Monthly Archives

August 2015

Top Oregon doctor: PAS law a 'mistake'

By | Recent News 24 August 2015
Senior Oregon doctor says that ‘assisted suicide has been detrimental to patients, degraded the quality of medical care, and compromised the integrity of the medical profession’.
A senior physician working in the US state of Oregon, where an ‘assisted dying’ law has been in operation since 1998, has warned that introducing the law was a mistake. Dr William Toffler, Professor of Family Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland and a licensed GP for 35 years, wrote for the Wall Street Journal three weeks ahead of the UK House of Commons’ debate on proposals ‘closely based’ on the Oregon law. His verdict, echoing that of Theo Boer on practice in the Netherlands, was damning:
“Since the voters of Oregon narrowly legalised physician-assisted suicide 20 years ago, there has been a profound shift in attitude toward medical care—new fear and secrecy, and a fixation on death. Well over 850 people have taken their lives by ingesting massive overdoses of barbiturates prescribed under the law. Proponents claim the system is working well with no problems. This is not true.”
He continued: “I have seen first-hand how the law has changed the relationship between doctors and patients, some of whom now fear that they are being steered toward assisted suicide.
“In one case a patient with bladder cancer contacted me. She was concerned that an oncologist treating her might be one of the ‘death doctors’, and she questioned his motives. This was particularly worrying to her after she obtained a second opinion from another oncologist who was more positive about her prognosis and treatment options. Whichever of the consultants was correct, such fears were never an issue before.”


Hopes New Zealanders will debate euthanasia

By | Recent News

NewsTalk ZB 28 August 2015
It’s hoped people all across New Zealand will get involved in the debate on assisted suicide.
LISTEN: Dr Jane Silloway Smith speaks to Tim Dower on KPMG Early Edition
A euthanasia researcher believes the broad scope of Parliament’s inquiry into the issue will allow an open and wide-ranging debate.
Parliament’s Health Select Committee will take public submissions on the issue until February next year.
Dr Jane Silloway Smith from the Maxim Institute has been leading a research project into the long-term effects of assisted suicide in places where it’s already allowed.
She hopes there will be a wide and diverse public response here in New Zealand, from people both for and against.
“Also from people in suicide prevention who work with more than just … those with irreversible conditions. They have a lot to add to this debate as well because they sit with people everyday who want to end their lives, and really understand what conditions those people are coming from.”
She thinks New Zealand is ready to look at the issue more fully.
“There’s a lot of confusion, a lot just don’t know what to think about this issue and I think this inquiry, with it being as broad as it is, will be a really great place for all of the information from both sides to come out.”

Care Alliance Welcomes Health Select Committee’s Terms of Reference

By | Recent News

Family First NZ is a member of the Care Alliance
Media Release Care Alliance 27 August 2015
The Care Alliance has welcomed the Health Select Committee’s terms of reference for considering a petition from the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

Spokesperson Matthew Jansen says that the terms of reference will allow all New Zealanders to be involved in considering what society’s response should be to people who express a wish to end their lives. “We believe that the best compassionate response to a person experiencing physical, emotional or psychological suffering is to surround them with love and provide them with the best possible care. Legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide (EAS) would give exactly the wrong message to vulnerable people feeling overwhelmed by their circumstances.”
Mr Jansen said that the recent Research New Zealand poll1, which recorded a sharp drop in support for EAS following the Seales v Attorney-General case, showed that a more informed debate helps expose the practical problems with EAS. “The Select Committee can do all New Zealanders a great service by investigating the complex issues involved in suicide. We believe the evidence will show that EAS is both unnecessary and dangerous.”

Voluntary euthanasia inquiry details released

By | Recent News

NZ Herald 27 August 2015
Details have been confirmed for an inquiry into voluntary euthanasia, to be carried out by Parliament’s Health Committee.
Supporters hope the inquiry will be an important step towards a law change.
In releasing the terms of reference, National MP Simon O’Connor, the health committee chair, said the subject would concern many New Zealanders and as such deserved a thorough examination.
Today’s announcement comes after a petition from the Voluntary Euthanasia Society by supporters including Matt Vickers, the husband of the late Lecretia Seales.
Its inquiry will cover:
• The factors that contribute to the desire to end one’s life.
•The effectiveness of services and support available to those who desire to end their own lives.
• The attitudes of New Zealanders towards the ending of one’s life, and the current legal situation.
• International experiences of the issue.
Mr O’Connor said the committee wants to hear from all interested groups and individuals.
Euthanasia inquiry to start at select committee
3News 27 August 2015
Kiwis are being encouraged to speak up about voluntary euthanasia and whether it should become law in New Zealand.
A select committee’s begun an inquiry after a 9000-signature petition was presented to Parliament.
Family First believes euthanasia will send a “dangerous message” to society about the suicide and the value of life.

Focus on Suicide In Euthanasia Review Welcomed

By | Media Releases

Media Release 27 August 2015
Family First NZ is welcoming the broad inquiry into voluntary euthanasia to be carried out by Parliament’s Health Committee.

“It makes absolute sense to us to take a broad approach and to place euthanasia within the wider debate about the premature ending of one’s life. There has always been a concern about conflicting messages being sent regarding euthanasia and suicide. Euthanasia will send a dangerous message to society about suicide and the value of life. There are mixed messages when society wants to approve a terminally-ill person taking their life but also take a zero tolerance approach to other suicides,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“The arguments put forward for allowing assisted death can also be reasons for any suicide. If choice and autonomy is important, why isn’t the choice and autonomy of those without a terminal illness or who are just ‘sick of it all’?”

“Allowing euthanasia could potentially institutionalise suicide as a method of coping with personal problems. The risk of ‘suicide contagion’ associated with a media campaign around promoting euthanasia is also a real concern,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“To allow assisted suicide would place large numbers of vulnerable people at risk – in particular those who are depressed, elderly, sick, disabled, those experiencing chronic illness, limited access to good medical care, and those who feel themselves to be under emotional or financial pressure to request an early death because they don’t want to be a burden. This is not ‘autonomy’ or ‘choice’ or ‘dignified’.”

“We must promote living with dignity, not so-called killing with dignity.”

Europe’s sinister expansion of euthanasia

By | Recent News

Washington Post 19 August 2015
If you were a psychiatrist and a chronically depressed patient told you he wanted to die, what would you do?
In Belgium, you might prescribe this vulnerable, desperate person a fatal dose of sodium thiopental.

Between October 2007 and December 2011, 100 people went to a clinic in Belgium’s Dutch-speaking region with depression, or schizophrenia, or, in several cases, Asperger’s syndrome, seeking euthanasia. The doctors, satisfied that 48 of the patients were in earnest, and that their conditions were “untreatable” and “unbearable,” offered them lethal injection; 35 went through with it.

These facts come not from a police report but an article by one of the clinic’s psychiatrists, Lieve Thienpont, in the British journal BMJ Open. All was perfectly legal under Belgium’s 2002 euthanasia statute, which applies not only to terminal physical illness, still the vast majority of cases, but also to an apparently growing minority of psychological ones. Official figures show nine cases of euthanasia due to “neuropsychiatric” disorders in the two-year period 2004-2005; in 2012-2013, the number had risen to 120, or 4 percent of the total.

Next door in the Netherlands, which decriminalized euthanasia in 2002, right-to-die activists opened a clinic in March 2012 to “help” people turned down for lethal injections by their regular physicians. In the next 12 months, the clinic approved euthanasia for six psychiatric patients, plus 11 people whose only recorded complaint was being “tired of living,” according to a report in the Aug. 10 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.

If you find this sinister, I agree. Bioethicists Barron H. Lerner and Arthur L. Caplan, who reviewed the data from the Low Countries in JAMA Internal Medicine, observe that the reports “seem to validate concerns about where these practices might lead.”

That’s putting it mildly. Thienpont acknowledges that “the concept of ‘unbearable suffering’ has not yet been defined adequately” and that “there are no guidelines for the management of euthanasia requests on grounds of mental suffering in Belgium.”
Yet she and her colleagues continue to put the mentally ill to death, insisting that they are respecting their wishes — though, as she writes, “further studies are recommended.”

New review: Assisted suicide becomes ‘routine’ if legalised

By | Recent News

The Christian Institute 20 August 2015
A new review of a wide range of evidence on assisted suicide has revealed that the practice becomes more widespread and more routine in places where the law has been changed.
The guide, produced by the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, links directly to official data from the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Oregon and Washington, as well as UK parliamentary reports and journal research.
It says there are “common patterns” emerging from places where assisted suicide has been legalised.
‘Supposed safeguards’
The report notes that “in every jurisdiction numbers have increased over time and continue to do so; there has also been a shift from permitting assisted suicide for cancer victims to include other diseases”.
The review says that in Europe, this includes psychiatric conditions and problems related to old age, which are non-terminal.
“Supposed safeguards such as psychiatric referral have also declined in frequency”, the review says.
The guide highlights polling on assisted suicide, which appears to show huge support – but this is highly variable “depending on the words used”.

Don’t make Oregon’s mistake:Ten reasons why the UK should not follow suit and legalise assisted suicide

By | Recent News

Care Not Killing August 2015 
1. There has been a steady increase in annual numbers of people undergoing assisted suicide in Oregon

2. The Oregon health department is funding assisted suicide but not treatment for some cancer patients

3. Patients are living for many years after having been prescribed lethal drugs for ‘terminal illness’ showing that the eligibility criteria are being stretched

4. The vast majority of those choosing to kill themselves are doing so for existential reasons rather than on the basis of real medical symptoms

5. Many people in Washington and Oregon give ‘fear of being a burden on others’ as a reason for ending their lives

6. Fewer than three per cent of patients are being referred for formal psychiatric or psychological evaluation

7. A substantial number of patients dying under the Oregon Act do not have terminal illnesses

8. It is virtually certain that there is under-reporting of assisted suicide cases in Oregon

9. Some doctors know the patient for less than a week before prescribing the lethal drugs

10. The presence of no independent witnesses in over 80% of cases is a recipe for elder abuse—oregon.pdf

Study lays out complications of ‘death with dignity’ in Belgium

By | Recent News

LifeSiteNews 18 August 2015
A study published recently in the British Medical Journal sheds light on the practice of euthanasia of patients with psychiatric disorders in Belgium, as seen by medical specialists who intervene in the process. The findings are chilling: of the 100 cases studied – all mentally ill patients who requested euthanasia in recent years – 48 led to acceptance of the requests, and “mercy killing” took place for 35 patients in total. In all cases, the patients were not otherwise gravely ill, and they were certainly not in a terminal condition.
The study’s main author, Lieve Thienpont, had a key role insofar as she was personally responsible for conducting interviews with the 100 psychiatric patients in Flanders who had already made their death wish known, in order to confirm their diagnosis and to evaluate their degree of suffering, which under Belgian law must be “unbearable” and “untreatable.” She is the author of a book aimed at the general public, Libera me, about psychiatric suffering and euthanasia published earlier this year; she is also the psychiatrist who gave Laura, 24, a healthy woman with suicidal thoughts, a positive opinion for euthanasia. Her case was discussed here by LifeSiteNews.
As a “LEIF” doctor, Lieve Thienpont is part of a Life End Information Forum, which trains doctors with regard to the Belgian euthanasia law, palliative care, and end-of-life decisions in Flemish Belgium and Brussels. She has been practicing in this capacity since 2007.
Other authors of the BMJ study include pro-euthanasia law practitioner Tony Van Loon, who is Thienpont’s life partner, as well as Professor Wim Distelmans, who has been actively involved in Belgium’s most controversial euthanasia cases.
This explains that the study is in no way critical of the practice of accepting euthanasia for mentally ill patients so long as they are deemed capable of making an independent and fully informed decision.

The assisted suicide of Gill Pharaoh reminds us that there are actually limits to choice

By | Recent News

Christian Medical Comment 3 August 2015
Last week I was contacted by the Sunday Times who were planning to run a high profile story about a 75 year old retired nurse being helped to kill herself in Switzerland.
The story of Gill Pharaoh’s death was later published last Sunday under the title ‘Why I’d rather die than get old’.
It was subsequently rerun by national dailies (see here and here) and ITV.
Not to be outdone, the BBC, euthanasia cheerleader extraordinaire, has now made it into an international media story (which incidentally speaks volumes about their ideological bias given their deafening silence on the Planned Parenthood body part scandal).
Pharaoh requested help to kill herself in a Basel ‘clinic’ because she found the reality of old age ‘awful’, did not ‘think old age is fun’, did not want to end up as a ‘hobbling old lady’ and because she did not want to be a ‘burden’ to her children. ‘The thought that I may need help from my children appalls me’, she wrote.
She added that expecting help from one’s children is ‘a most selfish and unreasonable view’.
And yet the former nurse had no major health problems and was on no medication. She had intermittent back pain following a bout of shingles and had tinnitus – about par for the course for a person of her age.