Proponents of assisted suicide have lost in Great Britain

Originally published on September 14 by OneNewsNow.

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

The vote was 330-118 against the bill to permit doctors to help some dying patients terminate their lives. Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition tells OneNewsNow that the negative outcome represents an absolute majority of Members of Parliament – and he credits that outcome to two groups: Not Dead Yet, a UK-based disability rights group, and the Care Not Killing Alliance.

"They worked together to effectively accomplish this – and they did so by working with average people," he explains. "There wasn't big money involved in this. They worked with average people to defeat this very dangerous bill."

Despite the bill's defeat in Parliament, Schadenberg believes supporters could still try to legalize it through the courts, as was the case in Canada.

"They've already tried the way of going to the courts," he shares, "but they might try again with another way of going. So basically speaking, the other side is absolutely committed to being involved with causing people's deaths." 
"I call them the suicide lobby or the euthanasia lobby because they're not about providing choices," he adds. "They're about giving doctors the right in law to cause your death."

According to Schadenberg, proponents of euthanasia were backed by many big names, including stars from the entertainment industry. Opponents of assisted suicide were led by one: Liz Carr, a well-known disabled British actress and comedian.

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.

Better off dead? What Peter Singer doesn't get about disability and euthanasia

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Last week Peter Singer, the bioethicist from Princeton University debated Anthony Fisher the Archbishop of Sydney Australia. Singer, who has published books supporting euthanasia, assisted suicide and infanticide, faced strong criticism from the disability rights community.

Today, Craig Wallace, the convenor of Lives Worth Living, a disability advocacy group speaking out about euthanasia and eugenics, and is the president of People with Disability Australia (PWDA), was published by Crickey with an article explaining why the disability rights movement opposes Singer's philosophy and why they oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Wallace explains:

If proponents of voluntary euthanasia were looking to reassure us that legalised suicide would, in fact, be voluntary and not about people with disabilities, they chose the wrong standard bearer. Singer is consistently on the record supporting infanticide of babies with certain disabilities. In his book Practical Ethics, Singer argues the case for selective infanticide. He believes it unfair that:  
“At present parents can choose to keep or destroy their disabled offspring only if the disability happens to be detected during pregnancy. There is no logical basis for restricting parents’ choice to these particular disabilities. If disabled newborn infants were not regarded as having a right to life until, say, a week or a month after birth it would allow parents, in consultation with their doctors, to choose on the basis of far greater knowledge of the infant’s condition than is possible before birth.” 
Singer may not be “poised, needle in hand” ready to plunge it into the arm of the nearest disabled person. It is, nonetheless, difficult to stick to topic when a person who thinks it might have been a good idea to “destroy” you as a child offers you a whisky shot glass and a pistol in latter days. Forgive us for having trust issues.

Wallace challenges the euthanasia lobby that if euthanasia is mean't to be truly voluntary and not about disability, why don't they define the laws in that way?

Link to the full article

Assisted suicide, "some people's lives will be ended without consent, through mistakes and abuse."

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Liz Carr

Liz Carr

Liz Carr is an actress and disability campaigner in the UK. Carr is a spokesperson for Not Dead Yet UK

ITV news published an article on August 14 by Liz Carr.

Carr explains that she is not religious and she is not "anti-choice," but she works with Not Dead Yet to oppose the legalization of assisted suicide. She explains:

We believe that if the Assisted Dying Bill passes, that some people’s lives will be ended without their consent, through mistakes and abuse. 
No safeguards have ever been enacted or proposed that can prevent this outcome – which can never be undone. The only guaranteed safeguard is to not legalise assisted suicide. 
And we’re not alone in thinking this.

She explains that no organisations of disabled people support assisted suicide and most doctors oppose it. This is important to her.

As someone who has spent a lot of her life needing extensive health care, I am relieved to hear this. I wouldn’t be alive without the NHS but I recognise that it is currently understaffed and under resourced. Against a backdrop of longer shifts, difficulty in obtaining appointments and the rationing of certain treatments, should we really be pushing further pressures onto our reluctant doctors?

Carr continues by explaining that the assisted suicide bill that will be debated in the British parliament is based on the Oregon assisted suicide law. She says:

We’re told there’s been no problems with this law but that is to ignore the experiences of Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup. Both Oregonians with terminal cancer, their life extending drugs were denied to them based on cost. Instead, they were offered a range of choices, including cheaper drugs to enable them to end their life. 

Link to the full article

Glyn Davies - Assisted suicide: This is a road down which we should not go

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, 

International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Glyn Davies, the MP from Montgomeryshire UK, responded to Rob Marris’s Assisted Dying (no 2) Bill in an article that was published today by Politics Home in the UK.

Davies, focusses on the effect of legalising assisted suicide in the UK. For instance Davies responds to Marris's assertion that assisted suicide is happening already. From the article.

Mr Marris will be aware that breaches of the existing law in this area are rare. Less than 20 cases a year cross the desk of the DPP throughout the whole of England and Wales. However, he tells us that "terminally ill people are ending their own lives" and that "some doctors are complicit in hastening patients' deaths". 
The claim about terminally ill patients ending their own lives rests on an extrapolation of data from just seven out of 139 health authorities. Even so, the number is dwarfed by the death rate from legalised assisted suicide in Oregon. Oregon's death rate from this source last year is the equivalent to over 1,500 assisted suicide deaths in England and Wales if we had a similar law here. And it is Oregon's law that is the model for Mr Marris' bill. 
As for the claim that doctors are already engaging in hastening patients' deaths, I can do no better than quote the words of Sir Graeme Catto, Chair of the campaigning group Dignity in Dying (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society). He told Mr Marris' meeting last week that "that is highly unlikely" because "doctors now work in teams and it is very hard to get one-to-one contact". In fact, Sir Graeme was only confirming independent research, which has concluded that covert hastening of deaths of patients by doctors in the UK is "rare or non-existent"

Davies then points out that Marris's assisted suicide bill is based on arbitrary criteria. From the article.

... The essential question before Parliament is this: do you want to license doctors to involve themselves in deliberately bringing about the deaths of some of their patients? Most doctors don't want that. 
All these 'assisted dying' bills rest on purely arbitrary criteria - like terminal illness (but not chronic illness or disability) and assisted suicide (but not administered euthanasia). Their boundaries are irrational and therefore permeable. That is why so many people are worried about the thin end of the wedge. This is a road down which we should not go.

Liz Carr, who is an actress and disability rights leader stated at the Not Dead Yet UK rally two weeks ago

I am terrified by this bill. I am terrified because as a disabled person I have experienced first-hand how poorly our society values disabled people. It's the same with elderly people.
I’m always been told, ‘If I was like you I’d kill myself’. ‘If I was like you I’d want to die.’ There are people who sincerely believe that people like me are better off dead. 
This is really serious. It’s about life and death. If this bill becomes law some disabled and vulnerable people will be subjected to exploitation and abuse and will die as a result. 
This bill if passed will also mean that innocent people get killed. The current law protects people against this kind of abuse. It does not need changing.

This is a road down which we should not go.

European Court of Human Rights rejects assisted suicide case

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Today, the European Court of Human Rights rejected a case to overturn Britain's assisted suicide law.

The case was brought to the Court of Human Rights by Jane Nicklinson, the widow of Tony Nicklinson, a man had who lived with locked-in syndrome and Paul Lamb who had become paralysed in an accident.

In rejecting the case, the European Court of Human Rights stated that:

the UK Parliament was "best placed" to rule on such a sensitive issue.

On June 25, 2014; the UK Supreme Court also rejected an attempt by Nicklinson and Lamb to overturn the laws protecting people from assisted suicide. Not Dead Yet UK spokesperson, Kevin Fitzpatrick, responded to the UK Supreme Court decision by stating:

Euthanasia and assisted suicide is profoundly dangerous, irrespective of such hard cases, not least because they pose a very grave risk to thousands of disabled people who have been made vulnerable by cuts in health and social care services and welfare benefits, making some feel they would be better off dead and no longer a burden on their family and friends.

The British House of Commons will be debating a bill to legalize assisted suicide this fall.

Not Dead Yet UK recently sent a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron explaining why they oppose assisted suicide and organized a rally featuring an excellent speech by disability leader and actress Liz Carr.

Summary of Liz Carr's speech at Not Dead Yet - UK rally

The summary of Liz Carr's speech was published by Dr Peter Saunders on his blog.

Not Dead Yet assembled at 10 Downing Street

Not Dead Yet assembled at 10 Downing Street

People with disabilites descended on Westminster today in droves to lobby MPs on Rob Marris’s Assisted Dying (no 2) Bill.

Marris's assisted suicide bill is due for its second reading on 11 September. 

Stand-up comedian and actress Liz Carr addressed the gathering and was introduced by former Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. 

They later visited 10 Downing Street to hand a letter to the Prime Minister.

The following is a summary by Dr Peter Saunders of Liz Carr’s speech. This is based on his (not fully legible) handwritten notes and does no justice to Liz's sense of humor and eloquence but at least it will give you the general gist. The talk was recorded so I will post a link to the video here once it has been produced. Any errors in transcription are his alone:

Summary of Liz Carr's speech 

We shouldn’t be fooled by the term ‘assisted dying’. This is assisted suicide. So let’s call it what it actually is. It’s about people having help to kill themselves.

The former name of Dignity in Dying (DID), the organisation pushing this bill, is the ‘Voluntary Euthanasia Society’. They will use any euphemism to distort the facts and disguise their wider agenda.

Their main weapons are misinformation, emotion and fear – fear about pain, dependence and disability. So we have to fight this fear with facts and truth.

Is there anyone in this room who wouldn’t prefer a pain free death with dignity? Of course not. We all want that. But this law is not the way to achieve it.

Assisted suicide is not about having a painless and pleasant death either. The drugs are unpleasant and they often do not work quickly. Far better to be in the hands of a doctor trained in good palliative care who can relieve your symptoms properly.

We are being cast as uncompassionate for opposing this bill. But we are not the people who lack compassion. We understand what it is like to suffer and to have limited options.

Link to the full article