Empirical evidence indicates that euthanasia and assisted suicide laws are abused

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A recent article by Stuart Chambers that was published on January 5 in the Ottawa Citizen claims that: 

It was a bitter pill to swallow for secular prohibitionists when large-scale abuses against vulnerable populations failed to materialize in those jurisdictions.

Chambers argues that there is only anecdotal abuse of euthanasia and assisted suicide and only religious arguments oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide ignoring the disability rights movement and the position of Not Dead Yet.

Chambers ignores the data from study that was published in the NEJM on March 19, 2015 on the experience with euthanasia in the Flanders region of Belgium. 

The study examined 3751 deaths in the first six months of 2013 in the Flanders region of Belgium and concluded that 1.7% of all deaths were hastened without request representing more than 1000 deaths yearly. The study also determined that euthanasia represents 4.6% of all deaths but the official Belgian reports indicate that euthanasia represents 2.4% of all deaths, meaning that almost half of all assisted deaths went unreported, a clear abuse of the Belgian law.

Chambers also ignored the data concerning the Washington State assisted suicide law.

The 2014 Washington State assisted suicide report states that 176 lethal prescriptions were received, 126 people died by assisted suicide, 17 deaths were from other causes, 6 people remained alive and 27 deaths were from unknown causes. The report states that the ingestion status of the 27 deaths from unknown causes is unknown and the lethal prescription is unaccounted. What kind of oversight is that?

For the purpose of brevity, this article only examines a few key points. It should be a bitter pill to swallow for Chambers that my response did not require anecdotal evidence.

Important 2015 articles concerning euthanasia and assisted suicide

There were many important articles concerning euthanasia and assisted suicide in 2015. 

These are the 10 most popular articles with five more important articles from 2015.

1. June 24, EPC told the world about “Laura” a healthy 24-year-old Belgian woman who is living with suicidal ideation and was approved for euthanasia by the psychiatrist at the euthanasia clinic (Link to the article).

2. July 8 EPC launched – A Letter of Hope to Laura (Link to the article).

3. Nov 12, we learned that Laura is actually Emily, and Emily has decided to live (Link to the article).

4. Feb 6, the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s assisted suicide law. EPC explained the irresponsible and dangerous Supreme Court decision (Link to the article).

5. EPC urged its supporters to oppose the Supreme Court assisted suicide decision (Link to the article).

6. EPC then launched a letter-writing campaign to oppose the Supreme Court assisted suicide decision (Link to the article).

7. Sept 17, EPC launched a campaign urging California Governor Jerry Brown to veto the assisted suicide bill (Link to the article).

8. Aug 10, Dr Jacqueline Harvey wrote about the Subversive Strategies to Sell Assisted Suicide (Link to the article).

9. July 28, EPC urged its supporters to participate in the Federal government consultation on legislative options for assisted dying (Link to the article).

10. Feb 10, EPC had a victory at the BC Court of Appeal in the “Spoon Feeding” case (Link to the article).

More important articles.

California's Assisted Suicide Law: Whose Choice Will it Be?

This guest column was published by the Jurist on Oct 24, 2015

By Margaret Dore, a lawyer in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal who has been licensed to practice law in since 1986.

California has passed a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide, which is scheduled to go into effect during 2016. "The End of Life Option Act" was sold as giving patients choice and control at the end of life. The bill, in fact, is about ending the lives of people who are not necessarily dying anytime soon and giving other people the "option" to hurry them along. The bill is a recipe for elder abuse and family trauma.

The American Medical Association (AMA) defines physician-assisted suicide as occurring when "a physician facilitates a patient's death by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act."  The AMA gives the example: "[A] physician provides sleeping pills and information about the lethal dose, while aware that the patient may commit suicide." Assisted suicide is a general term in which the assisting person is not necessarily a physician. Euthanasia, by contrast, is the direct administration of a lethal agent with the intent to cause another person's death. 

The AMA rejects assisted suicide and euthanasia stating that they are

"fundamentally incompatible with the physician's role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks."

In the last five years, four states have strengthened their laws against assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is no longer legal in New Mexico due to a court decision. There are just three states where assisted suicide is legal: Oregon, Washington and Vermont. In a fourth state, Montana, case law gives doctors who assist a suicide a potential defense to a homicide charge.
 
The California bill applies to persons with a "terminal disease," which is defined as having a medical prognosis of less than six months to live. Such persons can, in reality, have years to live, with the more obvious reasons being misdiagnosis and the fact that predicting life expectancy is not an exact science. Doctors can sometimes be very wrong

Link to the full article

Statement of Not Dead Yet (USA) to Canadian Panel on Carter Case Decision

Submitted by

Diane Coleman, J.D., M.B.A., President/CEO

Stephen Drake, M.S., Research Analyst

Not Dead Yet

497 State Street Rochester, New York 14608 USA

October 14, 2015

This statement was originally published by Not Dead Yet on their website.

Executive Summary

Not Dead Yet is a national, grassroots disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia as deadly forms of discrimination against old, ill and disabled people. Not Dead Yet helps organize and articulate opposition to these practices in the United States based on secular social justice arguments. Not Dead Yet also demands the equal protection of the law for the targets of so called “mercy killing” whose lives are seen as worth-less.

This submission to the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canadawill focus on the Panel’s “key issue” in Terms of Reference Section 3.2 (c): “Risks to individuals and society associated with physician-assisted dying.” We will discuss the evidence coming from Oregon, the earliest of the four U.S. states to legalize assisted suicide, and outline the concerns of the disability community.

Regardless of our abilities or disabilities, none of us should feel that we have to die to have dignity, that we have to die to be relieved of pain, or that we should die to stop burdening our families or society. The realities of assisted suicide implementation in Oregon and three other U.S. states demonstrate the urgency of limiting the harms done by the Canadian Supreme Court ruling.

With that goal, we have two recommendations:

Adopt the detailed Goals, Principles and Recommendations submitted by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD),[1] which demonstrate a well-informed, evidence based and reasoned approach to reducing the dangers that will inevitably flow from implementation of Carter v. Canada. In order to completely incorporate CCD’s recommendations, direct consultation with a representative of CCD in drafting the legislation is necessary.

Provide training, guidance and encouragement to law enforcement agencies to exercise their existing level of authority to prosecute physicians and others involved in an assisted suicide or euthanasia death, while allowing those prosecuted to defend themselves by proving that the guidelines submitted by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities were met.

Introduction

Not Dead Yet is a national, grassroots disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia as deadly forms of discrimination against old, ill and disabled people. Not Dead Yet helps organize and articulate opposition to these practices in the United States based on secular social justice arguments. Not Dead Yet also demands the equal protection of the law for the targets of so called “mercy killing” whose lives are seen as worth-less.

This submission to the External Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada will focus on the Panel’s “key issue” in Terms of Reference Section 3.2 (c): “Risks to individuals and society associated with physician-assisted dying.”

Link to the full article

The Supreme Court of Canada was wrong on assisted dying

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

For several years the Oregon suicide statistics seemed to indicate that legalizing assisted suicide had a suicide contagion effect. 

The assisted suicide lobby argue that legalizing assisted suicide prevents desperate people from dying by suicide and they argue that legalizing assisted suicide enables people to live longer because they do not need to die earlier by suicide in order to be capable of causing their own death. The second argument was wrongly accepted by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Carter decision.

The data is clear. A study published by the Southern Medical Association (October 2015) concludes:

Legalizing PAS has been associated with an increased rate of total suicides relative to other states and no decrease in nonassisted suicides. This suggests either that PAS does not inhibit (nor acts as an alternative to) nonassisted suicide, or that it acts in this way in some individuals but is associated with an increased inclination to suicide in other individuals.

The study examined the suicide rates in Oregon, Washington State, Montana and Vermont, where assisted suicide is permitted.

Link to the full article

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition executive director coming to Chatham

This article was published in the Chatham Daily News on September 24, 2015.

Alex Schadenberg

Alex Schadenberg

When it comes to assisted suicide, the theory that the person whose life will be ended has the final say, is something Alex Schadenberg questions.

The executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada, based in London, will be in Chatham Oct. 14 to discuss the issue of assisted suicide during a presentation at Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church from 7-9 p.m.

Schadenberg, who spoke with The Chatham Daily News while in Winnipeg, said he has been in demand as a speaker having recently been to New Hampshire, and has speaking engagements across the region.

He discusses the theory and reality of euthanasia.

“The theory is this is all about my personal choice, if I'm suffering, I should be able to die. It's all about what I want,” Schadenberg said. 
“The reality is, it's not like that at all,” he added.

Schadenberg plans to discuss the findings of a study of all deaths, over six-month period in the area of Flanders in Belgium in 2013 – where euthanasia is legal – that was released in March.

Of the 3751 deaths that were examined in the study, Schadenberg said 4.6 per cent were by euthanasia, but added 1.7 per cent were “hastened deaths without request.”

He noted 4.6 per cent of the deaths in the study equals about 2,800 by euthanasia, but there were only 1,450 reported euthanasia deaths, meaning about 50 per cent went unreported.

Link to the full article

Easy ways to oppose the British assisted suicide bill

This article was published on Dr Peter Saunders blog on September 9, 2015.

By Dr Peter Saunders, Campaign Director - Care Not Killing Alliance

On Friday 11 September, MPs will vote on the Assisted Dying (No.2) Bill which aims to allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to mentally competent adults with a terminal illness.

It's a Private Members' Bill tabled by Labour's Rob Marris MP, with the support of campaign group Dignity in Dying (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society).

Here are some easy things you can do to oppose the bill ahead of Friday's vote in Parliament.

Read, Act, Pray and Go!

Read - CMF and the Care Not Killing Alliance have produced a number of excellent reading materials to inform your arguments against the bill. Read this CMF Blog on why the current law is not 'broken' and doesn't need 'fixing'. Also read this useful guide on the bill.

Act - Social media is becoming increasingly powerful as a tool to influence public opinion. If you're on Facebook would you share this post on your networks? Also if you're on Twitter please Retweet this Tweet. Together, our voice is stronger.

Pray and Go - If you are free this Friday please join us for a rally in Old Palace Yard (adjacent to Parliament Square), whilst the bill is being debated, beginning at 8.30am. All details here.