Monthly Archives

March 2015

Alison Davis testimonial

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Alison Davis is a person living with disabilities. Let’s find out why she is against euthanasia and assisted suicide. She exposes the existing prejudices and stereotypes in our society towards people living with disabilities.
Her perspective towards life : she chooses life to look outward and help those who need it the most.

Euthanasia law divides folks with disabilities

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Stuff 12 March 2015
Clare Richards says an optimistic outlook on life has helped her endure years of pain, but she wants to choose when to quit life. The 65-year-old says a law to enable assisted suicide would bring peace and assurance to many people like her. She has had severe rheumatoid arthritis since she was 29 and had most of her joints replaced.
….She attended a talk on assisted suicide in Christchurch this week by Dutch advocate Dr Rob Jonquiere. Euthanasia in the Netherlands has been legal since 2002. Dutch nationals can request euthanasia from their doctor for “unbearable and hopeless suffering”. Jonquiere told the audience of about 40 people that there can come a time for some patients when a doctor’s “back is against the wall” and the only options are suffering or termination. In the Netherlands, euthanasia could go ahead when the doctor and patient reached the decision together, he said.
Christchurch man Ken Joblin, who has been blind since birth, said a euthanasia law would make people with disabilities feel less valued. “For people like me, who live with disability, there are times in our lives when we’re not feeling all that great, and if it is for extended periods of time we would be able to convince a doctor that we should die.” People with disabilities already felt isolated and a euthanasia law would make them feel even more marginalised, Joblin said. Jonquiere said he was not aware of the law affecting disabled Dutch people in a negative way.

Doctors Killed His Mom Because She Was Depressed. Now He Speaks Out Against Euthanasia.

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Daily Signal 2 January 2015
The issue of euthanasia created a divide among Belgians. Some, such as Tom Mortier, a 38-year-old chemistry professor at Leuven University College in Flanders, say his country has gone too far.
On April 19, 2012, Mortier’s mother was put to death at age 65 for what doctors called “untreatable depression.” He is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights over the conditions of her death. Mortier is fighting the European Court of Human Rights over the conditions of his mother’s death. Mortier didn’t find out his mother, Godelieva De Troyer, had been euthanized until he received a phone call the next day asking him to retrieve her body from the morgue. “I was completely shocked and traumatized,” Mortier says in an email interview with The Daily Signal.
Mortier says his mother had struggled with depression for many years and attributes her worsening conditions to the breakup of a romantic relationship and to being disconnected from her family. After her last relationship ended, she broke off contact with me and my children because she was worried that I was the same as my father who committed suicide when I was 5 years old. In seeking euthanasia, his mother asked doctors not to make contact with her children. Mortier contends that if part of her condition was the result of a “feeling of distance from her children,” doctors had no right to determine that her condition was “incurable” and she could not be helped. Oncologist Wim Distelmans, a doctor who specializes in tumors and also advocates for the life-terminating procedure, ended De Troyer’s life with a lethal injection.

Super Bowl Champion Urges His State to Reject Right-to-Die Legislation

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Daily Signal 11 March 2015
The right-to-die debate is ramping up across the nation as a number of states consider passing legislation that would allow terminally ill adults to take their own life.
Among them is Maryland, where lawmakers Tuesday heard emotional testimony from former Ravens linebacker O.J. Brigance, who said he’s enjoyed some of the most meaningful years of his life while terminally ill.
“I did not create my life, so I have no right to negate my life,” Brigance stated in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Since being diagnosed, I have done a greater good for society in eight years, than in my 37 years on earth.”
Brigance has been battling ALS—also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease—for eight years.
Once a 2000 Super Bowl champion, Brigance is now confined to a wheelchair.
He urged lawmakers to reject Maryland’s Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer Death With Dignity Act, introduced by Sen. Ron Young and Del. Shane Pendergrass, both Democrats.
The legislation, he wrote, would “devalue the lives and possible future contributions of Marylanders.”
Brigance’s story juxtaposes that of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman with terminal brain cancer, who took her own life last November.

Canada’s Supreme Court Creates Right to Assisted Suicide, Leaves Details Up to Parliament

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Public Discourse 3 March 2015
Who needs a legislature when you’ve got a supreme court?
There’s something about social policy that entices judges to moonlight as legislators—and not just in the United States. On February 6, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Canada’s ban on assisted suicide violates the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Specifically, the Court held in Carter v. Canada that the criminal penalty of up to fourteen years’ imprisonment for aiding or abetting a suicide interferes with a patient’s rights to life, liberty, security, and equal treatment under the law.
The court relied on arguments very similar to those rejected by the United States Supreme Court in a pair of unanimous rulings against a right to assisted suicide in 1997 (Washington v. Glucksberg and Vacco v. Quill). In all of these cases, assisted suicide advocates argued that legalizing assisted suicide was necessary to protect a fundamental—but unstated—right protected by the nation’s constitution. If this hypothetical right to die (or, more accurately, right to assistance in killing oneself) is acknowledged, the government must overcome a high hurdle to justify infringing it. Claimants also argued that a violation of this right results in an unreasonable loss of equal protection or treatment.
In Carter, assisted suicide advocates won on both counts, and the result is a sweeping change in Canadian social policy.
A Lack of Clear Definitions Endangers the Depressed
Troublingly, although it makes sweeping changes that parliament has repeatedly refused to codify in law, the judgment of the Carter Court does not define the terms it uses to mark the lines between life and death:

We conclude that the prohibition on physician-assisted dying is void insofar as it deprives a competent adult of such assistance where (1) the person affected clearly consents to the termination of life; and (2) the person 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 word “irremediable” would seem to mean “not treatable,” but this takes on a much broader meaning than it has in the three assisted suicide regimes in the United States. In Oregon, Washington, and Vermont, assisted suicide is limited to those with a terminal diagnosis (usually given six months or less to live). In Carter, however, eligibility for assisted suicide is not tied to a severely curtailed life expectancy. Rather, it is triggered whenever an illness, disease, or disability is present that can’t be fully cured.
It gets worse. The Carter Court explicitly states that either “physical or psychological suffering” merits access to assisted suicide. If such suffering becomes “intolerable” to a person, she can get help killing herself merely because she can’t bear the thought of a diminished life, however she defines it. As Wesley J. Smith puts it, “a treatable condition can qualify as ‘irremediable’ if the patient chooses not to pursue available remedies. So an ‘irremediable’ condition that permits life-termination may actually be wholly remediable, except that the patient would rather die than receive care.”
Opening the door to assisted suicide for those suffering from psychological distress poses a serious risk to people battling depression. Many who receive a diagnosis of a serious disease go through a period of depression. The same is true for those sustaining a permanently disabling injury. Making doctor-assisted suicide an acceptable legal option threatens to rob these people of the care and treatment they deserve. As one Canadian psychiatrist warns,

severe depression is not like late-stage pancreatic cancer, for which no known treatments available today will ultimately stop the “downward spiral to death.” Our field is moving forward, and I would not want to be in the position of saying, “if we hadn’t assisted death and dying in this person five years ago, they could have had a particular treatment that we now see works.”

The Court seems to have no such qualms.
Dangerously Naïve about the Potential for Abuse
To put it charitably, the Carter Court is dangerously naïve to imply that regulatory regimes that allow assisted suicide are working fine. A Newsweek cover story published barely a week after the Carter decision chronicles how quickly medicalized killing can expand once legalized. The article includes interviews with experts on both sides of the debate as well as official governmental statistics from the jurisdictions where assisted suicide is legal.
In the Netherlands, for example, assisted suicide has been permitted in some form since the 1970s. In 2002, euthanasia—in which a doctor or nurse directly administers the lethal agent—was decriminalized. By 2013, one in every twenty-eight deaths in the Netherlands was due to euthanasia—triple the number since 2002. In 2005, the Dutch government decriminalized euthanasia for babies, and some doctors are working to lower the age limit for requesting death on demand. The current cut-off is twelve years of age.
Thanks to a permissive regulatory regime that allows citizens to get help dying for an ever-expanding number of reasons, “the Dutch can now choose death if they’re tired of living.”
A look at Belgium should have given the Carter Court even greater pause. There, people suffering from depression and the psychological fallout of a botched gender reassignment surgery have been killed at their request under the country’s permissive regulatory regime.
The lack of prosecution in both Belgium and the Netherlands for doctors who assist suicides outside the law is a clear sign of a slippery slope sliding out of control. Regrettably, although the Court did receive an affidavit from an expert spotlighting these and other abuses, it was to no avail. The Court dismissed concerns about the potential for abuse by simply opining that “the permissive regime in Belgium is the product of a very different medico-legal culture. Practices of assisted death were ‘already prevalent and embedded in the medical culture’ prior to legalization. The regime simply regulates a common pre-existing practice.”
Missing from the Carter Court’s distinction is the acknowledgment that its decision creates an entirely different medico-legal culture in Canada by replacing a criminal prohibition of assisted suicide with a vague yet expansive right to die. If Canadian medicine is to escape the same fate as its Belgian and Dutch counterparts, it needs Canadian law to stand as an impregnable shield against abuse and error. Sadly, the nine people most responsible for standing guard have abandoned their post.

In your dreams, buddy

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Euthanasia will be in NZ soon, says advocate
Stuff 7 March 2015
It is only a matter of time before people are given the legal right to choose to die in New Zealand, a Dutch euthanasia advocate says.
Dr Rob Jonquiere, who helped draft legislation that allowed Dutch people suffering a terminal illness to choose to die, is on a nationwide speaking tour meeting with the public, doctors and other medical specialists.
But euthanasia opponents say Jonquiere is not welcome in this country and accuse him of “promoting suicide”.
Jonquiere was brought over by the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand, which is pushing for the Government to change the law to allow people with “unbearable suffering end their lives with dignity, not in pain”.
Jonquiere said he was hopeful change would come to New Zealand, where euthanasia is still illegal.
He pointed to a Canadian Supreme Court decision last month striking down the law against physician assisted dying and ordering the Canadian parliament to give mentally competent, consenting adults the right to seek medical assistance to end their lives.

Euthanasia campaign rides surge of support

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Stuff 4 March 2015
A former Labour MP whose proposed voluntary euthanasia bill was discarded by her party is back fighting for the right to die.
Maryan Street – who proposed and championed the End-of-Life Choice Bill when she was an MP in the last Parliament – is now at the forefront of a campaign, along with the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand, that would allow doctors to help terminally ill adult patients end their suffering.
The society and Street claim Parliament needs to debate a law change in the wake of widespread support for euthanasia.
“We want MPs to see that there is a great deal of public support for this bill,” Street said. “We would like the petition to be heard by the health select committee. It could prepare the way for an MP to put the End-of-Life Choice Bill back in the ballot.”
After Street failed to return to Parliament as a list MP last year, her bill was taken up by Labour colleague Iain Lees-Galloway, the MP for Palmerston North. However, new Labour leader Andrew Little told him to drop it as the party had more pressing issues to attend to.

Disability rights group concerned over voluntary euthanasia

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Stuff 3 March 2015
Disabled people could be coerced to commit suicide if a voluntary euthanasia bill is passed, a disability rights group says.
Not Dead Yet convenor Wendi Wicks said there could never be adequate protections for disabled people under voluntary euthanasia legislation.
“There are endless ways of telling disabled people time and time again that their life has no value.”
Not Dead Yet’s launch coincides with a speaking tour by world expert on medically assisted suicide, Rob Jonquiere.
The Dutch doctor is half-way through his two-week tour and said he agreed to help End of Life New Zealand raise the issue by talking about medically-assisted euthanasia legislation in his country.
During the tour Jonquiere will deliver 14 public lectures around the country and speak to health professionals.
In the Netherlands patients can ask their doctor to assist them in ending their lives if they are experiencing “intolerable and hopeless suffering”, Jonquiere said.