Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Diane Coleman's letter to members of the Victoria Legislature Opposing Assisted Suicide

This letter was published by Choice Is An Illusion on November 20, 2017

Diane Coleman
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.

At the age of six I was misdiagnosed as having muscular dystrophy and my parents were told that I would die by the age of 12. A few years later I was re-diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a progressive neuromuscular condition which has a longer lifespan. Since age eleven, I have used a motorized wheelchair. Beginning 17 years ago I have used breathing support at night. The type of support I need is called a BiPAP. Over the years, the pressures required to sustain my breathing increased.

I am now age 64. Four years ago, the doctors determined that I do not have spinal muscular atrophy, and I am now diagnosed with another neuromuscular label, congenital myopathy. About two and a half years ago, I went into respiratory failure. Since then I have used breathing support most of the day as well as at night. If I did not use this support, I would likely have respiratory failure within a few days at most. Under most definitions, I qualify as "terminal," even though I have already lived two and a half years this way.

Throughout my adult life, I have worked full time, first as an attorney and then directing nonprofit disability related organizations. Over the last two years, I have continued to run Not Dead Yet, which has four staff and numerous volunteers across the country. I have spoken at conferences, published articles, been interviewed by at least 20 press outlets, submitted testimony in legislatures, and provided the day-to-day management an organization requires.

As a severely disabled person who depends on life-sustaining treatment, I would qualify for assisted suicide at any time if I lived where assisted suicide is legal. If I became despondent, for example if I lost my husband or my job, and decided that I wanted to die, I would not be treated the same as a nondisabled and healthy person who despaired over divorce or job loss. Where assisted suicide is legal, I would be treated completely differently due to my condition.

This is just one example of how slippery the definition of terminal really is. Under assisted suicide policies, many people with disabilities would qualify for assisted suicide and be denied the suicide prevention and other supports that nondisabled people could take for granted if they expressed a desire to die. Assisted suicide laws are inherently discriminatory against old, ill and disabled people.

We urge you to vote no on the assisted suicide bill. The dangers of mistakes and abuse are simply too high, not only for people like me, but for everyone.

Diane Coleman, JD, MBA
President/CEO
Not Dead Yet
497 State Street
Rochester, NY 14608
www.notdeadyet.org

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Victoria euthanasia Bill: "Offence to Induce Self-administration of a Voluntary Assisted Dying Substance" Is an Oxymoron and Unenforceable

This article was published by Choice is an Illusion on November 20, 2017

Oxymoron
By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA

In the Victoria Australia euthanasia bill, Clause 86, contains the "offence to induce self-administration of a voluntary assisted dying substance." The Clause states:
A person must not, by dishonesty or undue influence, induce another person to self-administer a voluntary assisted dying substance in accordance with a self-administration permit.
This clause is too vague and uncertain to be enforced for the following reasons. 

The terms, "dishonesty" and "undue influence" are not defined in the bill. The clause, itself, is an oxymoron, i.e., a combination of contradictory and incongruous words ("dishonesty" or "undue influence" to induce another person to administer a "voluntary" substance "in accordance" with a "self-administration" permit). The offence is simply unenforceable.

Persons who assist a suicide can have an agenda

This article was published on the Choice is an Illusion website on November 18, 2017


Tammy Sawyer
By Margaret Dore, Esq., MBA

Persons assisting a suicide can have an agenda. Consider Tammy Sawyer, trustee for Thomas Middleton in Oregon. Two days after his death by assisted suicide, she sold his home and deposited the proceeds into bank accounts for her own benefit. [1]

In other US states, reported motives for assisting suicide include: the “thrill” of getting other people to kill themselves; a desire for sympathy and attention; and “wanting to see someone die.” [2]

Medical professionals too can have an agenda, for example, to hide malpractice. There is also the occasional doctor who just likes to kill people, for example, Michael Swango, now incarcerated. [3]

Footnotes

[1] KTVZ.com, “Sawyer Arraigned on State Fraud Charges,” 07/14/11.
[2] Associated Press for Minnesota, “Former nurse helped instruct man on how to commit suicide, court rules,” The Guardian, 12/28/15 (“he told police he did it ‘for the thrill of the chase’”); “Woman in texting suicide wanted sympathy, attention, prosecutor says,” CBS News, June 6, 2017; and Ben Winslow, “Teen accused of helping friend commit suicide could face trial for murder,” (Deputy Utah County Attorney argued that the defendant “wanted to see someone die”).

[3] CBSNEWS.COM STAFF, “Life in Jail for Poison Doctor, July 12, 2000; Bill Vourvoulias, Blind Eye: How the Medical Establishment Let a Doctor Get Away With Murder and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Swango

Monday, November 20, 2017

Medical Society of Delaware re-affirms its opposition to assisted suicide.

At the 228th meeting of the Medical Society of Delaware, delegates to the convention re-affirmed their opposition to assisted suicide. The summary of the meeting stated:

Dr. Prayus Tailor is President of the Medical Society. He says one of the issues on the table was an update to the society’s policy regarding physician assisted suicide. 
“We really feel that the way that we should be empowering our patients at the end of life is to provide the best care that we can to palliate and alleviate pain and suffering. We feel physician assisted suicide is fundamentally inconsistent with our role as physicians and healers,” said Tailor.
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition supports caring for and not killing people.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

New South Wales Australia defeats euthanasia bill.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition



Congratulations to HOPE Australia and all of the caring people who are standing for the protection of vulnerable Australians.

The New South Wales (NSW) Australia euthanasia bill was defeated by a vote of 20 to 19 in the Upper House of parliament.

ABC News reported that MP's in NSW were given a free conscience vote on the euthanasia bill. According to ABC News:

Christian Democrat Fred Nile said legalisation was a dangerous move. 
"How will such a bill, once passed, impact on how we see value in life?" he said. 
Liberal backbencher Taylor Martin argued euthanasia was comparable to re-introducing the death penalty. 
"One of the main reasons why Australia stopped the barbaric practise of capital punishment is because it is so final," he said. 
"We must consider this bill through a similar lens."
Similar to the experience in the United States, when elected representatives examine the language of the legislation, they will often change their minds and vote against the bill. 

Lawyer, Margaret Dore, from Choice is an Illusion wrote an excellent evaluation of the NSW euthanasia bill.

The euthanasia bill in Victoria Australia is being debated in the Senate. I HOPE that the Senators in Victoria will examine the language of the bill and vote against it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Assisted Suicide Is a Prescription for Abuse

Nancy Elliott
I am a former three-term State Representative in the state of New Hampshire USA. I was alarmed to see that Victoria may be close to passing a bill to legalize assisted suicide.

Four years ago, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted down a similar bill in a bipartisan vote. The vote was an overwhelming 3 to 1 defeat, 219 to 66.*

Many representatives who initially thought that they were for the law, became uncomfortable when they studied it further. Contrary to promoting “choice” for older people, assisted suicide laws are a prescription for abuse. They empower heirs and others to pressure and abuse older people to cut short their lives. This is especially an issue when the older person has money. There is NO assisted-suicide bill that you can write to correct this huge problem.

Do not be deceived.

Nancy Elliott
Amherst, New Hampshire USA

Swiss assisted suicide deaths increase by 30% in 2015

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Swiss statistics office reported that there were 965 reported assisted suicide deaths in 2015 up from 742 in 2014. Earlier media reports suggested that there were 999 Swiss assisted suicide deaths in 2015. There were 86 reported assisted suicide deaths in 2000.

The Swiss statistics indicate that 539 women and 426 men died by assisted suicide compared to 279 woman and 792 men who died by suicide (not assisted). There were 67,606 total Swiss deaths in 2015.


According to Expatica.com news the number of assisted suicide deaths in Swiss nursing homes, by the Exit suicide clinic, increased from 10 deaths in 2007 to 92 in 2015. The news service reported that the Swiss association for ethics and medicine found this trend alarming and stated:
“To end lives in this way gives it [the practice of assisted suicide] an institutional seal of approval.”
In August 2015 a healthy depressed British woman died by assisted suicide in Switzerland.

Pietro D'Amico
In April 2013, Pietro D’Amico, a 62-year-old magistrate from Calabria Italy, died by assisted suicide at a suicide clinic in Basel Switzerland. His autopsy showed that he had 
a wrong diagnosis.

A 2014 Swiss assisted suicide study found that 16% of the people who died at Swiss assisted suicide clinics had no underlying illness.

In February 2014, Oriella Cazzanello, an 85 year-old healthy woman died at a Swiss suicide clinic. The letter she sent her family stated that she was unhappy about how she looked.

In May 2014, the Exit suicide clinic extended assisted suicide to healthy elderly people who live with physical or psychological pain. This decision has led to an increase in assisted deaths.

The Swiss assisted suicide statistics prove that when assisted suicide is accepted then deaths by assisted suicide will continue to increase and the reasons for assisted suicide expand.

Fatal Flaws Film: "She was euthanized without consent (in the Netherlands). They decided."


The Fatal Flaws film (Spring 2018) questions the long term effects of assisted death laws on society.

Australia is currently debating the legalization of euthanasia. Political leaders and decision makers need to see this film clip.

The most shocking story in Fatal Flaws comes from Margreet whose mother was euthanized in the Netherlands without consent. Please watch and share this film clip.



Kevin Dunn traveled to the Netherlands, throughout the United States and Canada to interview people with personal stories concerning euthanasia and assisted suicide laws.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition needs donations to complete this important film project (Donation link).

The first video, The Euthanasia Deception, continues to be an incredible success. We need you to enable Fatal Flaws to also be an incredible success.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Suicide prevention leader opposes legalizing euthanasia/assisted suicide in Australia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition



Warwich Baines, a board member of a suicide prevention charity in Australia, wrote a letter that was published by Central Western Daily on November 12, 2017 under the title: Euthanasia bill enables killing of adults

Baines writes from a straight forward point of view. He states:
THE euthanasia/assisted suicide legislation currently before parliaments in Victoria and NSW are the latest in a long line of attempts to legalise the killing of adults in Australia. 
If that sounds jarring that’s because it is. 
Irrespective of the euphemism – ‘voluntary assisted dying’ is currently in vogue – what is actually being sought is a dystopian two-tier society: those whose lives we want to preserve and those to whom we are effectively saying ‘you are better off dead’.
Baines then expresses his support for improvements in palliative care, but he states:
Yet high quality palliative care does not satisfy advocates. Why? According to the NSW parliamentary working group “the fundamental principle behind the call for legislating to allow for assisted dying is to provide dignity to people who wish to pass peacefully on their own terms”.
Baines then refers to the cultural trends:
In our increasingly individualistic society, emotional appeals to absolute autonomy over our own lives are attractive. 
But we are not islands. The choices we make have consequences for others. 
It will be the weak – the lonely and the isolated – who will be vulnerable, who will find it difficult to withstand the pressure to relieve others of the burden of their existence. 
That is the reality where euthanasia has already been introduced, despite so-called safeguards. 
I am a board member of an Orange-based suicide prevention charity that seeks to care for vulnerable people. 
Please, let’s not make them even more vulnerable.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Patient's recovery convinces doctor to fight euthanasia laws.

This article was published by The Australian on November 11, 2017, link, for pdf, link.

By Cameron Stewart


Dr. Kenneth Stevens
When American doctor Kenneth Stevens heard about Victoria’s plan to introduce assisted dying for the terminally ill he couldn’t help but recall the story of his patient Jeanette Hall.

Hall, then 55, came to Stevens in 2000 after being diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer in Portland, Oregon, a state that in 1997 introduced laws enabling doctors to prescribe fatal pills to the terminally ill. 
She walked into Stevens’ office and told him she wanted to die, but Stevens, a cancer specialist, disputed the diagnosis of her original doctor.

“I told her that I believed this was potentially curable but she said ‘Dr. Stevens, you don’t understand, I voted for the law and I don’t want to go through all the treatment, I don’t want to lose my hair, I don’t want to go through all that’,’’ Stevens says.

The specialist delayed her ­request to write a prescription for the fatal drugs and instead tried to talk her out of it.


Jeanette Hall
I learned she had a son who is in the police academy and I said, ‘wouldn’t you like to see him graduate, wouldn’t you like to see him get married’ and eventually she realized she really did have something to live for,” Stevens says.

Hall, a bookkeeper and a single mother, agreed to have radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Within months, Stevens says her tumor “just melted away.” “She’s still alive 17 years later with no evidence of any recurrence of the cancer and one of her favourite phrases is ‘it’s great to be alive’,” he says.

Hall’s unusual story turned Stevens from being merely an opponent of assisted suicide into an activist against it. 
A professor emeritus and a former chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland, he has treated thousands of patients with cancer.

He says he came to oppose assisted suicide from his observations as a doctor, rather than from any religious standpoint.


“Actually, my first wife died 35 years ago of cancer so I’ve seen it not only from the professional side but also from the family side,” he says. 
“I continue to be against because I don’t feel that is the role of a doctor to kill a patient or to order them to die.

Hall, now 72, no longer wants to speak to the media about her story because of the attention it has garnered after it was co-opted by campaigners against assisted suicide.

But several years ago she wrote of her experience. “I did not want to suffer,” she wrote. “I wanted to do our law and I wanted Dr Stevens to help me. Instead, he encouraged me to not give up and ultimately I decided to fight the cancer. I had both chemotherapy and radiation. I am so happy to be alive.” “If Dr. Stevens had believed in assisted suicide, I would be dead. Assisted suicide should not be legal.”

When Stevens read about Victoria’s proposed assisted suicide laws he wrote to The Australian in a letter published this week.

“With the legalisation of assisted suicide, Oregon’s health plan has been empowered to offer patients suicide in lieu of treatments,’’ he wrote. “Don’t let legal assisted suicide come to Victoria.”

Victorian politicians say they have closely followed the Oregon model for the state’s voluntary assisted dying scheme, which will go before the upper house for a final vote next week.

The scheme’s authors say they were drawn to the Oregon model because after 20 years it was still regarded internationally as one of the most conservative schemes. 


Cameron Stewart is also US contributor for Sky News Australia.

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