Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Don't Make Washington's Mistake

Dear Board of Medical Examiners:

My wife and I operate two adult family homes in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. I am writing to urge you to not make Washington's mistake.

Our assisted suicide law was passed via a ballot initiative in November 2008. During the election, that law was promoted as a right of individual people to make their own choices. That has not been our experience. We have also noticed a shift in the attitudes of doctors and nurses towards our typically elderly clients, to eliminate their choices.

Four days after the election, an adult child of one of our clients asked about getting the pills (to kill the father). It wasn't the father saying that he wanted to die.

Since the act passed, we have also noticed that some members of the medical profession are quick to bring out the morphine to begin comfort care without considering treatment. Sometimes they do this on their own without telling the client and/or the family member in charge of the client's care.

Since our law was passed, I have also observed that some medical professionals are quick to write off older people as having no quality of life whereas in years past, most of the professionals we dealt with found joy in caring for them. Our clients reciprocated that joy and respect.

Someday, we too will be old. I, personally, want to be cared for and have my choices respected. I, for one, am quite uncomfortable with these developments. Don't make our mistake.

Juan Carlos Benedetto

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Under remodel

This site is in the midst of a remodel.

Please let us know if you need anything.

-Choice is an Illusion.

Video: Margaret Dore vs. Wanda Morris Video, Part 1


To see Part 2 go here

CFI Okanagan Presentation
Should assisted suicide be legal in Canada?


Wanda Morris, Executive Director of Dying With Dignity vs.
Margaret Dore, President of Choice is an Illusion

Margaret Dore is President of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia with a focus on the US and Canada. She is also a lawyer in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal. Her practice has included appeals, elder law, probate and guardianships. She is a former Law Clerk to the Washington State Supreme Court and has been licensed to practice since 1986. For more information, see www.choiceillusion.org andwww.margaretdore.com

Wanda Morris is the Executive Director of Dying with Dignity Canada, established in 1982 to educate the public about end of life options and the importance of advance care planning; to provide information and resources to the public and lawmakers about the choice in dying movement and the reasons why appropriately regulated medically assisted dying should be legalized in Canada; and to provide support for individuals at the end of their lives, including support at the bedside for those who wish to determine the nature and timing of their dying.

Video: Margaret Dore v. Wanda Morris Video, Part 2


To view Part 1, go here

Beware of Vultures: Senator Jennifer Fielder on Compassion & Choices

"I found myself wondering, 'Where does all the lobby money come from?' If it really is about a few terminally ill people who might seek help ending their suffering, why was more money spent on promoting assisted suicide than any other issue in Montana?"
By Senator Jennifer Fielder

As we wrangled through the budget this spring, the beautiful state capitol began to feel like a big, ripe carcass with a dark cloud of vultures circling about.  
Senator Jennifer Fielder

The magnitude of money in government attracts far more folks who want to be on the receiving end than it does those who just want fair and functional government. Until that ratio improves, it may be impossible to rein in unnecessary regulation and spending. 

Special interest groups spent over $6 million dollars on lobbyists to pressure Montana legislators during the 2013 session. Seems like a lot of money, until you compare it to the billions of taxpayer dollars at stake. Does the average taxpayer stand a chance against organized forces like that?


As your Senator one of my main duties is to sort out who wants your money, or a change in a law, and why. Getting to the bottom of it takes work. It would certainly help if well-intentioned citizens would do a little more research before clamoring onto any particular bandwagons as well.

We have to be careful not to be fooled by catchy slogans, shallow campaign propaganda, biased media reports, or plays on our emotions which, too often, conceal a multitude of hidden agendas. 

For example, it seems odd that the top lobby spender in Montana this year was Compassion and Choices, a “nonprofit” group that spent $160,356 advocating for legalization of assisted suicide. The second biggest spender was MEA-MFT, the teachers and public employees union who spent $120,319 pushing for state budget increases.

I earned a reputation for asking a lot of questions. I certainly didn’t take this job to rubber stamp anything. It's my duty to determine whether a proposal relates to an essential, necessary service of fair and functional government, or if it is motivated by piles of money to be gained from ill-advised government decisions.

You see, there is so much money in government that almost everything in government is about the money. The usual tactic is to disguise a ploy as “the humane thing to do”. . . . 

Some groups work very hard to provide factual information about their issue. Others stoop to the lowest of lows to invoke heart wrenching emotions, twisted half-truths, or outright lies. You really have to look carefully for all the angles.

Assisted suicide is another issue that can be highly emotional. There are deep and valid concerns on both sides of this life and death debate. But I found myself wondering, “Where does all the lobby money come from?” If it really is about a few terminally ill people who might seek help ending their suffering, why was more money spent on promoting assisted suicide than any other issue in Montana?

Could it be that convincing an ill person to end his or her life early will help health insurance companies save a bundle on what would have been ongoing medical treatment? How much would the government gain if it stopped paying social security, Medicare, or Medicaid on thousands of people a few months early? How much financial relief would pension systems see? Why was the proposed law to legalize assisted suicide [SB 220] written so loosely? Would vulnerable old people be encouraged to end their lives unnecessarily early by those seeking financial gain? 

When considering the financial aspects of assisted suicide, it is clear that millions, maybe billions of dollars, are intertwined with the issue being marketed as “Compassion and Choices”. Beware.

Public issues are not easy, and they are not always about money. But often times they are. If we want fair and functional government, we need to look deeper than most people are willing to look.. . .

* * *
Published as Communication from Your State Senator, "Beware of Vultures," by Montana State Senator Jennifer Fielder, Sanders County Ledger, http://www.scledger.net, page 2, 6-4-13. Senator Fielder lives in Thompson Falls MT, representing Montana State Senate District 7.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Site under remodel

This site is in the mist of a remodel.

Please let us know if you need anything.

-Choice is an Illusion.


Euthanasia: Where there's a Will, there's relatives

By Dee Burton (excerpt)
I liken the death experience to birth when talking to the elderly people I work with - it can be so hard to go through, yet is inevitable.
None can know for absolute sure what, if anything, lies on the other side. Euthanasia promoters make some assumptions about 'nothing' or 'peace', Christians talk of hell for those who have rejected a loving God who lives in heaven.
My biggest concern however is something we do know about - relatives who are keen to get their hands on what is left behind. We've all seen and heard of the acrimony and greed of relatives and lawyers and the pressure they can put on the execution of the Will.
My fear is that legalising of euthanasia will have that pressure put on the dying relatives, and it is so obvious that this will occur.

"I was afraid to leave my husband alone"

Letter from Oregon resident, Kathryn Judson, Published in the Hawaii Free Press, February 15, 2011.

To view the original letter,click here and scroll down towards the bottom of the page.   


When my husband was seriously ill several years ago, I collapsed in a half-exhausted heap in a chair once I got him into the doctor's office, relieved that we were going to get badly needed help (or so I thought).

To my surprise and horror, during the exam I overheard the doctor giving my husband a sales pitch for assisted suicide. 'Think of what it will spare your wife, we need to think of her' he said, as a clincher.


Now, if the doctor had wanted to say 'I don't see any way I can help you, knowing what I know, and having the skills I have' that would have been one thing. If he'd wanted to opine that certain treatments weren't worth it as far as he could see, that would be one thing. But he was tempting my husband to commit suicide. And that is something different.


I was indignant that the doctor was not only trying to decide what was best for David, but also what was supposedly best for me (without even consulting me, no less).


We got a different doctor, and David lived another five years or so. But after that nightmare in the first doctor's office, and encounters with a 'death with dignity' inclined nurse, I was afraid to leave my husband alone again with doctors and nurses, for fear they'd morph from care providers to enemies, with no one around to stop them.


It's not a good thing, wondering who you can trust in a hospital or clinic. I hope you are spared this in Hawaii.


Kathryn Judson, Oregon

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"But Doctor, I Want To Live": The Other Side Of The "Dignified Death" Debate

http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidshaywitz/2013/12/18/but-doctor-i-want-to-live-the-other-side-of-the-dignified-death-debate/

The emerging narrative about “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) orders is that they are not utilized frequently enough.

Doctors, it is said, are reluctant to have this discussion with patients, and patients are typically unlikely to
David Shaywitz, MD
initiate such a conversation with their physician.  As a result, there are dreadful stories of dying patients who suffer excruciating, highly-medicalized deaths rather than one with the dignity the sufferers might have preferred.  Such deaths, policy experts note, would also seem to constitute a regrettable waste of healthcare resources.

This is a powerful storyline because in many cases, it’s unfortunately true.  Many patients have experienced precisely the sort of end-of-life care they never would have wanted.  In some cases, these patients never formally codified their wishes, in other instances, patient wishes were tragically, at times incomprehensibly disregarded by the healthcare system.

Many have also complained (I’m one of them) that an ACA provision that would have allowed Medicare reimbursement for a proactive doctor-patient conversation about end-of-life care was withdrawn due to the misguided uproar ignited by some vocal critics.

But there’s another perspective as well, one highlighted by a recent experience I just learned about, involving the mother of a friend.

The patient in question is a 97 year old crusty Italian lady who had been living on her own, in generally good health, for a long time.  A month or so ago, her primary care doctor diagnosed her with anemia, and transfused her but didn’t initiate a workup, apparently assuming it wouldn’t be indicated in a patient of this age.  Shortly thereafter, the elderly woman presented to the emergency room with more severe anemia, and evidence of a GI bleed.

The woman was stabilized with transfusions, and as usual, entirely lucid.  The doctors told her they assumed she wouldn’t want a workup or any interventions, and would prefer to be made comfortable.
No, she said, I’m OK with interventions.

Then, the topic of DNR:  interventions might be dangerous in a patient of her age, the doctors told her.  If an intervention occurs, and something goes wrong, we assume you wouldn’t want extraordinary measures?

No, that would be OK too, she told them.

Really? You realize how violent and painful these might be, they asked, employing the same scare tactics I remember from my medicine residency, when overworked surgical consultants would occasionally try to talk a patient out of getting a procedure like a sinus tap.

That’s OK, she said.  I want to live.

In the end, the woman was scoped and discovered to have an easily-treated lesion (an arterial-venous malformation), which was quickly cauterized.  The woman tolerated the procedure well, is recovering nicely, and is slated to return home shortly.

This story deeply resonated with me, evoking my own experience with my Uncle Marvin  – see here and here. It also doesn’t strike me as all that unusual or exceptional, and highlights with unusual clarity the potential hazards of the push towards DNRs.

The big concern is that virtuous physicians – perhaps intending to do good for the patient,  perhaps (in the context of “parsimony”) intending to conserve societal resources and do good for the world at large – will undervalue a patient’s will to live or right to live.

Unfortunately, it’s probably not all that uncommon for a doctor to pressure a patient into making a decision the doctor earnestly believes is best; some would say it happens every day.

Both my uncle and the elderly lady profiled above were able to resist unreasonable physician pressure and successfully exert their autonomy.  What about the many other patients who are persuaded –bullied? — by their doctor into declining treatments they might actually desire?

I appreciate the importance and virtue of proactive DNR conversations between patient and doctor, and recognize the good that can, should, and must emerge from these essential conversations.

What worries me, however, is the righteousness driving some of the doctors who are leading these discussions – a deep-seated conviction that they’re better positioned than patients to know what’s the right choice for patients, and perhaps even “ethically” obliged to guide patients in this direction.

It’s arrogance masquerading as virtue, and endangers patient autonomy.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Judge dismisses appeal; Montana group pleased that court addressed Baxter

Helena Montana - On December 13, 2013, District Court Judge Mike Menehan dismissed MAAS's appeal with the Montana Medical Examiners Board. The order ruled that the appeal was moot due to the Board's having recently rescinded "Position Statement No. 20."  (Order, pp. 5-8).  The order also refers to Montana's assisted suicide case, Baxter v. State, as providing a defense to a homicide charge, as follows:
On December 31, 2009, the Montana Supreme Court issued its opinion in Baxter v. State, 2009 MT 449, 354 Mont. 234, 224 P.3d 1211, in which it held that under section 45-2-211 MCA, a terminally ill patient's consent to physician aid in dying constitutes a statutory defense to a physician charged with the criminal offense of homicide.  (Order, page 2, lines 17-21).
This part of the order is consistent with Greg Jackson's and Matt Bowman's article, Baxter Case Analysis, Spring 2010 ("the Court's narrow decision didn't even "legalize" assisted suicide"). Available at http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/baxter-case-analysis.html

Since Baxter, there have been two bills proposed in the Montana Legislature to legalize assisted suicide.  Both bills, SB 167 and SB 220, have failed.  Assisted suicide is not legal in Montana.

MAAS is disappointed with the dismissal, but pleased with that the order addresses Baxter, over which there is ongoing controversy as to its meaning.  MAAS will likely appeal.

* * *

For information about problems with assisted suicide and how it puts people at risk, see  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/quick-facts-about-assisted-suicide.html

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Montana Judge Hears Assisted Suicide Arguments


http://www.kxlf.com/news/montana-judge-hears-assisted-suicide-arguments/
Posted: Dec 11, 2013 4:38 PM by Sanjay Talwani - MTN News

HELENA - The issue of physician assisted suicide was in court Tuesday [December 10, 2013]
Judge Michael Menehan
Montanans Against Assisted Suicide is arguing that a policy position by the Montana Board of Medical Examiners implies that physician assisted suicide may be legal. 
A lawyer for the Board says that the position - since rescinded, says no such thing. Michael Fanning says the group bringing the lawsuit has no real case is trying to force the issue to the Montana Supreme Court.
The position paper, written in response to doctor inquiries, said that the board would handle complaints related to assisted suicide on a case-by-case basis as it would other cases.
Margaret Dore
Attorney for Montanans
Against Assisted Suicide (MAAS)
Margaret Dore, an attorney for MAAS, said the paper overstepped the Board's authority and implied to many that assisted suicide was legal in Montana.
"They are a board that is comprised of 11 doctors and two members of the public," she said. "It has no expertise to be making a pronouncement, that aid in dying is legal in Montana. That's the role of the legislature or a court and they are neither."
She said that such an understanding had huge implications in devaluing the lives of the sick and elderly.
That position paper - in response to the lawsuit - has since been rescinded by the Board and scrubbed from its website. But Dore said court action was still needed to prevent the Board from reinstating such a position.
She repeatedly asked District Judge Mike Menahan to weigh in on a Montana Supreme Court ruling known as Baxter, that envisions potential defenses to doctors charged with homicide for assisting with suicide.
But Menehan said it wasn't the role of a district judge to rule on a Montana Supreme Court order.
Craig Charlton
Attorney for MAAS
Michael Fanning, an attorney for the Board, said MAAS had no standing to bring the lawsuit, has suffered no damages from the Board's rescinded position and was simply jockeying to get the case before the Montana Supreme Court in hopes of overturning the Baxter ruling.
"This most certainly is a political question, a philosophical question or an academic debate, but it is not a lawsuit," he said. "In fact, this is a feigned case. It was contrived simply to bring this matter before you."
Menahan did not immediately rule on the case.
[Montanans Against Assisted Suicide is also represented by attorney Craig Charlton].

Monday, November 11, 2013

Quick Facts About Assisted Suicide

By Margaret Dore, Esq.*
October 7, 2013  
1.  Assisted Suicide

Assisted suicide means that someone provides the means and/or information for another person to commit suicide.  When a physician is involved, the practice is physician-assisted suicide.[1]

2. The Oregon and Washington Laws

In Oregon, physician-assisted suicide was legalized in 1997 via a ballot measure.[2]  In Washington State, a similar law was passed via another ballot measure in 2008 and went into effect in 2009.[3]  

3.  Throwing Away Your Life

The Oregon and Washington laws apply to state residents predicted to have less than six months to live.[5]  Such persons are not necessarily dying.  Doctors can be wrong.[6]  Moreover, treatment can lead to recovery.  Consider Jeanette Hall, who was diagnosed with cancer and given six months to a year to live.[7]  She was adamant that she would "do" Oregon’s law, but her doctor, Ken Stevens, convinced her to be treated instead.[8] She is still alive today, 13 years later.[9]

With legal assisted suicide, people with many quality years to live are encouraged to throw away their lives.


4.  A Recipe for Elder Abuse

The Washington and Oregon laws are a recipe for elder abuse. The most obvious reason is due to a lack of oversight when the lethal dose is administered.[10] For example, there are no witnesses required at the death; the death is allowed occur in private.[11] With this situation, the opportunity is created for an heir, or some other person who will benefit from the patient’s death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without her consent.  Even if she struggled, who would know?

For more detail about Washington's law, which is similar to Oregon's law, read a short article by clicking here or here.


5. Empowering the Healthcare System

In Oregon, patients desiring treatment under the Oregon Health Plan have been offered assisted suicide instead. 

The most well known cases involve Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup.[12] Each wanted treatment.[13] The Plan denied their requests and offered to pay for their suicides instead.[14] Neither Wagner nor Stroup saw this scenario as a celebration of their "choice." Wagner said: "I'm not ready to die."[15] Stroup said: "This is my life they’re playing with."[16]

Wagner and Stroup were steered to suicide. Moreover, it was the Oregon Health Plan, a government entity, doing the steering.[17]  For more detail about the current situation, read the affidavit of Kenneth Stevens, by clicking here.

6.  Increased Suicide in Oregon

Oregon's suicide rate, which excludes suicides under its physician-assisted suicide law, has been "increasing significantly" since 2000.[18] 

Just three years prior, Oregon legalized physician-assisted suicide. This increased suicide rate is consistent with a suicide contagion in which removing the stigma from one type of suicide encouraged other suicides. 

7.  Proposed Expansion in Washington State

Washington State legalized physician-assisted suicide in March 2009.  Less than there years later, there were discussions to expand that law to direct euthanasia of non-terminal people. See, for example, Brian Faller, "Perhaps it's time to expand Washington's Death with Dignity Act, The Olympian, November 16, 2011.[19]  More disturbing to me, on March 8, 2012, there was a Seattle Times column causally suggesting euthanasia for people unable to support themselves, which would be involuntary euthanasia.  See Jerry Large, "Planning for old age at a premium," The Seattle Times, March 8, 2012 at  http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/text/2017693023.html ("After Monday's column,  . . . a few [readers] suggested that if you couldn't save enough money to see you through your old age, you shouldn't expect society to bail you out. At least a couple mentioned euthanasia as a solution.") (Emphasis added). 

Prior to our law's being passed, I never heard anyone talk like this. 

Don't make our mistake.

Margaret Dore is an attorney in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal.  She is also President of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted suicide.  For more information, see www.margaretdore.com andwww.choiceillusion.org 

[1]  Compare: American Medical Association, Code of Medical Ethics, Opinion 2.211, available at http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/medical-ethics/code-medical-ethics/opinion2211.page
[2]  The Oregon and Washington laws are similar.  For a short article about Washington’s law, see Margaret K. Dore, "'Death with Dignity': What Do We Advise Our Clients?," King County Bar Association, Bar Bulletin, May 2009, available athttps://www.kcba.org/newsevents/barbulletin/BView.aspx?Month=05&Year=2009&AID=article5.htm
[3]  Id.
[5]  See ORS 127.800 s.1.01(12) and RCW 70.245.010(13).
[6]  See e.g., Nina Shapiro, "Terminal Uncertainty: Washington’s new "Death With Dignity" law allows doctors to help people commit suicide—once they’ve determined that the patient has only six months to live. But what if they’re wrong?," 01/14/09, available athttp://www.seattleweekly.com/2009-01-14/news/terminal-uncertainty 
[7]  See Jeanette Hall, Letter to the editor, "She pushed for legal right to die, and - thankfully - was rebuffed, Boston Globe, October 4, 2011 ("I am so happy to be alive!), available athttp://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/letters/articles/2011/10/04/she_pushed_for_legal_right_to_die_and___thankfully___was_rebuffed/ Kenneth Stevens MD, Letter to the Editor, "Oregon mistake costs lives," The Advocate, the official publication of the Idaho State Bar, Sept. 2010, (scroll down to last letter atwww.margaretdore.com/info/Stevens.pdf ).
[8]  Id.
[9]  Per her telephone call today.
[10]  The Oregon and Washington Acts can be viewed in their entirety here and here.
[11]  Id.
[12]  See Susan Donaldson James, "Death Drugs Cause Uproar in Oregon," ABC News, August 6, 2008, athttp://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=5517492&page=1; "Letter noting assisted suicide raises questions," KATU TV, July 30, 2008, athttp://www.katu.com/news/specialreports/26119539.html ; and Ken Stevens, MD, Letter to Editor, "Oregon mistake costs lives," The Advocate, the official publication of the Idaho State Bar, September 2011, to view, scroll down to bottom of second page here:http://www.margaretdore.com/info/September_Letters.pdf
[13] Id.
[14] Id.
[15] KATU TV at note 12
[16] ABC News at note 12
[17]  See also Affidavit of Ken Stevens MD (Leblanc v. Canada), with attachments, available athttp://maasdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/signed-stevens-aff-9-18-12.pdf  
[18]  See "Suicides in Oregon: Trends and Risk Factors," Oregon Department of Human Services, Public Health Division, September 2010, page 6, ("Deaths relating to the death with Dignity Act (physician-assisted suicides) are not classified as suicides by Oregon law and therefore excluded from this report"), available athttp://epcdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/or_suicide_report_001.pdf
See also Oregon Health Authority, News Release, "Rising suicide rate in Oregon reaches higher than national average," September 9, 2010, ("suicide rates have been increasing significantly since 2000") available athttp://www.oregon.gov/DHS/news/2010news/2010-0909a.pdf
[19] Available at http://www.theolympian.com/2011/11/16/1878667/perhaps-its-time-to-expand-washingtons.html

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dr. Kenneth Stevens and Jeanette Hall in Quebec!


http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/physician-assisted-suicide-encourages-people-143000132.html

Physician-assisted suicide encourages people with years to live to throw away their lives: an Oregon cancer doctor and his patient tell their story and warn Quebecers
MONTREAL, Oct. 25, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - The Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice presented a doctor and his patient from Oregon where assisted suicide is legal. 
Dr. Kenneth Stevens is a practicing cancer doctor with more than 40 years' experience. He is also a Professor Emeritus and a former Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, Oregon Health & Sciences University,Portland, Oregon. He has treated thousands of patients with cancer. 
Jeanette Hall, Dr. Stevens' patient, is thrilled to be alive 13 years after he talked her out of "doing" Oregon's law, i.e., killing herself with a lethal dose of barbiturates. 

In 2000, Jeanette was diagnosed with cancer by another doctor and told that she had six months to a year to live. This was without treatment. The other doctor had referred her to Dr. Stevens for radiation and chemotherapy. Jeanette, however, had voted for Oregon's law. She had made a firm decision to go forward with Oregon's law instead.

Dr. Stevens did not believe in assisted suicide. He also believed that Jeanette's prospects for treatment were good. He convinced her to be treated instead of doing Oregon's law.

Dr. Stevens talked about how the mere existence of legal assisted suicide steered Jeanette Hall to suicide. He also talked about how financial incentives in Oregon's government health plan also steer patients to suicide. Dr. Stevens warned that if assisted suicide or euthanasia is legalized in Quebec, then the Quebec government health program could follow a similar pattern, that is, to pay for people to die, but not to live.

Dr. Paul Saba, a family physician and co-president of the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice explained how Quebec's proposed euthanasia law would encourage people, including young adults with treatable conditions, to agree to euthanasia and throw away their lives. The Coalition's position against euthanasia is supported by the World Medical Association representing nine million physicians.

For additional information and references including videos visit coalitionmd.org.

SOURCE Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Canada's Carter Case: WE WON!!!!!!

EUTHANASIA PREVENTION COALITION APPLAUDS RULING OF BC APPEAL COURT ON ASSISTED SUICIDE
Media Release - TorontoThursday October 10, 2013 /CNW/
The BC Court of Appeal has struck down the decision by Justice Smith and upheld the current laws which protect Canadians from euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) intervened in the BC assisted suicide case in order to uphold the principles of Parliamentary sovereignty and basic human rights. EPC is pleased that the Court has followed the lead of Canadian Parliament, the Supreme Court of Canada, and of the majority of Parliaments and Supreme Courts around the world in finding that the prohibitions against assisted suicide represent an important protection against abuse of vulnerable people.

EPC legal counsel Hugh Scher states:
EPC is concerned about the safety, security and equality of people with disabilities and seniors, which is central to the protections set out under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our Criminal Code. 
EPC-BC chair Dr. William Johnston states:
The debate is over whether what the suicidal person proposes – to kill themselves – is a goal which should be shared and facilitated by the state. I suggest there are alternate goals like the treatment of depression and other symptoms, to which the state should apply itself. When someone has lost hope for the future, finds no meaning in their life, and sees only one solution – death – we recognize a suicidal depression. That bleak tunnel vision should evoke suicide prevention, not euthanasia.
Disability rights advocate Amy Hasbrouck of Toujours Vivant - Not Dead Yet states:
People with disabilities, chronic illness and seniors are negatively affected by assisted suicide and euthanasia because it leads to the impression that our lives are lacking in meaning and value as compared to other Canadians.
EPC Executive Director, Alex Schadenberg states:
The evidence is clear that in jurisdictions where these practices have been legalized, there have been significant abuses of vulnerable people. For example, studies in Belgium demonstrate that 32% of people killed under the Belgian law were killed without consent and without their own request, in breach of a fundamental condition of that law. 
Not one of these doctors has been prosecuted.
In the event today's ruling is appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, EPC will seek to intervene with a view to protecting the dignity and equality of all Canadians, particularly those who are most vulnerable to the risks of abuse from assisted suicide.

Please consider a generous donation to help us cover expenses and to prepare for the next round.  Thank you for your support!  To donate,click here.

For further information, please contact:
Dr. William Johnston, (Vancouver) EPC-BC Chair: (604) 220-2042 –willjohnston@shaw.ca
Alex Schadenberg, (London) EPC Executive Director: (519) 851-1434 – info@epcc.ca
Amy Hasbrouck, (Montreal) Tourjours Vivant - Not Dead Yet: (450) 921-3057 – info@tv-ndy.ca

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Chilling Prospect for Disabled People


As posted by Not Dead Yet

        Stephen Hawking has expressed the view, in the course of a BBC interview, that people “who have a terminal illness and are in great pain should have the right to choose to end their own life”. They do, of course, have that right now:       ending your own life isn’t a criminal offence. What Professor Hawking means, presumably, is that the law should be changed to legalise what is being euphemistically called ‘assisted dying’ – or, to put it another way, that doctors should   be licensed to supply lethal drugs to terminally ill people to help them commit suicide.
There is, in fact, a Private Member’s bill, in the name of Lord Falconer, before the House of Lords at this moment proposing just that. Professor Hawking believes that “there must be safeguards that the person concerned genuinely wants to end their life and they are not being pressurised into it”. This is a fair enough caution to sound. What is remarkable, however, is that Lord Falconer’s ‘assisted dying’ bill does not contain any specific safeguards to ensure that these and other conditions are met.

Professor Hawking states that “human beings should not be allowed to suffer any more than animals”. This is a well-worn argument of the euthanasia lobby – that we put down suffering animals out of kindness, so why don’t we do the same for humans? But what those who use this argument seem to overlook is that people don’t always take their pets to be put down out of compassion: they sometimes do so because they are a nuisance or because they are proving expensive to treat or to feed. Is that the sort of society we want to see?

Those of us with disabilities are all too familiar with the view that many in society take of us – that they wouldn’t want to live with our limitations and that our lives are less worth living than the lives of others. I myself have encountered such attitudes: I have been told that ‘people like me’ do ‘a good job’, I have had it put to me by a medic that I should not have children and I have even been patted on the head by a colleague. The Paralympics, in which I have had the opportunity to participate, is sadly an all too rare occasion in which people with disabilities are valued.

Legalising ‘assisted dying’ for terminally ill people illness reinforces prejudices about people with disabilities. Terminal illness and physical disability aren’t, of course, the same thing – many people with disabilities aren’t terminally ill. But terminal illness can often bring with it disability of one kind or another and it’s not a big step in popular perceptions to see the two as in some way linked.

That’s why the majority of people with disabilities, including me, are afraid of a law that would offer a lesser standard of protection to seriously ill people than to others. Anyone who is inclined to discount such fears should read the report of Lord Falconer’s self-styled ‘commission on assisted dying’: it is on the recommendations of this unofficial and self-appointed group that his Private Member’s bill rests. Their report recommends that physician-assisted suicide should not be offered to people with disabilities who are not terminally ill “at this point in time“. It is those italicised words that send a chill down the spine of many people with physical disabilities. Lord Falconer’s ‘assisted dying’ bill may be well-intended. But it risks becoming a law to cater for the strong rather than to protect the weak.

Monday, September 2, 2013

POLST: What is it and why should you oppose it?

By Julie Grimstad

The POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) form is a standard document that, when signed by a designated healthcare professional, dictates whether to withhold or administer certain forms of medical treatment and/or care. POLST is known by different acronyms in various states (MOST, MOLST, POST, etc.). 

A brightly colored form that is very visible in a patient's medical chart, POLST has boxes to check off indicating that a patient does or does not want cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), antibiotics, nutrition and hydration, etc. Trained "facilitators"—usually not physicians—discuss treatment options with patients. After filling out the form with a patient, the facilitator presents it to be signed by a designated healthcare professional—someone who may never have seen or talked to the patient. The completed POLST form is not simply an expression of a patient’s treatment preferences; it is a set of physician's orders which must be followed.

POLST medical orders travel with the patient from one healthcare setting to the next and even home to be followed by EMT's in the event of a medical emergency. The first order in many POLST-type forms is "FIRST follow these orders, THEN contact Physician, Advanced Practice Nurse, or Physician Assistant for further orders if indicated."[i]

POLST is tilted toward non-treatment and can encourage premature withdrawal of treatment from patients who, but for the denial of treatment, would not die. Facilitators present options for treatment as if they are morally neutral, even though certain decisions may lead to euthanasia by omission. Groups that promote euthanasia and assisted suicide, such as Compassion & Choices (formed by the merger of Compassion in Dying—a Hemlock Society spin-off—and End of Life Choices), strongly endorse POLST. This is a big RED FLAG.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Judge upholds count of assisted suicide

http://www.philly.com/philly/health/20130802_Judge_upholds_count_of_assisted_suicide.html#hLRSrC4PBjvmaCti.99

POTTSVILLE, Pa. - A judge on Thursday upheld charges against a Philadelphia woman accused of helping her 93-year-old father commit suicide through a morphine overdose at his home here, where he was in hospice.

Prosecutors in Schuylkill County charged Barbara Mancini, 57, with aiding suicide. The judge refused to drop the charges after a preliminary hearing.

Pottsville police say Mancini handed Joseph Yourshaw a bottle of liquid morphine at his home in February, leading to his death four days later. The death certificate, which listed the immediate cause as "morphine toxicity" that complicated high blood pressure and heart disease, was issued in June.

Mancini, who was trained as a nurse, remains free on bail. Her lawyer could not be reached for comment Thursday evening. The local district attorney's office asked the state to prosecute the case due to a conflict of interest.

An end-of-life advocacy group called for the charges to be dropped, saying the U.S. Supreme Court allows dying patients to receive adequate pain relief, even if it hastens their death. "Attorney General [Kathleen] Kane should leave Barbara and her family alone so they can grieve over their loss," Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Denver-based Compassion and Choices, said in a statement.*

*Compassion & Choices is the former Hemlock Society.  To learn more about C & C, read:  and Theresa Schrempp, Esq.,  "Compassion & Choices is a Successor to the Hemlock Society" and Senator Jennifer Fielder on Compassion & Choices: "Beware of Vultures." 

Or, go to these links:  http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2012/12/compassion-choices-is-successor.html and http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/06/beware-of-vultures-senator-jennifer.html 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Texas Women Underwent Chemo After False Diagnosis

http://news.yahoo.com/texas-woman-underwent-chemo-after-false-diagnosis-132745549.html


A woman from Victoria, Texas, underwent several rounds of chemotherapy, only to find out that she never had cancer to begin with, reports CBS’s Houston affiliate, KHOU.

Herlinda Garcia, 54, was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal breast cancer after she had a benign tumor removed from her left breast. Through the next seven months and eight rounds of chemotherapy, she felt her body and mind deteriorating.

“Everything was swollen,” Garcia told KHOU. “I lost my eyebrows, my eyelashes. It’s really hard. I can’t explain how I felt. It’s like I was in a dream.”

Certain that her life was coming to an end, the part-time civil process worker gave away most of her belongings and wrote a bucket list.

"I just wanted to give up on everything," Garcia said.

But when she decided to seek help for her growing anxiety at Citizens Medical Center, a series of scans revealed a new reality: Garcia never had cancer.

At MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, a second opinion confirmed what doctors at Citizens Medical Center had discovered.

“I was happy, but at the same time, I had anger,” Garcia said. “The damage had been done.”

For her pain and suffering, a Victoria County jury awarded Garcia $367,000. Garcia said she hopes her experience will lead others to always seek a second opinion.

“I know I’m never going to feel the same because of what I went through,” she said. “It changed my life.”

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The "Liverpool Care Pathway," Hospice and Palliative Care Abuse

The "Liverpool Care Pathway" (LCP)  is a system of hospice/palliative care in the UK.  In the last few years, the system has come under fire as "stealth euthanasia" in which patients are put on the LCP "without consent" and without "being allowed, food, fluids and medication."  See the BBC article set forth below: “Liverpool Care Pathway: Your experiences.”

I periodically receive similar complaints from people in the US and Canada.  Consider, for example, this letter by an elder care facility owner in Washington State where assisted suicide is legal:
"Since the [assisted suicide] act passed, we have . . . noticed that some members of the medical profession are quick to bring out the morphine to begin comfort care without considering treatment.  Sometimes they do this on their own without telling the client and/or the family member in charge of the client's care." 
http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2012/07/dear-montana-board-of-medical-examiners.html

Consider also, this letter published in a Montana newspaper:
“If these terrible deaths happen when aid in dying (assisted suicide and euthanasia) is not legal, what will happen if these practices are made legal? Doctors will have even more power to take away patient choice."
http://www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/2013/04/dont-give-doctors-more-power-to-abuse.html

Margaret Dore, Attorney at Law
President, Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation

___


"Liverpool Care Pathway: Your Experiences"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-23301360

The LCP was developed to support dying patients
 
The Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) should be phased out, an independent review is expected to say.

The system was designed to allow terminally-ill patients to die peacefully and with dignity.

However, the LCP has come under criticism with some believe it is being used to speed up the process of dying. There have been some reports of patients being put on it without consent and not being allowed, food, fluids and medication.

Here, [three] family members of those who have been on the Liverpool Care Pathway, share their experiences of the programme. [There are two unfavorable views and one favorable view of the LCP]

Kayleigh Hollobone

Two years ago, when I was 22, I lost my 56-year-old mother to cancer.

During the six months from her diagnosis in January 2012 until her death, she was unknowingly to us put on the LCP. She was deprived of fluids and any source of nutritional supplement without even the slightest consent or conversation with me or my family.

It was only after my absolute insistence and persistence that my mother received fluids and that was after over 36 hours without any.

It scares me that people who do not have bossy and demanding families, like me and mine, to fight for them will be left or even encouraged to die via the LCP.

My mother survived another three months. We got to hear her laugh and joke again and importantly my mother got to say her goodbyes. Had the enforced LCP been allowed to continue, those few important months of time with my mother would have without a doubt been taken away from me and my family.


I can't stress how important me and my family feel about the process of the LCP. It needs to be readdressed - the memories it could have deprived me of are invaluable. She wrote me a letter that I will have forever and it will always be the most treasured item I possess.

Helen Redshaw

"The Liverpool Care Pathway aided her in a gentle and thoughtful way”

My mother passed away from cancer just three months ago. The Liverpool Care Pathway was used and I have nothing but praise for it. We had help from night nurses through the NHS Beacon program, Marie Curie and Macmillan, all of which gave exemplary care. Leaflets on the LCP were given to us and time was taken by all to fully explain why and how it would work. 

Towards the end, my mother couldn't swallow and didn't want food - this was her body getting ready to die. It was slow and peaceful, and she was my mother until about the day before when we all knew she was leaving.

There was no prolonging of life. She was ready to go and the Liverpool Care Pathway aided her in a gentle and thoughtful way. It wasn't the refusal to give her food and drink; she no longer wanted it.

She had as natural an early death as can be and I am thankful as it helped me and my family cope as we saw her slip away. This is something that should be offered and explained to patients and family and I have nothing but support for it.

William Hughes

My father Professor Robert Hughes was subjected to this technique without my or his consent. When it became clear that his cancer of the prostrate became untreatable I was asked what I wanted to do and I told them clearly that I wanted him to die with dignity.

I was assured by the staff at the hospital that would happen, that he would have died a dignified death. He didn't. He was sedated, unconscious and died within three days looking like something from Belsen concentration camp.

He was not given water or food but instead put on a driver syringe containing diamorphine, midazolam and cyclizine. The first two of those drugs would down a horse. . .

Sadly there is no going back. I didn't know that once started, it's irreversible.

No one makes this clear. This is the main part, if not for some the final part, of the LCP.

In the new scheme when that comes out, if they allow these two drugs to be continued to be used, it is euthanasia, plain and simple.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

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Thank you so much!

Choice is an Illusion

Friday, June 7, 2013

Beware of Vultures

"[I]t seems odd that the top lobby spender in Montana this year was Compassion and Choices, a 'nonprofit' group that spent $160,356 advocating for legalization of assisted suicide."
By Senator Jennifer Fielder

As we wrangled through the budget this spring, the beautiful state capitol began to feel like a big, ripe carcass with a dark cloud of vultures circling about. 
Senator Jennifer Fielder

The magnitude of money in government attracts far more folks who want to be on the receiving end than it does those who just want fair and functional government. Until that ratio improves, it may be impossible to rein in unnecessary regulation and spending. 

Special interest groups spent over $6 million dollars on lobbyists to pressure Montana legislators during the 2013 session. Seems like a lot of money, until you compare it to the billions of taxpayer dollars at stake. Does the average taxpayer stand a chance against organized forces like that?

As your Senator one of my main duties is to sort out who wants your money, or a change in a law, and why. Getting to the bottom of it takes work. It would certainly help if well-intentioned citizens would do a little more research before clamoring onto any particular bandwagons as well.

We have to be careful not to be fooled by catchy slogans, shallow campaign propaganda, biased media reports, or plays on our emotions which, too often, conceal a multitude of hidden agendas. 

For example, it seems odd that the top lobby spender in Montana this year was Compassion and Choices, a “nonprofit” group that spent $160,356 advocating for legalization of assisted suicide. The second biggest spender was MEA-MFT, the teachers and public employees union who spent $120,319 pushing for state budget increases.

I earned a reputation for asking a lot of questions. I certainly didn’t take this job to rubber stamp anything. It's my duty to determine whether a proposal relates to an essential, necessary service of fair and functional government, or if it is motivated by piles of money to be gained from ill-advised government decisions.

You see, there is so much money in government that almost everything in government is about the money. The usual tactic is to disguise a ploy as “the humane thing to do”. . . .

Some groups work very hard to provide factual information about their issue. Others stoop to the lowest of lows to invoke heart wrenching emotions, twisted half-truths, or outright lies. You really have to look carefully for all the angles.

Assisted suicide is another issue that can be highly emotional. There are deep and valid concerns on both sides of this life and death debate. But I found myself wondering, “Where does all the lobby money come from?” If it really is about a few terminally ill people who might seek help ending their suffering, why was more money spent on promoting assisted suicide than any other issue in Montana?

Could it be that convincing an ill person to end their life early will help health insurance companies save a bundle on what would have been ongoing medical treatment? How much would the government gain if it stopped paying social security, Medicare, or Medicaid on thousands of people a few months early? How much financial relief would pension systems see? Why was the proposed law to legalize assisted suicide [SB 220] written so loosely? Would vulnerable old people be encouraged to end their life unnecessarily early by those seeking financial gain? 

When considering the financial aspects of assisted suicide, it is clear that millions, maybe billions of dollars, are intertwined with the issue being marketed as “Compassion and Choices”. Beware.

Public issues are not easy, and they are not always about money. But often times they are. If we want fair and functional government, we need to look deeper than most people are willing to look.. . .

* * *
Published as Communication from Your State Senator, "Beware of Vultures," by Montana State Senator Jennifer Fielder, Sanders County Ledger, http://www.scledger.net, page 2, 6-4-13. Senator Fielder lives in Thompson Falls MT, representing Montana State Senate District 7.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Maine House Says No to Physician-Assisted Suicide (95-43)

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/05/31/politics/maine-house-says-no-to-physician-assisted-suicide-law/print/
 
Posted May 31, 2013, at 3 p.m.
 
AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine House on Friday rejected a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to order lethal doses of medication from their doctors. The bill also would free doctors from legal liability for helping to end a consenting patient’s life.

House members voted 95-43 against the measure, which is sponsored by Rep. Joseph Brooks, an independent from Winterport. The bill next heads to the Senate.

Brooks’ bill, LD 1065, would allow a patient and his or her doctor to sign companion end-of-life care agreements. Those agreements would be signed after the two have discussed the patient’s medical condition and treatment options and the patient has rejected life-extending treatments and agreed to accept “care that is ordered or delivered by the physician that may hasten or bring about the patient’s death.”

The bill also would free doctors from criminal liability or the possibility of professional discipline for helping a consenting patient end his or her life.

The vote followed an emotional debate on the House floor in which lawmakers described their experiences caring for parents and friends as their lives ended.

Brooks said ill patients should be able to decide to end their lives when they can die in dignity.

“Dignity was important to this mill laborer,” he said of his father. “Had he been aware that he was lying in a hospital bed in the living room of his home not in control of anything, he would have probably said, ‘Please help me with this.’”

“How many of us have lost or seen others lose loved ones who linger painfully and unnecessarily for long periods?” asked Rep. Roberta Beavers, D-South Berwick. “We treat ill pets more humanely than we treat ill parents.”

But in letting doctors administer lethal doses of medication, the assisted-suicide bill would go too far, said Rep. Ann Dorney, D-Norridgewock. End-of-life care has changed for the better in recent years, said Dorney, a physician.

“We have very good end-of-life care. We have very good hospice care. We have very good palliative care,” she said. “I guess I’m not sure we need this bill.”

Dorney also worried about the prospect of a guardian who makes medical decisions for a patient making the decision to end that patient’s life.

Rep. Deborah Sanderson, R-Chelsea, said she wouldn’t want to rob a patient of a natural end to life.

“I sat with my mom the last five days of her life. I slept in a wheelchair by her bed,” Sanderson said. “The night before my mother passed, my mother said, ‘It’s not like what I thought it would be.’ She said, ‘It’s peaceful.’ And I was very glad to hear that.”

The Maine House’s rejection of the physician-assisted suicide legislation came more than a week after Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a similar measure into law in that state. Vermont’s law was the first in the nation to be approved through the legislative process.

Physician-assisted suicide measures on the books in Oregon and Washington passed through public votes.

In Maine, voters rejected a physician-assisted suicide ballot measure in 1990.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/05/31/politics/maine-house-says-no-to-physician-assisted-suicide-law/ printed on June 2, 2013