Discussion

Maryland assisted suicide bill will be decided by three undecided Senators.

Alex Schadenberg - 2 hours 23 min ago
Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Maryland SenateIn 2019, the Maryland assisted suicide bill failed in the Senate by a tie vote of 23 to 23.

David Collins with WBALTV reported that the fate of this years assisted suicide House Bill HB 0643 and Senate Bill SB 701 will be in the hands of three undecided Senators. According to Collins:
Three senators who are on the fence may control the bill's fate: Sen. Jim Rosapepe, a Democrat who represents District 21, which encompasses portions of Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties; Sen. Obie Patterson, a Democrat who represents Prince George's County's 26th District; and Sen. Charles Sydnor, a Democrat who represents Baltimore County's 44th District.Contact these three Senators and encourage them to oppose assisted suicide.

Jim Rosapepe: Jim.Rosapepe@senate.state.md.usObie Patterson: obie.patterson@senate.state.md.usCharles Sydnor:  charles.sydnor@senate.state.md.us
Collins reported on the supporters and members of the group Maryland Against Assisted Suicide.
According to the report:"You'll hear proponents of this law say, 'It's all about freedom of choice, it's my right, my life.' Well, I can tell you firsthand that these laws reduce your rights to care," said Dr. T. Brian Callister, a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, and director of Medical Student Rural Education. "The lethal drugs used in assisted suicide have never been scientifically tested, and the U.S. (Food and Drug Administration) has never approved any drugs for this purpose," Dr. Joseph Marine, vice director of the division of cardiology at Johns Hopkins University. "No one who claims to be a healer should offer death as if it is an option on a menu to choose from depending on how one feels in the moment," said Sherman Gillums Jr., chairman of the federal Veterans' Families, Caregiver and Survivors Advisory Committee.
House Bill HB 0643 and Senate Bill SB 701 may permit euthanasia. Most of the new assisted suicide bills have language that allows a wider interpretation.

The Maryland bill is designed as an application process for obtaining a lethal dose. Most assisted suicide bills state that the person self-administer the lethal dose, making it an assisted suicide.

The Maryland assisted suicide bill does not require the person to "self-administer" the lethal drugs but rather the bill says "may self-administer."

When examining the bill further the potential for euthanasia becomes more clear. The assisted suicide bill § 3–103 states:
A licensed health care professional does not violate § 3–102 of this subtitle by TAKING ANY ACTION in accordance with Title 5, Subtitle 6A of the health – general article.This paragraph can be interpreted to provides full legal protection for Health Care Professionals who administer the lethal drugs.

Another addition to the recent assisted suicide bill is the acknowledgement that it may take at least 3 hours to die.

Current lethal drug cocktails may cause painful assisted suicide deaths that may take many hours to die.

Assisted suicide lobby researchers are working on their third generation of lethal drug cocktails. The results of the first two experimental lethal drug cocktails were:
The (first) turned out to be too harsh, burning patients’ mouths and throats, causing some to scream in pain. The second drug mix, used 67 times, has led to deaths that stretched out hours in some patients — and up to 31 hours in one case.The first two lethal drug cocktail experiments failed to provide a painless, fast death.People who participate in these lethal drug experiments have consented to ingesting the lethal drugs, but are they consenting to participate in human experimentation?
Vote no to assisted suicide.
Categories: Discussion

Ontario Medical Association President - Conscience Rights Matter

Alex Schadenberg - Fri, 2020-02-28 13:39
Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention CoalitionPetition: Protect Conscience Rights for Healthcare workers in Ontario (Link).Several years ago, the Ontario College of Physicians passed an edict requiring physicians, who oppose euthanasia (MAiD) to do an effective referral to a physician who is willing to kill a patient. Physicians who oppose euthanasia rights responded that to effectively refer a patient for euthanasia was similar to doing the act itself. These physicians began a campaign to demand conscience protections in law.

The case for conscience protection was then brought to the Ontario court where the Ontario Court of Appeal found that physicians who challenged the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) policy requiring an "effective referral" for Medical Aid in Dying (euthanasia and assisted suicide) and other morally contentious issues, that their Charter rights were infringed by the policy, but the infringement is reasonable in a free and democratic society. Link to Court of Appeal decision.

The Physicians for Healthcare and Conscience have now been working to convince politicians to protect conscience rights for healthcare workers through legislation.

Dr. Sohail GandhiThis week Dr Sohail Gandhi, the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) President, published a personal blog supporting conscience rights, titled:  Conscience Rights Matter. In his blog Gandhi states:In particular, I think of the decision by the divisional court of Ontario, and then the Ontario Court of Appeal to deny physicians conscience rights. The courts claimed they struck a “reasonable balance”. But they also went on to expressly state in their ruling that the “referral requirement does infringe on doctors’ religious freedoms.” Make no mistake about this, rights and freedoms of certain individuals are being violated by this ruling.Gandhi continues:Many physicians’ groups have expressed concern about being forced to make a referral for this service, in violation of their morals and ethics. This concern has been expressed not just by physicians of faith, but by secular groups like the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians.Gandhi then states that he supports a system that protects conscience rights for physicians that requires a physician, who oppose euthanasia, to provide patients with the contact information for the MAiD coordination service, which he says is not a referral.

I agree that the MAiD coordination service contact information is available to everyone anyway and the physician is only providing contact information that can be found on the internet, nonetheless, it remains a lesser form of a referral.

I thank Dr Gandhi for his courage to write this blog article. There are euthanasia doctors in Ontario who will attack him simply for presenting this balanced point of view.

I hope that Dr Sohail Gandhi's support for conscience rights will move the Ontario government to protect conscience rights for healthcare workers in Ontario.
Further reading on the Ontario Conscience Rights issue:
Categories: Discussion

The Royal College of General

Christian Medical Fellowship - Fri, 2020-02-28 11:50

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) announced last Friday [21 February] that it ‘will continue to oppose a change in the law on assisted dying, following a consultation of its members’. (Assisted dying is a blanket term that covers assisted suicide, physician-assisted suicide, voluntary euthanasia and non-voluntary euthanasia.) CMF welcomed this announcement, as it confirms, to government and the public, that many doctors have serious concerns about the dangers of changing the law around this sensitive topic. 

The law, as it stands represents a natural boundary. It provides protection for terminally ill and disabled people, shielding them from any pressure – real or perceived – to end their lives. This, in turn, provides a culture of care and compassion within the NHS and society as a whole, sending a strong message that life matters, that people matter and that we are committed to dealing with symptoms not discarding sufferers. 

Campaigners for assisted suicide have been pushing the RCGP, as well as the RCP and the BMA, to adopt a ‘neutral’ position on a change in the law. We were delighted to see that only 11% of the respondents to this poll chose that option. In fact, the College made clear in the poll question that holding a definite position is more helpful than taking a position of neutrality – ‘being neutralised’ as the campaign group Our Duty of Care puts it. The poll question stated, ‘The College takes positions on significant ethical issues to ensure that it can influence the debate around government policy in the best interests of its members and our patients.’ 47% of respondents indicated that they wished the College to oppose a change in the law on assisted dying, while 40% supported a change, ‘providing there is a regulatory framework and appropriate safeguarding processes in place’. 

The example of Canada, which changed its law and legislated for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in 2016, provides a salutary lesson on how secure these safeguards and frameworks are likely to be. Commenting on the RCGP announcement, our CEO, Mark Pickering, said, ‘Recent Canadian experience has shown how the medical culture can shift rapidly once laws change, leading to pressure on doctors who have conscientious objections. Canadian law is already pushing the boundaries; after only three years it is already removing initial references to terminal illness and demonstrating rapid incremental extension that should give great concern in the UK.

Just this week it was revealed that a hospice in the Canadian province of British Columbia has had its funding removed because it refuses to offer MAiD as part of its end of life care. 

We agree with the RCGP that, ‘The role of the College now is to ensure that patients receive the best possible palliative and end of life care’. This is the role of all doctors, nurses and other medical staff involved with patients at the end of life. Let us continue the excellent tradition of palliative care we have in this country and work to ensure this excellence is consistent across the board, so no one need fear pain, indignity or being a burden just when they are most vulnerable. 

The next hurdle to cross is the BMA poll, which closed last night. The survey results will be released ahead of the Annual Representative Meeting (ARM) in June, and ‘will inform a debate and a vote by representatives on the BMA’s policy position’. 

Please pray for that debate and vote – and if you are a member of the BMA, do plan to attend the ARM and let your voice and vote be counted. 

 

Categories: Discussion

Greece's Migrant Crisis: "A Powder Keg Ready to Explode"

Gatestone Institute - Fri, 2020-02-28 10:00
"People have seen their properties destroyed, their sheep and goats have been slaughtered, their homes broken into. A few years back, when there were 5,000 migrants on the island, things seemed bad enough. Now there's a sense that the situation has
Categories: Discussion

Delta Hospice looking at legal options after government cuts funding.

Alex Schadenberg - Thu, 2020-02-27 16:25
Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Article: BC Hospice challenges closure over government's pro-euthanasia policy (Link).The Canadian Press reported that a hospice society in British Columbia is outraged by the governments decision to stop its funding because it refuses to provide (MAiD) euthanasia.
Petition: Hospice Organizations Must Not Be Forced to do euthanasia (Link).Angelina Ireland, President of the Delta Hospice, told the Canadian Press:
...if the government wants to implement medical help in dying then it should create facilities for people who want the procedure.

The government should not be allowed to put medically assisted death "on the backs" of facilities that provide hospice and palliative care services, she said.Angelina IrelandIreland explains how they have handled the three requests for MAiD that they have received:
Over the past three years, three people have asked for medically assisted death at the hospice, she said.
"All I can say is they were transferred out to their preferred location — two went home and one went next door to the Delta Hospital, one minute away,"Ireland is concerned with the lack of access to palliative care beds in British Columbia. She stated:
...palliative care beds in the province are becoming scarce.
"We are gravely concerned for the future of hospice and palliative care in British Columbia,"The battle is not over. The British Columbia government will continue to fund the Delta Hospice Society until February 25, 2021. In the meantime, the Delta Hospice Society is considering its legal options.

Attend the Rally to Support The Delta Hospice Society at the Parliament buildings in Victoria BC on April 4, 2020.

Categories: Discussion

BC Delta Hospice challenges closure over government’s pro-euthanasia policy

Alex Schadenberg - Thu, 2020-02-27 15:15

Petition: Hospice Organizations Must Not Be Forced to do euthanasia (Link)

Angelina IrelandDelta Hospice, said the Fraser Health Authority and the British Columbia Minister of Health abruptly cancelled the Hospice’s contract on Tuesday, February 25, without even acknowledging or responding to the hospice’s offer to a reduced level of government financing of the facility by $750,000 per year in order to meet the 50% funding level for exemption from providing MAiD.
“The actions of the Ministry reveal that the issue of MAiD vs. palliative care is an agenda-driven policy rather than one that ensures access to skilled and compassionate palliative care for eligible patients in distress, and their families,” she said. “And it’s all about dollars. It is easier and cheaper for the government to provide euthanasia rather than continue with palliative care. Basically, they are saying that no palliative care facility in BC has a right to exist unless it also provides euthanasia.” Faced with the government’s decision and refusal to consider other options such as decreased provincial funding, Ms. Ireland said the hospice will look at all of its legal and other options to continue to exist and serve patients and families in their final days, as they have always done.

The decision is particularly baffling, she said, since access to MAiD for those who request it is available at many locations in the lower mainland, including Delta Hospital right next door to the hospice. That, in her mind, reinforces the view that this is not about patients or families, but rather about a social policy agenda. 
“MAiD is a separate public health care stream, distinct and apart from palliative care. If the government wants to open MAiD facilities that’s their option, but they must not be allowed to download it onto the backs of private palliative care facilities.”“Palliative care physicians and nurses believe in the philosophy of specialty palliative care and practice as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), which maintains that palliative care provides relief from pain and other distressing symptoms and which affirms life and regards death as a normal process. At no point does WHO include euthanasia as an aspect of palliative care!”Forced closure of the facility ignores the fact that this is a privately owned hospice built on land leased from the government, employs more than fifty people and has contributed significantly to BC’s public health care system.
“This is an invasion of the historic medical discipline of palliative care. The Canadian model is respected around the world. The government and the health authority are running roughshod over that principle and reputation.”
Ms. Ireland expressed hope that “even at this late date” Fraser Health Authority and the BC Ministry of Health will come to the table and discuss the issues, including the financial offer. “Our deepest concern is with those patients and families who have entrusted their final days to us. We want to make sure those days are filled with comfort and peace. That is still our goal.”

The Ministry and the Authority have both publicly stated they plan to take control of the premises currently occupied by the Hospice. The Delta Hospice Society built the Irene Thomas Hospice without taxpayer funds, at the cost of approximately $9,000,000. The Society has operated the Irene Thomas Hospice for 10 years, providing more than 700,000 hours of volunteer labour and $30 million to the public health care system. For the government to step in and seize this private property is “a scandalous appropriation of private assets,” said Ireland.

On Saturday April 4, a Rally for the Delta Hospice will be held in front of the Legislative Buildings at noon. Speakers include Dr. Margaret Cottle (palliative care physician) and Dr. Will Johnston (family physician and obstetrician), Angelina Ireland, President of the Delta Hospice along with MP Tamara Jansen and Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

-30-

For further information, contact: 
Angelina Ireland. President Delta Hospice
irelandangelina@gmail.com
Categories: Discussion

Israel's Election: What Do the Iranians and Palestinians Want?

Gatestone Institute - Thu, 2020-02-27 10:00
The Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip seem to have endorsed the banner of Netanyahu's political rivals in Israel: "Anyone but Bibi (Netanyahu's nickname)." The two Palestinian groups ' perceive Netanyahu as a major
Categories: Discussion

Iran's Election Result Has Seriously Undermined the Ayatollahs' Credibility

Gatestone Institute - Thu, 2020-02-27 09:30
In many respects the ayatollahs only have themselves to blame for this dire outcome. Prior to the poll they attempted to fix the election in their favour by refusing to allow large numbers of potential candidates, many of whom were highly critical of how
Categories: Discussion

Could Smoking Cannabis Hurt You at Work?

Gatestone Institute - Thu, 2020-02-27 09:00
Gatestone Institute to examine the impact of legalized marijuana in 2020. Details to follow...
Categories: Discussion

Germany’s Highest Court Creates Right to ‘Self-Determined Death’

Alex Schadenberg - Thu, 2020-02-27 02:34
This article was published by National Review online on February 26, 2020

Wesley SmithBy Wesley Smith

The logic of euthanasia/assisted suicide has always pointed towards a right to death-on-demand. Assisted-suicide activists deny it for reasons of expediency. But the logic is irrefutable. If there is a “right to die,” how can it be limited to restricting categories?

Well, the Federal Constitutional Court, Germany’s highest judicial body, has gone there and without equivocation. In overturning a legal ban on “professional assisted suicide,” i.e., by doctors, the court ruled that there is virtually an unlimited right “to a self-determined death” — and to also receive help from others in achieving that end. From the AFP story (my emphasis):Federal Constitutional CourtJudge Andreas Vosskuhle at the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe said the right to a self-determined death included “the freedom to take one’s life and seek help doing so”. The court also surprised observers by explicitly stating that the right to assisted suicide services should not be limited to the seriously or incurably ill. The freedom to choose one’s death “is guaranteed in all stages of a person’s existence”, the verdict read.This right to receive help dying wouldn’t be limited do doctor-assisted suicide, by the way. An earlier ruling legalized assisted suicide for reasons that did not include a financial consideration.

In what seems more of an afterthought than a principled concern, the court said brakes could be tapped to delay a planned suicide, such as waiting periods. But ultimately, if somebody wants to commit suicide, the right to do so is apparently absolute based on the German constitution’s guarantee of the right to personal freedom and dignity:Judge Vosskuhle acknowledged that the ruling would not please everyone but said the decision of those wishing to end their lives had to be respected. “We may regret their decision and try everything we can do change their minds but ultimately we must accept their freedom to choose,” he said.It cannot be denied any longer. The long-predicted (here’s a 2007 warning from me) lethal logical end of accepting the values that underlie the assisted suicide/euthanasia movement — death for virtually anyone who wants to die for any reason — has officially been reached. This would seem to include at least mature children, since childhood is a stage of a person’s existence. Right?

So no more telling us that assisted suicide is only for the terminally ill! No more telling us that rigid guidelines will protect against abuse! Basta! Germany is now officially a suicide culture. If we keep hearkening to the siren song of death emanating from assisted/suicide euthanasia advocates here, sooner or later, we will be too.

Somewhere, Jack Kevorkian is smiling.
Categories: Discussion

Training Doctors How to Assist Suicides

Alex Schadenberg - Thu, 2020-02-27 02:08
This article was published by National Review online on February 25, 2020
Wesley SmithBy Wesley Smith
In California, a death doctor named Lonnie Shavelson is trying to start an assisted suicide specialty. From the Medscape story:Organizers of the National Clinicians Conference on Medical Aid in Dying (NCCMAID) did not debate the appropriateness of the practice or focus on policy and ethics but rather sought to train and educate clinicians who are willing to participate. “The most imperative need is physician education and training,” said Lonny Shavelson, MD, board chair of the NCCMAID and founder of Bay Area End of Life Options. “The law makes no provision for medical training; there is no formal system, and I believe that is one of the major barriers and a shortcoming of the law in every state where it is legal,” he told the audience.I know Shavelson. Before California legalized assisted suicide, he was a part-time ER doctor who mostly pursued photo journalism rather than practice medicine. These days, Shavelson devotes himself to death doctoring, for $2000 a pop (as of 2016).

As far as I know, Shavelson is not a certified medical expert in the long-term treatment of serious illnesses like cancer or in the provision of palliative care, hospice, etc.

He has long been a committed pro-assisted suicide ideologue. How committed? As he described in his 1995 book, A Chosen Death, Shavelson watched a Hemlock Society leader he called “Sarah” murder a disabled man named Gene who changed his mind about being assisted in suicide.

Shavelson was present in Gene’s home by invitation as Sarah hands Gene a poisonous brew she prepared, saying, “O.K., toots, here you go,” as if she had merely poured him a beer. Gene drank the liquid and began to fall asleep as Sarah put a plastic bag over his head.

But then, suddenly, faced with the prospect of immediate death, Gene screamed, “I’m cold!” and tried to rip the bag off his face. But Sarah wouldn’t allow it. From Shavelson’s account:His good hand flew up to tear off the plastic bag. Sarah’ s hand caught Gene’s wrist and held it. His body thrust upwards. She pulled his arm away and lay across Gene’s shoulders. Sarah rocked back and forth, pinning him down, her fingers twisting the bag to seal it tight at his neck as she repeated, “the light, Gene, go toward the light.” Gene’s body pushed against Sarah’s. Then he stopped moving.From what a reader can determine in his book, Shavelson never tried to stop Sarah and never reported the killing to the police. And we are supposed to trust such a man to become a leading medical figure in assisted suicide?

Also remember, Jack Kevorkian was a pathologist who never treated a living patient after medical school. Which brings up an old joke: What do you call the student who ranks last in medical school? Answer: “Doctor.”

Here’s the point: Doctors who assist suicides don’t need to be specially trained in treating a patient’s underlying medical condition. They don’t need to be experienced in spotting depression, signs of coercion, or mental illness. They don’t even have to be caring human beings.

They just need a license to prescribe lethal drugs and/or be otherwise be willing to help suicidal ill people take their own lives. What a disgrace to a venerable profession.
Categories: Discussion

BILL C-7 and broadening Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in Canada

Alex Schadenberg - Wed, 2020-02-26 18:12

For immediate release Montreal, 26 February, 2020 PRESS RELEASE  
BILL C-7 and broadening Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in Canada  
Do we collectively seek the most permissive
voluntary euthanasia program in the world?
Following Monday’s tabling of Bill C-7 in the Canadian Parliament, Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia deplore this new chapter in a political approach leading step by step to death on demand for suffering people in Canada. Bill C-7, removes the requirement that a person receiving “medical assistance in dying” (MAiD) be in a situation where natural death is reasonably foreseeable. This effectively opens the door to any Canadian who is physically sick and suffering, and who wishes it, to be legally killed by a doctor.

Let us be very clear: if this bill is not significantly amended, Canada will have the most permissive euthanasia program in the world.

The Truchon-Gladu decision of the Quebec Superior Court, the government’s refusal to appeal it, and the present bill are proof of the validity of the concerns expressed before MAiD was decriminalized in 2016. We and many other groups insisted that, once anyone is permitted to directly cause the death of another person, there is no safeguard that can prevent this “right” from being extended to groups not initially foreseen.

As opposed to Quebec, which simply decided to conform to the Truchon-Gladu decision by removing de facto the end of life criterion, the federal government at least chose to maintain the use of the reasonably foreseeable natural death criterion, as a way of creating safeguards for MAID requested by patients who are not dying.

However, despite assurances in the Preamble that “Canada is a State Party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and recognizes its obligations under it, including in respect of the right to life… [and] Parliament affirms the inherent and equal value of every person’s life and the importance of taking a human rights-based approach to disability inclusion, Bill C-7 constitutes a threat for some citizens.

It would permit any person who has a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability, and is in an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability, to obtain MAID without being near the end of life, only 90 days after making the request.

We are assured that the Bill excludes MAiD on the basis of mental illness, but we know that a Parliamentary committee scheduled for a few months from now will study this possibility, as well as those of the euthanasia of mature minors and of adults incapable of decision-making who have made an advance request. We are concerned that the present bill will pave the way to extension of MAID to these groups.

The “added safeguards” promised for people whose end of life is not approaching are weak indeed. While in the Netherlands the doctor must agree that there are no other potential means of alleviating suffering before euthanizing a patient, Bill C-7 only specifies that the doctor must “ensure that the person has been informed of the means available to relieve their suffering, including, where appropriate, counselling services, mental health and disability support services, community services and palliative care …”, and “… that the person has given serious consideration to those means…” There is no need for the patient to try other options; indeed, there is no need for the means to be even available to him.

Accessibility to such services should, on the contrary, be the priority for our federal and provincial legislatures, long before any new extension of euthanasia.

The Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia seeks to ensure quality medical care and respectful decision-making for vulnerable patients, especially those at risk of pressure to end their lives prematurely through euthanasia or assisted suicide, and to protect the professional integrity of all health care workers.

For further information or to request an interview with
Dr. Catherine Ferrier (Physicians' Alliance) or Me Michel Racicot (LWD), please contact: Charmine Francis (Coordinator)
Tel: +1 (438) 938-9410
Website: www.collectifmedecins.org/en
Email: info@collectifmedecins.org
Categories: Discussion

Sweden's Victimized Children

Gatestone Institute - Wed, 2020-02-26 10:00
"The suspects are also victims in some sense, but this is still something we have to deal with, that children also commit crimes". — Police Chief Carin Götblad, Expressen, February 5, 2020. Parents are afraid to report the crimes committed by other
Categories: Discussion

Speaking Clearly about the 'Deal of the Century'

Gatestone Institute - Wed, 2020-02-26 09:00
Israel's and America's upcoming elections are fateful for both countries and will determine who will conduct the negotiations moving forward. If no clear message is conveyed by Israel -- immediately -- negotiations after the elections could take this
Categories: Discussion

Delta Hospice Society - Good news and Bad News.

Alex Schadenberg - Tue, 2020-02-25 23:14
Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
 

Sandor Gyarmati reported for the Delta Optimist that the British Columbia Health Minister, Adrian Dix, announced that the provincial government will terminate the service agreement with the Delta Hospice Society on February 24, 2021 unless they begin to provide euthanasia at the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner BC.

Gyarmati, makes it seem like the Delta Hospice has lost their battle with Fraser Health, but I believe they have won the battle with Fraser Health.
Rally in support of the Delta Hospice - April 4, 2020 in Victoria BC (Link).
Last December the Delta Hospice Society was ordered by the Fraser Health Authority to provide euthanasia or lose its funding. Soon after, the BC Health Minister, Adrian Dix, stated that he will force the Delta Hospice to provide euthanasia.

The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians President, Dr Leonie Herx responded by supporting the Delta Hospice and explaining to the BC Health Minister that:
MAiD is not consistent with the philosophy, intent, or approach of hospice palliative care which supports dying as a natural process and does not hasten death.
The BC Health Minister later responded by ordering the Delta Hospice to start offering euthanasia by February 3, 2020 or lose its funding.
 
The latest edict from the BC Health Minister is a small victory. The Delta Hospice was ordered to provide euthanasia by February 3, 2020 or lose its provincial funding. They are now being told that their service agreement will be terminated on February 24, 2021, or one year from now.

The citizens in Delta BC will continue to have access to excellent care in a no kill hospice for at least one more year.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition launched a successful online petition resulting in more than 19,500 people sending an email to the BC Health Minister, telling him that Hospices Must Not Be Forced to do euthanasia. EPC also provided paper petitions to our supporters to be sent to BC Health Minister.

Join us April 4 at the BC Parliament buildings in Victoria at the rally in support of the Delta Hospice.

The battle has just begun. Hospices must not be forced to do euthanasia.

Categories: Discussion

God in a Technological Society

Christian Ethics Today - Tue, 2020-02-25 20:30

By Tony Campolo

I just returned from Lisbon, Portugal, were I shared my thinking about God at a convention that brought together 70,000 computer experts. The convention was called the Web Summit and my responsibility was to speak at a seminar in which I was asked to make a case for God in an advanced technological society. To my surprise, more than 2,000, mostly young empirically minded conference attendees squeezed into a lecture hall to hear what might be said on this intriguing subject.

Before the discussion got underway, the moderator asked how many in the audience still believed in God. Sadly, only a scarce handful of hands went up. This highly secularized gathering of men and women was not nevertheless hostile toward my message. Though not religious, they mostly still claimed to be “spiritual,” and were intensely interested in what I had to say about God. They seemed hungry for a belief in something that transcended their world wherein everything that is real was being reduced to numbers and algorithms.

I first pointed out that religion has evolved over the last century and now has as one of its primary concerns, the task of creating and maintaining our humanity, over and against the challenges of what I believe to be the dehumanization being posed by positivism and technology. In making this point, I cited the renowned psychologist and author, Erich Fromm, who once declared that in our increasingly technological world, we more and more have machines that function like human beings, and have human beings that behave like machines.1. During pre-industrial times, there were artisans who worked with tools rather than operating machines. The often-routinized work of machine operators tends to turn workers into extensions of their machines. Whereas artisans once used tools that enabled them to express their individuality in creative labor, workers now increasingly are becoming people who are learning how to adapt to machines. In doing so, their motions become mechanical. They became, in modern industrial processes, interchangeable entities who, like the parts of the machines they operate are easily replaced. Distinctive personhood is lost in all of this and, as Karl Marx pointed out so well in his early writings, dehumanization increases.

Higher education has adapted to this move towards an increased technological and mechanized social system with its curricula that leave little room for what we call “the humanities.” Harold Bloom pointed this out a couple of decades ago in his book, The Closing of The American Mind. He stated convincingly that universities are less and less nurturing students in courses of study that enhance their humanness. Instead, the emphasis has shifted to such fields as computer programming and the development of a positivistic approach to life.2 The world in higher education increasingly is understood and analyzed in purely empirical terms; and while there is nothing inherently evil about this, it does have a spiritually deadening effect and a diminishing of humanness.

Humanness, I argued, is created and maintained through face-to-face relationships which have spiritual dimensions to them. On a rational level, some atheists and agnostics may deny God, but often in their deepest interpersonal relationships, they may experience God unaware. Although they may not recognize the presence of God in interpersonal relationships, God, nevertheless, may be an undefined presence they sometimes feel in the context of intimacy. I believe some important dimensions of humanizing relationships are being diminished in our increasingly mechanized society and an emotional and spiritual deadness is more and more evident in people’s lives. “This age,” said Soren Kierkegaard prophetically, “will die, not from sin but from lack of passion.”3

That life in a technologically conditioned world is threatening the kind of interpersonal relationships that make us human can be easily observed. Consider a handsome couple I saw in a restaurant waiting for their food to be served. They were not empathetically involved. Instead each was focused on their I-Phones. Mechanical communications with them was interfering with the possibility of a humanizing relationship. Also, consider teenagers and children who no longer play games with each other but spend inordinate amounts of time transfixed on the screens of computer games.

God may be experienced in various ways; but I believe that one primary way is in those “sacred” interpersonal moments that the Jewish philosopher/theologian Martin Buber, called, “I-Thou encounters.”4 It can be said that they are mystical moments when we no longer look at each other, “as through a glass darkly, but then face to face” (I Cor. 13:12). In such moments, time may seem suspended while we feel our ways into the depths of each other’s being. In such moments, we might experience something of what Rudolf Otto called “the holy.”5 I say that God is being experienced in such moments! There may be a reluctance to call what is being experienced, God. But it is God!

Those I-Thou encounters, referred to by Buber, are what lift us out of the mundane and provide us with a spiritual awareness that humanizes us. In these relationships, transcendence is experienced in ways that lifts us out of the mechanical world of technology with its limited empirical reality, and creates for those of us involved a sense of experiencing something supernatural. God is what happens, according to Buber, in the contexts of I-Thou encounters, and I believe he is right! The more society adapts to the encroachments of a technological world into our consciousness, the more there is a tendency for us to lose our humanness and view ourselves and one another as only organic machines. The spiritually evident in I-Thou encounters is, I believe, an antidote to the objectification of ourselves and others that overwhelms us in a world that reduces everything to what can be analyzed and understood only objectively and quantitatively.

In I-Thou encounters wherein a unique kind of love is experienced, I believe God is being experienced. A useful Biblical reference that I think validates this claim is found in I John 4, where we read that “God is love.” As I read through that entire chapter of scripture I sensed that it told me that wherever love occurs, as in an I-Thou encounter, that something of God is there. This I believe even though the persons involved might not recognize God in what is happening between them. Being a Christian, I affirm that the sense of transcendence that becomes real in I-Thou encounters has the name of “Jesus.” I believe being open to His mystical presence can transform what Buber calls “I-It” relationships, in which other persons are known only as objects surrounded by things, into I-Thou encounters.

A second essential role that I believe that God plays in our increasingly technological and rationalized society is that God provides a countervailing power against what many of us feel is an increasing loss of freedom. Explaining why this is so, consider what Jacque Ellul had to say in his book, The Technological Society. There, Ellul pointed out that there is only one most efficient way of doing anything.6 This means that in a rationalized competitive  society wherein each party, in order to win out, will seek the most efficient means of acting or doing anything, regardless of the operation or task. The result is that eventually everybody, everywhere will end up doing everything in exactly the same manner via the same means. For instance, this tendency is presently noticeable to those who travel widely. Cities in different countries increasingly all look alike. The efficiency in optimizing valuable real estate in the downtowns of the world’s great cities requires the building of tall buildings. Skyscrapers, consequently, are inevitable, and in seeking to build efficiently, there are increasing similarities in how people build them and what building materials they will use. We are pleased when architects do innovative designing; but in their efforts to make buildings attractive and somewhat unique, they inevitably sacrifice what would be economically most efficient.

The great German sociologist, Max Weber, recognized this and declared that because of what he called, “the increasing tendency to rationalization,” all societies would end up in what he said was an “iron cage of sameness.” Spontaneity eventually would be minimized and freedom for any unique expression would be stifled in that brave new world. This is a major point that he makes in his classic work, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization.7 Following up on Weber’s theory is the opening line of Herbert Marcuse’s book, One Dimensional Man, in which he points out that we are all being socialized into a comfortable, smooth, reasonable democratic form of un-freedom.8

It would be irrational to behave in ways that deviate from the ways of the optimized efficiency that are prescribed by a rationalized technological society, and therein lies our slavery. God, on the other hand, as we religionists point out, is a God of endless variety and spontaneity, to which nature itself testifies. Consider the diversity evident throughout all creation. Among those who are into spirituality there are many who find a feeling of God in creation, and that feeling can give them the energy to break out of Weber’s iron cage and into a freedom that affirms their humanity. Indeed, without that spiritual dimension our society becomes one dimensional. Spirituality, I contend, defies conformity, and therein lies the possibility of freedom.

Finally, without God, I affirmed, there would be no “morals” but only what anthropologists and sociologists call “mores.” By definition, mores are norms and patterns of behavior that emerge through human interactions within a given society, and primarily have relevance only within the society that creates them. Morals, on the other hand, are deemed universal, and generally require transcendentalized legitimation.9 A society that only has rules to govern behavior that emerge sui generis from social interaction would have rules that would be limited only to the society that creates them. Obviously, in this latter case, there could be no absolutizing of right and wrong in a way that would be universally binding. What would be considered right in one societal system might not be considered right within another social system. All values would come to be seen as relative only within the societies that established them. Behavioral rules would be mores rather than being morals, in that morals require transcendent legitimation.  As Dmitri declares in Dostoyevsky’s novel, Brothers Karamazov, “Without God, anything becomes permissible.”

For those of us in the Judeo-Christian tradition, it is God who establishes the absolutes of right and wrong. Yet most people, including those who claim that all values are relative, still, nevertheless, believe in absolute values and, consequently, believe that such behavioral patterns as racism, sexism, homophobia, ethno-nationalistic triumphalism and any other “isms” that lead to discrimination ought to be abolished. That judgment, however, requires a universalistic ethic that only transcendentally legitimated imperatives are able to provide. This, it can be argued, can offer a cure for the social maladies related to ethical relativism. Certainly the Declaration of Human Rights established by the United Nations posits such a universalistic ethic, and even most atheists affirm its truth. They do so even for those who deny anything that suggests that there is a transcendental reality.

All that I have asserted in this essay does not make for a religious apologetic. It does, however, aim to make the case that in our increasingly rationalized technological world, God still is essential for our humanity and social wellbeing. Sociologists look for the function of ideas and beliefs within societies and, as a sociologist, I have outlined what I believe are some of the functions of the belief in God in an ever more overpowering technological society. I am sure there are more.

 

—Tony Campolo is professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern UniversityErich Fromm, The Art of Loving. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, Anniversary edition, 2019.

 

See, Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind. Simon and Schuster, New York, 1987.

Soren Kierkegaard, The Present Age. Translated by Alexander Dru, Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1962, p. 39ff.

See, Martin Buber, I-Thou. Translated by Walter Kaufmann, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1970.

See, Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy. Revised Edition, Translated by John W. Harvey, London: Oxford University Press, 1923.

Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society. Alfred A Knopf, Inc., New York, 1964, Chapter 5.

Max Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization. Translated by A.M. Henderson and Talcott Parsons, The Free Press, New York, 1965, pp. 363ff. Also see Lewis A. Coser, Masters of Sociological Thought. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., New York 1977, pp. 233f.

Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man. Beacon Press, Boston, 1964, p. 1.

Talcott Parson, Societies: Evolutionary and Comparative Perspectives. Prentice-Hall Inc. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, pp. 26-29. Max Weber, Basic Concepts in Sociology. Translated by H.P. Secher, The Citadel Press, New York, pp. 26-29.

Categories: Discussion

International Migrants Day

Gatestone Institute - Tue, 2020-02-25 10:00
The project of multiculturalism in Europe, including the integration of people from the Middle East and Africa, has fared extremely poorly until now and no amount of denial from the UN or the World Economic Forum, including leveling accusations of "hate
Categories: Discussion

Are Turkish Cypriots Done with Ankara?

Gatestone Institute - Tue, 2020-02-25 09:00
For the Turks, Turkey is the homeland and Cyprus is the "baby homeland." In January 2018, several thousand Turkish Cypriots marched against what they said was Turkey's unwanted influence that has emboldened hard-right groups to try to silence opposing
Categories: Discussion

Canadian Government may permit euthanasia of incompetent people.

Alex Schadenberg - Tue, 2020-02-25 04:00
Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition


On February 24, Canada's federal government introduced Bill C-7, an act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying). Bill C-7 is the federal government's response to the Quebec Court decision that struck down the section of Canada's euthanasia law that requiring that "natural death be reasonably foreseeable" before qualifying for death by euthanasia (lethal injection).

I reported that the Quebec court expanded Canada's euthanasia law by eliminating the requirement that only terminally ill people could be killed by lethal injection.

The court decision expanded euthanasia to people with psychological conditions. Canada's euthanasia law states that a person qualifies for euthanasia if:
the illness, disease or disability or that state of decline causes them enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them and that cannot be relieved under conditions that they consider acceptableA person didn't qualify for euthanasia based on psychological reasons alone since the law required that a person's "natural death be reasonably foreseeable" but since the Quebec court struck down this requirement, the law now permits euthanasia for psychological reasons.

Bill C-7 pretends to prevent euthanasia for psychological suffering. Section (2.‍1) states: 
For the purposes of paragraph (2)‍(a), a mental illness is not considered to be an illness, disease or disability.This paragraph does not prevent euthanasia for psychological reasons since the law states that the person must be experiencing physical or psychological suffering. 
Bill C-7 creates a two track law where a person who is not terminally ill has a 90 day waiting period while Bill C-7 waves the 10 day waiting period for people who are terminally ill. Therefore a person can request and then die by lethal injection on the same day.

The government is wrong to create a two tier euthanasia law. A future court decision will likely strike down the 90 day waiting period for people who are not terminally ill because this provision represents an inequality within the law.
Bill C-7 allows a person's healthcare provider or care provider to be one of the witnesses. This is a conflict of interest.

Finally, Bill C-7 allows doctors and nurse practitioners to lethally inject an incompetent person, (advanced request) so long as that person consented to death by lethal injection before becoming incompetent.

This amendment to the law contravenes the Carter decision which required that a person be capable of consenting to die.
The goal of the euthanasia lobby was to amend the law to allow "advanced consent" for euthanasia. Canada's Liberal government appears to be working closely with the euthanasia lobby.
By eliminating the 10 day waiting period, a terminally ill person can request euthanasia and die by euthanasia on the same day. Studies show that the Will to Live fluctuates over time.
The government should wait before amending the law. In June 2020, the government will begin its consultation on 5 years of euthanasia in Canada.
Categories: Discussion

Assisted Suicide laws are lethal discrimination against old, ill and disabled people

Alex Schadenberg - Mon, 2020-02-24 15:00
This article was published on February 24 in connection with a poll on assisted suicide. The rift published a YES and NO assisted suicide article (Link) and then asks you to vote.

Diane Coleman wrote the No to assisted suicide article that I have re-published below.

By Diane Coleman
President of Not Dead Yet
Assisted suicide may understandably be viewed as an easy way to die, but a closer look reveals inherent dangers that should lead to second thoughts.

First, assisted suicide is not needed to ensure that we can die peacefully in our sleep, since we can already do so by receiving palliative care, up to and including full sedation.

So what do assisted suicide laws actually do? They grant civil and criminal immunity to healthcare providers and caregivers who may be involved.

The image of government approved, medically administered assisted suicide is that it only hastens the death of someone who is already dying and voluntarily takes lethal drugs, with “safeguards” preventing abuse. 
Under U.S. laws, an heir or abusive caregiver may suggest assisted suicide, witness the written request, and even give the drug without consent.

In contrast, in U.S. jurisdictions where assisted suicide is legal, Oregon being the national “model”, no authority verifies patients were eligible or procedures were followed. A short form filed by the prescribing doctor is accepted at face value. It’s the “honor” system.

The U.S. laws require a 6-month prognosis, yet Oregon data shows that people far outlived their prognosis. Hospice data shows that 12-15% outlive their predicted expiration date. Oregon also defines someone as “terminal” who simply cannot afford treatment.

Some countries have expanded assisted suicide eligibility to include people with ordinary non-terminal disabilities and even psychological suffering with no physical illness.

So the image that all eligible people are dying soon anyway is not valid. But isn’t it still voluntary?

Unfortunately, under U.S. laws, an heir or abusive caregiver may suggest assisted suicide, witness the written request, and even give the drug without consent. No independent witness is required when the drugs are used, so who would know? Assisted suicide can also hide medical mistakes or malpractice.
Assisted suicide is being marketed as a new “civil right”

Finally, perhaps the greatest concern should be healthcare cost cutting pressures. As cofounder of the Hemlock Society Derek Humphry wrote, “…economics, not the quest for broadened individual liberties or increased autonomy, will drive assisted suicide to the plateau of acceptable practice.”

Assisted suicide is being marketed as a new “civil right,” but will we fall for it? Will we offer suicide prevention to most suicidal people, but carve out those who are old, ill and disabled? How long before a so-called option turns into an expectation, then a duty?

The real civil rights are nondiscrimination and equal protection of the laws. This is why every major national U.S. disability organization that has taken a position on assisted suicide laws opposes them.
Categories: Discussion

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