Newsletter vol. 31

News in Quebec

News in Canada

April 3, 2019 : MORE QUEBECERS ARE SEEKING EUTHANASIA, REPORT SUGGESTS

The number of Quebecers seeking medically assisted death has been growing constantly since 2015, according to a report tabled in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

According to the report, produced by the Commission sur les soins de fin de vie, 1,632 people received euthanasia between Dec. 10, 2015, and March 31, 2018.

Here are the main numbers:

– 2462 requests

– 1632 euthanasias

– 10 times more euthanasias than predicted

– 67% administered in hospital, 20% at home, 10% in CHSLD, 1% in palliative care hospice

– Average age: 73 ans

– 98,3% of physicians don’t do euthanasia

– Main diagnosis: cancer (78%)

– Estimated vital prognosis: 6 months and under (90%)

– Of the 1492 requests that the Commission analyzed, 4% did not respect the law

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Read report (in french)

March 21, 2019 : ALBERTA'S PUBLICLY-FUNDED HOSPITALS SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO ALLOW ASSISTED DYING, POLL SAYS

A poll of Albertans shows that 80 per cent support the idea that publicly-funded hospitals in the province should be required to allow medically-assisted death if the hospital is physically capable of doing so.

As well, 77 per cent disagree with the province’s current practice of allowing hospitals to refuse to allow the service because of their beliefs or religious affiliation, says the poll.

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March 28, 2019 : ONTARIO EUTHANASIA DEATHS INCREASE BY 78%

The 2018 Ontario report states that there were 2529 reported assisted deaths since legalization (June 17, 2016)

According to the Ontario Coroner’s office there were 1499 reported assisted deaths in 2018, 841 reported assisted deaths in 2017 and 189 reported assisted deaths in 2016.

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April 3, 2019 : MINISTER GINETTE PETITPAS TAYLOR ANNOUNCES THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CANADIAN PAIN TASK FORCE

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health, announced the establishment of the Canadian Pain Task Force at the Canadian Pain Society’s 40th Annual Scientific Meeting in Toronto. The Canadian Pain Task Force will help the Government of Canada to address the barriers that may prevent people with chronic pain from receiving the health services they need.

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April 6, 2019 : INDIGENOUS PALLIATIVE CARE STRATEGY HELPS PEOPLE DIE AT HOME

Helping people in First Nations in Ontario develop a palliative care strategy for their community is an issue Holly Prince, who is a project manager at Lakehead University’s Centre for Research and Education on Aging and Health (CERAH) in Thunder Bay, has been working on for years.

Her efforts lead her to be named the Innovator of the Year, in 2018, by the International Congress on Palliative Care

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April 8, 2019 : MAJORITY OF CANADA'S NEW GENERATION OF DOCTORS WOULD OFFER EUTHANASIA, STUDY SAYS

A new study out of McGill University shows that the next generation of Canadian physicians will be more open to helping their ailing patients end their lives through medical assistance in dying (MAID).

Of 1,200 medical students surveyed during the 2016-2017 academic year, 71 per cent reported they would be willing to provide legal medical assistance in dying to their patients.

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April 9, 2019 : NOVA SCOTIA'S PRESUMED-CONSENT BILL FOR ORGAN DONATION POISED TO BECOME LAW

Nova Scotia legislation that presumes consent for organ donations is poised to become law, with a key official saying the new system will address concerns raised by civil libertarians and others.

Once passed, the legislation isn’t expected to take effect for at least a year to allow time for planning, education and public awareness.

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April 11, 2019 : FOR ANATOMY LABS IN SEARCH OF CADAVERS, ASSISTED-DYING LAW BRINGS SCHEDULED ARRIVALS, AND EHTICAL COMPLICATIONS

The legalization of euthanasia – called medical assistance in dying (MAID) — in Canada has resulted in some people choosing to donate their bodies to anatomy programs, but it has raised profound ethical issues.

Bruce Wainman, of McMaster University, said the anatomical scientist community needs to establish guidelines around these donations. There are issues about the appropriateness of accepting or using MAID body donations; communication with donors, informed consent, and the transparency surrounding MAID donation with staff, faculty and students.

“We had zero direction on this,” Dr. Wainman said. “There’s absolutely nothing in law talking about the acquisition of bodies after medical assistance in dying.”

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April 12, 2019: U.N. DISABILITY RIGHTS RAPPORTEUR CONCERNED WITH CANADA'S EUTHANASIA LAW

Ms Devandas Aguilar, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, met with Federal Government April 2nd-12th. On her report, she writes: 

” I am extremely concerned about the implementation of the legislation on medical assistance in dying from a disability perspective. I have been informed that there is no protocol in place to demonstrate that persons with disabilities have been provided with viable alternatives when eligible for assistive dying. I have further received worrisome claims about persons with disabilities in institutions being pressured to seek medical assistance in dying, and practitioners not formally reporting cases involving persons with disabilities. I urge the federal government to investigate these complaints and put into place adequate safeguards to ensure that persons with disabilities do not request assistive dying simply because of the absence of community-based alternatives and palliative care. ” 

Around the world

BELGIUM : EUTHANASIA TOURISM: IS THE E.U. ENCOURAGING ITS GROWTH?

Recently, euthanasia is getting attention due to another controversial subject: euthanasia tourism, a strange pairing of words as “tourism’ is typically associated with a joyful experience rather than a voluntary desire to end one’s life. 

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BELGIUM : WE DON'T WANT TO PAY FOR OLDIES, SAY BELGIANS

According to reports in the Belgian media of a survey of attitudes towards health care, 40% of Belgians (more amongst Dutch-speakers than French-speakers) believe that the social security expenses need to be kept in check “by no longer administering costly treatments that prolong the lives of over-85s”.

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BELGIUM : EUTHANASIA BECOMING 'DEFAULT WAY TO DIE' IN BELGIUM

“When we find someone who is requesting to die, who’s standing on the proverbial edge of a bridge, and instead of trying to talk them down the state is pushing them off,” Clarke says. 

And Clarke believes Belgium is now the ultimate cautionary tale for any nation that wants to legalize euthanasia, “I think we have to ask ourselves – is that the kind of society that we want to live in? Or do we want to live in a society with laws that say that vulnerable life should be protected and that all life, no matter what stage, no matter the health of the person, has dignity and value?”

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FRANCE : HUMAN RIGHTS COURT: FRENCH EUTHANASIA DOCTOR WON'T BE REINSTATED

The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday a French doctor who euthanized a terminally ill patient cannot be reinstated to practice medicine.

At issue was a decision by medical officials to strike Nicolas Bonnemaison from its medical register as a general practitioner following claims he caused the deaths of several terminally-ill patients years ago at a hospital in Bayonne, France.

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GERMANY : TOP GERMAN COURT TO DECIDE LEGALITY OF ASSISTED SUICIDE

Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court will hear oral arguments about whether medical associations and physicians should be allowed to aid terminally ill patients in their own deaths.

Physician-assisted suicide has been hotly contested in Germany since 2015, when the parliament outlawed the prescribing of life-ending drugs. A federal court case in 2017 deemed assisted suicide legal in extreme cases, but authorities have largely ignored the ruling — pitting political parties and various branches of the government against one another.

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INDIA : TEACHER RECRUITMENT TEST CANDIDATES SEEK NOD FOR EUTHANASIA

Teacher Recruitment Test (TRT) candidates met Human Rights Commission members at HRC office and pleaded permission for ‘mercy killing’ as their life has become miserable due to delay by the state PRC to give them appointment letters.

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IRLAND : MORE IRISH PEOPLE THAN EVER ARE SIGNING UP FOR ASSISTED SUICIDE CLINICS IN SWITZERLAND

Over the last decade 10 Irish people have died when deaths at the pair of Swiss centres are combined.

The larger dying centre, based near Zurich, had 44 Irish clients in December last year, while secondary centre Life Circle, founded in 2011, had three. That was a significant combined increase of 20 Irish people or 74 per cent compared to 2013 when Dignitas had 27 clients from this country and the smaller clinic had none.

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NEW ZEALAND : MORE THAN 90% OF SUBMISSIONS AGAINST BILL TO LEGALISE EUTHANASIA

The Care Alliance, which represents some groups opposed to euthanasia, analysed the nearly 38,000 submissions made to the Justice Select Committee on the End of Life Choice Bill.
Care Alliance Secretary Peter Thirkell said it was a record number of submissions for any bill, and more than 90 per cent were opposed.

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SPAIN: MAN ARRESTED OVER WIFE'S DEATH REVIVES EUTHANASIA DEBATE IN SPAIN

“He said his wife was terminally ill and that he had given her a substance to provoke her death so that she no longer suffered,” the spokesman added.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has promised to make Spain the fourth country in Europe to legalise euthanasia after Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands if he wins a majority in parliament — a move fiercely opposed by the main opposition conservative Popular Party (PP).

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UK: EUTHANASIA: ROYAL COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS ADOPTS NEUTRAL POSITION

Under UK law, it is illegal to encourage or assist a suicide.

Nearly 7,000 doctors voted in the online poll:

43% thought the college should oppose a change in the law
32% wanted the college to support a change
25% were neutral
And the college has shifted to a neutral stance because neither side achieved a majority of 60%.

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UK : PROFESSOR QUITS ROYAL COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS OVER NEW NEUTRAL STANCE

The chairman of the Royal College of Physicians’ ethics committee has resigned after it controversially dropped its opposition to legalising assisted suicide.

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USA (CALIFORNIA): CALIFORNIA ALLOWS ASSISTED SUICIDE DRUGS FOR TERMINALLY ILL, BUT HOSPITALS SET BARRIERS

Since 2016, a California law has allowed terminally ill patients to obtain and use aid-in-dying medications from their doctors. But nearly two-thirds of California hospitals have policies against prescribing the drugs and forbid affiliated doctors from helping patients get them, a survey shows.

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USA (MARYLAND): BILL TO LEGALIZE ASSISTED SUICIDE DEFEATED IN STATE SENATE

The bill, known as the “End of Life Options Act,” had failed three times before in the Maryland General Assembly. The bill would have allowed certain terminally ill adults with a prognosis of less than six months to live to request a prescription for drugs that they could take to end their lives. The vote was 23-23, one vote shy of the 24 votes needed in the 47-member Senate to advance the bill to a final vote.

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USA (MINNESOTA): ASSISTED SUICIDE BILL REQUIRES HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS TO REFER FOR ASSISTED SUICIDE

As the bill says: “Failure to inform a terminally ill adult who requests additional information about available end-of-life treatments including medical aid-in-dying, or failing to refer the terminally ill adult to another health care provider who can provide the information, shall be considered a failure to obtain informed consent for subsequent medical treatment.”

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USA (NEVADA): ASSISTED SUICIDE BILL FAILS IN NEVADA SENATE

A Nevada bill that would allow terminal patients to kill themselves with medication prescribed by a doctor has failed. The state Senate failed to take a vote on the measure ahead of a Tuesday legislative deadline that decides whether bills move on.

Supporters have argued the legislation will let the patients who are suffering die with dignity and end their pain. Opponents say the bill will lead to elder abuse and give some an easy path to suicide. A similar bill from state Sen. David Parks narrowly passed the Senate last legislative session, but did not receive a vote in the Assembly.

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USA (NEVADA): NEVADA ELDERLY HAS THE HIGHEST RATE OF SUICIDE

According to the 2018 America’s Health Ranking, the rate of suicide has increased from 19.4 per 100,000 deaths to 22.2 per 100,000. 50 elderly individuals aged 75-84 per 100,000 died by suicide compared to the 18.1 per 100,000 of the U.S. national rate. Nevada has the highest elderly suicide rate of any other state — the second highest being Utah with 28.9 per 100,000. They also found older white or Native American divorced males are the most at risk group for elderly suicide.

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USA (NEW JERSEY) : GOV. MURPHY SIGNS N.J. EUTHANASIA BILL

Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Medical Aid in Dying bill, making New Jersey the eighth state to allow terminally ill patients to request prescriptions from their doctors for medication to end their lives. It goes effective on August 1, 2019. 

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USA (NEW YORK STATE) : GOV. BACKS SUICIDE LEGISLATION AND URGES LEGISLATURE TO PASS BILL TO ALLOW ACCESS TO POISON PILLS

Gov. Cuomo encouraged state lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to request life-ending medication. Legislation currently being considered by the state Senate and Assembly would authorize physicians to prescribe lethal medications to patients who would be required to administer them without assistance.

“I say pass the bill,” Cuomo told WAMC’s Alan Chartock. “It’s a controversial issue, it’s a difficult issue. But the older we get and the better medicine gets the more we’ve seen people suffer for too too long.”

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USA (OREGON) : TEEN SUICIDE RATE DOUBLED FROM 2006 TO 2015

The percentage of teen deaths by suicide in Oregon doubled from 2006 to 2015, according to Children First of Oregon. At 38.3 percent, it was the No. 1 cause of death. And while the suicide rate among youths 10 to 24 years stayed roughly the same across the U.S., the rate in Oregon increased by 41 percent.

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LWD in action

Feature of the month

A systematic review of palliative care tools and interventions for people with severe mental illnessous

Increasing attention to palliative care for the general population has led to the development of various evidence-based or consensus-based tools and interventions. However, specific tools and interventions are needed for people with severe mental illness (SMI) who have a life-threatening illness. The aim of this systematic review is to summarize the scientific evidence on tools and interventions in palliative care for this group.

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This Belgian Nurse Watched Euthanasia Turn Pain Management Into A Death Prescription

Upon administering a lethal dose, the doctor left the room. But the patient was not dying. For Sophie Druenne, a palliative care nurse working under the Belgian physician who had approved the euthanasia request, this was a breaking point.

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Audio and Video

Video

A deadly double standard – Claire's Story

A deadly double standard features the story of Claire Freeman from Christchurch, who has been a tetraplegic since her neck was broken in a car accident at the age of 17.

Following four failed suicide attempts, both a psychiatrist and a psychologist at a suicide outreach clinic suggested to Claire that she go overseas for assisted suicide. They saw only her disability and assumed that her life had little value. They validated her desire to die, instead of exploring the reasons behind her desire to end her life.

But while making preparations to travel to a Swiss assisted suicide clinic, Claire realised that it wasn’t her physical condition that made her want to end her life but her lifestyle and mental health – she was depressed and traumatised by the Christchurch earthquakes.

Had assisted suicide been legal in New Zealand, Claire wouldn’t be alive today – and that scares her.

See video

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