Assisted-Death Debate – September 2012 – News and Blogs from Around the World

End-of-Life discussions about Assisted Dying/Suicide/Euthanasia in news articles, blogs, videos from the left, right and center during the month of September 2012. This is a place to find out what’s being talked about around the world as we sort out this highly emotional and controversial issue.

Become informed, open your mind,  join in the discussions. Don’t be swayed by emotional euphemisms or dysphemisms, or religious dogma. Our leaders need to know what people are thinking and we need to know what our leaders are considering in terms of laws. These are conversations we all need to have! The end result should be reasonable laws that protect the vulnerable yet allow self-determination at the end of life for those who want the option of assistance.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Care Not Killing (UK)

Committee Against Physician-Assisted Suicide (US)

Compassion & Choices (US)

Compassion in Dying (UK)

Death with Dignity (US)

Dignity in Dying (UK)

Dignitas (Switzerland)

Dying with Dignity (Canada)

Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (Canada)

Final Exit Network (US)

Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying (UK)

Not Dead Yet (US)

Patient Rights Council (US)

Second Thoughts (US)

World Federation of Right to Die Societies - The World Federation, founded in 1980, consists of 45 right to die organizations from 25 countries. The Federation provides an international link for organizations working to secure or protect the rights of individuals to self-determination at the end of their lives.

BLOGS

Death with Dignity National Center – Living with Dying – This Week in the Movement
September 7
September 14
September 21
September 28

Death With Dignity Around the U.S. (as of July 23, 2012) – Death With Dignity National Center

Right-to-Die Debate Comes to Massachusetts – Governing Politics

Massachusetts Death With Dignity Act: A Crime That Anyone Would Oppose It by William Kickham, Boston Criminal Attorney Blog (9/2/12)

Huge public support for change in law on assisted dying – New Humanist Blog (9/7/12)

How do you want to die? The Week: Healthcare Reform (9/11/12)

Boston Public Radio Discussion of Massachusetts Death with Dignity  – Living with Dying: Death With Dignity National Center (9/7/12)

Karen Okada – POA Contradicts Advance Directive by Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD (9/14/12)

Going Gently into that Good Night by Daniel Krieger , Narratively/nyc

Legal Euthanasia – Death With Dignity – conversation

Respecting Uncle Jack: On Death With Dignity by Greg Pfundstein

My Demented Mom – A letter to those businesses and professionals who make dementia even more agonizing

Assisted dying: Who’s to decide when a life is not worth living? – Andrew Brown’s Blog

White Coat Notes: Physician-assisted suicide ‘in direct conflict’ with doctor’s role by Barbara Rockett

Assisted Suicide and the Right to Die: Tony Nicklinson’s Legacy by Louise Port

Maybe it’s time assisted suicide was legal by Sam Hoober

5 Reasons I won’t Die the Way My Mother Did – HuffPost-Post50

Permitted assisted dying could increase protection for vulnerable people by  Nelson Jones

Debate.org: Should assisted suicide be legalized as a measure of freedom of choice?

Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death: The Libertarian Case For Euthanasia by Elise Thompson

Death with Dignity or Physician-Assisted Suicide? – The Anxious Bench by Thomas Albert Howard

BOOKS

How to Die Consciously by Diane Goble – Practical suggestions about how to prepare yourself and your family for your transition whenever/however it happens (because we are all going to die)

May Doctors Help You Die? by Marcia Angell, MD – The New York Review of Books

Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care by Marty Makary, MD – (video) Aside from errors, experts say 20% to 30% of medical care is unnecessary.

Review of book about Death-With-Dignity Movement by Zoe FitzGerald Carter – In Search of Gentle Death: The Fight for Your Right to Die with Dignity by Richard N. Cote

BROADCASTS

Election 2012: Death with Dignity – Boston Public Radio (9/5/12)

MAGAZINES

How the Catholic Church Misunderstands Death With Dignity by Wendy Kaminer, the Atlantic (9/17/12) – According to the bishops, “a society that devalues some people’s lives, by hastening and facilitating their deaths, will ultimately lose respect for their other rights and freedoms.”

This makes little sense if you consider few freedoms more fundamental than the freedom to end your own life on your own terms, when confronting a terminal illness and inevitable pain and suffering you’d rather avoid. But this concept of freedom deeply offends the Church: Physician-assisted suicide “would create pressures to limit our freedom, because it could establish an expectation that certain people will be better served by being dead, a dubious premise indeed,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley declares.

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A Graceful Exit: Taking charge at the End of Life by Claudia Rowe, Yes! Magazine (9/19/12) – So while many seniors now live vigorous lives well into their 80s, no one gets a free pass. Eating right and exercising may merely forestall an inevitable and ruinously expensive decline. By 2050, the cost of dementia care alone is projected to total more than $1 trillion.

My mom’s decision to face her end came not from any of these facts, but from the nightmare of watching her own mother’s angry decline in a New York nursing home. “You’re all a bunch of rotten apples,” Grandma growled at visitors, the words erupting from her otherwise mute lips. And there she sat for three years, waiting to die. “Why can’t you just get me some pills so I can go?” she would sometimes wail.

Also see Ted Talk w/Dr. Peter Saul “Let’s Talk About Dying.”

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Euthanasia: A Good Death? by Jenni Ogden, Psychology Today (9/24/12) – In a video made by Rosie some months before she died, she made it clear that she was euthanizing herself, and that no one had coerced her. This video was one of the deciding factors for the judge when, for the first time in a case like this in New Zealand, there was no conviction. The court’s decision is in line with polls that demonstrate that the majority of New Zealanders believe that assisted voluntary euthanasia in cases of terminal illness and irreversible disease should be legalized.

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Merciful Assistance or Physician-Assisted Killing? by Ronald Pies, MD, PsychCentral.com (9/30/12) – Suddenly, he sees his very own physician, Dr. Jones, walking by. He begs Dr. Jones to help him climb atop the railing, adding, “Don’t worry, Doc, it will be my decision to jump.” The doctor is taken aback, but quickly determines that his patient is not psychotic or severely depressed, and is capable of making a rational decision regarding suicide. The doctor tries to persuade your dad that pain and suffering can usually be well-controlled during the final days, but the patient is insistent: he wants to end his life.

Would you agree that Dr. Jones is fulfilling his obligations as a physician by assisting your father in jumping off the bridge?

If not, would you support the doctor’s providing your father with a lethal dose of medication?

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Death With Dignity: Why I Don’t Want to Starve Myself to Death by John M. Grohol, PsyD, PsychCentral.com (9/30/12) – Dr. Ron Pies writes an eloquent defense of why physician-assisted suicide should not be made a legal right in Massachusetts. He compares it to a doctor helping one of his patients jump from a bridge — something most doctors would never do.

But in making this analogy, I believe we’re removing all context and logic from the decision behind wanting to end your own life because of a terminal illness. For the patient, it’s not about the act of suicide or ending their lives — it’s about alleviating suffering from the disease and choosing one’s own way of dying with a little dignity. It’s about patient empowerment, human dignity and choice.

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MOVIES

Italian director slams Catholic Church’s political role – GMA News (9/7/12) – Italian director Marco Bellocchio on Thursday condemned the Catholic Church’s interference in politics after the premiere of his new controversial film about a high-profile euthanasia case.

“As long as Catholics can condition Italian political life, things are not going to change,” said the 72-year-old Bellocchio, whose “Bella Addormentata” (“Dormant Beauty”) is one of 18 films vying for this year’s Golden Lion.

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VIDEOS

A matter of respect for autonomy of dying patients by Dr. Marcia Angell  – The Boston Globe (9/2/12)

Uninformed Consent, Unshared Decision-Making in the ICU by Barbara Coombs Lee (Compassion & Choices 9/10/12)

Udo Schuklenk’s Ethx Blog – Bad News for anti-euthanasia campaigners

Choice in dying: Arguing for the right to die and against the religious obstruction of that right – Further progress in the “right to die” movement by Eric MacDonald (9/21/12)

Diagnosis: Death – Knowing how to cope in the face of a deadly diagnosis can
make life easier for terminally ill patients.

The Lady and the Reaper

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UNITED STATES

(News this month from California, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin)

CALIFORNIA

Mass. critics of suicide question return $250,000 by Steve LeBlanc, San Francisco Chronicle (9/14/12) – A group opposed to a ballot question that would allow terminally ill patients to self-administer life-ending drugs has returned a $250,000 donation from a conservative Mississippi-based organization with anti-gay views, but which describes itself as pro-family.

The American Family Association was the largest single donor to the Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide, which has raised more than $900,000 to launch a campaign against the question, which will appear on the November ballot.

A committee spokesman told the Associated Press on Friday that the organization wanted to make sure that the debate remained focused on the ballot question.

Patrick Vaughn, general counsel for the group, described the American Family Association as an evangelical group in favor of traditional marriage.

“We believe that homosexuality is sinful and unnatural and it’s not good for people,” he said.

The association has been criticized by the Southern Poverty Law Center for what it calls the group’s extreme anti-gay views, including claims that equate homosexuality with pedophilia and arguments that the “homosexual agenda” will bring down American civilization. Among other activities, the association boycotts corporations it believes are too friendly to gay rights.

In August, Bryan Fischer, an official with the association, tweeted, “Why we need an Underground Railroad to deliver innocent children from same-sex households.”

A spokesman for Dignity 2012, which supports the ballot question, criticized the initial decision to accept the donation, which was made in early July.

“Shame on them for taking this money in the first place,” said Steve Crawford. “Rather than return it so it can be used to spread more prejudice and hate, they should donate it to Hospice of Massachusetts, where it will do some good,” Crawford said in a statement.

The committee also has received large donations from several Catholic organizations, including $200,000 from the Knights of Columbus, and tens of thousands in donations from about two dozen Catholic dioceses from across the country.

The group also received about $175,000 from the conservative Washington D.C.-based American Principles Project. It had about $295,000 left in its account at the beginning of September.

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Do We Have a Right to Die? by James McGregor, City Watch (9/20/12) – The Hippocratic Oath, arguably one of the most important and influential texts in history, makes its view of assisted suicide quite clear. While there can be no doubt that the oath set the foundations for modern medicine, it’s worth noting that the text starts with a declaration of allegiance to the gods Apollo, Asclepius and Hygeia. So as our knowledge on medicine, spirituality and society improves, is it time to rethink the laws when it comes to assisted suicide?

To say that the subject of assisted suicide is contentious is akin to saying the Pacific Ocean is “slightly damp”. The chairman of the British Medical Association has recently been quoted as saying that the topic is “a journey that I just don’t want us to start on”. It is an ethical and ideological minefield: the more you delve, the more quandaries are thrown up. Death is a subject that we all have an opinion on, as it is something that affects every single one of us.

Given the choice, the majority of us would prefer to pass away painlessly and peacefully in our homes surrounded by our loved ones. However, the reality is frequently different.

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New Jersey could become 3rd state with right-to-die law by Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times (9/27/12) – A New Jersey lawmaker has proposed a right-to-die law for that state’s terminally ill people which, if passed, would make the state the third in the nation after Oregon and Washington to allow those with deadly diseases the chance to end their own suffering.

The Death With Dignity Act would allow a “qualified patient to self-administer medication to end life in a humane and dignified manner,” said the bill, introduced this week by Democratic Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester). But as the Star-Ledger noted, it would not be easy to qualify to receive life-ending drugs.

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D.C.

Planned Parenthood Insider Now Works for Assisted Suicide Group by Rita Diller, LifeNews.com (9/5/12) – When Compassion & Choices, formerly The Hemlock Society, convened its June 2012 conference, former Planned Parenthood insider Theresa Connor, now director of government affairs with the assisted suicide group, was a featured speaker. She was public policy director for PP in Washington state for 15 years and instituted the research and strategy behind the 2001 Erickson v. Bartell case “that required employers’ insurance plans to cover prescription birth control under anti-discrimination laws.”

Connor joined Compassion & Choices’ president, Barbara Coombs Lee, author of Oregon’s “Death with Dignity” Act, were co-speakers at the conference on “the strategies for success in affirming and protecting end-of-life liberty, including aid in dying in the states.”

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Boomers Want Control of Their End-of-Life Care by Jonathon Walters, October 2012 Governing – The end-of-life care movement is clearly gathering steam. Public officials and the medical community alike are discussing the topic in growing numbers. With good reason: An aging baby boom cohort and their families are much more tuned in to the subject than previous generations.

Ultimately, the drive toward a more rational, reasoned and patient-centered approach to dying is pretty straightforward. “We are,” says West Virginia’s Moss, “spending lots of money on people who die within a year, in settings they don’t like, getting treatments they don’t want.”

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FLORIDA

Conference addresses end of life care by Mary Shedden, TampaBayOnline (9/17/12) – When Terri Schiavo died in 2005, many Americans saw the end-of-life debate as a national spectacle fueled by distraught relatives, vociferous lawyers, partisan politicians and angry protesters.

The seven-year court battle between the brain-damaged Pinellas County woman’s husband and her parents overshadowed end-of-life discussions and the need for individuals to state their medical wishes if catastrophic illness struck.

Initially, Schiavo’s death at a Largo hospice facility prompted a bump in the number of Americans filling out living wills. Estimates say totals went up nearly 30 percent nationwide.

But now, observers and those in the field of palliative care say the public and the medical community need to pay attention even earlier to the wishes of patients facing serious illness or a grave diagnosis.

“It’s not necessarily about death and dying. It’s about the care of patients with very serious illnesses,” said Howard Tuch, director of Palliative Care Services at Tampa General Hospital and a speaker at a local conference on end-of-life care to be held Friday at Stetson Law School in Tampa.

“It’s about making sure their care is respectful of their wishes. It’s about understanding what their options are.”

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GEORGIA

Palliative care fits Catholic health mission, but too few aware of it – The Georgia Bulletin, The Newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta (9/21/12) – In Washington, the latest state to legalize assisted suicide, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane offers an alternative way of dying. It provides “comfort care suites” that allow family members to stay with their dying relative in a homelike environment. Music thanatologists specially trained to soothe the seriously ill with their voices or the playing of harps are on staff. Health care professionals participate in education programs on palliative medicine and the ethical, moral and legal issues involved in end-of-life care. A meditation garden outside the hospital is open 24 hours a day and gives family members and patients who are well enough an opportunity to experience a peaceful area of waterfalls, streams and walking paths.

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ILLINOIS

13th congressional race really heating up by Kurt Erikson, Bloomington Pantagraph (9/16/12) – Gill’s work history includes being fired from a job as a doctor at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington because of his views on physician-assisted suicide, which is illegal.

Here’s what Gill said about physician-assisted suicide back in 1997.

“I don’t think people should have to put up with the amount of suffering the state says they have to. A lot of physicians feel disgruntled, ashamed and disgusted in their inability to assist patients,” Gill said in an article in The (Bloomington) Pantagraph.

He added that physician-assisted suicides already occur.

For example, Gill said some doctors will keep increasing a patient’s dosage of pain-relieving morphine, fully aware that respirations will eventually stop.

“It goes on everyday,” he said at the time.

It wasn’t until two years later that he was fired by OSF after writing a letter to the editor in support of euthanasia. A hospital spokeswoman said physician-assisted suicide goes against the teachings of the Catholic church.

“In view of the fact that Dr. David Gill embraces and advocates medical treatment methods that are unlawful in this state and that are not acceptable by community medical standards, Dr. Gill cannot be employed by OSF HealthCare System,” a company representative said at the time.

Alte said physician-assisted suicide is not a high-profile issue on the campaign trail.

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Trouble for Gil – CapitolFax.com (9/17/12) – “Illinois families need to know that David Gill thinks physician-assisted suicide is an acceptable medical treatment. This is the same man that is running for Congress and wants to be put in charge of representing the healthcare needs of Illinois families in Washington. Sending David Gill and his radical ideas to Washington is dangerous for Illinois families.” – NRCC Spokeswoman Katie Prill

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Dying Wishes – Mimetalker Blog (9/24/12)

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INDIANA

Assisted suicide likely issue as Ashland City Council considers takeover of community hospital – The Republic (9/28/12) – One issue likely to come up is assisted suicide. Representatives of Dignity Health have said that physicians working at a hospital it runs would not be allowed to prescribe lethal drugs under Oregon’s assisted suicide law.

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MAINE

Physician-assisted suicide is wrong by Fitz Spencer, Bangor Daily News (9/3/12) – “Physician-assisted suicide” is a pleasant-sounding euphemism for what earlier generations called “mercy killing.” The term “mercy killing” is preferable, because it brings the ugly reality out of the shadows and into the light of day. Suicide, even when done to end suffering, is self-murder; and no one has the right to take an innocent life. Hence “mercy killing” is currently a crime under the Maine Criminal Code, as it is in all states. Oregon, Washington and Montana have made an exception in the case of physician-assisted suicide.

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MARYLAND

Call for Public Comment: Active Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Nursing World (9/24/12) – The American Nurses Association (ANA) Department of Nursing Practice and Policy is requesting public comment on the document “Active Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide”. The purpose of this draft position statement is to address both topics to more clearly define what differentiates assisted suicide from active euthanasia and the nurse’s ethical obligations to the patient and the profession…

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MASSACHUSETTS

Must suffering be as inevitable at death? Letter to Boston.com (9/2/12) – I take issue with Tom Keane’s Aug. 26 op-ed column “Kevorkian comes to town.” As the owner of a home care agency that serves seniors and many clients in hospice care, I have witnessed the dying process many times. If pending death could only be as idyllic as Keane seems to believe, where the dying can spend time “admiring a grandchild’s drawing, comforting a friend, advising a one-time colleague, or just telling others they are loved.” I’m sure many terminal patients have had the opportunity to do all those things and more, but there are others whose illness is an agonizing ordeal and whose physical decline robs them of all sense of human dignity.

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A matter of respect for autonomy of dying patients. Letter to boston.com (9/2/12) – Contrary to Tom Keane’s Aug. 26 op-ed “ Kevorkian comes to town,” Question 2 has nothing to do with Jack Kevorkian and everything to do with respect for the autonomy of dying patients. It would simply give such patients in Massachusetts the right to ask physicians for medication to bring about a peaceful death if they find that their suffering is unbearable and can’t be relieved. This is not a choice of death over life, but of the timing and manner of an inevitable death.

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Physician Assisted Suicide Ballot Question 2 by St. Julia Parish (9/2/12) – Here is important information regarding a distressing and serious matter.

On November 6, Massachusetts citizens will vote not only for President and U.S. Senator, but on a ballot question (Question 2) that would legalize physician‐assisted suicide (PAS) under Massachusetts law. If passed on Election Day, PAS would become law in Massachusetts on January 1, 2013. No further approvals would be needed. This result would be a tragic outcome for our communities; namely, that suicide would be legal and approved by our government.

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Massachusetts Death With Dignity Act: A Crime That Anyone Would Oppose It by William Kickham, Boston Criminal Attorney Blog (9/2/12)

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Death with Dignity on WGBH Radio (9/5/12) – Callie Crossley moderates between Dr. Marcia Angel, former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Dr. Lynda Young, former president of the Massachusetts Medical Society

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Death With Dignity – Catholic Free Press (9/6/12) – This November, the citizens of Massachusetts will be asked to cast their vote on the so-called “Death with Dignity Act”.

But the term “death with dignity” brings with it a dark deception.  We are, in fact, being asked to vote for or against the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in our state.  If passed, a person with a prognosis of six months or less to live would be permitted by law to request from their physician, a prescription for lethal drugs for the purpose of helping them to end their life “in a humane and dignified manner.”

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Death With Dignity Initiative debated - WWLP.com video  (9/6/12) – One of the three ballot questions you will be deciding on in November is the “Death with Dignity” initiative.

Should someone who’s lying in bed dying be given the choice to take life ending drugs to hurry the process?

This would allow a terminally ill person to take lethal drugs with the assistance of a doctor.

For supporters that’s a decision people should have.

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Massachusetts Assisted Suicide Proposal a Bad Prescription for Death by Judie Brown, President of American Life League in LifeNews.com (9/7/12) – The headlines in Massachusetts are telling a grim story that is repeated all too often in America. When voters in that state go to the polls in November, they will decide whether or not to approve a measure known simply as “Death with Dignity.” The proposed law “would allow individuals who have been diagnosed with an illness that will cause death within six months to obtain medication to self-administer to end their life.”

In other words, Massachusetts citizens will be using their vote to decide whether someone with a terminal illness, or even a grave illness with a poor prognosis, should have the right to be given a prescription for a drug that will kill them at a time of their choosing. This argument advocates for a freedom of choice regarding death—which is a very dangerous choice. For those who favor such an action, the choice should never be controlled by law or, for that matter, by faith principles.

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Respect Life – Physician Assisted Suicide – St. Mary’s Parish (9/10/12) – Some would have us believe this is merely a question of personal choice.  After all, freedom is near and dear to the American way of life. They claim “Its your life, do with it what you want.” Rather, physician assisted suicide is a very serious moral issue, which, has proven to have implications beyond just one’s own personal choice. Therefore, it is important you understand the issue and all its ramifications, thoroughly, before you vote.

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Massachusetts religious communities divided over doctor-assisted suicide by Lisa Wangsness, boston.com (9/11/12) – The state’s religious communities are divided over what is perhaps the most profound question on this year’s ballot: Should people nearing the end of terminal illnesses be allowed to obtain a prescription drug to end their lives?

The largest religious force in Massachusetts, the Roman Catholic Church, has come out squarely against the referendum, as have other prominent faith voices. A handful of smaller denominations support the measure known as Question 2.

But some umbrella faith organ­izations remain loath to stake out a position, reflecting, they say, the range of opinion among their membership on an issue that proponents refer to as “death with dignity” and opponents call “doctor-assisted suicide.”

“It points to the diversity of political and ethical positions within the life of the church right now,” said the Rev. Laura Everett, executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, an ecumenical partnership of 17 Protestant and ­Orthodox denominations, referring to the lack of consensus within the council’s membership. “With complex theological issues that have public policy expression, there are Christians of strong conscience and faith who disagree.”

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Your View: Withdrawing treatment parallels assisted suicide by Joseph R.B. Levesque, SouthCoastToday.com (9/11/12) – Assisted suicide is a form of life termination that is as much the culture of death as that of abortion and euthanasia. Physicians who practice in the culture of death are knowingly and willingly violating their professional oath, “Thou shall do no harm” as well as violating the 5th Commandment of God; “Thou shall not kill.”

While a patient who fills out a “Health Care Proxy Form” indicating that he or she would not want to be kept alive indefinitely by the use of life sustaining measures; such as pulmonary resuscitation, intravenous dehydration or food supply; the question remains as to who determines the meaning of the word “indefinitely.” Medical history records that patients under care of life sustaining measures have come to be survivors after periods extending more than six months or even one year or more.

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Opinion: Vote yes for Death With Dignity by Michael Sales (9/12/12) – Why was it necessary for my parents, or for anyone, to go through such suffering? Apparently, the answer to that question is that a number of religions seem to require it. A set of religious principles has become embodied into law that applies to everyone, and a huge industry has been built up to care for people coming to the end of their lives — an industry that is paid for with taxpayer dollars. My parents didn’t die the way they would have wanted: They had no choice. I don’t want to go through the hell they had to endure. My sense is that many other people feel the same way.

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Panelists oppose physician-assisted suicide by Tanya Connor, The Catholic Free Press (9/13/12) – If the lifeguard helped people drown, would you want him watching your children?
If Massachusetts voters pass physician assisted suicide in November’s election, it will become legal in the state.
These scenarios, the first one imagined, the second really pending, were presented in a panel at St. James Parish Center Sept. 5.
The Pro-Life and Adult Faith Formation ministries of the Grafton Catholic community sponsored the presentation. Father Edward J. Hanlon, St. James’ pastor, and Father Kenneth R. Cardinale, pastor of St. Mary and St. Philip parishes, participated.
Panelists were Paul Carpentier, M.D., president of In His Image Family Medicine in Gardner; Msgr. Peter R.  Beaulieu, director of mission integration and pastoral care at St. Vincent Hospital; Atty. Henry Luthin, acting president of the board of the Pro-Life Legal Defense Fund, and Allison LeDoux, director of the diocesan Respect Life Office.

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Right-to-Die Debate comes to Massachusetts by Jake Grovum (9/13/12)

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Massachusetts Voters Must Vote No on 2 Against Assisted Suicide by Robin Loughman, RN,  Chairwoman of No on Question 2–Massachusetts Against Doctor-prescribed Suicide in LifeNews.com (9/14/12) – The Radical Suicide Lobby has set up camp in Massachusetts and is putting us all in danger.  Please read this entire message to see how you might be affected by the frightening developments outlined below.

We need to draw a line in the sand.  If we defeat Question 2 in Massachusetts we will deal a serious blow to the Hemlock Society and their radical pro-death movement. It will hamper or even destroy many of their other efforts.  On the other hand, Massachusetts could be Step One to their continued expansion.

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Mass. critics of suicide question return $250,000 by Seve LeBlanc, boston.com (9/14/12) – A group opposed to a ballot question that would allow terminally ill patients to self-administer life-ending drugs has returned a $250,000 donation from a conservative Mississippi-based organization with anti-gay views, but which describes itself as pro-family.

The American Family Association was the largest single donor to the Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide, which has raised more than $900,000 to launch a campaign against the question, which will appear on the November ballot.

A committee spokesman told the Associated Press on Friday that the organization wanted to make sure that the debate remained focused on the ballot question.

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Out-of-state cash shapes Massachusetts ballot measure prospects by Scott Van Voorhis and Meg Demouth, MassLive.com (9/16/12) – An out-of-state billionaire and deep-pocketed interest groups have hijacked the ballot measure process in Massachusetts, stacking the odds against the kind of grassroots political activism it was intended to empower, a review by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting finds.

There are no caps on how much a person or organization can contribute to a ballot measure campaign in Massachusetts, unlike clearly defined limits for state and federal elections. The unlimited ability to pump millions into ballot measures gives an unfair edge to well-heeled special interests, critics claim.

“You are not supposed to be able to buy a (ballot campaign),” said Mary Boyle, spokeswoman for the Washington D.C. based government watchdog group Common Cause. “Democracy should not be for sale to the highest bidder.”

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Physician-assisted-suicide bill fiasco by Prudance Young Darigan, Providence Journal (9/16/12) -
I can remember being very depressed and saying, “I wish I were dead”. I meant this about as much as I meant it when I told my parents, “I hate you!” It is this type of emotionally generated utterance that makes the Massachusetts physician-assisted- suicide bill dangerous.

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Mass. Medical Society Opposes Measures on Pot and Assisted Suicide by Cary Goldberg, Common Health on Boston’s NPR (9/17/12) – The Massachusetts Medical Society, the statewide professional association of physicians with more than 24,000 members, today officially declared its opposition to the November ballot questions on physician-assisted suicide and medical marijuana.

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Inspiring Words and Modern Hippocratic Oath for Doctors To Be by Carey Goldberg, Common Health Reform & Reality (NPR Boston – 9/17/12) – Tufts Medical School held its annual “White Coat” ceremony this weekend to induct some 200 new students into the profession — and yes, to give them the white coats that will mark them ever after as medical staff.

The event included a poetic speech, excerpted below, by Dr. Beth Lown, medical director of The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, and the students recited the “Modern Hippocratic Oath.”

Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

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Massachusetts Medical Society | Question 2: Prescribing Medication (9/18/12) – On November 6, Massachusetts voters will have the opportunity to vote on Question 2, “Prescribing Medication to End Life.”

We are opposed to Question 2 for these reasons:

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Primer: Pro and Con in Mass. Assisted Suicide Ballot Measure by Carey Goldberg, Common Health Reform & Reality (NPR Boston – 9/19/12) – Come November, if you live in Massachusetts, you’ll face a vote on a life-and-death issue (I mean, even more directly life-and-death than Obama v. Romney.) It’s Question 2 on the ballot, also known as the Death With Dignity initiative and the physician-assisted suicide measure.

It’s a big, rich debate infused by reports from earlier such measures in Oregon and Washington, and this 24-minute segment on Radio Boston is a great way to acquaint yourself with it.

(Points in dispute include even the language used: One of the measure’s proponents, Dr. Marcia Angell, notes: “These patients are dying. That’s why most proponents don’t like the term ‘physician-assisted suicide,’ because that compares it with a typical suicide, which involves somebody with a normal life expectancy choosing death over life. These people, unfortunately, don’t have that choice. They’re dying. And the only issue is the exact timing and the manner of death.”)

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What Mass. Can Learn From Oregon About Death With Dignity by Rachael Zimmerman, Common Health Reform & Reality (9/21/12) –  (video) – Death is an emotional thing.

And debate over whether to allow terminally ill patients to end their lives by taking a lethal dose of medication — the question facing Massachusetts voters in November — is particularly fraught. Just listen to the charged on-air exchange between supporters and opponents of Question 2 — aka, The Death With Dignity Act, aka, physician-assisted suicide — on Radio Boston earlier this week.

So we thought it might help to start with some cold, hard statistics from the state that knows the issue best.

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Massachusetts Church fights assisted suicide measure- by Brian Fraga (9/23/12) – …the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the public policy arm for the state’s Catholic bishops, and a coalition of physicians, religious leaders and private citizens are trying to prevent assisted suicide from spreading to their state.

James F. Driscoll, executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, told Our Sunday Visitor that the conference has organized a statewide campaign to educate voters about the perils of assisted suicide. The individual dioceses have also undertaken efforts to inform Catholics about Church teachings on the issue.

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Letter: In defense of assisted suicide bill - WickedLocal (9/26/12) – In a recent letter regarding the Physician Assisted Suicide Bill, Ms. Darigan asserts that she used to state “I wish I were dead” when she was depressed, but she didn’t mean it. She worries that the Massachusetts Death with Dignity Act is dangerous because of that sort of “emotionally generated utterance.”

I am responding to her letter from Washington State, where we voted in our own Death with Dignity Act a few years ago. I am intimately acquainted with this law because my mother, Linda Fleming, was the first person in the state of Washington to exercise her right under our law to die at a time and place of her choosing by consuming legally doctor prescribed medication.

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Radio Boston WBUR: Question 2: Death With Dignity Act (9/18/12) – First up, we take a look at Question 2, the so-called “Massachusetts Death with Dignity Act,” which would make it legal for an adult resident with a terminal illness to receive a prescription for drugs to end his or her life.

There are many terms that are used to describe this issue, from “death with dignity” to “physician assisted suicide.” It is a controversial and weighty subject that touches on a profound question: What is the value of life and who decides when or if death is ever a better option?

Guests:

  • Marcia Angell, former editor, New England Journal of Medicine; senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School
  • John Kelly, disabilities rights activist and founder of Second Thoughts

Poll: Massachusetts voters favor medical marijuana, assisted suicide by Chris Camire, Sentinel and Enterprise (9/19/12) – Nearly two-thirds, or 64 percent, of voters support the proposed Prescribing Medication to End Life law, or Question 2, which would allow Massachusetts licensed physicians to prescribe life-ending medication at the request of terminally ill patients, according to a Suffolk University poll released late Monday night.

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Nothing dignified about suicide, doctor says by Patricia OConnell, The Catholic Free Press (9/20/12) – Dr. Mark Rollo held up a large bottle of pills. Inside were replicas of the lethal drugs that could soon be dispensed if the “Death With Dignity” act passes in Massachusetts.
This will appear on the ballot this November as Question 2.

“There is nothing dignified about suicide and there is nothing dignified about a doctor killing his patient,” he told a group of people at the Leominster Knights of Columbus hall Monday.
The presentation on physician-assisted suicide was sponsored by St. Anna Parish and the local K of C.

Dr. Rollo, a family practitioner in Fitchburg, explained why this measure is dangerous. The “Death With Dignity” act will allow terminally ill patients to end their lives with a prescription.
“The approval will accelerate the creeping culture of death into a full sprint,” he stated.
Killing patients, he noted, is not good medicine.

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Massachusetts considers bill allowing assisted suicide – The TakeAway Radio Show with John Hockenberry (9/20/12)

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Assisted suicide, three-parent families, and the future of America – Blog of Stephen Kokx (9/20/12)

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Should physicians be able to prescribe medication to end life? – NECN news story posted by  Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide (9/20/12)

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Euthanasia Opponents in Boston Grid for Ballot Battle by Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register (9/21/12) – Church leaders mobilize campaign to draw Catholics into the fight against the ballot initiative “Prescribing Medication to End Life” — which Massachusetts voters will decide this November.

The Massachusetts Catholic Conference is a driving force in the Committee Against Physician-Assisted Suicide, a state-wide coalition that has attracted a number of religious groups, as well as organizations like the Hospice and Palliative Care Federation of Massachusetts, the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians and the National Council on Disability.

Committee members have updated their constituencies, developed voter-education websites, and have just launched a media campaign to explain their concerns on television and radio shows. In the final stretch before the election, they will provide campaign ads showcasing their concerns.

“The focus is to help people appreciate the dangers of assisted suicide and of the bill itself,” Janet Benestad, the Boston Archdiocese’s secretary for faith formation and evangelization, told the Register.

While Benestad leads the effort to galvanize Catholics, the Committee Against Physician-Assisted Suicide will continue to reach out to other groups within the state.

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Discussing the ‘Death With Dignity’ Law by Paul Izzo, Counsel Corner (9/21/12) – Steve Crawford, a spokesman for the group, states that “The act gives patients dignity, control, and peace of mind during their final days with their families and loved ones. These are very intimate personal choices that should remain in the hands of the individual not the government.”
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston also has spoken out against such laws. “We hope that the citizens of the commonwealth will not be seduced by the language, ‘dignity, mercy, compassion,’ which are used to disguise the sheer brutality of helping someone to kill themselves,” said the archbishop last year.
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Embracing ‘Death With Dignity Act’ by Alan Chartock, Berkshire Eagle Online (9/22/12) – I am certainly going to vote for Death With Dignity Act on this year’s ballot. I recommend that you do as well. We should have the right to end our own lives when things are hopeless. The state of Oregon has such a law and according to the reports I have read, it works well. We allow veterinarians to humanely help our pets when it is determined that they can’t go on, yet we are prohibited from allowing ourselves the same mercy when there is no hope for recovery from a terrible illness. I believe that some medical professionals have been assisting patients with suicide for years.
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Deserving of Dignity by Margery Eagan, bostonherald.com (9/23/12) – It’s not just that doctors can’t always relieve a dying person’s pain. Pain is sometimes a secondary concern, she said, after loss of auto-nomy, or bodily functions, or dignity and control. While palliative or hospice care has greatly improved, Angell believes good hospice care and patients’ opting to end life can co-exist. But the final decision rests not with family, or a caregiver, but with the person facing death.
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Warning to UK, Massachusetts: Health Plans Steer Patients to Suicide by Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com (9/24/12) – I have previously blogged about the huge increase in assisted suicide cases in Oregon since legalisation (see graph), the shroud of secrecy which surrounds assisted suicide practice there and the worrying trends in neighbouring Washington state which enacted a similar law more recently.
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Elizabeth Warren defends work on asbestos lawsuit by Michael Levenson, boston.com (9/24/12) – “If there’s something a physician can prescribe that can help someone who is suffering, I am in favor,” Warren said when asked about the medical marijuana ballot question, adding that there have to be the “right restrictions.”

Discussing another ballot question that would legalize assisted suicide, Warren said she “turns in the direction” of wanting to give dying patients “autonomy” in making end-of-life decisions.

Warren’s Republican opponent, US Senator Scott Brown, opposes the medical marijuana question and says he hasn’t made up his mind on the assisted suicide question.

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Reader Connects Health Rationing Argument to ‘Death With Dignity’- CommonHealth Reform and Reality, discussed on WBUR Boston’s NPR (9/24/12)  – Steven Rattner wants to reduce medical costs by not offering “every treatment, regardless of expenses or efficacy” in the last year of life. That’s reasonable — if and when we give the elderly (I am one of them) the right to choose their own gentle death, something that many religions would obstruct.But even before we get to that, let’s consider the 76 million baby boomers who are or will be retiring and will drain Medicare. Would they be willing to join me in choosing death with dignity? Or would they prefer heart transplants at 85?
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The weird politics of this year’s ballot questionsby David S. Bernstein, The Phoenix (9/28/12) -It turned out that the Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide, funded mostly by the Boston Archdiocese and Catholic institutions across the country, had received a whopping $250,000 contribution from the American Family Association (AFA), a Mississippi-based conservative fundamentalist group labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its demonizing of homosexuals.After filing the campaign report, the committee quickly announced that it was returning the AFA’s contribution, as reported by the Associated Press. That quarter-million was a big chunk of the $900,000 raised in total by the committee, and giving it back left the committee essentially tapped out after its expenses so far.

Opponents of both measures need to raise money quickly. Prescribed suicide is polling surprisingly well — roughly 60 percent are in favor, according to polls from Suffolk University and Public Policy Polling. Medical marijuana also leads, by nearly as large margins.

But that doesn’t mean either one is a slam-dunk, cautions Suffolk’s David Paleologos. “A lot of ballot questions start out this way, and then close up,” Paleologos says. That’s often after people who like the idea in principle learn specifics about the measure that they don’t like.

That is, if they hear enough about it at all. Paleologos points out that the level of advertising and media interest in the state’s big US Senate race, between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, will make it very difficult for ballot-measure opponents to get heard.

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Social workers support ‘Death with Dignity’ ballot question-  Wicked Local (9/24/12) – Social workers on Monday announced their support for a November ballot question allowing terminally ill patients to self-administer life-ending medication prescribed by a doctor. “Death with Dignity is a deeply personal choice and one that suffering patients should have the right to make for themselves,” Carol Trust, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, said in a statement. “I encourage Massachusetts voters to grant terminally-ill patients this choice.”

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Disability Rights leaders reach out to Elizabeth Warren regarding ‘No on 2′ – HeraldOnline.com (9/25/12) – “Ballot question 2 contains a number of problematic issues that raise red flags with progressive voters. These are arguments and perspectives Ms. Warren may not have heard yet, and are asking for the opportunity to meet and brief her and her team,” said John Kelly, Executive Director of Second Thoughts and former Chair of the Advisory Board to the Boston Disability Commission.
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Letter: In defense of Assisted Suicide bill- WickedLocal (9/26/12) – I am responding to her letter from Washington State, where we voted in our own Death with Dignity Act a few years ago. I am intimately acquainted with this law because my mother, Linda Fleming, was the first person in the state of Washington to exercise her right under our law to die at a time and place of her choosing by consuming legally doctor prescribed medication.

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A method for dying with dignity by Dr. Marica Angell, former editor-in-chief of New England Journal of Medicine, a senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School – Boston.com (9/29/12) – Good palliative care is adequate for the great majority of dying patients, but not all. Most pain can be eased, but other symptoms are harder to deal with — weakness, loss of control of bodily functions, shortness of breath, and nausea — and the drugs to treat these symptoms often produce unacceptable side effects. Even worse for many dying patients is the existential suffering. They know their condition is inexorably downhill, and they find it meaningless to soldier on.
This is not a matter of life versus death, but about the timing and manner of an inevitable death. That is why many prefer the term “physician-assisted dying” to “physician-assisted suicide.” In the usual suicide someone with a normal life expectancy chooses death over life. Terminally ill patients don’t have that choice.
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MINNESOTA

Health Notes: End-of-life workshops planned in Grand Rapids – Duluth News Tribune (9/17/12) – Barbara Karnes is author of the 1986 book “Gone From My Sight: The Dying Experience.” She spent 30 years as a hospice nurse, according to a news release from the Grand Itasca Foundation, which is sponsoring the workshops along with the Itasca Hospice Foundation.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE

A new first for Belgium: Prisoner Euthanasia by Michael Cook, CatholicExchange.com (9/18/12) – The case has provoked a controversy in the media -not over euthanasia but over the violation of the prisoner’s right to privacy. All of the conditions for euthanasia in Belgium were carefully fulfilled: the prisoner had a terminal illness, he had made repeated requests for death, and three doctors had independently ratified the request.

The head of the Belgian prison service defended the system against M. Ide’s criticism. “The people on the ground are doing their best and work hard. But it is almost impossible for two people to take proper care of an prisoner. This is a problem in many prisons”, Francis Van Mol told the media.

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NEW JERSEY

Controversial bill would allow terminally ill patients to decide when its time to die by Matt Friedman, nj.com (9/27/12) – A state lawmaker says it’s time for New Jersey to openly discuss the most difficult of topics: whether terminally ill patients should be allowed to decide how and when they die.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) on Monday quietly proposed a bill that would grant doctors the right to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to patients who have less than six months to live. It’s called the New Jersey Death with Dignity Act.

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NJ could become 3rd state to legalize right to die- FoxNews.com (9/27/12) – New Jersey may become the third state to legalize physician-assisted suicide after a state lawmaker proposed a bill to grant doctors the right to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported.

Known as the Death With Dignity Act, the bill would allow a “qualified patient to self-administer medication to end life in a humane and dignified matter.”

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New Jersey’s Death with Dignity Bill will impact grieving children by Joseph Primo, nj.com (9/27/12) –  I’m not aware of any studies that have followed any children involved in the 596 deaths between 1997 and 2011 that resulted from Death with Dignity laws. However, I’ve witnessed and supported numerous children as they said goodbye to a dying parent in hospice. They watched their parent become emaciated or her personality alter as a result of a metastasized brain tumor. They stood by as dad lay unconscious for two weeks and died. These children understood what was happening and they felt supported by family and friends. But their grief was affected by this experience.

We know that there are three processes to a child’s grief: 1. Thinking, 2. Feeling, 3. Loving and trusting. I’ll only address the thinking process here. Children, adults too, process and come to understand the finality of death by thinking about the cause of death and the person’s dying experience. Watching a parent wither away impacts how a child will grieve their parent. Standing next to a parent, surrounded by family and friends after everyone has said goodbye and the children have been educated about what is happening, and watching mom die in a short period of time after taking pills, will affect how the child thinks about mom’s death. I don’t believe, based on what we know about grieving kids, there will be a negative impact. Here’s why: a lot of children are not given honest information about their dying parent. One day mom becomes unconscious and then the child is told mom is dead. It’s only once mom has died that some kids are brought up to speed. That has an incredible impact on a child.

Whereas waiting for the uncertainty of death and its unknown arrival leads to confusion when a child isn’t informed, determining a date and time and a ritual around that last day may be helpful and therapeutic for a child. I believe it will be empowering for the patient, family, and children. It will not diminish grief, but it will impact how a child and the bereaved understand their grief and the patient’s death. Reflecting on the latter, especially its positive implications, should be a part of this conversation as we move forward towards ethical and dignified death.

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NEW YORK

Doctor shares vision of care for the dying – Democrat and Chronicle (9/19/12) – End-of-life care provides an opportunity — not to deliver the most care, but to provide the best care at a time when families face what is likely their biggest challenge.

“In the midst of this sadness and tragedy that illness and dying represent, we want to not be blind to opportunity,” Dr. Ira Byock, director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, said Wednesday at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “People value the opportunities to say and do the things that would be left unsaid.”

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Talking About Death Helps People Live Longer, Cuts Cost – Brian Willimas, RockCenter NBC (Video – 9/20/12) – Lacrosse, Wisconsin might just be the best place to die in America. Its home to Gundersen Lutheran Hospital, where 96 percent of patients have an advance directive detailing how they wish to spend their final days.  Doctors at Gundersen say that in many cases having a game plan for death has helped people live longer and incredibly enough, costs less. In the last six months of their lives, Gundersen Lutheran’s patients spend half as many days in the hospital as the national average.

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OHIO

Pro Life Ohio is sponsoring an essay and poster contest for student in 7 – 12- WFMD.com (9/20/12) – Pro Life Ohio is sponsoring an essay and poster contest for students in 7-12 grades with two winners in each contest receiving a $50 bill.

The poster should be on 8-and-a-half by 11 white sheet of tag.

The essay should be from 200 to 300 words typewritten and double-spaced on a Pro Life topic defending the sanctity of life from conception to natural death against affronts to life ranging from contraception and abortion to euthanasia.

Posters and essays should be postmarked no later than Dec. 1 and become the property of Pro Life Ohio for promotional purposes.

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OREGON

ACH: Dignity deal won’t affect end-of-life care by Sam Wheeler, Mail Tribune (9/13/12) – Ashland Community Hospital officials insist the end-of-life care its patients receive will not change if a partnership is formed with Dignity Health.

Physicians at ACH can prescribe patients who qualify under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act medication that induces death upon ingesting, said Mark Marchetti, ACH chief executive officer.

“We have no policies that dictate the issue one way or another,” Marchetti said. “We certainly don’t monitor our physicians’ prescribing.”

The hospital’s physicians can discuss the option of self-administered death with patients, he said.

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Dignity Health officials: No assisted suicide prescriptions by Sam Wheeler, Ashland Daily Tidings (9/14/12) – Physicians at a Dignity Health run ACH would not be able to prescribe patients who qualify under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act medication that induces death upon ingesting, Dignity Health officials said.

“If the physician is on our dime “… the thing that the physician cannot do is write the prescription and hand it to the patient,” said Carol Bayley, Dignity Health’s vice president for ethics and justice education.

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Oregon end-of-life care program spreads, report finds by Nick Budnick, The Oregonian (9/20/12) – An Oregon effort to ensure people near the end of life receive the care they want continues to spread across the country, according to a new report.

The Oregon Physicians Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) program, created two decades ago and put into state law by the Legislature in 2009, has been adopted by 15 states and is under consideration in 28 others, according to the report, prepared by the Retirement Research Foundation and the Archstone Foundation.

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TENNESSEE

Frist talks end-of-life health care costs, shocks Washington – The Tennessean (9/17/12) – Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist writes that America’s political leaders should address end-of-life medical costs without throwing mud about death panels, earning himself a Politico piece on his heretical embrace of “Obamacare.”

In the latest installment of his periodic column for The Week magazine, Frist says that 30 percent of Medicare dollars are spent in the last few months of recipients’ lives — often contravening the wishes of the recipients’ themselves. Frist says this is “perhaps one of the most complex, emotional, and delicate issues in all of health care.”

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TEXAS

Decisions about death belong to God, not us by Mike Wyse, Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo, San Angelo Standard Times (9/1/12) – Today the purpose, the dignity and sacredness of human life is being threatened in its weakest and most vulnerable moments at the beginning by the evil of abortion, and at its end by promoters of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In both cases, mere human beings want to usurp the authority and eternal wisdom of their Creator and God by playing God in determining who lives and how they die.

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VERMONT

Physician-assisted suicide ballot question stirs controversy in Mass. by Steve LeBlanc, Battleboro Reformer (9/15/12) – A group opposed to a ballot question that would allow terminally ill patients to self-administer life-ending drugs has returned a $250,000 donation from a conservative Mississippi-based organization with anti-gay views, but which describes itself as pro-family.

The American Family Association was the largest single donor to the Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide, which has raised more than $900,000 to launch a campaign against the question, which will appear on the November ballot.

A committee spokesman told the Associated Press on Friday that the organization wanted to make sure that the debate remained focused on the ballot question.

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WASHINGTON

Number of assisted suicide cases reported by Dutch doctors rose in 2011 – The Washington Post (9/26/12) – The Euthanasia Commission, set up by the government, found that doctor-reported cases made up about 2.7 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands in 2011, from 2.3 percent in 2010.

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WISCONSIN

James L. Greenwald: ‘Death with Dignity’ should be considered- Wisconsin State Journal (9/25/12) – The article in Friday’s newspaper regarding the Wisconsin Medical Society and hospitals encouraging the use of advance directives and doctor-patient discussion of end of life choices is long overdue and welcome.

Besides discussing palliative and hospice care, I hope those discussions broaden the range of topics to terminal sedation to stop uncontrolled pain and the voluntary stopping of eating and drinking.

In addition, the Wisconsin Medical Society should support the Wisconsin Death With Dignity Bill, modeled after the Oregon Death With Dignity Law, which has been supported by Sen. Fred Risser.

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End-of-life options worthy of attention by Joe Timmerman, Compassion & Choices (9/25/12) – Coming up with an advanced directive also helps to keep health care costs down. CBS News reports Medicare spent $50 billion in 2009 on doctors and hospitals over the last two months of patients’ lives. The kicker? “20 to 30 percent of these medical expenditures may have had no meaningful impact.”

Over the course of one year, Medicare alone spent as much as $15 billion of treatment had no positive effect on patients’ quality of life. This is a prime example of wasteful spending that, in today’s age of fashionable austerity, needs to be eliminated. A significant portion of this spending could be eliminated if people were only kept alive as long as they wished to be.

It might seem that doing anything less than everything to extend a person’s life would be unethical. However, if the person doesn’t want to be kept alive though extraordinary measures only to suffer for longer, their wish should be honored. This can only be accomplished through people having candid discussions with their families and doctors. The fact that local health care providers are starting to encourage these discussions is good news for all Madisonians.

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INTERNATIONAL

(News updates from Africa, Arab Emirates, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Russia, Scotland, Switzerland, United Kingdom)

AFRICA

Dying with Dignity is a Human Right- allAfrica.com (9/18/12) – “Many people think that you go to hospice to die, but hospice is not about death at all, it is about preserving the quality of life,” said former Bafana Bafana captain, Lucas Radebe.

Radebe was speaking at the annual Hospice and Palliative Care Association (HPCA) of South Africa conference, sharing with audiences the support he received from hospice when he lost both his wife and father to cancer in 2008.

Radebe, who has since become an ambassador for the HPCA of South Africa lead one of the opening sessions. The HPCA has 189 member hospices that provide community-based medical assistance and end-of-life (palliative) care for tens of thousands of patients all over the country.

“Dignity is a central value of palliative care,” said Dr Liz Gwyther, CEO of the HPCA. She stressed the importance of upholding a patient’s self-worth and esteem throughout illness up until death. “It is a human right to die with dignity.”

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ARAB EMIRATES

Euthanasia Pacifying Painful Lives by Kanika Mehta, TopNews.com (9/15/12) – We all know that cancer is a deadly disease. After being affected by cancer, the life of a person changes in numerous ways. Happiness seems bleak and enjoyment turns painful. A Dutch GP, who operates in New Zealand, recently shared a story of cancer.

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AUSTRALIA

Corbell rejects assisted death move by Peter Jean, The Canberra Times (9/3/12) – The ACT government has knocked back a bid for an inquiry into whether legal prohibitions on assisted suicide contradict the Territory’s Human Rights Act.

Lobby group Dying with Dignity ACT was officially registered in July and supports the concept of ”elective death”, where adults could seek assistance to die at a time and place of their choice with the degree of assistance they believed was appropriate.

The group wants a ”peaceful death unit” established in, or linked to, a Canberra hospital which would offer counselling services, education and facilities where people could end their lives.

The group recently requested Attorney-General Simon Corbell to ask the Law Reform Advisory Council whether provisions of the Crimes Act which prevent people from helping others to die were incompatible with human rights.

But Mr Corbell refused because of the federal ban on the ACT Assembly legalising euthanasia or the assisting of a person to terminate his or her life.

The Labor Party has a conscience vote on euthanasia and Mr Corbell said he personally supported the right of people in the terminal stage of a illness to ”die with dignity”.

But he did not support Dying with Dignity’s push for ”elective death” to be made available to people without terminal illnesses.

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Euthanasia campaigner faces another challenge- by Phoebe Stewart, ABC News (9/7/12) – Voluntary euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke says an investigation into his suitability to practise medicine is one of the most serious challenges he has faced in his career.An inquiry into Dr Nitscke’s application to import the euthanasia drug nembutal was launched by the Australian Medical Board last year.He is now facing a second investigation, into his role in promoting and importing nitrogen cylinders that can be used for euthanasia, and his suitability to practise medicine.Dr Nitschke claims it was sparked by a complaint from anti-euthanasia Christian groups.
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Euthanasia– Free Will to choose should never infringe on Right to Life — disagree or agree?  – Yahoo! Answers – Which country were you born in and what are your views on the dilemma of Euthanasia?I was born in Australia and my views are:
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Voluntary Assisted Suicide legislation in NSW: politics vs. human rights by Geoff Wall, Online Opinion (9/10/12) – During the current term of the NSW state government, the Greens plan to introduce the Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill, which, if passed, would legalise voluntary assisted suicide (VAS) in NSW.This legislation is only for sound-minded people with an intolerable terminal illness, who request to be allowed to die, rather than suffer indignity and pain before inevitable death. This legislation allows them to take a prescribed lethal sedative, ideally at home with the support of family, and hence to die peacefully.
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Euthanasia Debate – Weekends with Phil Smith, ABC Brisbane (9/17/12) – Warren Boland interviews Professor Colleen Cartwright, who will moderate the upcoming debate at The Queensland Council of Civil Liberties (audio)
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Joanne Dunne euthanasia plea soon after son Mark Leigep wastes away- Heraldsun.co.au by Jordanna Schriever, (9/28/12) – It was her only legal choice, despite her son Mark Leigep being in an unresponsive and persistent vegetative state since suffering head injuries in a March 2006 car crash.”If it happened in one day, with an injection, all of the family could have been there,” she said.”Instead, I had to watch him die and waste away for nearly four weeks.”In the wake of his death yesterday, Ms Dunn wants new laws which would allow families in similar circumstances to choose swift euthanasia by drugs.
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BELGIUM

Belgian euthanasia law allows first death of a prisoner- MedicalXpress.com (9/13/12) – A gravelly ill prisoner serving a long jail sentence has become the first inmate to die under Belgian euthanasia laws introduced 10 years ago, press reports said Thursday.

The man, who was not identified, died earlier this year after seeking permission several times when doctors decided his suffering could not be helped, the reports said. They gave no details of his illness or the circumstances of his case.
Another prisoner, locked up for 27 years for committing two murders, has also asked for permission to die and should satisfy the legal conditions, Flemish television channel VTM said.

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Prisoner euthanasia begins in Belgium – BioEdge (9/15/12) – No doubt about it: Belgium is the place to be for creative applications of legalised euthanasia.
Last year Belgian transplant surgeons revealed that they had harvested organs from four people who were voluntarily euthanased. Now it appears that one prisoner, a rapist-murderer, has already died after voluntary euthanasia and another has requested it.
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Dutch experience misrepresented in Brisbane debate by Neil Francis, YourLastRight.com (9/26/12) – Last week I spoke in Brisbane at an event hosted by the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties, a debate titled “Voluntary euthanasia: your right to die.”  I presented the case for, while Mr Yuri Koszarycz, a recently retired senior lecturer from Australian Catholic University, argued the case against.Mr Koszarycz, a genial and courteous fellow, certainly presented the expected arguments against restricted aid-in-dying, including the “K” word (in his view it’s “killing”) and sanctity-of-life under the “Christian tradition” (without explaining why a large majority of Australian Christians believe restricted aid-in-dying ought to be legalised).But it was other statements that proved most controversial.Anyone under the pressure of a live public presentation can get an isolated detail wrong…we’re only human after all.  However, multiple significant misstatements about the Dutch and European experience did cause some vocal dissatisfaction amongst the audience.
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CANADA

Physician-assisted suicide poisons the mission of medicine by J. Donald Bourdreau (8/28/12) – Recent events suggest that the assisted-suicide movement has gained momentum; reports from the Royal Society of Canada, the Quebec National Assembly and the British Columbia Supreme Court all support legalization of physician- assisted suicide. But the case is not closed.

Confusion reigns. Doctors opposed to physician-assisted suicide are sometimes labelled as paternalistic, disrespectful of patients’ autonomy and blind to certain aspects of human dignity. These are inaccurate and offensive descriptions of who we are and what we do in the sick room.

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Canadian Government will appeal euthanasia exemption given to Gloria Taylor… again by Alex Schadenberg, LifeSiteNews.com (8/31/12) – A letter was received by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition today from the Honourable Rob Nicholson announcing that the government of Canada intends to appeal the decision by Madam Justice Prowse.

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Times have changed by Philip Slayton, CanadianLawyerMagazine (September issue) – Assisted suicide — the issue that rips everyone’s heart out — is headed back to the Supreme Court of Canada. What will the court do this time?

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Expert: Canada Supreme Court will uphold Assisted Suicide ban by Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com (9/5/12) – Philip Slayton, the author of the book: Mighty Judgement, How the Supreme Court of Canada Runs your life suggests that the Supreme Court of Canada will likely uphold the laws in Canada that prohibit euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Slayton, who wrote an article that was published in the September 2012 edition of the Canadian Lawyer asked the question: Assisted Suicide – the issue that rips everyone’s heart out – is headed back to the Supreme Court of Canada. What will the court do this time?
Slayton predicts that the Supreme Court will hear the Carter case in July 2013. Considering the fact that the BC Court of Appeal will hear the the Carter case from March 4 – 8, 2013, I think that the Supreme Court of Canada will hear the case after July 2013.
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Gloria’s Choice by Chelsea Temple Jones, The United Church Observer (9/6/12) – The 2012 Observer survey showed readers overwhelmingly support physician-assisted dying. Gloria Taylor’s battle for the right to end her own life could provoke an unprecedented ethical debate.
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Russia worried euthanasia would be done without consent if legalized by Eric Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, LifeNews.com (9/17/12) – See referenced article under “Russia” below.
“I am not suggesting that other nations face the same level of corruption as Russia, but corruption exists everywhere.For instance in Belgium…
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New first for Belgium: prisoner euthanasia by Michael Cook, National Right to Life News Today (9/17/12) – Euthanasia for prisoners obviously poses significant moral dilemmas. Belgium’s euthanasia laws were written for people who are not incarcerated and living completely under government control. However euthanasia activist Philip Nitschke anticipated this situation and praised it as possibly “the last frontier in prison reform” in his 2005 book “Killing Me Softly.” The latest development seems to suggest that Belgium is becoming the world leader in innovative application of euthanasia laws. Last year Belgian surgeons revealed that they had been harvesting organs obtained from persons who had requested euthanasia.
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Robert Latimer gets OK to travel to UK for panel talk – CBC News, Saskatchewan (9/17/12) – Robert Latimer will be allowed to go the United Kingdom to take part in a panel debate on end-of-life issues.
Latimer, who was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1993 death of his severely disabled daughter, Tracy, has been granted permission by the National Parole Board to attend the Oct. 18 discussion, which is being organized by the University of Oxford.The 59-year-old Saskatchewan farmer’s case continues to generate debate across Canada about euthanasia and the rights of people with disabilities.Latimer has always contended that he acted out of compassion when he killed his 12-year-old daughter on his family’s farm in the Wilkie, Sask., area on Oct. 24, 1993.
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Palliative doctor’s response to TV1 show – National Right to Life News Today (9/17/12) – Editor’s note. The following is a media release from ANZSPM–The Australian & New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine Inc.
The TV1, 7pm news programme on Sunday 16th September 2012 described the tragic story of Rosie’s death, a person with multiple sclerosis.  As a society of Palliative Medicine doctors we care for patients with advanced multiple sclerosis as well as patients with advanced illnesses from many other sources.  Unlike last night’s distressing story of Rosie’s decision, the patients we care for with multiple sclerosis do not have their lives ended prematurely and do not request this.  In our experience patients with advanced illnesses such as multiple sclerosis can be supported, as well as their family and friends, by multidisciplinary team of Palliative Care with community general practice and hospital support.
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The dangerous physician assisted suicide Ballot Measure in Massachusetts – 5 key facts about Question 2 by Jennifer Popik JD, National Right to Life News Today (9/18/12) – … we quote from and talk about the position taken by the Massachusetts Medical Society in opposition to the legalization of doctor-prescribed suicide…
While the “Question 2” ballot initiative poses a real threat to the people of Massachusetts, the same pro-doctor prescribed death lobby has been promoting a nearly identical measure far and wide across the nation for nearly two decades with very limited success.   Despite numerous ballot initiatives, court challenges, and well over one hundred legislative efforts, doctor-prescribed suicide has been affirmatively legalized only in Washington and Oregon.
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New Stats: Euthanasia Out of Control in Netherlands, Up 18% by Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, LifeNews.com (9/25/12) – The media in the Netherlands has reported today that the number of euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands in 2011 increased by 18% to 3695 and there were 13 reported psychiatric patients who died by euthanasia, up from 2 reported psychiatric euthanasia deaths in 2010.Euthanasia for psychiatric patients in the Netherlands will likely increase substantially over the next few years in response to a Dutch article published last year in the Journal of Psychiatry advocating for the expansion of euthanasia for psychiatric patients.As bad as these statistics may seem they only tell part of the story.
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Physicians Alliance for the Total Refusal of Euthanasia formed by Alex Schadenberg, executive director Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, National Right to Life News Today (9/26/12) – The Physicians Alliance for the Total Refusal of Euthanasia has formed in Quebec. This group has established themselves under the banner to push for the Total Refusal of Euthanasia while promoting Caring, Not Killing.The website has been launched in English and French. The Physicians Alliance is asking physicians to Sign the Declaration in English and French.The websites also provide facts and support for the physicians who join together to oppose the implementation of euthanasia in Quebec.
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Major split in LibCon Coalition over assisted suicide by Dr. Peter Saunders, former general surgeon and CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship, a UK-based organization with 4,500 UK doctors and 1,000 medical students as members.National Right to Life News (9/27/12) – Both party leaders, David Cameron [Prime Minister and leader of Conservative Party] and Nick Clegg [Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrat Party], are opposed to the legalisation of assisted suicide, but a poll published last week by Communicate Research demonstrated graphically just how deep the gulf is between Members of Parliament in the two parties on this issue.
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Good news for euthanasia advocates– deaths are up: Opinion of Lucia Corbella, Calgray Herald (9/28/12) – The slippery slope just keeps on getting longer and steeper. When the debate about euthanasia began in the Netherlands decades ago, proponents insisted that it should and would only be made available to terminally ill, elderly people, who were suffering and in full control of their mental faculties. Period.They insisted then, as they continue to insist now, that no slippery slope exists with regard to euthanasia. The people who say that are, inarguably, bald-faced liars, ill informed or delusional. There are no other options.(more)*New Jersey legislator introduces assisted suicide billby Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, LifesiteNews.com (9/28/12) – This bill is designed to be debated and voted on by the legislature and, if passed, to bypass the governor and go before the voters as a ballot question in the next election.Burzichelli, a Democrat, stated about Assembly Bill A3328 that: “It’s not a Dr. Kevorkian bill where someone who’s 45 years of age who’s depressed and lost their job decides they don’t want to live and wants to call someone to assist them in suicide. This bill is very narrow.”
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Swiss parliament refuses to regulate assisted suicide groups by Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, National Right to Life News (9/28/12) – A vote in the Swiss parliament yesterday rejected a proposal to regulate the assisted suicide organizations and their suicide clinics. The two main assisted suicide organizations are Exit and Dignitas. Members of the lower house of parliament voted against changing the code, arguing self-regulation by right-to-die organizations such as Exit and Dignitas worked and the liberal rules protected individual freedoms.A German assisted suicide group recently announced its intention of establishing a assisted suicide clinic in Zurich. The group Verein Sterbehilfe Deutschland(StHD), that is founded by Roger Kusch, opened an office in Zurich on September 14, 2012.Last year, voters in the Zurich canton rejected similar proposals to restrict assisted suicide.(more)*

Assisted-suicide advocate’s resolve bolstered by terminally ill friend’s early death- therecond.com (9/30/12) – Westley saw the devastating effect of not having a choice in Nagui Morcos. The Toronto man chose to end his life this spring to avoid an agonizing death from Huntington’s, the degenerative and incurable nerve disease that he watched claim his father.

Morcos, an outspoken advocate for Dying with Dignity, shared his story publicly to urge people to change the laws to give terminally ill people like himself the choice to medical assistance to end their life when it becomes unbearable.

Westley was at his side when he died on the day he chose. He was 54.

The wrenching experience was made worse knowing Morcos died when he still had months, even a couple years of relatively decent health to enjoy with his wife, family and friends. But Morcos knew he could not get the help needed later when he was no longer physically able to end his life on his own.

“He knew what he was giving up and he had to give it up too soon and that was heartbreaking to me,” Westley said.

(more)

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CHINA

Hong Kong needs legal clarity on assisted suicide - South China Morning Post – The University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention reported last month that the suicide rate now stands at 13.6 per 100,000 people, and predicted a rise in 2012.

While most suicides are associated with personal tragedy or despair and involve individuals acting alone, there are, inevitably, cases of assisted suicide, although these rarely come to light.

Although suicide itself was decriminalised in 1967, a person who assists another’s suicide is guilty of an offence, punishable with 14 years’ imprisonment. A prosecution, however, requires the consent of the secretary for justice, who has not disclosed the criteria he applies to cases.

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FRANCE

Belgian euthanasia law allows first death of a prisoner- FRANCE24.com (9/13/12) – A gravelly ill prisoner serving a long jail sentence has become the first inmate to die under Belgian euthanasia laws introduced 10 years ago, press reports said Thursday.The man, who was not identified, died earlier this year after seeking permission several times when doctors decided his suffering could not be helped, the reports said.They gave no details of his illness or the circumstances of his case.Another prisoner, locked up for 27 years for committing two murders, has also asked for permission to die and should satisfy the legal conditions, Flemish television channel VTM said.
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Film relaunches Euthanasia debate- The Connexion (9/20/12) – A FRENCH film about a man’s difficult relationship with his dying mother has put the euthanasia debate back in the public eye.Quelques heures de Printemps, by Stéphane Brizé, out in cinemas this week, tackles the topic of “dying with dignity”. The main character, Alain, 48, has to go back home to live with his mother, and finds out she is incurably ill.The end-of-life debate had gone off the radar slightly since July, when it was announced that President Hollande had appointed a medical professor, Didier Sicard, to do a study into the possibility of euthanasia in “exceptional cases”. His conclusions are expected by the end of the year.
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GERMANY

German assisted suicide group opens Swiss office - NECN.com (9/15/12) – A German group dedicated to helping terminally ill people commit suicide has opened an office in Switzerland in case it is banned at home.

The head of Sterbehilfe Deutschland says proposed legal changes could soon make it illegal for the group to offer its services in Germany.

Roger Kusch told The Associated Press on Saturday that by opening an office in the Swiss city of Zurich the group would be able to continue operating from a country where assisted suicide is legal.

The German government recently proposed making it illegal for groups to receive money, including membership fees, from people they help to commit suicide.

Unlike Switzerland where assisted suicide is widely accepted, many in Germany object to the practice because of its association with Nazi euthanasia programs.

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New rules drive suicide firm to Switzerland – TheLocal.de (9/15/12) – The group Verein Sterbehilfe Deutschland (StHD) told reporters in Zürich that it was pushing for Germany to adopt legislation similar to that in Switzerland, which allows assisted suicide.

The group, which has some 300 members and claims to have assisted in around 60 suicides, has no plans to help anyone take their life in Switzerland, StHD head Roger Kusch said, according to Swiss news agency ATS.

The group’s decision to open up shop in Zürich was instead linked to fear that it could be prosecuted under a law that is likely to be passed in Germany making assisted suicide for profit a criminal offense, he explained.

On its website, the Hamburg-based organisation says it charged an annual membership fee of €200, or a life-long membership fee of €2,000.

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INDIA

72-yr-old’s mercy killing plea rejected – Times of India (9/27/12) – Karibasamma, who claimed to have suffered slip disc (inter-vertebral disc prolapse) and was bedridden for 10-11 years, had written to local authorities and even the President and Prime Minister, seeking permission for euthanasia since 2003. Karibasamma claimed the Rs 8,968 she was getting as monthly pension in 2010, wasn’t enough to meet her medical expenses. Because of her age, doctors had opted for non-surgical treatment, and the pain she’s undergoing is excruciating.

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With time, India will accept mercy killing- Times of India (9/28/12) – “As a retired teacher I manage with my pension. But others who are poor and do not have money should not suffer like me. How will they cope if they are poor?” she asks.

She recently collected over 1,500 euthanasia supporting letters from retired state government employees, and another 10,000 letters from people from other walks of life. “My 14-year struggle for this new law may become fruitful in the future with these letters,” she contended.

“From my childhood I used to read newspapers regularly and articles on euthanasia intrigued me. This prompted me to take the step,” Karibasamma recalled.

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IRELAND

Wicklow couple to challenge assisted suicide laws – Irish Examiner (9/16/12) – It is reported that a landmark challenge to Ireland’s assisted suicide laws will be lodged in the High Court next month.

Reports in today’s Sunday Times and Sunday Business Post said the case is being taken by a Wicklow woman, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, and her husband.

The couple said that the current law, under which anyone assisting a suicide is open to prosecution, is unconstitutional.

It is understood the couple’s lawyers will argue that the law is flawed because it allows able-bodied people to take their own lives, but not those with disabilities.

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Couple in right-to-die case want to stay anonymous by Lousie Hogan, Irish Independent (9/17/12) – The matter is expected to be brought before a judge as a severely disabled and wheelchair-bound woman suffering from multiple sclerosis requests her partner be allowed to help her end her life without fear of prosecution.

Suicide is not illegal in Ireland but assisting suicide can be punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment. The couple’s legal team are expected to argue the legislation is unconstitutional as an able-bodied person can end their own life without penalty, yet someone with a disability or terminal illness can’t do so as anyone who helps them faces prosecution.

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Courts facing tough task on issue of euthanasia by Dearbhail McDonald, Irish Independent (9/29/12) – It is impossible not to be moved by the plight of Marie Fleming, who is in the terminal stages of multiple sclerosis.

Wheelchair-bound, she registered five years ago with Dignitas, the controversial clinic in Zurich, Switzerland, where terminally ill but competent patients are allowed to die under the supervision of doctors.

But Marie opted not to end her life in Zurich as her partner of more than 20 years, Tom Curran, vowed that he would help her die at home.

If Curran, Fleming’s full- time carer, accedes to her wishes, he faces a jail term of up to 14 years — or life if convicted of murder — for assisting her suicide.

It is a price Mr Curran is willing to pay.

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Right to die raises serious questions- Editorial, Irish Independent (9/29/12) – While we can sympathise with this woman and her partner, there are also very strong counter-arguments. With an ageing population and rapidly-rising life expectancies the twin issues of death and palliative care are going to become ever more prominent in public debate.

How do we die? Should we be assisted to die? What sort of pain relief, even if it shortens their lifespans, is acceptable for terminally-ill patients? What is the legal status of “living wills”?

Who gets to make life-and-death decisions when the person is no longer competent? This case, regardless of the legal ruling, marks the beginning of what will almost certainly prove to be a very long debate.

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I would risk jail to end Marie’s needless suffering, says partner – Irish Independent (9/29/12) – The Co Wicklow-based couple taking a landmark right-to-die action by challenging Ireland’s suicide laws gave up their anonymity to speak to the Irish Independent today.

Marie Fleming (59), who is in the terminal stages of a debilitating illness, wants the option to end her own life with the help of her partner, who is also her full-time carer.

The former UCD law lecturer, a long-term multiple sclerosis sufferer, wants to secure “peace of mind” that she will not die in needless pain.

She is challenging — in the High Court — our suicide laws to spare her partner, Tom Curran, the threat of up to 14 years in prison for helping her die.

Mr Curran is the co-ordinator of the Irish branch of Exit International, the end-of-life information organisation that campaigns across the world for the legalisation of assisted suicide.

(more)

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THE NETHERLANDS

Dutch debate euthanasia of their prince by Michael Cook, BioEdge  (9/1/12) – Nearly six months ago Prince Friso, the son of Queen Beatrix, of the Netherlands, was buried in an avalanche while skiing in Austria. By the time he was rescued, he had already suffered severe brain damage. Ever since he has been in Wellington Hospital in London, where he was living and working before the accident. There is little chance that he will recover.

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EPPSP Event on Assisted Dying – The European Parliament Platform for Secularism in Poitics (9/5/12) – video

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Speech by Dr. Irwin on assisted dying at EPPSP Event (9/5/12) – A recent UK report stated that someone, who became 65 in 2010, could, on average, expect another ten to twelve years of a healthy life, and then, eight years of declining health – for so many people, dying has become a slow process.

Personally, I believe that, in the UK, there will be the legal possibility of PAS, for the terminally ill, in five to ten years. Then, there might be legalized PAS for the severely disabled (like Tony Nicklinson) in another ten years. Finally, I am hopeful of the possiblity of PAS for the very elderly, suffering from ill health, by 2060.

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A Society for Old Age Rational Suicide was established in the UK on December 10, 2009 (Human Rights Day) – two national opinion polls show 66% to 67% support for this concept.
In April 2002, the European Court of Human Rights noted, “In an era of growing medical sophistication, combined with longer life expectancies, many people are concerned that they should not be forced to linger on in old age or in states of advanced physical or mental decrepitude which conflict with strongly held ideas of self and personal identity”.

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Dutch man could face charges for helping mother to die – Radio Netherlands Worldwide (9/10/12) –  Assisted suicide is banned in the Netherlands. Helping someone end their life can be punished with a three year jail sentence. Albert Heringa helped his mother take an overdose of pills, leading to her death. He wants to be taken to court for his actions as a test case, but the public prosecutor’s office is so far reluctant to take any action (video)

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US and Dutch views differ on sedation at end of life by Sarah Guy, medwireNews (9/18/12) – Physicians from the USA and the Netherlands differ in their views on sedation at the end of life, with the Dutch justifying it by stating that it does not hasten death, and the Americans indicating that although it might hasten death, this is justifiable if it is not the primary intention, show study findings.

The researchers observed that physicians also differ in their communication about sedation at the end of life, with Dutch respondents reporting they initiate open discussions with their patients to allow for planning, while American respondents are less likely to do so.

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13 psychiatric patients were helped to die last year- DutchNews.nl (9/24/12) – A total of 13 psychiatric patients were helped to end their life last year, compared with just two in 2010, according to new figures from the regional euthanasia monitoring groups.

Euthanasia among people in the early stages of dementia also rose last year to 49 cases, double that of 2010.

The figures are in line with a general upward trend. The total number of euthanasia cases rose 18% last year to 3,695 and the number of cases has doubled since 2006, the report said.

The reasons for the increase are not yet known but are being investigated by researchers from the monitoring groups.

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Dutch Euthanasia preys on mentally ill, psychiatric patients by Dr. Peter Saunders, doctor and the CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship, a British organization with 4,500 doctors and 1,000 medical students as members. LifeNews.com (9/28/12) – Euthanasia now accounts for 2.8% of all Dutch deaths.

In addition euthanasia for people with early dementia doubled to 49 last year and 13 psychiatric patients were euthanized, an increase of over 500% on the two reported in 2010.

But as alarming as these statistics may seem they tell only part of the full story.

(more)

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NEW ZEALAND

Doctor: Euthanasia not the answer by Corrie Taylor, SunLive News (9/1/12) – A Tauranga doctor says palliative care, not euthanasia, is the better option for patients, family, friends and doctors of cancer sufferers.

Waipuna Hospice chief executive Dr Richard Thurlow says palliative care has improved greatly in the past seven years, and legalising euthanasia could cut short people’s lives who are not aware they have another option.

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Euthanasia too complex to be left to politicians: academic- CathNews (9/3/12) – Euthanasia is far too important to be decided by a bill requiring just two days of parliamentary debate followed by a conscience vote, says Professor Scott Prasser, Executive Director of the Public Policy Institute at the Australian Catholic University, reports the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.

Instead, Professor Prasser says that before any laws are modified, emotion must be removed from the debate and a Royal Commission or a neutral wide-ranging public inquiry established to get rid of the myths and look at the facts.

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‘Do Not Resuscitate’ gran dies aged 83 by Hamish McNeilly, New Zealand Herald (9/12/12) – Euthanasia campaigner Paula Westoby has died at her home.

The 83-year-old Dunedin grandmother made headlines in December 2008 when she had “DO NOT RESUSCITATE” tattooed on her chest.

The outspoken convener of the voluntary euthanasia support group Exit International was a supporter of Sean Davison, who helped his cancer-ridden mother die.

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‘Rosie should not have died alone’ by Jared Savage, New Zealand Herald (9/13/12) – Rosie Mott looks into the camera and says: “I’m making this movie so that nobody is under the illusion that I’ve been coerced into what I’ve done.

“Or I’ve been murdered, or for that matter, committed suicide. I am euthanising myself because I … I’m going to tell you a story, this sad tragic story of my upcoming demise.”

Tears stream down Evans Mott’s face as he watches this posthumous message.

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Decision sets dangerous precedent for assisted suicide law- Family Life International (9/13/12) – Justice Patricia Courtney’s decision today, to discharge without conviction Evans Mott, for assisting his wife to commit suicide, sets a dangerous precedent for future cases of assisted suicide in New Zealand.

While Mr Mott was not actually present when his wife Rosie Mott died, he pleaded guilty in May to assisting in her suicide by acquiring information about euthanasia and providing the equipment necessary for her to carry out the act. In pleading guilty he accepted responsibility for the role he played in his wife’s death. Now, he is able to walk away with no consequences to his actions.

The so-called “right to die” advocates are very excited about the outcome of this case. Today’s decision will also influence politician’s thoughts on Maryann Street’s “End of Life Choices” Bill which is awaiting its first reading.

Family Life International NZ believes that Justice Courtney has made a grave error of judgment in making this decision. She has opened the door for other’s to assist in suicide and not suffer any consequences. This decision also flies the face of New Zealander’s concern over the high suicide rate in our country.

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Assisted suicide ruling ‘common sense’ by Ian Steward, stuff.co.nz (9/13/12) – “Mentally, Rosie did not want to die – she wanted to live and live a long and full life. Physically she had run out of options.”

He said his wife did not want publicity. “Rosie died in her own time, by her own hand and sadly alone.

“She insisted on dying in those circumstances, to prevent those who she loved from being legally implicated or liable. She . . . would be sad to see that she failed despite her sacrifices.

“What kind of system expects you to turn your back on your loved one in such a time of need? Sadly, ours does.”

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Should we change the law to allow voluntary euthanasia? - New Zealand Herald (9/14/12) – Labour MP Maryan Street is proposing a law change to permit voluntary euthanasia under some circumstances. Two doctors argue the pros and cons.

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Euthanasia debate: Wife’s death video by Jared Savage, The New Zealand Herald (9/14/12)
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Euthanasia organisation pleased with Mott ruling by Sam Thompson,  NewstalkZB.com (9/14/12) – Euthanasia organisation Exit says Evans Mott’s discharge without conviction is a sensible decision by the New Zealand High Court.

Mott admitted helping his ill wife to commit suicide.

The Judge says his assistance was limited, his wife was determined to die and she would have gone ahead with or without his help.

Exit director Dr Philip Nitschke is pleased with the decision.

“It begs the question of course why are we wasting the court’s time with situations like this when clearly this was an act of compassion and love. It all begs the question of when will the law change in New Zealand?”

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Majority of Kiwis support assisted suicide- poll – tvnz.co.nz (9/14/12) – The poll conducted by Horizon research asked 2969 respondents – reported to be a representative sample of adult New Zealanders – if they supported or opposed the assisted suicide in the case of mentally competent adults who are terminally ill.

The poll found 62.9% were in support, 15.8% neutral, 12.3% opposed and 9% were not sure.

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Euthanasia advocate did on own terms by Krissy Moreau, 3News.co.nz (9/14/12) – A euthanasia advocate who campaigned for years to get New Zealand’s law changed has taken her own life before she could see any result.

Eighty-three-year-old Paula Westoby made national headlines in 2008 by tattooing “do not resuscitate” on her chest.

She died this week in Dunedin, where a funeral was held for her today.  Her son, Jonathan Westoby, says that while the family are grieving, they respect her decision to end her life.

“We’re just going through that grieving process now, and we are struggling,” he says.  “But it was her choice, and we’ve got to remember that.”

(more)

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Courts mirror mood on euthanasia: MP by Issac Davison, The New Zealand Herald (9/15/12) – Public support for euthanasia is growing in New Zealand in the wake of key court decisions, says a Labour Party MP who advocates assisted suicide.

The discharge without conviction of Auckland man Evans Mott after he assisted his wife’s suicide reflected an increasing compassion for euthanasia, said MP Maryan Street.

She is the author of a private member’s bill to legalise assisted suicide in cases of terminal illness and irreversible disease.

Mr Mott’s wife Rosie died late last year after suffering an aggressive, incurable form of multiple sclerosis.

(more)

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Courts mirror mood on euthanasia: MP by Issac Davidson, New Zealand Herald (9/15/12) – Public support for euthanasia is growing in New Zealand in the wake of key court decisions, says a Labour Party MP who advocates assisted suicide.

The discharge without conviction of Auckland man Evans Mott after he assisted his wife’s suicide reflected an increasing compassion for euthanasia, said MP Maryan Street.

She is the author of a private member’s bill to legalise assisted suicide in cases of terminal illness and irreversible disease.

Mr Mott’s wife Rosie died late last year after suffering an aggressive, incurable form of multiple sclerosis.

(more)

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Editorial: The euthanasia argument- Otago Daily times (9/15/12) – The death this week of Exit International Dunedin convener Paula Westoby, and the discharge without conviction of an Auckland man who helped his chronically ill wife die, has again sparked discussions about end-of-life choices.

Euthanasia advocate Ms Westoby would no doubt have been pleased her death has prompted such exchanges, because she encouraged debate about the issue for many years.

(more)

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Legal euthanasia not a ‘slippery slope’ by Kate Chapman, stuff.co.nz (9/15/12) – Allowing terminally ill patients to end their lives does not lead to a slippery slope of legalised dying, an American expert says.

Debate was rekindled this week after Auckland man Evans Mott was discharged without conviction for pleading guilty to assisting his wife to commit suicide.

Labour MP Maryan Street has drafted a member’s bill that would make it legal for people who are terminally ill or suffering from an irreversible disease to take their own life or have someone help them to die.

(more)

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How I ended my patient’s life – The New Zealand Herald (9/15/12) – A Dutch GP who now lives and works in New Zealand describes the morning he carried out a dying cancer sufferer’s wish.

It is a quiet Saturday morning when I leave the house. When I reach my patient’s house the sun is starting to become quite fierce and even the birds seem to be a bit lazy in the heat. Mark’s wife, Marja, opens the door and when I enter the living room I meet the rest of the family.

(more)

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Court decision fuels euthanasia debate - Radio New Zealand News (9/15/12) – A pro-euthanasia campaigner says the discharge without conviction of an Auckland man accused of assisting in his wife’s suicide raises hopes of a law change.

Evans Mott, 61, admitted in May this year to helping Rosie Mott take her own life, following her four-year struggle with a severe form of multiple sclerosis.

Mrs Mott killed herself on 28 December last year using apparatus that her husband of 24 years had helped assemble.

Justice Courtney told the High Court in Auckland Mrs Mott was in pain and would have taken her own life by some means if Mr Mott had not agreed to help her.

(more)

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Palliative doctors response to TV1 show – New Zealand Doctor Online (9/17/12) – Unlike last night’s distressing story of Rosie’s decision, the patients we care for with multiple sclerosis do not have their lives ended prematurely and do not request this.  In our experience patients with advanced illnesses such as multiple sclerosis can be supported, as well as their family and friends, by multidisciplinary team of Palliative Care with community general practice and hospital support.

The Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine Inc., (ANZSPM), believes that the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide are outside the discipline of Palliative Medicine.

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Ruling on advocate’s 2010 suicide lifts debate by Shane Cowlishaw, Stuff.co.nz (9/18/12) – The suicide of an elderly Nelson member of a pro-euthanasia group has again highlighted the fierce debate over a person’s right to die.

Gretha Appleby, 80, was found dead in 2010. Coroner Carla na Nagara released her findings into the death yesterday, stating Mrs Appleby died at her home from self-inflicted injuries.

Mrs Appleby was a noted member of the pro-euthanasia group Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand.

She had expressed her pro-euthanasia views publicly, writing to the Nelson Mail in 2008 to declare her frustration at the “irrational” view that considered someone a murderer for helping a suffering loved one to die.

“My compassion goes towards the ‘murderer’, feeling he or she needs our understanding,” she wrote. “No son, daughter nor anyone should be put to such a test.

“If only we would have a law in which the dying have a choice how to die with dignity, this would save a lot of misunderstanding.”

In New Zealand it is a criminal offence to help someone die, or even provide a means for them to do so.

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Woman’s death adds fuel to debate- NelsonMail.co.nz (9/18/12) – Mrs Appleby was a noted member of the pro-euthanasia group Voluntary Euthanasia Society of New Zealand. She had expressed her pro-euthanasia views publicly, writing to the Nelson Mail in 2008 to declare her frustration at the “irrational” view that considered someone a murderer for helping a suffering loved one to die.

“My compassion goes towards the ‘murderer’, feeling he or she needs our understanding,” she wrote. “No son, daughter, nor anyone should be put to such a test.

“If only we would have a law in which the dying have a choice how to die with dignity, this would save a lot of misunderstanding.”

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Assisted dying – the social conversation <<Red Alert – posted by Maryan Street… tell her what you think! (9/25/12)

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NIGERIA

Euthanasia and the Catholic Church – by Maurice Ekpe, Vanguard (9/30/12) – EUTHANASIA is from a Greek word, (Euthanatos) meaning good death. It is a fusion of two words, Eu (well or good) and thanatos (death), translating to “good death”. It refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering.

The definition of Euthanasia incorporates three basic elements which are essential to understanding the position of the Catholic Church on its application. These are: suffering, killing and intention.

The Catholic Church view on Euthanasia:
Life is a sacred gift from God to be cherished and respected because every human being is created in the image and likeness of God for a purpose (Genesis 1:26) thereby prohibiting a claim as the “right to die”. A right is a moral claim and we do not have a claim on death rather death has a claim on us. God chooses the time of our birth and the time for our death (Ecclesiastes 3:2).

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RUSSIA

Euthanasia in Russia unacceptable forever and always? – Pravda (9/13/12) – Should Russia allow euthanasia on the legislative level, even in a passive form? Probably not – for a variety of reasons.

If euthanasia is approved in Russia, where corruption is still quite strong, it will most likely lead to the appearance of a great deal of violations at this point. It is quite possible that people will be put to death through forged documents and bribed doctors in order to obtain material benefits.

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SCOTLAND

27 deaths ’caused by bed sores’ - The party’s health spokeswoman Alison McInnes said: “The public will be shocked that people are still dying from bed sores in the 21st century. They cause huge amounts of pain and discomfort but are easily preventable.

“Bed sores can arise because a patient has been left alone by staff for hours at a time. It is inexcusable and cannot be allowed to continue.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government is working with nurse directors across Scotland to ensure there are no avoidable hospital-acquired pressure ulcers by December 2015.

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Linking my bill with vile regime is wicked by Margo MacDonald, news.scotsman.com (9/5/12) – The people leading the “Care not Killing” campaign are wicked. They aim to defeat the assisted suicide Bill I plan to introduce to the Scottish Parliament this autumn. Care not Killing ignores my Bill’s purpose and links it with the programme of state-sponsored murder of disabled Germans.

My Bill will give defined categories of people the legal right to seek help to end their own life, and only their own lives, when they have become intolerable. In Hitler’s Germany, lives were ended by the officials and doctors who experimented in “cleansing” Hitler’s Reich.

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New Tory health chief Anna Soubry slams law that forces terminally ill Brits to die abroad by Mark Aitken, Scottish Daily Record (9/9/12) – DAVID CAMERON’S new health minister yesterday slated current laws on assisted ­suicide as “ridiculous”.

Newly promoted UK health minister Anna Soubry said terminally ill people should be able to receive assistance in ending their lives in the UK.

Last night, her comments were ­welcomed by independent MSP Margo MacDonald, who has fought to have assisted suicide legalised in Scotland.

MacDonald said: “These comments are very welcome. They are more realistic and in tune with public opinion than what we have heard from politicians in all parties, with one or two laudable exceptions.

“I am absolutely delighted that the wind is blowing that way.”

The Lothian MSP, who has Parkinson’s disease, has attempted to change the
law in Scotland with her End of Life ­Assistance Bill.

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Assisted suicide bill prepared – UK Press Association (9/19/12) – A fresh attempt to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland is under way after MSPs backed the preparation of a new Bill.

Veteran politician Margo MacDonald has lodged a second proposal after receiving the required 18 signatures of support following a consultation earlier this year. A previous attempt to give people the right to choose when to die was defeated at Holyrood.

Ms MacDonald, Scotland’s only independent MSP, said interest in the issue had grown since the death of Tony Nicklinson in England.

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New bid for legal assisted suicide in Scotland by Lucy Christi, Scottish Daily Record (9/20/12) – A fresh attempt to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland is set to be made at Holyrood.

Independent MSP Margo MacDonald has got the 18 signatures from colleagues she needs to bring forward a new Bill.

It’s expected to be produced early next year.

MacDonald, who has Parkinson’s disease, has been campaigning for years for patients whose lives have become intolerable to be given the right to get help to end their lives.

At the moment, anyone assisting in a suicide could be prosecuted for culpable homicide.

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Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill by Frank Karmer, Law& Religion (UK) (9/21/12) – Margo MacDonald has secured sufficient cross-party support to introduce her Assisted Suicide (Scotland) Bill (lodged 18 September 2012)

“to enable a competent adult with a terminal illness or condition to request assistance to end their own life, and to decriminalise certain actions taken by others to provide such assistance”.

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Parliment should have a free vote on assisted suicide – Glasgow Liberal Democrats (9/23/12) – Commenting, Chris Davies MEP, who moved the motion, said:

“It is time for Parliament to act and our European neighbours, Belgium and the Netherlands, have proven that laws can be framed to include safeguards that prevent the risk of abuse. Liberal Democrats believe MPs should be given the chance to have a free vote on legislation to allow people, in specific circumstances, to end their life with medical help.”

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Assisted dying – a core demand by Simon Beard, Campaign for Dignity in Dying (9/23/12) – A party that stands for liberalism must support a change in the law to protect the freedom, dignity and well being of individuals. A party that stands for Democracy must support a change in the law that the majority have wanted for decades, and that has been persistently blocked by a determined coalition of elites and special interests.

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Death is part of our human experience by Mary Foster-Fulton, New Statesman (9/24/12) – However, the withholding or withdrawing of medical treatment differs fundamentally from the deliberate ending of life. The Church of Scotland is active in many projects offering care, comfort and support to the vulnerable in many practical ways. We therefore find the prospect of legislation allowing assisted dying to be deeply concerning, as it has the potential to undermine focus on the care and comfort of all as they move through the last stages of life- especially those who are placed in a vulnerable position as a result of age, incapacity or other circumstance.

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New bid for assisted suicide in Scotland moves forward- The Christian Institute (9/27/12) – A Scottish politician has gathered enough signatures from a handful of MSPs to have a second attempt at legalising assisted suicide.

Margo MacDonald MSP, who has Parkinson’s disease, was overwhelmingly defeated on her previous attempt.

But she hopes recent court cases in England, like that of Tony Nicklinson who recently died after failing to change the law on euthanasia, have shifted the public mood.

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SOUTH KOREA

New survey will gauge public pinion on euthanasia by Stephen Hong, UCANews (9/19/12) – When doctors removed a respirator from a 76-year-old woman known only as Kim , it sparked a national debate in South Korea about choosing to die, or not, and who can make that choice.

The doctors’ decision led to a landmark Supreme Court case in 2009, the first time it had been called to rule on whether to maintain life support for a patient in a vegetative state, as Kim was at the time, although doctors at the Protestant Severance Hospital in Seoul continued to feed their patient. The court order only referred to life support for the respirator, which doctors had originally refused to turn off.

Miraculously, Kim lasted 202 more days and died in January 2010.

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SWITZERLAND

Swiss parliment rejects tighter controls on assisted suicide – Reuters (9/26/12) – Switzerland’s parliament voted against a bid to toughen controls on assisted suicide on Wednesday, rejecting concerns about foreigners traveling to the country to die.

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said reform was not necessary as the number of foreigners travelling to Switzerland to die had declined in recent years, from 199 in 2006 to 97 in 2010. Most come from Germany, France or Britain.

“It’s about the question of dignity at the end of one’s life. In the end each person can only decide on this dignity for him or herself. It’s about questions of self-determination,” she said.

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Swiss parliament rejects assisted suicide regulation – Hurriyet Daily News (9/28/12) – Switzerland’s Parliament voted against a bid to toughen controls on assisted suicide on Sept. 26, rejecting concerns about foreigners traveling to the country to die.

Members of the lower house of parliament voted against changing the code, arguing self-regulation by right-to-die organizations such as Exit and Dignitas worked and the liberal rules protected individual freedoms.

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UNITED KINGDOM

Tony Nicklinson and the Ethics of Assisted Dying by Andrew Copson, HuffPost Politics (8/28/12) – It is right for us to act compassionately to alleviate suffering, just as we would hope that our suffering would be alleviated; and it is right that we respect the choices of the person who we wish to help, just as we would wish our own choice (whether to live or die) to be respected. The only really difficult ethical question surrounding assisted suicide is how we can ensure that an individual’s desire to end their life is the genuine, settled, free choice of a mentally competent individual. Of course, therefore, there must be safeguards in any future regulation of assisted dying. But as long as stringent safeguards are put in place, it is difficult to see the ethical case against it being provided at all.

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British Humanist Assn: New poll shows strong public support for assisted dying- politics.co.uk (9/7/12) – BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented ‘Previous and forthcoming political attempts to legalise assisted dying have confined themselves to the terminally ill but today’s research confirms that this approach is well out of step with public opinion. The large majority of Britons, including Christians, believe that mentally competent adults who are permanently incapacitated and suffering unbearably, as well as those who are terminally ill, should be able to seek medical assistance to end their life with dignity.

‘Few principles of any sort have such a strong popular mandate and it can’t be right for the Government of a democratic society to remain silent and unresponsive in this matter. We urge them to introduce new legislation to legalise assisted dying for both the terminally ill and incurably suffering, with safeguards to protect the vulnerable, but clearly respecting he choices of each individual.’

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Change to assisted dying law would place elderly at risk, Church says- Christian Today (9/7/12) – The Church of England’s adviser on medical ethics has warned against the legalisation of assisted dying.

Writing in The Church of England Newspaper this week, the Rev Dr Brendan McCarthy says that changing the existing laws would place elderly people at greater risk.

“Any change in the law will place vulnerable people at greater risk than at present. Society cannot afford to take an unrealistically optimistic view of human nature,” she said.

“The fact that each year, in England, more than 300,000 elderly people are abused, often at the hands of their close relatives, ought to alert everyone to the dangers of creating new areas of potential abuse.”

Assisted suicide has made the headlines in recent years with supporters saying that people in extreme physical suffering should be able to choose when and how they die.

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Newly-appointed minister attacks assisted suicide law - The Independent (9/8/12) – The laws on assisted suicide have been criticised as “ridiculous” by a newly-promoted Health Minister.

Anna Soubry, who was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department of Health in this week’s reshuffle, called for greater “honesty” about when prosecutions would be brought for helping relatives to die and that the legislation needed to “evolve”.

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Law on assisted dying is ridiculous, says health minister- The Guardian (9/8/12/) – The laws on assisted dying are “ridiculous” and “appalling”, according to a newly promoted health minister.

Anna Soubry, who was appointed parliamentary under secretary at the Department of Health in this week’s reshuffle, called for greater “honesty” about when prosecutions would be brought for helping relatives to die and said the legislation needed to evolve.

Her Liberal Democrat colleague Norman Lamb, who was moved to the health department at the same time, said he believed there was “a strong case” for the present law to be reconsidered.

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Tony Nicklinson’s wife welcomes minister’s assisted suicide comments – ITV News (9/8/12) – Tony Nicklinson’s wife has welcomed the willingness of newly-appointed health minister Anna Soubry to “stick her neck out” on the issue of assisted suicide law, but said reforms that restricted the measure to the terminally ill would not be enough.

Tony Nicklinson, who suffered from locked-in syndrome, died a week after losing his legal bid to end his life when he chose with the help of a doctor. He was 58 at the time of his death.

“Everyone goes on about assisted suicide for the terminally ill but that is just not far enough for us,” Jane Nicklinson told Sky News. “Tony’s rights should be taken into account, and others like Tony, as much as those who are dying”.

“We’re pleased that she has come forward and said this. It does open the debate even more, having an MP who’s willing to stick her neck out and actually support assisted suicide. But we would like it to be a step further,” Mrs. Nicklinson added.

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Assisted suicide laws criticised- SolihullNews.net (9/8/12) – Health ministers have joined calls for a fresh look at relaxing the law against assisted suicide, with one calling it “ridiculous and appalling” that terminally-ill people were forced abroad to take their own lives.

Tory MP Anna Soubry reopened the fraught right-to-die debate in an outspoken interview with The Times just days after being appointed a junior minister in the Department of Health (DoH) in David Cameron’s reshuffle.

And her Liberal Democrat colleague Norman Lamb, who was shifted to the health brief at the same time, said he believed there was “a strong case” for the present law to be reconsidered.

Their interventions sparked strong responses on both sides of the argument, with opponents including the president of the British Medical Association, warning any change in the law could put vulnerable people at risk.

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Assisted suicide row Minister ‘must resign’ after she backs changing the law by Brendan Carlin, Daily Mail (9/8/12) – Outspoken new Health Minister Anna Soubry faced a Tory call to resign after saying she backed changing the law on assisted suicide.

The former television presenter, who joined the Government in last week’s reshuffle, said it was ‘ridiculous and appalling’ that Britons had to ‘go abroad to end their life’.

Ms Soubry immediately came under attack from fellow Tories, with one warning that any attempt to change the law would be ‘fiercely’ opposed.

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Anna Soubry is right: we must top fudging issue of assisted dying by James Harris, New Statesman (9/9/12) – The new health Minister Anna Soubry has articulated the view of many people, a clear majority according to opinion polls, who feel that the current law on assisted dying is out of date.

As is well documented, over the last decade Britons have been travelling abroad to die. But, this is just one part of the problem. Dying Britons have also been ending their lives at home, sometimes with the assistance of loved ones, and evidence suggests that some doctors are illegally helping their patients to die. None of this occurs within a legal framework, agreed by Parliament, which allows healthcare professionals to openly discuss and support, if upfront safeguards are met, a dying patient’s request to die.

Instead, we muddle along with a fudge. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), understandably reluctant to prosecute those who have helped a loved one to die, has set out factors for and against prosecution that effectively decriminalises compassionate amateur assistance. However, the assistance of a doctor or a nurse in a professional capacity is a specific factor in favour of prosecution. In fairness to the DPP his hands are largely tied by statute. Only Parliament can create a safeguarded process of assisted dying. Their failure to do so to date means that we have effectively outsourced assisted dying to family members and the Swiss. No wonder Anna Soubry described the law as “ridiculous and appalling”.

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What is the current BMA policy on assisted dying?

- opposes all forms of assisted dying

- supports the current legal framework, which allows compassionate and ethical care for the dying and

- supports the establishment of a comprehensive, high quality palliative care service available to all, to enable patients to die with dignity

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Tories play down Anna Soubry comments on assisted suicide by Nicholas Watt, The Guardian (9/10/12) – David Cameron is distancing himself from his outspoken new health minister Anna Soubry, who last week called for help to be given to terminally ill patients who want to end their lives.

Senior Tory sources said the prime minister saw no need for a change in the law or in legal guidance on the issue.

Soubry, a former barrister on the Tory left who joined the health ministry in last week’s reshuffle, told the Times on Saturday that it was “ridiculous and appalling” that terminally ill people had to travel abroad to end their lives.

“The rules that we have about who we don’t prosecute allow things to happen but there’s a good argument that we should be a bit more honest about it,” the minister said.

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Norman Lamb second new health minister to call for assisted dying laws reform by Rosa Prince,  The Telegraph (9/10/12) – The Liberal Democrat minister, who is responsible for suicide strategy within the Department of Health, followed his Conservative colleague Anna Soubry, who said that the current laws on voluntary ethenasia were dishonest and needed to evolve to allow people to die at home.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “First of all it is important to say that this is not something that the Government has policy on.

“We take the view I think quite correctly that this is a matter for individual conscience and it is for Parliament to decide. I think there is a case for a debate.

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Greens urged to back draft right-to-die legislation- Bristol 24-7 (9/10/12) – Campaigners calling for a change in the law to help the terminally ill end their own lives urged Green Party members and supporters in Bristol this weekend to back a draft Parliamentary Bill.

Speaking at a debate at the party’s autumn conference in the council chamber at Bristol City Council on Saturday, chief executive of Dignity in Dying Sarah Wootton said it was currently consulting – along with the all-party parliamentary group on choice at the end of life – on a proposed draft bill.

She told the party members at the public debate there was a “strong case” for allowing assisted suicide for people who are terminally ill in England and Wales.

Control over the quality of our death is “one of the most important ethical issues of our time”, the campaign says, and Ms Wootton said the draft bill would mirror closely the Death with Dignity Act in the US state of Oregon.

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Assisted dying is a matter for us all- The Bolton (9/10/12) – In so far as assisted dying is concerned, the coterie comprising the Vatican and the United Kingdom’s 26 unelected clerics in the House of Lords, helping to decide who should have the right to live, or the right to die, hardly provides for a balanced discussion.

I agree with Professor Raymond Tallis, chairman of Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying who is of the opinion that “assisted dying should be a matter for society as a whole and not just for the medical profession.”

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Norfolk health minister on assisted suicide by Joseph Watts, Norfolk Eastern Daily Press (9/11/12) – The comments of North Norfolk MP Mr Lamb come shortly after the case of Tony Nicklinson, who died last month shortly after losing a court battle for the right to end his own life.

Speaking in a radio interview Mr Lamb said: “First of all it is important to say that this is not something that the Government has policy on.

“We take the view I think quite correctly that this is a matter for individual conscience and it is for Parliament to decide. I think there is a case for a debate.

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British Medical Association Council elects strong advocate of euthanasia and assisted suicide as new deputy chair by Dr. Peter Saunders,  CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship, a UK-based organisation with 4,500 UK doctors and 1,000 medical students as members – National Right to Life News Today (9/11/12) – He boldly declares, ‘We must enact legislation to decriminalise acts of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, for the following compelling reasons’, and then gives a list of ‘reasons’ that could have been cut and pasted from the DID website.

I wonder if Dr. Chand has declared these ‘interests’ to BMA Council or BMA members whom I’m sure would be very interested to know about them.

Meanwhile the BMA itself remains firmly opposed to any change in the law and has never supported the legalisation of either euthanasia or assisted suicide throughout its 180 year history.

With the government last week appointing two health ministers who have since declared their support for legalising assisted suicide (Anna Soubry and Norman Lamb) and Lord Falconer and Margo Macdonald about to introduce new bills in the House of Lords and Scottish Parliament respectively it appears that we are in for a very interesting few months.

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Minister calls for change on assisted suicide law- The Christian Institute (9/12/12) – Peter Saunders, Chief Executive of the Christian Medical Fellowship, has criticised Mr Lamb’s remarks.

He said the role of a health minister should be to prevent people from taking the “desperate step” of suicide.

He added that Mr Lamb should not be making it “easier for a loaded gun to be passed to those who consider, for whatever reason, their lives to be no longer worth living.”

Mr Saunders wants the minister to prioritise “better care for those with terminal and chronic illness.”

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Supporting Your Choices at the End of Life: Statement (9/13/12) – Compassion in Dying seeks to put patients at the heart of the decision making process by providing free Advance Decisions, which are legally binding forms that can be used to make decisions about your medical treatment should you lose capacity.

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Motor neurone disease sufferer, 71, took his own life after drug overdose by Luke Saulkeld, Daily Mail (9/13/12) – Thomas Hobkinson, 71, suffered from motor neurone disease and had bought drugs over the internet so that he could kill himself at home.

It is believed the programme he watched was the controversial BBC documentary Choosing To Die which looked at the procedure of assisted death when it was broadcast in June of last year.

Last September the retired auditor’s wife Anne discovered his body at their home in Falmouth, Cornwall, after he had spent his last night watching their son Ben’s wedding DVD.

He had told his wife of his intentions and they had ‘said their goodbyes’. He also reminded her where the instructions were for their home’s heating system.

The inquest heard that after Mr Hobkinson was diagnosed in 2009 and the disease worsened, he informed family, friends, doctors and carers of his intention to end his life.

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Euthanasia Redux– For Mott’s sake, support Maryan Street’s bill by Mark Hubbard (9/13/12) – My advocacy in this blog that a civilised society must go about its rule-making by thinking on man’s condition from within a morality of man qua man, heightens the rage I rightly feel when reading such a state-coerced tragic, because separated, ending for Mr and Mrs Mott. Mr Mott most certainly was his wife’s hero.

For me, the issues surrounding euthanasia have always been about two things:

 Mrs Mott’s right to die with dignity, but also, equally:
 Mr Mott’s right, which was denied him, to be in the same room, embraced with his loved one, Rosie, so she would not have to pass away, completely alone in the world.
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MP backs calls to allow patients the right to die- This is Croydon (9/14/12) – Calls to reform the law on assisted suicide and allow Britons to die at home have been backed by Croydon South MP Richard Ottaway.
New junior health minister Anna Soubry, who was promoted in the cabinet reshuffle, has demanded greater “honesty” about when people would be prosecuted for helping relatives to die.
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MPs oppose assisted suicide move- This is Jersey (9/15/12) – The poll found that just 29% of MPs back moves to introduce assisted suicide, while 59% were opposed and 12% were undecided.The survey of more than 150 MPs, conducted by ComRes, asked MPs from all parties about their views on assisted suicide.Opposition was especially fierce in Scotland, where 86% of MPs opposed new legalisation.
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Recession strengthens case against assisted suicide, MPs say by John Bingham, The Telegraph (9/15/12) – The findings emerged from the first poll of MPs on questions surrounding euthanasia and assisted suicide since before the last election, providing a revealing snapshot of attitudes on the issue in the current House of Commons.

It shows that opposition to assisted suicide among MPs has strengthened markedly in the current Parliament, boosted by the presence of more Conservative members.

Overall 62 per cent of MPs oppose or strongly oppose legalising assisted suicide for mentally competent terminally ill people.

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Tony Nicklinson: My dad, my hero by Lauren Nicklinson, The Guardian (9/15/12) – As the public face of the right-to-die movement, he was admired by many for the strength and resolve he showed throughout his illness. Here, his daughter recalls growing up with a father whose whole life was an inspiration to her

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MPs ‘oppose assisted suicide move’ - Ashbourne News Telegraph (9/16/12 ) – More than seven out of ten MPs refuse to back calls to legalise assisted suicide, according to a new poll.

The poll found that just 29% of MPs back moves to introduce assisted suicide, while 59% were opposed and 12% were undecided.

The survey of more than 150 MPs, conducted by ComRes, asked MPs from all parties about their views on assisted suicide.

Opposition was especially fierce in Scotland, where 86% of MPs opposed new legalisation.

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MPs in suicide fear- Daily Star (9/16/12) – Seven out of ten MPs refuse to back new calls to legalise assisted suicide, according to a new poll. The ComRes poll of 150 MPs found just 29% back moves to allow assisted suicide.

Most MPs fear law changes could push vulnerable people into ending their lives if they faced health problems.

Care Not Killing’s Dr Peter Saunders said: “Allowing assisted suicide would put pressure on vulnerable people at a time when many sick, elderly and disabled people are struggling to make ends meet. A majority of MPs recognise this and agree assisted suicide should not be legalised.”

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Assisted dying: who’s to decide when a life is not worth living? The Free Republic (9/16/12) – An extraordinary poll published by the British Humanist Association (BHA) highlights the public ambivalence about assisted suicide and euthanasia. In conjunction with other recent surveys, it shows that more people are in favour of the law allowing the killing of relatively healthy patients like Tony Nicklinson than of those who are terminally ill.

The “respectable” wing of the assisted dying movement, Dignity in Dying, wants a very limited right to medically assisted suicide: only people who are terminally ill and in full possession of their faculties would qualify. Even this limited position is hugely controversial.

But the BHA believes that doctors should be allowed to help kill anyone who really wants to die and who cannot manage for themselves. This applies explicitly to perfectly healthy people as well as the terminally ill. And it is more popular than the limited position. No more than 15% of the population are opposed, or strongly opposed to it.

In fact, these attitudes are perfectly coherent and show that people understand there are clear limits to individualism. What the public wants is for everyone to have the right to determine as much as possible about their own lives. This includes the manner and moment of death. Suicide then becomes the grandest and clearest declaration that our lives are our own to do what we want with.

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When is it appropriate to use sedation in palliative care? posted by Eileen Shepard in Nursing Times (9/17/12) – The author of this article poses this question: “When terminally ill patients are given continuous deep sedation without hydration, should we call it a form of palliative care, or is it in fact slow euthanasia? What do you think?

When it is appropriate to use sedation in palliative care?

The author of this article explains why relatives may express concern when a patient does not drink during the terminal phase, or if fluids are withheld while deep sedation is required for symptom control. How would you explain the rationale for withholding artificial hydration to a relative?

Why do some relatives see failure to give artificial hydration as abandonment?

Artificial hydration in the terminal phase of life may cause complications. Outline what these are and how they can affect patients’ condition.

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Wales Health Minister demands NHS services take the lead on end-of-life care by Richard Howard, HomeCare.co.uk (9/17/12) – The Welsh Government has made a firm commitment to improving end-of-life care services, setting 2016 as the target for eradicating service inequalities, regardless of whether individuals choose to die in hospital, in a care facility or at home.

The ‘Together for Health – Delivering End of Life Care’ plan was published last week and pledges to continue the work of the Palliative Care Implementation Board, which introduced educational initiatives into nursing homes. The new plan will focus on further strengthening services to support individuals entering a terminal phase of their illness.

Health Minister Lesley Griffiths comments: “Everybody is affected by the death of a family member or friend who has gone through a final phase of illness. I want, as far as possible, to reduce the amount of distress in the terminal phase of illness for the patient and their family.

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End of life rethink ‘is needed’ - BBC News Health (9/18/12) – European countries need to rethink strategies for end of life care due to the ageing population, according to researchers in the Netherlands.

They said deaths from cancer and long-term diseases were a “considerable burden” on society and accounted for 42% of all deaths.

They warned that many would face pain, depression and anxiety before dying.

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Ageing population ‘is leading to crisis in end-of-life care’ by Stephen Adams, The Telegraph (9/18/12) – More hospices, care homes and other end-of-life facilities are needed to help cope with increasing numbers dying ‘gradual’ deaths, say specialists worried that supply is not keeping pace with demand.

Better health care, and to some extent a fitter older population, means less are experiencing ‘sudden’ deaths, for example from heart attacks.

But while increased longevity is to be welcomed, doctors say not enough resources are being devoted to making the last days of the elderly as comfortable as possible.

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Most UK MPs oppose the legalisation of assisted suicide says new poll by Dr. Peter Saunders, CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship, a UK-based organisation with 4,500 UK doctors and 1,000 medical students as members – Lifesitenews.com (9/18/12) – It found that just 29% of MPs back moves to introduce assisted suicide, while 59% were opposed and 12% were undecided.

The survey of more than 150 MPs, conducted by ComRes, asked MPs from all parties about their views on assisted suicide.

Opposition was especially fierce in Scotland, where 86% of MPs opposed legalisation.

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Guardian writer: ‘safeguards’ worthless on assisted suicide- The Christian Institute (9/18/12) – “If a mother has the right to dispose of an unwanted foetus, why doesn’t a daughter have the right to dispose of an unwanted, incoherent and incontinent old person whose miserable life will only ever get worse?

“What could be easier than to propose to such a creature that its life is not in fact worth living?

“The Tony Nicklinsons are the easy cases to legislate for, not just because they are rare”, he concluded.

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Husband who assisted suicide says attitudes are changing- BBC video (9/18/12) – Thirty years ago Barrie Sheldon, who lives in Suffolk, helped his wife Elizabeth prepare drugs for an overdose. Now he believes public attitudes in favour of the right to die are slowly changing.

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Dignity, Death and Deprivation of Liberty: Human Rights in the Court of Protection – UK Human Rights Blog (9/19/12) – Topics for discussion on October 10, 2012, include:

(i)             Assisted dying and withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment; the concepts of ‘necessity’ and ‘futility’, and the role Articles 2, 3, 8, and 14 ECHR;

(ii)           The meaning of deprivation of liberty, and ensuring effective protection under Article 5 ECHR;

(iii)          Protecting ‘dignity’ in serious medical treatment decisions through positive human rights obligations;

(iv)          Balancing forced treatment (e.g. feeding/sterilisation) with countervailing  positive human rights obligations;

(v)            Understanding Capacity, Advance Directives and their enforceability under the MCA 2005.

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Man with locked-in syndrome prepares to appeal for right to assisted suicide by Sarah Boseley,  The Guardian (9/19/12) – Lawyers for a man with locked-in syndrome, who says his life is intolerable and wants help to die, are to take his case to the appeal court within weeks and are then prepared to go to the highest court in the land, the supreme court, if necessary.

Martin, as he wishes to be called to protect his privacy, had his original case rejected in August by the high court alongside that of Tony Nicklinson, who was also paralysed by a stroke and unable to speak.

Nicklinson, 58, died just six days later, after refusing food and water and contracting pneumonia. But Martin, his wife told the Guardian, will battle on for the right to die.

“He is adamant – he has been since he had his stroke,” said his wife, who asked to be called Felicity. “What he wants has never changed.”

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Dystonia sufferer Jackie Meacock ends life in Dignitas clinic - BBC News Sussex (9/20/12) – Jackie Meacock, who suffered from the neurological disorder dystonia, took her own life at the Dignitas clinic with her family at her side.

In December she recorded a video diary calling for assisted suicide to be legalised. She died on 13 September.

Her daughters backed her plea and praised their mother’s “strength”.

Speaking to BBC South East Today her daughter Donella Preisler said: “She didn’t want to go away [to die] – she wanted to be here in her home with all her family.”

Although Ms Meacock’s condition was not life threatening it caused her constant pain.

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Midland MP to back ‘medically assisted dying’ call by James Cartledge, Birmingham Mail (9/21/12) – MIDLAND MP Lorely Burt will back a call at the Liberal Democrat conference allowing doctors to help patients end their lives.

The debate on “medically assisted dying” will be held during the party’s gathering in Brighton, starting tomorrow.

The motion supports “legislation providing for medical assistance to die to be available to patients in particular circumstances, subject to rigorous safeguards to prevent abuse”.

It would apply to patients with conditions “with no hope of recovery” who are unable to end their own lives without help.

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Parliament should have a free vote on assisted dying – Liberal Democrats (9/23/12) – Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference today passed Medically Assisted Dying, a policy motion reaffirming the Party’s support for a debate and free vote in Parliament on legislation allowing medically assisted dying in limited circumstances and with extensive safeguards.

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Emotive debate over legally-assisted suicide splits county MPs- This is Gloucestershire (9/24/12) – MPs across Gloucestershire are split over whether or not to legalise assisted suicide.

According to a new poll, the majority of Parliamentarians are against making assisted dying legal with more than seven out of 10 refusing to back calls for such legislation.

The poll of 150 MPs from all parties also found just 29 per cent backed moves to change the law.

Martin Horwood, MP for Cheltenham (LD), said he was “strongly in favour” of legally assisted suicide, but stressed the need for “strong safeguards”.

He said: “I am sensitive to the views of constituents on the ethics of this issue, but my position is strongly influenced by my father’s experience when he was terminally ill.

“I think that when we get to the end of life, the decision should be left in the hands of the patient and not the doctor.”

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Newcastle cancer doctor against assisted dying by William Green, Chronicle Live (9/24/12) – A NEWCASTLE doctor last night warned against changing the rules on allowing medics to help patients to die.

Cancer specialist Wendy Taylor said she had never come across any patients who had wanted to die sooner.

All of them wanted to live as long as they could, the Newcastle Liberal Democrat councillor told her party’s conference in Brighton during a debate on medically assisted dying.

“I don’t see patients desperate to die, I see patients desperate to live.

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National billboard campaign against euthanasia- Independent Catholic News (9/26/12) – Anti-euthanasia campaigners are preparing to mount the first nationwide billboard campaign against euthanasia and assisted suicide. Members of ALERT, Distant Voices and Not Dead Yet UK are behind a venture to post billboards in nine cities in England and Scotland showing a silhouette of a person with the caption:  WHAT’S THE COST OF EUTHANASIA? YOU ARE! Distant Voices is also seeking ‘envoys’ to place themselves in town and city centres on Saturday October 27 – a day of action – and to give out accurate information and speak to members of the public about the evils of euthanasia.The purpose of the campaign is to oppose the legalisation of euthanasia in the UK and to inform the public of the dangers involved in its use anywhere.
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Major implications of euthanasia are ignored- This is Plymouth (9/27/12) – The call by B J Connell, (The Herald, September 20) for the Government and medical profession to change the law on euthanasia and assisted suicide, fills me with foreboding and confirms the power of a concerted media effort to sway public opinion through emotive BBC TV programmes and celebrities such as Sir Terry Pratchett, a patron of Dignity in Dying – formally the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.I am sure that people who want euthanasia have not thought through the implications of what they are asking especially as people who are nearing the end of their life value life far more, despite illness and age related problems, than those under 50 years of age.
(m0re)
*‘His last wish was to die at home': Fury of mother who watched her husband die months after their daughter’s suicide- Dailymail.co.uk (9/30/12) – Landscape gardener Patrick Norfolk had one last wish as the debilitating physical condition that had plagued him for years entered its final, terrible stages. He wanted to die in his garden among the flowers and plants he  had tended for decades, surrounded by his family.Patrick, 65, had been left a shell of his former independent, physically active self by motor neurone disease – an incurable illness that wreaks havoc on the nervous system and causes muscles to waste away.Overwhelmed by the disease’s relentless onslaught, Patrick did indeed try to take his own life at his home. But the attempt was unsuccessful and – unable to seek help from his wife Anne or anyone else because of Britain’s laws on assisted suicide – he took the agonising decision to end his life at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland.(more)

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