Alex Schadenberg

Australian euthanasia bills designed to eliminate the disabled, sick

Alex Schadenberg

Update: the euthanasia bill was defeated in the South Australian parliament.

Today there will be a debate and vote on the Parnell/Key euthanasia bills in South Australia. These bills are identical, one being in the upper house and one in the lower house.

The Parnell/Key bills are deceptively titled: Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care (End of Life Arrangements) Amendment Bill 2010. What these bills do is they legalize euthanasia in South Australia by amending the Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care Act 1995.

Legalizing euthanasia means that the law will allow a physician to directly and intentionally cause the death of their patient. These Acts are designed to determine the conditions to allow an act, that is currently recognized as homicide.

These bills are so cumbersome that a physician will likely need to consult a lawyer, or the euthanasia lobby, before deciding to lethally inject a person.

It is possible that the euthanasia lobby intended these bills to be complicated to ensure that physicians would need to consult them on the workings of the law.

Even the rules that are prescribed in the bill related to the establishment of a “Euthanasia Board” are cumbersome.

Definitions are everything.

The bills allows a lethal injection to be given to (35) (1):

(a) an adult person who is in the terminal phase of a terminal illness. The words terminal phase and terminal illness are not defined.

(b) An adult person who is suffering from an illness, injury or other medical condition (other than mental illness within the meaning of the Mental Health Act 2009) that irreversibly impairs the person’s quality of life so that life has become intolerable to that person.

Section (b) essentially applies to anyone who has a significant physical disability or a long-term chronic condition.

Many people live with an illness, injury or other medical condition that irreversibly impairs the person’s “quality of life”. But when did society decide that people who live with disabilities or chronic conditions are better off dead?

Does this bill limit euthanasia to the “free choice” of a person?

The bill states that if the physician suspects that the person is not of sound mind, or possibly under some form of duress, that the physician must obtain a certificate from a psychiatrist before being allowed to lethally inject the person.

This is a similar provision to the assisted suicide statute in Oregon. In the first year of the Oregon assisted suicide law, 11 of 24 people were sent for a psychiatric assessment. In 2009, 0 of 59 people who died by assisted suicide were sent for a psychiatric assessment.

An independent study by Linda Ganzini that was published in 2008 found that 15 of 58 people (26%) who had requested assisted suicide were depressed or experiencing feelings of hopelessness. BMA 2008, 337: a. 1682.

“Safeguards” to prevent people who are depressed from dying from euthanasia are only as good as the people who operate the law. Most physicians are not experts in depression or mental illness, therefore the “safeguard” will be rarely, if ever, applied.

These bills would allow someone to request, in advance of a possible medical condition, that a lethal injection be done while in a possible future state of health.

The purpose for this section of the bill is to give physicians the right to lethally inject people who have Alzheimer disease or dementia. If people in South Australia are encouraged to sign advanced directives for euthanasia, this would eliminate many people when they are expensive to care for and when their lives are considered not worth living.

In Conclusion:

The South Australia bill is written in a cumbersome fashion to make it appear to protect vulnerable people from euthanasia. The bill states that it is about voluntary euthanasia.

By reading the bill it becomes clear that the purpose of the bill is to eliminate the lives of people with disabilities or long-term chronic conditions. The bill is not limited to terminal illness and further, it doesn’t even effectively define terminal illness.

Therefore the cumbersome nature of the bill is either a smoke screen to convince the public that the bill will ensure public safety, which it doesn’t, while it allows wide definitions to ensure that people who are expensive to care for can be lethally injected.

Once again, the cumbersome nature of the bill will also play into the hands of the euthanasia lobby. In Oregon, the 2009 stats indicate that 57 of 59 assisted suicide deaths were facilitated by Compassion & Choices, formerly the Hemlock society. This means that the euthanasia lobby has become responsible for facilitating the law. The same would be true in South Australia.

Members of the South Australian parliament need to reject these bills and re-commit themselves to providing effective care for all of their citizens and not lethal injections for people with disabilities and chronic conditions.

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Euthanasia in Canada: Letter writing campaign

Alex Schadenberg
Alex Schadenberg
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The Québec euthanasia Bill 52 will be voted on very soon, possibly today (June 3). 

Steven Fletcher is busy promoting his private members bills to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear the Carter case on October 14. The Carter case seeks to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

On June 2 the National Post published a page of letters, with the majority of the letters supporting euthanasia. This means that the euthanasia lobby asked their supporters to write letters.

To write a letter to the editor you need to keep your letter short and focused. Choose one topic to write about. We have provided a link to an example or to further information on that topic that you can access by clicking on the topic. Suggested topics: Euthanasia/Bill 52Euthanasia/Personal story, Euthanasia/Elder Abuse, Euthanasia/Medical Error, Euthanasia/Disability rights, Euthanasia/Palliative care, Euthanasia/Assisted suicide are not safe, Euthanasia/Belgium, Euthanasia/Netherlands, Assisted Suicide/Oregon, Assisted Suicide/Switzerland, etc.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) is asking you to write letters to the editor. This following list contains most major newspapers in Canada. It is of great benefit to also write letters to other local newspapers.

National Post: http://www.nationalpost.com/contact/letters/index.html?name=Letters&subject=Letter+to+the+editor

The Globe and Mail: nhassan@globeandmail.com

The Gazette: letters@montrealgazette.com

Le Journal de Montréal: jdm.transmission@quebecormedia.com

La Presse: debats@lapresse.ca

Le Soleil: opinion@lesoleil.com

Le Journal de Québec: commentaires@journaldequebec.com

Le Devoir: redaction@ledevoir.com

Journal Metro: opinions@journalmetro.com

Halifax Chronicle Herald: letters@herald.ca

Ottawa Citizen: letters@ottawacitizen.com

Toronto Star: lettertoed@thestar.ca

Toronto Sun: http://www.torontosun.com/letter-to-editor

Hamilton Spectator: letters@thespec.com

London Free Press: letters@lfpress.com

Winnipeg Free Press: letters@freepress.mb.ca

Calgary Herald: letters@calgaryherald.com

Edmonton Journal: letters@edmontonjournal.com

Vancouver Sun: sunletters@vancouversun.com

Vancouver Province: provletters@theprovince.com

Victoria Times Colonist: letters@timescolonist.com

Resource articles for letter writing:

● Québec's euthanasia bill 52 is imprecise and open to abuse

● Euthanasia is not healthcare, it is lethal and it is not safe

● Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide is not safe.

● Belgium euthanasia deaths increase by 26.8% in 2013.

● Netherlands 2012 euthanasia report.

● Oregon's 2013 assisted suicide report.

● Disability: Assisted suicide: Full of Dangers.

● Legalizing euthanasia threatens people with disabilities.

● Physician assisted suicide: A recipe for Elder Abuse.

● Medical error, Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.

● Swiss group to assist the suicides of healthy elderly people.

● Palliative care leaders oppose Québec euthanasia Bill 52

● Stephen Sutton lived everyday with dignity

● Euthanasia undermines protection in law for me.

Reprinted with permission from Alex Schadenberg

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Belgian euthanasia deaths increased by 26.8% in 2013

Alex Schadenberg
Alex Schadenberg

The 2013 Belgian euthanasia report indicates that the number of reported euthanasia deaths in Belgium increased by 26.8% in 2013 to 1816 reported deaths

Sign the EPC - Europe Petition demanding a moratorium on euthanasia in Belgium.

In 2012 the number of reported euthanasia deaths in Belgium increased by 25% to 1432 reported deaths

The Belgian euthanasia reports indicate that the number of reported euthanasia deaths continue to grow at a faster rate. In Belgium, there were 1133 reported euthanasia deaths in 2011 and 954 reported euthanasia deaths in 2010.

At the same time Belgium has recently extended euthanasia to children. The child euthanasia bill was passed after protests against the bill were held in Brussels and 160 Belgian Paediatricians denounced the child euthanasia bill.

Studies concerning the Belgian euthanasia law that were published in 2010, from the Flanders region of Belgium found that: 32% of all assisted deaths were done without request, 47% of all assisted deaths went unreported, and nurses were euthanizing patients even though the Belgian euthanasia law prohibits nurses from doing euthanasia. There has never been an attempted prosecution for abuses of the Belgian euthanasia law.

In Canada, the Quebec government should be very concerned about the practice of euthanasia in Belgium since they have based euthanasia Bill 52 on the Belgian euthanasia law.

In January, the Belgian media reported that a euthanasia doctor admitted to not reporting his euthanasia deaths. The article confirms that many euthanasia deaths in Belgium are not reported and the actual number of euthanasia deaths is much higher than 1816.

In February, Dr. Tom Mortier launched an official complaint against the doctor who euthanized his healthy mother who was living with depression. Mortier questioned:

"how it is possible for euthanasia to be performed on physically healthy people"

In April 2014, a 20-year-old Belgian woman, named Margot, launched a second official complaint against the same euthanasia doctor in response to the euthanasia death of her 47-year-old mother who was physically healthy but living with depression. Margot asked

"How could someone who has not even received treatment for depression, get euthanasia?"

There are also serious questions being asked concerning the purpose and effectiveness of the Belgian euthanasia control and evaluation committee. The President of this committee is the leading euthanasia doctor in Belgium who also operates a euthanasia clinic with half of the membership of the committee composed of members of the euthanasia lobby.

In November 2013, I debated Dr. Jan Bernheim, one of the pioneers of the Belgian euthanasia law. During the debate in Brussels I quoted from the earlier studies showing that euthanasia deaths were occurring without request, that euthanasia deaths were not being reported and that nurses were ignoring the law and euthanizing their patients. Bernheim responded to those statements by saying:

"There are problems with the Belgian euthanasia law."

I responded by saying:

"That is cold comfort for the dead."

The safeguards and controls in the Belgian euthanasia law do not work. The Belgian government needs to establish a moratorium on its euthanasia program and re-evaluate its euthanasia law, or the number of euthanasia deaths will continue to grow exponentially.

Reprinted with permission from Alex Schadenberg's blog.

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Medical error, euthanasia and assisted suicide

Alex Schadenberg
Alex Schadenberg
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A power point presentation developed by Christine Koczmara RN BSc and Cathy Isman RN(CPN) (C) for the Institute for Safe Medication Practices states that it was estimated in 1999 that 98,000 Americans die every year from preventable medical mistakes which is almost equal to the number of combined yearly deaths from Car Accidents, Breast Cancer, and Aids (Link).

A Canadian study from 2004 found that 7.5% of patients in Canadian hospitals are harmed from their care, 37% of the adverse events were preventable and more than 9250 Canadians died every year from medical errors (Link).

The same power point presentation estimated that only 3% – 6% of all medical errors are reported (Link).

In April 2013, Pietro D’Amico (62) from Calabria Italy died at the Dignitas suicide clinic in Switzerland after receiving a wrong diagnosis. Many medical errors will lead to negative health conditions, some medical errors will lead to death, assisted suicide always leads to death (Link).

In July 2013, a Swiss regional court found Dr. Philippe Freiburghaus guilty of assisting a suicide without properly diagnosing his patient. On April 23, 2014, the Swiss court of appeal overturned the conviction of Freiburghaus (Link).

In September 2013, Nancy Verhelst asked to die by euthanasia in Belgium after experiencing a “botched” sex change operation (Link).

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

Statistics from Belgium indicate that up to 32% of all assisted deaths are done without explicit request (Link) and up to 47% of all assisted deaths go unreported (Link). In the Netherlands the rate of assisted death without explicit request is lower than in Belgium and the rate of unreported assisted deaths is 23% (Link).

Since acts of assisted death cause the direct and intentional death of the person, and since the “safeguards” that are designed to protect patients, in the law, are not followed, can legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide ever be safe?

Considering the problem of medical error, the reality that human beings fail, the reality that many physicians have been taught to believe that certain human lives are not worth living (Quality of Life) and considering the regularity of medical error and the reality, can legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide ever be safe?

These facts and many more speak for themselves.

Reprinted with permission from Alex Schadenberg

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