Showing posts with label Not Dead Yet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Not Dead Yet. Show all posts

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Boston Globe: “For Assistance in Dying, Please Press 1”

By Diane Coleman (pictured right) 

Liz Carr’s documentary, “Better Off Dead?”, continues making a difference, serving as a wake up call about the dangers assisted suicide laws pose for people with disabilities. A Boston Globe columnist noted this week:

The most chilling detail in “Better Off Dead?” a new BBC documentary by the English actress and comedian Liz Carr, is an automated telephone message. …

Thank you for calling. The Ontario Medical Assistance in Dying Care Coordination Service is designed to provide information about end of life options in Ontario and referrals for Medical Assistance in Dying. If you would like to speak with an adviser to access the service or get more information, please press 1.

Monday, June 3, 2024

New York Bar Association and Medical Society Ignore Dangers of Legalized Assisted Suicide

By Lisa Blumberg (author pictured here).

The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) adopted a resolution in 2023 that supports the provisions of the assisted suicide bill before the legislature. This position is based on a report by its Task Force on Medical Aid in Dying. The report is extensive but seems more of defense of assisted suicide rather than a balanced inquiry into the myriad issues raised by its legalization.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Actress and Activist Liz Carr Creates “Blistering” Documentary On Assisted Suicide

By Diane Coleman, Not Dead Yet.  Original publication 05/16/24.

Liz Carr’s newest groundbreaking documentary on assisted suicide is a in-depth exploration of the emotions and societal pressures that lie at the heart of disability opposition to a public policy that threatens ours lives. The Guardian called it “blistering.” Her gripping and personal narrative, a must-see tour-de-force is available HERE for now. ...

In 2013, Liz Carr created a two part BBC documentary called “When Assisted Suicide Is Legal” about what she called her Euthanasia Road Trip in Europe, Oregon and Washington State. NDY covered Part 1 and Part 2 with excerpts and commentary in our blog, and the audio documentary is still live online:

Friday, May 3, 2024

Not Dead Yet: New Rule Prohibits Discrimination in Suicide Prevention Services

By Diane Coleman (pictured here).

May 3, 2024

Last November, Not Dead Yet (NDY) filed a Public Comment on HHS/OCR Proposed Section 504 Healthcare Regulations. This week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced the finalization of the new regulation prohibiting disability discrimination in healthcare under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

While the primary focus of our public comment was the denial of life-sustaining healthcare treatment based on negative disability biases, we mentioned the issue of equality in suicide prevention as well, for example, here:

As HHS has indicated in its discussion of the proposed rule, biases about the impact disabilities have on “quality of life” are endemic among medical professionals. One manifestation of these discriminatory attitudes is the failure to treat suicidal depression in people with disabilities, including older individuals, although other people with suicide ideation are routinely offered suicide prevention services.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

A Short History of Assisted Suicide; Is Canadian Style Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia Coming to California?

By Diane Coleman 

A California State Senator, Catherine Blakespear, introduced a bill (SB 1196) earlier this month that resembles Canada’s law and, here in the U.S., reflects the broad agenda openly espoused by the Hemlock Society and Final Exit Network. The agenda of these organizations has long included eligibility for people with non-terminal conditions and disabilities.

When Not Dead Yet activists joined me in attending Jack “Dr. Death” Kevorkian’s trial in the late 1990s, Hemlock’s executive director Faye Girsh was there supporting him. Two thirds of his body count consisted of people with non-terminal disabilities. Girsh also advocated eligibility for people with cognitive disabilities and dementia, with or without consent. Leaders also advocated active euthanasia and “mercy killing.”

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Access Living’s Amber Smock Quoted Extensively In Chicago Tribune

By Diane Coleman [pictured here]

Three days ago, Amber Smock, Vice President of Advocacy at Access Living, was quoted extensively in a Chicago Tribune article about Illinois’ assisted suicide bill. Today, the editorial board of the Tribune took a position opposed to the bill.

The March 5th article, “Should Illinois become a ‘right-to-die’ state? Lawmakers consider end-of-life option for terminally ill adults,” covered both sides. Here is the segment giving Access Living’s perspective as a disability rights organization:

Yet some disability rights advocates warn that the measure could put vulnerable populations at risk, including seniors, disabled folks and people with mental health issues.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Anita Cameron: "My Mum Didn't Die"*

Good morning. I’m Anita Cameron, Director of Minority Outreach for Not Dead Yet, a national, grassroots disability organization opposed to medical discrimination, healthcare rationing, euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Assisted suicide laws are dangerous because though these laws are supposed to be for people with six months or less to live, doctors are often wrong about a terminal diagnosis. In 2009, while living in Washington state, my mother was determined to be at the end stage of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. I was told her death was imminent, that if I wanted to see her alive, I should get there in two days. She rallied, but was still quite ill, so she was placed in hospice. Her doctor said that her body had begun the process of dying.

Though she survived 6 months of hospice, her doctor convinced her that her body was still in the process of dying, and she moved home to Colorado to die.

My mum didn’t die. In fact, six weeks after returning to Colorado, she and I were arrested together in Washington, DC, fighting for disability justice. She became active in her community and lived almost 12 years!

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Terri Hancharick: Being Disabled Doesn’t Mean Death Is Better Than Life

https://notdeadyet.org/2023/09/terri-hancharick-being-disabled-doesnt-mean-death-is-better-than-life.html

Delaware’s Daily State News published an opinion piece by the Chair of the State Council for Persons with Disabilities who is also the parent of a person with developmental disabilities. In the article, Terri Hancharick stated in part:

Delaware’s assisted suicide bill is based on legislation in Oregon, where assisted suicide was first legalized. Data from Oregon provides insight into the top reasons that patients ask for assisted suicide. The top five reasons that people gave were the loss of autonomy, being unable to participate in activities that make life enjoyable, loss of dignity, loss of bodily functions and becoming a burden on family, friends and caregivers. These reasons are all disability-related. Contrary to popular belief, pain does not even make it into the top reasons people give to justify their application for assisted suicide.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Massachusetts: Assisted Suicide Bill Timing "Wrong"

To view full press release on Not Dead Yet, click here.                   


John Kelly
Second Thoughts Massachusetts issues the following statement in opposition to the favorable report given by the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health to Bill S. 2745, legislation that would legalize assisted suicide in Massachusetts.
Assisted suicide legislation sends a message of ‘better dead than disabled’ while completely immunizing doctors, heirs, and caregivers who can encourage or even engineer a person’s death without fear of prosecution,” said Second Thoughts Director John B. Kelly.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Diane Coleman's Letter to Members of the Victoria Legislative Council Opposing Assisted Suicide

Diane Coleman, JD
I am writing behalf of Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights group in the U.S. that opposes legalization of assisted suicide. We understand that a proposal in Victoria would pertain specifically to neuromuscular disabilities. This letter will focus on misdiagnosis and the uncertainty of terminal predictions by doctors, as well as the significance of breathing support for those of us with these conditions. My own experience illustrates the issues.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Worldwide Theater Protest: Melbourne Australia

http://thevine.com.au/entertainment/disability-activists-boycotting-hashtag-mebeforeeuthanasia/
While rom-com ‘Me Before You’ was only released in Australia today [06/15/16], it’s already receiving a growing amount of backlash. . . .
Activists . . .  argue the film promotes the notion that disabled lives are considered less valuable and that the film romanticises death. . . .
For more information about the worldwide theater protest, click here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Elderly Murder-Suicide: Should We Praise Old Men Who Kill Their Wives and Themselves?

"A man who murders his sick, innocent, helpless wife is no hero."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-marquardt/elderly-murder-suicide_b_1402935.html

By Elizabeth Marquardt
On Thursday, March 29, the bodies of Adrienne and Charles Snelling were found. Police believe Charles killed Adrienne -- her exact cause of death is still pending -- and then shot himself. Only last December, Charles Snelling published in the New York Times a poignant and widely-circulated piece about loving and caring for his wife with Alzheimer's disease. (Columnist David Brooks, whose query for life stories initiated Snelling's piece, wrote in his column yesterday about this case.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) Condemns Exclusion of Disabled People at NJ Hearing on Assisted Suicide Bill

http://www.notdeadyet.org/2014/12/autistic-self-advocacy-network-asan-condemns-exclusion-of-disabled-people-at-nj-hearing-on-assisted-suicide-bill.html

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network  (ASAN) has issued a statement condemning the exclusion of disabled people from testifying at yesterday’s (Dec.7) hearing on a proposed assisted suicide bill in front of the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee:
(Excerpt)
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is deeply concerned about the omission of disabled people and representatives from disability rights organizations at yesterday’s hearing. Given that more than half of the groups in the New Jersey coalition opposing the bill are disability rights organizations and centers for independent living, it is unconscionable that the committee deliberately excluded witnesses from the disability community. Even after our community submitted a formal request for inclusion among the witnesses, the committee declined to invite a disability community representative.

Read the entire statement here.

* * *

Margaret Dore, President of Choice is an Illusion, was also excluded despite multiple requests to participate.  So the proponents' deceptively named advocacy group,  Compassion & Choices, was allowed to present unopposed by its opposition counter-part, Choice is an Illusion.  To view a legal/policy memo opposing the proposed bill to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in New Jersey, please go here:  https://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/a-2270-3r-memo-12-02-14.pdf

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Attend the New Hampshire Victory Celebration Dinner!

Featured Speaker
John B. Kelly
Former New Hampshire State Representative, Nancy Elliott has organized a "Victory Celebration Dinner" to celebrate the overwhelming defeat of assisted suicide in New Hampshire. The dinner is sponsored by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

The dinner speaker will be John B. Kelly, New England Regional Director for Not Dead Yet.  

The dinner will also celebrate opposition to assisted suicide throughout New England and Quebec.  

Where:  Crowne Plaza Hotel, Nashua New Hampshire, USA
When:    Friday, May 30, 2014
Cost:     $35.00

Book a room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for $119 under the name "Euthanasia Prevention Coalition."  

Please make payments for the dinner to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Box 611309 Port Huron MI 48061-1309, or contact Alex Schadenberg at: 1-877-439-3348 or info@epcc.ca

Please consider a generous donation to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Not Dead Yet and other groups that were instrumental to defeating assisted suicide in New England and Quebec this year.

To donate to the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, click here.
To donate to Not Dead Yet, click here.

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.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Not Dead Yet: More on Double Euthanasia in Belgium


January 15, 2013 | posted by Stephen Drake

The 24+ hours since I posted on the double euthanasia of two deaf men in Belgium has resulted in some developments, varied reactions, and some reflection on my own part.  My apologies if this post seems a little scattered – a little like mental  multi-colored pasta thrown against the wall -  but sometimes that’s how my mind works.

First, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) issued a statement from Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the NFB:
“This disturbing news from Belgium is a stark example of the common, and in this case tragic, misunderstanding of disability and its consequences.  Adjustment to any disability is difficult, and deaf-blind people face their own particular challenges, but from at least the time of Helen Keller it has been known that these challenges can be met, and the technology and services available today have vastly improved prospects for the deaf-blind and others with disabilities.  That these men wanted to die is tragic; that the state sanctioned and aided their suicide is frightening.”
You can view the entire release and learn more about the NFB here.

At the same time, I’m sure that others have noticed that there are suicides getting a lot of coverage this week.  The Pentagon reports that deaths by suicide reached a record number in 2012, with more military deaths occurring due to suicide than from combat.  The suicide of programmer/activist/open source advocate Aaron Swartz – apparently overwhelmed by the double effects of depression and what is being called “overreaching” prosecution over his download of millions of journal articles.  He was faced with decades in prison and enormous fines.

Read through the comments on any of the countless articles covering these suicide stories and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone reacting like this:
  • “It’s their body, their choice.”
  • “When people decide they need to end it, they should be able to get help to do so.”
  • “It’s too bad they had to use violent means – animals can get euthanized; we treat animals better than humans.”
The lack of statements like those struck me because they’re common sentiments expressed in article “comments,” and interactions on Facebook when people react to “double euthanasia” of Marc and Eddy Verbessem, the identical twins whose deaths are still making news.

I think that we don’t see those comments in the cases of Aaron Swartz and the military because those people are valued.  I know that euthanasia proponents say that their movement is all about respecting individual choice, but why are the “choices” of  Marc and Eddy Verbessem “respected” while the suicides of military personnel and the suicide of Aaron Swartz are treated as preventable tragedies?  The answer, of course, is that euthanasia isn’t about “respect,” but agreeing that another person’s continued existence is pointless.

The animal comparisons always get me.  I’ve written before (with Dick Sobsey) about the myths surrounding the “kindness” of pet euthanasia.

What struck me this time was an even deeper disconnect.  Anyone who spends a lot of time on the internet knows that cats are probably the most popular thing in existence.  Some of the most popular pictures/videos of cats involve disabled cats – and dogs.  Right now, the most popular cat on the internet seems to be Oskar the Blind Cat:


If you look around, you’ll find stories of a deaf and blind dog rescued from euthanasia and a pet now for seven years and there’s even a story out there about a deaf/blind dog with three legs that rescued his family from a fire.

Oskar has lots of fans.  Stories like the ones about the dogs seem to make people just tear up and feel generally inspired.


But two deaf men losing their vision getting “put down”?  That evokes shrugs and even applause.

I don’t get it.  And I think I’m grateful I don’t. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Canada: What about the right to cry for help?

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/about+right+help/6907100/story.html
By Amy E. Hasbrouck

It has taken me a long time to read through the nearly 400 pages of the June 15 decision of the British Columbia Supreme Court on the issue of assisted suicide. I found reading it to be like a journey to a dark place, full of raw emotions.

The long and the short of the reasons for judgment issued by Justice Lynn Smith is that legal provisions in Canada prohibiting assisted suicide law are unconstitutional because they impede disabled people’s rights to life, liberty and security of the person.

The judge believes that having a disability or degenerative illness is a rational reason to want to die, and that those of us with disabilities should be helped to die if we can’t do it neatly or efficiently ourselves.

Justice Smith doesn’t appear to believe that people with disabilities and terminal illness are ever coerced, persuaded, bullied, tricked or otherwise induced to end our lives prematurely. She believes those researchers who contend there have been no problems in jurisdictions where assisted suicide is legal, and she rejects evidence suggesting there have been problems.
She writes: “It is unethical to refuse to relieve the suffering of a patient who requests and requires such relief, simply in order to protect other hypothetical patients from hypothetical harm.”

I’ll have to mention that to some of my hypothetical friends who say they have been pressured by doctors, nurses and social workers to hypothetically “pull the plug.”

The same goes for all those folks who succumbed to the pressure; I guess they’re only hypothetically dead.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Not Dead Yet: Minnesota Grand Jury Convening on Final Exit Network Member Charges

From Not Dead Yet:
http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/2012/05/minnesota-dakota-grand-jury-convening.html  


Right now, this latest story involving the Final Exit Network (FEN) is getting only local coverage, but it could become a national story, depending on the outcome.  From the story, by reporter Laura Adelmann:

Apple Valley woman may have killed herself using information from Final Exit Network


In a March 26 letter to a defense attorney, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom’s office stated it will convene a grand jury May 9-11 seeking an indictment to prosecute right-to-die advocates for their role in an Apple Valley woman’s May 30, 2007 suicide.
Doreen Nan (Gunderson) Dunn, then 57, suffered years of intense chronic pain and depression when she killed herself using a hood and helium gas, according to Robert Rivas, attorney for the Final Exit Network, a national nonprofit organization accused of assisting suicides and named in the investigation.
Before taking her life, Dunn had paid a $50 membership fee to Final Exit Network, according to a March 20 search warrant issued by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation detailing evidence forwarded to the Dakota County Attorney’s Office and obtained by Sun Thisweek.

The warrant cites phone records, documents, airline tickets and car rental contracts as evidence Dunn had contact with some Final Exit members months before taking her life and on the day she died.
Final Exit members named in the investigation are Thomas “Ted” Goodwin, former president of Final Exit Network; Roberta Massey, a Final Exit “case coordinator;” Jerry Dincin, then-Final Exit Network president; and Dr. Lawrence Egbert, Final Exit medical director who Newsweek dubbed “The New Doctor Death.”
Charges the grand jury will be asked to consider are aiding suicide, conspiracy to commit the crime of aiding suicide and interference with a dead body, according to the search warrant.
Those names should look familiar.  Goodwin and Egbert were both involved in the suicide of John Celmer, a man in Georgia who committed suicide after successful cancer treatment left him distressed about his appearance after surgery.  Massey and Egbert were defendants in the case involving Jana Van Voorhis, a woman with no serious physical problems but who had a long history of emotional and psychological issues.

The reporter is pretty careful in most cases in this story to qualify statements about FEN practices with wording such as "the website states."

That's important because not all of what the FEN website claims is true. Take this, for example, from the latest article:

A Final Exit Medical Committee reviews information, and if approved, an “Exit Guide” is assigned who provides detailed information how a person may purchase equipment and take steps to end their own life, according to the website.

“The Network never supplies equipment,” the website states.
That right there - about FEN never supplying equipment.  It's not true.  How do we know?  The overly-modest and zealous Dr. Larry Egbert told us so, in an interview that appeared in the Washington Post in January:

Egbert tells me that years ago he asked someone who was about to “exit” if he could reuse the hood to save future patients the cost of buying a new one. The patient was delighted with the idea, Egbert says. He started asking everyone.

The hood in my bare hands feels slightly slick. So, this one, the one I’m holding, has been used to end someone’s life? I ask. Egbert tells me it has surely been used at least once, and maybe several times, and the same could be said for most of the other 17 hoods in the garbage bag. 
So, Egbert, by his own admission, has provided equipment on a regular basis in his work as an 'exit guide.'  That might seem like a minor point to some in and of itself, but the fact is, there is no way for us - the public - to verify any claim FEN makes.  It's only when someone like Egbert gets to talking and bragging we get to hear some facts that depart from the established script.

We don't know who else has supplied equipment to 'clients.'  We don't know how many FEN members 'pushed' so-called 'clients' with second thoughts to get on with it, not wanting their valuable times wasted.  We don't know how if any of the FEN members have held down the hands of a person trying desperately to tear the bag off.

We don't know.  And even Robert Rivas (FEN atty.) and Jerry Dincin cannot swear that they know the parameters of what has gone on in each and every so-called 'peaceful exit.'  They weren't there and they don't know.  When they try to tell us that everyone is behaving responsibly, remind them that Egbert already revealed one lie about their practices and we're not inclined to believe any other unverified claims they make.  --Stephen Drake

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Massachusetts Assisted-Suicide Initiative Fact Check: The Baloney Meter is Running High

Margaret Dore, Esq.
March 1, 2012
 
1.  Legalization will Empower the Government

Proponents claim that legalizing assisted suicide will keep the government out of people's lives.  The opposite is true.

Fact check:  In Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal, legalization has allowed the Oregon Health Plan, a government entity, to steer people to suicide.  The most well known cases involve Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup.  Each wanted treatment.  The Plan denied coverage and steered them to suicide by offering to cover the cost of their suicides instead.  See  See Susan Donaldson James, "Death Drugs Cause Uproar in Oregon," ABC News, August 6, 2008; and "Letter noting assisted suicide raises questions," KATU TV, July 30, 2008.


2.  The Initiative Allows Someone Else to Administer the Lethal Dose

Proponents claim that only the patient may administer the lethal dose.  This is not true.

Fact check:  The initiative (H.3884) states that patients "may" self-administer the lethal dose. There is no language stating that administration “must” be by self-administration.  "Self-administer" is also a specially defined term that allows someone else to administer the lethal dose to the patient.  See here.

3.  An Heir is Allowed to Witness the Lethal Dose Request

Proponents claim that the lethal dose request form must be "independently witnessed" by two people.  This is not true. 

Fact check:  The initiative, Sections 3 and 21, provides that one of two witnesses on the lethal dose request form cannot be a patient’s heir or other person who will benefit financially from the patient's death; the other witness can be an heir or other person who will benefit financially from the death.


4.  Substantial Compliance

Proponents claim that the initiative has "strict safeguards" to protect patients.  The initiative, however, only requires "substantial compliance" with its provisions.  Section 18(1)(a) states:  "A person who substantially complies in good faith with provisions of this chapter shall be deemed to be in compliance with this chapter." 

5.  Assisted Suicide is a Recipe for Elder Abuse

Proponents claim that the initiative is safe, which is not true.

Fact check: The initiative does not require witnesses at the death.  Without disinterested witnesses, the opportunity is created for an heir, or someone else who will benefit financially from the death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without the patient's consent.  Even if he struggled, who would know?  

6.  Patients are not Necessarily Dying

Proponents imply that the initiative only applies to people in their "final days."  This is untrue.

Fact check:  See 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?," Seattle Weekly, January 14, 2009; and Jeanette Hall, "She pushed for legal right to die, and - thankfully - was rebuffed," Boston Globe, October 4, 2011.
 
7.  Assisted Suicide is a Wedge Issue

Proponents deny that assisted suicide is a "wedge issue" to legalize direct euthanasia of non-terminal people.

Fact check:  In Washington state, where assisted suicide has been legal since 2009, there has been a proposal to expand Washington's law to direct euthanasia for non-terminal people.  See Brian Faller, "
Perhaps it's time to expand Washington's Death with Dignity Act," The Olympian, November 16, 2011.

8.  Legal Assisted Suicide Threatens People with Disabilities 

Proponents claim that people with disabilities are not at risk from legalization of assisted suicide, which is untrue.

Fact check:  Disability rights groups such as Not Dead Yet oppose assisted suicide as a threat to their lives.  In Oregon and Washington, official government forms for assisted suicide acts in those states promote disability as a reason to commit suicide.[1]  People with disabilities are thereby devalued.  In 2009, there was a proposed assisted suicide bill in New Hampshire that squarely applied to people with disabilities.[2]  If the initiative were to be passed now, people with disabilities see themselves as potentially next in line under a future expansion of that law.  As noted above, there has already been a proposal in Washington state to expand its law to direct euthanasia for non-terminal people. 

* * * 

[1]  See e.g. "Oregon Death with Dignity Act Attending Physician Follow-up Form," question 15, providing seven suggested answers as to why there was a lethal dose request.  Some of the answers are written in terms of disability being an acceptable reason to kill yourself.  These answers include:  "[A] concern about . . . the loss of control of bodily functions."
[2]  Stephen Drake and Not Dead Yet, "New Hampshire Poised to Redefine "Terminally Ill" - to PWDs and others for Assisted Suicide Eligibility," January 30, 2009 (regarding New Hampshire's 2009 assisted suicide bill, HB 304, which applied to people with disabilities, people with HIV/AIDS and other non-dying people).

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Not Dead Yet on Final Exit Network & Hospice

http://notdeadyetnewscommentary.blogspot.com/2012/01/georgia-response-letters-to-op-ed-by.html

Georgia:  Response Letters to op-ed by Final Exit Network (FEN) President Wendell Stephenson

On January 7, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an op-ed by Wendell Stephenson, current president of the Final Exit Network (FEN).  "Ensuring death with dignity" is no longer freely available at the AJC site, but the same essay was published in December last year in the Metrowest Daily News and can still be read here.

It's the usual conflation of terminal illness with chronic illness, sensationalist language describing FEN members and supporters as victims of oppression, etc.  This blog will probably be revisiting Stephenson's piece in the near future.

In the meantime, his op-ed drew some strong reactions that were published in the letters section of the AJC on January 15.  There were three letters - the first one agreeing with Stephenson and the following letters  disagreeing with him.  The letters can all
be found on this page.

The first of the two taking issue with Stephenson and his op-ed was written by
Eleanor Smith, a long-time disability rights leader and activist who is the founder of Concrete Change, an international network whose goal is to make all new homes visitable.  Her letter:
Right-to-die argument blurs a key distinction

“Ensuring death with dignity” (Opinion, Jan. 7) blurs the distinction between the freedom to end one’s own life, which cannot be denied, and the freedom to have others end one’s life, which endangers the lives of people less valued by society.

The elderly couple referred to in this column chose to inform their assisted-living facility of their intention to starve themselves to death (which the administration, unsurprisingly, could not support). They could have chosen instead to check out of the institution for a short stay with their children. I suspect organizational (rather than personal) advice led to this public confrontation.

Older and/or disabled people can be expensive to support. It is reprehensible to select them as the population encouraged to die before their time — rather than supporting them to live and making them feel welcome in the world.


Eleanor Smith, Decatur
The next letter was from Jennifer Hale, executive director, the Georgia Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.  Her letter:


Final Exit leader’s essay ‘inherently misleading’

The piece by Wendell Stephenson of the Final Exit Network attempting to link the philosophy of hastened death and assisted suicide — or, as he terms it, “self-deliverance” — with the ideals of dignity at the end of life provided through state-licensed and federally certified hospice care providers is absolutely wrong, inherently misleading and seems mildly predatory from my perspective (“Ensuring death with dignity,” Opinion, Jan. 7).

At the Georgia Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, it is our mission to provide education, information and advocacy to the public and to providers of end-of-life care to raise awareness of the options available to every person and improve on the quality of that care. Nowhere on the Final Exit Network’s website could I find where there was any support for families.

The couple mentioned in this piece made a decision about how they wished to spend the end of their lives. Hospice did not help them make this decision and did not help them carry it out. Hospice helped them return to their family’s residence and provided them with physical and emotional support and ongoing bereavement care for the family.


Jennifer Hale, executive director, the Georgia Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
Hale's letter opens with a strong and harsh assessment of both Stephenson and the Final Exit Network.

It's too bad that her concluding words contain a glaring contradiction of her claim that hospice played no role in helping the couple in question "carry out" their death through starvation and dehydration.  When she says that hospice gave the couple "physical and emotional support," that means they facilitated the process - at least to the extent that they made the couple as comfortable as possible and as free from the more unpleasant sensations of starvation and dehydration as they could manage.  That is a lot of help.  Similarly, I have concerns that "ongoing bereavement care for the family" means helping everyone in the family feel OK with themselves for their own sanction and support of the couple's long suicide through starvation and dehydration.  That, too, is a lot of help.

Maybe Ms. Hale could take a second stab at clarifying what hospice is and is not.  Because this last couple of sentences didn't help me at all.  --Stephen Drake