Will Johnston: The case against physician-assisted dying

This article was published by the CanadianHealthcareNetwork.ca on June 1, 2016

Discussed: The 'wedge' cases, the language of the debate, the moral culpability of the doctor, and the question of pure autonomy
Dr Will Johnston

Dr Will Johnston

By Tristan Bronca.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition was officially founded in 1998 in response to rising public support for physician-assisted dying. It’s made up of about 2,000 donors—both members and organizations—who began to come together in about 1993 during the Sue Rodriguez case. One of those members is Dr. Will Johnston.

Now the chair of the B.C. chapter of the coalition, the family physician took a strong stance against euthanasia about 22 years ago, when he began writing about it and speaking to high school students and church groups. He also testified opposite euthanasia advocates in the Carter case, which led to the legalization of medically assisted death in Canada. Dr. Johnston spoke with the Medical Post about his concerns with the legislation recently passed through the house of commons, the laws around the world, and why he feels Canada is about to make a dangerous mistake.

Q: Explain the impetus for a coalition of bodies who are opposed to physician-assisted dying.

The bodies that are involved in the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition might not agree on any other issue but they share in common a sense of the huge societal mistake that is being made in euthanasia and assisted suicide. We realize that there is some strength in numbers. Obviously not enough strength to stop the freight train that ended with the Supreme Court being unanimous in its decision—which I think is a troubling sign of the shallowness of the Supreme Court’s reasoning—but nonetheless more power than we would have as individual activists.

Q: Which elements of the proposed federal legislation do you personally find most troubling?

The legislation doesn’t yet allow the euthanasia of children, psychiatric patients, or mentally incapable patients long after they consent, but the preamble to the legislation promises to explore those areas further, which is deeply troubling.

Link to the full article

Boycott - Me Before You - "disability death porn."

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The movie - Me Before You will be released in theatres across North America on June 3.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is urging its supporters to boycott Me Before You to not give any money to the production of movies that perpetuate the ideology that death is better than living with a disability.

We also urge our supporters to donate the admission price to either: Not Dead Yet (donation), Not Dead Yet UK (donation), Toujours Vivant - Not Dead Yet (donate through the Council of Canadians with Disabilities) or the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (donation).

This is not a campaign to obstruct free speech, this is a campaign to oppose the "disability death porn" that this movie promotes.

In the Me Before You plot (Will Traynor) a man who was paralysed in an accident, decides to die by assisted suicide at a Swiss suicide clinic. His family, who are incredibly wealthy, hire Louisa Clark, as his care-giver. 

As the story progresses, Clark falls in love with Traynor, but Traynor has decided that death is better than living with a disability. Traynor dies by assisted suicide in Switzerland and of course he loves Clark so much, that he leaves her an inheritance.

What is most insidious about the movie is that Traynor’s suicide is sold as an act of love. For me that borders on what I call “disability death porn.”

People with disabilities are fighting for social and attitudinal change. Me Before You perpetuates the idea, that death is better than living with a disability.

To understand the disability perspective, I urge you to read the comments by people with disabilities concerning Me Before You.

Link to the full article

Rushing toward death - Euthanasia in the Netherlands

Theo Boer

Theo Boer

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In July 2014, Professor Theo Boer, who was member, for nine years, of a euthanasia regional review committee in the Netherlands, wrote an article that was published in the Daily Mail urging the British parliament to reject the legalization of assisted suicide. Boer then gave the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition permission to publish the full text of his article entitled "Assisted Suicide: Don't go there."

Today Professor Boer published a significant critique of the Netherlands Euthanasia Law under the title: Rushing toward death?

Boer begins by explaining how euthanasia became legal, and how the law works in the Netherlands. He wrote:

In 1994 the Netherlands became the first country to legalize assisted dying. The Dutch added a clause to the Burial and Cremation Act allowing doctors to help a person die as long as the patient made an informed request and faced unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement; a second doctor concurred in the decision; and medically advised methods were used. The clause was further codified by the Assisted Dying Act in 2001. Belgium followed suit with similar legislation in 2002. 
In the Netherlands, five regional review committees, each consisting of a lawyer, a physician, and an ethicist, were charged with keeping an eye on the practice and assessing (after the fact) whether a case of assisted dying complied with the law. 
Two forms of assisted dying are legally practiced: euthanasia, in which the action of the physician causes death, and physician-assisted suicide, in which a physician provides the patient with a lethal drink administered by the patient. The overwhelming majority of patients who make use of the law (95 percent) choose euthanasia.

Boer then explains why he originally supported the Netherlands euthanasia law.

Link to the full article

Canada's euthanasia lobby pushes euthanasia for people who cannot consent

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

A recent poll commissioned by the euthanasia lobby was designed to pressure Canada's parliament to approve euthanasia for incompetent people with advanced dementia.

The Supreme Court February 2015 Carter decision permitted 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.”

The Supreme Court decision stated that the person must clearly consent, but the euthanasia lobby is not satisfied with limiting euthanasia to consenting adults so they designed a poll to suggest that 80 per cent of Canadians agree that individuals with a terminal medical condition like dementia should be permitted to consent to assisted death in advance. 

According to a recent study from Belgium, where assisted death was legalized for competent adults in 2002, there were more than 1000 assisted deaths without explicit request in 2013.

The euthanasia lobby wants you to believe that they only support euthanasia for people who are competent, terminally ill and suffering, but in reality they also want euthanasia without an explicit consent for incompetent people. 

If this is about "freedom of choice," as the euthanasia lobby claims, how can it be assured that the person with dementia is freely choosing to be killed? 

The euthanasia lobby is not satisfied with the Supreme Court decision to limit killing to people who clearly consent, they also want death for people who they define as better off dead and who cannot consent.

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.

CARP is now a pro-euthanasia advocacy group

Susan Eng

Susan Eng

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) under the leadership of Moses Znaimer, the former owner of CITY TV, has officially become an advocacy group promoting unfettered euthanasia.

According to an article by Gloria Galloway in the Globe and Mail, Susan Eng, the long-time Executive Vice President of CARP was fired by Moses Znaimer based on her neutral position on euthanasia and assisted suicide and replaced by Wanda Morris, the former CEO of Dying With Dignity. According to the article:

The woman who has been the public face of Canada’s leading seniors organization for the past eight years says she has been dismissed by media mogul Moses Znaimer, who is also the organization’s president, because she insisted on taking a neutral approach to the emotionally charged issue of assisted dying. 
Susan Eng was told on Tuesday that she was no longer needed as the executive vice-president of advocacy at CARP Canada. She then learned on Wednesday that she was being replaced by Wanda Morris, the head of Dying with Dignity Canada, which advocates for access to physician-assisted dying and against unnecessary barriers when safeguards are being imposed to protect the vulnerable. 
... “The only reason he fired me was so that they can put out an official position for CARP saying that they want to insist on assisted dying on demand,” said Ms. Eng, a Toronto lawyer and former chair of the city’s police services board.

Znaimer has been promoting a radical pro-euthanasia position for some time. He his written one-sided propaganda articles urging "euthanasia on demand." Znaimer also wrote an articlemisconstruing the Bentley case in BC, a case that concerned the issue of whether normal feeding is medical treatment. 

Many seniors are members of CARP to enjoy the travel, insurance and other benefits that are obtained through a CARP membership. Many seniors will now not renew their CARP membership or seeking an alternative organization to attain similar benefits.

Link to the full article

Ian Dowbiggin: A scandal in the euthanasia archives - continued

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Ian Dowbiggin

Ian Dowbiggin

Ian Dowbiggin's article - A scandal in the euthanasia archives - was published in the Prince Arthur Herald on November 30, 2015. Dowbiggin, who is the author of the book: A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America, a history professor at UPEI and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada asks - Why has the euthanasia movement hidden or destroyed its history?

Today, the Prince Arthur Herald has published a follow-up article where Dowbiggin responds to an article by Stuart Chambers, a professor at the University of Ottawa, who challenges Dowbiggin's assertion with ad hominem arguments. Dowbiggin responds:

First, let’s dispense with that old canard, used by euthanasia enthusiasts like Chambers, that opponents of euthanasia are all “sanctity of life” proponents. It simply isn’t true; just ask disabilities groups which oppose euthanasia. Nor is it only Christians involved; Islam, Hinduism and many strands of Judaism condemn both assisted suicide and mercy-killing. 
When the euthanasia movement was propagandizing in favour of involuntary mercy-killing for either the good of the species or the economic welfare of society, there was no consensus supporting euthanasia. 
Quite the contrary; there was widespread opposition to this policy. Yet the movement forged ahead in defiance of experts from across the political spectrum and scripted its sorry history. 
Indeed, that is my very point about the euthanasia archives scandal. Chambers and his allies don’t want to open up the topic of their own shady history. If I were in their shoes, I might feel the same way. Their attempts to change public opinion depend on keeping their past under wraps. 
Lastly, Chambers says that even if euthanasia advocates had made mistakes in the past, all is well today. “Euthanasia lobbyists,” he reassures us, could never “maneuver” around the “checks and balances” of euthanasia laws and kill people with disabilities. 

Link to the full article