Euthanasia of newborns with disabilities

As mentioned by Andrew Coyne, Canadian professor Udo Schuklenk advances that with parental consent, the euthanasia of newborns with disabilities can be justified in some cases. Sadly, this practice is already occurring in Holland and Belgium. In a seven year span 22 babies with spina bifida were euthanized in Holland. A survey of Dutch neonatologists published in the Lancet of April 2005 found that there were 15 to 20 cases of infant euthanasia a year. There were 17 cases of infant euthanasia by administration of lethal drugs in Flanders, Belgium in a one year period according to another study in the Lancet.

Doctors have at their disposal the means to provide pain relief without resorting to euthanasia. If the condition is not fatal, an infant with proper care will continue to live.

The notion that others can decide if a life is worth living is truly frightening. Killing the child based on an assessment of his quality of life and future prospects is eugenics thinly disguised as compassion.

baby foot

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Sliding down the slippery slope of euthanasia

elderly personA letter writer to the Ottawa Citizen approved of Steven Fletcher’s bills which would legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia. Many persons with disabilities fear and reject these practices. The Council of Canadians with Disabilities has spoken out against Mr. Fletcher’s bills.

Whether euthanasia or assisted suicide, safeguards will not protect the vulnerable. In Belgium and Holland where euthanasia is legal, studies show that patients have been euthanized without consent or explicit request. Oregon law allows assisted suicide where the physician provides a prescription for a lethal dose for the patient. Patients Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup received letters from the Oregon Health Plan refusing to pay for cancer drugs  and offering palliative care or assisted suicide instead. Both were distressed by the refusal to cover the medications and the offer of assisted suicide.

So when the letter writer mentions the financial costs of delivering health care to the very elderly who would prefer “assisted dying” instead, Canadians should take notice.  Killing the patient by lethal injection or providing a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs is less costly but it is not health care nor is it death with dignity. The fear of being a burden and economic pressures are a dangerous mix.

Euthanasia and assisted suicide provide neither compassion nor mercy.

Photo shared from American Life League

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Beware euthanasia and assisted suicide

Euthanasia is lethalSharing photo from Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Senate Bill S-225 based on Member of Parliament Steven Fletcher’s bills would legalize both assisted suicide and euthanasia.

It would permit euthanasia by lethal injection and assisted suicide by lethal prescription.

Many persons with disabilities oppose these bills including the Council of Canadians with Disabilities.

Assurances that safeguards will protect the vulnerable can be refuted by data on the euthanasia experience in Holland and Belgium where it is legal.  In these jurisdictions, some patients have been euthanized without consent or explicit request in spite of safeguards. We know from a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in June 2010 that 31% of euthanasia deaths were done without explicit request in Flanders, Belgium between June and November 2007.

As for assisted suicide, consider the experience of Oregon cancer patient Jeanette Hall who voted for assisted suicide in a state ballot initiative.  After the enactment of Oregon’s law, she was diagnosed with cancer and asked for assisted suicide but her physician encouraged her to “think of living instead of dying”.

Said Jeanette: “I am so grateful that Dr. Stevens worked with me and helped me change my mind to fight. If he believed in physician-assisted suicide, I would not be here 13 years later to thank him, I would be dead.”

Killing the patient by lethal injection or providing the patient with the means to end his own life is not medical care.

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Euthanasia

euthanasia- alliance for lifeThe legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide would fundamentally alter the role of physicians and could adversely affect the doctor patient relationship.

Many physicians oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide. They do not wish to be involved in killing patients by lethal injection or providing a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs.  They are part of a healing profession. They work to heal, to treat and cure when they can.

Some individuals in society have become convinced  that they can achieve a dignified death through lethal injection by a physician or a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs. Dignity however is not found in allowing yourself to be killed.

Valuing each person and providing quality care until life’s natural end is the solution. Physicians and patients need to be protected from euthanasia and assisted suicide.

 

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Council of Canadians with Disabilities rejects assisted suicide bills

Member of Parliament Steven Fletcher introduced two private member’s bills to legalize assisted suicide in March 2014. We would like to share with you this press release issued in response to Mr. Fletcher’s proposal by the Council of Canadians with Disabilities.

Steven Fletcher Is Wrong: Assisted Suicide Not A Form of Love

27 March 2014

For Immediate Release

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) is speaking out against MP Steven Fletcher’s Private Member’s Bills on assisted suicide because legalized assisted suicide threatens the lives and dignity of people with disabilities and the elderly.  In a media interview promoting his Bills, Mr. Fletcher questioned, “Where is the love, where is the compassion,” and CCD answers that neither love nor compassion for people with disabilities are to be found in assisted suicide.

In making the case for assisted suicide, Steven Fletcher presented the frightening image of people drowning in their own phlegm.  He neglected to inform the public of existing options, such as palliative sedation, which are available to alleviate extreme forms of suffering.  Ethical options of symptom management seek to kill the pain, not the patient.

Since it intervened in the Sue Rodriguez case at the Supreme Court, CCD has been analyzing the effect of assisted suicide on people with disabilities, by monitoring other jurisdictions where it has been legalized.  As CCD spokesperson Jim Derksen has written, “Most people think the eligibility criteria for assisted suicide is terminal illness and constant pain that cannot be relieved, but these are very slippery and difficult concepts. The concept of pain as expanded under permissive assisted-suicide legislation in European countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands includes existential and emotional pain. Broad definitions of terminality and pain include disabilities that do not necessarily prevent people from living full lives.”

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To arrange a media interview, please contact Mr. Laurie Beachell,  CCD National Coordinator (204-947-0303 or laurie@ccdonline.ca).

 

 

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The right to Life

From Pro-Life campaign Irelandpro-Life campaign Ireland

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Adoption is a loving choice

Life Canada reports that “less than 2% of single Canadian women with unplanned pregnancies choose adoption. 38% abort. 60% become single parents.

down syndrome 3

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November is Adoption Awareness month

Sharing from the adoptionincanada.ca website. Adoption2014

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An open letter to Canadians from the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia

Open Letter from http://collectifmedecins.org/en/open-letter/

Open Letter to the Canadian People on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Dear fellow Canadians,

On Wednesday October 15th the Supreme Court of Canada will hear the appeal in the Carter case. It will decide whether the Criminal Code’s prohibition of assisted suicide is constitutional. If the prohibition is struck down, doctors will be involved in assisted suicide and euthanasia. As physicians, we have followed with a growing sense of dismay the public debate over whether to introduce into medical practice the act of inflicting death. We write to you today to give a medical perspective on this crucial debate.

It is a long standing commitment of the medical profession ‘To cure sometimes, to relieve suffering often, and to comfort always.’ It is a breach of that commitment to inflict death. The World Medical Association [1] and the near-totality of national medical associations agree that intentionally ending patients’ lives is not an ethically acceptable part of the physician’s role. This opinion is shared by the World Palliative Care Alliance [2] and the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians [3] in their assertion that Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide are not now, and have never been, part of palliative care practice.

Both the effectiveness of palliative care and the fact that most Canadians who die have limited access to specialised palliative care services [4]are well recognized. Palliative care affirms life, regards dying as a normal process, and intends neither to hasten nor postpone death. In the 40 years since palliative care was introduced into Canada the ability to control pain and other symptoms is improving constantly, although problems of equitable access persist. This is a grave injustice and, many believe, a breach of human rights, but the remedy is not to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide, it’s to provide the support dying people need. Indeed, legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide would introduce further injustices: those to older, disabled or ill people who may not even be dying but for whom the mere existence of such practices would be a source of subtle but effective pressure to request them, and which would place them in grave danger of abuse.

In the few countries that have attempted this hazardous social experiment, permissive laws, despite safeguards to restrict their application to a small number of extreme cases, are rapidly extended to include individuals bearing little resemblance to the initial target group. In Belgium, euthanasia is permitted by law if a patient requests it voluntarily and suffers from “constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering that cannot be alleviated, resulting from a serious and incurable disorder caused by illness or accident” [5]. Despite this seemingly restrictive rule, in recent years Belgians have been legally euthanized for suffering arising from conditions ranging from glaucoma [6] to depression [7], to imprisonment [8], to multiple chronic conditions in the elderly [9], to a desire to avoid being a burden on one’s children [10]. The situation in the Netherlands is much the same [11]. It would be naive to believe that some Canadians would not give in to the same pressures to use euthanasia in an ever expanding range of circumstances – that is, the logical slippery slope is unavoidable.

In the U.S. state of Oregon, legal physician-assisted suicides are not required to be supervised [12] and the doctor is rarely present [13]. Data are based entirely on physician self-reporting [14] and information on individual cases is not available even to the police.[15] This opens the door to abuse of older and vulnerable citizens.

With good reason the judges of the Supreme Court of Canada, in the Rodriguez decision in 1993, concluded that there was no measure short of the current law that would meet the objectives of Parliament to protect the public and, in particular, vulnerable members of the public.

As medical professionals we have an obligation to protect not only the patients under our care, but also the population as a whole. The majority of physicians in Canada oppose legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide.[16] [17] A few are attempting to take a neutral stance but such a position is untenable. If you are not against these practices you are necessarily for them. A purported neutral stance on the part of physicians would be an abdication of our duty as medical doctors to put the well-being of our patients before political or other considerations.

Legalization of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide would expose you and your loved ones to grave risks, including that of wrongful death.  Legislators and doctors have an urgent duty to ensure this never happens, for clear reasons of public safety.  We urge all Canadians to heed the warning signs from those places which have made the mistake of entrenching these practices, and to oppose their introduction into health care in our country.

Balfour Mount, OC, OQ, MD, FRCSC, Emeritus Eric M. Flanders Professor of Medicine, McGill University

WDS Thomas, MD FRCS(C), past president, Canadian Medical Association; past president, Canadian Medical Protective Association

Donald Boudreau, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine; core member, Centre for Medical Education; McGill University

Sheila Rutledge Harding, MD, MA, FRCPC; Professor, Internal Medicine & Pathology; Associate Dean Medical Education, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

Doris Barwich, MD, CCFP, Division of Palliative Care, University of British Columbia; past president, Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians

Margaret Cottle, MD, palliative care physician; vice president, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Canada

Catherine Ferrier, MD, FCFP, Division of Geriatric Medicine, McGill University Health Centre; president, Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia

Will Johnston, MD, family physician; chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of BC

Marc Beauchamp, MD, FRCSC, Orthopedic surgeon; president, Living with Dignity network

Note: Institutional affiliations are included for identification purposes only.

Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia

References:

  1. http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/e13b/
  2. World Palliative Care Alliance
  3. http://www.cspcp.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/EuthanasiaPositionStatementFINAL-June142013.pdf
  4. http://www.chpca.net/media/7622/fact_sheet_hpc_in_canada_march_2013_final.pdf
  5. Lee Carter et al v Canada SCC 35591. Affidavit of Professor Etienne Montero at paragraph 24.
  6. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/belgium/9801251/Euthanasia-twins-had-nothing-to-live-for.html
  7. http://www.worldmag.com/2014/09/man_challenges_belgium_s_euthanasia_law_after_mom_s_death
  8. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29209459
  9. http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/societe/l-euthanasie-ma-mere-et-moi_472327.html;Mozilla/5.0
  10. http://rt.com/news/191280-assisted-suicide-belgium-couple/
  11. http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Boer+wrong+euthanasia+slippery+slope/10039178/story.html
  12. http://public.health.oregon.gov/ProviderPartnerResources/EvaluationResearch/DeathwithDignityAct/Pages/ors.aspx
  13. http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/year16-2013.pdf
  14. https://public.health.oregon.gov/DiseasesConditions/CommunicableDisease/CDSummaryNewsletter/Documents/1999/ohd4806.pdf    at page 2, left column
  15. Personal communication with Vivian Siu, MPH, MURP, Mortality Research Analyst, Center for Health Statistics, Oregon Health Authority, Sept. 29, 2014
  16. https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/advocacy/Englishreportfinal.pdf
  17. https://www.cma.ca/En/Pages/As-CMA-meeting-nears-debate-over-end-of-life-care-increasing.aspx
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Abortion and the law in Canada

Abortion on demand ad - N.B.

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