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  Living With Dignity Newsletter
  Vol. 19, June 2017
 

A Word from the Director

In light of the events of last month, it seems that requests to extend euthanasia do not take holidays.

In Quebec, barely a month after the publication of a letter by the secretary of the College of Physicians – in which he expressed his concern about a growing “pressure demanding a form of death à la carte” and in which he denounced those who interpret refusals of euthanasia as a form of exclusion – lawyer Jean-Pierre Ménard is challenging before the courts the cases of two people living with disabilities who were refused the assistance of a physician to kill themselves. The plaintiffs requested the removal of the “reasonably foreseeable death” clause of the federal law as well as the “end of life” requirement in the Quebec law.

Meanwhile, the first hearings of the long-awaited trial of Michel Cadotte – a man accused of killing his wife suffering from Alzheimers by suffocating her with a pillow – revealed that the he now has a “hard time” living with his actions to the point of having “an urgent need to consult a psychologist.” In spite of everything, Mr. Cadotte will plead “compassion” to justify the murder of his wife who had already claimed that she “would rather die than find herself in a CHSLD.”

Thus, instead of leading to ways of improving living conditions in CHSLDs, this turn of events will have a direct impact on one of the extensions currently being studied at the federal level. In fact, experts are presently wondering whether it is socially acceptable to end the life of a person with a form of dementia despite the fact that they will no longer be able to express their consent at the moment of death.

Meanwhile, in British Columbia, a trial began to examine the constitutionality of the federal law. For the courts, the ultimate issue will be whether the criteria of “reasonably foreseeable death” should be seen as a “safeguard” or, as the plaintiffs argue, a “barrier to access” that deprives people of their “right to die.”

Clearly, the venom inherent in any law legalizing a form of assisted suicide continues imperturbably to spread into our social system. Barely a year has passed since the Federal and Quebec legislation came into force, and we are already seeing a number of legal appeals calling for the extension of assisted suicide to other “exceptional cases.”

At the heart of these various cases brought before the courts – behind the thick emotional smoke and ad-nauseam repeated use of the word “compassion” – there is, in fact, an extremely important social issue for our collective future: what value will society place on people living with a disability? This question is closely linked with the following response we offer: will we allow the state to endorse and reinforce the prejudices that are attached to people living with a disability – the label of living a life “unworthy of being lived”? Or will we, on the contrary, fight against these ignoble prejudices?

For our part, as was the case in my article published in the Huffington Post, be assured that Living with Dignity will continue to make the voices heard of those who want to build a caring society rather than one that facilitates the death of those who are needing help. We count on your support, and we encourage you to participate in the debate by calling open lines, writing to journalists, or contacting your MPs, and by writing your comments under articles that defend our vision.

I thank you in advance for your support.

In solidarity,

______________________________

Aubert MARTIN, executive director, Living with Dignity


 

News in Quebec

  • June 13, 2017: lawyer Jean-Pierre Ménard is challenging before the courts the cases of two people living with disabilities who were refused the assistance of a physician to kill themselves, requesting the removal of the “reasonably foreseeable death” clause of the federal law as well as the “end of life” requirement in the Quebec law. (>>)

  • June 15, 2017: bail hearing for Michael Cadotte, alleged killer of his wife who suffered from Alzheimer's. Defense lawyers argue that his actions were carried out "in compassion". (>>) (>>)

 

News in Canada

  • June 12, 2017: a court case in British Columbia begins looking into the constitutionality of the federal government’s restriction of availability of euthanasia. (>>)

  • June 13, 2017: three organizations and five doctors are challenging the Ontario College of Physicians regulations on medical aid in dying before the courts in order to protect their conscience rights. (>>)

  • June 15, 2017: Manitoba’s Bill 34, which would provide protections for medical professionals who do not want to participate in assisted suicide, enters its second reading in the Legislative Assembly. (>>)

  • June 26, 2017: Elizabeth Wettlaufer, a nurse who confessed to killing 8 people in Ontario while on duty, is sentences to 25 years in prison. (>>) (>>)

 

VIVRE DANS LA DIGNITÉ DANS LES MÉDIAS (English and French)

  • Doctor who promoted Quebec’s euthanasia law having second thoughts:  Only weeks after the secretary of the Quebec College of Physicians, Dr. Yves Robert, wrote his May 10 reflection on whether the push for euthanasia has gone too far, two individuals have mounted a legal challenge against the Quebec law because of how restrictive it is. Aubert Martin, executive director of Living with Dignity, said Robert is now realizing euthanasia “has nothing to do” with doctors’ “medical competence, but is asking them to be a rubber stamp of someone’s request to die.” Read more >>

  • Euthanasie: les dérives vendues comme des progrès souhaités : blogue de Aubert Martin sur l’évolution du débat sur l’accessibilité à l’euthanasie. Lire l’article >>

 

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

  • BELGIUM: 32% of People Killed in Assisted Suicides Were Actually Euthanized Against Their Will: Research has demonstrated that 32% of assisted deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium were done without explicit request and that they share a strong co-relation with those over 80. Read more >>

  • SWITZERLAND: Ban on human ash disposal reinforced: Switzerland's highest court reinforced a ban prohibiting assisted suicide organisation Dignitas from spreading clients’ ashes outside of cemeteries in canton Zurich. Read more >>

  • UNITED STATES (CALIFORNIA): One Year of Legalized Assisted Suicide in California, Countless Unanswered Questions: June 9 will mark one year of legal assisted suicide in California. Although premature and lacking in reliable data, Compassion & Choices is already declaring the law is “working very well”, the report leaves more questions than answers. Read more >>

  • BELGIQUE : un bilan négatif après 15 ans de dépénalisation de l'euthanasie : Un symposium s’est tenu le 11 mai dernier en Belgique à l’occasion des 15 ans de la loi légalisant l’euthanasie et à l'initiative d'un parlementaire. Dans ce cadre le professeur Deliens, directeur du End-of-Life Care Research Group, a critiqué l'encadrement de cette pratique. Selon lui, le contrôle exercé sur les demandes d'euthanasie demeure « marginal » et « très rudimentaire ». Lire l’article >>

  • ÉTATS-UNIS (CALIFORNIE) : un an après la légalisation de l'aide médicale à mourir, plus de 500 prescriptions : Une étude menée par Compassion and Choices un an après la légalisation du suicide assisté, a mis en évidence que plus de 500 personnes avaient obtenu une prescription de médicaments pour se donner la mort en Californie. Lire l’article >>

  • ÉTATES-UNIS (CALIFORNIE) : Un médecin accusé d'avoir tué un enfant pour prélever ses organes : En Californie, 4 ans après les faits, un médecin est accusé d'avoir tué un enfant pour récupérer ses organes. Le 12 juin dernier, une enquête a été ouverte. Lire l’article >>

     

 

Take Action in July

  • 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!

 

Recommended readings and documents (English and French)

  • L’euthanasie pourrait stimuler le don d’organes, conclut une étude : Entretenue avec Jan Bollen, de l’Université de Maastricht, auteur principal de l’étude publiée dans le Journal de l’Association médicale américaine (JAMA). Lire l’article >>

 

Press Review (English and French)

  • "Show me the money". Market forces and the law of unintended consequences: That 'inheritance impatience' is noted as a significant factor in abuse of elderly Australians is a hardly surprising. The wealthiest generation that has ever lived and likely will every have lived - The Baby Boomers - are beginning to pass from this world; not quickly enough, it seems, for relatives and carers seeking access to inheritance. Read more >>

  • 5 Mistaken Reasons Why People Want Assisted Suicide: A list of reasons why people may want assisted suicide and answers to them. Read more >>

  • Assisted dying laws: Call for dementia sufferers to be included: As the Andrews government prepares to introduce laws giving terminally ill people the right to a physician-assisted death in Victoria, attention has turned to the vexed question of who should qualify – and whether people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease ought to be included. Read more >>

  • Assisted Suicide in Select Cases? by Stephanie Gray: If someone is at the end of his life and his last dying wish is to have assistance with suicide rather than continue “waiting” for life to naturally end, shouldn’t we give it to him? There are, however, a number of issues that emerge in response to this very question. Read more >>

  • Why is Parliament Not Serious About Preventing Suicide? Right to life asks how can members of parliament seriously support the government’s suicide prevention strategy and at the same time support the end of life choice bill which if passed will have the government paying doctors to kill their patients or assist in their suicide? Read more >>

  • Dying patients study reveals ‘brain surge’ in final moments of life: A study, published this month in the Journal of Pain and Symptom management, found almost three quarters of the patients surveyed (73%) had a spike in brain activity at the time of death. Read more >>

  • Euthanasia Abandons Despairing People to Their Worst Fears: UK actress Claire King has announced she is seriously pondering euthanasia due to fears of being a “burden” when she can no longer care of herself. We can all empathize with those fears. But note: King’s desire to die has to do with existential anguish, not unbearable pain, which is euthanasia’s selling point. Read more >>

  • Euthanasia bill crushed in Tasmania: The Tasmanian Parliament recently debated the latest assisted suicide and euthanasia bill to come before an Australian Parliament. The final vote saw the ‘Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2016', defeated by a vote of two to one. Read more >>

  • Elder abuse is a clear and present danger in the euthanasia debate: June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Timed to coincide with this international day, the Australian Law Reform Commission has released its final report into a long-running inquiry on Elder Abuse and the Law. Read more >>

  • If you have the ‘why’ of living, you can find the ‘how’: A book review of Max Chochinov’s Dignity Therapy; a book explaining how palliative care workers can best maintain the dignity of their patients. Read more >>

  • Judge: Nurse who killed 8, broke her trust by terminating life. What about euthanasia? Considering the fact that Wettlaufer, the nurse who confessed to killing 8 people in Ontario, was not caught until she told a counselor what she had done, Canada’s self-reporting system raises a number of concerns. Read more >>

  • Michelle Carter: The unacceptable face of assisted suicide: The bizarre and disturbing case of Michelle Carter, rumbling on for over two years, hit the headlines again recently as she was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for her involvement in the suicide of her 18-year-old boyfriend, Conrad Roy. The Carter case raises this question: is it legal to assist a suicide? Read more >>

  • Narelle Henson: Step off sidelines in euthanasia debate: Euthanasia is a contentious issue and if there is one thing we can’t afford to do, it is to sit on the sidelines. Read more >>

  • Offered Assisted Suicide in Place of Treatment: The economic gravitational force for assisted suicide is obvious. It costs a few thousand dollars for an assisted suicide, but perhaps hundreds of thousands to provide patients treatment and interventions so they don’t want it. Thus, it is no surprise that some stories go underreported. Read more >>

  • The Progressive Case Against Assisted Suicide: We all must take a skeptical look and acknowledge the role that money and power play in end-of- life decisions, and how assisted suicide is being used by some health care companies and decision-makers to increase their bottom line by denying treatment. Read more >>

  • Toronto doctor who compared assisted dying to Holocaust won't chair advance request review:  A Toronto doctor who once likened assisted dying to the Holocaust is no longer in charge of a federally mandated process to determine whether Canadians should be able to make advance requests for medical help to end their lives. Read more >>

  • With assisted suicide, context is everything: Each dying patient has their own context and belief frame for their “suffering.” Each case has its own mix of causes, and things that make it worse or better. When we fully understand what’s going on, it is rare that suffering can’t be greatly palliated. It then follows that the perceived need to end life to alleviate suffering is a very rare occurrence. Read more >>

  • Witness says teenager who killed himself after girlfriend’s texts researched suicide: Prosecutors say Massachusetts teenager Conrad Roy was coaxed by text messages from his girlfriend into killing himself had researched suicide online, a defence witness testified on Friday. Read more >>

  • Coma artificiel : elle se réveille et raconte ce qu’elle a entendu : Une femme de 40 ans, Jennyfer, plongée dans le coma le 14 mars 2015, suite à un arrêt cardiaque, s’est réveillée et raconte qu’elle a entendu la conversation du médecin. Lire l’article >>

  • Des compagnies d'assurances privilégient l'aide à mourir plutôt que des traitements : Aux Etats-Unis, dans les états où le suicide assisté est légalisé, les compagnies d’assurance refusent de couvrir les traitements vitaux de certains patients et leur offrent plutôt "de l’aide pour mettre fin à leur vie". Lire l’article >>

  • Ethique ou morale : pourquoi les distinguer ? Faut-il invoquer l’éthique ou la morale ? Si l’hésitation n’est pas nouvelle, la distinction revient en force chaque fois qu’il est question d’élargir le champ d’action de la science. Lire l’article >>

  • Il y a 15 ans, la Belgique dépénalisait l’euthanasie: qui sont ces 14.753 patients et pourquoi ont-ils voulu mourir? Ce dimanche, cela fait 15 ans que l’euthanasie a été dépénalisée en Belgique. Tous les deux ans, la Commission fédérale chargée du contrôle et de l’application de la loi dresse un rapport. On apprend par exemple que depuis 2002, 14.753 personnes ont été officiellement euthanasiées en Belgique. Ce chiffre est en augmentation chaque année. Lire l’article >>

  • L’aide médicale à mourir et les leçons de l’histoire : Dans le débat sur l’aide médicale à mourir, nous ne pouvons ignorer l’histoire de l’euthanasie et ses zones d'ombre. Lire l’article >>

  • Le conseil de l'Europe veut mettre fin aux discriminations et à l'exclusion des personnes âgées : Dans la région Europe de l'Organisation mondiale de la santé, 4 millions de personnes âgées seraient maltraitées chaque année. Ce constat a conduit l’Assemblée parlementaire du Conseil de l’Europe à proposer une série de 14 mesures aux Etats membres pour préserver « Les droits humains des personnes âgées et leur prise en charge intégrale » Lire l’article >>

  • Le parcours du combattant des personnes handicapées : Malgré ce qu’on peut croire, le Québec est loin d’être un modèle en matière d’accès aux bâtiments pour les handicapés. Année après année, de nouveaux commerces ouvrent leurs portes en toute légalité même s’ils sont complètement inaccessibles à une partie importante de la population. Lire l’article >>

  • Moek, 99 ans, avale les médicaments devant la conduire vers la mort: son fils filme ses derniers instants pour prouver qu'elle était consciente : Ça fait 15 ans que l’euthanasie a été dépénalisée en Belgique. Les Pays-Bas ont également fait le pas en 2002. Là-bas, un procès déchire le monde judiciaire: celui d'Albert Heringa, un homme ayant euthanasié sa mère alors qu'elle n'était pas malade. Elle estimait simplement avoir suffisamment vécu. Une histoire qui a encouragé une partie du politique à élargir la loi actuelle. Lire l’article >>

  • Merci de me laisser être en désaccord : Patrick Lagacé a proposé une plus grande ouverture de la loi sur l’aide médicale à mourir dans La Presse. Mais dans l’article « Merci de me laisser partir », on ne retrouve pas un exposé théorique, des arguments rationnels ni une suite de raisonnements appuyés par des études et des chiffres. Lire l’article >>

  • Mourir à la maison, un souhait réalisable? L'objectif fixé par le ministre de la Santé Gaétan Barrette de permettre à deux fois plus de malades de mourir à la maison, plutôt qu'à l'hôpital, est réalisable, selon le directeur général de la Société de soins palliatifs du Grand Montréal, Bérard Riverin. Lire l’article >>

     

 

Videos to watch (French and English)

  • The Euthanasia Deception: A trailer for the new documentary exploring assisted suicide and euthanasia in Belgium. Watch video >>

  • Physician Assisted Suicide - The Real Effects: Insurance companies are denying treatment & access to patients who want it. Dr. Callister’s first-hand experience with his patients is disturbing. 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!