.

Rep Al Baldasaro

Rep Al Baldasaro

Representative Al Baldasaro of the New Hampshire Legislature on gave an impassioned speech on May 11 against a proposed “study committee” to look at “end of life choices.” Speaking on behalf of Veterans’ PTSD/TBI Commission, he cited the fact that New Hampshire is facing an epidemic of suicides among Veterans, and said: 

“What message are you sending to the community out there and all the good work every one of us has done to protect people from killing themselves? Now we want to make it easy?”

Link to the video/speech by Representative Al Baldasaro.

He said that opening the door to such a practice would have grave consequences for veterans at risk for suicide, and that even studying such a bill would threaten efforts to help veterans. He clearly states that euphemisms such as “aid in dying” don’t change the fact that such laws promote suicide and threaten efforts to protect people from killing themselves.

Andrew Coyne: "extending assisted suicide to children and the mentally incompetent, once derided as “slippery slope” alarmism, is now the next item on the agenda."

Andrew Coyne

Andrew Coyne

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada's assisted suicide laws and used language to allow for the legalization of euthanasia. In their decision, the Supreme Court ordered parliament to legislate on the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

One argument employed by the Supreme court in their decision  clearly protected people was that Canada would employ a rigorous set of safeguards that would ensure that abuse of the law does not occur and there is no proof that Canada will experience an expansion of the law, that many of those who intervened against euthanasia and assisted suicide had predicted.

Well, Bill C-14 is not the law yet, the predicted expansion of the law is already occurring.

Andrew Coyne, a National Post columnist exposes the push to expand euthanasia, in his column: Who says the Supreme Court of Canada won't change its mind on assisted suicide - yet again? Coyne points states that:

Advocates of assisted suicide have already served notice they will challenge the legislation in court: because it does not apply to children, or the mentally incompetent; because it defines “grievous and irremediable” to mean, in part, that the patient’s “natural death has become reasonably foreseeable;” even for imposing a 15-day waiting period (since amended to 10). 
They will not rest, in short, until there is an unrestricted right to death on demand.

Coyne explains the inconsistency of the claims for euthanasia expansion:

...it is bizarre to see the same people discover, in a ruling that was expressly limited to mentally competent adults, a right to assisted suicide for children and the mentally incompetent. Bizarre, but not necessarily wrong. It is difficult to say how this Court will rule on any given question, and indeed the Court’s own logic, in finding in the Charter’s “right to life” a right to death, redefined as relief from suffering, would leave it little room to refuse that relief on the basis of age or infirmity, when the case is brought.

If, likewise, the court could reverse its own decision before, it may be persuaded to do so again. The justification offered for overturning Rodriguez was that in the interval the “matrix of legislative and social facts” had changed; that the fear that had justified the law then, namely that assisted suicide would otherwise come to be applied to a wider and wider expanse of the population, had been disproved by experience; or at any rate that whatever might have happened in Belgium and the Netherlands — where the numbers of those euthanized annually has skyrocketed, and where it is now available not only to children and the mentally ill but for the relief of all manner of ailments — could not happen here, on account of our differing “medico-legal cultures.”

In other words, the incremental expansion of the law is already occurring, even before Bill C-14 has passed into law. The hubris of the Court has already proven to be wrong. Coyne ends by stating:

But even if that were true at the time of the court’s ruling, it is clearly not true any more. The notion of extending assisted suicide to children and the mentally incompetent, once derided as “slippery slope” alarmism, is now the next item on the agenda. So it would be entirely open to the Court to find that the matrix of legislative and social facts had shifted again.

I’m not saying it will. But it certainly won’t if it is not asked.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition will never stop working to protect people from euthanasia and assisted suicide, through supports and through the courts.