Alex Schadenberg

Disturbingly one-sided TV show promotes euthanizing children with disabilities

Alex Schadenberg
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Taking Mercy, an edition of the Global TV program “16x9” in Canada, concerns a mother, Annette Corriveau, who wants her children with disabilities to be killed by euthanasia. The show also features Robert Latimer, the man who killed his daughter Tracy in 1993. Tracy had Cerebral Palsy. The show speaks to pro-euthanasia ethicist Arthur Schaefer who suggests that Robert Latimer should have been given “mercy.” Schaefer also suggests that Corriveau should simply stop feeding her children, but Corriveau says she does not wish to starve her children to death.

This is a dangerously one-sided show.

Taking Mercy represents the first serious attempt by the Canadian media to re-write the history of the Latimer case and to justify euthanasia for children with disabilities.

Yesterday I received an email from Ari Ne’eman, a disability leader in the United States, who is asking people with disabilities to organize candle light vigils on March 30 at 5:30pm for disabled people who have been murdered by relatives or care-givers.

Today I spoke to Steve Passmore, a man who was born with Cerebral Palsy, who has actively opposed euthanasia and assisted suicide since Tracy Latimer was killed by her father.

Steve stated: “Many people in society view people with disabilities as having lives that can be euthanized, like a kept pet, because of pain and suffering, that he lives with everyday.”

Steve wants Robert Latimer & Annette Corriveau to know that he is not the same as a ‘kept pet’. He stated: “this story clearly shows the prejudice that people with disabilities experience in society and the threat that euthanasia and assisted suicide place on the lives of people with disabilities.”

Taking Mercy is produced by Jennifer Tryon, Hannah James, Megan Rowney, for 16x9 and it was shown on Global TV on Thursday, March 08, 2012. Link to the show. Link to the Live Blog.

This is how the story goes:

Annette Corriveau thought she was living the dream. Married at 18, two beautiful children born shortly after, she thought she had it all.

But Annette’s dream was ravaged by fate. Her babies, Janet and Jeffrey weren’t as healthy as they first appeared. And never could she have imagined the horrific turn her children’s lives would take.

“They were a handful but I thought that was normal, after all, they were only a year apart,” she says. “You’re prepared for the terrible twos. So you overlook things. Then the threes come and you’re thinking wait a minute, this shouldn’t have lasted this long, and then the fours, all of a sudden, it’s, something is not right.”

When Janet and Jeffrey were five and six years old, their behaviour was becoming more rambunctious and unmanageable. They started losing the language they had developed and they were losing motor skills.

After a year and a half in a London, Ontario hospital Annette learned she and her husband both carried a recessive gene that prevented their children from properly metabolizing sugars. The children were diagnosed with a genetic disorder called Sanfilippo syndrome that has no cure and no treatment.

Now, more than three decades later, Annette wants the right to mercifully end her children’s lives.

“They wouldn’t like to live like this,” she says. “My children were full of life. When they were young, before this disease took hold…I just don’t believe that they would want to stay alive the way they are.”

Annette’s children have been institutionalized since they were seven and eight years old. They used to be well enough to come home on weekends but they haven’t left their current care facility in two decades.

Now, more than three decades later, Annette wants the right to mercifully end her children’s lives.

“They wouldn’t like to live like this,” she says. “My children were full of life. When they were young, before this disease took hold…I just don’t believe that they would want to stay alive the way they are.”

Annette’s children have been institutionalized since they were seven and eight years old. They used to be well enough to come home on weekends but they haven’t left their current care facility in two decades.

Annette says no one can understand unless they watch - as she did - as her children slowly succumbed to this rare genetic disorder.

“The saying, ‘walk in another man’s moccasins’? Don’t judge. Unless you’ve been there, don’t judge,” she says. “This is no life. For anyone.”

In a 16x9 exclusive, a mother’s plea for mercy – and a father who has been down this road before – and paid the price. 16x9 opens up the debate on the controversial subject of euthanasia speaking to Annette Corriveau about her fight for mercy and to Robert Latimer, the Saskatchewan farmer who fought the Supreme Court of Canada after he ended his severely disabled daughter’s life.

As much as we can never take these cases lightly, the fact is that Janet & Jeffrey Corriveau are being cared for and allowing their mother to decide to have them killed by euthanasia will create a whole new debate which would focus on who lives and who dies.

Corriveau emphasizes in the show that no one should judge, but the fact is that this is a question of who society will approve to kill and that effects everyone. We don’t need to judge Corriveau in order to say NO to the killing of people by euthanasia.

Further to that, while so many people say that euthanasia is about “choice” and has little or nothing to do with people with disabilities, the Corriveau story should awaken people to the reality that “choice” is the banner that is used to open the door to euthanasia. Soon after we will begin deciding who lives and who dies, in the same way as the Netherlands has accepted the Groningen Protocol which are the rules that must be followed in order to euthanize children with disabilities.


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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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