MONDAY, 5 SEPTEMBER 2011

Bulgarian parliament spurns euthanasia

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The Bulgarian Parliament has rejected a euthanasia bill by a vote of 59 to 13, with 29 abstentions. Socialist MP Lyuben Kornezov had proposed a bill which would have allowed euthanasia if a patient made a notarised request. A spouse, adult children or parents could also make a request if a patient was not competent. A panel of three doctors and lawyers would review requests.

According to the Sofia Echo, Mr Kornezov said that euthanasia already had been legalised in some European countries, Japan, Oregon, Albania, Australia, Uruguay and Japan. (Mr Kornezov misinformed his parliament. Only in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg is euthanasia permitted. A few jurisdictions, like Oregon, allow assisted suicide.)

"With gritted teeth and a heavy heart, I say 'yes' to euthanasia because for me it is the highest form of humanitarianism," said Mr Kornezov. If suffering is unbearable, a person must be able to choose between… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 8 AUGUST 2011

The Dignity in Dying blog has opted for assisted suicide after apparently suffering unbearably

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The Dignity in Dying blog has opted for assisted suicide after apparently suffering unbearably from a terminal condition.

Speculation is mounting as to why the blog chose this course. Some have suggested it may have come under pressure from authors who found it a burden to care for and were concerned about the resources its continued existence was consuming.

Others have said that it probably just felt lonely having so few readers and only nine ‘friends’, of whom only two (Ellen Coaty and Sarah Masson) had real names. In support of this they point out that one of the other seven, went under the nom de plume of ‘Comfort Blanket’ and may have been drafted in to provide palliative care.

The Dignity in Dying blog was launched on 2 November 2009, by the former Voluntary Euthanasia Society and amassed 185 posts… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

SATURDAY, 6 AUGUST 2011

Dutch doctors solidly behind euthanasia: poll

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How much can on-line polls be trusted? Not much. An on-line poll about euthanasia? Even less. However, in view of the sketchy state of information about euthanasia in the first country to legalise it, any poll is welcome. The EinVandaag website in the Netherlands surveyed general practitioners in the last week in July and found that Dutch doctors support it, though sometimes reluctantly. (The number of official notifications of deaths by euthanasia rose 13% to 2,636 in 2009, although many deaths are apparently not reported.)

Here is what the poll of 800 doctors found. The vast majority – 87% -- were willing in principle to participate in legal euthanasia. About 68% said that they had participated in euthanasia in the last 5 years. Of these, 29% did it once; 25% twice; 33% 3 to 5 times; and 11% more than 5 times.

Euthanasia is certainly… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

FRIDAY, 5 AUGUST 2011

Nitschke in new ploy to import lethal drug

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Euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke is trying to use a legal loophole to obtain the euthanasia drug Nembutal for two South Australians. They are among six terminally ill patients who have asked Dr Nitschke to import the sedative through the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s special access scheme for patients with a “legitimate need.” 

"Obviously there's going to be a considerable degree of suspicion because I am the applicant on their behalf," Dr Nitschke admitted. He argued that while a patient could use the drug to end his or her life, that was not his intention. He said he therefore did not expect he would be liable for any criminal charge if a patient were to use the drug to end his or her life. “It would not be being prescribed as a euthanasia drug,” he said. “I would expect the patients to die of their diseases.”

If the TGA grants Dr Nitschke’s application, he… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

TUESDAY, 2 AUGUST 2011

Analysing South Australia’s muddled euthanasia bill

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It has been interesting, and more than a little frustrating to read the comments by some South Australian MPs to the effect that the bill put forward by backbencher Steph Key isn’t about euthanasia but, rather, about giving added protection under the law for doctors going about their normal business (or words to that effect).

It might seem obvious, but it needs to be stated that all legislation is about what the bill says and what the bill does; not what anyone tells us it will do. A cynical retort to that point might be to say, “Well, in that case, why should we listen to what you say it’s about?” Fair point, but judge for yourselves from what follows.

But before we look at the legislation itself, just think for a minute: if the bill isn’t about euthanasia, why is Phillip Nitschke in Adelaide so often? Why is he saying… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 1 AUGUST 2011

Is terminal sedation slow euthanasia?

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The usual technique of euthanasia is when a doctor administers a lethal injection to a patient. However, when a doctor withdraws life-sustaining nutrition and fluid from a comatose or sedated patient, is this not a form of slow euthanasia?

The issue of whether or not the provision of nutrition and hydration to patients should be considered as medical treatment and, therefore, subject at some level to the discretion of doctors, has received some good press lately.

In Canada, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) fought a legal battle, alongside the family of a comatose patient Mr Hassan Rasouli, to prevent medical staff in a Toronto hospital from removing life-sustaining nutrition and hydration from Mr Rasouli.

An Ontario court subsequently ruled that doctors are required to obtain the consent of either the patient or a substitute decision-maker (such as the patient’s guardian) before withdrawing life-sustaining interventions.

More… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

FRIDAY, 29 JULY 2011

A terror management strategy for dementia

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The following article was written in response to Dr Philip Nitschke’s latest round of public meetings.

When the headline act in the Nitschke travelling road show’s visit to Bendigo is titled, Voluntary euthanasia: Making choices in the context of Alzheimer’s and dementia, we need to ask some serious questions about what the real agenda might be and who gets hurt.

Why Alzheimer’s and why dementia? Simply because these particular conditions are among those that we who are “past our prime” as they say, fear the most. Don’t think for a minute that Nitschke has a particular heartfelt desire to help Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers. He is a salesman and what he does is simply marketing. Focusing on our natural fears is about demographics: pitching to an audience who are most likely to buy what he has to sell.

Professor Johnstone from the Deakin University School… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

THURSDAY, 30 JUNE 2011

UK withdrawal of treatment case threatens disabled

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Radio Four’s recent File on Four programme, ‘A Living Death’, featured four case histories of people with serious brain damage. They included Ian Wilson, an Aberdeen man in his 50s, who suffered a severe head injury in a road accident 21 years ago and is now the longest surviving patient in the UK with vegetative state. He is looked after at home by his 83 year old mother. A second patient with the same diagnosis had died after a court ruled that food and fluids could be withheld.

People with so-called persistent vegetative state (PVS) may live for ten, twenty or thirty years – in fact the record survival is more than forty. But since the Tony Bland (pictured above) judgement in 1992, in which the Law Lords ruled that a young man’s nasogastric feeding tube could be removed with the intention of ending his life, it has been… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

TUESDAY, 28 JUNE 2011

Will British Medical Assoc spurn “bogus” commission on assisted dying?

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Former Lord Chancellor Charles Falconer (pictured) appeared on the Radio Four Sunday programme this morning. His controversial ‘commission on assisted dying’ will begin to consider the ‘evidence’ it has gathered this coming Wednesday.

Falconer’s commission was set up last November at the instigation of Dignity in Dying (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society). The commission has said it will take oral and written ‘evidence’ throughout this year on whether assisted suicide should be legalised and produce a report in the autumn. DID’s hope is that the conclusions, when published, might influence parliament. DID was forced to go down the route of a private commission when its attempts to get a parliamentary committee to look at this issue failed.

There have already been three attempts to legalise assisted suicide in Britain over the last six years but all have been singularly unsuccessful resulting in defeats of 148-100 (Joffe Bill), 194-141… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

FRIDAY, 24 JUNE 2011

Dignitas: not a holiday get-away

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Karen and Rona Royle 

About 160 Britons have died at Dignitas, about one in six of the clients of the Swiss suicide clinic in Zurich. What is it like? London’s Daily Mail – whose specialty is first person narratives, rather than detached commentary – interviewed the daughter of a 74-year-old woman who died there in 2009. Rona Royle was diagnosed with motor neurone disease early in the year and after researching the disease on the internet, decided to end her life at Dignitas.

She was accompanied by her daughter Karen, her husband, Jim, who was suffering from dementia, and Karen’s partner.

The image Karen and her partner David Sweetman cannot erase from their minds is of a ‘blue tin shed’ on a barren industrial estate, with no views, just a scrubby patch of garden littered with cigarette butts.

Inside, the… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

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Careful! is MercatorNet's blog about end-of-life issues. We respect the dignity of each person from the beginning of life to its natural end. Leave your comments at the foot of our articles. The more the better! Write to us at editor@mercatornet.com.


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