Assisted Death Debate – News from June 2012

End-of-Life discussions about Assisted Dying/Suicide/Euthanasia in news articles, blogs, videos from the left, right and center during the month of June 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. 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!

Happening in June

Swiss canton to vote on assisted suicide on June 17

Judges in UK High Court will hear two cases of locked-in syndrome hoping to change the law June 19-22

UK doctors planning to strike June 21

Annual Representative Meeting of the British Medical Association June 24-28

June 28-30 National Right to Life Convention topics: Medical Ethics 

-“Assisting Suicide – Latest Developments and Best Arguments” to counter “Whose life is it anyway?” and “Why would you force anybody to live like that?”
-Replacing Obamacare: A Detailed Pro-Life Counterproposal
-“Is Doctor Prescribed Death Coming to Your State Next?” or how to stop assisted suicide in its tracks.
-“POLST, MOLST and Similar Forms: What Should Be the Pro-Life Response”
-“Involuntary Denial of Treatment by Doctors and Hospitals: A New Approach to Protect Patients”
-“Defending the Rights of the Disabled and Vulnerable: A Tribute to Brother Michael”  (Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network)
-“Terri’s Legacy: Building a Network that Will Save Lives” (Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network)
-“Dying of Thirst! Medicine’s Intentional Killing Through Dehydration, and How to Protect the Vulnerable”
-“Death Panels Already a Reality in Texas” “Futile care law” allows hospital ethics committees to deny lifesaving treatment including but not limited to ventilators, feeding tubes, and antibiotics to patients whose quality of life is deemed to be “insufficient.”
-“Deadly Compassion: A Nurse and Patient Discuss Euthanasia”

BLOGS

Call them ‘Compassion Panels,’ not ‘Death Panels’ by Rev. Dr. Martha R. Jacobs (6/11/12)

The Demise of the Catholic Hospital Brand by Barbara Coombs Lee (6/19/2012)

The Major Myths about Death with Dignity Laws by Melissa Barber (2/27/12)

PD James, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope by Eric MacDonald, Choice in Dying: Arguing for the right to die and against religious obstruction of that right (6/6/12)

Finally! A Canadian Ruling in Favor of Assisted Dying! by Eric MacDonald (6/16/12)

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition: Lies and Misrepresentation by Eric MacDonald (6/19/12)

End-of-Life medical advice: Devaluing patients in name of greater good? by David Shaywitz, Forbes (6/1/12)

Dying With Dignity: It’s your life, your choice (Quebec)

What we weren’t told about Terry Pratchett’s ‘award winning’ euthanasia documentary by Dr. Peter Saunders, CEO Christian Medical Fellowship, National Right to Life News Today (6/12/12)

Living with Dying – This Week in the Movement – Death With Dignity National Center
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition – Alex Schadenberg, Ex. Dir. & Int’l Chair (6/14/12)

PODCAST

Death With Dignity or Murder? – Francesca Bastarache interviews Dr. Marcia Angell

VIDEOS

Right to Die? Assisted suicide in old people’s homes (Switzerland)

Assisted suicide group on trial (6/22/12) – CNN’s Sanjay Gupta follows a case in which the right-to-die group Final Exit Network was involved in the death of a woman who claimed medical conditions she didn’t have.

Supreme Court Attorney Kathryn Tucker about Aid in Dying and its legalities by LivDelicious

How to Die in Hawaii by LivDelicious

“How to Die: What I Learned from the Last Days of My Mom and Dad” by Joe Klein in TIME Magazine. Discussion about fee for service reimbursement causing health care professionals to push for more procedures and tests instead of taking the time to have hard conversations about end-of-life care and following advance health care directives.

BOOKS

The Politics of Death by William M.Kirtley – interviews activists from both sides of the physician-assisted dying movement in Oregon. Over 15 years ago, the state legalized the practice under the 1997 Death with Dignity Act.

Kirtley’s book analyzes how this first-of-its-kind law passed as well as survived several legal challenges from both the local and federal governments as well as the U.S. Supreme Court. “Politics of Death” addresses the core issues surrounding the right to die movement, including patient autonomy, federal interference and medical ethics.

ARTICLES

From an Ethics of Rationing to an Ethics of Waste Avoidance by Howard Brody, MD, PHD – The New England Journal of Medicine (Perspective) – (5/19/12) – Bioethics has long approached cost containment under the heading of “allocation of scarce resources.” Having thus named the nail, bioethics has whacked away at it with the theoretical hammer of distributive justice. But in the United States, ethical debate is now shifting from rationing to the avoidance of waste. This little-noticed shift has important policy implications.
(more)

Daunting questions on our fate by Michael Brannigan, timesunion.com 5/31/12 – Does the case for terminal sedation actually weaken the case against physician-assisted suicide?
Terminal sedation, more clinically referred to as “palliative sedation,” is a legally sanctioned alternative to physician-assisted suicide, a last resort in palliative treatment. It involves inducing and maintaining unconsciousness in a terminally ill patient until the patient dies, and is often accompanied by withholding or withdrawing medical feeding and hydration.
(more)

Mapping Your End-of-Life Choices by Jane E. Brody – The New York Times (6/18/2012) – Robert H. Laws, a retired judge in San Francisco, and his wife, Beatrice, knew it was important to have health care directives in place to help their doctors and their two sons make wise medical decisions should they ever be unable to speak for themselves. With forms from their lawyer, they completed living wills and assigned each other as health care agents.
They dutifully checked off various boxes about not wanting artificial ventilation, tube feeding and the like. But what they did not know was how limiting and confusing those directions could be.
(more)

UNITED STATES

(News from Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington)

HAWAII

Death with Dignity – KITV.com (6/8/12) – Compassion & Choices conference

INDIANA

Slippery slopes at life’s end by David Orentlicher, indystar.com (6/14/12) – Ethicists have debated whether aid-in-dying can be morally justified, and a key objection is the risk of the “slippery slope.” There may be a small number of patients for whom aid-in-dying is acceptable, but it would not be possible to limit access only to those people. Once the law permits some people to end their lives with prescription drugs, physicians will wrongly write prescriptions for other patients too. There may be people who are depressed about their illness and should be helped with psychiatric treatment. Or some patients may feel they have a “duty to die” to spare their families the financial and emotional burdens.
(more)

IOWA

Study: Lack of health care linked with death by Mike Wiser, WCFCourier.com 6/21/12 – Three Iowans died each day in 2010 because they didn’t have health insurance to cover medical expenses, according to a report released Wednesday by Families USA.
(more)

MARYLAND

Euthanasia: Putting love over legality by Les Kinsolving, WND.com commentary (6/25/12) – Les Kinsolving cites famed historical figures who favored mercy killing.
In the Old Testament’s first book of Samuel, there is the following historical report on the king of Israel:
“Then said Saul unto his armor bearer: ‘Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me,’ but his armor bearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.”
(more)

MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts Voters Support “Death with Dignity” – Western New England University News (6/5/12) – Sixty percent of voters in Massachusetts said they support allowing terminally ill people to legally obtain medication to end their lives…
(more)

‘Death With Dignity’ in Massachusetts by Greg Pfundstein, National Review Online (6/4/12) – Elevating doctor-prescribed suicide to “treatment” puts patients at risk.
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, died of prostate cancer on May 20. Nearly three years earlier, on August 20, 2009, Scottish authorities had released him on compassionate grounds so that he could return home to die. At the time, he was thought to have three months to live.

Group, voters challenge Massachusetts assisted suicide measure by Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNews.com (6/13/12) – A legal challenge is underway against a proposed initiative that would legalize assisted suicide in Massachusetts.
More than 60 voters filed a challenge before the state Supreme Court on May 17, requesting that the initiative be amended to clarify its language. However, the Court has not held hearings on the request, and the wording is not expected to be changed.

Recognizing authentic compassion by Kathleen Grey, PilotCatholicNews.com (6/15/12) – Massachusetts has never intentionally promoted suicide; so why start now? For those who aren’t familiar with it, physician assisted suicide (PAS) is providing a lethal drug to an individual with a disease that may result in death within six months with the sole purpose of ending his or her life. On Election Day this November, the people of Massachusetts will be given the option to check “no” on the ballot against the so-called “Death with Dignity” Act. Proponents of this law seek to lure people into thinking that it represents an act of compassion and aid in dying, but those who know true love and compassion know that “Love is patient, love is kind… it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.” (1 Cor 13:4-7, 13)
(more)

Assisted suicide supporters say ballot question will move ahead by Colleen Quuinn, The MetroWest Daily News 6/22/12 – The Boston Archdiocese, the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Family Institute, Massachusetts Citizens for Life, and some advocates for the elderly and disabled, have all indicated plans to mount a vigorous campaign to defeat the proposal, contending it is fraught with the potential for error and could be used to compel older, ill adults to end their lives.
(more)

Assisted suicide advocates, church ballot battle set by John Zaremba, Boston Herald 6/23/12 – Assisted-suicide advocates said they have twice the signatures needed to put a right-to-die question before Bay State voters, but the Catholic Church and other groups are vowing a vigorous fight leading up to the November election.
(more)

NEW MEXICO

Their View: My right to a peaceful death by Aja Riggs – Las Cruces Sun-News (6/12/2012) – Less than a year ago I learned that I have uterine cancer. Since I got this diagnosis, I’ve been thinking, very seriously, about what the end of my life might look like and how I might have some choice in my dying process. It was a dilemma I’d been struggling with: I felt I couldn’t talk about my death with the people closest to me. I was afraid to talk about it with my doctor. I thought if it came to choosing a peaceful death, I would have to do it all by myself to keep from implicating anyone else.
To end that sense of fear and isolation that people have — about one of the most important events in our lives — is why I think aid in dying should be an option for terminally ill patients.

NEW YORK

Daunting questions on our fate, commentary by Michael Brannigan, timesunion.com 5/31/2012 – Does the case for terminal sedation actually weaken the case against physician-assisted suicide?
Terminal sedation, more clinically referred to as “palliative sedation,” is a legally sanctioned alternative to physician-assisted suicide, a last resort in palliative treatment. It involves inducing and maintaining unconsciousness in a terminally ill patient until the patient dies, and is often accompanied by withholding or withdrawing medical feeding and hydration.
(more)

OKLAHOMA

Study links early death, lack of health insurance by Wayne Greene, Tulsa World 6/21/12 – Thousands of American and hundreds of Oklahomans are dying every year because they don’t have health insurance, a study by an advocacy group shows.
(more)

OREGON

Why one woman changed her mind on physician-assisted suicide by Suny Dhillon 6/23/12 – She opposed the state’s famed Death With Dignity Act when it passed in 1994, and three years later voted with those trying to have it repealed.
But over the years, her perspective began to change, she says in a telephone interview. She came to believe that necessary safeguards had been put in place and even the terminally ill who chose not to end their lives benefited from knowing they had the option.
(more)

PENNSYLVANIA

Die the way you want to: Advance care directives should be as routine as driver’s licenses by Dr. Dan Morhaim 6/1/2012 – As an emergency room doctor, I’ve seen this all too often. An ambulance brings in a frail, elderly nursing home patient with shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat and plunging blood pressure. The wasted and contracted limbs indicate years of incapacitation, and the medical record reveals a long history of dementia. As we intensely work to restore stability, probing paper-thin skin for a vein, the patient suddenly goes into cardiac arrest.
Does the patient have an advance directive or a do-not-resuscitate order? No. So the ER team goes into full CPR mode, cracking brittle ribs with each chest compression. If “successful,” the patient will endure pain and confusion that may last for the rest of his or her life, however short or long that may be.
Is this care, or torture? The only ethical and legal way to avoid this scenario is when patients have made their wishes known in advance and appointed someone they trust to make decisions when they are no longer able to.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Woman Killed at Assisted Living Home – wltx.com 6/25/12 – Beaufort County deputies say an 84-year-old woman found dead in a Hilton Head Island assisted living home was likely killed by her husband, who survived a suicide attempt.
(more)

VERMONT

Poll: 72 percent of Vermonters support Death with Dignity bill – Press release 6/6/12 – “This independent poll showing a more than 3:1 margin of support for the Death with Dignity bill is consistent with the polling on this issue over the years,” said Dick Walters, President of Patient Choices at End of Life – Vermont. “Perhaps the most significant finding in this new poll is the small percentage–just 6.9 percent–who said they were unsure about the issue. This result shows that the years of discussion of the issue have ensured that almost everyone is well informed and opinions are well established in favor of passing the bill.”

Legal Assisted Suicide: the Perfect Alibi – True Dignity Vermont: Vermont Citizens Against Assisted Suicide (6/14/12) – Lest we ever be tempted to believe that the Vermont Senate’s defeat of the bill that would have legalized assisted suicide has put the issue to rest, on June 10 the Rutland Herald published a pro-assisted-suicide commentary by a David Carkeet of Middlesex, “How to Debate How We Die”
(more)

Comment & Debate: Untold Harm by Edward Mahoney, Burlington Free Press 6/25/12 – During the recently adjourned legislative session, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare played a very active role in the defeat of S.103, “An Act Related to Patient Care at the End of Life.”
(more)

Comment & Debate: Momentum in Montpelier by Dick Walters, Burlington Free Press 6/25/12 – The majority of Vermonters support the death with dignity bill. They can be proud of the progress made in the 2011-12 legislative session toward enactment of this civil right. Grassroots action in support of the bill has helped it gain real momentum in the state capital.
(more)

WASHINGTON

Put real dignity in choice to die by Curtis Johnson, The Spokesman-Review (6/10/12) – I spent some of my final days among the monarch butterflies in Pacific Grove, Calif. Their life cycle dictates that they die there every February. They have no choice.
I too will die soon.  I have rapidly progressing ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  There is no cure, and it is 100 percent fatal. Yet, unlike the monarchs, I have a legal choice as to the timing of my death in Washington. That choice, however, is seriously compromised in my case.
(more)

INTERNATIONAL

(News from Australia, Canada, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Russia, Switzerland, United Kingdom)

AUSTRALIA

Who are the vulnerable in the euthanasia debate? by Paul Russel  (Director of Hope: preventing euthanasia & assisted suicide, Vice Chair of the International Euthanasia Prevention Coalition) onlineopinion.com.au (6/1/2012) – This brings me to consider the whole question of vulnerability and the risk of coercion of patients. In terms of euthanasia and assisted suicide this vulnerability is often expressed in relation to those in our community whom we recognise as vulnerable in general terms. I’m thinking of people living with disabilities, the frail aged etc., in other words, those whom society accepts may need additional supports in their pursuit of acceptance, equality and protection from harm.
(more)

Doctors hesitate to prolong their own lives to avoid pain by Adele Horin, The Sydney Morning Herald (6.9.2012) – It is a common refrain from doctors doing the ward rounds in the intensive care unit of any major hospital: ”Please don’t ever let this happen to me.”
Professor Hillman believes many doctors would not put themselves through ”the same hell we often put other patients through”.
Professor Hillman is a speaker at a conference at NSW Parliament House next week on living well and dying well. The conference is organised by the non-profit organisation LifeCircle which helps people caring for loved ones at the end of their life. ”We support people having a good life right to the end with the conversations that will benefit the person dying and those they love,” said Brynnie Goodwill, the chief executive of LifeCircle.
Martin Tattersall, the professor of cancer medicine at the University of Sydney, said: ”I suspect very few doctors would opt for second or third line chemo therapy; my suspicion is that doctors are more likely to prescribe futile therapy than accept it. They’re aware of the statistics.
(more)

Euthanasia doctor fights to save job by Tom Bowden, adelaidenow.com (6/12/12) – EUTHANASIA campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke fears his medical licence is under threat over his involvement with the death of a Victor Harbor woman.
Exit International, a pro-euthanasia organisation founded by Dr Nitschke, right, believes an Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency investigation into the matter has been compromised by Right to Life doctors.
(more)

SA Parliament kills off euthanasia laws for the moment by Daniel Wills, adelaidenow.com.au (6/14/12) – PREMIER Jay Weatherill has backed a failed bid to introduce new euthanasia laws in South Australia.
They were struck down by conservative Liberals and key  members of Labor’s Right faction in State Parliament yesterday.
Independent MP Bob Such said his proposal – which would only apply to people suffering from a terminal illness and where pain could not be relieved – had all the possible safeguards.
It was thrown out 22-20 in a conscience vote.
(more)

Voluntary euthanasia back on Tassie agenda by David Beniuk, The Australian 6/25/12 – TASMANIA won’t find itself a centre of voluntary euthanasia tourism if it becomes the first state to decriminalise the practice, advocates say.
President of Dying With Dignity Tasmania Margaret Sing says a residency requirement in the bill will ensure that a fly-in mentality isn’t allowed to flourish.
(more)

Mercy clinic bid for Tassie by Helen Kempton, themercury.co.au  (7/29/12) – TASMANIA could have Australia’s first mobile medically assisted suicide clinic if the state’s euthanasia laws are changed, as Exit International director Philip Nitschke expects.
It would be modelled on a service which has operated in the Netherlands since March, which received nearly 60 calls in its first two days of operation.
(more)

CANADA

B.C. Supreme Court strikes down ban on physician-assisted suicide by Sunny Dhillon – The Globe and Mail 6/15/2012) – In a decision released Friday, Madam Justice Lynn Smith says the Criminal Code provisions “unjustifiably infringe the equality rights” of the plaintiffs in the case, including Gloria Taylor, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Joseph Arvay, who represented Ms. Taylor, said that his client cried with relief on hearing the decision. He said that he does not know what her plans are.
(more)

How the End of Life can Intensify Love and Living by Barbara Stuary, Calgary Herald – Last week’s ruling by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith is unfortunate and I suggest that Justice Smith must not understand love.
(more)

BC judge strikes download banning doctor-assisted suicide by Keith Fraser, The Province (6/16/12) – In a landmark ruling, a B.C. judge decided a Westbank woman suffering from ALS should be able to die a doctor-assisted death, and struck down Canada’s law banning the practice.
Gloria Taylor, 64, and several other plaintiffs had argued in court that the criminal law was unconstitutional and that people with serious illnesses should be entitled to take their lives with the help of a physician.
(more)

Baseless concerns about euthanasia by Christopher A. Riddle, assistant professor of Philosophy, Concordia University, Montreal – The Province (3/28/12) – Alex Schadenberg’s argument against the legalizing of euthanasia revolves around a primary concern focused on the increased likelihood of the depressed to request euthanasia. He provides us no reason to believe that this increased likelihood is in and of itself problematic, but takes for granted that permitting depressed individuals to request euthanasia is an undesirable thing.
(more)

Two sides in assisted-suicide debate remain worlds apart by Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun (6/15/12) – Gloria Taylor doesn’t believe God wants her to suffer unnecessarily from what is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a condition that doctors expect will kill her within about three years.
That’s why the once-avid motorcyclist eagerly volunteered to be a plaintiff in the precedent-setting case, which was decided on Friday.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith ruled that the Criminal Code provisions making physician-assisted death illegal are invalid.
(more)

Should Medically Assisted Suicide Be Legal in Canada? (Providentia: A biased look at psychology in the world – 6/12/12) – As the court challenge continues in British Columbia, the fight for medically assisted suicide is progressing in Quebec.  On March 22 of this year,  a Quebec commission on Dying With Dignity released a report after two years of public hearings on the contentious issue.  The commission heard from thirty-two experts in diverse fields such as law, philosophy, ethics, medicine, and psychology.   They also conducted public hearings and heard evidence from hundreds of individuals and groups and held meetings in Belgium, the Netherlands, and France to examine palliative care systems in other countries.  Finally, the commission received more than 16,000 comments by mail, fax, and email and examined online questionnaire responses from more than 6558 respondents.
(more)

Legalized euthanasia only a breath away by Margaret Somerville, The Globe and Mail (6/16/12) – Striking down, as unconstitutional, the Criminal Code provision prohibiting assisted suicide, as the Gloria Taylor case does, in effect legalizing physician assisted suicide, is a very bad idea and a step backward for Canada and Canadian values, ethics and law. Not least because it will, inevitably, lead to legalizing euthanasia.
(more)

Catholic archbishop of Vancouver calls on government to appeal euthanasia ruling by Tiffany Crawford, Vancouver Sun (6/16/12) – Friday’s decision to strike down the law against euthanasia “sadly reflects a distorted view of equality rights that emphasizes autonomy over human dignity and the value of life,” said Roman Catholic Archbishop J. Michael Miller, in a statement.
(more)

Physician-assisted suicide legal in three states by Christopher Reynolds, Vancouver Sun (6/16/12) – Three states in the U.S. are years ahead of Friday’s B.C. Supreme Court decision to strike down a law criminalizing physician-assisted suicide.
Legislation in Oregon, Washington and Montana allows terminally ill patients to end their lives by requesting prescriptions for lethal medication they administer themselves.
(more)
Judge rejects strongest arguments against physician-assisted suicide by Peter McKnight, Vancouver Sun (6/16/12) – One of the primary, and most persuasive, arguments against permitting physician-assisted suicide is that it could lead to the abuse of vulnerable people, that people who say they want to die may be suffering from depression or otherwise unfit to make such decisions.
So curiously, the most powerful argument against physician-assisted suicide seems, in our world anyway, utterly powerless when it comes to the removal of life-sustaining treatment. This is a point emphasized by proponents of physician-assisted suicide, and referenced by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith in her judgment declaring unconstitutional Canada’s absolute prohibition on the practice.
(more)

Baby boomers won’t stay silent on physician-assisted suicide by Charlie Smith, straight.com (6/16/12) – Given the aging of the population and baby boomers’ desire to retain control over their lives, it’s hard to believe that the legislated ban on physician-assisted suicide will continue well into the future. This is notwithstanding opposition from the Christian Right, some disability-rights’ groups, and many palliative-care physicians.
In 2010, Georgia Straight contributor Daniel Wood wrote a cover story suggesting that this could become the most contentious public issue in the coming decades.
He cited a February 2010 Angus Reid poll showing that 67 percent of Canadians and 75 percent of British Columbians support the creation of a medically regulated system of euthanasia.
(more)

The importance of picking a vocabulary for dying by Andre Picard – The Globe and Mail 6/18/2012 – In matters of life and death, words matter.
That is an important message that emerges from Friday’s B.C. Supreme Court decision that struck down the ban on …Well, on what exactly?
Gloria Taylor, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, won the right to end her life at the time of her choosing. Because of the physical limitations caused by ALS, the 64-year-old can get a physician to help by administering a death-hastening drug – the nuance that landed the case in court and on the front pages.
What do you call the right she won?
Physician-assisted suicide? Physician-enabled death? Physician-hastened death? Euthanasia? Voluntary euthanasia? Rational suicide? Suicide? Mercy killing? State-sanctioned murder? Death with dignity? And there are many more variations, each loaded with legal and moral baggage.
(more)

Assisted Dying: Who decides? by Juliet Guichn, The Vancouver Sun 6/21/12 – Who should decide life and death issues – the legislatures or the courts?
This question has returned to the forefront with the British Columbia Supreme Court ruling allowing assisted dying in limited circumstances. Critics of the judicial decision note that members of Parliament two years ago defeated a bill to legalize assisted dying, 228 to 59. Some believe that the courts should not trump the elected Commons.
Yet it would be a mistake to view this matter, and other bioethical matters like it, as a power struggle between two important governmental institutions.
To determine whether assisted dying should be lawful requires the detailed and nuanced contributions of medicine, law and ethics.
(more)

Right-to-Die ruling leaves big questions by Iain Hunter, Times Colonist 6/25/12 – I wish those campaigning for my right to end my life when it becomes unbearable would show a little more restraint than they’ve shown recently.
Dying with Dignity has called the June 15 decision of B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith, that the law against physician-aided death is unconstitutional, a “stunning victory.”
I think the right-to-die movement isn’t served by this kind of talk. If this is a war, I don’t know who the enemy is.
I don’t believe that those in our society who think that life, even when sadly depleted, has great value, or our legislators, who have decreed that euthanasia is a crime, set out to tyrannize or brutalize anyone.
(more)

Medical journal urges Canadians to debate assisted suicide by Sharon Kirkey, Postmedia News 6/25/12 – A recent report from an all-party committee of the Quebec national assembly recommending medical assistance to die is moving the debate over euthanasia “from theory toward practice,” says the just-published editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
“Which way will legislation go? Will the rest of Canada follow? Those who care about the answers to these questions must speak up now, and with conviction.”
(more)

Choosing when and how to die: Are we ready to perform therapeutic homicide? – MedicalExpress.com 6/25/12 – The Dying with Dignity commission of the Quebec National Assembly recently issued its report after two years of public and expert consultation and research.
Advocates of this approach argue that medically assisted death is a patient’s right. It should therefore be considered as an end-of-life care option rather than a criminal act.
(more)

CHINA

Reprieve for helping mom to die – China.org.cn 6/1/2012 – A chinese man who helped his bedridden mother end her life by providing a fatal dose of pesticide walked free from court after he was sentenced to three years in prison with a four-year reprieve for murder.
Panyu District People’s Court in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, said it was giving Deng Mingjian a lenient sentence because of the way he had cared for his mother before her death.

CZECHOSLAVAKIA

Poll: Czechs support abortion, euthanasia, death penalty – Two-thirds of the citizens believe that Czech legislation should make euthanasia possible…
(more)

DENMARK

Differences of opinion’ over assisted suicide emerging in ethical panel by Jyllands-Posten, the Copenhagen post (6/8/12) – Once unanimous in their opposition, advisory group now divided over making it legal to help people take their own lives.
After coming out decisively against active suicide twice previously in the past 25 years, parliament’s independent panel of ethics experts now appears to be divided on the issue.
(more)

Rare case of assisted suicide (Nyheder 6/8/12) – The court in Odense is about to try an extremely rare case in Denmark, in which a man from Funen is accused of helping his terminally ill father to attempt suicide.
This apparently involved a lethal mixture of 94 morphine pills and yoghurt. The father only died later from his illness, but the son is expected to confess to his failed attempt to help the father take his own life.
(more)

FRANCE

European Court of Human Rights to Rule on Two Euthanasia Cases by Gregor Puppinck (France) – lifenews.com 6/15/12 – Two cases, currently pending, will soon be decided by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR – Koch v. Germany and Alda Gross v. Switzerland). Additionally, the Steering Committee on Bioethics of the Council of Europe (CBDI) is currently writing a guide for the decision making process regarding medical treatment in end of life situations, which will include instructions related to the cessation of acute care and the transition to palliative care and palliative sedation with cessation of hydration and nutrition.
(more)

GERMANY

German Medical association opposes euthanasia by Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, National Right to Life – 6/12/12 – The German Medical Association recently decided to oppose euthanasia, to forbid euthanasia organizations and to urge the government to make the commercialization of suicide a crime.
This German Medical Association clearly decided at its 115th annual convention to reject euthanasia while opposing the suicide program in Switzerland.
This statement was overshadowed by another important statement–the apology for the crimes that German physicians carried out during World War II, upon the Jewish people, people with disabilities, and others, including the crime of euthanasia.
(more)

INDIA

Govt cautious on euthanasia issue, unlikely to make law – hindustantimes.com (6/12/12) – Treading cautiously on the sensitive issue, the government is unlikely to make a law on euthanasia even a year after the Supreme Court allowed the high courts to take a call on withdrawal of life support for patients living in a permanent vegetative state.   The law ministry had recently made a reference to law commission on the issue seeking its response on certain questions. But sources said the law panel is not too keen to carry out any fresh study on the subject.
(more)

IRELAND

Bill on living wills ‘not about assisted suicide’ by Marie O’Halloran, irishtimes.com (6/9/12) – MINISTER FOR Health James Reilly has insisted that a Private Members’ Bill on living wills is not about assisted suicide or euthanasia.
Dr Reilly said the Advance Healthcare Decisions Bill “is about allowing patients make decisions, when they have the mental capacity to do so, about what they want at the end of their day” in their treatment, “such as whether or not they want to be resuscitated [or] . . . to be administered particular types of medication like chemotherapy”.
He said Ireland needed “a legislative framework in this area” because we were “way behind many other jurisdictions”.
(more)

RUSSIA

Third of Russians Approve of Euthanasia – RIA Novosto, June 6, 2012 – The Russian populace is evenly split on euthanasia, with one-third approving of the practice, one-third thinking it unacceptable and most of the rest are unaware of the concept, according to a new poll published by state-run Public Opinion Foundation.
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SWITZERLAND

Swiss canton to vote on assisted suicide on June 17 by Michael Cook, BioEdge – 6/7/12 – The Swiss canton of Vaud will hold a referendum on June 17 to decide whether nursing homes and hospitals must accept assisted suicide on their premises. (Vaud is a French-speaking canton in the west, whose capital is Lausanne.)
Swiss law on assisted suicide is complex. Euthanasia is illegal, but assisted suicide is legal provided that assistance is not rendered for selfish ends. Nursing homes are not always in favour of allowing Swiss suicide associations to recruit in their premises. So Exit, a group which services only Swiss citizens, launched the current referendum.
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Right-to-Die campaigners converge on Zurich by Clare O’Dea, swissinfo.ch (6/12/12) – More than 100 delegates from right-to-die organisations are expected in Zurich for the Congress of the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies, which runs from June 13 to 16. A counter conference is due to take place simultaneously.
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Right-to-die movement sees gains as world ages by Emma Thomasson (6/12/12) – Right-to-die activists hope more countries will allow assisted suicide or euthanasia in coming years as the world population ages, but opponents are determined to stop them, a dispute that flared ahead of competing conferences in Switzerland.
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Pro-Lifers to Protest Worldwide Euthanasia Conference in Switzerland by Adam Cassandra, LifeNews.com (6/14/12) – Members of Human Life International (HLI) Switzerland are helping to organize a pro-life conference in Zurich, Switzerland on June 15 in opposition to a meeting of euthanasia activists from around the world.
“Our aim is not to disrupt their conference,” said HLI Switzerland Secretary Christoph Keel. “Our aim is to put other arguments to the visitors of the congress. We are going to organize discussions and we will be there at the entrance (of the conference) to distribute leaflets.”

Swiss canton sanctions assisted suicide – The Local, Switzerland’s news in English (6/18/12) – The canton of Vaud has voted in favour of allowing assisted suicide to take place in nursing homes, making it the first formal Swiss law on the subject.
More than 61 percent of voters in Vaud opted on Sunday in favour of allowing assisted suicide to take place in nursing homes, newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported.
The initiative came about as a local governmental counter-proposal to an earlier initiative launched by Exit, the Swiss organization that assists in suicides.
Exit had wanted to make assisted suicide available in all hospitals as well as to empower patients in all cases to be able to make the final decision on how they wished to die.
That proposal was rejected in favour of the counter-initiative which opens the door for patients who meet certain criteria to be able to take advantage of Exit’s services in nursing homes across the canton.
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UNITED KINGDOM

‘Neutrality’ call on assisted dying (June 15, 2012) – Professional medical bodies should stop opposing assisted dying and take a neutral stance, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has said.
In an editorial, the journal warns that legislation on helping the terminally ill die is a decision for society, not for doctors.
It mentions a new poll, commissioned by campaign group Dignity In Dying, which found that 62% of doctors want medical bodies to take a neutral stance on the delicate subject.
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What’s wrong with assisted dying? by Peter M. Lapsley (6/4/12) – In her article ‘What’s wrong with assisted dying’, Iona Heath seems over-protective of people’s personal and individual rights to decide the courses of their lives. In particular, I would take issue with her assertion that ‘it is all too easy for sick and disabled people to believe that they are becoming an intolerable burden to those closest to them…’ The implication is that that is not a valid reason to wish to die. I believe that, for some people, it is.
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Retired doctors working together to bring euthanasia to a town near you by Dr. Peter Saunders, CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship (National Right to Life News Today – 6/13/12) – I see that the Secular Medical Forum (SMF) is holding a fringe debate at the British Medical Association (BMA) annual conference featuring Raymond Tallis of ‘Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying’ (HPAD).
HPAD’s members were almost certainly responsible for nine almost identical euthanasia motions put forward to the annual representative meeting of the British Medical Association later this month.
These motions all call for the BMA to adopt ‘a neutral position’ on ‘assisted dying’ and all bear the fingerprints of the pressure group Dignity in Dying (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society) which campaigns for the legalisation of assisted suicide for ‘mentally competent terminally ill adult patients’.
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Doctors should stop opposing assisted suicide – Healthcare Today (UK) 6/14/12 – The British Medical Journal has reignited the debate on assisted dying for terminally ill adults who are mentally competent.
In an editorial, it has called on organisations representing doctors to stop opposing assisted dying, and while it stops short of asking them to back it suggests that the British Medical Association and royal colleges adopt a position of neutrality.
BMJ editor-in-chief Fiona Godlee said: “A change in the law, with all the necessary safeguards, is an almost inevitable consequence of the societal move towards greater individual autonomy and patient choice.
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Assisted dying debate: Tony Nicklinson in his own words – BBC News 6/19/12 – Tony Nicklinson was left paralysed and with locked-in syndrome by a stroke seven years ago.
The 58-year-old wants a doctor to be able to lawfully end his life. A four-day hearing into his case is being heard at the High Court.
Here Mr Nicklinson, from Wiltshire, explains why he wants to change the current law on murder and euthanasia.
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End of suffering of those who are terminally ill by Raymond Tallis, guardian.co.uk 6/24/12 – There is now an unanswerable case for the legalisation of assisted dying for those who are terminally ill…
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BMA rejects assisted suicide move as on delegate likens it to murder by Ella Pickover, The Independent 6/27/12 – Doctors today rejected calls to take a neutral stance on assisted suicide.
Medics at the British Medical Association’s (BMA) annual conference in Bournemouth reiterated their opposition to assisted dying, with one delegate likening it to murder.
Members of the BMA voted down proposals for the organisation to take a neutral stance.
Doctors speaking at the conference cautioned that a change in position would send the wrong message.
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Prolonging suffering of dying patients through medical care is ‘evil,’ BMA conference hears by Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor in Bournemouth 6/27/12 – Prof Raymond Tallis called for the BMA to drop its opposition to a change in the law that would allow doctors to assist terminally ill, mentally competent adult patients to die.
Prof Tallis, of the organisation Healthcare Professionals for Assisted Dying, said: “Unbearable suffering, prolonged by medical care and inflicted on a dying patient who wishes to die is an unequivocal evil.
“What’s more, the right to have your choices supported by others, to determine your own best interest when you are of sound mind, is sovereign.
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YAHOO! VOICES

Euthanasia – a Debate by Smita Sriwastav 5/31/12
An Overview of the Debate Over Euthanasia and the Right to Die: Please kill me… sign here by Jason Cangialosi 11/9/05
Euthanasia is it Murder? by Gage Sandlin 2/19/07
Euthanasia-Should Animals and Humans Be Treated Differently? by Lindsey Russell 10/27/06
Euthanasia: Issues of Society and the Acceptance of Suicide and voluntary Death by Anne Dietz 2/21/07
Euthanasia and the Right to Die by Sam Vaknin 6/27/07 –
An Ethics Case Study on the Right to Die and the Withdrawal of Medical Treatment by Heather Bloor
The (Jewish and Catholic) Bioethics of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide by RebecaEJ 10/26/07
Study: Doctor-Assisted Suicide Isn’t a Slippery Slope to Abuse: Study found that only AIDS patients used doctor-assisted suicide at elevated rates by Sussy 9/28/07
Assisted Suicide and the Evolution of Law and Technology: A look at lega/medical history through Urofsky’s Lethal judgments by Max Power 11/8/06
The Debate Over Mental Health Professionals as Gatekeepers to Physician Assisted Suicide by Jeremy A. Springer, MSW 9/28/09
Legalizing Physician Assisted Suicide by Christy Edwards 7/10/07
Ethics in Perspective: Politics, Humanism, and Christian Morality by Nicholas Katers 4/10/06

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