Monthly Archives

August 2015

Growing number of mentally ill Dutch choosing to be killed at euthanasia clinic

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LifeSiteNews 7 August 2015 
A growing number of Dutch patients whom their family doctor is not willing to euthanize, including many who are mentally ill but otherwise healthy, are obtaining “help” at the End-of-Life Clinic that opened its doors in 2012, according to half-year statistics just released by the private organization based in The Hague, Netherlands.
In the first six months of 2015, almost as many cancer patients were killed by euthanasia at the hands of the clinic as during the whole of 2014: a total of 49 from January through June 2015, as compared to 53 in 2014.
Nineteen psychiatric patients obtained euthanasia from the End-of-Life Clinic from January to June 2015: one more than in the whole of 2014, when 18 psychiatric patients who were not dying or otherwise in bad health obtained death from the Clinic.
Compared with national euthanasia statistics – about 5,000 a year in the Netherlands – these numbers may seem insignificant. But they underscore growing pressure on the part of euthanasia activists to make access to “chosen death” more easy to obtain, especially for those patients whose suffering is not associated with intolerable pain or a terminal illness.
The End-of-Life Clinic was created three years ago by the Dutch Association for a Chosen End of Life (Nederlandse Vereniging voor een Vrijwillig Levenseinde, NVVE), with a view to catering for patients who fall within the recognized categories for legal euthanasia, but whose doctor is either unable or unwilling to honor their request.
The clinic’s offices are in The Hague but euthanasia is provided by 40 mobile teams who are expected to work within the limits of the law, mostly for patients who are in a hopeless situation but not terminally ill, dementia patients, people with psychiatric disorders and elderly people suffering from multiple but non-fatal complaints. They kill patients in the “comfort” of their own homes.
The fact that the End-of-Life Clinic can exist in the Netherlands was certainly helped by an ever-widening interpretation of the legal criteria for “careful” euthanasia – inversely, its existence is attracting more and more people to take avail of its services and in turn is causing the legal criteria to widen even more.
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/growing-number-of-mentally-ill-dutch-choosing-to-be-killed-at-euthanasia-cl

Dr Peter Saunders discusses the morality of assisted suicide

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Gill Pharaoh’s decision to attend suicide clinic defended
BBC News 3 August 2015
Gill Pharaoh, 75, was apparently healthy when she made the decision to go to the Lifecircle clinic in Basel.
Campaigners against assisted dying have described the case as “chilling”.
But her partner John Southall told the BBC: “Choosing the time you die is a human right.”
Ms Pharaoh wrote in a blog published by the Sunday Times: “I feel my life is complete and I am ready to die.”
She said while she was largely healthy, an attack of shingles five years ago and tinnitus had made it difficult to take part in the activities she had once enjoyed.
She wrote: “I am not just whinging. Neither am I depressed. Day by day I am enjoying my life.
“I simply do not want to follow this natural deterioration through to the last stage when I may be requiring a lot of help.”
‘Deeply troubling’
Care Not Killing, a group which campaigns against assisted dying, condemned Ms Pharaoh’s case as “deeply troubling”.
A spokesman said: “It sends out a chilling message about how society values and looks after elderly people in the UK.
“It seeks the introduction of death on demand for those who fear becoming a burden, even if they are otherwise fit and healthy.”
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-33759490

Death of healthy ex-nurse at Swiss suicide clinic 'deeply troubling'

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BT.com 3 August 2015
The death of a healthy and active retired nurse who ended her life at a Swiss suicide clinic to avoid deteriorating in old age is a “deeply troubling” case that sends a “chilling message” about society’s views of elderly people, a campaign group said.
Gill Pharaoh, 75, travelled to Switzerland last month to die as she feared growing old and being unable to kill herself.
The former palliative care nurse from Pinner, west London, was not seriously ill or suffering from a terminal disease but felt the quality of her life was declining.
In the weeks before her death last month she wrote on her blog that she was neither “whinging” about life nor “depressed”, but was tired of the restrictions advancing age had placed on her, that her life was “complete” and that she was “ready to die”.
Ms Pharaoh spoke of the frustrations of having tinnitus and losing her hearing, the physical inhibitions brought on by a bout of shingles five years ago that stopped her enjoying gardening and walking, and the “hundred and one other minor irritations” she felt left her with a poor quality of life.
https://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/death-of-healthy-ex-nurse-at-swiss-suicide-clinic-deeply-troubling-11363995989505

Oregon doctor could not save patient from assisted suicide

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Montana Standard 27 January 2013
I am a doctor in Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal. A few years ago, I was caring for a 76-year-old man who presented to my office a sore on his arm, eventually diagnosed as melanoma. I referred him to specialists for evaluation and therapy.
I had known this patient and his wife for more than a decade. He was an avid hiker, a popular hobby here in Oregon. As his disease progressed, he was less able to do this activity, becoming depressed, which was documented in his chart.
During this time, my patient expressed a wish for assisted suicide to one of the specialists. Rather than take the time to address his depression, or ask me as his primary care physician to talk with him, she called me and asked me to be the “second opinion” for his suicide. She told me that barbiturate overdoses “work very well” for patients like this, and that she had done this many times before.
I told her that assisted suicide was not appropriate for this patient and that I did not concur. I was very concerned about my patient’s mental state, and told her that addressing his underlying issues would be better than simply giving him a lethal prescription. Unfortunately, my concerns were ignored, and two weeks later my depressed patient was dead from an overdose prescribed by this doctor.
Under Oregon’s law, I was not able to protect my depressed patient. If assisted suicide becomes legal in Montana, you may not be able to protect your friends or family members.
I urge you to contact your legislators to tell them to keep assisted suicide out of Montana. Don’t make Oregon’s mistake.
http://mtstandard.com/news/opinion/mailbag/oregon-doctor-could-not-save-patient-from-assisted-suicide/article_a4b605ba-6767-11e2-bf94-0019bb2963f4.html

Video: Which MPs favour a euthanasia law change?

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3News 28 July 2015
The husband of right to die campaigner Lecretia Seales says a public majority wanting a law change to allow voluntary euthanasia is a strong signal for the Government to act.

A 3 News/Reid Research poll has shown 71 percent of people believe the law should be changed to allow assisted dying in end-of-life situations.

The poll called the question ‘Lecretia’s choice’.

<a href=”http://ad.au.doubleclick.net/jump/3news.co.nz/homepage;sz=300×250;key-values;tile=2;ord=123456789?” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://ad.au.doubleclick.net/ad/3news.co.nz/homepage;sz=300×250;tile=2;ord=123456789?” width=”300″ height=”250″ border=”0″ alt=”Ad” /></a>

Ms Seales, a Wellington lawyer, died from a brain tumour in June just hours after her family was told the High Court had ruled against her bid to choose when she could die. It said the decision was best left to Parliament.

Her husband Matt Vickers said the issue should be brought to a vote in Parliament.

“The Government and John Key need to listen to the public of New Zealand by taking this issue to a vote I don’t think they are going to,” he says.
http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/video-which-mps-favour-a-euthanasia-law-change-2015072813#axzz3hiRhhUgf

 

Adele Huxley explains her reasons for opposing assisted suicide

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Wheelchair user Adele Huxley has explained her opposition to assisted suicide. “In my life, I’ve been told many times that things can’t turnaround,” she says, before going on to explain how, against expectations, and even medical opinion, she went on to work and to have a baby. “We need to support people to show them that actually you don’t know what is around the corner. My side of the story rarely gets told,” she says. Please watch and share Adele’s story on social media.

Study: 100 requests for euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in Belgium

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Alex Schadenberg.blog 24 July 2015
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a “study” on July 28, 2015 examining 100 requests for euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in Belgium.
Four of the six authors of the study are connected to the euthanasia clinic in Belgium.
What did the study find?
The “study” examines 100 consecutive requests for euthanasia at a psychiatric out-patient clinic between October 2007 and December 2011. The analysis of the data closed in December 2012. The data states:

  • 77 euthanasia requests were made by woman, 23 were men,
  • of the 48 approved requests, 35 died by euthanasia,
  • 1 died by palliative sedation (sedation with withdrawal of water),
  • the average age was 47,
  • 58 were depressed, 50 had a personality disorder,
  • 12 were autistic, 13 had post traumatic stress disorder, 11 had anxiety disorder, 10 had an eating disorder, and more
The study begins by promoting the “safeguards” in the Belgian euthanasia law and explaining how the safeguards for euthanasia for psychiatric reasons follows tighter guidelines. The first section of the study takes pains to convince the readers that euthanasia is carefully done in Belgium.
It then examines the data from the reported euthanasia deaths indicating that the number of reported euthanasia deaths has been increasing in Belgium from 742 (2004/2005) to 2086 (2010/2011). Belgian statistics indicate that there was a 26% increase in euthanasia deaths in 2013.The study suggests that an increase in reporting of euthanasia, a requirement of the Belgian euthanasia law, may be reflected in the increased number of reported euthanasia deaths.

“This rise over a 6-year period may reflect a true increase or better reporting of cases of euthanasia.”

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) (March 19, 2015) found that euthanasia represented 4.6% of all deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium in 2013, while the official reports indicate that euthanasia represented 2.4% of all deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium in 2013.
When comparing the NEJM (March 2015) data (Jan – June 2013) from Flanders Belgium to the data in a previous study that was published in the BMJ (November 2010) (June – Dec 2007) from Flanders Belgium, it appears that the percentage of unreported euthanasia deaths is statistically unchanged between 2007 (47%) and 2013 (49%).
Last year, Dr Marc Cosyns, a Belgian euthanasia doctor, admitted that he does not report his euthanasia deaths. With nearly half of all euthanasia deaths not being reported one can safely conclude that the “safeguards” in the Belgian euthanasia law are often ignored.

The study continues to suggest that the Belgian euthanasia law is careful. The study states:

Legally, the physician is required to discuss the wishes of the patient with the relatives named by the patient. Consent from the relatives is not required, and the attending physician needs the patient’s permission to inform family members of the euthanasia request.

This statement may be a response to complaints by families. Tom Mortier was shocked when his depressed mother died by lethal injection, and that her  family was not informed of her impending death.
People with disabilities are more likely to die by euthanasia for psychiatric reasons.
Of the 100 requests for euthanasia for psychiatric reasons, 81 of them were not employed (8 were retired, 73 were receiving disability allowances or retired early), 14 were working or on a temporary leave, 1 was a student, 1 was in prison, and 1 was on welfare. Primarily, these were people with disabilities who are receiving a disability allowance.
The study does not examine whether the person also had physical disabilities but it indicates that people with disabilities disproportionately die by euthanasia for psychiatric reasons.
Euthanasia as “treatment” for psychiatric reasons: 
The study states that:

  • 38 people who requested euthanasia for psychiatric reasons were referred for further testing. Out of these, 17 of them were approved for lethal injection and 10 died by euthanasia.
  • 62 people who requested euthanasia for psychiatric reasons were not referred for further testing. Out of these, 31 were approved for lethal injection and 25 died by euthanasia.
  • 35 of 48 people who were approved for lethal injection died by euthanasia. The 13 people, in this group, who did not die by euthanasia, 8 changed their mind, 2 withdrew their application based on family response, 2 died by suicide and 1 was in prison.
  • 65 people did not die by euthanasia. By the end of 2012, 57 were alive, 48 of the 57 cases were on hold based on the person receiving therapy or not needing therapy, 9 of these cases the euthanasia request was still being considered.
  • of the 35 people who died by euthanasia for psychiatric reasons, 14 of them were lethally injected by a doctor at the euthanasia clinic.
The authors should have collected further data for the 57 people who were alive at the end of 2012. Since the study was published in July 2015 and since all of the participants were Lieve Thienpont’s patients, therefore further information would have been available and helpful, if the authors had wanted the study to be valid.
 
Psychological suffering?
The study concludes by pointing out that the concept of “unbearable suffering” is subjective and undefined. The study states:

A literature review made clear that the concept of ‘unbearable suffering’ has not yet been defined adequately, and that views on this concept are in a state of flux. It is generally accepted that this concept is considered to be subjective, dependent on personal values, and that it must be determined in the first place by the patient.

Unbearable suffering for psychological reasons is even be more subjective and undefined, as stated by the study:

Unfortunately, there are no guidelines for the management of euthanasia requests on grounds of mental suffering in Belgium.

To reiterate, this “study” has been carried-out by members of the euthanasia movement. All of the requests for euthanasia were made by people who were patients of Lieve Thienpont, a psychiatrist who works with Wim Distlemans at the euthanasia clinic.
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.ca/2015/07/study-euthanasia-for-psychiatric.html?utm_source=Euthanasia+Prevention+Coalition+Newsletter&utm_campaign=c6c5911371-Respond_to+the+assisted+suicide+panel.&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_105a5cdd2d-c6c5911371-157142057