Italian nurse arrested based on 13 deaths

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

According to Dunyanews an Italian nurse who has been arrested under suspicion of killing 13 patients, is suspected to be a "serial killer." According to the news article:

Fausta Bonino, 56, allegedly killed the patients aged between 61 and 88 between January 2014 and September 2015 at a hospital in the Tuscan town of Piombino
Bonino is accused of having given her victims up to 10 times the usual dose of the drug, including in certain cases where it had not been prescribed by the physicians treating the patients. 
The result, police said, was to rapidly trigger multiple and irreversible internal bleeds which killed 12 of the alleged victims. The other one died from cardiac arrest. 
Police at Thursday’s press conference said the arrest had potentially averted further deaths. 
But local newspaper Il Tirreno suggested the hospital authorities may have had suspicions about Bonino early last year. The nurse was moved from the intensive care unit in October 2015 to a role in which she had no contact with patients.

Italian Health Minister, Beatrice Lorenzin, referred to Bonino as possibly one of the biggest serial killers in Italian history.

Link to the full article

Belgium - Organ donation, presumed consent, euthanasia

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

This article was published by Wesley Smith on his blog on March 25, 2016

By Wesley Smith

A just published article in the Journal of Medical Ethics argues for allowing killing by organ removal as a form of euthanasia and organ donation. More, over at The Corner

The authors mention that Belgium has “presumed consent” for organ donation. From the piece

When a patient is determined dead on the basis of either circulatory or neurological criteria, the treating physician is legally allowed to remove his organs for transplantation. 
In case of donation, three non-treating physicians, who are not involved in the transplantation procedure, should independently determine death.  
The law explicitly states that relatives should be enabled to say farewell to the deceased as soon as possible after the donation procedure.

In the immoral utilitarian milieu that now reigns in Belgium, this means that that doctors could look upon all “suffering” patients as potential organ suppliers. 

That could easily influence how they discuss treatment options, and lead to subtle persuasion for euthanasia–without discussing the organ issue. 

The authors also suggest that doctors should be able to recommend organ donation to euthanasia requesters, and all doubts about pressure or emotional coercion can be remedied simply by assuring the public all is honorable: 

One, however, needs to avoid the public having the perception that anyone who is ill and willing to donate his organs will be able to undergo euthanasia, or that a physician would motivate a patient to undergo euthanasia because of organ donation possibility.  
The public needs to have confidence in the ability of a physician to judge objectively and acknowledge that strict legal criteria and boundaries regarding euthanasia and organ donation exist. 

Here’s the problem: Once doctors and society accepts the killing-is-an-acceptable-answer-to-suffering premise of euthanasia, eventually it won’t matter if those deemed to have a life not worth living are herded toward euthanasia–particularly if their organs are harvestable. After all, there are people who could have better lives who need those livers and hearts! 

If you believe euthanasia and organ harvesting can be conjoined without adverse impacting society’s adherence to the intrinsic equal dignity of human life, I have a beautiful orange bridge that links San Francisco to Marin County to sell at a bargain rate. Interested?

Battle lines drawn in Belgium over euthanasia and conscience rights

This article was published by HOPE Australia on January 2, 2016.

By Paul Russell

Paul Russell

Paul Russell

Family set to sue over ‘non-euthanasia’ in Catholic aged care home.

Over recent weeks the issue of conscientious objection, or the ‘conscience clause’ in the Belgian euthanasia law has been brought into the spotlight by the assertion by the newArchbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Jozef De Kesel, that he has the right to refuse Catholic hospitals and aged care facilities to co-operate with euthanasia.

Euthanasia advocates both in academia and in the medical profession have bristled at the suggestion that institutions might say ‘non’ with many displaying a distinct and disturbing lack of understanding about the status of the 14 year old statute that allows doctors to kill their patients.

The Belgian law clearly provides a conscientious ‘out’ for doctors and others assisting in a euthanasia but it is otherwise silent about institutions. Some suggest that the extension to institutions such as a church ae implied while others suggest, dubiously to my thinking, that the silence suggests otherwise.

While, initially at least, this seemed like very much like an academic exercise with no-one really expecting the new bishop to force a show down. But a showdown was already in the making.

Various Belgian news outlets, today, are running with a story about a refusal by a Catholic nursing home to allow a doctor onto their premises to perform euthanasia. According to reports, the 74-year-old woman was terminally ill with metastatic cancer and living in the St. Augustine residential care centre in Diest.

The process of requesting euthanasia began in 2011 and progressed for six months before St. Augustine’s management refused access supposedly only days before the euthanasia was to take place. The various stories do not say whether or not the facility was formally aware of the process, however the family of the woman say that, after initially believing that the matter was simply a misunderstanding, they arranged for the woman to be transported to a private residence where the death took place. The family are claiming that the facility caused additional psychological and physical suffering for their mother.

Link to the full article

Important 2015 articles concerning euthanasia and assisted suicide

There were many important articles concerning euthanasia and assisted suicide in 2015. 

These are the 10 most popular articles with five more important articles from 2015.

1. June 24, EPC told the world about “Laura” a healthy 24-year-old Belgian woman who is living with suicidal ideation and was approved for euthanasia by the psychiatrist at the euthanasia clinic (Link to the article).

2. July 8 EPC launched – A Letter of Hope to Laura (Link to the article).

3. Nov 12, we learned that Laura is actually Emily, and Emily has decided to live (Link to the article).

4. Feb 6, the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s assisted suicide law. EPC explained the irresponsible and dangerous Supreme Court decision (Link to the article).

5. EPC urged its supporters to oppose the Supreme Court assisted suicide decision (Link to the article).

6. EPC then launched a letter-writing campaign to oppose the Supreme Court assisted suicide decision (Link to the article).

7. Sept 17, EPC launched a campaign urging California Governor Jerry Brown to veto the assisted suicide bill (Link to the article).

8. Aug 10, Dr Jacqueline Harvey wrote about the Subversive Strategies to Sell Assisted Suicide (Link to the article).

9. July 28, EPC urged its supporters to participate in the Federal government consultation on legislative options for assisted dying (Link to the article).

10. Feb 10, EPC had a victory at the BC Court of Appeal in the “Spoon Feeding” case (Link to the article).

More important articles.

Ian Dowbiggin: A scandal in the euthanasia archives - continued

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Ian Dowbiggin

Ian Dowbiggin

Ian Dowbiggin's article - A scandal in the euthanasia archives - was published in the Prince Arthur Herald on November 30, 2015. Dowbiggin, who is the author of the book: A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America, a history professor at UPEI and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada asks - Why has the euthanasia movement hidden or destroyed its history?

Today, the Prince Arthur Herald has published a follow-up article where Dowbiggin responds to an article by Stuart Chambers, a professor at the University of Ottawa, who challenges Dowbiggin's assertion with ad hominem arguments. Dowbiggin responds:

First, let’s dispense with that old canard, used by euthanasia enthusiasts like Chambers, that opponents of euthanasia are all “sanctity of life” proponents. It simply isn’t true; just ask disabilities groups which oppose euthanasia. Nor is it only Christians involved; Islam, Hinduism and many strands of Judaism condemn both assisted suicide and mercy-killing. 
When the euthanasia movement was propagandizing in favour of involuntary mercy-killing for either the good of the species or the economic welfare of society, there was no consensus supporting euthanasia. 
Quite the contrary; there was widespread opposition to this policy. Yet the movement forged ahead in defiance of experts from across the political spectrum and scripted its sorry history. 
Indeed, that is my very point about the euthanasia archives scandal. Chambers and his allies don’t want to open up the topic of their own shady history. If I were in their shoes, I might feel the same way. Their attempts to change public opinion depend on keeping their past under wraps. 
Lastly, Chambers says that even if euthanasia advocates had made mistakes in the past, all is well today. “Euthanasia lobbyists,” he reassures us, could never “maneuver” around the “checks and balances” of euthanasia laws and kill people with disabilities. 

Link to the full article

Belgian euthanasia ‘dialogue’ continuse to grow

This article was published by HOPE Australia on December 15.

By Paul Russell

Paul Russell

Paul Russell

‘But let us into the debates play the ball instead of the man.’ Says Dr Wim Distlemans in De Morgen in reply to Professor Theo Boers’ observations in yesterday’s Belgian press about the bungled operation of the Belgian Euthanasia Review Commission under Distelmans’ leadership.

Boer, a Dutchman and former member of the Dutch euthanasia review system for nine years entered the debate by reflecting the Dutch standards against the Belgian laisse-faire operation. Boer is critical of Distelmans’ public advocacy role in promoting euthanasia and sees it as contrary to the role of co-chair of the commission charged with reviewing each and every case – including Distelmans’ own cases.

Distelmans in reply, does what he accuses others of and ‘plays the man’. He then tries desperately to deflect Boer’s criticisms by attempting to refocus the debate in other areas. For mine he fails dismally.

He seeks to smear Boer by association, claiming that Boer is being intellectually dishonest by not declaring an association with the anti-euthanasia group Euthanasie Stop, which Distelmans describes as ‘an organization made up of well-known Catholic personalities and militants who are almost professional in their anti-euthanasia battle.’

Does the saying ‘the pot calling the kettle black’ translate well into Flemish? Boer’s only 'association’ with that group, if you can call it that, is that they have republished one of his articles. Death by google search!

Link to the full article

Belgian MP calls for a review of the euthanasia law

This article was published by HOPE Australia on December 14, 2015.

Paul Russell

Paul Russell

By Paul Russell

The open letter from medical professionals critical of the application of the Belgian law on euthanasia to people suffering psychologically has re-ignited debate on the safety and practice of the 2002 law.

Following the letter, Christian Democrat MP, Els Van Hoof, raises significant further questions in the Belgian journal Knack. Van Hoof is severely critical of the development of the Belgian law and the amendment to include children in 2013 when, at no time over the more than a dozen years of operation has the law been formally reviewed.

‘Since 2013 I follow as an MEP intensive debates on euthanasia. The stakes of these debates was always the expansion of the existing Euthanasia Act of 2002, which allows euthanasia for adults. I then repeatedly asked the commission why should we decide to expand if there had not even done an assessment was made of the existing law on euthanasia. For it was clear that the law showed serious gaps, particularly with regard to the "safety valves" that are built to prevent abuses.’

van Hoof says that her repeated requests in the parliament for a review were blocked by an opposing majority on every occasion. She acknowledges that she is not arguing for the repeal of the law, but to improve it. Refusing a timely opportunity for review at the moment of a grave debate on child euthanasia would seem negligent.

Van Hoof is critical of the breadth of interpretation of the terms of the original law: “… the terms "medically hopeless situation" and "unbearable psychological suffering which cannot be alleviated" must be interpreted by the physician. In practice, this leads to an extremely subjective interpretation by the clinician, thus reducing the risk exists that it is too early proceeded to euthanasia.”

Van Hoof goes further than the academics in their open letter by also criticising the so-called safeguards in the Belgian law. In respect to euthanasia for psychological suffering, three doctors must be consulted. The problem Van Hoof notes is that opinions to the contrary need not be observed; the reality is that only one positive opinion is necessary – that of the doctor with the needle.

Link to the full article