It is impossible to support euthanasia of any kind

By Charlie Lewis:

A good friend of mine, asked me tonight via email about what she should pray for in current euthanasia battle in Canada. She wondered whether we should pray for the most restrictive legislation possible or should we pray that the very notion of legalized killing should vanish — in other words, a miracle.

Of course, a miracle would be great. Even more miraculous would be to see all pro-euthanasia politicians, some real enthusiasts for medicalized death, suddenly change their minds.

I have become entrenched in my own position against euthanasia. Not because I am stubborn but I find it impossible to support euthanasia of any kind. It goes against everything I believe in. To try to help craft a "safe" bill, or even pray for a safe bill, would haunt me forever. I may not be able to stop the inevitable but I can ease my own conscience by not going along. 

So here is roughly what I told her:

We should keep praying and working towards its destruction. Cardinal Thomas Collins appeared before the parliamentary committee that is attempting to craft a safe law. He refused to help them. He kept repeating euthanasia is wrong. The committee members were frustrated. But who cares. They are acting as the agents of death.

To my mind, you cannot oppose euthanasia and at the same time help craft a safe law. It would be like being against the death penalty but seeing nothing wrong in designing a painless noose or a quicker, more efficient poison to send a prisoner on his way to the next world.

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Euthanasia movement destroys its archives

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

This article was published by Wesley Smith on his blog on February 6, 2016.
Dowbiggin's historical book - A Merciful End - is available on Amazon.

Historian Ian Dowbiggin wrote a splendid history of the euthanasia movement back in 2003. 

It was thorough, detailed, and objective. The movement cooperated with Dowbiggin by making its archives available for his use. But now, they may have been destroyed. From, “A Scandal in the Euthanasia Archives:” 

Imagine for a moment that reporters broke the news that the Vatican had destroyed the bulk of its archival records. 
Researchers around the world justifiably might accuse the Roman Catholic Church of a deliberate cover-up.  
Well, the Vatican has done no such thing. But it appears as if the right-to-die movement has. If so, one might well ask; why did people in the movement do it? Are they trying to hide something about their past?  
One thing is clear: if the euthanasia movement’s records have indeed been destroyed, a lot of history has vanished, Orwell-like, down a cavernous memory hole. And with it, information the right-to-die movement doesn’t want you to know. 

What is the evidence? 

About five years after the book’s publication, I was contacted by a US graduate student researching the history of euthanasia. She told me that in trying to track down the ESA records she had been informed that the collection had been intentionally destroyed. Just this year another US graduate student got in touch with me, also trying to locate the ESA archives.  
She too has been told the records no longer exist, although she is still investigating. Of course, it might be that the ESA records are sitting somewhere safe and sound. Yet why do groups like Compassion and Choices ignore my own requests for information? Why, when a published scholar in the history of medicine enquires about the whereabouts of this important archive, is there a resounding silence? 

What might they want to erase: 

Not only did these activists urge governments to permit voluntary mercy-killing and physician-assisted suicide, many also supported the involuntary mercy-killing of handicapped people. For example, despite his knowledge of widespread Nazi murder of people with disabilities, in 1943 the ESA’s president thought it was a good idea to legalize euthanasia in time for returning veterans who suffered from mental and physical wounds. 

The euthanasia movement spent more than one hundred years looking for the right words and impetus to convince people to follow their dark calling. They think they have found it in “compassssssionnnn.” 

That is part of it, in a twisted way. But there is so much more to it than that–a malign side–and that is what the modern euthanasiaists may not want people see.

When assisted suicide become banal

This article was published in the CMAJ blogs on November 24, 2015

Dr Rene Leiva

Dr Rene Leiva

By Dr Rene Leiva

I read with interest the CMAJ Editor in Chief’s latest editorial about protecting the right of physicians to conscientiously object to being party to physician hastened death. Principled medicine has dealt with suffering since Hippocratic tenets were first formulated about 2400 years ago. It is only in the last fifty years that causing death has been construed as ‘medical treatment’ for suffering, which I firmly believe to be erroneous. I’m disturbed to see that while Quebec is leading the country on euthanasia only a fraction of its population has access to palliative care. Palliative Care has been around for close to forty years, but Quebec's new law on ‘medical aid in dying’ expects to make that option available to 100 per cent of Quebecers in a matter of months.

In Belgium, hastened death has become part of the culture: despite having initially focused on the competent adult who is terminally ill, it has quickly moved into euthanasia for mental suffering and dementia, and for those tired of living, as well as children; it is commonly practiced by other health professionals such as nurses despite this being illegal. Medically assisted deaths have risen by 640% in Belgium since the law was adopted in 2002 and there are a significant number of deaths without consent as well as under reporting.

When I first met Tom Mortier through mutual acquaintances, he impressed upon me his concerns about the dangers of living in a society that embraces hastened death and shared the sad and tragic account of his mother’s euthanasia under the Belgian law. Her story was the focus of a recent article in the New Yorker and part of an Australian TV documentary. He often forwards me information on euthanasia cases and events that in a different culture or time would have been unthinkable: from the doctor who euthanized his mother leading an ‘educational trip’ to the Nazi camp Auschwitz to leaders in the field celebrating euthanasia as having ‘a life-intensifying and sacred dimension’.

Not all the founders of the hastened death movement have remained convinced they were doing the right thing. Ann Humphry, the late co-founder of the Hemlock Society, now Compassion and Choices, deeply regretted her actions. She was concerned that sick and vulnerable people might feel subtle pressures to relieve their families and friends of the emotional burdens of their lingering death. Is this unrealistic? Last year, a Canadian woman committed suicide while promoting the legalization of hastened death. Part of her manifesto stated that ‘I can live or vegetate for perhaps ten years in hospital at Canada’s expense, costing anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000 per year,” she said. “Nurses, who thought they were embarked on a career that had great meaning, find themselves perpetually changing my diapers and reporting on the physical changes of an empty husk. It is ludicrous, wasteful and unfair”. Is this the message we want to communicate about the value of our parents’ and grandparents’ lives as the end approaches?

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Germany's Jewish community opposes assisted suicide, while the nation debates the issue

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The German Bundestag is scheduled to debate four assisted suicide proposals on Friday November 6. The Handelsblatt Global Edition reported, in a mostly pro-euthanasia article, that the four proposals range from complete liberalization to completely protecting people from euthanasia and assisted suicide. According to the article:

It’s encouraging how openly parliament is discussing the subject. Four motions will be on the agenda on November 6, when the Bundestag votes on how assisted suicide will be handled in the future. Proposals range from drastic penalties for anyone who assists in a suicide to complete liberalization of euthanasia, even for those who are not sick.

Germany's Health Minister, for instance, has stated that he supports a ban on the business of assisted suicide, such as occurs at the suicide clinics in Switzerland.

On Monday, Germany's Jewish community stated their opposition to the legalization of assisted suicide. According to the Jewish Times:

The Central Council of Jews in Germany said Monday that there must be no liberalization of assisted suicide in the country.

Central Council President Josef Schuster, a physician and member of the Central Ethics Committee of the German Medical Association, said:

“Seriously ill and elderly people should not be pushed to commit suicide,” 
“Assisted suicide must not become a regular service provided by doctors, an alternative to care for the dying,”

Schuster urged more support for hospice and palliative care.

In December 2014, the German Ethics Council rejected a change in the assisted suicide law. In September 2014, the memorial to the T-4 euthanasia program victims opened in Berlin.

The German Medical Association opposes euthanasia.

Further information:

German Bundestag debates assisted suicide

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Assisted suicide was debated, today,  in the German Bundestag. The issue of assisted suicide has been debated for several years based on high profile cases of German citizens who have died by assisted suicide at a clinic in Switzerland.

According to Deutsche Welle media, the German Bundestag were presented with four competing draft bills.

One lawmaker, Ulla Schmidt of the Social Democrats (SPD), voiced a concern that assisted suicide harkens back to the euthanasia program employed during the Nazi era, and called on her colleagues to proceed with caution. 
Katrin Göring-Eckhardt of the Green party said she was a worried about becoming the type of society that expects "the suffering elderly and those in need to bring an end to their own lives." 
Renate Künast of the Greens and Petra Sitte of the Left party, would completely remove legal hurdles to assisted suicide. 
Michael Brand of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Kerstin Griese of the SPD have prepared what they call a "middle way" between punishing those who provide euthanasia assistance and a complete deregulation of the process. 
Another CDU member, Patrick Sensberg, presented a draft that sought to criminalize any sort of assisted suicide. ... He spoke of the personal burdens some doctors would have to bear if they were required to help any terminally ill patient who wanted their assistance committing suicide.

The article also noted

Opponents of Brand and Greise's draft said it would dissuade doctors from helping terminally ill patients seeking the right to die, in case angry relatives argue that doctors are making money from practicing.

The article concluded that

The only thing that all parties were able to agree on was the need to strengthen and spread the availability and services provided by hospices and palliative care wards.

In June 2012, the German Medical Association voted against euthanasia, to forbid euthanasia organizations and to urge the government to make the commercialization of suicide a crime.

It is expected that legislation will be passed by November 2015.

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Canadian Supreme Court condemns disabled people to death

By Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick (OBE)

Kevin Fitzpatrick

Kevin Fitzpatrick

The Supreme Court of Canada judgment confirms what people with disabilities have always known – assisted suicide and euthanasia (AS/E) are fundamentally rooted in the most heinous discrimination against disabled people – discrimination to death.

The assisted suicide lobby in the UK, as in Canada today, has scorned this idea, without rationale. There are terrible purposes at work. The press to legalise assisted death only thinly veils the view that the lives of people with disabilities are not worth living. 

The evidence is overwhelming and was, long before a Belgian government adviser angrily stated at a public debate in November 2013, that a man with no arms and no legs should want to die - and flaunted his ‘life’s mission’, to facilitate such wishes. We knew the root of his hatred is seeing disabled lives as worthless, to be disposed of at the point of a needle. When his doctor colleague openly linked Belgian euthanasia law with world over-population, Hannah Arendt’s words came back to haunt us: they do not want to share the Earth with us.

Arendt was speaking about Eichmann’s trial, as she reflected a truth: it was small steps taken in the late 19th century that were fostered, bolstered and implemented by doctors, leading to the program of euthanasia which ended in Auschwitz. Those steps included the application of the new branch of mathematics called statistics in connection with eugenics, the ends were catastrophic. Someone might have argued, once, that no-one could have foreseen such consequences. We have no such excuse today.

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The Nazi holocaust – let’s not forget the lessons of history and the leading role doctors played

Dr Peter Saunders is a founder of the Care Not Killing Alliance in the UK. This article was published on his blog on January 30, 2015.

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

By Dr Peter Saunders 

This week has seen two significant anniversaries that have revived memories of the Second World War, and in particular what Britain was spared from.

First was the 50th anniversary of the death of the great wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on 24 January 1965.

Second was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of prisoners from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp – Holocaust Memorial day. More than one million people, mostly Jews, died at the Nazi camp (pictured) before it was liberated by allied troops on 27th January 1945.

Earlier this week a Jewish figurehead sparked controversy by suggesting that new draft legislation seeking to decriminalize assisted suicide in Scotland is based on similar principles to racist Nazi laws that paved the way for the Holocaust.

Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, spoke out against Patrick Harvie’s Assisted Suicide Bill which is currently making its way through Holyrood in an evidence session with MSPs.

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