Advanced Request For Euthanasia?

This article was written by Dr Catherine Ferrier and published on June 10, 2016 by impact ethics in Canadian BioethicsDeath & Assisted DyingLaw & PolicyMental Health

Catherine Ferrier a physician in the Division of Geriatric Medicine of the McGill University Health Centre, and is the president of the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia.

The June 6 deadline for legislation in response to the Carter judgment has come and gone, and our government has yet to adopt a law regulating medical assistance in dying. Too few of us have any idea what we are rushing into.

In the Carter decision the Supreme Court judges stated that the risks associated with physician-assisted death can be limited through a carefully designed and monitored system of safeguards. In contrast, the pressure is on to offer death as a solution for all forms of suffering, available to virtually everyone, including those who fear future suffering or disability.

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs wants Bill C-14 amended to include the recommendation of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, “That the permission to use advance requests for medical assistance in dying be allowed any time after one is diagnosed with a condition that is reasonably likely to cause loss of competence or after a diagnosis of a grievous or irremediable condition but before the suffering becomes intolerable….”

I have spent the last 30 years diagnosing, treating, and caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. It takes no special insight to realize that they are the principal intended “beneficiaries” of this recommendation.

Link to the full article

It is impossible to support euthanasia of any kind

By Charlie Lewis:

A good friend of mine, asked me tonight via email about what she should pray for in current euthanasia battle in Canada. She wondered whether we should pray for the most restrictive legislation possible or should we pray that the very notion of legalized killing should vanish — in other words, a miracle.

Of course, a miracle would be great. Even more miraculous would be to see all pro-euthanasia politicians, some real enthusiasts for medicalized death, suddenly change their minds.

I have become entrenched in my own position against euthanasia. Not because I am stubborn but I find it impossible to support euthanasia of any kind. It goes against everything I believe in. To try to help craft a "safe" bill, or even pray for a safe bill, would haunt me forever. I may not be able to stop the inevitable but I can ease my own conscience by not going along. 

So here is roughly what I told her:

We should keep praying and working towards its destruction. Cardinal Thomas Collins appeared before the parliamentary committee that is attempting to craft a safe law. He refused to help them. He kept repeating euthanasia is wrong. The committee members were frustrated. But who cares. They are acting as the agents of death.

To my mind, you cannot oppose euthanasia and at the same time help craft a safe law. It would be like being against the death penalty but seeing nothing wrong in designing a painless noose or a quicker, more efficient poison to send a prisoner on his way to the next world.

Link to the full article

Wesley Smith: Canada's Death Courts

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

This article was published by Wesley Smith on his blog on February 10, 2016.

Until Canada’s radical Supreme Court ruling imposing a positive right to euthanasia on the entire country goes into effect, suicidal ill and disabled people can apply to a court for a license to be killed. 

Death courts. 

From the “Practice Advisory” published by the Ontario court: 

Commencement of Application  
An application to the Superior Court of Justice for authorization for a physician assisted death shall be commenced by notice of application under Rule 14 of the Rules of Civil Procedure and be in accordance with this Practice Advisory.  
Content of Notice of Application  
The notice of application shall state that the application shall be heard by a judge on a date to be fixed by the registrar at the place of hearing, such date not being earlier than fifteen days after the application is commenced and not being later than thirty days after the application is commenced. Depending upon the circumstances, certain applications may be heard sooner on an emergency basis. The nature of the relief sought on the application must be brought to the attention of the registrar by the applicant at the time of filing so that a hearing date within these time periods, or sooner, can be fixed. 

This is just stunning. A judge is going to dispassionately review an application to be killed, and then, rule thumbs up or down. 

I doubt there will be many refusals. The Supreme Court’s ruling is so broad and radical that virtually any medical condition beyond a tooth ache can qualify for euthanasia. 

And once the ruling goes into effect, even this minor impediment to death will be erased. 

This from a country that considers itself too enlightened to countenance a death penalty.

Poor Canada. We hardly knew ye.

Why Physicians Should Oppose Assisted Suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), in its current edition, published a series of articles concerning palliative care, end-of-life treatment and assisted suicide.

Dr. Y Tony Yang and Dr. Farr A Curlin offered their insights as to Why physicians should oppose assisted suicide. Dr. Yang is affiliated with George Mason University and Dr. Curlin is affiliated with Duke University.

In their article, Yang and Curlin focus on why people ask for assisted suicide and why physicians should not support or participate in assisted suicide. They begin their article with the following:

That we are debating this question of whether physician-assisted suicide is ever justifiable shows how far medicine has shifted toward redefining the role of the physician. If the medical profession accepts physician-assisted suicide, it will be declaring decisively that "physicians" are mere providers of services to be guided only by the desires of the individual patient, the will of the state or other third parties, and what that law allows.

They continue by examining the difference between palliative care and assisted suicide:

While acknowledging that death may come sooner as a side effect of palliation, physicians pledge never to intentionally hasten the patients' death. ... Yet with physician-assisted suicide, the physician is to disregard what is perhaps the most universal moral injunction - do not kill (emphasis is mine) - and wrtie a lethal prescription with the express intent of helping patients kill themselves.

Link to the full article

John Kelly: Second Thoughts Against California Assisted Suicide Bill.

This letter was published by California Against Assisted Suicide on September 7, 2015.

John Kelly is the Director of the disability rights group, Second Thoughts.

John Kelly is the Director of the disability rights group, Second Thoughts.

Assembly member:

I hope you will have second thoughts about legalizing assisted suicide in California. Now especially that the California Medical Association secured the removal of any liability clause from  AB2x 15, in the words of the committee staff’s analysis (see page 17), “wanton misconduct” and “gross negligence” will go unpunished.

The replacement clause, that professional licensing boards “may sanction” professional misconduct, is toothless. As we have seen across society, self-interested institutions cannot be trusted to police themselves. Please see the case of Wendy Melcher, who was illegally injected with lethal drugs by two Oregon nurses, completely outside the scope of the law. The nurses were not referred for prosecution, but were secretly dealt with by the state nursing board. The nurses continue to practice today. 

In important ways assisted suicide laws are like death penalty laws: innocent people inevitably lose their lives. A strong consensus is now emerging against the death penalty because mistakes (witness misidentification, false confession) and abuse of the system (prosecutorial and police misconduct) lead to wrongful convictions and executions.

Mistakes and abuse in the medical system are common. People who are misdiagnosed (see John Norton), people who would respond to more treatment ( Jeanette Hall), or who would live years longer  (some participants in Oregon have lived almost 3 years after being judged “terminal”) will be led to tragically “choose” death. Assisted suicide programs have offered lethal drugs to patients with severe depression (Michael Freeland) and to people denied treatment (Barbara Wagner). And because not all families are loving or financially secure, innocent people will be bullied or worse by abusive families and beneficiaries.

Link to the full article

Banned execution drug is used to kill people with disabilities in Belgium

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On Friday I published an article on a study concerning 100 requests for euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in Belgium
Lieve Thienport, the psychiatrist who approved the euthanasia death of "Laura" the 24-year-old physically healthy Belgian woman who lives with suicidal thoughts is also the psychiatrist who examined the 100 people who requested euthanasia in this study.

Medical Daily report, concerning the same study also focussed on the drugs that are used for euthanasia in Belgium.

The  Medical Daily report explains that the euthanasia drug of choice in Belgium was banned by the European Union to stop executions in the United States. From the article:

To end their lives usually at home or in a hospital, the majority used sodium thiopental, the researchers reported. This barbiturate, ... is commonly known as the first of three lethal injection drugs administered to American prisoners who are executed under a death sentence. In 2011, Hospira Inc., the only company still making the drug at that time, stopped production at its Italian plant when the European Union banned export of the barbiturate as a way to end executions in the United States. However, this same drug has been chosen as Belgium’s standard protocol for euthanasia. 

The study indicates that people with disabilities are far more likely to die by euthanasia for psychiatric reasons. According to the study euthanasia for psychiatric reasons included people with Autism and people with eating disorders.From the study:

Most of the patients suffered from a treatment-resistant mood disorder (n=58, including 48 with major depressive disorder and 10 with bipolar disorder) and/or a personality disorder (n=50), while 29 patients had both. 
Other psychiatric diagnoses included post-traumatic stress disorder (n=13), schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders (n=14), anxiety disorders (n=11), eating disorders (n=10), substance use disorders (n=10), somatoform disorders (n=9), pervasive developmental disorders (n=8; including 7 with Asperger syndrome—anautism spectrum disorder (ASD)—and 1 with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), obsessive–compulsive disorders (n=7), dissociative disorders (n=7) and complicated grief (n=6), among others.

People with disabilities are right to be concerned about euthanasia.

Assisted suicide: doctors should think twice before signing on

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr Paul McHugh

Dr Paul McHugh

Dr Paul McHugh, wrote a response to the recent push by the assisted suicide lobby to legalize assisted suicide, in an article that was published in the Wall Street Journal.

McHugh, a former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, points out that legalizing assisted suicide has gained some momentum, that previous momentum was crushed.

With backing from financier George Soros —a longtime supporter of “right to die” legislation—proponents are intent on expanding beyond Oregon, Vermont and Washington the roster of states where the practice is legal. Legislation to allow assisted suicide is moving through New Jersey’s statehouse, last month a New York legislator vowed to introduce a similar bill, and in California state Sens. Bill Monning and Lois Wolk are working to legalize the practice. 
... often in fights for good ideas, the bad ones—even when crushingly defeated, as when Michigan sent Kevorkian to prison in 1999—sidle back into the ring and you have to thrash them again.

McHugh points out that historically, assisted suicide has been pushed back:

Link to the full article.