Sunday, December 30, 2012

Assisted Suicide's Dangerous Illusion of Control

http://www.calgaryherald.com/opinion/columnists/Johnston+Assisted+suicide+dangerous+illusion+control/7716999/story.html

By Will Johnston, MD

The daughters are beside themselves. One sat in my office recently, telling me about her father’s trips to the bank that are draining his savings. He gets angry when his daughters challenge him.

The money — thousands of dollars, slowly saved from a meagre pension and needed for his care — seems to be going to a recently acquired girlfriend some years younger than himself. He speaks almost no English. The situation was detected by chance when a daughter gave him a ride to the bank and saw his bank book.

Some time ago, I performed a competency assessment on a socially isolated older person who had been placed in a nursing home. An unrelated neighbour had listed the person’s home for sale and was receiving inquiries before a relative became aware.

On another occasion, an older woman had adequate resources to stay in her attractive home and employ a live-in caregiver. A family member, an heir and beneficiary, arranged to have her met at her door by an ambulance crew with a gurney. She was told that if she did not co-operate, the police would be called. She submitted and was transported to a dingy nursing home that she described as a prison. Her home was sold.

A colleague recalls being on duty in an emergency room several years ago when an older bachelor came in desperately ill and confused, accompanied by his niece and nephew.

“He’s had a good life. He wouldn’t want any treatment,” his only relatives (and presumably heirs) attested. With ordinary care and rehydration, the older man walked out of hospital a week later.

Each of these scenarios is different, and none of them grace a research paper, but all of them are the real face of elder abuse. I could list 10 more from my own experience. Government of Canada policy recognizes the epidemic of elder abuse and the unusual difficulty of detecting it, often because the victim resists the revelation of abuse.

I routinely see people induced to do things and accept arrangements that are contrary to their own interests. People can be surprisingly naive.

High profile assisted suicide cases might at first seem to be about another kind of person, a sophisticated and clear-minded sort, immune to undue influence. I suggest that this presumption is also naive.

We all take our cues from those around us. It only takes a few words to promote suicide. If the law is changed, an obligation to mention the legal fact of assisted suicide will be created. Some patients will experience even the most perfunctory acknowledgment of assisted suicide as an inducement to it.
If state-sanctioned suicide becomes part of the atmosphere in our hospitals, a presumption in that direction will be created. I predict the same erosion of medical diligence that many of us on the front lines have already watched happen when caregivers choose to see a patient as having finished all useful life. How much more will this be the case when the patient’s present fear and loss of hope feed smoothly into an official assisted-suicide regime?

Some people would throw away months or years of life, and some would miss good medical care or medical advances they would have wanted to enjoy.

Consider the case of Jeanette Hall, who wanted to use Oregon’s assisted suicide law and is grateful, 12 years later, that her doctor directed her toward treatment rather than suicide.
One of Dr. Ken Stevens’ Oregonian patients was not so lucky — part way into his cancer treatment, he became despondent and was given suicide pills by another doctor.

I know someone, happy to be alive, who had alarming symptoms and a clear diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease more than a decade ago. The symptoms inexplicably resolved. Huntington’s disease, a factor in a recent high-profile suicide in Toronto, moved closer to a treatment recently in a stem cell experiment.

If a legal assisted suicide offer is always dangling, variations in the competence and diligence of doctors create arbitrary forces that move choice and control to others, not the patient.

When you or your loved one goes to the hospital, you need to be able to trust that an assisted-suicide-minded doctor or nurse will not be steering you or them toward death. People can be offered the illusion of control and autonomy when the choices are really being shaped by others.

When empowered medical personnel — and right-to-die activists — choose their own opinions about your quality of life, and have been given constitutional protection to counsel, facilitate and steer you toward suicide, you and your loved ones will not be safe.

The choices created by legal assisted suicide may end up being someone else’s, not yours. The speculative legal changes being offered are dangerous and irresponsible. Parliament rejected them firmly two years ago. We will all be safer if our courts do the same.

Dr. Will Johnston is chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of BC
Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/Johnston+Assisted+suicide+dangerous+illusion+control/7716999/story.html#ixzz2GZkbdvWG

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Assisted suicide opens the door to grave abuses of elderly

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1287933--assisted-suicide-opens-the-door-to-grave-abuses-of-elderly

Derek Miedema, November 14, 2012

Canadians can watch disturbing videos on a government website warning about elder abuse — an elderly man is pushed to move faster, an adult child steals money from a grandmother’s wallet. 

However, just as some still turn a blind eye to the fact that elder abuse is happening, proponents of assisted suicide refuse to connect the dots between legalized assisted suicide and the potential for serious abuse.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Assisted suicide too risky, allowing it demeans value of life, federal gov't says

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Assisted+suicide+risky+allowing+demeans+value+life+federal+says/7447066/story.html

The Canadian Press October 25, 2012 12:30 PM
 
VANCOUVER - The federal government says allowing doctor-assisted suicide demeans the value of life and puts vulnerable people at risk in moments of weakness.

Ottawa has filed its arguments in an appeal of a B.C. decision that struck down the prohibition on doctor-assisted suicide, arguing the trial judge was wrong to conclude the law is unconstitutional.

In documents filed with the B.C. Court of Appeal, the government says the law reflects a reasonable belief that allowing assisted suicide would put vulnerable people at risk of being coerced or even forced to end their lives.

The government says the law reflects Parliament's desire to discourage and prevent suicide in all cases, and it should be up to lawmakers, not the courts, to decide if that needs to change.

Ottawa argues the Supreme Court of Canada's 1993 decision upholding the law in a case involving Sue Rodriguez was final.

The B.C. case was launched by several plaintiffs, including Gloria Taylor, who won a constitutional exemption from the law but died earlier this month without resorting to assisted suicide.
Read more:
http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Assisted+suicide+risky+allowing+demeans+value+life+federal+says/7447066/story.html#ixzz2AM32CGOR

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Legal Assisted Suicide Can Cause Anguish

By Margaret Dore

I am a lawyer in Washington State USA where assisted suicide is legal.  I am also President of Choice is an Illusion, a nonprofit corporation opposed to assisted suicide.

In 2011, a study was released in Switzerland where assisted-suicide is legal.  The study found that approximately 1 out of 5 family members or friends who were present at an assisted suicide were traumatized.  They "experienced full or sub-sthreshold [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] related to the loss of a close person through assisted suicide."[1]

This is consistent with what I have observed with clients whose parents have participated in the Washington/Oregon death with dignity acts.  With one client, the doctor had suggested assisted-suicide to the parent.  After that, one branch of the family wanted the parent to use the lethal dose, while the other did not.  The parent spent much of his final days struggling over whether or not to kill himself.  This was instead of making the best of the time that he had left.  My client was also traumatized.  In that case, the parent died a natural death.

With another case, it's unclear that the assisted-suicide death was voluntary.  My client lives with that memory.


Legal assisted suicide is sold as a peaceful and loving death.  It may be anything but.

* * *

[1] B. Wagner, J. Muller, A. Maercker, "Death by request in Switzerland: Posttraumatic stress disorder and complicated grief after witnessing assisted suicide," European Psychiatry 27 (2012) 542-546, available at http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/family-members-traumatized-eur-psych-2012.pdf

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Study: Assisted suicide helpers distressed

http://worldradio.ch/wrs/news/wrsnews/study-assisted-suicide-helpers-distressed.shtml?32735

Thursday, October 4, 2012

One in four people who accompany someone to commit assisted suicide suffer massive psychological distress, according to a new study by the University of Zurich.

Researchers at the university spoke to 85 people who went with a family member or close friend to an EXIT euthanasia clinic.

A quarter suffered from post traumatic stress disorder while 16 percent had depression. Five percent were found to have long-term grief.

The interviews were carried out one to two years after the assisted death of loved ones.

The results state that problems can surface 14 to 24 months later and that a death not from natural causes was a heavy burden for those who supported the deceased.

Although the research didn’t include a direct comparison with the effects of a natural death on a loved one, the study was compared to others.

This showed the researchers that post traumatic stress disorder was more common for people close to an assisted suicide case rather than a natural death.

The results have been published in the October issue of the journal European Psychiatry.

Abbotsford man convicted of manslaughter now accused of steering woman to suicide

http://www.abbotsfordtimes.com/news/Abbotsford+convicted+manslaughter+accused+steering+woman+suicide/7328032/story.html
By Rochelle Baker, Abbotsford Times October 2, 2012 

Abbotsford resident Kenneth Carr, formerly convicted in manslaughter in the death of a teenage girl who was found naked and strangled along train tracks in 1997, has been charged with counselling a person to commit suicide.

An Abbotsford man formerly convicted of manslaughter in the death of a teenage girl is now charged with counselling a person to commit suicide.

Kenneth William Carr, 53, was charged after a woman in her 40s with a history of depression showed up with a relative at the Abbotsford Police station on Thursday with ligature marks around her neck, said Const. Ian MacDonald.

"The family member observed the injuries on the woman's neck, and the victim told her a relatively new acquaintance had given her advice on how to commit suicide," said MacDonald.

"Bear in mind, this a woman who suffers from depression."

As part of the ensuing investigation, a search warrant was executed at Carr's home. Evidence gathered there suggests this may not have been the only time the offender has allegedly engaged in counselling or abetting a suicide, said MacDonald.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Leblanc case: Oregon Health Plan Steers Patients to Suicide

Yesterday, the Canadian Department of Justice filed evidence in Leblanc v. Canada, including the affidavit of Oregon doctor Ken Stevens.  Therein, Dr. Stevens talks about his patient, Jeanette Hall.  He also describes how with legal assisted suicide, the Oregon Health Plan steers patients to suicide.  His affidavit concludes:

"The Oregon Health Plan is a government health plan administered by the State of Oregon. If assisted suicide is legalized in Canada, your government health plan could follow a similar pattern. If so, the plan will pay for a patient to die, but not to live."


Please find the full text of his affidavit below.  To view a hard copy of his affidavit with supporting documentation, click here

Thursday, August 16, 2012

UK: Legal Challenge to Euthanasia Law Rejected


Below is a media release from the Judiciary of England and Wales regarding today's decision to reject a legal challenge to a legal prohibition on euthanasia.  "[A]ny change to the law must be a matter for Parliament to decide."  To read the original print version, click here.


Tony Nicklinson v Ministry of Justice
AM v Director of Public Prosecutions and others
High Court (Administrative Court)
16 August 2012

SUMMARY TO ASSIST THE MEDIA

The High Court (Lord Justice Toulson, Mr Justice Royce and Mrs Justice Macur) has today rejected challenges to the legal ban on voluntary euthanasia, and to the policy of the Director of Public Prosecutions in cases of assisted dying, brought by two men suffering from “locked in syndrome”.

The Court recognised that the cases raise profoundly difficult ethical, social and legal issues, but it judged that any change to the law must be a matter for Parliament to decide.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Oregon & Washington: Users of Assisted Suicide are Seniors with Money

By Margaret Dore, Esq.
Updated August 14, 2012
Originally published on
 Mass Against Assisted Suicide

This week, a New York Times article expressed "surprise" regarding the users of assisted suicide:  "They are overwhelmingly white, well educated and financially comfortable."[1]  They are also age 65 and older.[2]  In other words, users are older people with money, which would be the middle class and above, a group disproportionately at risk of financial abuse.[3]

The Oregon and Washington assisted suicide acts, and the similar Massachusetts proposal, do not protect users from this abuse. Indeed, the terms of these acts encourage financial abuse.  These acts allow heirs and other persons who will benefit from an elder's death to actively participate in the lethal dose request.[4]  There is also no oversight when the lethal dose is administered, not even a witness is required.[5]  This creates the opportunity for an heir, or someone else who will benefit from the person's death, to administer the lethal dose to that person without his consent.  Even if he struggled, who would know?


Under the Washington act and the Massachusetts' proposal, the death certificate is required to reflect a natural death.[6]  In Oregon, a natural death is listed by custom.[7]  A concerned nephew, learning that his aunt has suddenly died and that she had a new will favoring a ne'er do will son, will thereby be mislead as to what actually happened.

This does not mean that all deaths under the Oregon and Washington acts are  abusive or without consent.  What it means is that these laws, and the similar Massachusetts proposal, invite abuse and have a distinct lack of transparency.  In Oregon, not even law enforcement is allowed to access state-collected information about these deaths.[8]  Even if the person struggled, who would know?

In the New York Times article, a description of the patient's wife indicates her discomfort with her husband's decision:  "[S]he does not want the pills in the house, and he agrees.  'It just feels so negative," she said."[9]

For more information about specific problems with the Massachusetts' proposal, click here and here.  For a "fact check" on the proposal, click here.

* * *

[1]  Katie Hafner, "In Ill Doctor, a Surprise Reflection of Who Picks Assisted Suicide," New York Times, August 11, 2012.
[2]  See e.g., the most current official report from Oregon, "Oregon Death with Dignity Act--2011" ("Of the 71 DWDA deaths during 2011, most (69.0%) were aged 65 years or older; the median age was 70 years"), available athttp://public.health.oregon.gov/ProviderPartnerResources/EvaluationResearch/DeathwithDignityAct/Documents/year14.pdf
[3]  The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse, "Crimes of Occasion, Desperation, and Predation Against America's Elders," June 2011 (a follow up to MetLife's 2009 "Broken Trust: Elders, Family, and Finances"), available athttp://www.metlife.com/assets/cao/mmi/publications/studies/2011/mmi-elder-financial-abuse.pdf
.
[4]  See Memo to Joint Judiciary Committee (regarding Bill H.3884, now ballot measure No. 2), Section III.A.2. ("Someone else is allowed to speak for the patient") and 
and Section II.C. ("One of the [two] witnesses [on the lethal dose request form] is allowed to be an heir who will benefit financially from the patient's death"), available at http://www.massagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/memo-to-joint-judiciary-committee.html
[5]  See above memo at Section III.A.1("No witnesses at the death").  See also entire proposed Massachusetts Act at http://choiceisanillusion.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/ma-initiative.pdf
[6]  See proposed Massachusetts Act at Section 4 (2) ("The attending physician may sign the patient's death certificate which shall list the underlying terminal disease as the cause of death").  Washington's act, RCW 70.245.040(2) has this same language. 
[7]  See e.g., Charles Bentz, "Oregon Doctor's Letter to Massachusetts Medical Society," posted November 28, 2011 ("His death certificate listed the cause of death as melanoma.  The public record is not accurate. My depressed patient did not die from his cancer, but at the hands of a once-trusted colleague."), available at http://www.massagainstassistedsuicide.org/2011/11/oregon-doctors-letter-to-massachusetts.html#more 
[8]  See E-mail from Alicia A. Parker, Mortality Research Analyst, Center for Health Statistics, Oregon Health Authority, January 4, 2012 ("We have been contacted by law enforcement and legal representatives in the past, but
have not provided identfying information of any type"), available at http://epcdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/alicia-a-parker.pdf
[9]  Katie Hafer, above at note 1.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Suicide Predator Conviction Upheld!

Regarding Canadian Nadia Kajouji of Brampton, Ontario.


http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2012/07/17/news/melchert-dinkel-aiding-suicide-conviction/

Appeals Court upholds nurse's aiding suicide conviction

by Amy Forliti, Associated Press 

July 17, 2012

[To for more information, charging document click here]
[To link to Nadia's Light, click here]

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed the convictions of a former nurse who scanned online chat rooms for suicidal people then, feigning compassion, gave a British man and a young woman in Canada instructions on how to kill themselves. 



William Melchert-Dinkel, 49, of Faribault, acknowledged that what he did was morally wrong but argued he had merely exercised his right to free speech and that the Minnesota law used to convict him in 2011 of aiding suicide was unconstitutional. 

The appeals court disagreed, saying the First Amendment does not bar the state from prosecuting someone for "instructing (suicidal people on) how to kill themselves and coaxing them to do so." 

Melchert-Dinkel's attorney, Terry Watkins, was not immediately available for comment. 

Court documents show Melchert-Dinkel searched online for depressed people then, posing as a female nurse, offered step-by-step instructions on how they could kill themselves. 

Melchert-Dinkel was convicted last year of two counts of aiding suicide in the deaths of 32-year-old Mark Drybrough, of Coventry, England, who hanged himself in 2005; and 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji, of Brampton, Ontario, who jumped into a frozen river in 2008. 

He was sentenced to more than six years in prison but the terms of his parole meant he would only be imprisoned for about a year. His sentence was postponed pending his appeal, but at the time of sentencing, he was told that if his convictions were upheld, he'd have seven days to report to jail. 

In arguing to overturn the conviction, Watkins said his client didn't talk anyone into suicide but instead offered emotional support to two people who had already decided to take their lives. 

Assistant Rice County Attorney Benjamin Bejar had argued that Melchert-Dinkel wasn't advocating suicide in general, but had a targeted plan to lure people to kill themselves. Prosecutors have said he convinced his victims to do something they might not have done without him. 

Bejar said Tuesday that prosecutors were pleased with the decision. 

In a statement read at his sentencing last year, Melchert-Dinkel said he was sorry for his role in the suicides and that he realized he had rejected a unique opportunity to talk his victims out of killing themselves. 

Melchert-Dinkel's nursing license was revoked in 2009

Monday, July 9, 2012

How about the right to cry for help? Court ruling asserting a person’s right to assisted suicide reflects discriminatory attitudes toward the disabled

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/about+right+help/6907100/story.html

By Amy E. Hasbrouck, Chair of Not Dead Yet

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.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The National Post: "The Wrong Decision on Assisted Suicide"

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/06/18/will-johnston-the-wrong-decision-on-assisted-suicide/


On June 15, the British Columbia Supreme Court rendered a controversial judgment in the case of Carter vs. Canada, one that purports to create constitutional immunity for those who provide assistance to those seeking to kill themselves — a judgment that stands at odds with the Supreme Court of Canada’s Rodriguez ruling in 1993. The only saving grace is that doctors will not be scribbling lethal prescriptions any day soon: Current law will stand for at least a year (the sole exception being the plaintiff in this case, 64-year-old ALS patient Gloria Taylor). Let us hope that a higher court restores sanity to the issue before this 12-month period expires.

Friday, June 29, 2012

"Especially if older people have money or real estate, our laws against assisted suicide are there to protect them"



Editor, the Times:

Assisted suicide should not be legal because older people are at great risk for abuse. In my experience as a licensed practical nurse working with older people in home care, I have come across many concerning situations.  I have seen firsthand a family fighting over the will of their parents while they are still alive.

I see that this greatly affects the way the parent feels as they grow older.  They feel as if the family wants them to die so they can have their money.  Some express the pain that they feel when they see loved ones discussing their money as if they have already passed away.

If assisted suicide was legal, some older people would feel the need to say yes - to die - because they are given the message that they are a burden to their family. Some of these older people can be easily convinced and put their trust fully in their caregivers and families.

If assisted suicide were legal, then some would really not make the decision, but let someone else make the decision for them. How is this right?  

Especially if older people have money or real estate, our laws against assisted suicide are there to protect them.

Changing the law to allow assisted suicide would violate their right to be protected in this way.

Arlena Vane Aldergrove

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Right-to-die ruling leaves big questions

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/Right+ruling+leaves+questions/6832650/story.html


By Iain Hunter, Times Colonist June 24, 2012
I wish those campaigning for my right to end my life when it becomes unbearable would show a little more restraint than they've shown recently.
Dying with Dignity has called the June 15 decision of B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith, that the law against physician-aided death is unconstitutional, a "stunning victory."


I think the right-to-die movement isn't served by this kind of talk. If this is a war, I don't know who the enemy is.


I don't believe that those in our society who think that life, even when sadly depleted, has great value, or our legislators, who have decreed that euthanasia is a crime, set out to tyrannize or brutalize anyone. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Outrage Over the Carter Case

Canada will be known as the country where a Provincial Judge has more power than the Federal Government. "

* * *
Dear Ms. Kerry-Lynne Findlay MP,

I am angry and upset about Justice Lynn Smith's decision in the Carter case, giving Gloria Taylor the "right" to assisted suicide/euthanasia. 

This erroneous and presumptuous decision by Justice Smith is a guarantee of elder abuse unto death. We already have a problem with elder abuse in Canada. I witnessed this firsthand with my mother, when, after a mild stroke, the relative holding power of attorney decided my mother would have no treatment. I sat by my mother's bedside in a Nova Scotia nursing home, unable to do anything except hold her hand while she suffered for six days, before finally succumbing to dehydration and starvation. If Justice Smith's decision is allowed to stand, there will be no need for inconvenienced or greedy relatives to wait for even this questionable medical procedure of withholding treatment.

It appears that Justice Smith holds herself above the Government of Canada. She has given our elected representatives, such as yourself, a year to comply with her decision to allow people to "help" kill other Canadians. This is the right to commit homicide. The Federal Government of Canada decided many years ago that Canada would not kill convicted murderers, even if they want to die, but now Justice Smith had deemed that we can kill other people who allegedly ask to be killed. 

MP Findlay, the "right" to kill someone is not a decision for a Provincial Court Justice to make. If Justice Smith's decision is upheld, Canada will be a place of supreme irony. We will have the distinction of protecting the lives of convicted murders, while allowing our vulnerable elders and others to be subject to human error or deliberate murder. We will also be, I believe, unique as a nation: Canada will be known as the country where a Provincial Judge has more power than the Federal Government. 

I look forward to your response on this matter.

Thank you.

Yours truly,

Kate Kelly, B.A., B. Ed.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Carter Opinion: Unclear Legal Effect; Invalid Reasoning

By Margaret Dore

On June 15, 2012, Justice Lynn Smith of the BC Supreme Court issued an opinion purporting to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada.[1] As discussed below, the legal effect of this opinion is unclear. The reasoning is also invalid. 

A.  Legal Effect 

The opinion was the result of a summary trial in which both the Attorney General of Canada and the Attorney General of British Columbia argued that the court had no power to do anything other than dismiss the case. This was due to the Supreme Court of Canada's prior decision on similar facts (the Rodriguez case). The opinion states:

"They [Canada and British Columbia] say that it is not open to this Court to do anything other than dismiss the plaintiffs' claim."[2]

If Canada and British Columbia are correct, the opinion is nothing more than an advisory document. Unless and until this point is resolved any person participating in a death under the opinion will remain at risk of criminal prosecution, civil lawsuits and/or professional discipline.

B.  Invalid Reasoning

The opinion is also written in double-speak, which means to say one thing and to mean another, sometimes the opposite.  Most centrally, the opinion bases the plaintiff's "right to die" on her "right to life" in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[3] These are opposite concepts.[4] 

The opinion also argues that because Canadian law does not prohibit suicide as a crime, that committing suicide is a right.[5] This claim ignores other Canadian law  discouraging suicide. Indeed, a suicidal person can be committed against his or her will in order to prevent a suicide.[6] With suicide actively discouraged under the law, it cannot be said that the law somehow grants a right to commit suicide. Once again, the opinion's logic is flawed.

* * *

[1]  To view the opinion, click here.
[2]  Opinion, page 251, paragraph 891.
[3]  Id., pages 365-8.
[4]  See e.g., the opinion at 366, paragraph 1314, which states: "Canada argues that the right to life does not include the right to choose death.  [Canada] submits that such an interpretation would directly contradict the plain and obvious meaning of a right to life and would mark a significant departure from existing Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence."
[5]  See e.g., the opinion at 10, paragraph 15: "The claim that the legislation infringes Ms. Taylor's equality rights begins with the fact that the law does not prohibit suicide. However, persons who are physically disabled such that they cannot commit suicide without help are denied that option because s. 241(b) prohibits assisted suicide."
[6]  See BC Mental Health Act, Part 3, Section 22 (allowing involuntary admissions "to prevent the person's or patient's substantial mental or physical deterioration or for the protection of the person or patient or the protection of others").

Monday, June 11, 2012

From Afghanistan to Activist Against Assisted Suicide: "These are things worth fighting for"

By John Coppard 

To view the original publication in Brain Tumour Magazine, click here.  To learn more about Brain Tumour Magazine, click here.

It was early summer 2009 and I was on my second “tour” in Kabul, Afghanistan, this time as NATO’s civilian spokesman.  I was responsible for representing NATO to media from the Alliance’s 28 member nations - regional powers such as Iran, Russia and Pakistan, and other troop contributing nations to the International Security Assistance Force, as well as Afghanistan’s own emerging media.  While my military counterpart handled military-specific issues, I was responsible for explaining the political and diplomatic aspects of NATO’s support to this brave and tragic country. With lukewarm support for the mission in many contributing nations, and a traumatised Afghan population bombarded by Taliban propaganda and wary of Western intentions, the stress of the job could be intense.

I felt up to the challenge.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Margaret Dore vs. Wanda Morris Debate Part 1

Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qz89dFU_rig

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 and www.margaretdore.org

Wanda Morris is the Executive Director of Dying with Dignity Canada, a charitable organization 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.

Wanda has been actively involved in the 2011 "right to die" Charter challenge brought before the Supreme Court of British Columbia and has been involved with the "right to die" movement for many years.

Margaret Dore vs. Wanda Morris Debate Part 2

Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-5-BHgoy-E&feature=relmfu

To see Part 1 go here

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dore v Morris: Assisted suicide debate deals with abuse, compassion

http://www.kamloopsnews.ca/article/20120419/KAMLOOPS0101/120419759/-1...
Lawyer cautions against legislating through courts

By Mike Youds, Daily News Staff Reporter
 
Margaret Dore (L) and Wanda Morris (R)

A right to medically assisted suicide may sound compassionate and just, but beware the details when it comes to the act itself, a U.S. lawyer warned Wednesday in a debate at TRU.

Margaret Dore shared some of her experiences with assisted suicide in Washington State, where the practice became legal through a ballot measure four years ago.


 "A lot of people think this is a great idea until they start thinking and reading about how you do it," she told an audience of about 30 people in the Irving K. Barber Centre.

In effect, laws in Washington and Oregon empower people who may choose to abuse the responsibility, Dore said.

"Your heir can be there to help you sign up. Once the legal dose leaves the pharmacy, there is no oversight whatsoever."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Debates This Week: Margaret Dore v. Wanda Morris!

This Wednesday and Thursday in Kamloops and Kelowna:  Margaret Dore vs. Wanda Morris!  More information below.  To view a poster for the Kelowna debate, click hereTo view Margaret Dore's recent column in the New York Times, click here.

Kamloops: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: 900 McGill Road, Kamloops B.C.
Venue: Irving K. Barber Centre, Thompson Rivers University
Debaters:  Margaret Dore, President of "Choice is an Illusion," vs Wanda Morris, Executive Director of Dying with Dignity Canada

Kelowna: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Mary Irwin Theatre, at the Rotary Centre for the Arts
Venue: 421 Cawston Avenue, Kelowna, BC, Canada
Debaters:  Margaret Dore, President of "Choice is an Illusion," vs Wanda Morris, Executive Director of Dying with Dignity Canada

This Week: Margaret Dore vs. Wanda Morris!

More debates this Wednesday and Thursday: 

http://epcdocuments.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/cfi_debate_poster.pdf

Friday, April 6, 2012

Will Johnston to Debate Wanda Morris, this coming Thursday!

Dr. Will Johnston, Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, BC, will be debating Wanda Morris, Executive Director, Dying with Dignity Canada, this coming Thursday!  See below:

Vancouver: April 12, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Simon Fraser University
Venue: SFU-Harbourside Campus Room 1900;
515 West Hastings Street, V6B 5K3

Dr. Johnston and Ms. Morris are both skilled debaters.  It will be an interesting program.  Please show up to give Dr. Johnston your support!

More information:

The debate is the second in a series of debates to be held across Canada over the next few months.  The debate coordinator is the Centre for Inquiry.  Future debates are scheduled for Kamloops, Kelowna, Calgary, Saskatoon and Toronto.  Specifics:

Kamloops: April 18, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: 900 McGill Road, Kamloops B.C.
Venue: Irving K. Barber Centre, Thompson Rivers University
Debaters:  Margaret Dore, President of "Choice is an Illusion," vs Wanda Morris, Executive Director of Dying with Dignity Canada

Kelowna: April 19, 2012
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Mary Irwin Theatre, at the Rotary Centre for the Arts
Venue: 421 Cawston Avenue, Kelowna, BC, Canada
Debaters:  Margaret Dore, President of "Choice is an Illusion," vs Wanda Morris, Executive Director of Dying with Dignity Canada

Calgary: April 22, 2012
Time: 3:30 pm
Location: Science Theatre Bldg, Room ST140
Venue: University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. N.W., Calgary
Debaters:  Dr. Will Johnston, Chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, BC vs Wanda Morris, Executive Director of Dying with Dignity Canada

Saskatoon: May 3, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm
Location, etc.: To be determined 

Toronto: June 6, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm
Location, etc.: To be determined.

For more up to date information, contact the debate host and coordinator,  the Centre for Inquiry, or the individual speakers.  Dr. Johnston can be reached at  604 220 2042.  Margaret Dore can be reached at 206 697 1217.
     
Hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Teen Suicide: "Assisted sucide law sends contradictory message"

From the US State of Vermont where the state legislature is considering a bill to legalize assisted suicide under an Oregon-style law:

http://vtdigger.org/2012/02/01/page-assisted-suicide-law-sends-contradictory-message/

Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Guy Page, a parent and resident of Cambridge.

In the Jan. 19 mail I received a letter from Lamoille Union High School, where my daughter is enrolled. It begins with the following sentence: “Over the last few years Vermont has seen an increase in suicide among young people.” It went on to describe a school initiative to hopefully address this awful development. I hope they are successful. All of my children have friends, or friends of friends, who have taken their own lives.

My eldest son, Tim, was a constant suicide risk through his teens. Through the wise, compassionate help of state social workers, Tim escaped his teen years alive. I can tell you that he was personally shaken by the implications, to him, of the proposed assisted suicide law several years ago. When he heard about it, my brilliant, troubled son began to shake in anger and almost despair. “Those hypocrites,” he said. “They’ve been telling me all this time that suicide is never OK.” It didn’t matter when I said the law is meant to address another set of problems – his teenaged hypocrisy-o-meter had already pegged assisted suicide as another example of “do as I say, not as I do, it’s all right for adults, not OK for kids.”

Recently I researched teen suicide in Oregon, where assisted suicide became legal in 1998. According to the Oregon health department website, there were more teen suicides after the law passed than before — 1999: 29 suicides. 2000: 44 suicides. 2001: 31. 2002: 37. 2003: 46. 2004: 52. The last two years were the highest two-year period in their survey. Furthermore, 94 percent of teen suicide attempts leading to hospitalization were caused by ingesting drugs – the only form of assisted suicide permitted by Oregon state law. Kids learn from their elders. 
 
Does this “prove” a link between the Oregon physician-assisted suicide law and teen suicide? No. But the burden of proof is on those who say, “Don’t worry, it will all be OK, none of our teens will think that.” As a parent of an at-risk child, I think this law may unintentionally tell other troubled teens “when it gets too hard it’s okay to end it all.” As the letter from my daughter’s high school says, the real world is a very hard place for some teens right now, and I think this law will just make it harder.

There are plenty of other reasons to oppose this bill. Before my wife passed in February 2011, she was appalled and upset at end-of-life questions asked of her in the ICU that to her seemed motivated by hospital cost-control. It drove a (thankfully temporary) wedge of distrust between her and her caregivers. So Vermont Insurance Commissioner Steve Kimball’s newspaper comments connecting this end-of-life issue with the high cost of health care were chilling. By contrast, Orange County Sen. Mark MacDonald’s daughter was one of Diane’s nurses and provided skilled, affirming care that should be the goal of the state’s health policy. But for me the teen suicide connection is reason enough for the Senate to drop this bill before it does irreversible harm.


Article printed from VTDigger: http://vtdigger.org/
URL to article: http://vtdigger.org/2012/02/01/page-assisted-suicide-law-sends-contradictory-message/
URLs in this post:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Leblanc Case: A Recipe for Elder Abuse and a Threat to the Individual

Margaret Dore
January 26, 2012

"Those who believe that legal assisted
suicide/euthanasia will assure their
autonomy and choice are naive."

William Reichel, MD
Montreal Gazette,
May 30, 2010[1]

A.  Introduction

Leblanc vs. Attorney General of Canada brings a constitutional challenge to Canada's law prohibiting aiding or abetting a suicide.  Leblance also seeks to 
legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia as a medical treatment.  In 2010, a bill in the Canadian Parliament seeking a similar result was overwhelmingly defeated. 

Legalization of assisted suicide and/or euthanasia under Leblanc will create new paths of elder abuse.  This is contrary to Canadian public policy.  Legalization will also empower the health care system to the detriment of individual patients.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"No bill has made it through the scrutiny of a state legislature, even after 100 attempts"

Published in the National Post: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/01/04/todays-letters-e-cigarettes-will-still-prove-deadly-to-smokers/

Poll: 67% Support Assisted Suicide, Dec. 30.

Tom Blackwell’s article reporting that 67% of Canadians poll in favor of assisted suicide is déjà vu all over again for readers in the United States. The superficial and often misleading poll questions on this topic produced similar statistics in a number of U.S. states over the years.

One superficial assumption is that there’s no meaningful distinction between suicide and assisted suicide — most people know that it could tip the scales if your doctor and family members agreed that it was time for you to go.

Another factor is that the phrase “physician-assisted suicide” implies that a trust-worthy doctor is the only assistant. However, the language of assisted suicide laws actually immunizes all potential suicide assistants from any type of liability, not just doctors.

And, finally, there’s a vague sense of comfort that safeguards can ensure that the process is voluntary. But even if the relatively flimsy protections leading up to the lethal prescription are assumed to be ironclad, once the lethal drugs are in ones home, the law does nothing to ensure that they are taken voluntarily.

All in all, a closer look at this complex issue raises so many doubts that only two of our 50 states have legalized the practice by ballot referendum, and no bill has made it through the scrutiny of a state legislature, even after 100 attempts.

Diane Coleman, president/CEO Not Dead Yet, Rochester, N.Y.

"What I have witnessed will change any Canadian's opinion in a hurry"

Published in the National Post: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/01/04/todays-letters-e-cigarettes-will-still-prove-deadly-to-smokers/

The poll conducted by Forum Research further exploited voters’ own fear of their personal uncertain future. If the poll question was: “If evidence found that close to 50% of the legalized deaths are without consent, would you still legalize euthanasia/assisted-suicide?,” I guarantee that the poll would show drastically different results.

I have had to live in a long-term care facility since 2000. What I have witnessed here will change any Canadian’s opinion in a hurry.

Robert Greig, Montreal.

"What happened in the Netherlands can happen next in Canada"

Published in the National Post: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/01/04/todays-letters-e-cigarettes-will-still-prove-deadly-to-smokers/

I have studied assisted suicide in the Netherlands since 1988. At first there was no law against assisted suicide. When there was a law, doctors were supposed to obtain the patient’s consent — but they did not, often performing euthanasia when they thought the patient would benefit. The doctor was supposed to get a second opinion from a colleague — but often did not. The doctor was supposed to report the assisted suicide to the government — but often did not.

What happened to the Netherlands can happen next in Canada.

Dr. William Reichel, affiliated scholar, Center for Clinical Bioethics at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, Timonium, Md.

Monday, January 2, 2012

"If euthanasia were legal, the wife, not wanting to die, would still be a victim"

The Danger of Euthanasia
By Alex Schadenberg, Ottawa Citizen January 2, 2012
 
Re: Time to rethink euthanasia, Dec. 29.

Marcel Lavoie implies that legalizing euthanasia would stop violent deaths in the elderly, such as the death of Doreen Flann by stabbing.

In many of these deaths, the perpetrator-husband also kills himself for a murder-suicide.
In Oregon, where assisted-suicide has been legal since 1997, murdersuicide has not been eliminated. Indeed, murder-suicide follows the national pattern.

Moreover, according to Donna Cohen, an expert on murder-suicide, the typical case involves a depressed, controlling husband who shoots his ill wife: "The wife does not want to die and is often shot in her sleep. If she was awake at the time, there are usually signs that she tried to defend herself."

If euthanasia were legal, the wife, not wanting to die, would still be a victim.

Our laws against assisted suicide and euthanasia are in place to protect vulnerable people. Assisted suicide and/or euthanasia should not be legalized in Canada.

[For more indepth information, see Dominique Bourget, MD, Pierre Gagne, MD, Laurie Whitehouse, PhD, "Domestic Homicide and Homicide-Suicide:  The Older Offender," Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, September 2010 (Canadian study);  Don Colburn, "Recent murder-suicides follow the national pattern," The Oregonian, November 17, 2009; and “Murder-suicides in Elderly Rise: Husbands commit most murder-suicides – without wives’ consent” ]

Alex Schadenberg, London
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Sunday, January 1, 2012

No Right to be Killed by Others

http://www.nationalpost.com/todays-paper/right+killed+others/5931282/story.html

Re: Poll: 67% Support Assisted Suicide, Dec. 30.

I am greatly perplexed when I hear euthanasia proponents talk about a "basic human right to die," when there is no such thing. We are all going to die anyway, so let's please be honest and call it what it is: The right to be killed by somebody else. I am deeply disturbed by people who overlook the failure of the euthanasia experiments in other countries. Why do they coldly dismiss all those hundreds of people who have been euthanized without their consent? Do they consider them collateral damage? Would they call for an absolute right to drive for everybody, even if they knew lots of innocent people would be killed by incompetent drivers? I don't think so.

Canada rightly forbade capital punishment, due to the fact that no system can guarantee that no one will be killed by mistake. We have the freedom to make choices, but those choices should not hinder the safety of others, especially our most vulnerable.

Rene Leiva, physician, Ottawa.