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  Living With Dignity Newsletter
  Vol. 15, February 2017
 

A Word from the Director

February was particularly paradoxical ... and disturbing. Although the month began with Suicide Prevention Week with its theme "Suicide is not an option", it ended with loud claims from all political parties that the Quebec Euthanasia Law should be extended so that it can offer the "option" of medical suicide to people with a form of dementia...

It all strarted with the murder of a woman with Alzheimer's disease in Montreal which resulted in new pressure to extend euthanasia, this time to make it accessible to persons unable to give informed consent. Although the investigation into the circumstances of the tragedy is still ongoing, although the man in question admitted to having "cracked [because] nobody asked me how I was doing", all political parties have jumped on this occasion to draw their own conclusion: the government should extend euthanasia to people unable to give informed consent.

Living with Dignity of course rose up against this poisonous logic. We quickly issued a press release denouncing the Quebec government's eagerness to consider euthanasia instead of questioning the lack of resources to support caregivers who care for a loved one suffering from a dementia like Alzheimer's. At the same time, I published a text to warn against our society's view of people made vulnerable by sickness, old age or disability, which now tends to classify them in a category of "unworthy" persons.

Yet at the beginning of the month, the Netherlands had provided us with a shocking example of the consequences to be foreseen if Quebec law is extended to persons suffering from mental illness by means of an advance directive when a woman has been euthanized against her will. Indeed, one of the problems raised by extending the law to people who are not able to make a decision because of their mental illness is that there will be no way to ensure that the initial written request still reflects the will of the person at the time of his killing by a physician.

Be assured that Living with Dignity will continue to raise his voice and to be the echo of your voice in the debate around this thorny issue which, once again, puts our society at risk of being disfigured. We count on your support and encourage you to participate in the debates by calling the open lines, by writing to reporters, by contacting your local MNA and by writing your comments under the articles that promote our vision.

I thank you in advance for your support.

In solidarity,

______________________________

Aubert MARTIN, executive director, Living with Dignity


 

News in Quebec

  • February 1: businessman Alexander Taillefer pleads for Quebec to invest more to prevent suicide online (>>) as part of the 27th Suicide Prevention Week with the theme "Suicide is not an option".

  • February 21: A man allegedly suffocated his 60-year-old spouse allegedly to end the suffering of his wife who was suffering from advanced stage Alzheimer’s (>>)

  • February 23: Health Minister Gaetan Barrette opens the door for public debate on extending assisted suicide to patients unable to give consent; such as those with Alzheimers. (>>)

 

News in Canada

  • February 12: 188 physician-assisted suicides have been registered in British Columbia between June and January. (>>)

  • February 27: some doctors who have helped people end their lives are officially backing out of assisted death as they are no longer willing to participate in assisted death because of emotional distress or fear of prosecution if their decisions are second-guessed (>>)

 

Living with Dignity in the media (English and French)

  • Prévention du suicide ou aide au suicide? dans son article, Aubert explique qu'en Europe, des cas douloureux de suicide ont un point extrêmement troublant en commun : ils ont été commis avec l'aide d'un médecin, par euthanasie ou par suicide assisté, selon les critères d'une loi cautionnée par les gouvernements respectifs de leur pays. Devant cette réalité, il pose la question : à long terme, est-ce que l'aide au suicide remplacera la prévention du suicide? Lire l’article >>

  • Euthanasie et Alzheimer : un pas dans la mauvaise direction : dans son article, Aubert s'interroge sur le statut qu'on accorde aux personnes atteintes d'une forme de démence comme l'Alzheimer. Est-ce qu'on parle d'une sous-catégorie d'êtres humains qu'on pourrait éliminer si leur « ancienne personne » en avait fait la demande? Existe-t-il donc des catégories de personnes « indignes »? Selon lui, il est encore temps de changer notre regard sur les personnes rendues vulnérables par la maladie, la vieillesse ou le handicap. Lire l’article >>

  • Euthanasie et Alzheimer: chronique d’un dérapage annoncé: communiqué de presse de Vivre dans la Dignité suite à la volonté du gouvernement du Québec d'élargir l'accès à l'euthanasie. Lire le communiqué >>

  • Aubert Martin en entrevue: réaction suite à la publication par l’Association médicale canadienne d'une étude portant sur les économies potentielles liées à l'euthanasie. Écouter l'entrevue >> 

  • Euthanasia and Alzheimer’s: Canada takes a step in the wrong direction: in his article, Aubert wonders about the status of people with dementia such as Alzheimer’s. Are we talking about a subcategory of human beings that could be eliminated if their “old self” asked for it? Are there categories of “unworthy” people? For him there is still time to change our perspective on people made vulnerable by sickness, old age, or disability. Read article >>

 

Take Action in March

  • SUPPORT OUR EFFORTS so that we can continue to speak on your behalf:

           

  • Purchase the Euthanasia Deception Documentary, a thought-provoking, emotionally-gripping film that will impact hearts and minds by effectively dismantling the fallacies of euthanasia proponents’ appeals to compassion and autonomy. APurchase or rent documentary here >>
  • Support Project Value by liking their Facebook page (>>). This initiative offers videos made by people with disabilities to challenge the popular idea of what it means to have a disability. Each video begins with a description of the diagnosis and prognosis of the person and a description of their functional limitations. Then the person talks about their quality and value of life beyond their condition. Share!

 

Press Review (English and French)

  • A terminal patient dedicated to fighting assisted suicide legislation: James Hanson has been fighting an up and down battle against an aggressive strain of brain cancer, and has dedicated the last year and a half to fighting assisted suicide legislation across the country. Read more >>

  • Assisted suicide vs. liberal values: Led by Democratic legislators, last week saw the Medical Aid in Dying Act introduced in the state Legislature of New York. But when you think deeply about the practice of assisted suicide, it is antithetical to liberal values. Read more >>

  • Death with Dignity? Dutch doc drugged woman, had family hold her down in order to 'euthanize' her: Euthanasia’s morality and legality may become a bigger issue in coming weeks, as the Senate takes up the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Especially in light of a recent Dutch case. Read more >>

  • Euthanasia ‘Safeguards’ Soon Seen as ‘Hurdles’: Safeguards passed by Parliament restricting the availability of euthanasia are seen as hurdles rather than vital protections. Read more >>

  • Euthanasia controversy: doctor rebuked for helping uncertain woman die: For the first time in Dutch history a doctor in the Netherlands was reprimanded for giving euthanasia to a dementia patient while it was not conclusively established that euthanasia was what the woman wanted at that time. Read more >>

  • Euthanasia's goals: save money, collect organs: Two years ago, Canada's Supreme Court legalized assisted suicide and there are hints that the country has moved toward devaluing human life. Read more >>

  • Fed-up parents launch advocacy group: Autism Coalition of Quebec: In response to insufficient action, several parents of children with autism have formed Autism Coalition of Quebec, an advocacy group. Read more >>

  • Murder of woman with dementia leads to demand for more euthanasia: The alleged murder in Montréal of a woman with dementia has led to renewed pressure by the euthanasia lobby to extend euthanasia to incompetent people. Read more >>

  • Give them sterile razors: Should patients who want to self-harm be assisted, so as not to offend their personal autonomy? Read more >>

  • Palliative care: an evolutionary turn in dark times: Without palliative care, which requires budgets, training, and accredited providers, long-suffering patients will be left to turn to support medically assisted suicide and euthanasia. Read more >>

  • Frank Wilson: Right-to-die is the gateway to euthanasia: The right-to-die movement uses misleading ­language to sanitise what is being campaigned for, most ­notably the euphemistic ‘right-to-die’. But the debate is about whether or not we have a right to be killed. Read more >>

  • The astonishing witness of locked-in patients: Contrary to expectations, the question "Are you happy?" resulted in a consistent "yes" response from patients with Locked-in Syndrome. Despite their terrible disability, they are satisfied with life. Read more >>

  • The Sad Expansion of Euthanasia: According to a 2015 report in the Financial Times, about 3 percent of all Dutch deaths are now the result of euthanasia. Even more horrifying is that you no longer have to be terminally ill to be euthanized in many places. Mental illness is an increasingly common justification. Read more >>

  • Dr. Coelho's ‘crazy’ battle for conscience rights: Dr. Coelho from London, Ontario, has been resisting the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s policy which would force Ontario doctors to refer requests for assisted suicide. Read more >>

  • Et si l’aide à mourir c’était ceci aussi…. Une personne me partageait récemment le récit de sa dernière rencontre avec un de ses amis au moment crucial de son dernier souffle... Les paroles échangées ont été un moment déterminant pour lui et probablement pour son ami, un homme dont la vie n’avait pas été facile. Lire l’article >>

  • Forcée de chercher de l’aide sur Kijiji : Une femme de 44 ans atteinte d’une maladie dégénérative est forcée de se tourner vers Kijiji afin de trouver de l’aide pour simplement pouvoir se coucher dans son lit le soir. Lire l’article >>

  • Handicapés : des soins déremboursés dans certains départements : Des séances de kiné ou d’orthophonie pour enfants handicapés ne sont plus prises en charge par la Sécurité sociale dans certains départements. Familles et associations dénoncent un désengagement aux conséquences dramatiques. Lire l’article >>

  • Les CHSLD du Québec sont-ils faits pour de jeunes résidents? Selon la Coalition Avenir Québec, une personne sur dix hébergée dans ces centres a moins de 64 ans. Lire l’article >>

  • Les hommes de 45 à 64 ans sont les plus vulnérables au suicide : Alors que le Québec souligne la Semaine nationale de la prévention du suicide, la situation chez les hommes de 45 à 64 ans, qui se suicident en grand nombre, demeure toutefois préoccupante. Lire l’article >>

  • Sa vieille tante coincée à l'hôpital à cause de la lourdeur du système : La présence des proches joue un rôle majeur dans la façon dont une personne hébergée en CHSLD y évolue. Mais le système complique parfois la vie des familles qui désirent être présentes pour aider les leurs. Lire l’article >>

  • Dernières douceurs : Cent fois ces dernières années, j’ai écrit et commenté sur l’aide médicale à mourir. J’y voyais un geste de civilisation désirable. Mille fois, on m’a répondu, pour marquer son opposition à la piqûre ultime : il y a les soins palliatifs, pour soulager la douleur. Lire l’article >>

 

 

Euthanasia and assisted suicide news around the world (English and French)

  • BELGIQUE : Un enfant euthanasié en Belgique: il s'agit du deuxième cas en un an : Un deuxième enfant a été euthanasié en Belgique. Lire l’article >>
  • BELGIUM: Doctors Are Euthanizing Patients Without Their Consent: A study published this month in the Journal of Medical Ethics examined the “deliberate” euthanasia of patients in Belgium without their explicit, voluntary consent as required by law. Read more >>

  • PAYS-BAS : Une « mobilisation sans précédent » contre l’euthanasie des personnes démentes : Au Pays-Bas, une « mobilisation sans précédent » prend forme contre l’euthanasie des personnes démentes. Trois cent cinquante médecins ont signé une pétition exprimant leur refus « de mettre fin à la vie d’êtres humains sans défense ». Lire l’article >>

  • PAYS-BAS: Une femme « euthanasiée contre sa volonté » : Au Pays-Bas, un médecin sera jugé pour avoir réalisé une « euthanasie à l’encontre de la volonté de la patiente ». Bien que cette affaire soit « choquante », le Comité régional d’examen a estimé que « le médecin avait agi de bonne foi ».  Lire l’article >>

  • NETHERLANDS: Doctor who asked dementia patient's family to hold her down while she gave lethal injection cleared: A Dutch doctor who ordered an elderly dementia patient’s family to hold her down as she was given a lethal euthanasia injection has been cleared of any wrongdoing. Read more >>

  • NETHERLANDS: Most euthanasia deaths linked to loneliness, says Dutch study: A majority of people killed by euthanasia in the Netherlands for so-called psychiatric reasons had complained of loneliness, a new study has found. Read more >>

  • NETHERLANDS: Netherlands review committee says euthanasia on woman with dementia was done in “good faith”: A Netherlands Regional euthanasia Review Committee has decided that a forced euthanasia done on a woman with dementia, where the doctor sedated the woman by secretly putting the drugs in her coffee, was done in “good faith.” Read more >>

  • UNITED STATES (NEW MEXICO): NM Assisted Suicide Bill Moves Toward Death on Demand: But a bill in New Mexico would open those who can help kill to nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants. Read more >>

  • UNITED STATES (NEW YORK): Court ruling doesn't allow doctor-assisted suicides in N.Y.: Mentally competent, terminally ill patients have a right to refuse medical treatment in New York State — but doctors do not have the right to help them die, the Appellate Division in Manhattan ruled. Read more >>

  • UNITED STATES (OREGON): Oregon 2016 assisted suicide report. Under-reporting of assisted suicide deaths? The 2016 Oregon annual assisted suicide report is similar to prior years. The report implies that the deaths were voluntary (self-administered), but the information in the report does not address that subject. Read more >>

  • UNITED STATES (OREGON): Oregon Bill Would Allow Starvation of Alzheimer's Patients, Could Set Up Death Panels: A bill introduced in the Oregon Senate would drastically alter current advance directive laws, diminishing the effects of powers of attorney and allowing incapacitated patients to be refused ordinary food and water. It would also mandate the formation of an unelected state committee to create a new advance directive form. Read more >>

  • UNITED STATES (WASHINGTON D.C.): D.C.’s ‘Death with Dignity’ Bill Could Cut Costs — and Compassion: The recent passing of the Death with Dignity Act in the District of Columbia could lead to abuse and a lack of accountability. Read more >>

  • UNITED STATES: 'Death with Dignity' to Face Hurdles Under Gorsuch: The Supreme Court nominee is being considered as aid in dying is expanding in the United States. Read more >>

  • UNITED STATES: Judge Neil Gorsuch: Colorado native and DC veteran: Judge Neil Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, has written extensively against euthanasia and assisted suicide. Read more >>

  • UNITED STATES: Trump’s Supreme Court pick is deeply opposed to assisted suicide: President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is a constitutional originalist who opposes all forms of assisted suicide. Read more >>

 

Videos to watch (French and English)

  • The Euthanasia Deception Documentary: Watch trailer >>

  • Should doctors be forced to act against their conscience? Scott Radley discusses with guest Dr. Ramona Coelho the relevant considerations with referring requests for assisted suicide. Begins at 32m00. Listen to the broadcast >>

  • Make a Call for Conscience: The CPSO has a policy that require Doctors to refer for medical aid in dying (assisted suicide) against their conscience. Doctors from the Coalition for HealthCARE and conscience share how this policy affects them. Watch video >>

  • Medical expert discusses negative impacts of physician-assisted suicide: Dr. Joseph Marine an associate professor of medicine in the cardiology division at Johns Hopkins Hospital discusses negative impacts of physician-assisted suicide. Watch video >>

  • Why Legalizing #Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide is a Bad Idea: Youtuber Brian Holdsworth discusses some less-frequently heard considerations in the euthanasia and assisted suicide debate. Watch video >>

 

To make a donation is... to take action!

Our organization would not exist without the support of people who share our vision of human solidarity and our mission to promote good palliative care for all. With your contribution, we can act on your behalf by advocating in person (conferences, panels), in the media (interviews, articles, press releases), and on social networks (blogs, website, Facebook, Twitter).

Thus, by contributing, you are directly participating in defending future generations, especially vulnerable people, threatened by euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada.

Thank you for your active support!