Spiritual, but not Religious
What makes people think that they are somehow exempt?
While the topic of whether or not there is an ‘afterlife’ is all very interesting, I cannot help but wonder if this is nothing more than a case of wishful thinking on the part of those who cannot accept the inevitability of life’s end. It also raises the question of whether such an outcome (‘life’ after death) is even desirable. Maybe it’s just me, but I find the notion of ‘eternal life’ to be an abhorrent one, and by the way, what is the ultimate objective to all of this endless evolution of ‘the soul’ (whatever that is)? ‘Perfection’? ‘Oneness’? Does anyone know, and if not why not? Nothing in nature is half-eternal, and by this I mean that there is nothing in nature that has a beginning but no ending, so my question is this: what makes people think that they are somehow exempt from this rule?
• • • • •
It’s certainly a question pondered by many.
Personally I was quite comfortable not believing in an after life. My younger sister was killed when I was 10 and although I had after death communication with her I dismissed it as an adult and convinced myself dead was dead. I wasn’t religious, didn’t go to church, and was at least agnostic when this strange experience happened to me and it was so real, so amazing, so wondrous, so inexplicable, so loving that it profoundly changed me.
I tried unsuccessfully to explain what happened but I couldn’t find the words. Everyone acted like I was crazy, babbling nonsense. So I denied it and repressed it for years. Had it been a dream or wishful thinking, it never would have come back and demanded expression. Why would I put myself out there if it hadn’t happened? I returned to life with a mission to open others to the light that there is more to life than we’ve been led to believe… this was not where my life was going before this happened to me.
I’m not trying to force my perspective on anyone, just share what happened to me and let them draw their own conclusions… but I gotta tell you, I see a lot of miserable people out there in the world who think they have all the answers while I love my life. I live this calm, peaceful, serene, happy, joyful life filled with love and beauty, fully aware that while I may die at any moment, my life continues to evolve in other dimensions of a Universe that is so vast that eternity is not long enough.
What we “do” as spiritual beings in the afterlife is beyond human understanding but I promise you, it’s not boring (Possibility: As spiritual beings, we are co-creators of the physical universe). We are so far removed from anything resembling the physical dimension at this point that “life” as a human being is inconceivable just as “a being filled with the Love of God” is beyond human comprehension. We are energy, we are light, we only exist as human beings when we pass through the physical dimension… for a moment.
We are not human beings… we are spiritual beings having human experiences… we are in the world but not of it. “People” aren’t exempt, only spiritual beings are eternal.
Bless you on your spiritual path.
Peace & Joy!
• • • • •
When I wrote my little letter in your guestbook I didn’t really expect that I would receive a response from anyone to what I had discussed within it, but this is really a pleasant surprise – thank you :). You may perhaps have deduced from my comments that I am far too cynical, and a little too demanding in the level of proof I require before accepting something as a reality. The truth of the matter is that I am not really as closed-minded as that letter may suggest, and after having looked over it again I’m kind of embarrassed by it. Of all the phenomena which could be, for want of a better term, classed as ‘New Age’ (I hope that term does not offend you – I myself can’t stand it), the research results and/or evidence that has been gathered thus far regarding NDE’s actually indicates that there is, in fact, much more to life than merely this present physical existence of ours. This is a topic which should be discussed openly, without any fear of ridicule or derision on the part of self-proclaimed sceptics, who have their own ulterior motives for silencing debate on this, and many other, issues. I hope that my letter has had more of a positive impact than a negative one to this overall debate.
Once again, thank you for responding to my message and, of course, for telling me, a complete stranger, about the life-altering experience you had.
God bless, all the best, and bye….
• • •
This book contains emails from people all over the world who wanted to ask questions of a Near-Death Experiencer–
maybe you have a similar question and will find the answer you are seeking here.
• • • • •
Panic attacks over fear of dying
I am a 34-year-old mother of two, fairly healthy ( I have had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since 1987) I am a Christian and believe the Bible is God inspired and that what it tells me about death and dying are true. The problem is I suffer with depression and anxiety and with that, overwhelming thoughts of myself or family members dying. I feel guilt because it seems as though I have a lack of “faith.” I wake up thinking about dying and go to sleep thinking about it. I can’t do ANYTHING without thinking is this the day I will die? I am no longer working because of the panic attacks I have and I have a hard time being productive during the day because I am in fear all the time. I am under a doctor’s care and in no way suicidal. I am not sure of your beliefs (spiritual,) but as a Christian could your experience help me?
I look forward to your reply.
• • • • • • •
I suggest you read more NDE stories, many of them are by Christians, to reassure yourself. I’d guess you are like most religious people who accept what they are told but don’t really believe it. They will tell you to have faith, because they can’t prove anything, and that doubt is a weakness, but doubt is telling you that what you’ve been told to believe doesn’t fit– isn’t right, and should lead you to further seeking for the truth. Your anxiety and panic stem from fear of the unknown. Near-death experiencers have made it known. There is nothing to fear because we (the essence of who we are) do not die.
We are spiritual beings having human experiences.
The Bible may be God-inspired, but God didn’t stop inspiring, nor just start inspiring, 2,000 years ago. And there is always a deeper meaning in its words to inspire us to further understanding. This I realized during my NDE during which it all made perfect sense. I won’t tell you anything that can’t be found in the Bible– if you can draw the deeper meaning from the words. Kate, there is no death. Only our bodies die. We simply step out of them when they no longer serve us and go on with our lives in full consciousness, finally remembering who we really are, and that there is so much more to life that we simply forgot when we ensouled a human body.
We have a body, but we are not this body.
We are in the world, but not of it.
This is Jesus’ message.
He also said that we can do all that he could do… and more.
The best thing we can do, knowing that we may well die before we take our next breath, is to live life to the fullest in every moment. When our body ceases to function, we are quickly filled with the overwhelming, unconditional love of God and have complete understanding of All That Is. Yet there is little joy at that wonderful moment if we have regrets that we didn’t live our life to the fullest because we feared something that wasn’t real.
Learning meditation, practicing deep breathing, would be very helpful to overcome depression-anxiety-panic attacks.
Prayer is talking to God; meditation is listening to God.
You will meet God in the Silence of your mind and find the answers you are seeking. Knowing that you do not die and nothing can really hurt you, will help you battle the demons that you have conjured up from the religious dogma you have accepted. The demons are not real, only God’s Love is real.
Peace & Joy!
maybe you have a similar question and will find the answer you are seeking here.
THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO
Readers’ questions to a near-death experiencer at BeyondtheVeil.net
As a bonus, I’ve ended this ebook with two articles that were originally posted on an earlier version of my website, BeyondtheVeil.net, under “Spiritual Lessons.” This one relates to my own spiritual journey of awakening to higher consciousness thinking and living since my Near-Death Experience in 1971.
Journey of a Mystic
I feel the more information we have about how the universe works, the easier it is to conceptualize things that are beyond our normal understanding. It gives us a broader frame of reference to help us make sense out of it and fit into our thinking processes so we begin to see it in our Mind’s Eye during our meditations. This is the Time for Science and Spirit to reunite.
Sometimes when you hear a concept explained many different ways, the whole picture suddenly emerges. It’s hard to see the picture when you’re in the frame, you need to step back and take a wider view. This is how our minds synthesize knowledge. We suddenly get an Aha! or the light goes on, and we say, of course, I knew that, I just never heard it explained that way before! We’ve had a sudden Realization, taken a leap in consciousness, and will find it easier to grasp other higher concepts that eluded us previously. It’s about waking up to the truth and no longer being seduced by those who seek to control the masses through fear and intimidation.
So don’t just take my word for it, I’m not asking anyone to believe what I’m writing is anything but the ramblings of a delusional mind. I didn’t ask to have a near-death experience 44 years ago but I did, and what I’m writing is because of it. I see the whole and understand it from a higher perspective. The difficulty is putting it into words that will awaken others. That is my challenge in this life. I’m just putting it out there as I see it through my life and death experiences, and hoping others will think about it, add it to their growing knowledge, and continue seeking Wisdom.
If you want to see how easy it is to change your mind with new information, to shift your perception, check out this popular illusion…
Is it an old woman or a young woman?
Can you shift your perspective at will…
or will you argue for your point of view?
• • •
Read the entire article in
THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO
Readers’ questions to a near-death experiencer at BeyondtheVeil.net
Fear of Death
*Afraid I will never see him again
*What’s wrong with me?
I have feared death since I was 10 unlike other stories I hear about how people go through a traumatic situation and they come out scarred it just happened to me one night while my grandparents were babysitting. Maybe I remember the specific time because I’m still younger I don’t know but that night still burns in the back of my mind I wish it never happened. Ever since that day especially in spring (no clue there either) I am haunted with the idea that someday I am not here.
*There must be a bigger picture
*I try to scream away the fear
*Constant petrifying, paralyzing fear
Over the last six months I have been feeling increasingly panicky and have had several severe attacks that have been utterly petrifying but more disturbingly to me for the first time I have been consciously panicking about the fact that ONE DAY I AM GOING TO DIE AND THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT…..
*I dwell on the fear of dying
*This scares the hell out of me
*I don’t want to live with this fear
*Obsessed with the impermanence of life
*Overwhelmed with thoughts of dying
*Fear of death overwhelms me
*I’m tormented by fear of death
I just read about your NDE experience, I have read many cases on the subject and many books. The whole subject gives me great hope as I have been tormented by the fear of death for nearly all my life.
*Fear of death holds me back
*Why am I scared of dying?
*Dreams of death
*Panic attacks over fear of dying
*I have an extreme fear of death
Please help me learn how to overcome fear of death. I’m afraid to go anywhere or do anything. I’m a prisoner in my own house. I can’t go on this way. I’m 32 years old.
*How can I overcome my fear of death?
• • •
THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS
by Diane Goble
When Diane Goble began developing her first website in 1996 to talk about her near-death experience by drowning during a white water rafting accident in 1971, she had no idea she would eventually connect with millions of people all over the world with her message from the other side that
“WE DON’T DIE!”
She received emails from thousands of people from 140 different countries, from ages 16 to 94, from all religions, as well as skeptics, all wanting to ask her about her experience, what she learned, her perspective on the meaning of life and God– spiritual seekers hoping for answers to questions they’ve never dared ask before, wanting confirmation that there is more to life beyond this life, and that we get to see our loved ones again.
But even more, these people wanted to share their pain and spiritual angst with someone who understood and wouldn’t judge them. They poured out their hearts and many found their souls.
For the next 10 years, Diane’s spiritual path became responding to all those emails and allowing the message to come through her to her keyboard. She expanded her website to include lessons and resources for spiritual seekers, as well as for healers and caregivers. On her online Seekers Open Forum page, she posted many of the emails she received and her responses, and invited others to share in the discussions. There weren’t as many trolls back then but she wasn’t afraid to take them on and had quite a few provocative exchanges.
As it turned out, a lot of people asked similar questions about the same subjects so rather than continue to personally respond to everyone and repeat her answers, she grouped similar questions and put a sampling from various subjects into this book to provide a variety of perspectives about similar topics, such as
Near-Death Experiences, Fear of Death, Grief, The Afterlife, Paranormal Experiences, Reincarnation, Suicide, and Spiritual but not Religious.
It is her hope that making this information more available at this time will encourage further conversations that will lead to more people on the planet waking up… becoming aware that there is more to “life” than we’ve been led to believe… that we have become mental prisoners of lies forced upon us by those who need to keep us dumb slaves so they can become more wealthy and powerful… that we are brainwashed into becoming warriors willing to die for the military industrial complex as if it were an honorable thing to do… that we are lolled into complacency by the media so we won’t notice what’s really going on right in front of our eyes. If we realized who we really are, they couldn’t control us.
“If we’re going to save the planet and Humanity,” she says, “now is as good a time as any before. Just as things couldn’t get any worse, the wave is cresting. The turmoil is at it’s height. The Shift is happening. Those who are already awake, need to awaken others to Cosmic Consciousness— the Realization that We Are One… that we are all in this together.”
Open your heart… Expand your Awareness… Imagine Peace…
Whatever else you believe, do everything with Love, Forgiveness, Gratitude
Comments from emailers–
Thank you SO much for your kind and thoughtful response. You are a nurturing soul… I am very eager to get a handle on this… I often feel that I am not from around here … or don’t want to be here … not like wanting to be dead, just not wanting to be on earth. –Molly
What a relief to communicate with someone who understands how I feel. I have just been in the garden contemplating things. You have hit the nail on the head in so many ways. –Lenny
Thank you Diane for your courage to speak out. I never wanted to say much about it [childhood NDE] because I felt people would think I was crazy. Now I’m grown and live a good life and I treat people like I want to be treated. — Bobbie
I very much enjoy your words and outlook, I think you really are here to calm humanities fear of death. What an awesome life mission to have. –Pete
You have no idea how glad I was receiving your email! Just the thought that you actually took the time to answer me shows what a caring and lovely person you are. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I continue reading your site and I printed all its contents, which filled a thick binder. It is for me like a Bible and whenever I feel down or scared I consult it giving me comfort. –Maria
I was moved to tears. Some how I wanted to cry with joy for what I was reading. I was so deeply touched by your insights some how you’ve articulated so many things I’ve felt. –Sonny
I needed focusing into what I was already aware of and you helped. Thank you soooo much!! –Carly
…your site certainly came into my view at the exact time period in which I could not have needed it more. Thank you for your courage in sharing your story, and for the manner in which you decided to share it. –Patricia
Your Q&A approach covers every question that I had before I had thought of them yet. “Nothing on Earth Had Prepared Me For the Reality of Life After Death” (Chapter One) was the most profound, insightful piece of writing I have yet found in all of the NDE books I have read. I know how impossible it is to put NDE subjects in relatable or fresh terms, but I think you succeeded. –RJ
Thank you so much for your reply. It is the BEST explanation I have had. — Laurie
… thank you for responding to my message and, of course, for telling me, a complete stranger, about the life-altering experience you had. –Paul
… please accept A Heartfelt Thank you for your inspirational site! It is encouraging to connect with one who is walking their talk as a living example of truth/god in action! expressing it-self in physical form! –Donna
… you have a wonderful website and your words are most comforting for those of us that fear disease and death. —Bob
Thank you for this site. This site will always benefit people. —Dave
I will also remain very thankful that our paths crossed. You were right when you wrote on your website about the fact that there are no accidents. I was led to the site for a reason, and thanks to your kindness and patience I understand that reason much better today that I thought possible. Thank you again… you are a very kind soul indeed… —Kaleb
I just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing all your experiences and knowledge with the world. You see, you were partly responsible for saving my life. — Shawn
You have articulated my own thoughts much better than I have been able to myself… –Greta
I just found your web site since I just woke up this morning and am gratified to find it. I have been crying a cry of recognition reading the feelings and experiences of your other Emailers. –Mike
I’ve been a confused Christian for 31 years and within a week of reading from your website I feel a newfound joy in wanting to understand the soul’s purpose, journey, etc. in a positive way. –Adam
I appreciate your willingness to respond to people about your experience and what you have learned. Your response put into words a gut feeling I have had for a long time. Thank you! –Scott
When I read your email, it was like a light bulb went off in my head. It’s like I always knew that but was afraid to think it because it’s not what I was brought up to believe. I’m so grateful to you for opening my eyes. –Marianne
As I listened to the public testimony at the hearing before the Connecticut legislature last week on HB5326 that would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to the terminally ill, what stuck me about the people testifying, whether for or against, was an underlying fear of death.
Some who are opposed to physician-assisted dying cover up their fears by proclaiming that human life, no matter what condition one’s body is in nor how ready to let go one is, is worth living and should not be ended prematurely.
Some religious speakers insist their God decides when it is time for us to die and we have no right to play God or that this is an act of suicide which is a sin– conjuring up images of burning in hell for eternity as punishment.
Many of those in favor of a law with similar safeguards and restrictions to Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, talked about frightening experiences and fearful anxiety associated with the deaths of their loved ones that they felt could have been reduced if there were such a law and their person could have died peacefully at home in their own bed surrounded by family.
That’s all people are asking is to be able to die in peace, on their own terms, not filled with fear, not strapped to machines surrounded by strangers, not in agonizing pain for days or weeks before the body shuts down… and if the circumstances of their deaths are such that a medication would ease their pain and allow them to continue their dying process in peace if that is their expressed desire, then how can we have a law that denies it because some other people who aren’t yet dying are afraid of death, afraid of a slippery slope, afraid of genocide, afraid of impending doom?
Then there’s the fear of being charged with murder if out of compassion for a person’s suffering a loved one helps a person by administering a lethal medication. Families are forced to live with the fear of watching their loved one dying in agony knowing there is nothing they can do to relieve their suffering. The dying person suffers greater fear their loved one will go to jail if they help hasten their death.
Physician’s fall back on an oath written 2,000 years ago when physicians were thought to be gods because of their healing abilities and everyone thought the world was flat. Get over yourselves! They don’t consider that healing the soul and a peaceful death are what we need most of all at the end of our lives, not more false hopes and futile treatments that cause us more pain and suffering with no time to say goodbye to our loved ones.
Yes, palliative care is crucial and will be able to help most people achieve a peaceful death through pain management, but it’s not yet available everywhere, especially in rural areas, and it doesn’t work in all cases so it’s not a panacea. Hospice is not even available everywhere and with budget cuts they are often understaffed and out-of-reach.
The way the law is written almost no one can qualify to begin with. Only if you have a disease, like cancer, either for which there are no more treatments or patient has stopped treatments allowing nature to take its course, can a doctor with any degree of certainty predict a person has 6 months or less to live… which is why many people outlive a 6-month prognosis. Many people get better under hospice care because they are so well cared for and are no longer being subjected to the side-effects from treatments meant to keep them alive with no quality of life.
And if you say you want to die, according to psychiatry, you are automatically diagnosed with depression; therefore you don’t qualify for the medication. So we’re spending a lot of time and money debating an issue that affects a relatively small number of people as if we were fighting against a trend toward genocide, all because we are afraid that death is the worst thing that could happen to us.
Most people wait too long to request hospice where they can also receive pain management so public education about palliative care is an important factor in end of life care. People are afraid hospice means the end, but it really means time to spend with your family, reconcile your life, get your paperwork in order, wrap up the details of your life, write out your last wishes, complete your bucket list, reconcile your life and say your goodbyes.
Yes, even to have a “suicide party” as one lawyer testified about with much disdain. It seems hearing what your loved ones have to say about you and saying your goodbyes before drinking a last toast is less acceptable, more fearful, than after the fact in an impeccable funeral parlor with everybody crying instead of laughter and hugs around the bedside at home.
Most people die after being rushed into the ER, resuscitated, and hooked up to machines in an ICU for a number of days, usually scared shitless and completely unconscious of the agony their family is going through because they didn’t let their last wishes be known. The last memory the family is likely to have of their loved one is of them dying in fear and agony with no opportunity to say goodbye.
If I were able to take a test that showed I was likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease, I would be stocking up on pills and planning my exit strategy. If I were told I had pancreatic cancer, I would start working on my bucket list, planning my farewell party, and requesting my lethal prescription. In any case, I would not turn myself over to medical science hoping for a miracle out of fear of death… because I do not fear death.
I died once and I know there is nothing to fear. It’s like stepping out of an old worn out overcoat into the sunshine on a spring day filled with love, peace and joy on our journey home!
To fear death is nothing other than to think oneself wise when one is not.
For it is to think one knows what one does not know.
No one knows whether death may not even turn out to be the greatest blessings of human beings.
And yet people fear it as if they knew for certain it is the greatest evil.
Overview of National News – October 2012
(NOTE: For list of articles quoted, go to Categories: Assisted Dying & Euthanasia: Assisted-Death Debate – October 2012)
The major news throughout October has been about the vote in a few days in Massachusetts for a Death With Dignity law, similar to the proven-effective laws in Oregon and Washington. The laws provide similar guidelines and safeguards for those dying patients who want to request a prescription from a physician to hasten their deaths if they decide to and for those physicians who may write the prescriptions.
Is it a perfect law, no. Do some of the opponents have legitimate concerns, certainly. Do they have a right to impose their beliefs on others, no. Is it a work in progress, yes. We need rational debate not fear tactics and threats of being banished to hell to consider all sides of the issue.
I found it interesting that I only came across relevant articles from 12 states and Washington, DC in October. Most articles mentioned the growing debate about the Massachusetts ballot issue to be voted on November 6… however, the one Illinois article discussed the controversy over a proposed assisted-death bill being introduced in Quebec and the one article from North Carolina had the anti-euthanasia advocate from Canada claiming fraud and abuse at Dignitas in Switzerland. They may be testing the waters.
In Oregon, where the Death with Dignity law has already passed, some of its financially-strapped hospitals are now facing take-over by the Catholic healthcare systems whose execs tell the town folks nothing will change… well, except that abortions (unless to save the life of the mother) and writing prescriptions for a life-ending drug won’t be allowed “on their dime.”
The people of Ashland kicked them out but they continue to target other towns in Oregon and Washington. According to a Catholic Bishop in Wisconsin, supporting a woman’s right to reproductive freedom (abortion); death with dignity (euthanasia); important scientific research (stem cell research); and marriage equality for gay and lesbian citizens are all “intrinsically evil” and, of course, we are all going to hell in a handbasket.
BTW, a gay bashing group from Mississippi sent the opponents of the Death with Dignity law in Massachusetts $250,000 to help them with their campaign. It became a hot news item and they were guilted into sending at least some of it back, although they continue to accept contributions from the Catholic Church (whatever happened to separation between Church and State?) and other dubious supporters for the media blitz this week leading up to voting day.
Unfortunately, it seems their media blitz is working because the gap that according to polls was a slam dunk for passage has been shrinking the past week. Don’t take anything for granted if you want this to pass. Get out and vote, and tell your friends to vote their choice.
It seems that in some states people are beginning to look at this issue and talk amongst themselves about how they want to die when their time comes. If it passes in Massachusetts, some claim it will open the floodgates for other states to get it on the ballot. One writer prophesized: “Coming soon to your state!”
The next states getting close to having a Death with Dignity law on the ballot are New Jersey, Hawaii, Vermont and Texas… and, who knows, maybe even Montana will make it official soon!
People in those other 38 states need to wake up and pay attention not just to what’s happening in Massachusetts, but all over the world on this issue because this is an idea whose time has come. And it’s not going to go quietly away.
Overview of International News – October 2012
In Australia, euthanasia advocate Dr. Philip Nitschke is urging Tasmania’s Upper House MPs to open their minds to what he calls progressive legislation. A discussion paper on legalising voluntary euthanasia is due out in the next few months. A euthanasia bill will have to pass the Upper House before it can go to parliament next year. The issue of gay marriage has only just been dismissed from the Tasmanian Parliament but already Christian groups are preparing for the next moral battle while MLC Paul Harriss has dismissed the debate as a Green-led agenda.
Actor and Bell Shakespeare theatre director John Bell who supports the rights of patients to choose to end their life says it is not a morose or negative cause. ”We’re not about embracing death … we are about celebrating life. Once the quality of life is gone, life is not worth very much,” he said. ”I don’t want to reach that stage of being incontinent, helpless, totally dependent. It’s a dreadful way to end a life that’s been a very happy and blessed one.” John said that often children of parents are particularly torn by how to care for their dying loved one. “They often feel guilty about wanting the parent to go, and therefore not being able to let them go and not knowing how to do it.”
Sarah Edelman, clinical psychologist and vice-president of Dying with Dignity, NSW, says that under current law it is legal to starve oneself to death over several weeks in a hospital bed and to commit suicide using violent means. (In fact, it is difficult to end one’s own life peacefully without appropriate medication or ”insider knowledge”). However, it is illegal to access medical help to die peacefully when faced with intolerable suffering and no prospect of recovery, or when dying is slow, painful and undignified. Politicians should be asked why this is an acceptable state of affairs.
From a woman in Sydney– “Right now there are two people in my life wanting to die. My 19-year-old university student friend Josh made his intentions really, really clear last week. He stood in front of a train. It didn’t kill him and he is vigorously being kept alive in intensive care. My 86-year-old dad, Bob, who lives in an aged care facility, regularly quotes the Ol’ Man River song ‘I’m tired of living, but scared of dying.’ So with all this talk about the possibility of legalising euthanasia, what’s the difference between Josh’s suicide attempt and assisted suicide should my dad Bob want it?
David Leaf, a Dying with Dignity NSW board member, said mounting evidence that supported legalising euthanasia was being ignored. He said assisted dying programs worked, with no evidence of heightened risk for groups considered vulnerable to euthanasia, including the elderly, uninsured, poor, physically disabled and mentally ill.
Dr Leaf criticised Father Brennan and “other Catholic lobbyists” for using emotive terms like “legal killing,” “suicide,” “death by doctor,” and “lethal injection” in their input into the debate. “I’m not anti-Catholic, but I’m anti-bullshit,” Dr Leaf said.
More than 200 Australian doctors have banded together to call for law reform on voluntary euthanasia, but few of them would want to administer a fatal drug dose. “But doctors wouldn’t be administering the drug, because that responsibility could instead lie with the patient who would self-administer the dose, which is what happens in countries where it is legalised,” Dr Marr said.”This is not about the suffering of doctors, it’s about the suffering of the patients and that’s what the doctors signed up to our organisation recognise.”
When the swimming champion Murray Rose died on a quiet Sunday last April, he was at peace. His wife, Jodi, believes palliative care and a supported death at home helped create that peace. “There’s no greater transition than death – and you want it with dignity,” she said. “He loved being at home so I knew in general that if there was any way he could pass away at home that was our ideal scenario. I did not do it alone. I could not have done it alone,” she said. The provision of palliative care in NSW is at a critical juncture: historically underfunded services are struggling to meet increasing demand while federal funding appears to be drying up. The Roses’ experience is unusual in NSW, according to the Palliative Care Plan. One third of people who die of cancer and 90 per cent of those who die predictable deaths from other conditions do not receive palliative care.
And this is one of the problems everywhere it’s being debated. People say palliative care can help relieve the pain and suffering that often comes with the dying process. First, palliative care isn’t available everywhere, in fact hardly anywhere– it’s a new field. Second, there aren’t enough trained medical people to administer and implement palliative care programs to handle the growing need (think Baby Boomers). And third, what is available is expensive and mostly not covered by insurance– including Medicare, which will pay the MD but not the nurses, the social workers, the caregiver assistants, or the chaplains necessary to make it truly a palliative care program.
In Belgium, deaths from “voluntary euthanasia” are approximated at 2 percent, – 2,000 annually. At a recent conference in Brussels, a Belgian doctor reported that organ transplants are being done on euthanized patients and that Belgium leads in this practice. Dr. Van Raemdonck reported that nine successful lung transplants from “voluntary euthanized” patients have been performed since 2007.
If a person who is an organ donor is brought into the emergency room and declared brain dead, his body can be kept alive by machines until his organs can be harvested. What’s the difference if a person who is dying wants to be euthanized at some point so that his still viable organs can be harvested for transplant? I’m sure there will be outcries from the right that people will want to euthanize granny and sell her lungs when this gets around.
A filmmaker researching a film about dying interviewed two doctors who told him, “Unusually, the Belgian palliative-care movement and right-to-die movement developed alongside each other. Today, following legalisation in 2002, both palliative care and euthanasia are available alongside each other in the mostly Catholic-run public hospitals as part of an integrated system of end-of-life care. Under Belgian law there two key preconditions: incurable illness and unbearable suffering. The euthanasia usually takes place in the presence of friends and family, often accompanied by prayers, music and even champagne.
In the city of Hasselt, Fr Marc Desmet, a kindly palliative-care consultant and Jesuit priest, brought us to meet an older woman, Delphine Van Hoebrock, the evening before she was euthanised. He held her hand gently as he checked whether she had any last doubts. She seemed remarkably certain and sanguine about her choice, although I couldn’t help sensing some loneliness too. It was both emotionally charged and strange to spend time with Delphine on the eve of her chosen death. Heartbreakingly sad also, even though we knew her only fleetingly. Even an assisted death is a sad and lonely affair, it seems, no matter how much it is desired.
It looks looks Canada is set to become the next country to allow assisted dying. The Quebec legislature passed a report early in October, after two years of work from the Dying With Dignity Committee. The action was part of the Parti Quebecois’ election agenda (Parti Quebecois is the minority government in Quebec at present) and likewise had the backing of the all-party National Assembly committee. The Liberals have remained silent on the issue.
Nonetheless, the Criminal Code still prohibits medically assisted-suicide. Social services junior minister Véronique Hivon asserts that Quebec can pass the law without the support of Ottawa as “Quebec has jurisdiction over health and also over professional qualifications” which “gives us the confidence to introduce this medical aid in dying in our bill.” The passing of the law will place Canada under the umbrella of other countries who exercise physician assisted-suicide such as Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands along with a few American states.
Wanda Morris, Executive Director of Dying With Dignity-Canada, believes Canada has a clean slate where” we can introduce any criteria for eligibility we choose, and we can adopt whatever safeguards we feel are necessary.” Canadians can look to the decision of B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith who had access to detailed testimony from both sides, experts from around the world and the results of cross-examinations from both teams of lawyers.
Among her conclusions: there is no slippery slope; the safeguards work. “In my opinion, opponent’s presentation of data from Oregon and Netherlands is generally incomplete, frequently filled with factual inaccuracies and distortions, and often meant to construct a false empirical foundation for what is essentially a moral opposition to the practice of physician-assisted death.”
Ottawa, on the other hand, has filed its arguments in an appeal of a B.C. decision that struck down the prohibition on doctor-assisted suicide, arguing the trial judge was wrong to conclude the law is unconstitutional. In documents filed with the B.C. Court of Appeal, the government says the law reflects a reasonable belief that allowing assisted suicide would put vulnerable people at risk of being coerced or even forced to end their lives. The government says the law reflects Parliament’s desire to discourage and prevent suicide in all cases, and it should be up to lawmakers, not the courts, to decide if that needs to change.
Quebec grassroots group Living with Dignity director Linda Couture expressed alarm at how fast the government is moving, noting the new government hopes to have a bill passed by June next year.
Consistent with Canadian law, most of the country’s medical governing bodies are opposed to assisted death. So taking a principled stand, even within the quiet confidence of colleagues, can trigger career-ending attacks from within.They have to worry as a physician how the public, their patients, and their colleagues are going to view them. Whenever you depart from the traditional viewpoint in medicine, it’s going to be uncomfortable.
Some doctors fear the hot-button issue is drawing focus away from a different, and widely used form of end-of-life care. Dr. Romayne Gallagher works with the palliative care program at Providence Health Care, which aims to alleviate suffering for the dying. However, even though Canada has offered palliative care since 1975, it is still largely unavailable to most Canadians.
So medically assisted death is still not an option in Canada, but it’s only a matter of time before it is. And we’re talking a few more years, not decades. But Canadians are already finding ways to spare themselves unbearable suffering, because there are organizations out there willing to educate them about the alternatives. And those organizations are watching with interest as several court cases wind their way through the justice system — cases which could turn the tide.
Meg Westley witnessed two people die. One died painfully and slowly of the cancer ravaging her body. Another was relatively well, but decided to hasten his death before Huntington’s disease took its terrible toll. Both, she believes, were abandoned by Canada’s ban on assisted suicide.
“I think it’s barbaric that even though people want to go, we let them suffer on,” said Westley, a University of Waterloo communications professor and president of the right-to-die advocacy group Dying with Dignity. “It is about compassion,” she said. “Give them the assistance so they don’t have to suffer if that’s their choice.”
The wrenching experience was made worse knowing Nagui 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. Watching life slip away from this cheerful and passionate man who talked repeatedly of the great moments he would miss reaffirmed the unfairness of Canada’s law against doctor-assisted suicide.
Gloria Taylor, the 64 year-old Okanagan woman who had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease and fought to change Canada’s law on assisted dying, died in early October. She was gradually losing control of her muscles and feared dying of the disease. Together with two others, she launched a lawsuit claiming that the Canadian Charter of Rights implied a right to choose the time of her death. Judge Lynn Smith agreed and struck down the law, but suspended her judgement until after the inevitable appeal. However, she did give Ms Taylor a personal exemption from the law, making her the only person in Canada allowed to have recourse to doctor-assisted suicide.The Association says Taylor’s death was sudden: she developed a severe infection resulting from a perforated colon. Given the acute nature of the illness, she did not need to seek the assistance of a physician to end her life.
An Ontario man also with ALS ended his life this month. Part of his final statement reads as a kind of social treatise on the role of government in the final choices of Canadians. “Any liberal, democratic system respectful of human rights should provide for a legal and humane way to exit this life at a time chosen by a rational person and with appropriate safeguards and assistance. Unfortunately, the Government of Canada and Canada’s Supreme Court do no do so. While Canada’s law criminalizing assisted death may have been conceived to protect life, it can have the effect of doing just the opposite. I am now looking for ways to die that I must implement myself, that is while I am still sufficiently strong to take all the necessary steps myself. Having in mind the nature of ALS, this will force me to terminate my life earlier than would otherwise be the case.”
“People are dying too early because of laws against assisted dying. People are killing themselves while they still have the ability to do it.” Wanda Morris, Executive Director of the national organization, Dying With Dignity, advocates with great passion and compassion the urgent need to legalize assisted dying for individuals who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness or a progressive incurable physical illness.
What choices are they left with? With the blasé patter of an airline attendant explaining the protocols of oxygen mask use, the 71-year-old retired librarian removes a microwave bag and pulls it over her head, her face shrouded beneath clear plastic, her features blurring, her graying bun compressed into a soft helmet. Slowly, her fingers begin to pinch a seal around her neck using Velcro strips she attached at the open end of the bag. Her voice muffled and faint, she points to the spot where a tube is to be inserted. “I would probably use helium,” she declares, deadpan. “A few deep breaths and you fade off.” She is Ruth von Fuchs of the Right to Die Society of Canada who says, “No one wants to die alone. Most just want someone there to hold their hand.” Von Fuchs is a death midwife.
The Social Science Research Laboratory at the University of Saskatchewan – the only facility of its kind in Canada – created the Taking the Pulse survey in its group analysis lab, which includes multiple departments from across the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Their research found that 59 per cent of Saskatchewanians surveyed believe they should have the option of doctor-assisted suicide when the end is nigh.
A senate committee in Colombia voted 10-4 to send a proposed measure to regulate euthanasia to the full Senate for consideration. If approved the measure would be sent to the Colombian House of Representatives for a vote.
A representative of the Colombian bishops, Father Pedro Mercado Cepeda, pronounced that “No circumstance can make it legally acceptable to intentionally cause the death of a human being. The right to life is constitutionally inviolable.”
Now here’s a country where people are lying dead in the streets due to the drug cartels and Father Pedro here is making a moral issue of people who probably have no healthcare to begin with and just want out of the misery of their lives. Take care of the people and stay out of politics Father!
The Law Commission in India has made a recommendation to the government to initiate measures to enact a comprehensive law on passive euthanasia, subject to certain safeguards. “It’s not objectionable from a legal and constitutional point of view,” the commission, which advises the government on legal issues, said.
Dr. Pallavi A. Roshi says “This decade has brought a significant change in a doctor’s point of view. Many of us have changed the focus from ‘only care’ to ‘cure and comfort’ to ‘only comfort,’ when cure is impossible. Although doctors should strive to extend life and decrease suffering, they must also accept death as a defining characteristic of life. Sometimes, so-called heroic methods may lead to needless suffering instead of preventing death. So, when the incurability of a disease is confirmed, there begins the journey of palliative care to make the end of life easy, and assuring the patient of a dignified death.”
From Ireland… Sadly, cases like Jenny Grainger’s, who had to stand by and watch her mother stop eating and drinking to have a better death than she might otherwise have had, are not uncommon. Barbara Grainger (75), who had a motor neuron disease and was a lifelong supporter of euthanasia, told her daughter that she wanted to die and asked for her help. Barbara also wanted the tragic story of her death made public in the hope of helping bring about a change in the law which governs people’s right to choose when and how they die. She wanted to go to Switzerland to Dignitas, but unfortunately she wouldn’t be able to swallow the barbiturate pill given there. So she decided that she would die through a voluntary refusal of food and fluids.
Too often, we see accounts of people travelling abroad to die, or attempting to end their lives at home, sometimes alone to avoid implicating loved ones. For this reason, as well as the many people who suffer unbearably against their wishes, many people in Ireland are campaigning for a change in the law.
One writer says, “if we agree that people like Barbara Grainger should not have to suffer against her wishes at the end of her life, which the vast majority of us do, then we must continue to fight for a law in the UK which allows dying, competent adults the choice of a peaceful and dignified assisted death. No one should have to contemplate travelling thousands of miles for assistance, or weeks refusing food or water to have what they consider a good death.”
Another writer goes on about all the reasons it’s a bad idea, slippery slope and all, and proclaims– “The vulnerable and sick need support and reassurance they won’t suffer alone. It is sometimes difficult for families to give this support, so there is a duty on society to provide it. The compassionate response to suffering is not to encourage suicide, but to offer the palliative care and psychological support the sick need to help them live.
Perhaps in a perfect world. Once again, I’d ask where is that support? In most cases, it’s either not available or too expensive for the people who need it most. We need to meet people where they are, not in some hoped for future.
“Regardless of their religious or political background, this is an issue which affects everyone and politicians need to take a stand and help bring about the change in the law, which currently robs people of their right to choose,” says Jenny Grainger. She has been inundated with messages of support since she shared the heartbreaking story of how her family stood by her mum when she chose to end her own life through the voluntary refusal of food and fluids. Because she did not have the option of a quick and pain-free death through euthanasia, Barbara lingered for 24 days before her heart finally stopped.
An Irish assisted-suicide campaigner will not face prosecution over his visit to an elderly multiple sclerosis sufferer (MS) who took a fatal overdose to end her life because there is “insufficient evidence.” Tom Curran, who says he will risk up to 14 years in an Irish prison to assist his partner Marie Fleming — also a MS sufferer — to die at a time of her choosing, was interviewed by British police following the death of a wheelchair-bound grandmother of five. Ann Veasey (71) died in August 2011 at her nursing home in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, after she overdosed on pills she had bought online from China.
On the face of it, there is an overwhelming case to permit assisted suicide. For the greater, if not far greater, part, it would apply to people who have lived a life, made it into the upper reaches of the average span, and, were it not for a debilitating condition, would want to cling to life. Why should somebody in that position be held prisoner by nothing more than a societal taboo? Why should that person not be afforded the comfort of knowing that they were ultimately existing on their own terms? On the other hand, there is an argument that any introduction would lead down the slippery slope to elderly people being pressured to consent to their own death.
We live in a society that values choice. We choose our careers, our partners and almost every aspect of our lives. It is then a strange situation that we are ultimately unable to choose the nature of our deaths beyond a small number of options. As the Tony Nicklinson and Marie Fleming cases reach their conclusions in the media and the courts, we may have to reassess this strange paradox and address how we ourselves want to die, on our own terms or on the terms of our final illness?
From Italy, an online newspaper aimed at providing the last breaking news on welfare policies, an article about the advance of euthanasia in The Netherlands.
Pioneer in Europe, with a law issued in 2002, the Netherlands explicitly guarantee to its citizens the right to interrupt treatment if they want to or can no longer stand their disease. The same right has been then recognized in Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland. This latter rejected a few days ago a proposal to ban assisted suicide to foreigners in its territory, thus confirming the outcome of a popular referendum held last year. After all, there is no risk that the country can be invaded by ‘mild death’ tourists: in the last few years, the number of sick persons – mainly from France, Germany and the UK – emigrating to Switzerland to appeal to the assisted suicide law for a decent and aware end of life (even in the most serious cases of depression) was cut by half.
If in 2006 there were 199 cases of euthanasia among extra-EU citizens, in 2010 this number dropped to 97. Perhaps because, over the years, other European countries have authorized treatment interruption in different ways, while in others euthanasia is still a topic in political and social debate. This is the case of France, where President Hollande announced a palliative care reform last summer. Not the case of Italy, though. “Euthanasia” still remains an unrepeatable word here. Meanwhile, Vatican’s spokespersons in Parliament, probably alarmed by the refusal of any form of therapeutic obstinacy opposed by cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, push for the approval of a law on the living will with dubious constitutional outlines.
He says, “I checked Dignitas on the computer and you need to go through so much. It’s not a walk-in death. You don’t just go in and say ‘Here I am, do your worst.’ You have to go through a whole series of papers and re-examinations just to die. You have to fill in forms and things and you have to fly there, go back twice…
“I think the idea that people should be able to have an assisted suicide is absolutely highly proper. Why should people elongate life when it’s no good for them? People should have the right to terminate their own life. If you’re dead, you’re dead, so who cares? I’m very happy to snuff it. I’ve had enough time on earth. I’d be happy if someone gave me the plug to pull.”
The other issue here is, of course, the attitude of the actual doctors. Most are simply not trained to make their patients comfortable. Once it is clear that the patient is dying – a lot of them simply stop caring. And even though palliative care is certainly a major aspect of healthcare in modern Russia, many doctors still resist any urge to call a colleague who works in that field, if only because they don’t want anyone taking over their case. Yakusheva’s doctors went as far as to accuse her relatives of trying to use the dying woman’s condition to score drugs for themselves. The fact that this happened to a well-known personality speaks to the enormity of the problem.
In Scotland, there is concern that the Swiss assisted-suicide clinic Dignitas helped 217 Britons to die in 10 years. It is understood that the Dignitas Clinic in Switzerland has more than 900 Britons on its books and has ended more than 20 lives a year on average since it was set up ten years ago. The new figures from Dignitas and progress of Ms MacDonald’s latest bill has led anti-assisted suicide campaigners to warn against a change in the law.
South Africans are discussing how voluntary euthanasia is legal for citizens of Holland and Belgium, and doctor-assisted dying is legal in a few states in the US, and in Switzerland. Lord Joffe is confident it will be legal in the UK in the not too distant future. When asked which he thought was easier — voluntary euthanasia or doctor-assisted dying? He felt it was easier to get someone else to kill you, than to kill yourself. On reflection, the reporter could only agree. Yet no matter whether it’s voluntary euthanasia or doctor-assisted dying you’re after, the driving force behind legalising it is simply dignity in death.
According to a new study by the University of Zurich, Switzerland, one in four people who accompany someone to commit assisted suicide suffer massive psychological distress. Researchers at the university spoke to 85 people who went with a family member or close friend to an EXIT euthanasia clinic one to two years after the assisted death of loved ones. A quarter suffered from post traumatic stress disorder while 16 percent had depression. Five percent were found to have long-term grief. The results state that problems can surface 14 to 24 months later and that a death not from natural causes was a heavy burden for those who supported the deceased. Although the research didn’t include a direct comparison with the effects of a natural death on a loved one, the study was compared to others. This showed the researchers that post traumatic stress disorder was more common for people close to an assisted suicide case rather than a natural death.
They don’t mention the other 54% who apparently weren’t heavily burdened or traumatized– and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the whole ordeal of having to take one’s dying loved one somewhere to die, as opposed to being in one’s own bed in one’s own home surrounded by loved ones, has a lot to do with the agony of it all.
Dr. Peter Saunders, a 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, says the current British Suicide Act is thereby shown to remain fit for purpose. Through its blanket prohibition on all assistance with suicide, it continues to provide a strong deterrent to the exploitation and abuse of vulnerable people whilst giving both prosecutors and judges discretion in hard cases. It strikes the right balance, is clear and fair and does not need changing. The Swiss vote means that the small number of British people travelling to Switzerland to end their lives will probably continue but we should continue to resist any calls from pressure groups to weaken the law here in the UK.
A poll conducted by Christian Concern surveyed more than 150 MPs across all parties and found that only 29 per cent supported proposals to introduce assisted suicide, whilst 59 per cent were opposed to the move and 12 per cent were undecided. The poll also found that the majority of MPs believe that a change in the law would result in an increase in the number of suicides, and 72 per cent felt that it would place vulnerable people under pressure to end their lives prematurely. Almost 60 per cent were of the opinion that the current economic climate would result in more patients opting for an assisted death to avoid placing a financial burden on family members and carers.
Regarding the case of Tony Nicklinson, who chose to starve himself to death after losing his last appeal for euthanasia in September, a reporter from the Christian Institute wrote: The case of a man who campaigned for doctors to be allowed to kill him will not go to the Court of Appeal, High Court Judges have ruled. Lord Justice Toulson said the case was “plainly a matter for Parliament.” Tony Nicklinson, who suffered from a condition known as ‘locked-in syndrome’, wanted doctors to be able to end his life.
Now judges at the High Court have turned down an application by Jane Nicklinson to be made party to the proceedings. Lord Justice Toulson said: “We do not consider that the proposed appeal has any real prospect of success. Mrs Nicklinson has vowed to appeal the decision. However a second locked-in sufferer, whose case was heard alongside that of Mr Nicklinson, has been given leave to appeal.
Meanwhile, Jane Nicklinson says, “It is not easy to admit feeling relieved that the love of your life, your soul mate, has died.” But that is exactly how Jane Nicklinson feels about husband Tony Nicklinson, the assisted suicide campaigner who died of natural causes six weeks ago. Mrs Nicklinson understands that she might come across as callous or uncaring, especially by those who opposed her family’s very public battle to change the law so that locked-in syndrome sufferer Tony could be legally helped to end his life. But for anyone who has cared for a loved one with an intolerable terminal or degenerative condition, Mrs Nicklinson may just be articulating what many find too difficult to admit.
The widow is expected to call this week for Scotland to become the first part of the UK to change the law on assisted suicide. She will appear at a conference in Edinburgh with the MSP Margo MacDonald, who has already tried and failed to make assisted suicide legal north of the border. The conference will also hear from Ludwig Minelli, founder of Dignitas, the assisted dying organisation in Switzerland. Among Ms MacDonald’s new proposals is a suggestion that a “licensed facilitator”, a so-called “friend at the end”, would have to be present when someone was at the point of ending their own life. The facilitator could be a doctor, social worker, or close friend but not a relative or anyone who stood to gain from the death.
Exactly what I’ve been proposing– Transition Guides, death midwives, doulas. It doesn’t have to be a physician since they are so attached to Hippocrates and don’t understand how important healing of the soul is at the end of life. We need a new specialty and a new perspective about the end of life.
Now doctors have a new worry– Doctors are required to provide access to a patient’s records under the Data Protection Act 1998 if a ‘subject access request’ has been made. However, new GMC draft guidance for fitness-to-practise decision-makers, due to be published later this year, advises it is a criminal offence for doctors to encourage or assist a person to commit or attempt suicide. GPs should explain this to patients when faced with demands for medical records for this purpose, the guidance says. The GMC says that GPs are required to provide medical records under the Data Protection Act. However, if a GP suspects this will be used for the purposes of assisted dying, the GP will be contravening the 1961 Suicide Act by providing the medical records.
Which means if you plan to go to Dignitas, don’t tell your doctor when you ask for your medical records.
Dignitas has seen an average of 18 British citizens coming through its door each year since 2002 and many have chosen to be very open about what compelled them to travel abroad to die. Having control over the timing of their death and avoiding a painful, lingering end have been the over-riding wishes of people like Dr Anne Turner, Peter Smedley and Jackie Meacock as they made their final journey to Zurich. For those who travelled with them, there was always the fear of prosecution but, to date, no-one who accompanied any of the 182 Britons has been prosecuted.
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg last year, ruled that while there is a “Human Right” to suicide, the state has no obligation to provide citizens with the means to commit suicide. Grégor Puppinck, the director of the European Centre for Law and Justice explained, “The Court notes that the vast majority of member States place more weight on the protection of an individual’s life than on the right to end one’s life and concludes that the States have a broad margin of appreciation in that respect.”
During a panel discussion with Human Rights solicitors, Richard Stein observed that the argument that there can never be adequate safeguards to protect the vulnerable is being used as a “smokescreen”, and, equally, the notion that disabled people cannot exercise their free will to die because it reduces the value of disabled lives is a “hugely patronising” one.
All this reflects a big shift towards secular thinking and individual autonomy as well as growing worries about the medicalised, miserable and costly way of death that awaits many people in rich countries. Assisted suicide typically gains overwhelming public support; legislators, pro-family lobbies, churches and doctors’ groups tend to be more squeamish. They fear that legal, easy-to-get assisted suicide will have dire social and moral effects.
More from Dr. Peter Saunders– Now that the Tony Nicklinson case is over and the next assisted suicide bills (from Falconer in the House of Lords and Macdonald in Scotland) are not to be debated until next year one could be forgiven for thinking that the relentless media pressure for the legalisation of euthanasia might relent for a few weeks. But no – first we have the pronouncements of junior health ministers Norman Lamb and Anna Soubry giving their support for the legalisation of assisted suicide and now the BBC, in its role as cheerleader for assisted suicide, is making an international news story about the fact that it is ten years since the first Briton went to the Dignitas suicide facility in Zurich to kill himself.
As fall-outs between pro-life campaigners go, this one has yet to surface, but it could turn for the worse. The tension is over whether or not the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) is being used as a form of euthanasia. In June Dr Patrick Pullicino, a neurologist, claimed that the Pathway was an “assisted death pathway”. According to the doctor, patients are being placed on the LCP without clear evidence that they are close to death, while the sensationalised Daily Mail headline ran: “Top doctor’s chilling claim: The NHS kills off 130,000 elderly patients every year” – where 130,000 is the total number of patients who are put on the LCP out of the 450,000 that are terminally ill. In other words, the majority of people who are close to death are not put on the Pathway.
Since it was rolled out across the country in 2004, it has received three glowing audits, the endorsement of this Government and, just this month, the public support of 20 respected organisations representing millions of patients, carers, doctors and nurses. Yet last week the Association of Palliative Medicine bowed to pressure from a lobby of Roman Catholic doctors, pro-life groups, some media and a small number of distressed and grieving relatives to order a review into the Pathway. Was this a victory for patients’ rights or capitulation to media hysteria and public misunderstanding?
This will be the last month I’ll be listing all the articles that come to my email box because it just takes way too much of my time. I will, however, continue to read new articles and contribute to the debate about aid-in-dying from my perspective.
End-of-Life discussions about Assisted Dying/Suicide/Euthanasia in news articles, blogs, videos from the left, right and center during the month of October 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.
Care Not Killing (UK)
Compassion & Choices (US)
Compassion in Dying (UK)
Death with Dignity (US)
Dignity in Dying (UK)
Dying with Dignity (Canada)
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (Canada)
Final Exit Network (US)
Health Talk Online (UK)
Not Dead Yet (US)
Second Thoughts (US)
World Federation of Right to Die Societies (UK) – 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.
Conservative Christians are implacable opponents of assisted dying– Choice in Dying: Arguing for the right to die and against the religious obstruction of that right
Significant stress after witnessing assisted suicide – BioEdge (10/5/12)
Physician-Assisted Suicide: Why Medical Ethics Must Sometimes Trump the Patient’s Choice by Ronald Pies, MD, PsychCentral.com (October 2012)
Three MDs weigh in on assisted suicide – Not Dead Yet (10/6/12)
Margaret Morganroth Gullette on the vote for physician-assisted dying – The Chicago Blog by Kristie McQuire (10/22/12)
Hard decisions in the ICU – New Old Age by Paula Span (10/24/12)
Death with Dignity in Massachusetts by Lauren Mackler, Huffington Post Blog (10/23/12)
How we die– the most important issue we never talk about – Conservative Home (10/24/12)
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… someday)
Death and Dignity: Making Choices and Taking Charge by Tim Quill – Just having this option is valuable for the sense of peace it provides to suffering patients
No One Has to Die Alone: Preparing for a Meaningful Death by Lani Leary – Practical skills, vocabulary, and insights needed to truly address the needs of a dying loved one while caring for yourself through the process
Voicing My Choices by Lori Wiener, PhD – New guide helps seriously ill teens and young adults talk about their needs
After We Said Goodbye by Sean Davison – his arrest, trial and sentencing and the dramatic events that followed after taking the most fateful decision of his life
Death on Demand – OnPoint with Tom Ashbrook discussing Massachusetts’ Death with Dignity law with Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, Edward Lowenstein, professor of anesthesia and professor of medical ethics, and Michael Grodin, director of the Medical Ethics and Human Rights Programs
When prolonging death seems worse that death – NPR Fresh Aire – Compassion & Choices is an organization that helps terminally ill patients and their families make informed and thoughtful end-of-life decisions to hasten a patient’s death. These decisions are not made impulsively, Schwarz tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “Nobody makes this choice unless the burdens of living have so consistently, day after day, outweighed all benefit.”
On Doctor-Assisted Suicide, Stances Rooted in Experiences – WBUR, Boston’s NPR – All Things Considered host Sacha Pfeiffer speaks with Dr. Marcia Angell and John Kelly about their very personal reasons for their stances.
About 57 per cent of people either strongly or somewhat agree that it should be a right, according to the University of Saskatchewan’s Taking the Pulse survey. (more)
Doctor-assisted suicide should be allowed, pollsters told – CBC.ca – A majority of Saskatchewan people believe people with terminal illnesses should be able to legally access doctor-assisted suicide, a new poll says.
Euthanasia: from ethical debate to clinical reality by Thierry Berghmans and Dominique Lossignol, European Respiratory Journal (Octobr 2012) – While it may only be the third-leading neoplasm worldwide, lung cancer is the first cause of death by cancer in males and one of the first in females in industrialised countries. Overall, cure rate is only 10–15% and the majority of patients, most of whom are diagnosed at an advanced stage and will ultimately die from lung cancer progression or related complications. During the last few decades, palliative care has become a central element of the therapeutic approach to terminally ill cancer patients. Palliative care aims to improve quality of life and control symptoms but has no role in hastening death, although palliative care specialists can be involved in the end-of-life decision process when euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide are considered.
Attitudes Toward Assisted Suicide and Life-Prolonging Measures in Swiss ALS Patients and their Caregivers – Frontiers in Psychology for Clinical Settings (October) – Conclusion: A liberal legal setting does not necessarily promote the wish for AS. However, the desire to discuss AS is prevalent in ALS patients. There is a higher level of suffering and loneliness on the caregivers’ side.
Physician-assisted dying by Sandy Buchman, MD, Canadian Family Physician (October) – The trend to PAD (which encompasses physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia) is occurring worldwide. In 2007, 76% of Canadians agreed that people with incurable disease have the right to die, and in 2010, 67% supported the legalization of euthanasia.The Collège des médecins du Québec, the Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel, and the Quebec National Assembly have all proposed legislative reforms that would permit PAD. Other health care organizations have published papers examining the issue. It is now time for the CFPC to bring the specific perspective of Canada’s FPs to the table.
Redefining Physician’s Role in Assisted Dying by Julian Prokopetz, BA and Lia Lehmann, MD, PhD in New England Journal of Medicine (July) – We believe there is a compelling case for legalizing assisted dying, but assisted dying need not be physician-assisted.
Under the DWDA, the patient’s physician prescribes lethal medication after confirming the prognosis and elucidating the alternatives for treatment and palliative care. In theory, however, the prescription need not come from the physician. Prognosis and treatment options are part of standard clinical discussions, so if a physician certifies that information in writing, patients could conceivably go to an independent authority to obtain the prescription.
Assisted suicide: Over my dead body – The Economist (10/20/12) – Helping the terminally ill to die, once taboo, is gaining acceptance
Physician-Assisted Suicide is not Progressive by Ira Byock, director of palliative care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in The Atlantic (10/25/12)
Compassion in Dying Seminar: Shared decision making at end of life (UK-September 20) – from both the patient and healthcare professional perspective. Findings from research which examined choice and control with a terminal illness, how patients make decisions and the role of healthcare professionals in this process were presented. Alongside this an example of how end-of-life care preferences are recorded electronically to ensure that healthcare professionals can access them was discussed. (audio recordings are available) (more)
(News this month from California, DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Wisconsin)
Michael Winner researching assisted suicide by hollywood.com (10/4/12) – He says, “I checked Dignitas on the computer and you need to go through so much. It’s not a walk-in death. You don’t just go in and say ‘Here I am, do your worst.’ You have to go through a whole series of papers and re-examinations just to die. You have to fill in forms and things and you have to fly there, go back twice… (more)
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Radical hate group joins opponents of Death with Dignity by Peg Sandeen, Death with Dignity National Center (10/18/12) – Opponents of Death with Dignity in Massachusetts used this hate money to launch and seed their campaign, providing them with critical resources to build the infrastructure of a political campaign. After they were caught publicly with the money, they sent back a portion of it, but not all of it. And, the unanswered question is “why are these groups involved in the Death with Dignity issue at all?” (more)
What’s airing on Pro-Life Perspective Today? “Combating Euthanasia,” Part 2 by Carol Tobias, NRLC President & Pro-Life Perspective Host, National Right to Life News Today (10/19/12) – The trends in medical practice, in the courts, and in the legislatures, have been all too clear. The assumptions of 30 years ago, that the presumption in all medical cases is for life, has been virtually reversed. Advocates of euthanasia began in the 1970s by building on an almost universally accepted premised that, in the absence of truly exceptional circumstances, a competent adult may accept or reject any medical treatment. Rooted in the doctrine of informed consent and long accepted by common law, this principle became the starting point for their efforts. (more)
Euthanasia was the right decision for my wife by Mars Kramer, Washington Post (10/22/12) – But we live in the Netherlands, and here is where our story becomes a little different. When people become as ill as my wife, with no prospect of cure and only pain and exhaustion in the offing, it is quite legal to end one’s life by voluntary euthanasia.
We set the date for Tuesday at 3 p.m. Our children assembled in the sitting room and I was in the bedroom, with the doctor and a nurse. Mathilde had had a bad night, distraught and unable to sleep, and the doctor had come to give her morphine.
But now she was awake and fully conscious of her condition. To the nurse she said, “I am ready” and to me, “I am not afraid.” I sat on one side of the bed and took her hand, and the doctor, at the other side, gave her the first injection.
She immediately fell asleep, snoring loudly. The doctor gave her a second injection, and the snoring stopped. She had died. It was all over in a couple of minutes. (more)
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New Aid-in-Dying Service Getting Inquiries by Chad Blair, Honolulu Civil Beat (10/5/12) – The group said the new Hawaii data is consistent with data from Oregon, where “one in six terminally ill Oregonians talks with their family about aid in dying. One in 50 talks with their doctor. In the end, one in 500 ingests life-ending medication.” (more)
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Allowing ‘medical aid in dying’ means euthanasia for Quebec by Deborah Gyapong, U.S. Catholic (10/16/12) – Parti Quebecois junior social services minister Veronique Hivon said she hoped to introduce legislation soon to help people who face unbearable end-of-life suffering.
Though euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal under the jurisdiction of Canada’s Criminal Code, Hivon said health is a provincial matter. The province could also direct crown prosecutors not to prosecute cases of assisted death that fall under the guidelines for “medical aid in dying,” she said.
But Linda Couture, director of the Quebec grassroots group Living with Dignity, said using health care and directing prosecutors in this manner bring “euthanasia through the back door.”
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Legalize Euthanasia by Ian Timberlake, Iowa State Daily (10/18/12) – It seems like another needless form of government control on its citizens, arguably unconstitutional as early as the Preamble. This is a freedom I wish to have, and should the conditions arise (knock on wood), I will be one of the many seniors who illegally commits suicide because their state won’t entitle them to a dignified death. Euthanasia will never become obligatory, and it is absolutely not a method to “snuff out” the country’s disabled and elderly as Iowa’s Right to Life organization claims. (more)
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Physician-assisted suicide up for vote in Mass.– WIBW (10/28/12) – A September Suffolk University/7 NEWS poll found 64 percent of likely Massachusetts voters support the initiative.
The initiative stems from a ballot petition filed by Boston-based Dignity 2012 and a terminally ill Stoughton, Mass. man’s 2009 attempt to get a similar bill passed in the state legislature. Lawmakers didn’t take action, and Al Lipkind died of stomach cancer that year, according to CBS Boston.
Supporters, primarily patients’ rights groups, say the bill has effective safeguards, including prohibiting doctors from prescribing the drugs to depressed patients.
Religious, medical and disability rights groups are fighting the measure, saying it’s open to manipulation and relies on diagnoses that may be wrong. They’ve raised more than $1.6 million so far, compared with nearly $500,000 for supporters, mostly patients’ rights and AIDS groups, according to CBS Boston. (more)
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A Method for Dying with Dignity by Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of New England Journal of Medicine, senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School, bostonglobe.com – Opinion (9/29/12) – Unfortunately, the Massachusetts Medical Society officially opposes the Act because it believes it is “inconsistent with the physician’s role as healer,” in the words of its past president. But this isn’t about physicians or their self-image; it’s about patients — specifically patients for whom healing is no longer possible. They, not physicians, are the ones to say when their suffering is no longer bearable, and individual physicians (many of whom disagree with the position of the medical society) should be able to honor their wishes. Why should anyone — the state, the medical profession or anyone else — presume to tell someone how much suffering they must endure as their life is ending? We respect people’s right to self-determination when they’re healthy. That shouldn’t be denied to them when they’re dying. (more)
Physician-Assisted Suicide Town Forum – (10/3/12) – Hosted by Cardinal Sean O’Malley
Residents divided over ‘Death with Dignity’ ballot question– Wicked Local Marblehead (10/4/12) – Former Marblehead resident Dr. Tim Quill said just having this option is valuable for the sense of peace it provides to suffering patients.
“There are two groups of patients for whom this is really important,” said Quill. “The bigger group of people who are quite sick may worry about what might happen if their pain gets really bad and want to have a choice if their suffering gets out of hand. For most of those people, palliative care is pretty affective at relieving suffering, and it works most of the time. So those people don’t need this option. But there will be a small amount of cases where this doesn’t work sufficiently, and suffering is more extreme.”
Having this option is also important, according to Quill, in that it brings these conversations out into the open between loved ones and doctors. Otherwise, the patient may take matters into his own hands. (more)
Clish explained that her father was forced to travel back to his home in Oregon where euthanasia is legal.
“It was a decision I respected,” she said. (more)
Vote for Death with Dignity by Harvey Silvergate and Juliana Devries, bostonherald.com (10/6/12) – In his 1869 masterpiece “On Liberty,” John Stuart Mill called this “self-regarding” conduct and wrote that citizens should have “perfect freedom, legal and social” to do as they wish with themselves “and stand the consequences.” Only when individual choices significantly and negatively affect others, such as producing second-hand smoke in enclosed areas or driving drunk, do we normally turn to prohibition. (more)
Ballot question sparks debate about assisted suicide by Laura Krantz, MetroWest Daily News (10/7/12) – Should dying people be allowed to kill themselves?
Question 2 on next month’s ballot is simple, but perhaps not easy to answer.
Voters next month will decide whether Massachusetts physicians should be allowed to prescribe medication that will end the life of a terminally ill patient. (more)
But not everyone agrees physicians should be able to prescribe a drug intended only for suicide. (more)
Catholics donate to anti-assisted suicide group by Laura Krantz, MetroWest Daily News (10/8/12) – The anti-Question 2 group so far has raised $1.3 million and spent $878,000, according to the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
The $250,000 contribution from St. John’s Seminary Corporation makes up more than half of the $432,000 the committee reported raising in the last two weeks of September. It also received $150,000 from the Knights of Columbus, which also donated $200,000 this summer.
Despite their strong finances, recent polls have suggested Massachusetts voters support the ballot question.
Dignity 2012, the main group supporting the question, reported raising $28,000 in the same two-week period. (more)
Controlling the quality of dying by Marjorie Arons-Barron, Wicked Local Newton (10/15/12) – For me, if I am at the end and suffering unendurably, with that suffering only going to get worse, I want that pill on my night table. I may, in the end, choose not to use it, but I want the option to die a more humane and dignified death. (more)
Physician-Assisted Suicide on the Massachusetts Ballot by Rich Barlow. BU Today (10/15/12) – Marcia Angell (MED’67), a senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School and a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, was the first person to sign the petition putting the issue on the ballot. She will explain her support for the law today at noon, when she gives the ninth annual Pike Lecture on Health Law at the School of Law. The lecture commemorates N. Neal Pike (LAW’37), a lawyer and activist for people with disabilities. (more)
Question 2 sponsors say measure isn’t ‘assisted suicide’ by Lane Lambert (10/16/12) – “This is not about life versus death,” Dr. Marcia Angell of Dignity 2012 said Tuesday in a Patriot Ledger editorial board interview. “This is about the manner of death.” (more)
“Some states have voted to let doctors help ease the way. The language itself is a battlefield: right to die, ‘death with dignity,’ assisted suicide,” he says about the show. (more)
‘Ethically, is this right for doctors to do?’ Help a terminal patient die? by Carey Goldberg, Boston’s NPR News (10/19/12) – (audio) Ravi Parikh, a fourth-year student at Harvard Medical School, faced conflicting messages.
The American Medical Association, which he belongs to, and the Massachusetts Medical Society oppose Question 2, the measure on next month’s state ballot that would allow terminally ill patients to ask a doctor to prescribe them life-ending drugs.
In contrast, The American Medical Student Association, which he also belongs to, supports it.
Ravi faced conflict within as well. He’d applied to medical school for the usual reason — to heal patients, as spelled out in the Hippocratic oath — not to help them die.
But his medical education introduced him to the complexities of modern American dying. (more)
What about do no harm?: Globe columnist on assisted suicide– Boston Catholic Insider (10/20/12) – If Hippocrates, the “father of Western medicine,” were alive today, would he favor Question 2, the Massachusetts ballot initiative to authorize doctor-prescribed suicide?
Presumably not: The celebrated code of medical ethics that bears his name, which physicians for centuries took an oath to uphold, flatly forbids assisted suicide. “I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked,” the Hippocratic oath avows, “nor will I advise such a plan.” (more)
Letter: On physician-assisted suicide by Mary Louise C. Ashur MD, Associate Professor & Clinical Instructor – The Daily Free Press – The Independent Student Newspaper at Boston University (10/20/12) – What is the true motivation for the Question 2 ballot initiative? Question 2 is thinly veiled to look like an act to alleviate suffering and promote self-determination. But to promote “suicide” – the taking of one’s own life, a lonely act for a vulnerable soul, is a sad commentary for a civilized society. Really, Question 2 simply devalues human suffering. It abhors the natural human life by promoting premature death. Question 2 undermines the work of a physician – to care for patients from birth to natural death. The Massachusetts Medical Society wants Question 2 defeated. As a doctor and 27 years witness to the courage and dignity of people as they live and die, I too urge the defeat of Question 2. (more)
Mass. voters consider physician-assisted suicide – modernhealthcare.com (10/20/12) – Leaders on opposite sides of Massachusetts’ right to die debate are fighting for the same reason: Both have watched loved ones receive fatal diagnoses.
Dr. Marcia Angell supports the initiative. Her father shot himself to death rather than die from metastatic prostate cancer in 1988. She believes he would’ve lived longer and not turned to a pistol had assisted suicide been available.
However, a group called the Massachusetts Death with Dignity Coalition supports the bill, citing a patient’s right to die on his or her own terms and at home.
The coalition writes on their website that the change would have 16 different safeguards, including approvals from two doctors and a 15-day waiting period in between seeing the physicians.
The coalition also says that the same law has been in place for 15 years in Oregon, and four years in the state of Washington. In each state, 60 terminally ill patients decided to utilize the law each year, and careful tracking of the law has found “not a single instance of abuse over the past 15 years.” (more)
Donato: Vote No on Assisted Suicide by Jarret Bencks, patch.com (10/25/12) – “Regardless of where a person stands on the issue of physician-assisted suicide, Question 2 – as designed – contains serious flaws, such the lack of a psychiatric evaluation and no family notification,” Donato said in a written statement. “For these reasons and others, I encourage the voters of Medford and Malden to reject Question 2 on November 6.” (more)
Share the Story Behind Your Opinion– Here’s Mine by Carey Goldberg, WBUR, Boston’s NPR Radio (10/25/12) – And here’s what I thought: I bet just about every one of the people on either side of the issue has a story. They’ve witnessed a death, and that experience influenced their opinion. So here’s an open invitation: Won’t you share your story in the Comments section below?
Here’s mine: (more)
Pharmacists group opposes ballot question 2 – MetroWest Daily News (10/25/12) – The Western Massachusetts Pharmacists Association Thursday announced their opposition to ballot question two, which would legalize physician assisted suicide.
“As pharmacists, our goal is to help people – Question 2 would undermine that,” (more)
Death with Dignity a compassionate outlet for suffering by Bryan Goodchild, U Of Mass Medical School (10/26/12) – David Clive, MD, professor of medicine, answers questions about Death with Dignity (video)
Reader endorses ‘Death with Dignity’ ballot question – Canton Citizen Newspaper (10/27/12) Dear Editor:
Believing that only an informed electorate can govern themselves properly, the Canton Council on Aging sponsored a forum on the all-important last event of our lives: the act of dying.
As is true for most laws, this one would require some fine tuning, but the evolved citizens of Oregon and Washington have had remarkable success (i.e., no abuse) with their Death with Dignity laws. Only 596 patients have availed themselves of this right since 1997, showing that its use is only one more choice of many ways to end life. The scarcity of the law’s use is not the reason it should not be provided. If only one man speaks the truth, it is still the truth even if a world of people believe otherwise. (more)
Assisted suicide on the ballot: Beyond Fear Tactics – Mortal Matters/Dr. Lachlan Forrow on end-of-life wishes (10/28/12) – I have serious misgivings about whether a ballot initiative is the best way for the people of Massachusetts to make decisions about profound, complex moral issues. My misgivings are especially great when, as I believe is true of Question 2 next Tuesday, many people are going to have to cast their vote without having had the time, opportunity, or help they needed to develop a clear and accurate understanding of what those issues are.
I am further distressed that too many of the ads, op-eds, and advocacy emails that I have seen — from both sides — seem to me to present seriously distorted, irresponsibly exaggerated claims that are designed to frighten you into voting one way or the other. If I didn’t know better, I would be more frightened than ever about myself or a loved one ever having a so-called “terminal illness”. (more)
There’s no ‘dignity’ in suicide by Tom Driscoll, MetroWest Daily News (10/28/12) – It is argued that Question 2 advances “dignity” and “personal choice” and yet I read the law in detail and what I come away with is the procedural aspect of it all. Requisite clinical prognoses, signatures witnessed by disinterested parties, waiting periods and asking to be asked all over again. What’s being described isn’t so much enabled free choice for individuals and their families as exhaustive protocol for the medical profession to follow, not so much about the dying and their dignity as the practice of dispensing deadly medicine and the concomitant exposures and liabilities. (more)
Life and death issue emotional by Bronislas B. Kush, Worcester Telegram (10/28/12) – Much of the discussion about physician assisted suicide revolves around moral, religious, ethical and legal questions.
Individuals on both sides of the question acknowledge the Massachusetts vote is an important one, given that approval of the measure may spawn more aggressive efforts elsewhere.
Interestingly, the Bay State’s religious community is divided on the issue.
For example, the Catholic Church, which is the most powerful and the most influential religious organization in Massachusetts, has been working hard to defeat the measure.
However, other groups, such as the Massachusetts Council of Churches, a partnership of about 17 Orthodox and Protestant denominations, is not taking a position on the referendum because there is no clear consensus of its membership.
Spokesmen for some of the religious organizations privately note that life should be cherished but that it is difficult to outright dismiss the arguments made by the terminally ill and their families. (more)
Bishop attacks Question 2 by Richard Duckett, Worcester Telegram (10/28/12) – A pastoral letter written by Bishop Robert J. McManus expressing his objections to Question 2 on the Nov. 6 Massachusetts ballot will be read by priests in churches at all Masses in the Worcester Roman Catholic Diocese next weekend.
Speaking yesterday at a conference at Assumption College titled “To Live Each Day With Dignity,” Bishop McManus called Question 2 “poorly written, deliberately confusing, and morally flawed.” (more)
State Rep. Scaccia Opposed to Question 2 -by Daivd Ertischek, Roslindale.Patch.com (10/29/12) – “As vice-chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, I am deeply concerned with Question 2 and, specifically, its lacking of a psychiatric evaluation for terminally ill patients,” said Scaccia, D-Readville. “Quality mental health must be ensured for all citizens throughout the Commonwealth and, as it stands, Question 2 undermines that effort through its lack of necessary safeguards.” (more)
Local legislators say ‘No on 2’ by Monique Scott, The Milford Daily News (10/29/12) – State Sen. Richard Moore, D–Uxbridge, chairman of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, said the bill is “deeply flawed” because it allows patients to choose to end their lives without notifying family members.
Moore’s other concerns include that a physician is not required to be present when a patient is taking life-ending medication. Also, a patient, he said, could miscalculate the dosage and not end his life, possibly causing more pain to himself.
State Rep. Kevin Kuros, R-Uxbridge, said he opposes Question 2 because without a physician present, life-ending drugs could fall into the wrong hands.
“The number one place where teens get prescription drugs to experiment with is from their home medicine chest,” Kuros said. “I fear the very real possibility of a patient being prescribed the drugs, picking up the prescription, and then changing their mind, leaving the drugs in their home and not under a physician’s supervision. It is a tragic accident waiting to happen.” (more)
Why a leading end-of-life specialist opposes assisted-suicide by Dr. Ira Byock in Common Health (10/29/12) – We’ll still be teaching more obstetrics than hospice and palliative care to every medical student. We’ll still be graduating more doctors who have never been trained to have these conversations or in ways to help people sort through their unfinished business. But, those doctors will now have the authority to write lethal prescriptions.
This does not seem like progress to me. (more)
Massachusetts Vote May Change How the Nation Dies by Lewis M. Cohen, Slate Magazine (10/29/12) – This Election Day, Massachusetts is poised to approve the Death With Dignity Act. “Death with dignity” is a modernized, sanitized, politically palatable term that replaces the now-antiquated expression “physician-assisted suicide.” Four polls conducted in the past couple of months have shown strong support for the ballot question, although a well-funded media blitz by the opposition is kicking in during the final several weeks and may influence voter opinions. (more)
Advocates for ballot question on assisted suicide pledge more ads by Laura Krantz, Milford Daily News (10/30/12) – Responding to news Tuesday about a new swell of opposition to the ballot question on assisted suicide, advocates pledged more advertising in the final week of the campaign.
The Suffolk/7News poll of 600 likely voters released today shows support for the question has shrunk from 64 percent six weeks ago to 47 percent.
“Regrettably, voters are facing a barrage of negative advertising financed by radical, out-of-state fringe groups, who are willing to say anything to defeat Question 2,” Crawford said.
The Archdiocese of Boston lately has become one of the most outspoken opponents to the measure, issuing a special sermon this week against the question. (more)
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Is it morally wrong to take a life? Not so, say ethicists – OneNewsNow. – Read the latest from Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum examining news from the biblical viewpoint. (more)
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New Jersey legislator introduces assisted suicide bill by Alex Schadenberg, LifeSiteNews (9/28/12) – On September 27, New Jersey Assemblyman, John J. Burzichelli, introduced what he refers to as the “New Jersey Death with Dignity Act,” a bill that is a “Oregon Style” assisted suicide bill.
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.” (more)
Begin debate on end of life – Asbury Park Press (10/1/12) – Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, recently introduced New Jersey Death with Dignity Act (A-3328) would grant doctors in the Garden State the right to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to willing patients who have less than six months to live and don’t want to spend their last days suffering and in pain.
What right should government have to dictate to people of sound mind who are slowly and painfully dying the terms of their death and bar them from seeking a doctor’s aid in making a personal medical decision?It is perfectly reasonable to look at this issue and see righteousness on both sides. (more)
New bill could make assisted suicide legal in New Jersey by Myles Collier, Christian Post (10/1/12) – Conservative and religious leaders are raising concern over a newly introduced bill in the New Jersey state legislature that would make assisted suicide legal.
Bill A3328, also known as the New Jersey “Death with Dignity Act” was introduced in the New Jersey state legislature last week by Assemblyman John Burzichelli and is seeking voter approval to legalize physician-assisted suicide. (more)
Sane discussion on right to die, freedom needed now by Bob Ingle, Vineland Daily Journal (10/7/12) – Mention “assisted suicide” and images of Dr. Jack Kevorkian come to mind; he’s the pathologist said to have helped at least 130 people commit suicide in the 1990s, saying “death is not a crime,” although he served eight years in prison for second-degree murder. Credit him with starting a national conversation about end-of-life issues and patient rights that continues.It has to come to New Jersey in a direct way. Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-3, has introduced the New Jersey Death with Dignity Act (A-3328) that would grant physicians the right to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to willing patients with less than six months to live. (more)
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Cancer patient fights for right to die – WABC News (10/4/12)
How to Die by Bill Keller, The Opinion Pages, NY Times (10/8/12) – good comment section
Why Doctors Die Differently by Dr. Ken Murray, The Wall Street Journal – In a survey of 765 doctors, they found that 64% had created an advanced directive—specifying what steps should and should not be taken to save their lives should they become incapacitated. That compares to only about 20% for the general public. (As one might expect, older doctors are more likely than younger doctors to have made “arrangements,” as shown in a study by Paula Lester and others.) (more)
What does the Catholic Church teach about end of life care? The Deacon’s Bench, Greg Kandra (10/8/12) – Keller makes it sound, predictably, like the Catholic Church is cruel and inhumane—opposed to the kind of palliative end-of-life treatment his father-in-law received. But Church teaching is far more nuanced. Below is a clear description from the National Catholic Bioethics Center. The center has been endorsed by the last two popes, and the esteemed Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk serves as its Director of Education and Ethicist. Part of its guidelines state: (more)
Letters: Deciding when to end life support – NY Times (10/14/12) – Response to How to Die by Bill Keller (10/8/12)
Four Myths About Doctor-Assisted Suicide by Ezekeil J. Emanuel, New York Times: Opinionator (10/27/12) – Unfortunately, like so many health care questions, the debate about physician-assisted suicide is confused, characterized by four major falsehoods:
Pain, Advanced Technology, Mass Appeal, A Good Death (more)
Suicide the ‘New Norm’ for Dying?– Human Exceptionalism: Life and Dignity with Wesley J. Smith, National Review Online (10/30/12) – Yet, here in the USA, we are supposed to believe the death agenda is just a teensy-weensy, itty-bitty, miniscule adjustment in medical norms.
Baloney. Assisted suicide advocates are just following the well-worn path of cultural transforming campaigns; insist that there should be little fuss about a minor change about which we need to “have a conversation”–until the radicals control the castle walls. Then the hammer comes down, the minor change grows exponentially, and the conversation is stifled. (more)
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Swiss Parliment votes against regulating assisted suicide groups by Cassie Fiano – LiveActionNews/Human Rights (10/1/12) – Currently, there is zero legislation for Swiss assisted suicide clinics. Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, pointed out that there have been allegations of abuse and fraud, as well as a lack of concern for vulnerable people, raised about the assisted suicide clinic Dignitas. (Dignitas is the only clinic which allows foreign tourists to kill themselves.) And for Dignitas, assisted suicide is a multi-million-dollar business. (more)
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Hospital officials explain Dignity choice– Ashland Daily Tidings (10/5/10) – Dignity Health was formerly known as Catholic Health Care West until Jan. 23, when it changed its name and its affiliation with the Catholic Church. Since the change, the hospital system is no longer a sponsored ministry of the church, but a self-governing, nonprofit health care system.
However, because 25 of Dignity’s 40 hospitals remain Catholic-affiliated, its non-Catholic hospitals are still barred from performing direct abortions, in vitro fertilization or prescribing aid-in-dying medication. They are not, however, required to force lifesaving treatment on a patient who refuses it.
Many Ashland residents have expressed concern over Dignity Health’s stance against the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, its banning of direct abortions, and the loss of local control if a partnership is formed. (more)
Worries over abortion, assisted suicide scuttle takeover of Ashland hospital– Oregonlive.com (10/30/12/) – Early this month, Mark Marchetti, the hospital’s chief executive officer, said the hospital could be closed in a year if it remains independent, and the former board chairman, Dr. Doug Diehl, testified in October that it had four to six months of operating cash left unless it trimmed services.
The Ashland hospital has said its size puts it at a disadvantage against larger hospitals in Medford, and it’s squeezed by unreimbursed costs of treating Medicare and Medicaid patients.
Some community members raised concerns that Dignity Health would restrict women’s reproductive services and the rights of dying patients to get lethal prescriptions to end their lives under Oregon law.
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Catholic Bishop: Democrats support evil, will go to hell by Michael Stone, examiner.com (10/27/12) – In the letter, dated Wednesday, October 24, Bishop Ricken claims supporting a woman’s right to reproductive freedom (abortion); death with dignity (euthanasia); important scientific research (stem cell research); and marriage equality for gay and lesbian citizens are all “intrinsically evil.” (more)
(News updates from Australia, Belgium, Canada, India, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Switzerland, United Kingdom)
Nitschke urges open mind on euthanasia bill – ABC News (AU) – (10/2/12) – Euthanasia advocate doctor Philip Nitschke is urging Tasmania’s Upper House MPs to open their minds to what he calls progressive legislation. (more)
Anti-euthanasia battle stepping up– ABC News (10/8/12) – The issue of gay marriage has only just been dismissed from the Tasmanian Parliament but already Christian groups are preparing for the next moral battle.
A discussion paper on legalising voluntary euthanasia is due out in the next few months.
The euthanasia bill is due before parliament next year but will have to pass the Upper House.
MLC Paul Harriss has dismissed the debate as a Green-led agenda. (more)
Bell backs campaign to legalise euthanasia by Josephine Tovey, Sydney Morning Herald (10/22/12) – Supporting the rights of patients to choose to end their life is not a morose or negative cause, the actor and Bell Shakespeare theatre director John Bell says.
”We’re not about embracing death … we are about celebrating life. Once the quality of life is gone, life is not worth very much,” he said. (more)
“I did not do it alone. I could not have done it alone,” she said.
The provision of palliative care in NSW is at a critical juncture: historically underfunded services are struggling to meet increasing demand while federal funding appears to be drying up.
The Roses’ experience is unusual in NSW, according to the Palliative Care Plan. One third of people who die of cancer and 90 per cent of those who die predictable deaths from other conditions do not receive palliative care. (more)
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Doctor Admits Euthanasia Patients’ Organs Harvested by Lisa Correnti , LifeNews.com (10/12/12) – Deaths from “voluntary euthanasia” in Belgium are approximated at 2 percent, – 2,000 annually. At a recent conference in Brussels, a Belgian doctor reported that organ transplants are being done on euthanized patients and that Belgium leads in this practice. (more)
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Assisted-suicide advocate’s resolve bolstered by terminally ill friend’s early death – MetroNews.ca (10/1/12) – 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.
Watching life slip away from this cheerful and passionate man who talked repeatedly of the great moments he would miss reaffirmed for Westley the unfairness of Canada’s law against doctor-assisted suicide. (more)
Quebec to legalize doctor-assisted suicide– CJAD News (10/4/12) – “We really feel that it is necessary to put forward such a possibility for people who, at the end of their life, are suffering in an unbearable manner,” says social services junior minister Véronique Hivon.
She says the idea was part of the Parti Quebecois’ election platform, and was also recommended by an all-party National Assembly committee last spring.
She says her bill will be based on that committee’s report. It’s guidelines said patients should only have access to the service if they are adult Quebec residents with a serious and incurable illness, and have given their express written consent. (more)
Quebec to Pass MD-Assisted Suicide Law – Jobs & Hire (10/5/12) – The Quebec legislature passed the report Thursday, after two years of work from the Dying With Dignity Committee. The action was part of the Parti Quebecois’ election agenda (Parti Quebecois is the minority government in Quebec at present) and likewise had the backing of the all-party National Assembly committee. The Liberals have remained silent on the issue.
Nonetheless, the Criminal Code still prohibits medically assisted-suicide. Hivon asserts that Quebec can pass the law without the support of Ottawa as “Quebec has jurisdiction over health and also over professional qualifications” which “gives us the confidence to introduce this medical aid in dying in our bill.” The passing of the law will place Canada under the umbrella of other countries who exercise physician assisted-suicide such as Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands along with a few American states.(more)
Woman who fought to change Canada’s law on assisted suicide has died – CKNW News Talk 980 (10/5/12) – The BC Civil Liberties Association says Gloria Taylor, the 64 year-old Okanagan woman who fought to change Canada’s law on assisted dying, died yesterday.
She was the Association’s lead plaintiff in its “death with dignity” lawsuit.
BC Supreme Court had granted Taylor a personal exemption allowing her the right to seek a physician-assisted death.
The Association says Taylor’s death was sudden: she developed a severe infection resulting from a perforated colon.
Given the acute nature of the illness, the Association says she did not need to seek the assistance of a physician to end her life. (more)
Assisted-suicide activist Gloria Taylor dies from infection by Wendy Stueck and Rob Mickleburgh, The Globe and Mail (10/5/12) – In the end, she didn’t exercise the right for which she fought, and won, in court – the right to have a doctor’s help when she decided it was time to end her life.
But when Gloria Taylor died on Thursday, she did so on her own terms.
“It was very unexpected and it was sudden, but in the end, Gloria had the good death she so dearly wanted,” Grace Pastine, litigation director for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said Friday in an interview. (more)
Safeguard precedents prove Canada is ready for euthanasia by Wanda Morris Executive Director, Dying With Dignity Canada – Vancouver Sun (10/6/12) – In Canada, we have a clean slate, we can introduce any criteria for eligibility we choose, and we can adopt whatever safeguards we feel are necessary.
If they have any further doubts, Canadians can look to the decision of B.C. Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith. She had access to detailed testimony from both sides, experts from around the world and the results of cross-examinations from both teams of lawyers.
Among her conclusions: there is no slippery slope; the safeguards work. In her own words:
“In my opinion, opponent’s presentation of data from Oregon and Netherlands is generally incomplete, frequently filled with factual inaccuracies and distortions, and often meant to construct a false empirical foundation for what is essentially a moral opposition to the practice of physician-assisted death.” (more)
Focus on palliative care, not suicide: doctor– CTVNews.ca (10/10/12) – A landmark case on doctor-assisted suicide is heading to the B.C. Appeals Court in March, but some doctors fear the hot-button issue is drawing focus away from a different, and widely used form of end-of-life care.
Dr. Romayne Gallagher works with the palliative care program at Providence Health Care, which aims to alleviate suffering for the dying. (more)
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Columbian bishops say nothing justifies legalizing euthanasia– DFW Catholic (10/11/12) – A representative of the Colombian bishops, Father Pedro Mercado Cepeda, has rejected recent efforts by a group of lawmakers to legalize euthanasia in the country.
“No circumstance can make it legally acceptable to intentionally cause the death of a human being. The right to life is constitutionally inviolable,” he wrote in column published by local newspaper El Espectador.
On Oct. 8, a senate committee in Colombia voted 10-4 to send a proposed measure to regulate euthanasia to the full Senate for consideration. If approved the measure would be sent to the Colombian House of Representatives for a vote. (more)
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Passive euthanasia gets law panel push– Hindustan Times (10/4/12) – The Law Commission has made a recommendation to the government to initiate measures to enact a comprehensive law on passive euthanasia, subject to certain safeguards. “It’s not objectionable from a legal and constitutional point of view,” the commission, which advises the government on legal issues, said. (more)
Aiming for dignity in death by Dr. Pallavi A. Roshi, Deccan Herald (10/6/12) – This decade has brought a significant change in a doctor’s point of view. Many of us have changed the focus from ‘only care’ to ‘cure and comfort’ to ‘only comfort,’ when cure is impossible.
Although doctors should strive to extend life and decrease suffering, they must also accept death as a defining characteristic of life. Sometimes, so-called heroic methods may lead to needless suffering instead of preventing death. So, when the incurability of a disease is confirmed, there begins the journey of palliative care to make the end of life easy, and assuring the patient of a dignified death. (more)
Euthanasia: Mercy killing or murder? – NDTV debate (10/7/12)
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There are no easy answers in matter of life and death – Belfast Telegraph (10/4/12) – The moving story of Jenny Grainger who helped her mum take her life has reignited the assisted suicide debate. Here campaigners for and against have their say– (more)
The Gloria Taylor Case– Irish Medical Times (10/4/12) – Taylor was concerned that her condition would reach a stage where she would not be in a position to end her own life without assistance and that she would be left to die in circumstances which would be “painful, frightening and repugnant to her”.
She brought proceedings in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in which she sought the right to be allowed to die by way of physician-assisted suicide. (more)
Now MLAs must act on helping loved ones to die with dignity by Stephanie Bell, Belfast Telegraph (10/4/12) – “Regardless of their religious or political background, this is an issue which affects everyone and politicians need to take a stand and help bring about the change in the law, which currently robs people of their right to choose.”
Jenny has been inundated with messages of support since she shared the heartbreaking story of how her family stood by her mum when she chose to end her own life through the voluntary refusal of food and fluids.
Because she did not have the option of a quick and pain-free death through euthanasia, Barbara lingered for 24 days before her heart finally stopped. (more)
Jenny’s story demands we open debate on euthanasia– Belfast Telegraph (10/6/12) – It was a sunny Saturday in late September of the Millennium year when my mother moved on. I do not know the time of my going but, if I am lucky enough to live into my 80s or indeed 90s and the prospect of losing my dignity to pain and pumps stares me in the face, I know what I want.
Hopefully, by then, we will have grown up enough to stop skirting around the most life-changing moment in our lives after our birth.
Our death – and the manner of our going. (more)
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The advance of euthanasia in The Netherlands by Valentina Ascione, west-info.eu (10/3/12) – Not the case of Italy, though. “Euthanasia” still remains an unrepeatable word here. (more)
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Michael Winner researching assisted suicide – 3news.co.nz (10/5/12) – Retired director Michael Winner has considered ending his life at a euthanasia clinic after doctors told him he has just 18 months to live.
The moviemaker, who has battled ill health in recent years, revealed this summer that liver specialists have given him between 18 months and two years and he now admits the prognosis led him to look into the controversial Dignitas institution in Switzerland.
The 76-year-old opened up about his research in a new interview with Britain’s The Times newspaper, insisting he was put off by the amount of paperwork required to go through with assisted suicide. (more)
The right to die – yes or no by Aaron von Delden, Wanganui Chronicle (10/6/12) – “If you have the right to die, it’s a completely different feeling than if you do something that is not legal,” Anne Mohrdieck said. “It’s different for me and it’s different for the people around me. It is to die with dignity.
“Everyone has different abilities to cope with the suffering. If my ability does not allow me to have a quality of life in any way, and I choose a better option would be to go out … then I’d be enraged if that possibility would be taken from me or wouldn’t be given to me.”
MARY Stewart says euthanasia is just a euphemism for hetero-homicide – getting someone to kill you.
After 30 years as a nurse, Mrs Stewart says it will confuse the role of health professionals, who swear an oath to heal and provide comfort. (more)
Euthanasia law nothing to fear by Yvonne Shaw, Southland Times (10/17/12) – New Zealand medical practitioners anecdotally report having been asked by their patients for assistance in dying gracefully, and many of them have complied. However, rather than following a protocol with built-in safeguards and safety standards, the process is unregulated. For patients and family members who decide to take things into their own hands, the outcome could be devastating.
When aid-in-dying laws support the rights of patients, the whole of society is protected, according to the Death with Dignity National Centre in Oregon, United States. For instance, patients and their families have a clear understanding of all of their options through carefully guided conversations with their medical practitioners. Advanced care-planning initiatives and advance directives in New Zealand already address patients’ objectives and desires for refusing medical treatment in emergent situations.
If those conversations expand to include aid-in-dying options for the terminally ill, then patients have a true grasp of the entire spectrum available to them.
Further, it allows family members to discuss options and support each other, rather than have secret conversations and fear of legal prosecution if they follow a loved one’s requests.
Medical practitioners have clearly defined processes in place, and medical protocols they must follow to comply with legislation. This protects medical practitioners from having to guess at an appropriate dosage or surmise which drugs to use. The process is defined and has paperwork that shows protocols are followed.
There is no legal ramification for following their patient’s wishes. Further, medical practitioners may opt out of the process, which protects their rights to their own personal beliefs about death and dying. (more)
Euthanasia opens floodgates of nastiness by Rosemary McCloud, The Dominion Post (10/31/12) – Once assisted suicide becomes legal, anyone old and frail and rich will be expected to do the decent thing by whoever stands to profit from their death.
A thinly-disguised legal murder will become routine, especially as lack of respect for the old, and the belief that they don’t have any quality of life anyway, is underscored by the ease with which you can ”help” them die. (more)
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Trendwatcher: Is Dignity in Death Too Much to Ask? by Natalia Antonova, RIA Novosti (10/8/12) – The other issue here is, of course, the attitude of the actual doctors. Most are simply not trained to make their patients comfortable. Once it is clear that the patient is dying – a lot of them simply stop caring. And even though palliative care is certainly a major aspect of healthcare in modern Russia, many doctors still resist any urge to call a colleague who works in that field, if only because they don’t want anyone taking over their case.
Yakusheva’s doctors went as far as accuse her relatives of trying to use the dying woman’s condition to score drugs for themselves. The fact that this happened to a well-known personality speaks to the enormity of the problem. (more)
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Swiss assisted-suicide clinic Dignitas helped 217 Britons to die in 10 years by David Maddox Scotsman (10/25/12) – It is understood that the Dignitas Clinic in Switzerland has more than 900 Britons on its books and has ended more than 20 lives a year on average since it was set up ten years ago.
The new figures from Dignitas and progress of Ms MacDonald’s latest bill has led anti-assisted suicide campaigners to warn against a change in the law. (more)
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Finding a path to dignity in death by Marika Sboros, BDlive.co.za (10/3/12) – Voluntary euthanasia is legal in Holland and Belgium (only for citizens). Doctor-assisted dying is legal in a few states in the US, and in Switzerland. Lord Joffe is confident it will be legal in the UK in the not too distant future.
I asked which he thought was easier — voluntary euthanasia or doctor-assisted dying. He felt it was easier to get someone else to kill you, than to kill yourself. On reflection, I could only agree.
Yet no matter whether it’s voluntary euthanasia or doctor-assisted dying you’re after, the driving force behind legalising it is simply dignity in death. (more)
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Study: Assisted suicide helpers distressed– World Radio Switzerland (10/4/12) – One in four people who accompany someone to commit assisted suicide suffer massive psychological distress, according to a new study by the University of Zurich.
Researchers at the university spoke to 85 people who went with a family member or close friend to an EXIT euthanasia clinic.
A quarter suffered from post traumatic stress disorder while 16 percent had depression. Five percent were found to have long-term grief.
The interviews were carried out one to two years after the assisted death of loved ones.
The results state that problems can surface 14 to 24 months later and that a death not from natural causes was a heavy burden for those who supported the deceased. (more)
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Husband died in wife’s arms in Assisted Suicide at Switzerland’s Digitas– this is Hull and East Riding (10/2/12) – “All Patrick wanted was to die in his garden that he cherished so much,” she said.
“Instead, he was forced to travel to a foreign place with no meaning to him. He had always said to me he wanted to die in ‘Blighty’.”
After suffering such heartache, Anne is now backing calls for Britain to introduce powers allowing people with terminal illnesses to be able to take their own lives. (more)
Editor’s Viewpoint: Assisted Suicide Laws Need Debate– Belfast Telegraph (10/2/12) – The 24 days that she took to die were a terrible ordeal for both her and family. It was not a clean, clinical alternative to her illness and near the end the family had to beg medical professionals to administer painkilling injections to ease her suffering from the effects of profound dehydration. Some people might wonder if her choice of the way to die was not just as bad as letting the disease take its course.
While the family stood by their mother’s decision, their dilemma was compounded by the legal issues which surround assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is illegal in the UK. (more)
Assisted suicide: 10 years of dying at Dignitas by Phillipa Roxbury, BBCNews (10/20/12) – Dignitas has seen an average of 18 British citizens coming through its door each year since 2002 and many have chosen to be very open about what compelled them to travel abroad to die.Having control over the timing of their death and avoiding a painful, lingering end have been the over-riding wishes of people like Dr Anne Turner, Peter Smedley and Jackie Meacock as they made their final journey to Zurich.For those who travelled with them, there was always the fear of prosecution but, to date, no-one who accompanied any of the 182 Britons has been prosecuted. (more)
Switzerland: 750% increase in Assisted Suicides since 1998 by Dr. Peter Saunders, a doctor and the CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship, a British organization with 4,500 doctors and 1,000 medical students as members; member of Care Not Killing Alliance – LifeNews.com (10/25/12) – Now that the Tony Nicklinson case is over and the next assisted suicide bills (from Falconer in the House of Lords and Macdonald in Scotland) are not to be debated until next year one could be forgiven for thinking that the relentless media pressure for the legalisation of euthanasia might relent for a few weeks.
But no – first we have the pronouncements of junior health ministers Norman Lamb and Anna Soubry giving their support for the legalisation of assisted suicide and now the BBC, in its role as cheerleader for assisted suicide, is making an international news story about the fact that it is ten years since the first Briton went to the Dignitas suicide facility in Zurich to kill himself. (more)
GPs asked to provide patients with medical reports for Dignitas by Madlen Davies, pulsetoday.co.uk (10/25/12) – Doctors are required to provide access to a patient’s records under the Data Protection Act 1998 if a ‘subject access request’ has been made.
However, new GMC draft guidance for fitness-to-practise decision-makers, due to be published later this year, advises it is a criminal offence for doctors to encourage or assist a person to commit or attempt suicide.
GPs should explain this to patients when faced with demands for medical records for this purpose, the guidance says.
The GMC told Pulse that GPs are required to provide medical records under the Data Protection Act. However, if a GP suspects this will be used for the purposes of assisted dying, the GP will be contravening the 1961 Suicide Act by providing the medical records. (more)
I’m not sorry… it’s what he wanted– BBC Radio News (10/25/12) – It is ten years since the first British person chose to travel to Switzerland and end their life with the help of the Swiss Dignitas organisation since then 217 British people have used its assisted-dying services.
Today programme presenter Evan Davis spoke to Win Crew, whose husband Reg was the second British person to commit assisted suicide at Dignitas.
The Liverpool Care Pathway and its discontents by Sebastian Tarwater, Christian Today (10/27/12) – As fall-outs between pro-life campaigners go, this one has yet to surface, but it could turn for the worse. The tension is over whether or not the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) is being used as a form of euthanasia.
In June Dr Patrick Pullicino, a neurologist, claimed that the Pathway was an “assisted death pathway”. According to the doctor, patients are being placed on the LCP without clear evidence that they are close to death, while the sensationalised Daily Mail headline ran: “Top doctor’s chilling claim: The NHS kills off 130,000 elderly patients every year” – where 130,000 is the total number of patients who are put on the LCP out of the 450,000 that are terminally ill. In other words, the majority of people who are close to death are not put on the Pathway. (more)
THIS IS THE PATH TO DEATH, PEOPLE by Camilla Tominey , Express.co.uk (10/28/12) – Since it was rolled out across the country in 2004, it has received three glowing audits, the endorsement of this Government and, just this month, the public support of 20 respected organisations representing millions of patients, carers, doctors and nurses.
Yet last week the Association of Palliative Medicine bowed to pressure from a lobby of Roman Catholic doctors, pro-life groups, some media and a small number of distressed and grieving relatives to order a review into the Pathway.
Was this a victory for patients’ rights or capitulation to media hysteria and public misunderstanding? (more)
Tony Nicklinson’s widow to call for Scotland to legalise assisted suicide by Auslan Cramb, Telegraph.co.uk (10/30/12) – The widow of the right-to-die campaigner Tony Nicklinson is expected to call this week for Scotland to become the first part of the UK to change the law on assisted suicide.
Jane Nicklinson, 56, will appear at a conference in Edinburgh with the MSP Margo MacDonald, who has already tried and failed to make assisted suicide legal north of the border.
The conference on Friday will also hear from Ludwig Minelli, founder of Dignitas, the assisted dying organisation in Switzerland.
Among Ms MacDonald’s new proposals is a suggestion that a “licensed facilitator”, a so-called “friend at the end”, would have to be present when someone was at the point of ending their own life.
The facilitator could be a doctor, social worker, or close friend but not a relative or anyone who stood to gain from the death. (more)
Thoughts of the famous and infamous about
God, religion, beliefs, faith, atheism, skepticism and more
“We, as human beings, are becoming conscious of ourselves as whole beings, both Human and Divine… and we are learning to adapt to that situation!”
“No one ever believes they could die until they do and then they realize they didn’t… life goes on!!!”
“Dying is actually waking up!”
“At some point, healing may not mean stopping the disease process but may bring about a necessary soul healing for which the transition process is the perfect beginning of one’s spiritual growth.”
“We have the sleep of forgetfulness when we transition into the physical world and the clarity of awakened consciousness when we transition back home.”
— Diane Goble
“When a man is seventy-five he cannot help sometimes thinking about death,” wrote the great philosopher and poet Goethe. “The thought of it leaves me perfectly calm, for I am convinced that our spirit is absolutely indestructible…it is like the sun which only seems to sink and in reality never sinks at all.”
The eminent Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung said that it is psychologically beneficial to have death as a goal toward which to strive. Mozart called death the key to unlocking the door to true happiness. Shakespeare wrote that when we are prepared for death, life is sweeter. The French philosopher Michel de Montaigne said that “to practice death is to practice freedom.”
Do prayers help people to make their transition?
“Awakening only comes when realization dawns. If you have knowledge, then your awakening is much quicker, much faster. We have to fight ignorance, misunderstanding, superstition, false creeds, erroneous theologies, all of which do not help to prepare the soul for its new life. Before these are conquered, the soul has gradually to accustom itself and there is a long period of rest. As in your world you have hospitals for bruised and injured bodies, we have to treat bruised and injured souls. But where an individual has rendered great service, and love, goodwill, affection and prayer accompany his passing into my world, then the awakening is speeded, for all those vibrations help him” (‘TEACHINGS OF SILVER BIRCH’ ed. A.W.Austen).
John Jacob Astor, who went down with the Titanic– apparently Astor complained in after-death communication:
“Why did no one ever tell me these things? Why should humanity not be taught differently before death?”
His choice was not a choice between living and dying.
His was a choice between dying one way or dying another way.
To fear death is nothing other than to think oneself wise when one is not.
For it is to think one knows what one does not know.
No one knows whether death may not even turn out to be the greatest blessings of human beings.
And yet people fear it as if they knew for certain it is the greatest evil.
After your death you will be what you were before your birth.
Do everything with a mind that lets go.
If you let go a little, you will have a little peace.
If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.
If you let go completely, you will know complete peace and freedom.
Your struggles with the world will have come to an end.
– Achaan Chah
Death is not the greatest loss in life.
The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.
The bitterest tears shed over graves
are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.
–Harriet Beecher Stowe
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
Seeing death as the end of life
is like seeing the horizon as the end of the ocean.
Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do.
When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.
When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle.
Then I realized that the Lord does not work that way so I stole one and
asked Him to forgive me.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
There once was a time when all people believed in God and the church ruled.
This time was called the Dark Ages.
Religion has actually convinced people that there`s an invisible man — living in the sky — who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever `til the end of time! …But He loves you.
Religion is regarded by the common people as true,
by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
–Seneca the Younger 4 b.c.- 65 a.d.
Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions.
And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence.
Do not pray in my school, and I will not think in your church.
I do not think it is necessary to believe that the same God who has given us our senses, reason, and intelligence wished us to abandon their use,
giving us by some other means the information that we could gain through them.
Philosophy is questions that may never be answered.
Religion is answers that may never be questioned.
You can not convince a believer of anything; for their belief is
not based on evidence, it is based on a deep-seated need to believe.
Blind faith is an ironic gift to return to the Creator of human intelligence.
We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing
all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for
His own mistakes.
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to
the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.
–George Bernard Shaw
You are basically killing each other to see who has got the better imaginary friend.
I still say a church steeple with a lightning rod on top shows a lack of confidence.
The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round,
for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a
shadow than in the church.
Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.
With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things.
But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops.
The World is divided into armed camps ready to commit genocide just because we can’t agree on whose fairy tales to believe.
The essence of Christianity is told us in the Garden of Eden history.
The fruit that was forbidden was on the tree of knowledge.
The subtext is, All the suffering you have is because you wanted to find out
what was going on.
The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshiped anything but himself.
–Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890)
To have an invisible friend at the age of eight is charming and not a cause for concern.
To have an invisible friend in adulthood is however a cause for concern and could be considered psychotic.
So how exactly does giving them the name of a deity change that opinion?
Religion does three things quite effectively:
Divides people, Controls people, Deludes people.
–Carlespie Mary Alice McKinney
I don’t believe in God because I don’t believe in Mother Goose.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the
sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is
beautiful and his children smart.
–H. L. Mencken
I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I
do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming
feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.
As people become more intelligent they care less for preachers and more for teachers.
–Robert G. Ingersoll
We must conduct research and then accept the results. If they
don’t stand up to experimentation, Buddha`s own words must be rejected.
–Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, 1988
Which is it, is man one of God`s blunders or is God one of man’s?
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day;
teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime;
give a man religion and he will die praying for a fish.
The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.
The easy confidence with which I know another man’s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.
People who don’t like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn’t have such funny beliefs.
I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes;
but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent.
–Arthur C. Clarke
Those who believe absurdities will commit atrocities.
The sailor does not pray for wind, he learns to sail.
But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by
not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without
having any purpose — which is the way it really is, as far as I can
tell, possibly. It doesn’t frighten me.
Atheism is more than just the knowledge that gods do not exist, and that religion is either a mistake or a fraud.
Atheism is an attitude, a frame of mind that looks at the world objectively, fearlessly, always trying to understand all things as a part of nature.
Man created God in his image: intolerant, sexist, homophobic and violent.
Doesn’t it bother you that you put more logical thought into choosing a car than you do in choosing a god?
Imagine a future in which millions of our descendants murder each other over rival interpretations of Star Wars or Windows 98.
Could anything – anything – be more ridiculous? And yet, this would be no more ridiculous that the world we are living in.
If God exists, I hope he has a good excuse.
He that will not reason is a bigot;
he that cannot reason is a fool;
he that dares not reason is a slave.
Be thankful that you have a life, and forsake your vain and presumptuous desire for a second one.
Why should I allow that same God to tell me how to raise my kids, who had to drown His own?
–Robert G. Ingersoll
George Bush says he speaks to god every day, and Christians love him for it. I
f George Bush said he spoke to god through his hair dryer, they would think he was mad.
I fail to see how the addition of a hair dryer makes it any more absurd.
Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o,
and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.
Eskimo: If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?
Priest: No, not if you did not know.
Eskimo: Then why did you tell me?
–Annie Dillard, “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”
Is it not better to place a question mark upon a problem while seeking an answer than to put the label ‘God’ there and consider the matter closed?
‘Faith’ means not wanting to know what is true.
So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.
Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions.
It has served us well, this myth of Christ.
–Pope Leo X
If god doesn’t like the way I live,
Let him tell me, not you.
Men rarely (if ever) managed to dream up a god superior to themselves.
Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
–Robert A Heinlein
Certainly I see the scientific view of the world as incompatible with religion, but that is not what is interesting about it.
It is also incompatible with magic, but that also is not worth stressing.
What is interesting about the scientific world view is that it is true,
inspiring, remarkable and that it unites a whole lot of phenomena under a single heading.
The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.
–Delos B. McKown
The objections to religion are of two sorts – intellectual and moral. The intellectual objection is that there is no reason to suppose any religion true; the moral objection is that religious precepts date from a time when men were more cruel than they are now and therefore tend to perpetuate inhumanities which the moral conscience of the age would otherwise outgrow.
Most people can’t bear to sit in church for an hour on Sundays.
How are they supposed to live somewhere very similar to it for eternity?
There’s this thing called being so open-minded your brains drop out.
Theology, by diverting the attention of men from this life to another, and by endeavoring to coerce all men into one religion, constantly preaching that this world is full of misery, but the next world would be beautiful — or not, as the case may be — has forced on men the thought of fear where otherwise there might have been the happy abandon of nature.
…it is a telling fact that, the world over, the vast majority of children follow the religion of their parents rather than any of the other available religions.
Without death, the influence of faith-based religion would be unthinkable.
Clearly, the fact of death is intolerable to us, and faith is little more than the shadow cast by our hope for a better life beyond the grave.
The foolish reject what they see and not what they think;
the wise reject what they think and not what they see.
Beliefs are what divide people.
Doubt unites them.
Deaths in the Bible.
God – 2,270,365 not including the victims of Noah’s flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, or the many plagues, famines, fiery serpents, etc. because no specific numbers were given.
Satan – 10.
There are all sorts of things that would be comforting.
I expect an injection of morphine would be comforting…
But to say that something is comforting is not to say that it’s true.
If Atheism is a religion, then health is a disease!
I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.
I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.
Religions are conclusions for which the facts of nature supply no major premises.
They said God was on high and he controlled the world and therefore we must pray against Satan.
Well, if God controls the world, he controls Satan.
For me, religion was full of misstatements and reaches of logic that I just couldn’t agree with.
Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.
Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration–
courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness,
and, above all, love of the truth.
To explain the unknown by the known is a logical procedure;
to explain the known by the unknown is a form of theological lunacy.
Faith is believing something you know ain’t true.
People in America look at extreme Muslims, and how they are brainwashed, but not at themselves.
It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
The power of god has given men the ability to realize that he does not exist.
–Andre dos Santos
I would argue that those who see god in everything are the ones who have a problem seeing life`s true value. They’re not able to see the enormous beauty in the immense improbability of our very existence. If god created us all for a purpose, we’re just doing a job, pawns in his cosmic game. But if we just happen be be here by random chance, then the lives we have are truly something to value, enjoy, and celebrate.
The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance…logic can be happily tossed out the window.
I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.
–Susan B. Anthony
People have suffered and become insane for centuries by the thought of eternal punishment after death. Wouldn’t it be better to depend on blind matter (…) than by a god who puts out traps for people, invites them to sin, and allows them to sin and commit crimes he could prevent. Only to finally get the barbarian pleasure to punish them in an excessive way, of no use for himself, without them changing their ways and without their example preventing others from committing crimes.
All thinking men are atheists.
It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere. … Science has been charged with undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward,
then we are a sorry lot indeed.
I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.
Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
–Mohandas K Gandhi
It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
We are afraid of the known and afraid of the unknown. That is our daily life and in that there is no hope, and therefore every form of philosophy, every form of theological concept, is merely an escape from the actual reality of what is. All outward forms of change brought about by wars, revolutions, reformations, laws and ideologies have failed
completely to change the basic nature of man and therefore of society.
The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason: The Morning Daylight appears plainer when you put out your Candle.
The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.
What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.
Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.
I think flying planes into a building was a faith-based initiative.
I think religion is a neurological disorder.
A Christian reads the bible. An atheist understands it.
“[I]f we assume a liberty interest but nevertheless say that, even assuming a liberty interest, a state can prohibit it entirely, that would be rather a conundrum.”
— Justice Rehnquist (re: assisted dying)