Canada is Free and Freedom is Its Nationality

Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Event Blogging the Wilberforce Weekend: Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Debate in Canada

Please Note: This is a summary of the events and speeches in my own words for educational, information, and entertainment purposes only. It is not the speakers' exact words and should not be taken as such. It also may contain errors due to the nature of the medium. I am not responsible for any of them, use at your own risk and consult the official videos and/or audio record if you want to verify or quote anything.

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

This is about building a coalition which he has been doing successfully for 10 years.

We need to be focused on the issues. Some people are concerned about many different social issues but we cannot mix them up. There is no other way to form an effective coalition.

We need to identify with the people whom this directly affects.

We need to focus on the issue in our sessions later on.

We are bringing parallels from the Wilberforce campaign. Although euthanasia is illegal, we are fighting social opinion.

We need to define what euthanasia. "Aid in dying" is not a good term for euthanasia, everyone wants aid when they are dying.

Directly and intentionally ending the life of another person by active or passive means for supposed reasons of "mercy' is the definition of euthanasia. The only thing that separates euthanasia and murder is the motive of "mercy".

Assisted suicide is direct and intentional involvement in ending the life of another person. You encourage suicide, or give a lethal prescription, but the patient actually kills themselves.

Withholding or withdrawing aggressive medical treatment is not euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Neither are unintentional overdoses or unintentional deaths.

This is about the direct and intentional cause of death.

I get calls all the time from people who think that their friend or mother is being euthanized by a hospital. Unless it is direct and intentional it is not euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Terri Shaivo was not dying. She had no medical condition causing her death. She was just cognitively disabled and was dehydrated to death. Terri died because she was denied basic care. Morally this was euthanasia.

We are not opposed to natural death, just to killing.

We are not opposed to ending medical treatment that lacks benefit, is overly aggressive, burdensome, etc. This is not about just pulling out a plug. There is much misinformation even among educated people on this point.

We are opposed to imposing limits on medical care that is beneficial. This particularly affects people who are disabled and so forth.

Jocelyn Downie says there is no difference between killing and letting someone die. That is a lie. If you die a natural death that is not euthanasia.

We must remain clear and focused or we will lose the debate. Same-sex marriage or abortion does not belong in a euthanasia debate. Take lessons from these campaigns but keep those issues out.

We need to deal with the issue of choice. Choice is a lie. It is a mantra. This is about the rules that a physician must follow to directly and intentionally cause death.

If it is about choice, we will lose the battle.

Bill C-384 was introduced by Francine Lalonde. The debate will be on Dec 1 and the vote will be Dec 2, 2009.

Safeguards in this bill

Patient must be 18. This is unconstitutional and would be struck down by courts. If this is a social good it cannot be limited by age.

Patient must have tried or expressly refused treatment. This means nothing because you will always have either tried or refused treatment.

You must be in severe physical or mental pain without any prospect of relief. It is not only people with terminal conditions. It can include chronic depression.

You must appear to be lucid, you might not be lucid but you just have to appear to be so. This wording is so broad you could drive a hearse through it.

This is not about choice.

In the morning I appear to be lucid, that doesn't mean I'm lucid. I have six children.

A medical practitioner must be provided with two written requests by someone appearing to be lucid. They must be more than 10 days apart and expressly state the person's free and informed consent to opt to die.

Euthanasia support groups facilitate euthanasia and will line up two physicians for you where needed.

People can have terrible moments of shock where they find out they are dying. If assisted suicide is legal they could be killed during their worst moment.

This Bill does not define terminal illness.
It does not require a witness at the time of death.
It does not restrict death tourism. In Switzerland it costs about $12,000 to die. Someone could make a lot of money. This is not about equality and choice.

The bill does not create a right to die with dignity.

Alex met with Steven Fletcher and asked if he would feel right if his doctor had the right to kill him. Fletcher said "absolutely not"

It would allow people who are chronically depressed to get assisted suicide.

It is a danger to people with disabilities.

We need to contact MPs about this especially to Ignatieff who has not announced his stand.

Tracy Latimer was perceived as better off dead. They didn't talk about what she could do. She went to school everyday by bus. The assistant said at the trial that Tracy was a happy child who was not suffering.

She loved music and she had a radio that she could turn on and off when she wanted to. She liked windshield wipers and outdoor fires. She was dehumanized. This dehumanized people with disabilities

The Gronigen Protocol is about euthanasia of children under 12. There was a court case where a child with severe spina bifida was euthanized. They didn't give the baby pain medication or surgery. 22 newborns with spina bifida were euthanasia over a certain period of time. There were five criteria for the euthanasia of infants. There must be a certain diagnosis and prognosis. Must be hopeless and unbearable suffering (which might include disability.) An independent doctor must agree. Parents must give informed consent, but parents are too shocked and emotionally involved to give informed consent at that time. The procedure must be carried out in accordance with the accepted standard. There must be an after the fact report.

Three groups of infants can be euthanized.

Group 1 are going to die. Why cannot we just let them die naturally.

Group 2 Need significant treatment, grim prognosis. Should they be treated or killed?

Group 3 are not dying but have suffering that is sustained, severe, and cannot be relieved. They said that it is the babies who would otherwise live but whose lives would be wretched to the extreme who need euthanasia the most. What does wretched to the extreme mean?

This is about eugenics and cost-containment. It is also about possible future suffering.

Malphurs and Cohen study. This concerns cases where one "loving" spouse kills a spouse and then commits suicide. In almost all of these cases the murder victim resisted death.

Some said that euthanasia has nothing to do with depression. To their surprise depression was associated with more euthanasia requests. In 2007 49 people in Oregon were euthanized. No one received psychological assessment.

Royal Society of Canadian put together a report on end of life decisions. 4 out of 6 panel members were radical supporters of euthanasia.

Nadia was a 18 year old student at Carlton University. She went online trying to seek help for her depression but she found someone who pretended to be a young female nurse. They created a "suicide pact" and Nadia killed herself. The predator tried to get Nadia to kill herself on webcam so he could watch.

We require a wider, stronger, effective, and unified organization. Alex is committed to winning this battle. We must accept our diversity. This must be a single issue coalition.

We are looking for people who are willing to build or work with a central organization that opposes euthanasia

We are confident that we will defeat this current euthanasia bill unless there is something unexpected.

We need more leaders
We need more speakers
We need more donors
We meed more workers
We need you

On Facebook most of our fans are young people. We ask how we can motivate young people. Young people can be motivated if you meet them where they are.

Question 1 Jocelyn Downing position is not lying, she is mistaken. Tracy Latimer was suffering from a dislocated hip, it was bad medicine that it wasn't corrected. Women do kill their spouses too by the way. They are equal opportunity homicidals. I'm a bachelor.

Answer 1 I shouldn't have said she is lying. I read her book and went to two of her lectures. She is very much in favour of euthanasia. She actually gave a government funded talk.

Q2 Two issues that are potential pitfalls ahead. With regard to "All or nothing", Francine Lalonde bill will lose because it is all or nothing. But we may face a much more reasonable bill later on, what then?

A2 There are some who say the current bill is too wide, others that there is not good enough palliative care, some just support euthanasia period.

Q2 But we need all or nothing because we can't have death.

Q2 You are speaking from the point of view of a doctor. As such your strongest and most personal point of view is this, that doctors are there to save life, to say they should kill changes them. Physicians need to start saying that.

Q2 We will need to oppose a moderate bill, it must be all or nothing.

Q2 Yes, that is a problem

Q3 What about extraordinary measures being removed without patients consent, that is euthanasia.

A3 That can happen. It is a huge concern in disability issues. This might be a huge ethical problem when some people die, but it is not actually euthanasia if someone dies a natural death.

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