Honouring Kevin Fitzpatrick (OBE)

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick (OBE)

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick (OBE)

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick (OBE) passed away two weeks ago.

For me, Kevin was a trusted colleague and friend who I will always miss. I learned a lot from Kevin and I will carry those lessons with me forever.

Kevin accepted many leadership roles and he was an example of what can be done when people work together. Kevin was the director of EPC - International, the director of Hope Ireland and the past director of EPC - Europe.

Kevin was also a key leader with Not Dead Yet - UK and acted as their spokesperson for several of their successful campaigns.

Kevin's professional background gave his approach to the debate on how to care for and support people with terminal and incurable illnesses and disabilities a particularly well-rounded quality. From disability (Disability Wales; Disability Rights Commission; Inclusion21; Not Dead Yet UK) to adoption (the Welsh Government's Adoption Expert Advisory Group; St David's Children's Society), not to mention five years with the Welsh Ambulance Trust, Kevin's outlook was firmly rooted in seeking answers to a single question: 'how can we as a society work to support and uphold the value of every person around us?' This was his life's work, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable and marginalised. (borrowed from the Care Not Killing Alliance)

Kevin was a great communicator. Kevin wrote many articles, he did many debates, he was interviewed on countless occasions and he provided excellent conference speeches. Here are links to his recent articles:

Kevin was a collaborator. Kevin knew that success came through activating many people who have different perspectives. Kevin knew that there were many reasons to oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide. He was most comfortable speaking from his personal experience with disability, but he was also incredibly effective at reaching out to multiple political points of view.

Kevin was a leader. Kevin knew the direction that we needed to go and he shared his wisdom with everyone who he worked with. He had a way of listening to perspectives and carefully correcting false ideas. Several leaders have shared with me the way that Kevin would help them and advise them in their advocacy. He was a patient leader, even when he didn't agree.

Kevin was a family man and my friend. My experience with Kevin was that he put the needs of his family, especially his wife Fabienne, before himself. He was proud of his children, Terry, Gerry and Sue. He was sick for sometime, but he shared with me his concern for his family and placed them ahead of himself.

There are so many people who experienced Kevin, as a gifted friend, in their lives. I for one, will always be thankful for the opportunity of having him in my life.

British Parliament overwhelminly defeats assisted suicide bill (330 - 118)

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Incredible news. The Marris assisted suicide bill in Britain was defeated today by an overwhelming vote of 330 to 118.

This victory is due to the incredible work of the disability rights group, Not Dead Yet UK, and the co-ordinating efforts of the Care Not Killing Alliance.

Not Dead Yet maintained a presence in the media by writing articles and through social media / youtube video's to clearly state why people with disabilities oppose assisted suicide. They also organized successful rallies on several occasions, including this morning, to ensure that Members of the British parliament understood that people with disabilities oppose assisted suicide.

The Not Dead Yet campaign slogan - Assist us to Live Not Die - resonated with the public as well as actress, Liz Carr, effectively countered the message from the "British elite" that assisted suicide is a progressive issue.

BBC News reported:

Fiona Bruce, the MP for Congleton, said the bill was so completely lacking safeguards for the vulnerable that "if this weren't so serious it would be laughable". 
Her impassioned speech concluded: "We are here to protect the most vulnerable in our society, not to legislate to kill them. This bill is not merely flawed, it is legally and ethically totally unacceptable."

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition urges our world-wide partners to learn from the British campaign.

First: The disability rights leaders were not only front and centre in the campaign against assisted suicide, they also held successful rallies at the British parliament. Those rallies did not require hundreds of people with disabilities to attend, but rather they had a good number of committed disability rights leaders and individuals and they were joined by other supporters.

Second: They communicated within their leadership and consulted other concerned people and designed a campaign with common messages. They did not present themselves as only one voice, but they did maintain message discipline.

Third: They did not have money but they did maintain an effective social media campaign. The suicide lobby featured well known entertainers, while, other than Liz Carr, a well known actress and disability rights activist, the Not Dead Yet campaign featured real people who live with disabilities.

Fourth: All of the groups worked both independently and in unity.

Congratulations to everyone who worked to overwhelmingly defeat the Marris assisted suicide bill. You are responsible for protecting people from assisted suicide.

Easy ways to oppose the British assisted suicide bill

This article was published on Dr Peter Saunders blog on September 9, 2015.

By Dr Peter Saunders, Campaign Director - Care Not Killing Alliance

On Friday 11 September, MPs will vote on the Assisted Dying (No.2) Bill which aims to allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to mentally competent adults with a terminal illness.

It's a Private Members' Bill tabled by Labour's Rob Marris MP, with the support of campaign group Dignity in Dying (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society).

Here are some easy things you can do to oppose the bill ahead of Friday's vote in Parliament.

Read, Act, Pray and Go!

Read - CMF and the Care Not Killing Alliance have produced a number of excellent reading materials to inform your arguments against the bill. Read this CMF Blog on why the current law is not 'broken' and doesn't need 'fixing'. Also read this useful guide on the bill.

Act - Social media is becoming increasingly powerful as a tool to influence public opinion. If you're on Facebook would you share this post on your networks? Also if you're on Twitter please Retweet this Tweet. Together, our voice is stronger.

Pray and Go - If you are free this Friday please join us for a rally in Old Palace Yard (adjacent to Parliament Square), whilst the bill is being debated, beginning at 8.30am. All details here.

Healthy retired British nurse dies by assisted suicide in Switzerland

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Switzerland suicide juggernaut rolls on, now claiming the life of a healthy retired nurse from the UK. Gill Pharoah, who was a supporter of euthanasia, told the media that she went to the Swiss suicide clinic to avoid old age.

The Care Not Killing Alliance called the suicide death:

Deeply troubling. 
It sends out a chilling message about how society values and looks after elderly people in the UK. 
It seeks the introduction of death on demand for those who fear becoming a burden, even if they are otherwise fit and healthy. This is an abhorrent development, but it reveals a truth that some who argue for a change in the law really believe there should be no safeguards or restrictions on assisted killing.

Cases, such as this one, appear to be promoted by the media to pressure the British government to legalize assisted suicide.

Previous Britons to die at a Swiss suicide clinic include a double assisted suicide of elderly cousins who feared living alone and an 83 year-old man with dementia, These cases are often connected to a suicide lobby leader who argues for the acceptance of assisted suicide of people who are not terminally ill.

British House of Commons to debate assisted suicide bill

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

The British House of Lords has debated many assisted suicide bills over the past few years. In fact the House of Lords debated the Falconer assisted suicide bill in the past year, a bill that died on the order paper before the election. The House of Commons has not debated an assisted suicide bill in 20 years.

Yesterday backbencher British Labour MP, Rob Marris, was chosen first in the Private Members bill ballot giving Marris the right to introduce Falconer's assisted suicide bill in the House of Commons.

According to the BBC, the Marris assisted suicide bill is scheduled for its first hour of debate on September 11. 

Prime Minister David Cameron, who has a majority government, opposes assisted suicide. The Express and Star reported that Cameron told his weekly Prime Minister's Question Time that: 

“I don’t support the assisted dying proposals. I don’t support euthanasia.” 
...problems with the existing law can be ‘dealt with sensitively’ without ‘bringing in euthanasia’.

Link to the full article

Assisted Suicide bill defeated in Scotland by a 82 to 36 vote

The Scottish assisted suicide bill was just defeated in parliament by a vote of 82 - 36.

The defeat of the assisted suicide bill was predicted by the Care Not Killing Alliance earlier in the week when they announced that 59 MSP's opposed the bill with another 17 MSP's leaning towards opposing the bill.

The day before the vote, Alison Britton, the convener of the Law Society's health and medical law committee in Scotland said that the assisted suicide bill lacked clarity and would be difficult to enforce. Britton stated:

We have said throughout the passage of this Bill that legislation in this area needs to be absolutely clear and those seeking to end their lives, and those who assist them, need a robust and transparent process to be certain under which conditions it would be lawful for assistance to be provided. 
We remain concerned over the lack of definition of the key terms, such as 'assistance' and 'life-shortening' and the functions of the licensed facilitator are still uncertain. 
Lack of such clarity leads to ambiguity and leaves the legislation open to interpretation.

The week before the vote the Care Not Killing Alliance presented a petition of 15,300 people who oppose the assisted suicide bill.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition congratulates Dr Gordon Macdonald and all of the members of the Care Not Killing Alliance for effectively defeating this dangerous bill.

Assisted suicide is unethical and unsafe. It is wrong to give doctors, or others, the right in law to assist in causing the death of another person.

Law Society of Scotland rejects assisted suicide bill

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Dr Gordon Macdonald

Dr Gordon Macdonald

The media is reporting that the Law Society of Scotland has joined the chorus of organizations that oppose the assisted suicide bill that will go to a vote tomorrow.

Alison Britton, the convener of the Law Society's health and medical law committee in Scotland said that the assisted suicide bill lacked clarity and would be difficult to enforce.

The media reported Britton as stating:

We have said throughout the passage of this Bill that legislation in this area needs to be absolutely clear and those seeking to end their lives, and those who assist them, need a robust and transparent process to be certain under which conditions it would be lawful for assistance to be provided. 
We remain concerned over the lack of definition of the key terms, such as 'assistance' and 'life-shortening' and the functions of the licensed facilitator are still uncertain. 
Lack of such clarity leads to ambiguity and leaves the legislation open to interpretation.

Dr Gordon Macdonald from the Care Not Killing Alliance Scotland was reported as saying that the assisted suicide bill will likely be defeated.

Last week the Care Not Killing Alliance presented a petition to the Scottish parliament of 15,300 people who oppose the assisted suicide bill. 

Assisted suicide is unethical and unsafe. It is wrong to give doctors, or others, the right in law to assist in causing the death of another person.