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Sharing article from the organization Physicians Alliance Against Euthanasia
Montreal, April 15, 2016 – In the midst of one of the worst suicide crises in our country’s history, the federal government has tabled Bill C-14, which proposes to legalize both euthanasia and assisted suicide across Canada under the pseudonym “medical assistance in dying”. The waltz of words continues, as we malign palliative care by presenting “medical assistance in dying” as the only alternative to an agonizingly painful death.
From the outset, the bill makes clear the gravity of what our society is about to accept: it amends the Criminal Code to “create exemptions from the offences of culpable homicide, of aiding suicide and of administering a noxious thing, in order to permit medical practitioners and nurse practitioners to provide medical assistance in dying and to permit pharmacists and other persons to assist in the process”.
These people would not be criminally responsible if they were practising euthanasia or helping a patient to commit suicide. Nor would the people helping the physician or nurse practitioner “if they do anything, at another person’s explicit request, for the purpose of aiding that other person to self-administer a substance that has been prescribed for that other person as part of the provision of medical assistance in dying”. Therefore, every citizen will be able, without fear of prosecution, to help another person to commit suicide if his condition meets the criteria established by law: a parent, a friend, a brother, a sister, etc.
Not surprisingly, there is no requirement that people who suffer be at the end of life to have access to assisted suicide. Only that “their natural death has become reasonably foreseeable (…) without a prognosis necessarily having been made as to the specific length of time that they have remaining”. It seems to us that everyone’s death is reasonably foreseeable.
Moreover, the federal government casts a wide net in its list of lives that are not worth living, including people with a serious and incurable disease, condition or disability, those losing autonomy and those with persistent physical or psychological suffering “that is intolerable to them and that cannot be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptable.” In drawing up a set of circumstances in which it is now acceptable to commit suicide with the help of a doctor and the complicity of the state, the federal government endorses the choice of death for a host of reasons… on the condition of being at least 18 years old.
We are already far from the idea that was sold to us when this debate began: fromproposing death for a few exceptional cases, we’ve reached the point where it’s considered “health care” like any other. Access to euthanasia and assisted suicide is such a priority that the federal bill suggests that a person be allowed to shorten his time of reflection (fixed at 15 days) if natural death becomes imminent – which invalidates the argument of the Supreme Court of Canada who claimed that “medical assistance to die” would help prevent people from taking their life prematurely…
In short, after the smoke screen that was the scandalous report of the Special Joint Committee, Bill C-14 gives the false impression of being prudent and restrictive. But a further reading enables us to understand where we are heading: the government is already expecting a need for “further studies on requests by mature minors, advance requests and requests where mental illness is the sole underlying medical condition” after the implementation of the law.
An even more permissive law won’t be long in coming. As soon as the population has swallowed this first poison pill.
This video clip is from a documentary produced by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Dunn Media. It will be released in June.
Sharing Press release from Life Canada concerning the report from the Parliamentary Special Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying’
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 25, 2016
Joint Committee Issues Extreme Recommendations for Doctor Assisted Death
The Special Joint Committee on Physician Assisted Dying’s recommendations for assisted suicide and euthanasia are far-reaching and more extreme than the Canadian public may be prepared for. Called “politically wild” by some,* the 60-page report, offering 20 recommendations to Parliament have every chance of being put into law by the June 6th deadline this year.
“These recommendations are reckless, and broadly influenced by a radical philosophy of absolute autonomy,” said Natalie Sonnen, executive director for LifeCanada. “I think they go way beyond what the public had expected and will have a chilling effect on the entire medical profession.”
Among other things, the Joint Committee has recommended that individuals with psychiatric conditions not be excluded from “assisted dying,” which the committee now takes to mean both assisted suicide and euthanasia. This calls patient consent into question.
Canadians have not been consulted as to whether pharmacists and nurse practitioners may be involved in these practices, but that is precisely what the committee has recommended. “Pharmacists and other health care practitioners, who provide services relating to medical assistance in dying, should also be exempted from sections 14 and section 241(b) of the Criminal Code.”
The recommendations call for all publicly funded medical institutions to take part, undoubtedly affecting Catholic hospitals who have served Canadian communities for hundreds of years. Hospices and palliative care facilities will be likewise affected.
There is no protection of conscience for objecting physicians. Our medical practitioners who have spent a lifetime of study and dedicated themselves to the care of patients must now be forced to either comply or make an “effective referral”.
The Committee has recommended that advance requests for assisted suicide or euthanasia also be allowed “any time after one is diagnosed” with a condition that will cause “loss of competence.” Anyone with a diagnosis of dementia, for example, an often slow degenerative disease, can make an advanced request for death to be carried out when the person is no longer competent.
Minors will not be permitted to access assisted death for the first three years, while the Committee studies what exactly is meant by a “competent minor”.
These and other recommendations have been released, ironically, on a day when the papers are full of our country’s First Nations chiefs desperately calling for help for their suicidal teens.
“We have institutional discrimination soon to be enshrined into law, and disguised as personal autonomy,” said Sonnen. “Suicide prevention and medical care will the priority for those who are able-bodied. But if you happen to be ill or disabled you will be offered doctor assisted death. And this is called a ‘right’.”
– 30 –
For media inquiries, please contact Natalie Sonnen at 1.866.780.5433.
*Ian Macleod, Ottawa Citizen, February 24, 2016.
Sharing from Students for Life – America
Choice does not include giving one individual, the right to determine whether another human being lives or dies.
Action Life sent this submission to the Provincial-Territorial Expert Advisory Group on Physician Assisted Dying, at the end of October 2015:
Action Life Ottawa is a non-denominational, non-profit, educational pro-life organization founded in 1971. We count 4,000 supporters in Ottawa and the surrounding region. Our guiding principles are that the right to life is the basic human right on which all others depend and that society has a duty to uphold and protect that right. We believe that life at every stage has inestimable value regardless of level of development, size, mental capacity, state of health and physical ability. We hold that all human beings are equal before and after birth. Members of Action Life maintain that we must solve human problems using positive, constructive means without destroying human life.
Action Life is greatly concerned about the protection of vulnerable persons from euthanasia and assisted suicide in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision in Carter v. Canada. A regime permitting euthanasia and assisted suicide will affect not only individuals but will have a profound societal impact as well. Allowing the deliberate taking of a human life by physicians may undermine trust in the medical profession. While euthanasia and assisted suicide advocates present lethal injections and prescriptions for a lethal dose of drugs as medical treatment, they are the very opposite. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are not medical treatment or health care, they are killing. Permissive regimes also place at risk, the most vulnerable in society: Persons with disabilities, elderly persons and persons with chronic and mental illness. Behind these calls for the ‘right to die’ lies the view that some lives are not worth living.
While much is said about autonomy and safeguards to advance the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide, they have been ineffective in protecting patients from euthanasia without explicit request or consent in the Netherlands and Belgium. The failure of safeguards has been amply demonstrated by the euthanasia experience in these jurisdictions.
Euthanasia Cases with no Explicit Request
The very first government commissioned report on euthanasia in the Netherlands, the 1990 Remmelink report found that 1,000 patients a year were “terminated without explicit request”. Subsequent studies published in 1995 and 2001 showed that at least 1,000 euthanasia deaths a year were done without explicit request. Thousands of patients have been euthanized without explicit request in the Netherlands over the years. An examination of later data reveals that this practice continues. In 2005, there were approximately 550 deaths without explicit request. In 2010, there were 310 euthanasia deaths without explicit request. 23% of euthanasia deaths were not reported to the Review Committee in 2010 according to a 2012 Lancet study.
The Dutch experience shows that euthanasia is not limited only to those who ask and consent to it but it is also extended to those who did not make a request or give consent. Even prior to the legalization of euthanasia in the Netherlands and Belgium, cases of neonatal and infant euthanasia by lethal injection occurred. Infants cannot request or consent to being killed by lethal injection.
The promises of safeguards and strict controls are an illusion.
Reasons for euthanasia
Once euthanasia is allowed, reasons for euthanasia and the number of euthanasia requests granted increase over time. It is granted for psychological suffering, including patients with depression, dementia and those tired of living.
In 2006, there were 1,923 reported euthanasia deaths. In 2013, there were 4,829 reported euthanasia deaths.
The Belgium experience
Physician assisted deaths under the euthanasia law in Belgium: a population based survey- Canadian Medical Association Journal, June 2010.
This study identified a vulnerable patient group:
“Our finding that the use of life- ending drugs without explicit patient request occurred predominantly in hospital and among patients 80 years or older who were mostly in coma or had dementia fits the description of “vulnerable” patient groups at risk of life- ending without request.”
Euthanasia deaths without explicit request
Why was the decision for euthanasia not discussed with the patient? Reasons offered among others were that:
In 70.1% of cases, the patient was comatose.
In 21.1% of cases, the patient had dementia.
In 17% of cases, the physician thought “the decision was clearly in the patient’s best interest. ”
In 8.2% of cases, the physician thought “the discussion would have been harmful to patient.”
So we ask where is consent and choice in these decisions? Choice and consent are an illusion: sometimes the physician decides when the patient dies. In some instances, it is also the wish of the family to end the patient’s life. 31% of euthanasia deaths were done without the patient’s explicit request in the Flanders region of Belgium.
Unreported euthanasia deaths
British Medical Journal, November 2010
Reporting of euthanasia in Medical Practice in Flanders, Belgium: Cross Sectional Analysis of Reported and Unreported cases
From this study, we know that:
47.2% of euthanasia deaths were unreported.
“According to these documents, physicians who reported cases, practiced euthanasia carefully and in compliance with the law, and no cases of abuse have been found. However, concerns exist that only cases of euthanasia that are dealt with carefully are being reported. ”
Reasons given for not reporting euthanasia death were:
In 11.9% of cases, physicians responded that the “legal due care requirements had possibly not all been met. ”
9% said that “euthanasia is a private matter between physician and patient.”
2.3% “did not report the case because of possible legal consequences.”
In 76.7% of the cases, “physicians answered that they did not perceive their act as euthanasia.”
Another ‘safeguard’ which was ignored in unreported cases of euthanasia was the requirement to consult another physician:
“Consultation occurred in almost all reported cases, whereas it occurred in only half of all unreported cases. This association was also found in the Netherlands where the most important reason for not consulting was the physician did not intend to report the case.”
It is our belief that only an absolute prohibition on euthanasia and assisted suicide protects patients.
The latest study on euthanasia in Belgium found:
The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) (March 19, 2015) Recent Trends in Euthanasia and Other End-of-Life Practices in Belgium.
- An increase in the percentage of euthanasia deaths: in 2007, 1.9% of all deaths were due to euthanasia. In 2013, 4.6% of all deaths were due to euthanasia, which represents a substantial increase in 6 years.
Euthanasia deaths without explicit request from the patient continue to happen in spite of safeguards.
In 2007, 1.8% of all deaths were euthanasia deaths without explicit request.
In 2013, 1.7% of all deaths were hastened deaths without explicit request.
Given a total of 61,621 deaths in 2013 in Flanders Belgium with 1.7% of all deaths being due to euthanasia without explicit request, this means at least 1,000 deaths were euthanasia deaths without explicit request.
In the states of Oregon and Washington, where assisted suicide is legal, the primary end of life concerns mentioned in the annual reports are loss of autonomy and dignity and decreasing ability to participate in activities the individual once enjoyed. Being a burden on family and friends is also a concern for some individuals. We need to reaffirm that dependence does not imply a loss of dignity. On the one hand we will have suicide prevention and on the other suicide affirmation. The two cannot co-exist. Media reports have documented cases of violations of the assisted suicide law in Oregon.
Dame Cicely Saunders, who founded palliative care at S. Christopher’s Hospice in London said that “a request for euthanasia is primarily, the response to health care and social service systems that do not meet the needs of most people who are dying.”
When the reasons behind this cry for death are addressed, when the proper care is received, such demands usually dissipate.
Canada must increase and provide greater access to palliative care for all Canadians. At present, estimates are that only 30% of Canadians have access to palliative care. We are concerned that some are pushing for euthanasia and assisted suicide to be included in palliative care centres, a move which would cause some patients to fear these centres.
Suffering wears many faces: physical, emotional, and spiritual. A person’s request for death may be the result of loneliness, abandonment, poor pain relief, familial or financial pressure. Death with Dignity doesn’t come from a syringe or a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs.
Impacts on conscience rights
Lastly, we turn to the question of conscience rights of physicians. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario in its new policy Professional Obligations and Human rights states that in spite of conscientious, moral or religious objections, the physician must provide an effective referral to another physician. Asking a physician to refer for euthanasia or assisted suicide in spite of his moral objections is a violation of his Charter right to freedom of conscience and religion. We oppose any measure which would force physicians to refer for euthanasia and assisted suicide. The conscience rights of nurses must be respected as well.
The American Medical Association’s view on euthanasia is one we wholeheartedly agree with: “Euthanasia is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer, would be difficult or impossible to control, and would pose serious societal risks.”
Canada should direct its energies to increasing access to palliative care rather than allowing euthanasia and assisted suicide. Again, we stress that only a prohibition on euthanasia and assisted suicide can protect vulnerable persons. To die with dignity, patients do not need doctors to kill them.
From LifeNews.com, January 14 ,2016
Last year, as the media focused on a young California woman with terminal brain cancer who wanted to commit doctor-prescribed suicide, a young husband and father learned that he had the same horrible disease.
Doctors diagnosed J.J. Hanson with stage four glioblastoma multiforme, the same terminal cancer that young suicide victim Brittany Maynard had, Live Action News reports. Hanson, like Maynard, was told that the cancer was not treatable and he only had a few months to live.
“[Brittany] took her cancer story public, and it was used to headline a national effort to ‘normalize’ assisted suicide; a notion that had previously been rejected by dozens of states,” Hanson wrote in a recent column for the New Jersey Star-Ledger. “The message sent to patients across the country, who, like me, wanted to fight and live was now — ‘assisted suicide may be the best option for you.’ I recognized this as a huge danger.”
Hanson, a Marine Corps veteran, thought he was in good health, until one day at a business meeting in May 2014, when he “suddenly felt something go horribly wrong.” An ambulance rushed Hanson to the hospital, where doctors discovered that he had two lesions in his brain. Doctors told him and his wife, Kris, that the cancer was capable of doubling in size in two weeks – and inoperable.
Hanson said he refused to give up hope. He and his wife traveled to doctor after doctor until one agreed to treat him. The young husband and father had brain surgery, followed by radiation, chemotherapy and a clinical trial for a new experimental drug, he said.
“There were days when I completely lost all of my most basic physical abilities. I couldn’t talk, walk, read or write,” Hanson wrote in the recent column. “I fought for treatment that was so difficult there were times when I questioned if the struggle was worth the pain.”
It was. Just Christmas this year, Hanson posted a video on YouTube to announce that he was in remission – 20 months after being told he was going to die. In the video, Hanson encouraged other cancer victims to keep hoping.
If doctor-prescribed suicide had been legal in his state, Hanson said he easily could have succumbed to the same fate as Brittany Maynard, who committed suicide with a lethal drug prescribed by a doctor on Nov. 2, 2014 in Oregon.
Maynard campaigned for legalized assisted suicide before her death. Although cancer patients and pro-life groups tried to talk her out of the decision, it later appeared that Maynard may have either been used by assisted suicide advocates to promote their agenda or may have been a part of a plan working in concert with them to attempt to legalize assisted suicide in additional states. Her tragic death was used to push a new doctor prescribed suicide law in California.
Dozens more states have introduced assisted suicide legislation since Maynard’s suicide. A New Jersey bill to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide recently failed, while the New York bill is still being considered. Currently, doctor-prescribed suicide is legal in Oregon, Washington, Vermont and California.
Hanson said he sometimes wonders what would have happened if he had access to assisted suicide drugs.
“I would have lost the opportunity to make memories with my wife and son,” Hanson wrote. “I was terminal and I qualified under the New Jersey proposal, and a similar bill offered in New York. Assisted suicide is a decision that you can’t unmake. My wife would be without a husband and my son without a father.”
Hanson now serves as the president of the Patients Rights Action Fund, which works to protect vulnerable human beings from the threat of assisted suicide. He said he hopes his story will inspire others facing terminal illnesses to not lose hope or throw away their lives.
“Without a doubt, people similar to me facing desperate situations will feel like assisted suicide is their only option,” Hanson wrote. “In our society we should be focused on giving hope to the vulnerable and the sick at their greatest time of need, not taking hope away.”
Living with Dignity is an non-profit, non-religious organization based in Quebec which opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide. It describes its mission as follows:
“… to protect the life and the inherent and inalienable dignity of people who have become vulnerable through illness, old age, or disability, by ensuring they receive compassionate support.”
Action Life shares with you their December 16th blog post about the report issued by the Provincial -Territorial Advisory Group on Physician Assisted Dying. Living with Dignity wrote:
Provincial-Territorial Group seeks death on demand for all, even for children
We read with dismay the final report of the Provincial-Territorial Advisory Group that was published on November 30. The 43 recommendations in the report clearly have no other goal than the unfettered promotion of euthanasia and assisted suicide throughout Canada. The report’s authors abandon all caution, make no attempt to prevent harm, and demolish all the safeguards, however minimal, that the Supreme Court of Canada included in the Carter decision, interpreting them all with the undisguised intention of mandating death on demand for everyone.
First, the report errs in its interpretation of the Carter decision by arguing that the definition of “adult” should include children because it “relates to a patient’s ability to give consent rather than a particular age cut-off [to] allow access to patients who are competent, regardless of age.”
Next, it recommends extending to nurses and physician assistants the power to cause death, and recommends obliging persons and institutions who refuse to participate to find someone willing to carry out the act in their place. According to the authors, the State should even finance all procedures for euthanasia and assisted suicide, and life insurance payments should be guaranteed for the relatives of the deceased, opening the doors wide to financial abuse and to pressure on those who are sick or elderly, and afraid of becoming a burden on those around them.
Among the long list of measures proposed to facilitate the path toward suicide or euthanasia for some, and forced compliance for others, we find one that is sufficient to remove any credibility that might remain. In their passion to expand the reach of the law, the authors propose that “Where there is limited physician supply, provinces and territories should enable virtual physician assessments and visits using telemedicine services (or other video-based consultations).” Such a recommendation shows contempt for both the crucial importance of human relations in medicine and the value of people who are living through vulnerable moments, in addition to threatening the lives of those whose symptoms are not well controlled for lack of access to medical treatment.
Finally, while the Belgians express their concern about the havoc caused by their law, the authors of the report seek to open the floodgates beyond anything that occurs elsewhere, even in the most permissive jurisdictions. All the recommendations in this report are open to the most subjective and potentially irrational interpretation, throwing medical expertise into the bottom of a trash can filled with legal vacuum.
In conclusion, this unconditionally pro-euthanasia and pro-assisted suicide report contains such outrageous proposals that Canada would lose all credibility on the international stage if it were to serve as the basis for any federal, provincial or territorial legislation. Its approach, campaigning for universal access to death on demand instead of for high quality health care, relegates the care and safety of sick Canadians to the bottom of the priority list.
In addition to its endorsement of death on demand for all, the report also recommends establishing a national program to actively promote it, so as to sustain the myth of death as a public benefit.
To read more go to www.vivredignite.org/en/