How the assisted suicide lobby won in California

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Michael Cook wrote a very insightful article today titled: How the assisted suicide lobby won in California that was published in the online bioethics site Careful. 

Another good analysis of the assisted suicide lobby was titled: Subversive strategies to sell assisted suicide, by Dr Jacqueline Harvey.

Cook bases his analysis on information from the assisted suicide lobby group, Compassion & Choices, formerly the Hemlock society. Cook writes:

According to Barbara Coombs Lee, the head of America’s leading assisted suicide lobby group, Compassion & Choices (C&C), it was Brittany Maynard, the just-married woman who drank a lethal dose of barbiturates on November 1 last year, a few weeks short of her 30th birthday. She died in Oregon because assisted suicide was illegal in her home state of California. 
Brittany, who had an aggressive brain tumour, wanted to use her death to send a message pleading for the legalisation of assisted suicide. A C&C video about her did exactly that. On October 6 last year it was released on YouTube; on October 5 this year, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill legalising assisted suicide, a measure which had failed six times since 1988.

Defeat in America's biggest state has been a bitter pill for opponents of assisted suicide. But if you're handed a lemon, make lemonade. It’s also an opportunity to learn the lessons in propaganda which are exemplified so brilliantly in Brittany’s video. 

Link to the full article

Mary Karner: Why my mother, who just died from brain cancer, opposed assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Yesterday was a terrible day for those who believe in true dignity and oppose assisted suicide. Governor Jerry Brown signed the California assisted suicide bill into law.

The California assisted suicide bill passed in a subversive legislative process. The assisted suicide bill originally stalled in the State Assembly Health Committee. Then the assisted suicide bill re-appeared in a special session that Governor Brown called to examine the health care funding shortfall. In the meantime, the governing caucus re-arranged the committee members to ensure that the assisted suicide bill would receive committee support. Therefore the assisted suicide bill was passed in a two-week session without the scrutiny of other legislation. Governor Brown signed the bill into law, enabling California doctors to prescribe lethal doses for suicide to their patients who are living in a low time of their life.

Maggie Karner

Maggie Karner

But today, the Federalist published a poignant and personal letter by Mary Karner, a nurse and the daughter of Maggie Karner titled: My Mom Just Died Of Brain Cancer, Here's Why She Opposed Assisted Suicide.

I admired Maggie Karner for her ability to express her opposition to assisted suicide and her daughter appears to have inherited this gift. Mary Karner wrote:

I’ve performed CPR till I thought my arms would fall off to keep blood pumping through a child’s body. I’ve administered life-saving medication to a patient having a stroke and seen the joy on his face when he regained his speech. I’ve had a patient fall through a ceiling onto another patient (I can’t even make that up.) I’ve held the hand of patients as they’ve taken their last breath, and I’ve hugged family members so tight I couldn’t breathe. I really thought I’d seen it all. 
And then last week, my mom died. She had a glioblastoma brain tumor. I knew all about it, even cared for patients with her same diagnosis. I knew what was going to happen. But no matter how much I thought I was ready, I wasn’t. Death stings. And my beautiful, 52-year-old mother’s grave is freshly dug. 
But my mom’s name was Dr. Maggie Karner. And she was the textbook definition of awesome. Don’t take my word for it, Google her. She devoted her entire life to helping others... I’m not sure I’ve ever heard my mom speak more passionately then when she was talking about the word “mercy.” And that’s why my mom used her last days on Earth to campaign against a very dangerous use of that word. A “merciful death” some would call it, or a “right to die.” 
My mom is most famous for a YouTube video that went viral entitled “A Letter to Brittany Maynard.” In the video my mom pleaded with Brittany, who had the same diagnosis, not to commit assisted suicide. Unfortunately, Brittany eventually chose to end her life, but my mom never stopped advocating for life. In her words, “How long will it be before the right to die quickly devolves into the duty to die? What does this mean for all who are elderly, or disabled, or just wondering if they’ve become a burden to the family?” Even while she was receiving chemotherapy, my mom spoke at the Connecticut state house to lobby against a “right to die” bill. The bill did not pass. 

Link to the full article

Maggie Karner: Assisted Suicide Would Undermine My Cancer Battle

Maggie Karner, who is living with the same medical condition as Brittany Maynard had, wrote an article that was published in the Hartford Courant titled: Suicide Option Would Undermine My Cancer Battle. Karner, who lives in Bristol Connecticut opposes assisted suicide and the assisted suicide bill that is being debated in the Connecticut legislature.

Maggie Karner in Hawaii in 2009

Maggie Karner in Hawaii in 2009

 Karner first comments on assisted suicide and her medical condition:

I have been diagnosed with a terminal brain cancer — a glioblastoma. Because of my diagnosis, I would likely be eligible for the state's help to commit suicide under a bill before the General Assembly — and that is terrifying. 
Like many Connecticut residents, I have wondered whether I would want my doctor to offer suicide as a treatment for deadly cancer. The out-of-state proponents of the bill regarding physician-assisted suicide suggest having the ability to end your life legally is comforting. But I can tell you from personal experience that it is nearly as troubling as the cancer itself. 
You see, I get strength and comfort from the knowledge that nobody is going to give up on me — medically, psychologically or holistically. Right now, I have the firm support of the state and my fellow citizens in my desire to live — no matter the cost or burden. If that were to change, the tiny knowledge that I might be straining my family, friends, doctors or community resources unnecessarily would be a heavy burden. The constant "option" for suicide would wear at my resolve and I fear, become an unspoken "duty" for me and others.

Link to the full article

Maggie Karner has the same condition as Brittany Maynard, except, Karner opposes assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Maggie Karner is a mother of 3 who lives in Connecticut with the same condition that Brittany Maynard had, but Karner opposes assisted suicide.

In a recent interview with WFSB TV in Connecticut, Karner said that:

"The talking point that pro-assisted suicide people use is right to die. My fear is that it will quickly become the duty to die,"

This is not the first time that Karner has spoken out against assisted suicide. 

Karner produced a Youtube video (below) urging Brittany Maynard not to die by assisted suicide and join her in fighting the glioblastoma brain tumor.

Maggie Karner speaks from her heart when she says that the weakest among us - those who are vulnerable - and everyone need and deserve protections against assisted suicide.

Thank you Maggie for caring. Thank you Maggie for speaking out.