Organ donation, euthanasia and assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Several days ago I received a phone call from Sharon Kirkey who was writing an article concerning the practice of organ donation after assisted death, an article that was published in the National Post. Kirkey asked me my thoughts on whether organ donation would occur after assisted death? It is interesting that she didn't include any of my quotes in the article. I said:

Sharon, you are asking the wrong question. Any person who signs their organ donor card and who dies by assisted death would be eligible for organ donation.

I then said to her:

The real question is whether or not, in the future, organ donation and assisted death will be coupled.

There was some silence on the other end of the phone. I continued.

If a person has signed their organ donor card and if they have been approved for assisted death, why wouldn't the organs be donated? Once assisted death becomes more common, why wouldn't they remove the organs before lethal injection? Death by lethal injection and death by removal of vital organs is the same thing, simply done in a different way.

Sharon questioned me further and I said:

My concern is that in the future euthanasia will be sold to the public as "good for society."
By coupling organ donation with assisted death, new social pressure will be created for people with healthy organs who are living with disabilities, depression or chronic conditions. They will be subtly encouraged to "voluntarily" die by "assisted death" for the "common good."

Whether I like it or not, if "assisted death" becomes legal, organ donation will soon be subtly promoted as a "good outcome" of assisted death and later become overtly promoted especially for people who are living with disabilities, depression, or chronic illnesses. The healthiest organs make for the best transplants.

SCC Assisted Suicide decision is irresponsible and dangerous

This article was published in the National Post on February 7, 2015.

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Supreme Court of Canada has made an activist decision by giving physicians the right in law to cause the death of people by euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Court has made an irresponsible decision, what is more, by using imprecise and subjective language, leaving many issues to be determined by Parliament without objective criteria the decision sets a dangerous precedent that, if unchecked, will lead to the sort of abuses that are now common in the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.

The decision allows euthanasia and assisted suicide for not only physical but also psychological suffering, without limiting it to clear parameters. Because there is no possible definition for psychological suffering, the Court has opened a Pandora’s Box.

Psychological suffering was the reason for the following deaths in the Netherlands: a healthy woman, with tinnitus, died by euthanasia; a healthy man who was lonely, depressed and recently retired died by euthanasia; a healthy woman who was deaf died by euthanasia; among many other cases.

The decision legalizes euthanasia for:

“a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.”

One would assume “competent adult person” is clear enough, but what if that person is depressed? In Oregon, where the assisted death law is limited to people with less than six months to live, Dr. Charles Bentz has written about his long-term patient who was diagnosed with depression yet died by assisted suicide — under a law that claims to protect depressed people from assisted suicide. Competence is very difficult to determine. Similarly, the Belgian law requires that the person be competent, and yet Dr. Tom Mortier’s mother died by euthanasia even though she was experiencing situational depression related to a relationship break-up.

Link to the full article