Canada: Supreme Court Gives Extension for Euthanasia Law; Quebec Registers First Death

Canada’s Supreme Court has given the government a four month extension to pass legislation on euthanasia, after which there will be no legal protections. The court struck down a law banning euthanasia last February in the case of Carter v. Canada. The ruling gave the parliament 12 months to pass a law codifying a national euthanasia policy, which it has yet to do. At the same time, Quebec’s government has announced it will not prosecute doctors who implement the euthanasia policy and this month the first death by assisted suicide was registered at a medical facility. Dr Paul Saba, who legally challenged the government’s euthanasia law, noted that the World Medical Association has clearly said that “euthanasia is not a medical act” and pointed out that “the criteria the government is using to permit euthanasia is full of holes”. Amy Hasbrouck with the disabilities rights group Not Dead Yet raised concerns that safeguards are not being put in place to protect patients from coercion, including little home support, palliative care, and other services. “If the person wants to die at home but ends up in a prison-like facility with one bath a week and everyone getting up at the same time, this is not a dignified way to live. A person may choose euthanasia because social services are not enough. This is coercive,” stated Hasbrouck. [PNCI, Newsletter, Volume 10, No 1, January 29,...

Suicide by Choice? Not So Fast

NEXT week, voters in Massachusetts will decide whether to adopt an assisted-suicide law. As a good pro-choice liberal, I ought to support the effort. But as a lifelong disabled person, I cannot. There are solid arguments in favor. No one will be coerced into taking a poison pill, supporters insist. The “right to die” will apply only to those with six months to live or less. Doctors will take into account the possibility of depression. There is no slippery slope. Fair enough, but I remain skeptical. There’s been scant evidence of abuse so far in Oregon, Washington and Montana, the three states where physician-assisted death is already legal, but abuse — whether spousal, child or elder — is notoriously under-reported, and evidence is difficult to come by. What’s more, Massachusetts registered nearly 20,000 cases of elder abuse in 2010 alone. My problem, ultimately, is this: I’ve lived so close to death for so long that I know how thin and porous the border between coercion and free choice is, how easy it is for someone to inadvertently influence you to feel devalued and hopeless — to pressure you ever so slightly but decidedly into being “reasonable,” to unburdening others, to “letting go.” Perhaps, as advocates contend, you can’t understand why anyone would push for assisted-suicide legislation until you’ve seen a loved one suffer. But you also can’t truly conceive of the many subtle forces — invariably well meaning, kindhearted, even gentle, yet as persuasive as a tsunami — that emerge when your physical autonomy is hopelessly compromised. I was born with a congenital neuromuscular weakness called spinal muscular atrophy....

Wantedness and Coercion: Key Factors in Understanding Women’s Mental Health After Abortion

Key Factors in Understanding Women’s Mental Health After Abortion Dr. Shuping presented this article at a United Nations workshop in March 2011, and at the June 2011 meeting of the Association for Interdisciplinary Research on Values and Social Change. In 1973, as a 19-year-old undergraduate student, I worked as a volunteer at a clinic that helped women to access abortion services. I received one evening of training in which I was taught that abortion was a safe, simple procedure, and there were no side effects. I was incorrectly taught that the developing baby was nothing more than a clump of cells. After that, I was considered to be a qualified pregnancy counselor, and I helped some women to obtain abortions. Thirty-eight years later, many abortion counselors are still giving women that same misinformation. But today I know that many women have adverse psychological reactions following abortion. I have known more than one thousand post-abortive women who have been unhappy about their abortions. Much of my professional life has been spent in helping women to deal with the emotional impact of abortion… For remainder of article, visit link below. [Martha Shuping, M.D., http://www.abortionresearch.us/images/Vol23No2.pdf ...

Pressuring Women to Freeze or Donate Their Ova (9/06)

Fears of Exploitation by Biotechnology Mount Women are under increasing pressure to freeze their ova or to donate them for research purposes. Recently a director of a fertility service in West Midlands, England, recommended that women freeze their eggs early so as to avoid problems when trying for a pregnancy in later years. Gillian Lockwood's comments came just prior to a speech she was due to make at a meeting of the British Fertility Society in Glasgow, the Scotsman newspaper reported Sept. 7. "Women in their 30s who may want children in the future should be encouraged to consider freezing their eggs for future use," Lockwood said. While many women who currently freeze their ova do so for reasons related to medical problems such as cancer, Lockwood said she expected the number of "social egg-freezers" to increase. Women are also being asked to donate their ova for research. An English fertility center in the city of Newcastle was given permission by the government to pay women undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment to donate eggs for research using cloning, the BBC reported July 27. The authorization, by the British Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, is important because it marked the first time that payment can be given for IVF eggs used in research. Previously researchers were only allowed to ask women to donate the ova. The go-ahead will enable researchers to offer couples who need IVF, but cannot afford it, the possibility of having some of their costs offset in return for donating eggs for research. The decision brought protests from Josephine Quintavalle, a co-founder of the Hands Off Our...

Who's Making the "Choice"?

Women's Heightened Vulnerability During a Crisis Pregnancy by Amy R. Sobie and David C. Reardon Abortion advocates speak proudly of "freedom to choose," conjuring up images of women freely and autonomously making decisions that are "right" for them. But research into abortion decision making presents a far different picture.  Polls show that of most women choosing abortion, at least 70 percent say they believe abortion is immoral.(1) In most cases, women who abort are violating their consciences because of pressure from other people or their own circumstances. More than 80 percent of women who report post-abortion problems say they would have completed their pregnancies under better circumstances or with more support from the people they love.(2) The sad truth is that hundreds of thousands of women undergo unwanted abortions every year to please someone else or because of pressure or coercion by their sexual partners, parents, social workers, counselors, employers or school administrators. In a WEBA survey of 252 post-abortive women, more than half said they felt "forced" into the abortion by others.(3) How is such widespread coercion possible? CRISIS INDUCED VULNERABILITY Experts on crisis counseling have found that people are more vulnerable to outside influences whenever they are faced with a crisis situation. The more overwhelming the crisis appears to be, the less they trust their own opinions and abilities to make the right decision. As a result, a person in crisis is more likely to feel dependent on the opinions and direction of others. People in crisis "are often less in touch with reality and more vulnerable to change than they are in non-crisis situations."(4) They often...