September 4, 2014

Further down the slippery slope

In Belgium.  Doctor Kills Depressed Woman in Euthanasia, Doesn’t Tell Family Until Next Day

Oncologist Wim Distelmans killed Godelieva De Troyer, a Belgium citizen who was not terminally ill, because of “untreatable depression” in April 2012 after receiving consent from three other physicians who had no previous involvement with her care…..Distelmans has no psychiatric qualifications, and none of the doctors involved had any enduring doctor-patient relationship with De Troyer. … In addition, the commission the government established to investigate any failure to observe the euthanasia law has been led, since its creation, by Distelmans. Despite evidence of widespread abuse of the law, the commission has never referred a case to the prosecutor.

No one contacted Mortier before his mother’s death despite the fact that he says her depression was not only largely the result of a break-up with a man, but also due to her feelings of distance from her family.

Her son Tom Mortier is now challenging Belgium's euthanasia laws which also allow children to be killed.

Alliance Defending Freedom filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights Wednesday on behalf of Tom Mortier,

“The government has an obligation to protect life, not assist in promoting death,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Robert Clarke. “A person can claim that she should be able to do whatever she pleases, but that does not override the government’s responsibility to protect the weak and vulnerable. We are encouraging the European Court to uphold this principle, which is completely consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:11 PM | Permalink

July 17, 2014

“We Were Wrong, Terribly Wrong”

Professor Theodore Boer, a Dutch professor of ethics, argued that a good euthanasia law would produce a relatively low number of deaths.  But that was seven years ago.

 Dutch Prof Theo Boer Theo Boer, Dutch Professor of Ethics

Last week he testified in Great Britain where debate on an assisted dying bill  is going on in the House of Peers.  The bill would allow doctors to prescribe poison to terminally ill and mentally alert people who wish to kill themselves.  "I used to be a supporter of the Dutch law. But now, with 12 years of experience, I take a very different view."  (full text of his remarks here)

Professor Boer testified "We were wrong - terribly wrong,….  ‘Don’t do it Britain. ‘Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely ever to go back in again.’
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‘Whereas in the first years after 2002 hardly any patients with psychiatric illnesses or dementia appear in reports, these numbers are now sharply on the rise.

‘Cases have been reported in which a large part of the suffering of those given euthanasia or assisted suicide consisted in being aged, lonely or bereaved.

‘Some of these patients could have lived for years or decades. Pressure on doctors to conform to patients’ – or in some cases relatives’ – wishes can be intense.
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Euthanasia is on the way to become a ‘default’ mode of dying for cancer patients.

The latest euthanasia figures for the Netherlands show that nearly one in seven deaths are at the hands of doctors.

In 2012, there were 4,188 deaths by direct euthanasia – 3 per cent of all deaths – and 3,695 deaths by direct euthanasia in 2011. The figures do not include deaths by terminal sedation, where patients are rendered unconscious before they are dehydrated and starved to death, an act often referred to as ‘euthanasia by omission’.  This practice accounts for more than 12 per cent of all deaths in the country.
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Elspeth Chowdharay-Best, honorary secretary of Alert, the anti-euthanasia pressure group, said legalizing assisted suicide would be like ‘stepping off a precipice’. ‘It means that you would lose the right to live,’ she said. ‘It is more serious than people realize.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:14 PM | Permalink

July 8, 2014

"I want to be a burden on my family as I die, and for them to be a burden on me"

Giles Frasier in the Guardian says his problem with euthanasia is not that it is a immoral way to die, but that it has its roots in a fearful way to live

I do want to be a burden on my loved ones just as I want them to be a burden on me – it's called looking after each other. Obviously, I know people are terrified of the indignity of dying and of being ill generally. Having someone wipe our bums, clean up our mess, put up with our incoherent ramblings and mood swings is a threat to our cherished sense of personal autonomy…..

No, we are not brains in vats. We are not solitary self-defining intellectual identities who form temporary alliances with each other for short-term mutual advantage. My existence is fundamentally bound up with yours. Of course, I will clean you up. Of course, I will hold your hand in the long hours of the night. Shut up about being a burden. I love you. This is what it means to love you. Surely, there is something extraordinarily beautiful about all of this.

Likewise, I have no fondness for pain per se. And I can even imagine taking a draught of something myself one day, were some pain to become utterly intolerable. I do understand. And, yes, even understand that helping others to do it can sometimes be an act of mercy…..

Yet too many of us make a Faustian pact with pharmacology, welcoming its obvious benefits, but ignoring the fact that drugs also can demand your soul. That's perhaps why we speak of the overly drugged-up as zombies.

Finally, the contemporary "good death" is one that happens without the dying person knowing all that much about it. But what about the need for time to say goodbye and sorry and thank you? It is as if we want to die without actually knowing we are dying.

Much of this originates in the excessive fear we now have of dying, a fear that is amplified by the let's pretend game that we play when we remove death from public view. It is precisely this fear that operates when adults worry about taking children to the funeral because "it will upset them".

As with many things like this, it is a reflection of adult anxiety rather than the child's ability to cope. And the message it communicates is that death is something strange, weird, and spooky. This only serves to incubate our fear and encourages us to devise further strategies to keep the full knowledge of its reality at bay.

Via  Ben Conroy at Patheos who in Euthanasia: A Further Erosion of Family Understanding writes

This is going to be one of the areas where "consent-only" morality (a coherent, internally consistent system which holds as its most fundamental principle that you own yourself) is going to have a real, substantial, irreconcilable clash with "agape-only" morality (which holds that you are owned in part by your friends and your family, and owned wholly by God). But it's also an area where Catholics have a strong, compassionate case to make. Great hospice care should become an immediately identifiable "Catholic issue"; and we can use cases like Belgium and the Netherlands as contrasts to paint a more human, more decent picture.

and  quotes Pope Francis:

In the family, one learns that the loss of health can never be a reason for discriminating against any human life. The family teaches about not falling into an individualism that weighs oneself against the others. And it is here, in the family, that "taking care of you" constitutes one of the fundaments of human existence and a moral attitude that must be promoted, and again through values, conscience effort and solidarity. The testimony offered by the family becomes crucial in the sight of every facet of society in its consistent affirmation of the importance of the aged person as he or she is a subject of the community, who has a mission to fulfill, and about whom it is always false to say he or she receives without offering anything in return
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:47 PM | Permalink

February 20, 2014

Demographic breakdown of those who choose assisted suicide

Women, divorcees and atheists are most likely to choose assisted suicide - with nearly 20% saying they are simply 'weary of life'

Women, highly educated, divorced and rich people are more likely to die from assisted suicide, new research has revealed.  Researchers in Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal, found that of people helped by right-to-die organisations such as Dignitas, around 16 per cent of death certificates did not register an underlying cause. They say this indicates that an increasing number of people may simply becoming 'weary of life'.

The research, published online in the International Journal of Epidemiology – that shows assisted suicide is more common in women, the divorced, those living alone, the more educated, those with no religious affiliation, and those from wealthier areas.

A previous study of suicides by two right-to-die organizations showed that 25 per cent of those assisted had no fatal illness, instead citing 'weariness of life' as a factor.
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• For all causes, except Parkinson's disease, the percentage of assisted suicides was higher in women than men.
• In the 65-94 years age group, cancer was again the most common underlying cause (41 per cent), followed by circulatory (15 per cent) and diseases of the nervous system (11 per cent).
•Thirty people had a mood disorder, and six had another mental or behavioral disorder.
•The rate was also higher in urban compared to rural areas, in wealthier neighborhoods, and in the French rather than German or Italian speaking areas of the country.
•Younger people who had children were less likely to opt for assisted suicide in younger people, but not older people.
• Religion was another key factor.  People of no faith were six times more likely to choose assisted suicide than Roman Catholics, The Times reported.

Here's a good example from today's news.  A healthy Italian woman paid a Swiss right-to-die clinic to take her life because she was 'unhappy about losing her looks'.

Oriella Cazzanello, 85, travelled to a clinic in Basel, Switzerland, where she paid €10,000 for an assisted suicide.  The elderly woman, who was in good mental and physical health, disappeared from her home in Arzignano, near Vicenza in northern Italy, without telling her relatives where she was going.

'Weariness of life' is a euphemism for despair which is the complete absence of hope.  Hope is precisely what faith offers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:24 PM | Permalink

February 13, 2014

The Suicide Juggernaut

Wesley Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism a nd consults for the Patients Rights Council and the Center for Bioethics and Culture.  He writes a blog on Human Exceptionalism from which I've gleaned the following shocking facts which illustrate what is meant by a 'culture of death'.

The Suicide JuggernautEuthanasia activists on a roll
Advocates of assisted suicide tell two—no, three—lies that act as the honey to help the hemlock go down. The first is that assisted suicide/euthanasia is a strictly medical act. Second, they falsely assure us that medicalized killing is only for the terminally ill. Finally, they promise that strict guidelines will be rigorously enforced to protect against abuse.

In Scotland. A new bill tabled in the Scottish parliament would legalize assisted suicide for “terminal” or “progressive and either terminal or life-shortening” conditions—undefined terms that could easily include chronic ailments such as diabetes, asymptomatic HIV infection, and multiple sclerosis…. the Scottish bill goes a radical step further by creating a new profession—the “licensed suicide facilitator,” authorized by the state to help suicidal patients kill themselves once a doctor has issued a lethal prescription.

Licensed facilitators would be authorized to provide “practical assistance” in the suicide and “reassurance” when a substance “dispensed or otherwise supplied for the suicide of the person is taken.” They would also be authorized to remove lethal drugs—presumably narcotics—from the home after their client died.

In Belgium, Belgian Euthanasia Opens Other Killing Doors - A study in the Journal of Medical Ethics finds that nearly 80% of palliative or terminal sedation cases are done without permission.

Belgian Doctors Brag About Harvesting Organs From the EuthanizedJoint euthanasia/organ harvests have become so normalized that Belgian doctors created a PowerPoint presentation urging colleagues to be on the lookout for suicidal patients with neuro-muscular diseases (such as MS) as potential donors, because unlike cancer patients, they have “high quality organs.”

Belgian Euthanasia Law Designed for Disabled admits law drafter

The Belgian parliament seems likely to legalize child euthanasia: By an overwhelming 50-17, the senate just passed a bill allowing doctors to kill sick children.

Euthanasia in Belgium is becoming a celebration

In the Netherlands - "14% of deaths in the Netherlands caused by intentionally killing by physicians"

Mobile death squads to kill sick and elderly in their own homes leads to surge in suicide rates in the Netherlands
Around 3 per cent of all deaths in the Netherlands are now by euthanasia…The country last year introduced mobile euthanasia units..In 2002 it became the first country since Nazi Germany to legalize it.

Clinics are assisting the suicides of depressed patients whose own doctors won’t kill them.  Back in 1991, a psychiatrist named Boudewijn Chabot assisted the suicide of a woman whose two children had died to fulfill her obsession to be buried between them.  The Dutch Supreme Court ruled logically that was just fine because suffering is suffering, and it doesn’t matter whether it is physical or emotional.

infanticide has already become a relatively routine part of Netherlander neo natal medical practice. According to The Lancet, 8% of all babies who die in the Netherlands are killed by doctors, even though it remains murder under the law. Indeed, doctors are so confident they won’t be punished for killing sick babies, they published the Groningen Protocol, a bureaucratic check list detailing which babies can be euthanized.

In Quebec, Quebec Euthanasia to Destroy Religious Freedom.  The bill requires all doctors to kill or refer to a doctor who will. And if you have a religious objection, quit practicing medicine–no conscience allowed!  At the hearing Christian doctors were not allowed to testify about its proposed euthanasia law.

"End-of-life" care is redefined to include euthanasia which is called "aid in dying".  The suffering necessary to qualify for euthanasia is, essentially, whatever the patient determines is “intolerable”–even if the patient turns down treatment that could alleviate the symptoms they are experiencing…People can also direct that they be killed in their advance directive.

In Vermont Starting in 2016, doctors in Vermont will assist patient suicides under what amounts to an honor system, no questions asked. What could go wrong?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:57 AM | Permalink

July 13, 2013

"Dying naturally is a vital part of life's journey, in many ways the most meaningful part"

Julie Davis reviews How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice by Austen Ivereigh and excerpts a part that explains  why the Church opposes euthanasia

In common with a long-standing tradition of western civilization, the Church believes that dying naturally is a vital part of life's journey, in many ways the most meaningful part. Dying can be described as a process of healing. Important things happen on that journey, and suffering and pain are often a part of it. As Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo … said: "Compassion isn't to say, 'Here's a pill.' It's to show people the ways we can assist you, up until the time the Lord calls you."

Dying, then, is a highly meaningful gradual process of renunciation and surrender. Although some die swifly and painlessly, very often the pattern of dying involves great suffering, because (and this is true of old age in general) it involves letting go of those thing which in our lives we believe make us worthwhile and lovable: our looks, intelligence, abilities, and capabilities. This is what the great Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung called "necessary suffering," the suffering endured by the ego, which protests at having to change and surrender. The idea that this kind of suffering is part of growth is not a uniquely "religious" view, although Christianity -- with the Cross and the Resurrection at its heart -- has perhaps a richer theological understanding than most secular outlooks.

 Death Suffering Light


Contrast that with the secular version of death, Deadlines in the NYTimes

The defining characteristic of the literature of protracted death is its fascination with the deterioration of the body, especially in the alien context of the hospital. No doubt, in part, because most of our writers are agnostic, if not atheist, the focus is on the difficult, lab-filled, needle-infused process of dying. As Hitchens puts it, ours is a time in which a person can “avail himself of a historically unprecedented level of care, while at the same time being exposed to a level of suffering that previous generations might not have been able to afford.” Our deathbeds aren’t spiritual; they’re chart-full.

The new atheists don't know what they are missing says George Weigel in Faith Lights Life about the new papal encyclical "written by four hands":

Lumen Fidei is an extended meditation on the truth that Walker Percy articulated decades ago: that life lived within the ambit of faith in the God of the Bible — the God of Israel and the God of the Church — is far richer, far more intriguing, and much more authentically human than any of the agnostic, atheistic, pantheistic, or solipsistic alternatives available in the early 21st century.
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Faith, the encyclical teaches, is a divine gift; it is not something we achieve by our own efforts. Yet unlike the siren songs of the imperial autonomous Self, which lure us into the sandbox of self-absorption where the horizon of our apprehension rarely extends beyond the navel, the grateful reception of this supernatural virtue sets everything alight: “Those who believe, see,” Francis writes; “they see with a light that illumines their entire journey . . .”

 Light-In-Your-Hand

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In a remarkably gentle way that stands in sharp contrast to the bullying bluster of Richard Dawkins & Co., Lumen Fidei suggests that the world is suffering from a false story, and that the story is false because it is too narrow, too constrained, too self-centered, and, ultimately, too dark……Radical skepticism honed by an ironic sense of life constricts the horizon of human vision and aspiration. We can see only so far through lenses ground by cynicism; and if we view our life through them, our line of sight is sooner or later bent back toward the autonomous Self, in what becomes a wilderness of mirrors. Biblical faith, by contrast, opens up “vast horizons” that suggest a superabundance of life and meaning.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:19 PM | Permalink

February 11, 2013

Sliding down the slippery slope

Belgium is a vivid demonstration of the abandonment and darkness that euthanasia can’t help but eventually become.

Only weeks after learning that twin disabled men were euthanized, we find out a young woman with the mental illness of anorexia nervosa has been killed by her psychiatrist–after being sexually abused by another psychiatrist.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:05 PM | Permalink

February 1, 2013

Six Lessons from Death in Belgium

 Verbessem-Brothers

When Belgian doctors euthanized deaf twins because they were slowly going blind and couldn't bear not to see each other,  the world was shocked.   

Their family opposed their decision to die as did the local hospital, but they found a willing doctor.

Michael Cook at MercatorNet explores Six lessons from death in Belgium  and what it reveals about a legalized right to die.

Lesson one: the expanding circle.
Lesson two: euthanasia-minded doctors prefer easy deaths to complicated social work.
Lesson three: safeguards are meant to be hurdled.
Lesson four: if you’re disabled, you’re in trouble.

Lesson five: compassionate euthanasia has a price tag. Both Eddy and Marc were charged 180 Euros each for transporting their bodies back home. This macabre detail shouldn’t surprise us. China also charges the families of the people it executes. It's called a bullet fee.

Lesson six: not enough Belgians are being euthanased but the government has a plan. In 2011, the last year for which official figures are available, 1133 people were euthanased in Belgium. A few days after the Verbessem brothers died, the government announced that it would amend the law to allow minors and people with dementia to be euthanased as well.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:55 AM | Permalink

November 29, 2012

In Britain's National Health Service, babies left to die of thirst

Horrible.  And it's being done by the British health service.

Now sick babies go on death pathway: Doctor's haunting testimony reveals how children are put on end-of-life plan

Sick children are being discharged from NHS hospitals to die at home or in hospices on controversial ‘death pathways’.  Until now, end of life regime the Liverpool Care Pathway was thought to have involved only elderly and terminally-ill adults.

But the Mail can reveal the practice of withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies.

One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone.
Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.
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Earlier this month, an un-named doctor wrote of the agony of watching the protracted deaths of babies. The doctor described one case of a baby born with ‘a lengthy list of unexpected congenital anomalies’, whose parents agreed to put it on the pathway.
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‘Their wishes, however, are not consistent with my experience. Survival is often much longer than most physicians think; reflecting on my previous patients, the median time from withdrawal of hydration to death was ten days.

‘Parents and care teams are unprepared for the sometimes severe changes that they will witness in the child’s physical appearance as severe dehydration ensues.

‘I know, as they cannot, the unique horror of witnessing a child become smaller and shrunken, as the only route out of a life that has become excruciating to the patient or to the parents who love their baby.’
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Bernadette Lloyd, a hospice pediatric nurse, has written to the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health to criticize the use of death pathways for children.  '‘I have also seen children die in terrible thirst because fluids are withdrawn from them until they die'

She said: ‘The parents feel coerced, at a very traumatic time, into agreeing that this is correct for their child whom they are told by doctors has only has a few days to live. It is very difficult to predict death. I have seen a “reasonable” number of children recover after being taken off the pathway.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:28 PM | Permalink

October 18, 2012

"Playing on people’s fears and sympathies around dying in order to sanitise euthanasia"

At first glance, the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) seems like the way to go.  its objective is to ensure that a dying oerson is treated with as much dignity and comfort as possible during their last days.

But, as Melanie Phillips points out, it's often sued to hasten the deaths of those people doctors deem worthless, a backdoor form of euthanasia

One of its ten ‘key messages’ is that it ‘neither hastens nor postpones death’. But, on the contrary, many examples have emerged where it has, indeed, been used to hasten death.  Terminally ill patients have been heavily sedated and deprived of essential nutrients and fluids in order to make them die more quickly.  And there are claims that it is increasingly being applied without the knowledge of patients’ families, and when such patients still have a chance of recovering for a few more precious weeks, months or even years of life.

One report last year found that as  many as 2,500 families were not even  told that their relatives had been put  on the LCP.
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Earlier this year, Patrick Pullicino, a consultant neurologist and professor of clinical neurosciences at Kent University, told a conference that the LCP had become an ‘assisted death pathway’ for than 100,000 patients each year. ‘Very likely, many elderly patients who could live substantially longer are being killed by the LCP,’ he said.

Horrifyingly, the LCP has become a  self-fulfilling prophecy. When people are put on it, they are said to be dying.  But they may not be dying at all — not, that is, until they are put on the  ‘pathway’, whereupon they really do die as a result.    In other words, they are killed. What’s more, they are killed in a most cruel and callous way through starvation or dehydration. And this in a health service that is supposed to be a national byword for compassion!

This really is an obscene abuse of people who expect the NHS to care for them, not kill them.
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So how can this awful situation have been allowed to develop? How can hospitals governed by the ethical imperative to ‘first do no harm’ be killing patients in their care? The first and most cynical reason — believed by a number of deeply concerned doctors — is that it is being done to save money. There are suspicions, based on much circumstantial evidence, that such patients are being dispatched via the LCP because — simply and crudely — the hospitals need their beds to meet  overwhelming demand
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Indeed, the abuse of the LCP is not just about economics. More fundamentally, it has arisen from a profound confusion in society caused by a collapse of moral absolutes and a resulting inability to make the key distinction between dying and killing.  This confusion lies at the heart of the powerful campaign to legalise euthanasia.

It was graphically illustrated by the decision of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society to change its name to Dignity In Dying, which deliberately muddled dying with the taking of life — thus playing on people’s fears and sympathies around dying in order to sanitise euthanasia.  It is precisely this corruption of language that has sent us hurtling down this most slippery pathway to killing.

First, the word ‘dying’ has been applied to people suffering from terminal illness  or who are considered by doctors or  other experts to have lives that are  not worth living, even when they are not dying at all.

The second stage in this abuse of  language has been to re-label actions designed to end the life of someone  who is not dying by calling this ‘helping them to die’.  Such actions include the withdrawal of food or water. But that is starving or dehydrating someone to death. And that is not helping them to die, but killing them.

One woman's lonely death on the NHS's 'care pathway' to the grave: MPs demand action after another patient is chosen to die without doctors telling family

As Miss Goom lay dying alone, staff reassured relatives on the phone just hours before her death that there was no urgent need to visit – even though doctors had already removed tubes providing vital food and fluids.

Her family discovered that she had died only when her niece went to visit her and found she was already being prepared for the mortuary. They said last night that they will never be able to stop feeling guilty that no one was there in her final hours.

The Mail has been contacted by several families who claim that relatives were put on the Liverpool Care Pathway – the controversial system designed to ease the suffering of the dying in their final hours – without any consultation.

Some said they found out that their relatives were on the pathway only after they happened to read their medical notes; and by that time it was too late.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:36 AM | Permalink

October 10, 2012

"Why should doctors have a monopoly on undermining public trust in their profession by aiding suicides? Police and lifeguards could help out too." '

Why should doctors have a monopoly on undermining public trust in their profession by aiding suicides? Police and lifeguards could help out too.

Please Step Back From the Assisted-Suicide Ledge

In the November elections, voters in Massachusetts will decide on "Question 2," a ballot initiative to allow physicians to prescribe (but not administer) a lethal dose of a toxic drug to assist their patients in committing suicide. Advocates of physician-assisted suicide assure us that this can be a good choice for someone who is dying, or who wants to die.

If physician-assisted suicide really represents a good choice, we need to ask: Why should only physicians be able to participate? Why should only physicians be allowed to undermine public trust in their profession through these kinds of death-dealing activities?

Why not include police? If a sick person expresses a wish to die, the police could be notified, and an officer would arrive bearing a suitable firearm. He would load it with ammunition, cock the gun and place it on the bedside stand of the sick patient. After giving instruction on the best way to angle the barrel, the officer would depart, and the patient could then pick up the device and take it from there—police-assisted suicide.

The assisted-suicide paradigm readily admits of other creative approaches as well—we could sanction, for example, assisted drownings, with lifeguards asked to help those wishing to die by providing millstones to take them to the bottom of lakes and oceans.
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It is troubling how many individuals fail to grasp the absurdity of encouraging physician-assisted suicide. Suicide is no joking matter. Regardless of how it transpires, it is a catastrophe for those who end their own lives and for loved ones left behind.
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I remember reading a letter to the editor in the local paper of a small town many years ago. A woman wrote in about the death of her grandparents—well-educated, intelligent and seemingly in control of their faculties—who had tragically committed suicide together by drinking a deadly substance. They were elderly and struggling with various ailments.

Her firsthand perspective was unflinching: It took her years to forgive her grandparents. She was angry at what they had done to her and her family. She felt betrayed and nauseated. She could hardly believe it had really happened.

The woman was still upset that they hadn't reached out to the rest of the family for assistance. She dismissed the idea that suicide could ever be a good thing as a "total crock and a lie," noting how it leaves behind deep scars and immeasurable pain on the part of family and friends. Without demurring, she declared that we don't have the right to take our own lives because we didn't give ourselves life.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:14 PM | Permalink

September 7, 2012

'Living Dyingly'

The Importance of 'Living Dyingly'

After his terminal diagnosis became public, Hitchens wrote, in a characteristic turn of phrase, that he was “living dyingly.”
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I have seen up close and personal how the process of dying can paradoxically strengthen and improve us. My father died of colon cancer in 1984. The disease hollowed him out physically, reducing him to a husk. But he grew—oh, how he grew—and died a far stronger, wiser, and better man than he had been before falling ill.
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I strongly believe that how we die matters corporately. Dad, like Hitchens, inspired others by the way he lived dingily. No surprise there: Aren’t we all bucked up when we see or hear of others facing death with mettle and pluck? Think Ulysses S. Grant, writing his memoir while dying in great pain from tongue cancer. Some will remember the great admiration America felt when actor Michael Landon—with frankness rarely seen in those days—went on Johnny Carson’s show to discuss his terminal pancreatic cancer. Then there was Ronald Reagan, announcing his own Alzheimer’s disease, turning his face steadfastly toward “the journey that will lead me to the sunset of my life,” and patriotically expressing the belief that “for America, there will always be a bright dawn ahead.”

This is one reason I find the assisted suicide movement so subversive. It rejects the ideal that those who go toe-to-toe against terminal disease uplift the human experience. It seeks to alter our cultural expectations from “Do not go gentle into that good night . . . rage, rage against the dying of the light,” to “Do yourself, your family, and society a favor by getting it over with.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:08 PM | Permalink

July 24, 2012

Fighting against 'Backdoor euthanasia'

It's come to this.  Terminally ill patients who fear being placed on 'routine' death pathway issued with opt-out cards by charity

A British charity now provides terminally ill patients with special cards saying:  'Please do not give me the Liverpool Care Pathway treatment without my informed consent or that of a relative.'
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However, in a recent letter to the Daily Telegraph, six doctors who specialize in elderly care warned hospitals across the UK could be using the controversial practice as routine to ease the pressure on resources.  They added that in the elderly, natural death was more often free of pain and distress.  The group warned that not all doctors were acquiring the correct consent from patients and are failing to ask about what they wanted while they were still able to decide.

Here's why.

One professor and consultant to the National Health Service claims The NHS kills off 130,000 elderly patients every year.

NHS doctors are prematurely ending the lives of thousands of elderly hospital patients because they are difficult to manage or to free up beds, a senior consultant claimed yesterday.  Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ‘death pathway’ into the equivalent of euthanasia of the elderly.

He claimed there was often a lack of clear evidence for initiating the Liverpool Care Pathway, a method of looking after terminally ill patients that is used in hospitals across the country. It is designed to come into force when doctors believe it is impossible for a patient to recover and death is imminent.
It can include withdrawal of treatment – including the provision of water and nourishment by tube – and on average brings a patient to death in 33 hours.

There are around 450,000 deaths in Britain each year of people who are in hospital or under NHS care. Around 29 per cent – 130,000 – are of patients who were on the LCP.

Professor Pullicino, a consultant neurologist for East Kent Hospitals and Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Kent, was speaking to the Royal Society of Medicine in London. ...He said: ‘The lack of evidence for initiating the Liverpool Care Pathway makes it an assisted death pathway rather than a care pathway.  ‘Very likely many elderly patients who could live substantially longer are being killed by the LCP.  ‘Patients are frequently put on the pathway without a proper analysis of their condition. ‘Predicting death in a time frame of three to four days, or even at any other specific time, is not possible scientifically.
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A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘The Liverpool Care Pathway is not euthanasia and we do not recognize these figures. The pathway is recommended by NICE and has overwhelming support from clinicians – at home and abroad – including the Royal College of Physicians.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink

May 6, 2012

The fear of suffering prior to death

"Death with Dignity" or physician-assisted suicide will be on the Massachusetts ballot this fall.  The Massachusetts Medical Society has come out against, saying that it corrupts medicine and the doctor-patient relationship.  I'm against it and one of the reasons is my  strong intuition that such a death robs the patient of what is most valuable in dying.  That is the opportunity for forgiveness and the mental, emotional and spiritual growth that comes with the dying process.  That said, all medical efforts should be directed to alleviating physical suffering.

Dr. Ty Meyer, a  palliative care physician, makes this argument in  Palliative Care vs. Physician Assisted Suicide

As the reality of approaching death sinks in, it brings with it many uncertainties and certainly fears. Many of my patients are naturally scared, but when investigated further this fear is of suffering prior to death and not death itself. This may lead to requests for hastening of death or physician assisted suicide. Dr. Ira Byock in his book The Best Care Possible notes that “any serious request from a patient for help in ending his or her life must be seen as a red flag that signals either that a patient is suffering or fears uncontrollable suffering in the future.” Requests for physician suicide can be seen as a plea to provide reassurance of relief of pain and suffering and reassurance that they as patients will not be abandoned as they are dying.

Too many patients have heard, “I’m sorry. There is nothing more that can be done,” as they approach the end of their lives. The reality may be that the medical options for cure or extending life are exhausted, but there remains much that is available medically to afford patients comfort and to improve the quality of their lives. By receiving high quality palliative care, either while undergoing curative/life-prolonging treatments with significant side effects or through a hospice program at the end of life, patients and their families are able to both deal with the current circumstances of their medical condition and begin to prepare for the future.

As a Catholic physician, I am often struck by casual comments indicating the justifiability of physician assisted suicide in situations of patient suffering and prolonged dying. It strikes me because I believe the final stage of life is vitally important to the dying person as well as to their family and is the natural consequence of living. The days and weeks leading to death can be very fruitful and in many instances are a healing time. In finding relief from physical suffering, patients are able to address the emotional, psychological, and at times spiritual areas of their lives that go unnoticed when physical symptoms are poorly managed. Imagine the difficulty of healing a broken relationship with a family member or God if every breath causes a stabbing pain in your chest or if your nausea is so bad that the thought of food induces vomiting.


Our goal in Hospice and Palliative Medicine is to provide the best experience for patients and families prior to death, to diminish suffering and allow a peaceful passage into the next world, but never to expedite death as a means of relieving suffering. By helping patients and families understand their illness and what to expect as it progresses and by managing physical suffering, they regain some sense of control and are able to focus on what is most important to them at the end of their lives.

In reassuring patients that they will not be abandoned at the end of life, their symptoms will be properly managed and their fears of suffering are addressed, hospices utilizing quality palliative medicine skills can help negate the desire by some to pursue physician assisted suicide. It helps turn a scary and unknown time in a person’s life into an opportunity for emotion and spiritual growth and allows for healing of the fractured relationships that are a part of life.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:54 PM | Permalink

December 12, 2011

"People who seemed vegetative for years were waking up"

The pharmaceutical drug Ambien has surprising effects on those who are prejoratively called "vegetables".

A Drug that Wakes the Near Dead

A growing body of case reports suggests that the popular sleep aid can have a profound — and paradoxical — effect on patients like Chris. Rather than put them to sleep, both Ambien and its generic twin, zolpidem, appear to awaken at least some of them. The early reports were so pronounced that until recently, doctors had a hard time believing them. Only now, more than a decade after the initial discovery, are they taking a closer look.
--
People who seemed vegetative for years were waking up.
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According to several studies, about 40 percent of patients who have been declared vegetative are actually minimally conscious. Other studies have shown that a surprising number of vegetative and minimally conscious patients made huge strides toward recovery much later than conventional wisdom would predict.

It's hard to imagine what it would be like to be imprisoned in your own body.  Rom Houben was totally paralyzed and no one knew his brain was fully functioning.  He was a coma victim who screamed unheard.

For 23 years Rom Houben was ­imprisoned in his own body. He saw his doctors and nurses as they visited him during their daily rounds; he listened to the conversations of his carers; he heard his mother deliver the news to him that his father had died. But he could do nothing. He was unable to communicate with his doctors or family. He could not move his head or weep, he could only listen.

Doctors presumed he was in a vegetative state following a near-fatal car crash in 1983. They believed he could feel nothing and hear nothing. For 23 years.

Then a neurologist, Steven Laureys, who decided to take a radical look at the state of diagnosed coma patients, released him from his torture. Using a state-of-the-art scanning system, Laureys found to his amazement that his brain was functioning almost normally.

"I had dreamed myself away," said Houben, now 46, whose real "state" was discovered three years ago, according to a report in the German magazine Der Spiegel this week.
--

The moment it was discovered he was not in a vegetative state, said Houben, was like being born again. "I'll never forget the day that they discovered me," he said. "It was my second birth"

Experts say Laureys' findings are likely to reopen the debate over when the decision should be made to terminate the lives of those in comas who appear to be unconscious but may have almost fully-functioning brains.
--

Laureys, who is head of the Coma Science Group and department of neurology at Liege University hospital, has advised on several prominent coma cases, such as the American Terri Schiavo, whose life support was withdrawn in 2005 after 15 years in a coma.

Laureys concluded that coma patients are misdiagnosed "on a disturbingly regular basis". He examined 44 patients believed to be in a vegetative state, and found that 18 of them responded to communication.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:16 PM | Permalink

December 7, 2011

Death on wheels

Are you lonely? Did your GP refuse to give you drugs to end your life?

Death on wheels: Dutch to send mobile clinics to euthanise people in their own homes

The mobile units are being aggressively promoted by Dutch euthanasia campaign groups who want to expand the eligibility criteria for euthanasia and also to open facilities specifically for euthanasia along the pattern of the Dignitas centre in Switzerland.

They claim that 80 per cent of people with dementia or mental illnesses were being 'missed' by the country’s euthanasia laws.

They are supported by the Dutch Medical Association which this summer issued guidance effectively saying even people who complained of being lonely could qualify for euthanasia if it constitutes 'unbearable and lasting suffering'.
---

Pro-life campaigners in Britain, however, were appalled. Phyllis Bowman of Right to Life said the incremental liberalisation of Dutch euthanasia practice sent a 'terrifying warning' to the British people.

She said she found the proposals to set up mobile death squads 'too dreadful for words'.

'Not even the Nazis thought of that one,' she said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:46 AM | Permalink

October 3, 2011

Euthanasia hides behind a false mask of compassion

Wesley Smith writes Legal Assisted Suicide Would Make Elder Abuse Epidemic Worse.

He points to the US Senate Special Committee on Aging and testimony relating to Ending Elder Abuse, Neglect and Financial Exploitation by Marie-These Connolly, a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  What she had to say is truly horrifying.  People with dementia suffer staggering rates of mistreatment.  A 2010 study in California found that 47% of people with dementia being cared for at home by family members were mistreated.

Then he points to a specific case of man who posed as a dedicated husband willing to risk jail to help his beloved wife who was suffering from progressive multiple sclerosis kill herself.

The Myrna Lebov assisted suicide–facilitated by her husband, George Delury to put her out of his misery– serves as an apt example of how easy it is to hide abuse behind a false mask of “compassion.”

Turns out his computer records show how he destroyed her will by making her feel worthless and a burden who kept him from living the life he wanted.  In the end he gave his wife enough drugs for overdose, but, anxious the drugs might not worked,  he murdered her by suffocating her with a plastic bag.

 Old Man's Hands Crutch

The Netherlands continues to be at the deadly edge of killing old people.  At least in Niger and Afghanistan, doctors are supposed to save lives, not take them. Not so in the Netherlands.

Could there be a worse place in the world to be a doctor than the Netherlands? Not because of the standard of its health care; it has one of the highest life expectancies in the world and one of the lowest infant mortality rates. But because the professional association of Dutch physicians has decreed that euthanasia is an integral part of a doctor’s job.
--
Ten years after legalisation in the Netherlands, euthanasia for the terminally ill has become commonplace. Some elderly people are so afraid of being killed by doctors that they carry please-do-not-euthanse-me  cards. About 2,400 people officially die through euthanasia every year -- although the real number may be significantly higher because doctors often fail to do all the paperwork required by the government.

Now public debate has moved on to euthanasia for those who are weary of life but not ill and euthanasia for people with dementia and psychiatric conditions....If this is not a repudiation of all that doctors stand for, what is?

Living wills for people who want to live

BioEdge recently reported that nervous Nellies in the Netherlands were carrying “please DO resuscitate me” cards instead of “do not resuscitate” cards. Apparently they are worried about the possibility of involuntary euthanasia.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, In the Hand of God

Dr. Bernard Nathanson described himself as a man who "helped usher in this barbaric age" of abortion-on-demand, "the most atrocious holocaust in the history of the United States."  As one of the founders of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now called NARAL), who admitted fabricating the numbers of illegal abortions and women killed from botched abortions, he paved the way for Roe v. Wade.
--
Ultrasound helped him see what pro-lifers knew -- the human being in the womb.  He committed his last abortion in 1979..... Science, reason, and human dignity changed his mind on abortion.  Love transformed his heart toward God.
--
He wrote of his two conversions in his autobiography, "The Hand of God."
--
[H]e feared a culture that endorses abortion would lead to industrial euthanasia.  "Drawing largely from my experience with a similar brand of pagan excess,
I predict that entrepreneurs will set up multiple small, discreet infirmaries for those who wish, have been talked into, coerced into, or medically deceived into death. ...

But that will only be the first phase.  As the thanatoria flourish and expand into chains and franchised operations, the accountants will eventually assume command, slashing expenses and overheads as competition grows.  The final streamlined, efficient, and economically flawless version of the thanatorium will resemble nothing so much as the assembly line factories that abortion clinics have become and - farther on down the slope - the ovens of Auschwitz."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:57 AM | Permalink

September 30, 2011

Let's make death fun!

Want to enjoy the ride of your life along with the last ride of your life?

That's what Julijonas Urbonas envisions with his Euthanasia Coaster.

The three-minute ride involves a long, slow, climb -- nearly a third of a mile long -- that lifts one up to a height of more than 1,600 feet, followed by a massive fall and seven strategically sized and placed loops. The final descent and series of loops take all of one minute. But the gravitational force -- 10 Gs -- from the spinning loops at 223 miles per hour in that single minute is lethal.

According to Urbonas, the "Euthanasia Coaster is a hypothetic euthanasia machine in the form of a roller coaster, engineered to humanely -- with elegance and euphoria -- take the life of a human being."
--

 Suicide Rollercoaster

Urbonas, who once worked at an amusement park in his native Lithuania, is a PhD candidate in London's Royal College of Art's Design Interactions department. He considers this research in "Gravitational Aesthetics."

That's because Euthanasia Coaster isn't simply meant to be about death. Urbonas sees it as both an intellectual and artful departure from the world, one that isn't about the paperwork and medical issues of the current euthanasia system. The few places where voluntary euthanasia is legal include: Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington.

"There is no special ritual, nor is death given special meaning except that of the legal procedures and psychological preparation. It is like death is divorced from our cultural life…" Urbonas writes. "…But if it is already legal, why not to make it more meaningful?"

Astonishing isn't it.  That anyone would think that suicide by rollercoaster is  a 'meaningful' death or in any way an 'intellectual and artful departure from the world'.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:44 PM | Permalink

September 23, 2011

Euthanasia hides behind a false mask of compassion

Wesley Smith writes Legal Assisted Suicide Would Make Elder Abuse Epidemic Worse.

He points to the US Senate Special Committee on Aging and testimony relating to Ending Elder Abuse, Neglect and Financial Exploitation by Marie-These Connolly, a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  What she had to say is truly horrifying.  People with dementia suffer staggering rates of mistreatment.  A 2010 study in California found that 47% of people with dementia being cared for at home by family members were mistreated.

Then he points to a specific case of man who posed as a dedicated husband willing to risk jail to help his beloved wife who was suffering from progressive multiple sclerosis kill herself.

The Myrna Lebov assisted suicide–facilitated by her husband, George Delury to put her out of his misery– serves as an apt example of how easy it is to hide abuse behind a false mask of “compassion.”

Turns out his computer records show how he destroyed her will by making her feel worthless and a burden who kept him from living the life he wanted.  In the end he gave his wife enough drugs for overdose, but, anxious the drugs might not worked,  he murdered her by suffocating her with a plastic bag.

 Old Man's Hands Crutch

The Netherlands continues to be at the deadly edge of killing old people.  At least in Niger and Afghanistan, doctors are supposed to save lives, not take them. Not so in the Netherlands.

Could there be a worse place in the world to be a doctor than the Netherlands? Not because of the standard of its health care; it has one of the highest life expectancies in the world and one of the lowest infant mortality rates. But because the professional association of Dutch physicians has decreed that euthanasia is an integral part of a doctor’s job.
--
Ten years after legalisation in the Netherlands, euthanasia for the terminally ill has become commonplace. Some elderly people are so afraid of being killed by doctors that they carry please-do-not-euthanse-me  cards. About 2,400 people officially die through euthanasia every year -- although the real number may be significantly higher because doctors often fail to do all the paperwork required by the government.

Now public debate has moved on to euthanasia for those who are weary of life but not ill and euthanasia for people with dementia and psychiatric conditions....If this is not a repudiation of all that doctors stand for, what is?

Living wills for people who want to live

BioEdge recently reported that nervous Nellies in the Netherlands were carrying “please DO resuscitate me” cards instead of “do not resuscitate” cards. Apparently they are worried about the possibility of involuntary euthanasia.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, In the Hand of God

Dr. Bernard Nathanson described himself as a man who "helped usher in this barbaric age" of abortion-on-demand, "the most atrocious holocaust in the history of the United States."  As one of the founders of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now called NARAL), who admitted fabricating the numbers of illegal abortions and women killed from botched abortions, he paved the way for Roe v. Wade.
--
Ultrasound helped him see what pro-lifers knew -- the human being in the womb.  He committed his last abortion in 1979..... Science, reason, and human dignity changed his mind on abortion.  Love transformed his heart toward God.
--
He wrote of his two conversions in his autobiography, "The Hand of God."
--
[H]e feared a culture that endorses abortion would lead to industrial euthanasia.  "Drawing largely from my experience with a similar brand of pagan excess,
I predict that entrepreneurs will set up multiple small, discreet infirmaries for those who wish, have been talked into, coerced into, or medically deceived into death. ...

But that will only be the first phase.  As the thanatoria flourish and expand into chains and franchised operations, the accountants will eventually assume command, slashing expenses and overheads as competition grows.  The final streamlined, efficient, and economically flawless version of the thanatorium will resemble nothing so much as the assembly line factories that abortion clinics have become and - farther on down the slope - the ovens of Auschwitz."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:13 PM | Permalink

June 15, 2011

Is there such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived?

The Nazi holocaust began in 1939 with the killing of 6,000 disabled children and 70,000 patients in geriatric and psychiatric institutions. Leo Alexander, a psychiatrist who gave evidence at Nuremberg in 1949 said that ‘its beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitude of the physicians. It started with the attitude, basic in the euthanasia movement that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived. This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially unwanted and finally all non-Germans.’

Twenty facts we did not learn from Terry Pratchett's BBC 'documentary' on assisted suicide

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:14 PM | Permalink

June 14, 2011

"People with disabilities should be very alarmed"

How is a television that shows a man being killed as he pleads for water any different from the public executions that were common spectacles from time immemorial until about 150 years ago?

Choking and pleading for water as he dies.  Fury at suicide on BBC

Author Sir Terry Pratchett, who made the programme, says to a background of haunting pipe music: "This has been a happy event.

London Times comes out in favor of assisted suicide

Baroness Finlay, professor of palliative medicine in Cardiff, has tonight published a riposte, “’Safeguards’ will not make assisted suicide acceptable”, in which she makes the following points:

“Those campaigning for assisted suicide make it all sound so easy: safeguards, no investigation of those who assist and an assumption that everyone involved acts from the finest of motives.”

“But the law has to protect us all from those who do not necessarily have the best motives…So why are the so-called “safeguards” proposed by campaigners unsafe? First, they assume that one can define precisely who is terminally ill: one cannot. Doctors know only too well of misdiagnoses and prognoses that are wrong by months or years. Second, coercive influences on a person are difficult to detect. Third, doctors and nurses often have a big influence on a patient…”

“When assisted suicide is investigated, those who stand to inherit should be rigorously examined if they are complicit in the death… We are all interconnected. The actions of one person affect others.
Assisting suicide is a step too far; personal gain too easily masquerades as compassion.”

In order to ensure that vulnerable people – those who are elderly, disabled, depressed or sick – are adequately protected it means that a small number of people who desperately wish help to end their lives will not be able to do it and that others will not be able to help them without the risk of prosecution.

That is part of living in a democratic society. Autonomy is not absolute. All laws limit autonomy in some way because laws are there to protect the vulnerable, not to give liberties to the determined. That is why we have speed limits and breath tests – despite the fact that some people think they can drive safely over either limit.

Ross Douhat in the New York Times on Dr. Kevorkian's victims

And once we allow that such a right exists, the arguments for confining it to the dying seem arbitrary at best. We are all dying, day by day: do the terminally ill really occupy a completely different moral category from the rest? A cancer patient’s suffering isn’t necessarily more unbearable than the more indefinite agony of someone living with multiple sclerosis or quadriplegia or manic depression. And not every unbearable agony is medical: if a man losing a battle with Parkinson’s disease can claim the relief of physician-assisted suicide, then why not a devastated widower, or a parent who has lost her only child?
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Jack Kevorkian spent his career putting this dark, expansive logic into practice. He didn’t just provide death to the dying; he helped anyone whose suffering seemed sufficient to warrant his deadly assistance. When The Detroit Free Press investigated his “practice” in 1997, it found that 60 percent of those he assisted weren’t actually terminally ill. In several cases, autopsies revealed “no anatomical evidence of disease.”

This record was ignored or glossed over by his admirers. (So were the roots of his interest in euthanasia:
Kevorkian was obsessed with human experimentation, and pined for a day when both assisted suicides and executions could be accompanied by vivisection.)

That day has come,  Belgian Doctors Boast of Harvesting Organs After Euthanasia and Wesley Smith writes

The non malignant conditions were probably neuro/muscular disabilities that euthanasa/organ harvesting promoters have targeted in a Power Point presentation as splendid subjects for this process because their organs are generally not damaged.

Imagine being a devalued person with a serious disability and come to believe your life isn’t worth anything, and in fact, worry that you are a burden, to realize that you could reverse the situation by being euthanized and harvested? 
This is a emotional inducement to be killed, and as such, is extremely dangerous to the wellbeing of people with serious disabilities.

And it won’t stop there.  Just as I was right in my 1993 prediction, trust me on this:
Coming next–paying people with serious disabilities to be killed and harvested, like Jack Kevorkian once advocated.  Utilitarian booster of such a course would argue that it saves society money on the costs of long term care, allow the disabled person the satisfaction of offering a benefit to society out of their personal tragedy, and leave a nice bundle for family, friends, or cause.  Win. Win. Win.

Once you accept the premise that there is such a thing as a life not worth living–to the point that killing is an acceptable answer to the problem–there aren’t many arguments left against such a regime.
People with disabilities should be very alarmed.

From Reflections of a Paralytic  Most paralyzed people are happy to be alive

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 AM | Permalink

June 17, 2010

'Once you have legalised voluntary euthanasia, involuntary euthanasia will inevitably follow,'

You don't want to go to the hospital in Belgium unless you really have to be there..  It's murder

Almost half of Belgium's euthanasia nurses admit to killing without consent

More than 100 nurses admitted to researchers that they had taken part in 'terminations without request or consent'.

Although euthanasia is legal in Belgium, it is governed by strict rules which state it should be carried out only by a doctor and with the patient's permission.

The disturbing revelation  -  which shows that nurses regularly go well beyond their legal role  -  raises fears that were assisted suicides allowed in Britain, they could never be properly regulated.

Since its legalisation eight years ago, euthanasia now accounts for 2 per cent of deaths in Belgium  -  or around 2,000 a year.

--
Last night, Dr Peter Saunders, director of the Care Not Killing campaign in Britain, said: 'We should take a warning from this that wherever you draw the line, people will go up to it and beyond it.'

'Once you have legalised voluntary euthanasia, involuntary euthanasia will inevitably follow,' he added.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:36 PM | Permalink

May 13, 2010

When euthanasia is coupled with organ donation

Moreover, agreeing to harvest organs from euthanasia/assisted suicides raises the very realistic prospect that despairing people with terminal illnesses or disabilities (or perhaps, just despair) could latch onto being killed for their organs as a way of bringing meaning to their lives.  This is very dangerous territory, made all the more treacherous by doctors, spouses, and a respected medical journal validating the ideas that dead is better than disabled and that living patients can, essentially, be viewed as a natural resource to be killed and mined.

Wesley Smith in Belgian Doctors Euthanized Disable Patient and Harvested Organs

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:24 AM | Permalink

April 30, 2010

"Dehydrating a patient to death is known as The Third Way"

Quiet euthanasia by Matt C. Abbott

"Hundreds of thousands of patients are killed in the world each year in this manner, and no police or district attorney will act to investigate or prosecute."

These are the alarming words of Ron Panzer, founder and executive director of Hospice Patients Alliance, an organization dedicated to preserving the original mission of hospice care and exposing the pervasive problem of "quiet euthanasia" in the hospice industry.
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"Dehydrating a patient to death is known as The Third Way, says Panzer. "It's a way of side-stepping the laws against medical killing but assuring just as sure a result: death. It's extremely common."
--

Regarding sedation, Panzer warns that "a natural death includes total sedation only if the patient is 'terminally agitated' uncontrollably, dangerously psychotic or delusional, or in severe pain where strong pain medications alone do not adequately manage that pain. To sedate without real agitation is a choice to kill. To dehydrate before the patient cannot take fluids is a choice to kill."

Panzer says that death through The Third Way is "the most censored story in the United States and perhaps the entire world."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:32 PM | Permalink

April 2, 2009

Suicide on demand for the healthy.

The head of the Dignitas Euthanasia Clinic in Switzerland thinks suicide on demand for the healthy is a peachy keen idea, one  that could save money for the National Health Service.   

" A marvellous possibility for all," says Dignitas boss.
The head of the Dignitas euthanasia clinic in Switzerland declared yesterday that he believed assisted suicide should be available 'on demand'.

Ludwig Minelli, whose organisation has supervised the deaths of 100 Britons, said suicide was not just for those already dying but 'a marvellous possibility given to a human being'.   
--
Anti-euthanasia campaigners said Mr Minelli's willingness to kill anyone who requested it bore out fears that legalising assisted suicide for the dying rapidly leads to euthanasia for anyone.

Just a few months ago, a forme worker at the Dignitas clinic said it's a "profit center killing machine."

Nurse Soraya Vernili who believes in assisted suicide was appalled at the way people were treated and the contemptuous behavior of her boss who was cashing in on despair.

Nominated for the Prize of Courage by a Swiss newspaper in 2007 - she garnered praise for her efforts in exposing what she claims is a 'production line of death concerned only with profits' - Mrs Wernli has embarked on writing a book.

It has the title The Business With The Deadly Cocktails, and she promises an in- depth expose of a 'principled and necessary organisation gone bad'.

He made them sign over all their possessions and sold their personal effects to pawn and second-hand shops rather than return them to their families.
--

'Mr Crew arrived in the morning and was dead just hours later,' she says. 'This was another of my many clashes with Minelli. I argued that it wasn't right that people land at the airport, are ferried to his office, have their requisite half-an-hour with a doctor, get the barbiturates they need and are then sent off to die.

'This is the biggest step anyone will ever take. They should at least be allowed to stay overnight, to think about what they are doing. But Minelli would have none of it. He once said to me that if he had his way, he would have vending machines where people could buy barbiturates to end their lives as easily as if they were buying a soft drink or a bar of chocolate. I support assisted suicide - but not the way he went about it.'
--

'And Minelli has the cheek to call his practice Dignitas, when dignity is the last thing afforded to these poor people.'

This is a horrifying example of the culture of death.  There has to be legal prohibition against  euthanasia otherwise those dying are easy prey for others who seem them only as an opportunity to make money or save money.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:17 PM | Permalink

February 26, 2008

A call for solidarity: "No believer should die alone and abandoned."

So spoke Pope Benedict XVI when he received participants at an international congress entitled: "Close by the Incurable Sick Person and the Dying: Scientific and Ethical Aspects."

In keeping with the teaching of the Church for centuries, the Pope Strongly Condemned all Forms of Euthanasia.
Death", said the Pope, "concludes the experience of earthly life, but through death there opens for each of us, beyond time, the full and definitive life. ... For the community of believers, this encounter between the dying person and the Source of Life and Love represents a gift that has a universal value, that enriches the communion of the faithful". In this context, he highlighted how all the community should participate alongside close relatives in the last moments of a person's life. "No believer", he said, "should die alone and abandoned".

The Holy Father called for time off so that relatives could  care for the terminally ill.
"A greater respect for individual human life inevitably comes through the concrete solidarity of each and all, and constitutes one of the most pressing challenges of our times".
--

"The synergetic efforts of civil society and of the community of believers must ensure not only that everyone is able to live in a dignified and responsible way, but also that they can face moments of trial and of death in the finest condition of fraternity and solidarity, even where death comes in a poor family or a hospital bed".

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 AM | Permalink

October 7, 2006

Euthanasia victims in mass grave

After euthanizing them to purify the German gene pool of mental and physical disability, the Nazis threw their bodies into a mass grave.

Bodies found in Hitler "euthanasia pit."

A mass grave containing the bodies of 51 people murdered by the Hitler regime has been discovered in a quiet German village which once housed a Nazi euthanasia clinic.

The skeletons of 22 children and 29 adults have been exhumed from the grave in a Catholic church cemetery in the village of Menden-Barge.
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The bodies show signs of having met a violent death and the children's tiny skeletons had been tossed into the grave without coffins.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:46 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

December 8, 2005

Euthanasia by machine

Israelis to be allowed euthanasia by machine

Machines will perform euthanasia on terminally ill patients in Israel under legislation devised not to offend Jewish law, which forbids people taking human life.

A special timer will be fitted to a patient's respirator which will sound an alarm 12 hours before turning it off.

Normally, carers would override the alarm and keep the respirator turned on but, if various stringent conditions are met, including the giving of consent by the patient or legal guardian, the alarm would not be overridden.

Similar timing devices, known as Sabbath clocks, are used in the homes of orthodox Jews so that light switches and electrical devices can be turned on during the Sabbath without offending religious strictures.

Somehow, these seems too lawyer-like for me, even as the health minister says

This is one of the most important laws passed by the Knesset. It represents major moral value for the terminally ill and their families."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:52 PM | Permalink

November 21, 2005

Euthanasia Doctor Commits Suicide

Euthanasia Doctor Commits Suicide after Finding Patient He Killed Was Not Terminally Ill

A doctor acting for the Swiss euthanasia group, Dignitas, has committed suicide after learning that a German woman he euthanized was not terminally ill. Dignitas is under investigation after news of the woman's death.

The 69-year-old woman contacted Dignitas with a medical report stating she had terminal liver cirrhosis; an autopsy conducted later in Germany revealed the woman was in good health other than depression, and that the medical report was falsified. The woman, whose name was withheld, allegedly convinced her German GP to falsify the report so that she could get sick leave from work.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:41 PM | Permalink

October 26, 2005

Euthanasia Investigation Underway in New Orleans

Following the euthanasia investigation in New Orleans is the Doctor is In.

CNN is now reporting that a very active investigation is currently underway of Memorial Hospital–where 45 patients were found dead–by the Attorney General’s office. This investigation to date has uncovered additional testimony that euthanasia was actively discussed and may well have been performed:
----
Time will tell how this investigation turns out–and it may ultimately be very difficult to prove what happened at Memorial Hospital, given the poor condition of the bodies and the difficulty in distinguishing therapeutic pain management and sedation versus the same drugs used in doses sufficient to kill. One suspects that those involved in such actions–if they occurred–will be loath to admit it–and likely would have been careful to avoid witnesses, if at all possible.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:47 PM | Permalink