Alex Schadenberg

Is the Supreme Court right in deciding to hear Rasouli case?

Alex Schadenberg
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The Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s national newspapers, published an editorial last week entitled: The Supreme Court is right to hear life-support case.

The Rasouli case asks the question - who has the right to decide to withdraw medical treatment? Dr Brian Cuthbertson and Dr Gordon Rubenfeld at Sunnybrook hospital are arguing that they have the unilateral right to decide when medical treatment can be withdrawn, while the court decision by Justice Himel and the unanimous decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal decided that doctors must first obtain consent before withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, such as in this case, the ventilator.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) successfully intervened in the Rasouli case at the Ontario Court of Appeal.

In their editorial, the Globe and Mail stated that the Rasouli case is not an ideal case due to the shifting medical facts with regards to Hassan Rasouli, but the Globe and Mail contends that the Supreme Court of Canada needs to provide guidance concerning end-of-life treatment.

The Globe and Mail editorial then states:

The issue – who decides – has been a divisive, emotional one. Giving doctors unilateral decision-making power seems extreme, yet it is equally perverse for families of incapable patients to insist upon costly interventions of no medical benefit and some potential harm.

The absence of direction has left a policy vacuum, and potentially treatment vacuums in Canadian hospitals. Will physicians hesitate to start trials of therapy in critically ill patients if they think they cannot withdraw them when later deemed futile?

For more information on the Rasouli case click here.

EPC disagrees with the Globe an Mail editorial. We are convinced that the decision by the three judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal was balanced and offered the best possible guidance that the court could provide.

It is important to note that this case is not related to end-of-life treatment decisions, as stated by the Globe and Mail editorial but rather life-sustaining treatment decisions. Some people are dependent on medical treatment, but not otherwise dying.

It is also important to recognize that the Rasouli decision is not limited to ventilator cases. The definition of medical treatment, and even life-sustaining medical treatment includes artificially providing fluids and food, do not resuscitate decisions, and more.

Link to the EPC response to the Rasouli decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

The Ontario Court of Appeal decision was not perfect, but very balanced. It found that doctors could unilaterally withdraw treatments that were providing no benefit, treatments that are physiologically futile, but life-sustaining treatments, such as the ventilator, were not without benefit, in fact the ventilator was effectively accomplishing exactly what it was designed to accomplish.

Since the Rasouli family and the doctors were unable to achieve an agreement, therefore the Ontario Court of Appeal agreed with Justice Himel that the case should be referred to the Ontario Consent and Capacity Board, an government body that was established to decide when medical treatment disputes occur.

If the Supreme Court of Canada grants doctors the unilateral right to decide, then the deeply held values of many Canadians will become unimportant. The doctors are asking that they have the right to decide whether or not they believe the medical treatment is futile.

Let’s remember, Hassan Rasouli was wrongly diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state, a state that the doctors claim was permanent. Mr Rasouli is now diagnosed as not being PVS, which is exactly as his wife, who was a practising physician before moving to Canada, had contended from the beginning.

The decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal should be upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The EPC is seeking intervening standing in the Rasouli case at the Supreme Court of Canada.

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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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