December 6, 2013
Opinion: Belgium’s experience with euthanasia teaches bitter lessons
Distelmans acknowledged that it is not exceptional for mentally-ill patients to be euthanized. He ought to know: He is the chairman of the Belgian Euthanasia Control and Evaluation Commission (Belgian Commission). In fact, Distelmans gave my own mother a lethal injection on April 19, 2012 — because she had chronic depression. Her departure wasn’t the serene family gathering, full of peace and reconciliation, which euthanasia supporters gush about. (Montreal Gazette)
December 3, 2013
Docs offside on physician-assisted suicide
Only 16 per cent of Canadian doctors would be willing to take part in assisted suicide, according to a March survey by the Canadian Medical Association. A New England Journal of Medicine survey in September found only 36 per cent of doctors in 74 countries were in favour of assisted suicide. This places most doctors firmly out of step with public opinion. An Environics Institute survey in October showed that 69 per cent of Canadians support physician-assisted suicide, the highest recorded approval since 1992. (CBC News)
November 29, 2013
Belgium: Lawmakers back allowing minors to request euthanasia
A controversial bill that would extend the right to request euthanasia to children suffering terminal illnesses and adults with dementia cleared a vote in a Belgian Senate committee Wednesday. The panel voted 13-4 to allow minors to seek euthanasia under certain conditions, the communications director for the Senate, Patrick Peremans, told CNN. The vote is one stage in a legislative process — the bill must clear other hurdles before it becomes law. (CNN)
Why two best friends, 40, with non-life threatening diseases want to take their own lives after being inspired by euthanasia talk
Two best friends in their 40s, who look young and healthy, want to take their own lives after hearing a talk from a controversial euthanasia physician – even though their own doctors are against it. Pegie Liekens, 44, and Nancy Vermeulen, 43, from Belgium, have said that they cannot go on with their non-life threatening diseases so are turning to assisted suicide. (Daily Mail)
Death of elderly French couple sparks assisted suicide debate
An elderly French couple have ignited a debate on assisted suicide after being found dead in a Paris hotel holding hands and leaving behind a note criticising the country for not allowing them to end their days “serenely”. (The Telegraph)
November 26, 2013
A New Edition of The Journal of Medicine & Philosophy is Available
The Journal of Medicine & Philosophy (Volume 38, No. 6, December 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “What Are Our Moral Duties? Critical Reflections on Clinical Equipoise and Publication Ethics, Clinical Choices, and Moral Theory” by Mark J. Cherry
- “The Ethics of Limiting Informed Debate: Censorship of Select Medical Publications in the Interest of Organ Transplantation” by Michael Potts, et al.
- “Reproductive Autonomy as Self-Making: Procreative Liberty and the Practice of Ethical Subjectivity” by Catherine Mills
- “Artifacts, Intentions, and Contraceptives: The Problem with Having a Plan B for Plan B” by Philip A. Reed
- “Rethinking Voluntary Euthanasia” by Byron J. Stoyles and Sorin Costreie
- “Comparable Placebo Treatment” and the Ethics of Deception” by Shlomo Cohen and Haim Shapiro
- “Paternalism in the Name of Autonomy” by Manne Sjöstrand, et al.
- “Pragmatism, Metaphysics, and Bioethics: Beyond a Theory of Moral Deliberation” by Matthew Pamental
- “The Journal Loses Its Founding Editor” by H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr.
Dilbert creator: ‘The government is torturing my father until he dies’
Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, wrote a dark blog post about how he hoped his terminally ill father would die soon and how he wanted to inflict pain on the people who have voted against doctor-assisted suicide. (Business Insider Australia)
November 25, 2013
Like it or not, euthanasia is already an everyday part of our lives
The voluntary euthanasia debate has the ability to polarise, but the reality is that there are many incidences of physician assisted death happening in Australia every year. Noel Debien explores some of the contemporary responses to the issue, and where new laws might be leading us. (ABC.net)
November 22, 2013
Views on end-of-life medical treatments
At a time of national debate over health care costs and insurance, a Pew Research Center survey on end-of-life decisions finds most Americans say there are some circumstances in which doctors and nurses should allow a patient to die. At the same time, however, a growing minority says that medical professionals should do everything possible to save a patient’s life in all circumstances. (Pew Research Center)
November 20, 2013
Nursing staff who stop feeding woman risk charges: lawyer
The family filed suit against operators of the nursing home (Maplewood Seniors Care Society), Fraser Health Authority and the government. A three-day trial has been set for the middle of December. Bentley’s living will, drafted, signed and witnessed in 1991 – almost a decade before she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – states that she does not want “nourishment or liquids” if she suffers from an incurable disease. (Vancouver Sun)
November 15, 2013
They call me ‘Dr. Kevorkian’
I believe in letting the dying determine how and when they die, as opposed to coaxing their organs along at all costs. As one of the only doctors I know who straddles these two worlds, I am struck by how many of my colleagues are surprised, even disturbed, by this pairing. I was once accused by a renowned professor of medicine of deceiving my I.C.U. patients by also practicing palliative care, as if it was somehow a conflict of interest. (New York Times)
Stephen Hawking on scientific breakthroughs, his new memoir and assisted suicide
Stephen Hawking may not be in the far corners of the universe, but he seems to be everywhere else these days: On the bookshelves with a new memoir, My Brief History; in a documentary, Hawking; and as the host of Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World, a Discovery World show about the frontiers of science, which begins its second season on Friday at 8 p.m. (ET). He answered questions about the projects via e-mail, through his assistant. (The Globe and Mail)
November 11, 2013
Pensioner left on end of life pathway for four days
The family of a pensioner who spent four days begging for food and water after he was placed on a controversial end-of-life programme have accused a hospital of treating him “like a dog”. The family of Ron Jee claim the 80-year-old was put on a programme similar to the Liverpool Care Pathway. This involves the withdrawal of food, fluids and medication for terminally ill patients who often die within hours of being put on it. (The Telegraph)
November 8, 2013
Tribunals needed for assisted suicide in UK
A new tribunal style system to provide sympathetic and speedy consideration for each and every terminally-ill patient who wishes to end their lives is needed according to Claudia Carr, from the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Law. The proposed system is being presented in a paper at the 1st Global Conference on Suicide, Self-Harm and Assisted Dying being held in Athens this week. (Science Daily)
November 1, 2013
Belgium considering new euthanasia law for kids
Should children have the right to ask for their own deaths? In Belgium, where euthanasia is now legal for people over the age of 18, the government is considering extending it to children — something that no other country has done. The same bill would offer the right to die to adults with early dementia. (ABC News)
October 21, 2013
Disability – A fate worse than death?
As a disabled person who has had a lot to do with the medical profession, I can tell you that this is the space in which I’ve experienced some of the very worst disability prejudice and discrimination. Doctors might know about our biology, but it doesn’t mean they know about our lives. (The Guardian)
Narrow defeat for euthanasia bill in Tasmanian Parliament
Tasmania’s lower house has rejected voluntary euthanasia by the narrowest of margins. The private members bill, co-sponsored by Labor Premier Lara Giddings and Greens leader Nick McKim, was defeated 13-11 with Speaker Michael Polley effectively using his casting vote against it. (The Australian)
October 16, 2013
Tasmania parliment set to debate ‘improved’ voluntary euthanasia bill
Euthanasia advocates and opponents will be watching the Tasmania Parliament closely this week as it again attempts to make it legal for terminally ill people to end their lives. There have been several attempts in Australia, but euthanasia supporters believe the island state could lead the nation in enacting assisted dying laws. (ABC.net)
October 15, 2013
A New Edition of The Journal of Medical Ethics is Available
The Journal of Medical Ethics (Volume 39, No. 11, November 2013) is now available online by subscription only.
- “The making of medical ethics” by Kenneth Boyd
- “Framing patient consent for student involvement in pelvic examination: a dual model of autonomy” by Andrew Carson-Stevens, et al.
- “Evaluation of clinical ethics support services and its normativity” by Jan Schildmann, et al.
- “Medical confidentiality and the competent patient” by Gerard Niveau, et al.
- “Moral responsibility for (un)healthy behaviour” by Rebecca C H Brown
- “Aiming at a moving target: research ethics in the context of evolving standards of care and prevention” by Seema Shah and Reidar K Lie
- “We must not create beings with moral standing superior to our own” by Nicholas Agar
- “Attitudes toward euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: a study of the multivariate effects of healthcare training, patient characteristics, religion and locus of control” by Carrie-Anne Marie Hains and Nicholas J Hulbert-Williams
October 14, 2013
Euthanasia can be an economic decision made early
Economists typically assume that individuals seek to maximize their lifetime satisfaction – yet, when it comes to voluntary euthanasia, the law prohibits such a decision. Moreover, many dying people are beyond the stage where they can act according to this calculation; younger people are much better equipped to make this rational choice in advance. (San Francisco Gate)
B.C. Court of Appeal upholds federal ban on assisted suicide
B.C.’s highest court resuscitated the country’s ban on assisted suicide Thursday but left the door open for the Supreme Court of Canada to revisit the controversial question of a citizen’s right to die on their own terms. As a result of the split 2-1 decision, one of the lead lawyers in the case fears Canadians who cannot afford a plane ticket to Switzerland or a jurisdiction that allows physician-assisted suicide will continue choosing underground methods with the help of sympathetic friends and medical personnel or risky “back-alleys” to kill themselves. (Vancouver Sun)