Assisted suicide ballot measure introduced in Colorado. We must protect people from assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Recently I wrote an article about the successes in defeating assisted suicide bills in America. Since publisheding the article the Minnesota assisted suicide bill was stopped when its sponsor "pulled the bill" due to insufficient support.

Considering the success in defeating bills that give doctors the right to prescribe suicide to their patients, the suicide lobby has been relentless in pushing their death ideology.

For instance, this year in Colorado, a Senate Committee defeated the assisted suicide bill on February 3, on February 4, then the House Judiciary Committee passed the assisted suicide bill (6 - 5) and on February 24, the sponsors "pulled the bill" because it lacked support.

Now the suicide lobby has introduced a Colorado ballot measure titled: "End of Life Options" for the November 2016 election. The suicide lobby will require almost 99,000 signatures to have this dangerous measure put on the ballot.

At the same time, the sponsor of the California assisted suicide bill, which does not become law until June 9, have introduced two bills to promote assisted suicide in California. The first bill would establish a toll free death line, while the second bill would require the state health plan to pay for assisted suicide.

Assisted suicide bills in New York and the District of Columbia remain as clear threats. While I whole heartedly thank the many concerned people who stopped the suicide lobby in their states, I recognize that we will need to be as relentless as the suicide lobby. 

Even though the suicide lobby were defeated in Colorado, they are now bi-passing the legislative process with a ballot measure. 

We need to be vocal about the dangers of assisted suicide and how giving doctors the right to prescribe suicide to their patients devalues the lives of people at a vulnerable time of their life.

We must protect people from assisted suicide, the future of our culture depends on it.

Assisted suicide: An idea that loses its appeal when it is understood

Charles Camosy

Charles Camosy

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The State of Minnesota is currently debating assisted suicide bill SF 1880. Today, there is a hearing in the Minnesota Senate’s Health, Human Services and Housing Committee on the bill. Yesterday, an article by Charles Camosy, Assisted suicide: An idea that loses appeal as it becomes tangible - Liberals may find themselves opposed, as they should be. Camosy is a professor of bioethics at Fordham University.

Camosy first explains why assisted suicide is opposed: 

The truth about assisted suicide is that it 1) takes time to understand and that it 2) turns political stereotypes on their head. 
Let’s go back to June 2012, five months before the elections that year. Massachusetts has assisted suicide on the ballot. Polls indicate “overwhelming support” in that liberal state: 68 percent support legalizing it, while 19 percent favor its remaining illegal. 
But then something remarkable happened. The people of Massachusetts began to understand the issue. 
Support of assisted suicide is thought to be a liberal idea, but supporters often sound quite conservative. “I want my personal freedom! Government stay out of my life! My individual rights trump your view of the common good!” 
The summer of 2012 saw Massachusetts liberals calling this out. Victoria Kennedy, wife of the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, published a piece titled “Question 2 Insults Kennedy’s Memory.” Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. also wrote a piece arguing against the measure, “Liberals Should be Wary of Assisted Suicide.” Disability-rights and physicians groups also were fundamentally opposed. 
The result? In a mere five months, the liberal case defeated assisted suicide.

Camosy then explains why assisted suicide causes concerns.

Link to the full article

Assisted Suicide conviction of ex-nurse upheld in Minnesota

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Mark Dryborough

Mark Dryborough

William Melchert-Dinkel, the former Minnesota nurse had his conviction for assisting the suicide of Mark Dryborough (32) of Coventry England, upheld by the Minnesota Court of Appeal.

Melchert-Dinkel, who encouraged and counselled people to commit suicide on internet chat sites, was sentenced in September 2014 to 178 days in jail in the deaths of Dryborough and Nadia Kajouji (18) of Brampton Ontario Canada. The Minnesota Court of Appeal upheld his conviction for assisting the suicide of Dryborough but overturned his conviction in the death of Kajouji.

The Associated Press reported:

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that there was sufficient evidence to convict William Melchert-Dinkel, 53, of Faribault, of assisting the 2005 suicide of Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England. 
It said there wasn't enough evidence to convict the ex-nurse of the lesser offense of attempting to assist the 2008 suicide of Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, Ontario. 
Authorities have said that Melchert-Dinkel was obsessed with suicide and hanging, and that he sought out potential victims online, posing as a female nurse and feigning compassion.  
The appeals court said Melchert-Dinkel gave Drybrough detailed instructions on how to hang himself. But it said he didn't give specific instructions to Kajouji when he recommended that she hang herself. She jumped from a bridge into a frozen river in Ottawa, where she was going to college. 
Melchert-Dinkel served nearly six months in jail after his 2014 conviction and remains on 10 years of probation. While he told police he did it "for the thrill of the chase," he apologized at his sentencing and said he had repented.

The Associated Press reported that Terry Watkins, Melchert-Dinkel's lawyer, plans to appeal the conviction to the Minnesota State Supreme Court.

Links to previous articles concerning this case:

Final Exit Network found guilty for assisting the suicide of Minnesota woman

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A Minnesota Judge applied the maximum sentence to the Final Exit Network (FEN) for their role in assisting the suicide of Doreen Dunn (57) in 2007, after a jury found the Final Exit Network guilty last May.

The Star Tribune reported that:

During the trial, prosecutors argued that the group gave Doreen Dunn, of Apple Valley, a “blueprint” for ending her life and made efforts to conceal her suicide from family and authorities by removing the equipment she used. 
Criminal cases against Final Exit Network coordinator Roberta Massey, of Bear, Del., and the group’s medical director, Lawrence Egbert, 87, of Baltimore, are still pending. 
Another defendant, Jerry Dincin, died and charges against Thomas Goodwin were dismissed in 2013. 

According to a LaCrosse Tribune article:

Dakota County prosecutor Elizabeth Swank told jurors that the evidence showed that two members of Final Exit Network went to Dunn's home in Apple Valley to assist her suicide. They then removed the equipment that she used for suicide so that it appeared she had died of natural causes. 
Dunn's husband of 29 years arrived home on May 30, 2007, to find her dead on the couch. Swank said Dunn had a blanket pulled up to her neck with her hands folded on her chest. 
Swank said that despite Dunn's pain and depression, she had no life-threatening illness and her family was puzzled by her death. There were good things happening in her life: Her daughter who had been in Africa for about a year was coming home the next day and her son's fiancee was scheduled to give birth that week. However, her husband was also planning to move out, the prosecutor said.

Judge Christian Wilton senteced FEN to the maximum sentence by ordering that they pay a $30,000 fine plus $3000 towards the funeral cost.

FEN has been prosecuted for assisting several suicides. In Georgia, John Celmer, who was depressed after recovering from cancer, died after FEN assisted his suicide. Celmer's widow Susan Celmer, testified against FEN. 

Last year Larry Egbert, the medical director FEN, lost his medical license in Maryland.

Final Exit Network found guilty in Minnesota assisted suicide case

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Members of the Final Exit Network (FEN) were found guilty of assisting the suicide death and interfering with the death scene in the death Doreen Dunn (57) in 2007. Dunn was living with chronic depression but she was not not terminally ill.

The jury returned with a guilty verdict after a 90 minute deliberation.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 24. FEN has stated that it will appeal the convictions.

According to an article in the LaCrosse Tribune:

Dakota County prosecutor Elizabeth Swank told jurors that the evidence showed that two members of Final Exit Network went to Dunn's home in Apple Valley to assist her suicide. They then removed the equipment that she used for suicide so that it appeared she had died of natural causes. 
Dunn's husband of 29 years arrived home on May 30, 2007, to find her dead on the couch. Swank said Dunn had a blanket pulled up to her neck with her hands folded on her chest.

Swank said that despite Dunn's pain and depression, she had no life-threatening illness and her family was puzzled by her death. There were good things happening in her life: Her daughter who had been in Africa for about a year was coming home the next day and her son's fiancee was scheduled to give birth that week. However, her husband was also planning to move out, the prosecutor said.

Robert Rivas, the lawyer for the assisted suicide group, did not dispute that Jerry Dincin and Larry Egbert were present at Dunn's death, but he disputes that they assisted her suicide.

The Final Exit Network has been prosecuted in several assisted suicide cases. In Georgia, John Celmer, who was depressed after recovering from cancer, died by suicide with the assistance of the Final Exit Network. Celmer's widow Susan Celmer, testified against the Final Exit Network. The Final Exit Network assists the suicide of people at the most vulnerable time of their life. Last year Larry Egbert, the medical director for the Final Exit Network, lost his medical license in Maryland.

In October 2014, William Melchert-Dinkel, of Minnesota, was convicted in the assisted suicide deaths of Canadian teenager, Nadia Kajouji, and and Mark Drybrough, from England.

America's Dr Death loses medical license.

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Lawrence Egbert

Lawrence Egbert, a leader of the Final Exit Network, has lost his medical license in Maryland.

After a two year review, the Maryland Board of Physicians revoked his medical license after deciding that Egbert's actions were unethical and illegal. Egbert has said that he plans to appeal.

An article in the Baltimore Sun stated:

A Baltimore anesthesiologist who made national news as "The New Doctor Death" held six elderly Marylanders' hands as they asphyxiated themselves with helium and covered up the suicides after they died, according to a state order filed this month stripping him of his medical license. 
The suicides are among nearly 300 Lawrence D. Egbert said he helped arrange across the country as an "exit guide" for right-to-die group Final Exit Network. He and several colleagues were arrested in 2009 amid an undercover investigation in Georgia, but he avoided any punishment there or in another case in Arizona. He awaits trial for assisting in a suicide in Minnesota

Stephen Drake, an expert on the Final Exit Network and the research analyst for the disability rights group Not Dead Yet told the Baltimore Sun:

Link to the full article.

Former Minnesota nurse who admitted to counselling suicide of Canadian teen is going to jail

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Nadia Kajouji

Nadia Kajouji

The Canadian Press reported that William Melchert-Dinkel, a former Minnesota nurse, has been sentenced to 178 days in jail for his part in the death of Canadian teen, Nadia Kajouji and Mark Drybrough, from Coventry England.

CP Press report stated:

William Melchert-Dinkel was ordered Wednesday to serve 178 days in jail. 
He was sentenced to nearly five years in prison, but he won't have to serve the prison term if he complies with conditions of probation that include the jail time. 
The 52-year-old was convicted in September of one count of assisting a suicide and one count of attempting to assist a suicide in the deaths of Mark Drybrough, 32, of Coventry, England and Nadia Kajouji, 18, of Brampton, ON. 
The convictions came after the Minnesota Supreme Court narrowed the state's assisted-suicide law and reversed earlier convictions.

Link to the full article