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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Leblanc Case: A Recipe for Elder Abuse and a Threat to the Individual

Margaret Dore
January 26, 2012

"Those who believe that legal assisted
suicide/euthanasia will assure their
autonomy and choice are naive."

William Reichel, MD
Montreal Gazette,
May 30, 2010[1]

A.  Introduction

Leblanc vs. Attorney General of Canada brings a constitutional challenge to Canada's law prohibiting aiding or abetting a suicide.  Leblance also seeks to 
legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia as a medical treatment.  In 2010, a bill in the Canadian Parliament seeking a similar result was overwhelmingly defeated. 

Legalization of assisted suicide and/or euthanasia under Leblanc will create new paths of elder abuse.  This is contrary to Canadian public policy.  Legalization will also empower the health care system to the detriment of individual patients.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"No bill has made it through the scrutiny of a state legislature, even after 100 attempts"

Published in the National Post: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/01/04/todays-letters-e-cigarettes-will-still-prove-deadly-to-smokers/

Poll: 67% Support Assisted Suicide, Dec. 30.

Tom Blackwell’s article reporting that 67% of Canadians poll in favor of assisted suicide is déjà vu all over again for readers in the United States. The superficial and often misleading poll questions on this topic produced similar statistics in a number of U.S. states over the years.

One superficial assumption is that there’s no meaningful distinction between suicide and assisted suicide — most people know that it could tip the scales if your doctor and family members agreed that it was time for you to go.

Another factor is that the phrase “physician-assisted suicide” implies that a trust-worthy doctor is the only assistant. However, the language of assisted suicide laws actually immunizes all potential suicide assistants from any type of liability, not just doctors.

And, finally, there’s a vague sense of comfort that safeguards can ensure that the process is voluntary. But even if the relatively flimsy protections leading up to the lethal prescription are assumed to be ironclad, once the lethal drugs are in ones home, the law does nothing to ensure that they are taken voluntarily.

All in all, a closer look at this complex issue raises so many doubts that only two of our 50 states have legalized the practice by ballot referendum, and no bill has made it through the scrutiny of a state legislature, even after 100 attempts.

Diane Coleman, president/CEO Not Dead Yet, Rochester, N.Y.

"What I have witnessed will change any Canadian's opinion in a hurry"

Published in the National Post: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/01/04/todays-letters-e-cigarettes-will-still-prove-deadly-to-smokers/

The poll conducted by Forum Research further exploited voters’ own fear of their personal uncertain future. If the poll question was: “If evidence found that close to 50% of the legalized deaths are without consent, would you still legalize euthanasia/assisted-suicide?,” I guarantee that the poll would show drastically different results.

I have had to live in a long-term care facility since 2000. What I have witnessed here will change any Canadian’s opinion in a hurry.

Robert Greig, Montreal.

"What happened in the Netherlands can happen next in Canada"

Published in the National Post: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/01/04/todays-letters-e-cigarettes-will-still-prove-deadly-to-smokers/

I have studied assisted suicide in the Netherlands since 1988. At first there was no law against assisted suicide. When there was a law, doctors were supposed to obtain the patient’s consent — but they did not, often performing euthanasia when they thought the patient would benefit. The doctor was supposed to get a second opinion from a colleague — but often did not. The doctor was supposed to report the assisted suicide to the government — but often did not.

What happened to the Netherlands can happen next in Canada.

Dr. William Reichel, affiliated scholar, Center for Clinical Bioethics at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, Timonium, Md.

Monday, January 2, 2012

"If euthanasia were legal, the wife, not wanting to die, would still be a victim"

The Danger of Euthanasia
By Alex Schadenberg, Ottawa Citizen January 2, 2012
Re: Time to rethink euthanasia, Dec. 29.

Marcel Lavoie implies that legalizing euthanasia would stop violent deaths in the elderly, such as the death of Doreen Flann by stabbing.

In many of these deaths, the perpetrator-husband also kills himself for a murder-suicide.
In Oregon, where assisted-suicide has been legal since 1997, murdersuicide has not been eliminated. Indeed, murder-suicide follows the national pattern.

Moreover, according to Donna Cohen, an expert on murder-suicide, the typical case involves a depressed, controlling husband who shoots his ill wife: "The wife does not want to die and is often shot in her sleep. If she was awake at the time, there are usually signs that she tried to defend herself."

If euthanasia were legal, the wife, not wanting to die, would still be a victim.

Our laws against assisted suicide and euthanasia are in place to protect vulnerable people. Assisted suicide and/or euthanasia should not be legalized in Canada.

[For more indepth information, see Dominique Bourget, MD, Pierre Gagne, MD, Laurie Whitehouse, PhD, "Domestic Homicide and Homicide-Suicide:  The Older Offender," Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, September 2010 (Canadian study);  Don Colburn, "Recent murder-suicides follow the national pattern," The Oregonian, November 17, 2009; and “Murder-suicides in Elderly Rise: Husbands commit most murder-suicides – without wives’ consent” ]

Alex Schadenberg, London
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Sunday, January 1, 2012

No Right to be Killed by Others


Re: Poll: 67% Support Assisted Suicide, Dec. 30.

I am greatly perplexed when I hear euthanasia proponents talk about a "basic human right to die," when there is no such thing. We are all going to die anyway, so let's please be honest and call it what it is: The right to be killed by somebody else. I am deeply disturbed by people who overlook the failure of the euthanasia experiments in other countries. Why do they coldly dismiss all those hundreds of people who have been euthanized without their consent? Do they consider them collateral damage? Would they call for an absolute right to drive for everybody, even if they knew lots of innocent people would be killed by incompetent drivers? I don't think so.

Canada rightly forbade capital punishment, due to the fact that no system can guarantee that no one will be killed by mistake. We have the freedom to make choices, but those choices should not hinder the safety of others, especially our most vulnerable.

Rene Leiva, physician, Ottawa.