Canadian Doctors Get Ready for Child Euthanasia

Canadian Doctors Get Ready for Child Euthanasia

In the United States’ most culturally aligned nation, a race toward the once-unthinkable accelerates.It never made any sense. The assurance that active euthanasia would always be limited to terminally ill, competent adults just never made any sense. Here’s the problem: Once a society widely supports eliminating suffering by eliminating the sufferer and redefines as a “medical treatment” the act whereby doctors kill seriously ill patients, there is no logical argument for limiting euthanasia to adults with legal decision-making capacity. After all, children suffer too, so how can they be logically refused “medical aid in dying” — or MAID, the current euphemism for euthanasia and assisted suicide — only because of their age?

Euthanasia has popular support in the Netherlands as well. There children down to age twelve are permitted to be euthanized, with parental permission required until age 17. Infanticide is also practiced openly by Dutch doctors, even though it is technically illegal. Indeed, the “Groningen Protocol,” a bureaucratic checklist published by Dutch pediatricians, describes which terminally ill and seriously disabled babies can be put down.

The Canadian Supreme Court in 2015 created a right to be euthanized, followed by enabling legislation in the national and provincial parliaments. The law basically guarantees the availability of euthanasia to adults experiencing intractable suffering — as defined by the patient — in circumstances where death is reasonably foreseeable. Serious discussions are now underway to expand that license to children. That development is especially alarming for the United States, given that Canada is our closest cultural cousin.

Member pediatricians were polled about the question. Only one-third of respondents opposed expanding Canada’s euthanasia law to children in all circumstances. Almost half (46 percent) were in favor of extending the MAID option to “mature minors experiencing progressive illness or intractable pain.” (According to the report, “the mature minor doctrine recognizes that a patient’s comprehension of the nature and consequences of a treatment has determinants beyond age, and that children’s wishes should be granted degrees of deference that reflect their evolving maturity.”) There’s more: Twenty-nine percent of answering respondents believe in making euthanasia available to mature minors experiencing “intolerable disability,” while 8 percent would even extend the killing to mature minors with “intolerable mental illness as the sole indication”!

Some parents are already open to having their sick children killed. A startling 40 percent of those responding to questionnaires reported having already held “exploratory discussions” with parents about killing their seriously ill mature children — and that’s while child euthanasia remains illegal in Canada.

While the paper did not take an explicit position on legalizing child euthanasia, it is not reticent about forcing doctors’ participation once it becomes legal. Even though only 19 percent — still a startling figure — of responding doctors stated they would personally euthanize children, the society argued that, on legalization, dissenting doctors would have the ethical obligation to “inform” patients about the euthanasia option and to “refer requesting patients or families appropriately” to doctors known to be willing to do the deed. (In Canada, this is known as an “effective referral.” An Ontario judge has even ruled that Catholic and other dissenting doctors morally and religiously opposed to euthanasia must so participate in adult euthanasia or get out of medicine. One presumes that the same coercion would apply to pediatricians should pediatric euthanasia become legal.)

The authors assume that pediatric euthanasia will be soon legalized in Canada, at least for mature minors — a good bet, as the government has planned legalization as a two-step process, starting with competent adults and then potentially expanding to the legally incompetent. Accordingly, the paper describes the bureaucratic process the hospital plans to implement once minors can be given lethal jabs.

I found this point particularly startling: Doctors will be allowed to euthanize “capable minors” — akin to a “mature minor,” as previously described — without parental consent or even their notification (my italics):

If . . . a capable [legally underage] patient explicitly indicates that they do not want their family members involved in their decision-making, although healthcare providers may encourage the patient to reconsider and involve their family, ultimately the wishes of capable patients with respect to confidentiality must be respected. If we regard MAID as practically and ethically equivalent to other medical decisions that result in the end of life, then confidentiality regarding MAID should be managed in this same way.

The paper was not as explicit about doctors euthanizing children who do not have the perceived mental capacity to decide for themselves. But the paper does state that lethal jabs should be considered “practically and ethically equivalent to other medical practices that result in the end of life.” That means parents would be able to request pediatric euthanasia in the same way they can now order the removal of life support in an ICU.

The members of the working group are also intent on doing what they can to normalize pediatric euthanasia as a standard part of medical practice, stating, “We will . . . as an institution, publicly discuss the provision of MAID in an effort to normalise this procedure and reduce social stigma for everyone involved.” Good grief. Sometimes “social stigma” serves a positive social purpose by preventing immoral acts regardless of legality.

Here’s the bottom line: Countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, and now our most culturally aligned nation, Canada, demonstrate that once a society popularly accepts euthanasia, there are no brakes to prevent the steady expansion of the killing license, to include eventually even children and babies — acts that, until very recently, were universally condemned in the civilized world. Those with eyes to see, let them see.

WESLEY J. SMITH — Wesley J. Smith is an author and a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

I Depend on Life-Support To Stay Alive. Why I Oppose Assisted Suicide Laws by Diane Coleman, CEO of Not Dead Yet

"People who need home care shouldn't be treated as disposable," says Diane Coleman, CEO of Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights group, founded to oppose legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia. (Courtesy of Diane Coleman)
“People who need home care shouldn’t be treated as disposable,” says Diane Coleman, CEO of Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights group, founded to oppose legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia. (Courtesy of Diane Coleman)

By Diane Coleman 

I have an advanced neuromuscular condition and must use breathing support with a mask 18 hours a day. As a severely disabled person who depends on life-sustaining treatment, I would be able to qualify for assisted suicide at any time where it is legal.

If I became despondent, for example if I lost my husband or my job, and decided that I wanted to die, I would not be treated the same as a nondisabled, healthy person who despaired over divorce or job loss.

If anyone doubted that someone like me would qualify for assisted suicide in a state like Oregon, those doubts were laid to rest in December 2017 when an Oregon Public Health Department official clarified in writing:

“Patients suffering from any disease (not just those that typically qualify one for the DWDA [Death With Dignity Act]) may not be able to afford some treatments or medication, and may choose not to pursue some treatments or take some medication for personal reasons. . . . If the patient does not receive treatment or medication (for whatever reason) and is left with a terminal illness, then s/he would qualify for the DWDA.”

In the decade leading up to the passage of Oregon’s assisted suicide referendum in 1997, proponents often revealed their view that people with disabilities should be eligible. Two thirds of “Dr. Death” Jack Kevorkian’s body count were people with non-terminal conditions like multiple sclerosis.

The Hemlock Society contributed to his legal defense fund.

When the Hemlock Society morphed into “Compassion and Choices,” the messaging shifted, partly in an effort to exclude disability rights organizations from the public debate. Assisted suicide is only for people expected to die within six months, they said. The person must self-administer the lethal drugs, so no one else could kill them, they said.

Any reasonably trained lawyer should be able to see the absence of meaningful patient protections in assisted suicide bills. It took a decade to pass the Washington State statute that came next.

All along, disability groups have pointed out the inherent discrimination and empty pretense of safeguards in these bills. Why does everyone else get suicide prevention, while old, ill and disabled people get suicide assistance? How could a doctor who’s known a person for an average of 13 weeks know if they are being pressured to ask for assisted suicide?

Reported reasons for requesting assisted suicide pertain to disability, chronic or acquired due to illness.

Three of these reasons (feeling a loss of autonomy, loss of dignity, feelings of being a burden) could be addressed by consumer-directed in-home care services. However no disclosure or provision of such services is required. Basically, the law operates as though the reasons don’t matter, and nothing need be done to address them.

Assisted suicide proponents are fond of saying that many people don’t go through with it, but the lethal drugs give them peace of mind. What if some of the many who change their mind have family members who are not happy about it?

If the only other person present at the end is a greedy heir or tired caregiver, there are no safeguards to determine whether they self-administered the lethal drug or were cajoled, tricked or forced.

Although these and other obvious weaknesses persist in New Jersey’s assisted suicide bill (AB1504), the New Jersey Law Journal not only endorses it, but openly advocates expanding it to include active euthanasia and eligibility for people who are not expected to die in six months. No more incremental strategy, no need to hide the broader agenda.

Throughout last summer, people in wheelchairs with the group ADAPT were dragged out of Congressional hearings and arrested, leading successful efforts to save healthcare for millions of Americans. This same group asserts that Assisted suicide is not about relieving the suffering of the dying: it is an expression of the most toxic and deadly form of ableism.”

We urge New Jersey lawmakers to reject ableism, to look behind the public relations images of assisted suicide and consider the dangers to the many elders, ill and disabled people who are not safe from mistake, coercion and abuse.

Diane Coleman is the president and CEO of Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights group which she founded in 1996 to give voice to disability rights opposition to legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
www.nj.com

See How Your 2 State Assembly Members and State Senator voted on Radical Pro-Abortion Resolution, AR181/SR96

 

On September 27, 2018, the NJ State Assembly Scheduled a Vote on AR 181, a totally political Resolution that exemplified abortion extremism at its worst.

On October 29, 2018,  the NJ State Senate voted on SR96, the companion Resolution to AR181.

Click below to see how your 2 State Assembly Members and State Senator Voted.  Please thank your State Assembly Members and State Senator if they voted No.  If they Voted yes, please express your disappointment and outrage and inform them that you will take their vote into consideration when they are up for re-election next November.

Assembly Roll Call on AR181

Senate Roll Call on SR96 Sa

NJ Should Reject Assisted Suicide bill

Currently the New Jersey Legislature is considering assisted suicide legislation known as A1504. Proponents claim this is a compassionate law that is limited in scope and has a number of safeguards. That characterization is not only inaccurate; it fails to recognize some very serious problems in both its language and implementation. The New Jersey bill is modeled after the law enacted in Oregon in 1997 and, since then, a generation of disability rights advocates have been trying to sound the alarm over this horribly dangerous and discriminatory law.

 In Oregon last year, the three most frequently reported end-of-life concerns were decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (88.1%), loss of autonomy (87.4%), and loss of dignity (67.1%). As proponents of Oregon’s law admit, and as Oregon’s physician reporting form states, it is psycho-social pressures like these that drive the movement for legalized assisted suicide. Doctors also report people requesting assisted suicide because of loss of control of bodily functions. Over 55% of persons who took their lives last year in Oregon reportedly felt like “a burden to their family friends or caregivers.” Certainly these are issues for a wide variety of people who face life changing illnesses and disabilities, but these issues are socially driven and while many of these conditions, such as incontinence, can be tiring, frustrating and at times humiliating, people have a natural capacity to adapt. Our society has made tremendous strides in the ways we can manage these issues; one doctor or even several may not be aware of all the treatment and support options available to a patient.

The current legislation also has no real requirement for mental health or depression screening or treatment, even where depression or suicidal thoughts are considered normal side effects for certain medications. Some disabilities, such as epilepsy, have a high rate of suicidal thoughts that come with the diagnosis. If we are a society that shudders in horror as teen suicide rates spike compared to decades past, especially teen youth who are sexual minorities, and where teen youth dealing with mental illnesses or bullying are at the forefront of our efforts to prevent suicide, why are we even considering a law that proposes suicide as a solution for some adults?

Finally, the Oregon “model” law has no safeguards to protect a patient who may be in an abusive situation. The vast majority of people in Oregon who have used the law are elderly. The wording of the law is so flawed that people who have a direct conflict of interest not only can be a witness to sign a patient’s written request, but also, after the lethal prescription, there is absolutely no oversight in the law, significantly raising the potential for elder abuse or abuse of a medically fragile disabled adult as a result of this law. The patient is supposed to self-administer the drug, but there are no safeguards or procedures in the law to ensure this happens, while the minimal “reporting” requirements virtually ensure that wrongdoing will never be uncovered.

 Certainly, with the many flaws in this legislation, it would be a tragedy for the state legislature to endanger the people of New Jersey with its passage.

 Kate Blisard is a board member of Not Dead Yet, a disability rights advocacy group.

President Trump Picks Brett Kavanaugh for U.S. Supreme Court

(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump said he would nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, a choice that could create the most conservative court in generations and threaten landmark rulings including the Roe v. Wade abortion-rights decision.

If confirmed by the Senate, Kavanaugh would fill the seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing vote who sometimes sided with the court’s liberals in key cases. Trump wants to leave an enduring mark on the court, giving it a solid five-justice conservative majority for the foreseeable future.

“I do not ask about a nominee’s personal opinions,” Trump said Monday night. “What matters is not a judge’s political views but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require.”

Kavanaugh 53, is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit with a history in politics. Before he was nominated to the D.C. circuit by George W. Bush, he was the former president’s staff secretary and worked for Bush during the 2000 Florida vote recount. He also played a lead role in drafting Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s 1998 report on Bill Clinton. He is a Yale Law School graduate.

Trump made his decision on Sunday, according to White House officials, adding the determining factor was that Kavanaugh was the kind of judge read by other judges, and had a solid grounding in the legal philosophy known as strict constructionism.

On Friday, the president asked all four finalists for the Supreme Court seat, Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett, and Thomas Hardiman — to write speeches for Monday night’s announcement, submit names of people they’d like to have attend the announcement, and to share background information, according to the White House officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Two of the officials said the president would view Coney Barrett as a top contender if he has the opportunity to make a third Supreme Court nomination. They added that Trump repeatedly praised Hardiman, while Kethledge was ruled out because of rulings that immigration hardliners disliked.

Sunday Night Call

The president called Kavanaugh on Sunday night to tell him that he had been chosen. On Monday, he told Kennedy, who was traveling in Austria, one of the officials said.

On the appeals court, Kavanaugh has voted to strike down environmental regulations and said he would have overturned internet regulations issued while Barack Obama was president. He dissented from a ruling that let an undocumented immigrant teenager get an abortion while in federal custody.

Trump said that Kavanaugh has “impeccable credentials” and is “universally regarded as one of the finest and sharpest legal minds of our time.”

Kavanaugh, a former Kennedy clerk, said that he was “deeply honored” to replace the retiring justice.

“No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination,” Kavanaugh said of Trump.

Read More: Court Pick Kavanaugh Is Washington Insider, Regulation Skeptic

In addition to abortion, the court could shift to the right on the death penalty, racial discrimination, environmental law and gay rights, all areas where Kennedy at least sometimes joined the court’s liberal wing. Chief Justice John Roberts may now become the swing vote.

White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short said he expects Kavanaugh to be in place by Oct. 1, when the court’s next term formally opens, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will vote to confirm Kennedy’s successor in the fall. McConnell, who called Kavanaugh a “superb choice,” hasn’t explicitly said whether his goal is to complete a confirmation before the November midterm elections.

“This incredibly qualified nominee deserves a swift confirmation and robust bipartisan support,” Trump said.

Confirmation Battle

Kennedy’s position in the court’s center guarantees a fierce confirmation fight. As soon as he announced his retirement plans in late June, Democrats and liberal groups mobilized, saying another Trump appointee would threaten Roe as well as the 2015 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide and scores of other decisions that have shaped modern America.

“President Trump has put reproductive rights and freedoms and health care protections for millions of Americans on the judicial chopping block,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement moments after Trump’s announcement. “His own writings make clear that he would rule against reproductive rights and freedoms, and that he would welcome challenges to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.”

Schumer, of New York, said he would fight the nomination “with everything I have, and I hope a bipartisan majority will do the same.”

Senators Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, all Democrats, said immediately after Trump’s announcement that they would also vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

White House counsel Don McGahn, who oversaw Trump’s justice selection process, tried to contact all the Senate Judiciary Committee members during the process. Only Harris, who is thought to have presidential ambitions, declined to engage, according to one of the White House officials.

Republicans hold a 51-49 advantage in the Senate, so they can approve Trump’s nominee without any Democratic support as long as they don’t lose more than one vote. In confirming Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Republicans eliminated the 60-vote requirement to advance a nomination to the high court.

A key Republican moderate, Susan Collins of Maine, said she will review the pick, but said Kavanaugh has “impressive credentials.”

The White House plans a robust promotional campaign on Kavanaugh’s behalf.

Vice President Mike Pence scheduled interviews Tuesday morning with local television and radio stations in states represented by Democrats that Trump won in 2016, one of the White House officials said. He plans to participate in an outreach call with White House allies, Kavanaugh’s introduction at McConnell’s office, a radio interview with conservative host Rush Limbaugh, lunch with Republican senators and two national television interviews, the official added.

Pence took an active role in the selection process, meeting with Kethledge and Barrett in Indiana on July 3 and with Kavanaugh in Washington on July 4, the official added.

Kavanaugh will begin individual meetings with senators this week, McConnell’s office said. The Judiciary Committee will announce a date for a confirmation hearing after reviewing Kavanaugh’s record.

Overturning Roe

Gorsuch’s nomination became possible because McConnell blocked Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill a vacancy in 2016. McConnell had said the winner of the presidential election should make the choice.

Trump vowed during the campaign to appoint justices who would vote to overturn Roe, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, and his appointment to replace Kennedy could make that a reality. Recently, he said he wouldn’t ask any potential nominees about Roe during interviews.

Kennedy cast the pivotal vote to uphold Roe in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision. The justices who remain on the court include three who have backed broad abortion restrictions and a fourth, Gorsuch, who in all likelihood would.

Senate confirmation of Kavanaugh could create the most conservative court since the justices blocked a number of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs in the 1930s. It could also create a lasting majority. Thomas, at 70, is the oldest of the court’s remaining Republican appointees.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.