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Aid-In-Dying Bill Fails To Get A Vote By Legislative Committee
Tim Appleton, Connecticut campaign manager for Compassion and Choices, spoke in favor of aid-in-dying legislation at the Capitol on March 16. (Michael McAndrews)
By Daniela Altimari contact the reporter Laws and Legislation Connecticut General Assembly
Aid-in-dying bill fails to come to a vote in the legislature’s Judiciary Committee
HARTFORD — For the third time in three years, aid-in-dying legislation has stalled at the state Capitol.
Advocates on both sides of the emotional issue say the legislature’s Judiciary Committee has opted not to vote on House Bill 7015, which would have permitted terminally ill patients to request a doctor’s help to end their lives. The measure is unlikely to move forward without the committee’s endorsement.
“Each year that lawmakers fail to act prolongs the suffering for thousands of terminally ill Connecticut residents and the people who love them,” said Tim Appleton, Connecticut campaign director for Compassion & Choices, a national group promoting aid-in-dying legislation in statehouses around the nation.
Letting Important Bills Die Is A Craven Way To Govern
Letting Important Bills Die Is A Craven Way To Govern
Supporters said the proposal would have allowed mentally competent patients with fewer than six months to live the chance for a dignified death, free of pain.
“About 7,000 people will die from cancer this year in Connecticut without having this choice. Many will endure painful deaths. They should have the choice — to die peacefully, with dignity, and on their terms,” Appleton said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
Critics denounced the concept as “assisted suicide” and said it devalues life and leaves people with disabilities vulnerable to coercion.
Led by the Catholic bishops, a broad coalition that includes disability rights activists, hospice providers and the Connecticut State Medical Society joined together to stop the bill. The church funded a multimedia ad campaign aimed at swaying public opinion against the proposal.
Michael C. Culhane, executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference, said he was “thrilled” but not surprised by the committee’s decision to forgo a vote on the bill. Opponents have been counting votes since the bill was drafted in February and knew support was weak, he said.
Culhane said the measure’s failure to move forward was due to a large and diverse coalition that worked together to persuade legislators that the bill was bad public policy.
“It was a collective effort that produced the results that were announced today,” he said.
Catholic Church Poised For Pivotal Role In Aid-In-Dying Bill
Catholic Church Poised For Pivotal Role In Aid-In-Dying Bill
Appleton had strong words for the Catholic Church. “The Church lobby has a history of driving fear of change, and they are spending an incredible amount of funds trying to do just that in Connecticut,” he said.
The bill was the subject of a long and often emotional public hearing last month, drawing hundreds of people who shared raw, often personal stories of a loved one’s demise or their own struggle with a terminal illness.
In the three times the legislature has considered such a bill since 2013, the bills never received a committee vote, one of the first steps in the legislative process. In theory, the concept could be raised on the floor of the House or the Senate as an amendment, but most observers consider that unlikely.
“We would urge the General Assembly to focus on improving hospice, palliative care and home care … rather than continue to waste time on an issue that has now been rejected three years in a row without a committee vote,” said Stephen Mendelsohn, a disability rights activist with the group Second Thoughts Connecticut. “Three strikes and you are out.”
Appleton and other supporters remain confident the concept eventually will win approval in Connecticut. They point to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted last month that found nearly 2-to-1 support for aid-in-dying.
“Civil rights issues such as gay marriage took many years to gain approval in Connecticut, and today the majority of people cannot imagine a time when marriage equality was not fully accepted here,” Appleton said. “Today, 63 percent of Connecticut voters support aid-in-dying, a percentage that has increased from previous years. We believe that, like gay marriage and other issues of personal choice, aid in dying will continue to gain support and approval by the legislature. Aid-in-dying will eventually become the law in Connecticut.”
Three states — Oregon, Washington and Vermont — have laws allowing doctors to prescribe lethal medications to terminally ill patients. Courts in both New Mexico and Montana have found aid in dying legal, and a lawsuit seeking a similar ruling was recently filed in New York.
Meanwhile, an aid-in-dying bill is moving through the California legislature, fueled in part by the death of brain cancer patient Brittany Maynard, who moved from California to Oregon because she sought a physician’s help in ending her life. California’s End of Life Option Act cleared the Senate judiciary committee earlier this week.
But other states have rejected the concept. Voters in Massachusetts defeated a 2012 ballot initiative that would have legalized aid-in-dying.
Culhane said he expects proponents to continue trying to win approval in Connecticut.
“I assume they’re going to be back,” Culhane said. “The concept of aid-in-dying is being pursued across the country and the proponents would love to grab a success.”
Copyright © 2015, Hartford Courant
Death with dignity’ bill extinguished without a vote
By Erin Cox
The Baltimore Sun
contact the reporter Maryland General Assembly
Lawmakers pull plug on ‘death with dignity’ bill without a vote.
Right-to-die legislation that sparked emotional debate in Annapolis will not be voted on this year.
Maryland leaders delay any action on right-to-die bills until next year.
Hope ended Wednesday for those who wanted Maryland to pass a “death with dignity” law this year.
Leaders of two key committees considering a bill that would have allowed doctors to prescribe medicine to help terminally ill patients end their lives decided not to vote on the proposal, effectively killing it.
“It’s a good approach,” Del. Shane Pendergrass, a Howard County Democrat who pushed the legislation. “These kinds of large issues take a certain amount of deliberating,” she said. “They also require some time for people to think about this. We have a lot of freshmen who want to go back to their districts, that they’re not used to representing, and see what they people think.”
Key negotiators said it became clear that the proposal might have had enough votes to pass out of a joint House Committee, but it could spur a bruising debate on the floor. House leaders said they decided to forgo a vote rather than undertake a potentially losing one.
Opponents of the law celebrated its quiet death.
“We are absolutely delighted that the committees realized that this bill would not work for Marylanders,” said Sam Crane, director of public policy for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and a member of the MD Coalition Against Physician Assisted Suicide.
Crane’s group, religious organizations, mental health groups and disability advocates had argued that the bill would sanction death for people who relied on others to care for them and could put some the state’s most vulnerable populations at risk.
Maryland was among more than 15 states weighing right-to-die legislation this year, part of a nationwide movement sparked by the advocacy of 29-year-old brain tumor patient Brittany Maynard.
Maynard drew attention by chronicling the final months of her life. She ended it last fall under a right-to-die law in Oregon, one of only five states with such a policy.
The spate of legislation is a rapid reversal from 15 years ago, when states across the country banned physician-assisted suicide in response to the efforts of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Maryland made the practice a felony in 1999.
The bill would have allowed patients with a terminal diagnosis and a prognosis of less than six months to obtain a prescription for a lethal dose of a drug. The patient would have been required to take the drug without assistance.
Former Ravens linebacker O.J. Brigance traveled to Annapolis this year to ask lawmakers to reject state-sanctioned death for people with terminal conditions.
Brigance, who was diagnosed in 2007 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — Lou Gehrig’s disease — speaks through a machine. He told lawmakers that choosing to live with his degenerative condition has “done a greater good for society in eight years than my previous 37 years on earth.”
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
On Thursday, March 19, 2015, the Assembly Human Services (see list below) released Bill S866/A2648 from Committee.
NJRTL Executive Director Marie Tasy testified against the bill, as did Harold Cassidy, Esq., who is the former member of the NJ Bioethics Commission and Chief Counsel for the Mother in the Baby M Case. Also testifying against the bill was Angelia Gail Robinson, a Gestational Surrogacy mother of twin girls, Cathi Swett, a licensed attorney, and Greg Quinlan of NJ Family First.
The bill passed along partisan lines with Democrats voting for it and the two Republicans voting against. Asw. Mosquera (D-4) expressed concerns with the bill after hearing testimony and urged the sponsor to ensure that the issues mentioned are addressed in the bill. For press coverage on the bill: Read
1. Email and call your two Assembly Members. Urge them to Vote No on this Wombs for Rent bill, S866/A2648 if this bill comes up for a vote in the full Assembly. See previous posts on this page for more information. Find your 2 Assembly members by clicking on your municipality, Here
You can also send a prewritten message to your 2 Assembly Members by going to the Tab on our website marked, “Legislation” and Take Action on the alert for S866/A2648, Gestational Carrier Bill. Here
2. Email and call Governor Christie. Thank him for vetoing the gestational carrier bill in the past and urge him to veto S866/A2648 if it reaches his desk again.
Phone Governor Christie: 609-292-6000
MEMBERS OF THE ASSEMBLY HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE
Vainieri Huttle, Valerie – Chair & Sponsor of Bill (D-37) – voted yes to release the bill
Tucker, Cleopatra G. – Vice-Chair (D-28) – Voted yes to release the bill
Angelini, Mary Pat (R-11) – Voted no to release the bill
Fiocchi, Samuel L. (R-1) – Voted no to release the bill
Garcia, Carmelo G. (D-33) – Voted yes to release the bill
Mosquera, Gabriela M.(D-4) – Voted yes to release the bill
Nine years – and five grandchildren – later, the 68-year-old retiree from New Jersey is still going strong, and all thanks to an experimental treatment involving a common vaccine.
Hillburn, of Fort Lee, New Jersey, was one of 12 cancer patients who were given a tetanus shot as part of a new study conducted at the Duke University Medical Center.
Researchers found that a dose of tetanus vaccine let patients like Hillburn live longer when added to an experimental treatment for the most common and deadly kind of brain tumor,
Beating the odds: In April 2006, when Sandy Hillburn was diagnosed with glioblastoma – the most common and deadly kind of brain tumor – she was given only two-three months to live
Matriarch: Thanks to an experimental treatment involving the tetanus-diphtheria vaccine, Hillburn (top center) got to witness the birth of five more grandchildren
It ‘put the immune system on high alert,’ paving the way for the experimental treatment to work better in attacking the disease, said researcher Kristen Batich of the Duke University Medical Center.
In a paper released Wednesday by the journal Nature, she and others describe a study of 12 patients. Some who got the tetanus shot lived years longer than those who didn’t.
Dr. John Sampson of Duke, senior author of the report, called the results promising but noted the study was small, and said bigger studies are needed to confirm the results. A follow-up study has already been planned but isn’t recruiting patients yet, Batich said.
The results are ‘very exciting,’ said Dr. Nader Sanai of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. While he agreed more work is required, ‘what you have so far, it’s a very positive story.’
Tetanus is otherwise known as lockjaw. Vaccines for it are routinely recommended for children and adults.
The new study focused on glioblastoma, which killed Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy in 2009. Even after surgery to remove the tumor, it usually grows back and kills. The few drugs to treat these tumors have little effect. Half of patients die within about 15 months.
When diagnosed in New York in April 2006, ‘I was told I had two to three months to live,’ Sandra Hillburn recalled in a telephone interview.
But her family flew her to Duke in North Carolina because of its reputation for glioblastoma care, and she was offered a slot in the experimental study.
Cutting age treatment: Hillburn was one of 12 cancer patients who were given a tetanus shot as part of a new study conducted at the Duke University Medical Center
New approach: Doctors remove white blood cells from a patient and equip them with a chemical target found in the tumor. Then they return the cells to the patient’s body, where they train the immune system to go after the cancer cells and kill them.
‘I was very positive it would help,’ Hillburn said. ‘I said, “Sure, thank you.” I’m still saying thank you.’
In the years since then, she has attended her son’s wedding and gained five more grandchildren. Now she plays soccer with six grandsons in Ohio and Boston.
‘I look forward to seeing the wonderful people they’re becoming,’ she said.
She continues to visit Duke once a month for more cell injections. Last November, she celebrated her 100th treatment. Dr Sampson said it’s not clear why she has lived so long.
Hillburn credits the treatment and her medical care at Duke. She also cited the example of her father, who is a 97-year-old survivor of two kinds of cancer.
‘He just went about his life, and so I did the same thing,’ Hillburn said.
At age 68, Hillburn, plans to continue beating the odds for years to come.
‘I think I’m good for at least another 10 years,’ she told CBS News.
Living by example: Hillburn said her father is a 97-year-old survivor of two different types of cancer who continues to go about living his life, and she is doing the same
Looking ahead: She continues to visit Duke once a month for more cell injections and hopes to celebrate her 80th birthday
Positive outlook: Hillburn said when she was offered to be in the study, she was sure the experimental treatment would help
The active senior says she is lucky because she can enjoy a normal life: play golf, take long walks every day and meet friends for lunch.
The new research work that has so dramatically prolonged Sandy Hillburn’s life is an example of a long-standing effort to harness the immune system to fight cancer, an approach called immunotherapy.
The specific strategy it used is called a dendritic-cell vaccine. Doctors remove white blood cells from a patient and equip them with a chemical target found in the tumor called cytomegalovirus, or CMV. Then they return the cells to the patient’s body, where they train the immune system to go after the cancer cells and kill them.
Not sitting still: The active senior says she is lucky because she can enjoy a normal life
The 12 patients in the new study were treated with a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. All patients got an ordinary tetanus-diphtheria shot and then three injections of their own cells, spaced two weeks apart.
Then they were randomly divided into two groups. One group got a second, tiny dose of the tetanus-diphtheria vaccine at the place in the skin where the cells would be injected the next day. The other group got a dummy dose.
The idea behind the tetanus mini-shot was that the immune system “gets revved up in this particular area” so that “the body will be more excited about what’s to come,” Sampson said.
Cell injections continued monthly until brain scans showed tumor growing.
For the six patients who got the dummy shot, only one was still alive two years after diagnosis, surviving for about 3½ years. Still, overall results for this group indicated a small benefit from the cell injections alone, Batich said.
The results were far better for patients who got the mini-shot of tetanus. Four surpassed two years. One of them lived almost five years and another nearly six years.
The study was funded in part by a government grant to a business venture that is licensing the technology. Some of the authors have filed patents related to the tetanus strategy.
Colorado lawmakers rejected a proposal to give dying patients the option to seek doctors’ help ending their lives, concluding a long day of emotional testimony from more than 100 people.
For one lawmaker who voted no, the issue was personal. Tearfully telling her colleagues she was a cancer survivor, Democratic Rep. Dianne Primavera recalled how a doctor told her she wouldn’t live more than five years.
But she found a doctor who gave her a different opinion.
“And he took me in his care, and I am here today 28 years later,” she said.
Doctors who opposed the measure told lawmakers earlier that allowing dying patients to seek life-ending medications from a physician closed off the possibility of a recovery when a prognosis can sometimes be wrong.
A House committee considering the bill voted 8-5 against it after dozens of people with serious illnesses and others who have seen relatives suffer packed the Colorado legislative hearing.
The vote comes as a handful of other states, including California and Pennsylvania, consider laws to allow the terminally ill get doctor-prescribed medication to die.
Five states allow patients to seek aid in dying: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico.
“This bill represents a very personal freedom that for some is taken away in the final stages of their illness,” said Democratic Rep. Joann Ginal, one of the bill sponsors. “Physicians give patients the best possible care. But there comes a time when a physician is no longer able to heal.”
Religious organizations opposed the measure, saying it facilitated suicide. But supporters argued that terminally ill patients should control when they die.
The story of Brittany Maynard last year spotlighted the debate over whether doctors should be able to prescribe life-ending medication to patients. Maynard, 29, moved from California to Oregon after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer so she could use that state’s law. She died Nov. 1.
Colorado’s bill was modeled after Oregon’s. It would have required dying patients to get two doctors to sign off on their oral and written requests to end their lives. The patients also would have needed to be found to be mentally competent and be able to administer the life-ending medication themselves.
One of the opponents to the bill, Carrie Ann Lucas, spoke on behalf of Not Dead Yet, a New-York based disability rights group.
Lucas uses a wheelchair and ventilator because of a neuromuscular disease. She told lawmakers that she worries the proposal would make it easy for a disabled person who is depressed to get medication from a doctor. Without her ventilator, Lucas told lawmakers, she would have only hours to live. And, she said, if she were to get depressed, she thinks she could go to a doctor who doesn’t know her well to get the drugs.
“And they probably would give me that lethal prescription instead of referring me to mental-health treatment that I would so desperately need,” said Lucas, 43.
Boulder resident David Hibbard, 77, told lawmakers that as a hospice physician for the past 15 years, he knows what to expect once his Parkinson’s disease and leukemia advance.
“I will be hunched over, either bed-bound or in a wheelchair,” he said, his hands shaking as he spoke. He would be unable to talk and feed himself, Hibbard told lawmakers.
“I don’t want to endure this scenario, and I certainly don’t want to have my family, my wife and my three children, have to endure watching me go through this rapid deterioration,” he said.
Lawmakers hearing the bill raised concerns about whether there are enough safeguards to prevent abuse, such a family member advocating for life-ending medications on behalf of a dying relative. Lawmakers also wondered what would happen if the medications are not used, and whether someone other than the patient could then take them.
One lawmaker, Rep. Jon Keyser, R-Morrison, said he worries Colorado could become a state known for “suicide tourism” if the bill passes.
The Colorado legislation was inspired by Charles Selsberg, 77, who urged legislators to take on the issue with an editorial published in The Denver Post shortly before his death a year ago. Selsberg died of ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
His daughter, Julie Selsberg, wiped away tears after the vote. She supported the bill.
Find Ivan Moreno on Twitter: http://twitter.com/IvanJourno
CHEYENNE — The Wyoming House Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee unanimously voted to table legislation which would allow physicians to prescribe life-ending medications to terminally ill patients.
The committee also recommended that an interim committee research the issue.
Proponents of the legislation argue that the legislation offers terminally ill patients a humane end-of-life option and a way to say goodbye to their families. Supporters also believe that they shouldn’t have to leave their home state to have the option available.
Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, called the vote the best possible outcome for House Bill 119.
“Several committee members pledged to do their best to get management council to assign it to a committee during the interim and do a study,” he said. “That’s probably more successful than it going to the floor and dying.”
The committee heard emotional testimony from Wyoming residents who would be affected by death with dignity legislation. Testifying before the committee, Alisha Loveland of Casper, told the story of her father-in-law. He was diagnosed with emphysema and knew it was a matter of time until the disease took his life. Taking matters into his own hands, he ended his life with a firearm.
Loveland told the committee that she and her husband had to clean up the aftermath.
“He had gotten to the point where he couldn’t walk even to his workshop. He knew he would eventually suffocate to death. He didn’t want to wait until the agonizing end,” she said.
“I don’t understand why we have to be medical refugees and go to another state to die. I don’t understand why we can’t stay in our own state and die in our own bed with loved ones around us.”
Rep. Dan Kirkbride, R-Chugwater, serves on the committee. He said that he would oppose death with dignity legislation on the house floor for spiritual reasons. He also said that legislation would put doctors in a bad place, calling the legislation a “slippery slope.” He said that health care professionals take an oath to provide the best possible care and that assisting patients dying would violate that oath.
“It would probably open some doors to some other things in society that we haven’t considered,” the legislator said.
HB119 is among more than 10 bills proposed in state legislatures across the country. Five states have death with dignity laws on the books. New Mexico, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Vermont currently allow the practice.
Jessica Grennan, of Missoula, Montana, is the national field director for Compassion and Choices, the nation’s largest death with dignity proponent. She said that while she is pleased that the committee recommended that the state look into the issue, she would like to see the legislature hasten their work on the matter.
“I’m pleased that we’re going to further the conversation. I wish the people who want this end-of-life option now in Wyoming…I’m sad that they have to wait,” Grennan said.
|Two Republicans, Senator Jennifer Beck (R-11) andSenator Sam Thompson (R-12) voted with 19 Democrats
to get to the 21 votes to pass this bill. See vote tally for
3rd Final Passage below on this page to see
how your Senator voted.
S866 Authorizes certain gestational carrier agreements.
Update: The NJ Senate narrowly passed S866 on 2/5/15 by a vote of 21-13. It was added to the Senate Board List for the 2/5/15 Voting Session at the last minute. See how your Senator voted Here
It now moves to the Assembly. Please call and email your 2 State Assembly members and urge them to Vote No on S866/A2648 immediately. Please share this information with family and friends.
You can send a pre-written message to your 2 Assembly members by going to our Legislative Action Center.
Background on gestational carrier bill
The NJ Senate Health Committee released bill S866 on Monday, January 26, 2015 by a vote of 5-0 with two abstentions. It can be scheduled for a vote at any time before the full Senate. Governor Christie vetoed an identical bill in August of 2012. Please contact your State Senator and two Assembly members and urge them to Vote No on S866/A2648.
Senate bill sponsors are Senators Joseph Vitale (D-19), Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-37), Senator Brian Stack (D-33 ) and Senator Diane Allen (R-7). Sponsors in the Assembly are Assemblywoman Valerie Vanieri Huttle (D-37) and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-20). The bill passed previously in 2012 by only one vote in both the Senate and Assembly and was vetoed by Governor Christie.
The bill would further advance the profits of a lucrative fertility industry which remains unregulated and would add to the number of embryonic human beings created in IVF labs, experimented on and killed for research purposes and aborted through selective reduction. The bill will legalize the commodification and exploitation of women, disregarding women’s health, turn pregnancy and the miracle of birth into just another commercial transaction and a baby into a product. The legislation would permit payment of “reasonable expenses” to the gestational “carrier,” including “living expenses during her pregnancy including payments for food, clothing, medical expenses, shelter and religious, psychological, vocational or similar counseling services during the pregnancy and during the period of postpartum.” It also redefines the the meaning of “natural mother” and “biological father” in law, setting the stage for many complex legal, ethical and societal problems.
Read more about this issue here
Contact your two Assembly members and urge them to Vote No on S866/A2648. You can obtain their names and contact information by calling the Office of Legislative Services at 1-800-792-8630 during regular business hours. You can also find their contact info by visiting the NJ Legislature’s website at the following link: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/legsearch.asp
You can also send a pre-written email to them by going to our Legislative Action Center
Go to the tab that says “Legislation” on our website to send a pre-written message to your 2 Assembly Members from our Legislative Action Center on S866/A2648.
After a lengthy and emotional hearing Monday, lawmakers narrowly sent New Jersey’s Death with Dignity Act to its final vote in the Legislature.
The question now is whether the legislation allowing physicians to prescribe fatal medication to terminally ill patients with less than six months to live can get the backing needed in the Senate. It barely got the support to pass the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on Monday, by a vote of 5-3, but some lawmakers who were in favor of the legislation said they would vote against it in the full Senate.
In the past week the panel has heard testimony from medical organizations, religious groups, and those who have been given months to live and those who have witnessed the slow, painful death of a loved one. Advocates of the measure said it is a matter of civil liberties and provides a comforting outlet for those in pain. Critics have called it flawed policy tantamount to state-sanctioned homicide.
But after close to six total hours of lobbying on each side the past week, Senator Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, summed up the panel’s responsibility this way: “This is really a highly personal issue, and very much a vote of conscience.”
Personal views do change, though. One of the bill’s original sponsors, Chairman Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, took his name off the legislation because, he said, “The more I thought about it, the more questions I had. I just thought it was best to say, ‘I’m not sure.’”
Still, Vitale cast a vote Monday in favor of releasing the bill to the full Senate, but without recommendation – meaning there is not overwhelming support in the majority.
It isn’t known if it has the 21 votes to clear the Senate, though Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, has come out in support of the bill. In a statement, he said he believes there “needs to be an honest discussion about this option.”
An Assembly version cleared last month with 41 votes, the minimum needed for a bill to pass. And even if the bill does pass the Senate, Governor Christie has said he does not support it.
Such a measure is contentious enough, but several speakers – and one committee member – suspected the bill was getting rammed through to the Senate.
“This is a very, very, very critical piece of legislation that deserves to have its time. It rushed through the Assembly in the dark of night. It’s rushing through the Senate in the dark of night,” said Sen. Bob Singer, R-Ocean. “What’s this urgency that it can’t get its fair share and can’t (let) everyone be heard?”
On Monday, several speakers expressed worry that the law, if passed, would become an option of first resort, not the last, for some.
“What we have is palliative care for the rich and death for the poor. Is that the road we’re really going down here?” said Alan Holdsworth, a member of the group Not Dead Yet.