Imposed Death – Definitions / Euthanasia / Assisted Suicide / VSED

VSED – Voluntary Stopping of Eating Drinking

Switzerland Assisted Suicide Study & PTSD

A Swiss study, published in the journal European Psychiatry, found that “witnessing death by assisted suicide impacts the mental health of family members and friends.” Researchers conducted a cross-sectional survey of 85 family members or close friends who witnessed an assisted suicide facilitated by the organization Exit Deutsche Schweiz in Switzerland, where the practice is legal if done for “unselfish” motives. Researchers assessed the respondents 14 to 24 months after the assisted suicide. The results showed that about 20% of those surveyed had full or partial post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 16% had symptoms of depression, 6% exhibited anxiety symptoms, and 4.9% experienced “complicated grief.” “Witnessing the unnatural death of a significant person,” researchers concluded, “seems to have a strong impact on the bereaved, which may lead to severe mental health problems.…” [European Psychiatry, 2/11/11] PRC consultant Wesley J. Smith put the study’s findings in perspective. “By way of comparison: 11% of American soldiers serving in Afghanistan have PTSD, and 20% of Iraq veterans,” he wrote. “So, witnessing assisted suicide would appear to be equivalent in upset to serving in war zones.” [Human Exceptionalism Blog, National Review, 11/24/14] [Update 074, Volume 28, Number 6 (2014-6), Patients Rights Council; http://www.patientsrightscouncil.org/site/update-074-volume-28-number-6-2014-6/...

Slippery Slope: Assisted Suicide for Dementia or for Those ‘Tired of Living’?

A minority of Dutch physicians, about one in three, would consider granting a request for euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (EAS) for a patient with early dementia or psychiatric disease, or one who is just “tired of living” (without severe illness), a new survey hints. “The Dutch Euthanasia Act is not restricted to patients with physical suffering,” Eva Bolt, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, told Medscape Medical News. “But most physicians who would consider euthanasia in a patient suffering unbearably from cancer or another physical disease would not consider this in a patient who is suffering from psychiatric disease, dementia or in patients who suffer from ‘being tired of living.'” Granting a request for EAS can have “great emotional impact,” she added, “and a physician’s decision on whether or not to grant a euthanasia request is an individual decision; and this decision is based on legal boundaries as well as on personal values.” The survey was published online February 18 in the Journal of Medical Ethics. In The Netherlands, EAS for patients whose suffering is psychiatric/psychological in nature is legally permissible, but it represents a fraction of the numbers of patients who are helped to die in this way, the researchers note in their article. Patients do not have a right to EAS, and a physician’s “freedom to refuse” a request has recently become a topic of debate in The Netherlands. The media have reported on patients whose requests for EAS seem to have been denied on the basis of the physicians’ personal opposition instead of legal objections. These patients had...

Death Gone Wild: Oregon’s Assisted Suicide Death Toll Spikes in Recent Report

[Comment: Oregon report website at http://public.health.oregon.gov/ProviderPartnerResources/EvaluationResearch/DeathwithDignityAct/Documents/year17.pdf , you will see that 93% of the victims were enrolled in hospice. N. Valko RN] The 2014 Oregon assisted suicide report indicates a 44% increase in assisted suicide deaths and a 28% increase in lethal prescriptions. In 2014, at least one person who died by assisted suicide obtained the lethal dose in 2012, (439 days before death) even though the law requires the person to be within 6 months of death. The 2014 annual report is similar to prior years. The preamble implies that the deaths were voluntary (self-administered), but the information reported does not address that subject. Oregon’s assisted suicide law allows the lethal dose to be administered without oversight. This creates the opportunity for an heir, or someone else who will benefit from the patient’s death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without the patient’s consent. “Even if he struggled, who would know?” In 2014, Assisted suicide’s in Oregon increased in numbers, conditions and demographics. 105 assisted suicide deaths in 2014 up from 73 in 2013. (44% increase) 155 prescriptions for suicide in 2014 up from 105 in 2013. (48% increase) In previous years almost 80% of the deaths, were cancer related. In 2014, 68% had cancer with “other illnesses” increasing to 8.6% (9 deaths). Other illnesses includes diabetes. The number of people who had private health insurance and died by assisted suicide dropped from 60% in previous years to 40% in 2014. Similar to previous years, only 3 people received a psychiatric evaluation. An Oregon study found that 26% of those who request assisted suicide are depressed....

Always Care, Never Kill: How Physician-Assisted Suicide Endangers the Weak, Corrupts Medicine, Compromises the Family, and Violates Human Dignity and Equality

Abstract Allowing physician-assisted suicide would be a grave mistake for four reasons. First, it would endanger the weak and vulnerable. Second, it would corrupt the practice of medicine and the doctor–patient relationship. Third, it would compromise the family and inter-generational commitments. And fourth, it would betray human dignity and equality before the law. Instead of helping people to kill themselves, we should offer them appropriate medical care and human presence. We should respond to suffering with true compassion and solidarity. Doctors should help their patients to die a dignified death of natural causes, not assist in killing. Physicians are always to care, never to kill. The Hippocratic Oath proclaims: “I will keep [the sick] from harm and injustice. I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.”[1] This is an essential precept for a flourishing civil society. No one, especially a doctor, should be permitted to kill intentionally, or assist in killing intentionally, an innocent neighbor. Human life need not be extended by every medical means possible, but a person should never be intentionally killed. Doctors may help their patients to die a dignified death from natural causes, but they should not kill their patients or help them to kill themselves. This is the reality that such euphemisms as “death with dignity” and “aid in dying” seek to conceal. In 2015, at least 18 state legislatures and the District of Columbia are considering whether to allow physician-assisted suicide (PAS).[2] Legalizing physician-assisted suicide, however, would be a grave mistake because it would: Endanger the weak and vulnerable,...

Assisted Suicide: A Deadly Debate

UPDATE: On February 6, 2015, Canada’s Supreme Court unanimously struck down the country’s ban on physician-assisted suicide for mentally competent patients with terminal illnesses. Parliament and provincial legislators have a year to draft new legislation. Roe v. Wade invented a “zone of privacy” where women could retreat to kill their children, so long as the children were not yet born. From that convoluted illogic, a disregard for human life began to erode our collective conscience until today it is applied not only to the beginning of life but to its end as well. Legalizing abortion sparked fierce debate: When does life begin? What does it mean for society to allow mothers to kill their babies? Is abortion ever acceptable? Today the right-to-die debate is just as fierce, with similar polarizing questions. In addition, as we have seen in the progression—or regression—of pro-abortion ideology, right-to-die rhetoric is moving from “personal choice” to “social good.” Organizations that advocate for assisted suicide speak in terms of “dignity,” “choice,” “rights,” and “quality of life.” The arguments are familiar; some who now work at Compassion and Choices, a right-to-die advocacy group, learned their marketing skills at Planned Parenthood, according to Nina Rhea of West Coast Pro-Life.[1] Compassion and Choices was formerly known as the Hemlock Society. The group describes itself as “experts in what it takes to die well.” The right-to-die debate is white-hot in the US. As of mid-January, legislators in California and New York planned to introduce bills that month. A New York state senator said he was inspired to do so by the widely publicized assisted suicide of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard...

Patients Supposedly in Vegetative/PVS State “Not Just Aware But Paying Attention”

We have written dozens of stories the common theme of which is that patients diagnosed in a “persistent vegetative state” or “minimally conscious” are either (a) misdiagnosed or (b) much more aware than they are given credit for. http://www.lifenews.com/2013/11/12/study-patients-supposedly-in-vegetative-state-not-just-aware-but-paying-attention/   Another Study Shows Patients in PVS State Show Awareness How many of these news reports do we need to read about patients who are wrongly diagnosed as being in a so-called persistent vegetative state (PVS) before we eliminate this dangerous, unscientific and completely subjective diagnosis? http://www.lifenews.com/2013/12/23/quit-calling-them-vegetables-study-shows-patients-in-pvs-state-show-awareness/   So-Called “Vegetative” Patient Communicates With Doctors The battle to protect patients in a so-called vegetative state from euthanasia took a positive turn today with the news that doctors have been able to communicate with one patient....

Current Medical End of Life Decision-Making Terms (2010)

 POLST: stands for Physician's Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment. In some states it is called MOLST (medical orders for life-sustaining treatment) or similar names. A one page, two-sided form printed on brightly colored heavy paper, it is placed in the front of the patient's medical chart and accompanies the patient when hospitalized or discharged. It gives health care providers immediate information about what interventions should or should not be undertaken. Generally the form has boxes to check indicating whether the patient should have CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation), antibiotics, tube feeding, etc. It is signed by the patient's treating physician and by the patient or the patient's decision maker. However, with the exception of a decision that the patient should or should not be resuscitated, there is really no need for immediate access to other orders. In fact, checking boxes about other interventions essentially gives complete authority to health care providers and circumvents further discussion of what a patient may or may not want. Patients or their decision makers are often pressured to have a POLST form, just as they are often led to believe that they must have an advance directive. Patients and their decision makers should be aware that it is illegal to compel them to sign such documents.   Terminal Sedation: refers to the "end of life strategy" which, in England, is called the Liverpool Care Pathway. A patient is placed under continuous sedation; all food and fluids are removed; and the patient dies of dehydration. In the U.S., terminal sedation is often called "palliative sedation" and has been defined by assisted-suicide advocates as a process in which sedation...

Oregon Health Care Rationing for Poor & Uninsured (2/07)

Oregon’s Health Care Rationing Plan for Poor and Uninsured in Trouble Oregon’s controversial health care rationing plan is in serious financial trouble. The plan is unique among state Medicaid programs because it rations medical treatment for poor and low-income uninsured Oregonians by ranking services according to priority. Treatments ranked above a cut-off line are covered; those beneath the cut-off are not. The line is set every two years based largely on budgetary constraints. In 1994, the list of possible treatments numbered 1 to 745, with the cutoff line at 606. In 2004, only 730 treatments were listed, with the cutoff line at 546. [OR Health Services Commission, "Report to Governor & Legislature," 3/05] Today, the plan lists fewer services (710), covers fewer people (enrollment is down 75%), and the state’s uninsured rate has jumped to 17%. [Health Affairs, 12/19/06]   The situation puts the poor and uninsured in the dangerous position of not being able to pay for needed and costly care in a state where the inexpensive treatment called physician-assisted suicide (ranked 262 on the list under "comfort care") is readily available. It may be the only "treatment" some people can afford. [InternationalTaskForce.org, Vol 21, No.1,...

Protecting Yourself & Your Loved Ones

Most of us are not going to even consider euthanasia or physician assisted suicide! So, do we have any real concerns for our end of life care, or that of our parents and families? YES! There are two main concerns: making sure that your desires for the end of your life are known and respected by your family and your hospital, and that your life is not snuffed out in an untimely and unwanted manner. Having an appropriate, carefully drafted advance directive (of the right type) is the only way to be certain that the person you want to make decisions for you will have the authority to protect you. All of us may be “of sound mind” right now, but if we are in an accident, or have a stroke, we may not be capable of making our own decisions. About 40 states do allow the spouse or family members to make decisions, but if we happen to be in other states, even at the time we are incapacitated, we are under the rules of that state. Besides this, family members may not agree on how a person should be cared for at this time. Without having a carefully spelled out directive ahead of time, much heart-break may occur. What are some ways in which patients could be in danger? A major problem is that in most states, it is now imbedded in law that food and water are considered “medical treatment”. Most of us think of food and water as basic, necessary care, just like basic hygiene & warmth. Without food and water, no matter how strong...

Euthanasia & Physician Assisted Suicide: Q & A

Where is Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) allowed? Euthanasia — the Netherlands and Belgium. Assisted suicide — the Netherlands, Belgium and Oregon. Isn’t Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) considered a private and personal act? While PAS advocates promote it as private and personal, but legalization is not about the private and the personal. It is about public policy, and it affects ethics, medicine, law, families and children. What are the main reasons people would choose PAS for themselves? Autonomy & elimination of suffering What are the conditions under which people are allowed to do this in Oregon? A "qualified patient" must be an adult residing in Oregon who is capable of making decisions and must be diagnosed with a terminal condition. Is Assisted Suicide really “good medical treatment”? If one accepts the premise that assisted suicide is a good medical treatment should be permitted for personal autonomy or elimination of suffering, other questions are being raised by advocates, such as… **If the reason for permitting assisted suicide is autonomy, why should assisted suicide be limited to the terminally ill? (chronic sufferers) **If assisted suicide is a good and acceptable medical treatment for the purpose of ending suffering, why should it be limited to adults who are capable of decision-making? (children, handicapped) You can see how the floodgates are pushed open in a hurry! How is PAS working in Oregon?  Are there problems with PAS? o  Number of people dying this way has increased 230% in the 8 years it has been legal. o  There are NO REGULATIONS and no way to check compliance under the OR law. o  Official...

Death by Dehydration Description: The Reality (2005)

Dr. David Stevens worked in Africa for 13 years. He saw first hand the complications associated with dehydration. Here is his description: “As dehydration begins there is extreme thirst, dry mouth and thick saliva. The patient develops severe cramping in the arms and legs. “In misery, the patient tries to cry but there are no tears. “The patient experiences severe abdominal cramps, nausea and dry heaving as the stomach and intestines dry out. The skin and lips crack and the tongue swells. “As mucus membranes dry out and break down, patients suffer from severe nose bleeds and a patient’s hands and feet become extremely cold as the circulatory system begins to shut down and move blood to vital organs in an attempt to keep the person alive. “The patient has problems urinating and is prone to excruciating headaches.” Dr. Stevens claims that, contrary to those who paint a picture of a gentle dying process, “Death by dehydration is a cruel, inhuman and often agonizing death.” We may also recall that when prisoners escaped from Nazi concentration camps, others were sentenced to death by starvation and dehydration because it sent fear through the other prisoners. [RTLGC,...

Nuremberg Tribunal: "from small beginnings"

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana From Small Beginnings… “Whatever proportions these crimes [in Nazi Germany] finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them that they had started from small beginnings. The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitudes of physicians. It started with the acceptance of the attitude, basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived.” Dr. Leo Alexander, Psychiatrist and Chief American Counsel at the Nuremberg Tribunal, “Medical Science Under Dictatorship,” New England Journal of Medicine, 4July...

Vegetative State – Persistent or Reversible?

This is a very brief list of persons who have come forth from lengthy comas, or from persistent vegetative state. Other examples can be found in this website… “Their inability to satisfy our longing for response does not justify abandonment or imposed death.”           [“Persistent Vegetative State” Euthanasia: Imposed Death supplement, Human Life Alliance, 2004] Comment: Eileen Doyle, RN compiled this remarkable list of cases and published this article in the 10/03 New York Nurses for Life newsletter. There are even more cases reported over the years but ignored by the media in the Schiavo case. And note these older cases excerpted from a 1991 American Life League article. There are many more, including the unpublicized ones I and other medical professionals have been seeing for years. [N. Valko, R.N.; http://www.all.org/legislat/guide04.htm] Background: How Persistent is the “Vegetative State”? An elderly woman named Carrie Coons stunned the medical world. The following anecdotal life stories are placed in perspective by the professional study of recovery rates from PVS.  A study, published in the Archives of Neurology, followed 84 patients with a “firm diagnosis” of PVS. Of these patients, “41% became conscious by 6 months, 52% regained consciousness by 1 year, and 58% recovered consciousness within the 3-year follow-up interval.” The researchers were unable to identify “predictors of recovery from the “vegetative state” — that is, there is no established test by which we can tell in advance which PVS patients will ultimately wake up. The data “do not exclude the possibility of vegetative patients regaining consciousness after the second year,” though this “must be regarded as a rare event.” [Levin, Saydjari, Eisenberg et al., “Vegetative State After Closed-Head...

Florida Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over “Terri’s Law” (9/04)

By Dave Andrusko Although her case is drenched in arcane legal language about “separation of powers” and “privacy,” the bottom line for 40-year-old Terri Schindler-Schiavo is frightfully simple: will the seven judges of the Florida Supreme Court render a verdict that will move Terri closer to deathby starvation? This life-and-death decision pivots on what the judges say about what has been dubbed “Terri’s Law,” which empowered Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to have Terri’s feeding tube reinserted six days after Terri’s only source ofnourishment had been pulled. If we believe most media accounts of what the judges were asking August, the conclusion is that they were “troubled.” What we do know is that one of the attorneys who defended Bush said that the governor “will explore all the options that are available to him.” Ken Connor added, “If the Florida Supreme Court construes it in such a way as to deprive the governor of his constitutionally protected rights of federal due process, then I expect the governor will consider seeking relief from the United States Supreme Court.” Although many people have followed this case for years, it is essential to remember the basic facts. In 1990, for reasons that remain a mystery, the then-26-year-old woman stopped breathing. The temporary loss of oxygen left her severely brain-injured. Some experts called by the husband say that Terri is in a so-called “persistent vegetative state” (PVS). In its account of the oral hearing, the New York Times wrote, “Mrs. Schiavo left no written directive, but lower courts have accepted testimony from her husband and several of his relatives that she told them she...

Terri Schiavo's Right to Live (8/04)

Seventeen (17) national disability organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief, the third disability brief in the case. These groups are concerned that the critical implications for our individual rights in the health-care system have been obscured by political rhetoric.  Terri Schiavo is a disabled woman; she is not comatose.The “right to life” movement has embraced Terri Schiavo as a cause to prove “sanctity of life.” The “right to die” movement says that no one would choose life over death in her circumstances. Since court proceedings in this case have gone the “right-to-die” way, they want the courts to have the last word. But on the sixth day of her dehydration and starvation last fall, Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida Legislature halted the execution. Even the ACLU has weighed in, arguing that constitutional separation of powers precludes executive interference with the judiciary.  Yet the life-and-death issues surrounding Terri Schiavo are first and foremost disability rights issues — issues that ultimately affect millions of Americans, old and young.  These issues apply directly and immediately to thousands of people with disabilities who, like Schiavo, cannot currently process information or articulate their views to the extent that health-care providers require, and so must rely on others as substitute decision-makers. The Constitution requires that a guardian’s decision be based on written documentation or other clear and convincing evidence of the ward’s wishes, regardless of the guardian’s personal opinions or desires. In the modern-day United States, bioethicists are working to dismantle the due process part of the Bill of Rights that has previously protected people in guardianship from wrongful decisions to withhold life-sustaining medical treatment. ...

Schiavo in a Life and Death Tug of War (7/04)

17 Disability groups back Jeb Bush on Schiavo case – insist order to terminate life is ‘not a private family matter’ A coalition of 17 national disability-rights organizations have thrown their support behind Gov. Jeb Bush in his legal battle over the constitutionality of the emergency legislation that enabled him to save Terri Schindler-Schiavo’s life last fall.   In a friend of the court brief filed July 12, the groups urge the Florida Supreme Court to reverse Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge W. Douglas Baird’s May 6 ruling that the governor overstepped constitutional bounds when he invoked “Terri’s Law” to halt the starvation death of the 40-year-old, brain-disabled woman, whose estranged husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo, obtained court permission to remove the feeding tube she depends on for sustenance. “A judge’s order to terminate the life of a woman with severe disabilities is not a private family matter,” said attorney Max Lapertosa, the brief’s author, in a press release. “Terminating Ms. Schiavo’s life support would not be possible without the authority of the courts,” he added. “This case reflects whether our society and legal system value the lives of people with disabilities equally to those without disabilities.” Passed Oct. 21 by the Florida Legislature, the emergency measure authorized Bush to have Terri’s feeding tube reinserted six days after it had been removed in accordance with Schiavo’s wishes and a court order. Schiavo and his attorney, “right-to-die” advocate George Felos, promptly sued the governor, arguing that Bush and the lawmakers had not only interfered in the business of the state’s courts, an infringement of the separation-of-powers provisions of the Florida Constitution, but...

Terry Schiavo: Set the Record Straight

The following excerpts are from the article “The Case of Terri Schiavo: Setting the Public Record Straight”, Euthanasia: Imposed Death, Human Life Alliance (www.humanlife.org), 2004: “Nat Hentoff, journalist for the Village Voice, has covered ‘right to die’ cases for more than 25 years. It is noteworthy that he calls the reporting on the battle for Terri Schiavo’s life ‘the worst case of jounalistic malpractice I’ve seen.’ One thing the media has largely missed is that Terri is disabled, not terminally ill [or comatose] [emphasis added], and that this case is first about disability rights, which affect millions of Americans. What makes Terri’s case stand out is the public outcry in support of her right to live. More than 100,000 people contacted Florida Governor Jeb Bush, pressing him to save Terri’s life. The various media have generally portrayed this outcry as coming from religious conservatives and ‘right to life’ forces, and indeed, they do deserve credit. However, as Hentoff observed, there has been ‘hardly any mention in the press of the deeply concerned voices of the disabled, many of whom, in their own lives, have survived being terminated by bioethicists and physicians who strongly believe that certain lives are not worth living.’ Now [41] years old, Terri has been permanently brain damaged since February 25, 1990, the day she collapsed and the oxygen supply to her brain was cut off for a period of time. Contrary to most media reports, Terri is not brain-dead, not comatose, and not on a ventilator  [emphasis added]. Fourteen independent medical professionals have fiven either statements or testimony that Terri is  not in a persistent...

Florida Supreme Court to Hear Terri Schiavo Case (6/04)

Florida Supreme Court to Hear Terri Schiavo Case  (LAKELAND, FL) – Over the objections of FL Governor Jeb Bush, a Florida appeals court has decided to “fast-track” Michael Schiavo’s bid to have his wife’s feeding tube removed so that Terri Schiavo will die.    The Florida Supreme Court will hear the case filed by brain-disabled Terri Schiavo’s estranged husband seeking to overturn a law Bush signed — Terri’s Law — that saved her life.  The Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal approved a motion put forward by George Felos, the euthanasia advocate who is Michael Schiavo’s lawyer, asking the appeals court to let the Florida Supreme Court decide the case. But attorneys for the governor say they want the case halted while the issue of whether Michael should have the authority to speak for Terri is resolved.Governor Bush also said that Michael’s interests may conflict with  Terri’s, implying it may be appropriate to appoint a new guardian on  her behalf. Felos said the matter is so important that the state’s  high court should decide the case. The appeals court agreed and, in granting Felos’ request, denied the Bush team an opportunity to gather further information showing that Terri would not want to be killed.Last August, the Florida Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal  filed by Terri’s family of a local judge’s order allowing Michael to  remove Terri’s feeding tube.    In related news, the Regional Center for Independent Living in  Rochester, New York, is hosting an outdoor green ribbon ceremony  Friday, in honor of the controversial struggle to preserve Terri  Schiavo’s right to live. Those who attend will receive green tartan ribbons, part of a national campaign to raise awareness of...