Dying Vermonters Deserve Adequate Palliative Care (2005)

The VT House Human Services Committee heard testimony recently on bill H.168, the proposal to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Much of the testimony was about patients with overwhelming suffering during the dying process. These are sad and tragic cases; — those patients should have received better palliative care services. However, it is time to put to rest the misconception that assisted suicide is about suffering. Neither the OR law permitting physician-assisted suicide, nor the VT proposal requires that the patient experience any suffering at all — only that the patient has less than 6 months to live and wants to die. An OR physician testified last week that not one of the 208 assisted deaths in OR was requested because of pain, though 22% feared pain in the future. The issue is one of control, not “overwhelming suffering.” Yes, patient control is very important. But let’s deal with it face on, instead of pretending the issue is pain and suffering. What is becoming increasingly clear is that assisted suicide in OR is also about cost. The most recent Prioritized List of Health Services for OR Medicaid patients added a new condition: No payment for diagnostic testing or active treatment for 26 types of cancer unless the patient has at least a 5% chance of living another 5 years. So someone who is terminally ill with cancer of the stomach or bowel, for example, and might live many more months or perhaps years cannot receive state funding for measures that could slow down the disease. But one of the “comfort care” measures the state will pay for is “physician aid-in-dying.” There...

British Cancer Patient Grateful He Did Not Use Assisted Suicide, Now Opposes Euthanasia (2006)

David Williams, 51, is a father of three with a spinal tumor who considered ending his life. Williams was diagnosed with the tumor in 1990 that left him in “excruciating pain.” “I was 35 at the time and they (the surgeons) brought me down and said, ‘In two years you will probably be in a wheelchair and you probably won’t reach 40,’ ” he told the BBC. “It was a bit of a bolt out of the blue really,” he added. Williams told the BBC that the six months after the operation he relied heavily on friends and family and palliative care. “While I was in all sorts of pain and agony it was very clear to me the distress I was causing the family, especially with Lynne just having (had) the baby and having two children, I did consider euthanasia,” he said. [9May06, LifeNews.com,...

Euthanasia Prevention Resources

Turning the Tide, produced by the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Salt and Light television media foundation, was designed to change the way secular society perceives the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Secular society views the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide to be issues related to autonomy whereas Turning the Tide shifts the focus of the issue by using a personal story style to focus on the vulnerability of the person when one experiences disability, depression or symptoms related to degenerative and/or end of life conditions. The video also focuses on issues related to pain and symptom management and proper end-of-life care. Groups that have viewed Turning the Tide have been incredibly impressed by the production quality of the video and the profound comments by the people featured in the DVD. Catherine Frazee, disability studies professor at Ryerson University comments in Turning the Tide that: “People like to frame this debate in the language of autonomy, or individual choice. They’ll say to me that it’s all right, you can say no, but other people will want to say yes, but I don’t think individual autonomy should ever be permitted to trump the safety and well-being of the community.” Wesley Smith comments in Turning the Tide that: “You have a situation in Canada and certainly in the United States, where people are having difficulty getting access to … good pain control, good psychiatric involvement and good social services. Are we going to say that the answer for these problems is assisted suicide?” Senator Sharon Carstairs, former chair of the Special Senate Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide answers the...

Married People Are Healthier, More Financially Stable (10/02, 12/04, 9/05)

A U.S. gov’t study concludes it's healthy to be married; overall, married people are sick less often and more active. They smoke and drink less and in general feel better than single, divorced, never married or even folks just living together. Among adults 18+, 11.9 percent said they were in fair or poor health, the study found. By comparison, some 10.5 percent of married people reported being in poor or fair health, while all other groups were higher. At 19.6 percent, widows and widowers were the most likely to be in these less healthy categories. The report was based on a survey of 127,545 people in 1999-2002 conducted by the center. The study found that married people said they had less low back pain, fewer headaches and less psychological stress. Some 4.7% of adults reported they had become heavier drinkers than previously, with the lowest rate among marrieds [3.7%]. Again, those living with an unmarried partner – most drinking, 8.2%, followed by the divorced and separated, 6.4%. Overall the study found that 58.2% of adults are married, 10.4% are separated or divorced, 6.6 percent are widowed, 19% are never married and 5.7% are living with a partner. [National Center for Health Statistics statistician Charlotte Schoenborn AP; ctv.ca, 16Dec04]   Men and Women Get Mental Boost from Marriage LONDON (Reuters) – Women, as well as men, benefit from marriage and get a mental health boost from being a couple, study findings suggest. Research from Australia, which showed that about 13% of married men and women suffer from stress contradicts the findings of a 1972 study by sociologist Jessie Bernard. Bernard's...

October 2004: Euthanasia

Terri Shiavo’s Fight for Life Continues Royal College of Nursing Confirms Opposition to Assisted Dying Bill and Calls for Improved Palliative Care New Pain Drug From Puffer Fish May Nix Reason to Resort to Assisted Suicide:  Neurotoxin Could Revolutionize Treatment of Intractable Pain Child Euthanasia in Europe     FL COURT NIXES LAW KEEPING TERRI SCHIAVO ALIVE – The Florida Supreme Court struck down a law that was rushed through the Legislature last fall to keep a brain-damaged woman on a feeding tube against her husband’s wishes. The unanimous court said the law that kept Terri Schiavo alive violated the separation of powers. The decision cites the “right to privacy” and states that Terri’s Law “is without question an invasion of the authority of the judicial branch for the Legislature to pass a law that allows the executive branch to interfere with the final judicial determination in a case.” [Ed. i.e., the Court is miffed that someone instituted our “system of checks and balances” against them…][23Sept04, http://www.flcourts.org/sct/sctdocs/ops/sc04-925.pdf; http://apnews.myway.com/article/20040923/D859EPB00.html, AP; N Valko RN] NEW HOPE IN TERRI SCHIAVO CASE – GOV. BUSH WILL NOT END TERRI’S FIGHT FOR LIFE– In a dramatic new development, attorneys representing the parents of Terri Schindler-Schiavo have filed a memorandum of law establishing that depriving Terri of food and water would not only be against her wishes, but is also prohibited by the United States and Florida constitutions, as well as Florida statutory and common law.  The 28-page memorandum filed by Attorney Patricia F. Anderson along with new attorneys for the family, Deborah E. Berliner and Brett M. Wood of Washington, DC, cites a substantial change in...