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Twelve Myths About Physician Assisted Suicide and Medical Aid In Dying

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MD Magazine 7 July 2018
Family First Comment: An excellent summary…

In an age of “alternative facts,” it’s hard to sort out myth from reality when it comes to so-called “medical aid in dying” (MAID), also called physician-assisted suicide (PAS). By whatever label we attach to it, this practice involves a physician’s prescribing a lethal drug for a patient with a putatively terminal illness who is requesting this “service.” Some form of MAID/PAS is now legal in 5 states and the District of Columbia.

People of good conscience, including many physicians, are sharply divided on the ethics of MAID/PAS. Unfortunately, much of the support for this practice is founded on several myths and misconceptions regarding existing MAID laws and practices. Here are 12 of the most common.

1. Everyone has a “right to die,” including a right to take one’s own life, acting alone or with assistance. 
In contrast to “liberties,” rights entail the cooperation or assistance of others.1 Mentally competent people may be at liberty to end their own lives (ie, will not be prosecuted), but there is no recognized right to suicide that involves the cooperation of others. In Washington v Glucksberg (521 US 702 [1997]), the US Supreme Court (USSC) denied that there is a constitutionally protected “right to commit suicide” or a right to PAS. To rule otherwise, the majority held, would force them to “reverse centuries of legal doctrine and practice, and strike down the considered policy choice of almost every state.”

That said, the USSC has held that all competent persons have the right to refuse unwanted or “heroic” measures that merely prolong the dying process.2 Similarly, in Vacco v Quill (521 US 793 [1997]), the USSC held that there is a legal difference between withdrawal of care and provision of a lethal intervention; ie, everyone has a right to refuse medical care, but no one has a “right” to receive a lethal means of ending one’s life.

2. People who request MAID usually do so because they are experiencing severe, intractable pain and suffering.
Most requests for MAID are not made by patients experiencing “untreatable pain or suffering,” as data from Oregon have shown; rather, the most common reasons for requesting medical aid in dying were loss of autonomy (97.2%), inability to engage in enjoyable activities (88.9%), and loss of dignity (75.0%).3

Many patients who request assisted suicide are clinically depressed and could be successfully treated, once properly diagnosed.

3. In states such as Oregon and Washington, where PAS is legal, there are adequate safeguards in place to ensure proper application of the PAS law. 
In Oregon, reporting to the state is done solely by the physician prescribing the lethal drugs, who has a vested interest in minimizing problems. Moreover, if a physician was negligent in making the initial diagnosis or prognosis, there is no way to track this, since, by law, all death certificates will state that the person died of the putative underlying disease. At the same time, the physician is rarely present at the time the patient ingests the lethal drug, so the possibility of abuse—eg, by coercive family members—cannot be adequately assessed.

The Oregon department of human services has said it has no authority to investigate individual death-with-dignity cases,4 and Oregon has acknowledged that its law does not adequately protect all people with mental illness from receiving lethal prescriptions.5 Thus, it is nearly impossible to determine cases in which, for example, terminally ill patients were pressured to end their lives by family members. A study in Michigan Law Review (2008) found that “seemingly reasonable safeguards for the care and protection of terminally ill patients written into the Oregon law are being circumvented…[and that]…the Oregon Public Health Division (OPHD), which is charged with monitoring the law…does not collect the information it would need to effectively monitor the law…OPHD…acts as the defender of the law rather than as the protector of the welfare of terminally ill patients.”6

Kenneth R. Stevens Jr, MD, and William I. Toffler, MD, both of the Oregon Health & Science University, point to other actual or potential abuses in PAS-permissive states, including “physician shopping” to get around safeguards; nurse-assisted suicide without orders from a physician; and economic pressures to use PAS, such as Oregon Medicaid patients being denied cancer treatment but offered coverage for assisted suicide.7Furthermore, an investigative piece by the Des Moines Register revealed that mandatory reporting requirements were not followed by hundreds of doctors in states where MAID/PAS is legal.8

4. In the United States, only people with terminal or incurable illnesses are eligible for PAS.
Most PAS legislation applies to an adult with a terminal illness or condition predicted to have less than 6 months to live. In Oregon and Washington State, nearly identical criteria are interpreted to mean less than 6 months to live—specifically, without treatment. Thus, a healthy 20-year-old with insulin-dependent diabetes could be deemed “terminal” for the purpose of Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act.

So, too, patients refusing appropriate treatment may be deemed “terminal” under current interpretation of the Oregon law. Thus, a patient with anorexia nervosa who refused treatment could be eligible for PAS under Oregon law, even though she could recover with intensive therapy. As Swedish investigator Fabian Stahle observes, “This is in fact an alteration of the traditional meaning of the concept of ‘incurable.’”9

5. Slippery slope arguments against PAS are overblown. In European countries that allow PAS, there is no evidence that patients are being euthanized improperly. 
People with nonterminal illnesses have been legally euthanized at their own request in several countries for nearly 15 years. This has included certain eligible patients who have only psychiatric disorders. In 2002, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg removed any distinctions between terminal and nonterminal conditions—and between physical suffering and mental suffering—for legally permitted PAS. Between 2008 and 2014, more than 200 psychiatric patients were euthanized by their own request in the Netherlands (1% of all euthanasia in that country). Among them, 52% had a diagnosis of personality disorder, 56% refused 1 or more offered treatments, and 20% had never even had an inpatient stay (1 indication of previous treatment intensity). When asked the primary reason for seeking PAS/euthanasia, 66% cited “social isolation and loneliness.”

Despite the legal requirement for agreement between outside consultants, for 24% of psychiatric patients euthanized, at least 1 outside consultant disagreed.10-12

The United States has not been immune to the slippery slope, either. For example, in Oregon, a psychiatrist opened a fee-for-service death clinic where, for $5,000, “terminally ill patients who are eligible to take advantage of…Oregon’s suicide law can book a death that might look a lot like a wedding package.”13

6. The method of “assisted dying” now used in Oregon and other PAS-states assures the patient of a quick, peaceful death, without serious complications. 
A peaceful death is by no means guaranteed using current methods of PAS, as a recent piece by Lo pointed out14: “Physicians who support PAD need to consider how to address the potential for adverse outcomes, including longer time to death than expected (up to 24 hours or more), awakening from unconsciousness, nausea, vomiting, and gasping.”

Data collected between 1998 and 2015 showed that the time between ingestion of lethal drugs and death ranged from 1 minute to more than 4 days. During this same period (1998-2015), 27 cases (out of 994) involved difficulty ingesting or regurgitating the drugs, and there were 6 known instances in which patients regained consciousness after ingesting the drugs. However, it is difficult to know the actual rate of drug-induced complications, because in the majority (54%) of cases between 1998 and 2015, no health care professional was present to attend and observe the patient’s death.15

7. “Death with dignity” comes down to the patient’s autonomy and the right of patients to end life on their terms.
In the first place, under current legislation permitting so-called medical aid in dying, the patient is completely dependent on the judgment, authorization, and prescriptive power of the physician—hardly a state of autonomy.1 Moreover, autonomy is just 1 of the 4 “cornerstones” of medical ethics; the others are beneficence, nonmalfeasance, and justice. As Desai and Grossberg observe in their textbook on long-term care:

“The preeminence of autonomy as an ethical principle in the United States can sometimes lead health care providers to disregard other moral considerations and common sense when making clinical decisions…we strongly feel that the role of the medical profession is to understand but not to support such wishes [for physician-assisted death]. Every person’s life is valuable, irrespective of one’s physical and mental state, even when that person has ceased to deem life valuable.”16

8. Doctors who conscientiously oppose PAS are perfectly free to refuse participation in it. 
In theory, the California guidelines state, “[a] healthcare provider who refuses to participate in activities under the act on the basis of conscience, morality or ethics cannot be subject to censure, discipline…or other penalty by a healthcare provider, professional association or organization.”17 However, prior to its PAS law being declared unconstitutional, physicians in California could be compelled to participate in PAS under certain circumstances.

California’s health department regulation requires a state facility to provide PAS. If the request is denied, the patient has a right to a judicial hearing on the matter. If the court determines the patient is qualified, the attending physician must write a prescription for lethal drugs.18 Moreover, there is evidence that physicians are sometimes pressured or intimidated by patients to assist in suicide.7

9. Terminally ill people who request MAID are not suicidal and don’t commit suicide. They are dying and simply want “hastening” of an inevitable death. In contrast, genuinely suicidal people are not dying of a terminal condition, yet they want to die. 
This argument plays fast and loose with language, logic, and law. In fact, it turns ordinary language on its head, thereby eliminating suicide by linguistic fiat. As the American Nursing Association states, “suicide is the act of taking one’s own life,”19 regardless of the act’s context. There may indeed be different psychological profiles that distinguish suicide in the context of terminal illness from suicide in other contexts, but that does not overturn the ordinary language meaning of suicide. Thus, when a terminally ill patient (or any other person) knowingly and intentionally ingests a lethal drug, that act is, incontrovertibly, suicide.

Most suicides occur in the context of serious psychiatric illness. Yet patients who express suicidal ideation in the context of a condition such as major depression rarely want to die; rather, as numerous suicide prevention websites note: “Most suicidal people do not want to die. They are experiencing severe emotional pain, and are desperate for the pain to go away.”20

10. People requesting PAS are carefully screened by mental health professionals to rule out depression. 
Most PAS statutes modeled after the Oregon Death with Dignity statute do not require examination by a mental health professional, except when the participating physician is concerned and decides to do so. Specifically, “[t]he patient is referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist if concern exists that the patient has a psychiatric disorder including depression that may impair judgment.”21

A study of the Oregon law concluded that “[a]lthough most terminally ill Oregonians who receive aid in dying do not have depressive disorders, the current practice of the Death With Dignity Act may fail to protect some patients whose choices are influenced by depression from receiving a prescription for a lethal drug.”21 

In Oregon, 204 patients were prescribed lethal drugs in 2016 under the Death with Dignity statute, yet just 5 patients were referred for psychiatric or psychological evaluation.22 

11. Doctors who participate in PAS are almost always comfortable doing so and rarely regret their decision.
Many doctors who have participated in euthanasia and/or PAS are adversely affected—emotionally and psychologically—by their experiences. In a structured, in-depth telephone interview survey of 38 US oncologists who reported participating in euthanasia or PAS, nearly a quarter of the physicians regretted their actions. Another 16% reported that the emotional burden of performing euthanasia or PAS adversely affected their medical practice.23 For example, 1 physician felt so “burned out” that he moved from the city in which he was practicing to a small town. Similarly, reactions among European doctors suggest that PAS and euthanasia often provoke strong negative feelings.24

12. For terminally ill patients, the only means of achieving death with dignity is by taking a lethal drug prescribed by one’s doctor. 
Just a small minority of persons with a terminal disease seek a physician’s prescription for a lethal drug. It is not clear why self-poisoning confers more dignity to one’s death than more traditional and much more common ways of dying. Many people who are dying choose to “bear with” their pain. Some seek hospice care and—in cases of severe, intractable pain—merit palliative sedation.25

Some choose voluntary stopping of eating and drinking (VSED), which, according to a study involving hospice nurses, results in a more satisfactory death than seen with PAS. In fact, “as compared with patients who died by PAS, those who stopped eating and drinking were rated by hospice nurses as suffering less and being more at peace in the last 2 weeks of life.”26

A form of VSED called “sallekhana” has been practiced in Jainism for centuries and is regarded as an ethical and dignified means of achieving a “natural” death.27

The case for PAS legislation rests on a number of misconceptions, as regards the adequacy, safety, and application of existing PAS statutes. The best available evidence suggests that current practices under PAS statutes are not adequately monitored and do not adequately protect vulnerable populations, such as patients with clinical depression. The American College of Physicians,28 the American Medical Association, the World Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association have all registered opposition to PAS.

It is critical that physicians inform themselves regarding the actual nature and function—or dysfunction—of medical aid in dying legislation. The first step is to recognize and challenge the many myths that surround these well-intended but misguided laws.
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MPs should examine facts on euthanasia, rather than crystal balls

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Stuff 10 January 2019
Family First Comment: Excellent analysis of the euthanasia issue…
“Vulnerable people are at an unacceptable risk of wrongful death under laws such as these.”

OPINION“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future,” said the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr. Maryan Street should have heeded this tongue-in-cheek warning when she forecast that the End of Life Choice Bill would become law this year. Prediction is always hard, but it’s near impossible when it’s based on the kind of partial information found in her article.

The stakes are high with this bill, which would legalise euthanasia and assisted suicide, and the public and the MPs who will be voting on it need much better information than Street provided. So let’s look at some of the key issues that MPs might consider.

First, they’re likely to look overseas and see that laws like these are rejected more often than they pass, because most lawmakers look at the evidence and decide these practices are just too risky. Street tells us that Victoria passed an assisted dying law in 2017, but not that similar laws were rejected by South Australia in 2016, Tasmania in 2017, New South Wales in 2017, and the Northern Territories in 2018.

Second, MPs will probably look at the “Sponsor’s Report” on the bill, by ACT leader David Seymour. He suggests limiting the bill to cover terminal illness only, and making it conditional on a public referendum. But it is wrong and misleading to say, as Street does, that his report is “making some critical amendments”, as though these proposals have been accepted. They are simply Seymour’s ideas; only Parliament can change the bill now.

Third, MPs will be looking at how similar laws have worked overseas. For example, in Oregon, which legalised assisted suicide for terminal illness, 55 per cent of patients accessing assisted suicide said one of their reasons was fear “of being a burden on family, friends and caregivers”. This number has been rising steadily over the years, and it should be a concern for a law that is supposed to be based on free choice.

This kind of law can also expand. In Belgium, euthanasia was originally limited to adults, but was extended to children in 2014, although with some limitations. The numbers accessing assisted suicide have also grown steadily in places such as Washington state, with 196 deaths in 2017 compared with 64 in 2009. Street herself notes how disappointed she will be if “grievous and irremediable” medical conditions are no longer eligible for euthanasia and assisted suicide, and if a limited version of the bill is passed it would be surprising if pro-euthanasia campaigners didn’t try to expand the eligibility criteria in future.

There’s much more detail about the evidence, and analysis of the bill, in our submission; in summary, it shows that vulnerable people are at an unacceptable risk of wrongful death under laws such as these.

Lastly, MPs will probably ask themselves what voters think, and realise there is significant public opposition to the bill. While Street mentions that more than 35,000 people made written submissions on the bill, she doesn’t mention reports suggesting that the vast majority of submitters opposed the bill; unofficial estimates put it as high as 90 per cent.

While opinion polls consistently find that a majority of the public supports euthanasia and assisted suicide, it’s odd not to mention submitters’ opposition, especially as submitters have specifically considered this bill and have probably thought about the issue more deeply than someone put on the spot by a polling company’s random call.

It’s only human for our predictions to be coloured by our desires and, as president of the End-of-Life Choice Society (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society), it’s perhaps not surprising that Street’s crystal ball appears to have given her the answer she wanted. But legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide is one of the most consequential issues that Parliament will consider this year, and a bit less crystal ball-gazing and a bit more attention to the facts would do us all a favour.

* Alex Penk is chief executive of the Maxim Institute, an independent research and policy think tank.

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Significant changes to End of Life Choice Bill proposed by David Seymour

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Stuff 14 December 2018
Family First Comment: David Seymour 1st Rdg:
“There are those in Parl’t who say its worst bill they’ve encountered. I’ve challenged them privately, they know they couldn’t name better one. This bill’s been in public domain since Sep 2015, no critic has laid glove on any aspect..”

Significant changes to the End of Life Choice Bill have been proposed by Act MP David Seymour.

The bill’s strongest supporter in Parliament has suggested limiting legalised euthanasia solely to cases of terminal illness.

He has sought to exclude mental illness and disability from the bill’s provisions, send it to public referendum, and incorporate aspects of a palliative care bill drafted by his loudest critic, National MP Maggie Barry.

Seymour’s concessions are a bid to earn votes from his parliamentary colleagues and allay concerns among the 37,000 who submitted on the End of Life Choice Bill.

The suggested narrowing has drawn both praise and ire – often in equal measure – from advocates and opponents of the prospective law.

The proposed alterations had been met with intrigue by some anti-euthanasia groups including Family First NZ and Right to Life, with Family First national director Bob McCoskrie urging politicians to “move on”.

“[Seymour’s] latest statements should be an indication to politicians that they should give New Zealanders a real Christmas present and move on from the current political push for assisted suicide, and focus on what New Zealanders really need and want – a focus on providing the very best palliative care and support for vulnerable people.”

Euthanasia: Lobbyists say David Seymour’s backing down, but is he?
NewsHub 14 December 2018 
Despite lobby groups claiming David Seymour is backing down from his euthanasia bill, he told Newshub he’s more determined than ever to see it become law.
“I’m more in favour of it than ever. I’ve championed this for three years,” he said.

That’s despite National Director of Family First New Zealand Bob McCoskrie claiming Mr Seymour has conceded to his opponents and is backing down from his bill.

“Family First NZ is welcoming ACT MP David Seymour’s significant backdowns on his assisted suicide bill, and says that this indicates just how weak and flawed the bill is,” Mr McCoskrie said on Friday.

Even pro-life group Right to Life New Zealand said it was “delighted that David Seymour has now recognised that the majority of Members of Parliament are opposed to his [bill]”.
But that’s rubbish, according to Mr Seymour, who told Newshub it’s an “absolutely bizarre reaction” from both lobby groups.

He said anyone who’s questioning his commitment to his End of Life Choice Bill is “clearly not really involved in politics because they don’t know much about it – or they may have nefarious motivations.”

The aim of his bill is to legalise voluntary euthanasia in certain circumstances. The explanatory notes say the bill gives “people with a terminal illness or a grievous and irremediable medical condition the option of requesting assisted dying”.

Mr McCoskrie says there’s been “overwhelming opposition to David Seymour’s assisted suicide bill by submitters to the Select Committee”.

According to an analysis of a number of the submissions by the Care Alliance, 92 percent of submissions are against Mr Seymour’s bill.

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icare – 20 New Zealanders highlight the risks and fallacies of the End of Life Choice Bill.

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icare December 2018
Family First Comment: icare represents a commitment to excellent care to enable good living and good dying. icare is the Care Alliance’s major information campaign featuring short videos of 20 New Zealanders who share their disability, palliative care, medical and legal perspectives highlighting the risks and fallacies of the End of Life Choice Bill.

Like an umbrella, good care shelters a person in adverse conditions, enabling a journey from one place to another that can be shared with others.

icare represents a commitment to excellent care to enable good living and good dying. icare is the Care Alliance’s major information campaign featuring short videos of 20 New Zealanders who share their disability, palliative care, medical and legal perspectives highlighting the risks and fallacies of the End of Life Choice Bill.


Lobby group claims most New Zealanders against euthanasia

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NewsTalk ZB 11 December 2018
Family First Comment: “92% of submissions are against it, UP from 77% during the Health Select Committee’s earlier investigation”!
Once people consider the issue in depth, the opposition is overwhelming.

An analysis of public submissions on the End of Life Choice Bill has found a growing number of Kiwis against euthanasia.

A team of volunteers from the Care Alliance, who oppose the bill, have analysed more than 20,000 of the record-breaking 36,000 submissions received.

Secretary Peter Thirkell says their preliminary analysis shows 92 percent of submissions are against it, up from 77 percent during the Health Select Committee’s earlier investigation

“The thing that strikes you is that these are just regular Kiwis for the most part saying what’s important to them. Overwhelmingly, people are quite fearful about
the broader social implications of this bill. That comes through strongly.”

Thirkell says many are concerned about vulnerable people who could be influenced one way or another.

One Christchurch palliative care doctor says she doesn’t support legalising euthanasia.

Doctor Amanda Landers was the former chair of the Kiwi branch of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine.

She says she had to speak to the initial Health Select Committee when the bill was in its infancy and what she learned concerned her.


What it will take to die: setting a straight path down the ‘slippery slope’

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Stuff 5 December 2018
Family First Comment: Dr Huhana Hickey, who has multiple sclerosis, is one of many who consider the bill unsafe for the disabled, elderly, and the “easy targets for unscrupulous people”. 

New Zealand is facing a question of life and death. After taking in the nation’s views on legalised euthanasia, the largest-ever parliamentary tour ended in November. Now, Stuff is laying out the arguments and telling the compelling stories surrounding the End of Life Choice bill.

Armed with alarming anecdotes and evidence from overseas jurisdictions, many arguments for legalising assisted death fall on either side of a divide.

It’s a narrow path to escape a painful death; or a “slippery slope” towards broadly sanctioned killing. But how does the End of Life Choice bill compare?

Dr Huhana Hickey, who has multiple sclerosis, is one of many who consider the bill unsafe for the disabled, elderly, and the “easy targets for unscrupulous people”.

“How do we know that we’re going to keep people who don’t want to be euthanised safe?”

It’s the permissive laws of the Netherland and Belgium, which permit euthanasia of minors and infants, that has Hickey most concerned.

“You can put all the safety measures in place, but the laws have a way of changing over time.

“Once you legislate it, you open the door to amendments, alterations, and the bill becoming, basically, an absolute farce in the end.”

Netherlands and Belgium have liberalised since passing law in 2002, after decades of permitting medically-assisted euthanasia.

Though liberalisation hasn’t happened everywhere. US-state Oregon legalised euthanasia strictly for cases of terminal illness in 1998, and hasn’t changed since. Advocacy to include irremediable conditions is now starting to gain traction two decades later.

The End of Life Choice bill permits assisted dying in a manner similar to Oregon, Canada, and Victoria, Australia – all stricter than European regimes.

Yet Hickey sees demonstrable risks. Belgian prosecutors are now conducting the first criminal investigation into a euthanasia case of a women with autism in 2010.


Euthanasia debate: Is there dignity in death, or does palliative care kill?

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Stuff 3 December 2018
Family First Comment:  For Dr Ian Gwynne-Robson, medical director of Te Omanga Hospice in Lower Hutt, the idea of having to kill someone flies in the face of the medical commandment “first, do no harm”. That’s why, since the End of Life Choice Bill was introduced, he has been a vocal opponent.

As debate rages about whether euthanasia should be legalised, a palliative care expert is urging MPs to spare a thought for doctors who would have to carry out the act.

For Dr Ian Gwynne-Robson, medical director of Te Omanga Hospice in Lower Hutt, the idea of having to kill someone flies in the face of the medical commandment “first, do no harm”. That’s why, since the End of Life Choice Bill was introduced, he has been a vocal opponent.

He says he is acting as a voice of the patients whom the legislation is most likely to affect.

“[When] you’re given a diagnosis of terminal illness, you’re a vulnerable person … All patients referred to me are vulnerable, and it’s my job as a palliative care doctor to advocate for those patients and for their protection.

“Those people are sick, they clearly have other priorities.”

Gwynne-Robson has heard plenty of momentary requests to die.

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Canada gov’t pushes euthanasia ads in hospital waiting rooms

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LifeSite News 26 November 2018
Family First Comment: “People in a hospital waiting room may be afraid, in pain, or depressed, and so particularly vulnerable to the suggestion that having their lives ended is the best solution. The advert makes no mention of palliative care or genuine medical care to help alleviate suffering in ways that do not involve killing.”

In yet more evidence of how far Canada has slipped down the euthanasia slippery slope, a hospital in Ontario is advertising “Medical Aid in Dying” in its urgent care waiting room.

Wesley J. Smith of the Discovery Institute writes that a source sent him the above photograph of a public information announcement that appears on a large television screen in a William Osler Health System hospital urgent care waiting room. The same advert can be found on the health system’s website.

Killing, not care
The advert tries to appear compassionate, with an image of a male doctor’s hand gently resting on the arm of a woman in a hospital bed, and the promise to “help eligible patients fulfill their wish to end their suffering.”

However, as Mr Smith points out, people in a hospital waiting room may be afraid, in pain, or depressed, and so particularly vulnerable to the suggestion that having their lives ended is the best solution. The advert makes no mention of palliative care or genuine medical care to help alleviate suffering in ways that do not involve killing.

Just the latest example
This is not the first time health officials in Ontario have been accused of pushing euthanasia instead of life-affirming medical care and support. In March, Roger Foley, a man with an incurable neurological disease started legal action against the attorney generals of Ontario and Canada for offering medically-assisted death without guaranteeing the option to receive proper care. He says the only options offered to him were to return to a healthcare team that provided substandard care, or medically assisted death.

Other developments which show how sanitised legal killing has become in Canada are proposals to take organs from living people who have chosen euthanasia, and to extend it to the the incompetent and mentally ill, and, horrifyingly, to children.

The advert shows that not only is deliberate killing being normalised, it is becoming a reasonable, and even preferred method of alleviating suffering.

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Doctors face jail after ‘diagnosing woman with autism so she could get lethal injection’

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NZ Herald 26 November 2018
Family First Comment: So much for ‘safeguards’. You can’t undo ‘killed’!

Three doctors who certified a woman as autistic so that she could die by euthanasia are set to go on trial in Belgium.

The sisters of Tine Nys told investigators that her suffering was caused instead by a broken heart after a failed relationship, and that she had falsely claimed to be autistic to two doctors and a psychiatrist.

She had told them her suffering was “unbearable and incurable” so that she could qualify for euthanasia under Belgian law, the Daily Mail reports.

Nys was given a lethal injection in April 2010, just two months after her diagnosis of autism, and died aged 38. Her sisters and her parents were at her bedside.

Campaigners in the UK say the case highlights the dangers of introducing euthanasia here.

Nys’s family claims that the law was broken because she was never treated for autism and so it had not been established that she was suffering unbearably and incurably – the key criteria for a mercy killing to go ahead.

The three doctors have been charged with failing to comply with the legal conditions for euthanasia and poisoning. If found guilty they are almost certain to face jail.


How liberal is Simon Bridges really?

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NewsHub 19 November 2018
Family First Comment:  If being ‘conservative’ means being against drugs and for life, then be 100% ‘conservative’, Simon. 

On Monday morning AM Show host Duncan Garner quizzed the 42-year-old on a few thorny topics currently before Parliament.

The End of Life Choice Bill from ACT leader David Seymour is currently in select committee after passing its first reading in November last year. Mr Seymour says it will allow eligible people to “end their lives in peace and dignity, surrounded by loved ones”.

Mr Bridges voted against the Bill even being read, but didn’t vote on whether it should go to select committee. When it comes up for its second reading, Mr Bridges says he’s “likely to vote against it”.
“It’s simply because I do believe life’s important,” he told Garner.

“What’s also true is I’ve looked around and I’ve seen research on what’s happened in other parts of the world, and it is a bit of a thin edge of the wedge in my view. That is you start narrow, but you see people who perhaps aren’t at that very serious end of pain and suffering and illness receiving it, and I worry about that.”

Different forms of euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal in various European countries and US states, Canada, Japan and Colombia.