"The terminally ill are a class of persons who need protection from family, social, and economic pressures, and who are often particularly vulnerable to such pressures because of chronic pain, depression, and the effects of medication."... From the State of Alaska's arguments that assisted suicide is dangerous. Subsequently (Sampson et al. v State of Alaska, 09/21/2001), the Alaska Supreme Court ruled unanimously that state laws punishing assisted suicide as manslaughter are to be upheld.
1. Definitions of Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide
The term Euthanasia originated from the Greek word for "good death." It is the act or practice of ending the life of a person either by lethal injection or the suspension of medical treatment. Because of this, many view euthanasia as simply bringing relief by alleviating pain and suffering. The word has also been applied to situations when a decision is made to refrain from exercising "heroic" measures in an end-of-life situation.
Voluntary Euthanasia - When a competent person makes a voluntary and enduring request to be helped to die.
Involuntary Euthanasia - To end a person's life without their knowledge or consent.
Active Euthanasia - To end a person's life by use of drugs, whether by oneself or with the aid of a physician.
Passive Euthanasia - To end a person life by not taking the necessary and ordinary action to maintain life. This can be done by withdrawing water, food, drugs, medical or surgical procedures.
Physician-Assisted Suicide - Suicide accomplished with the aid of a medical doctor intentionally providing a person with an overdose of prescription medication.
Assisted Suicide - Suicide accomplished with the aid of another person.
2. Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia are legal and widely practiced in the Netherlands where:About 9% of all deaths were a result of physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia in 1990.
§ Dutch doctors practice active euthanasia by lethal injections (96.6% of all deaths actively caused by physicians in 1990). Physician-assisted suicide is very infrequent (no more than 3.4% of all cases in Holland of active termination of life in 1990).
§ For patients who die of a lethal overdose of painkillers, the decision to administer the lethal dose of drugs was not discussed with 61% of those receiving it, even though 27% were fully competent.
§ The Board of the Royal Dutch Medical Association endorsed euthanasia on newborns and infants with extreme disabilities.
§ Well over 10,000 citizens now carry "Do Not Euthanize Me" cards in case they are admitted to a hospital unexpectedly.
§ Cases exist where doctors administer assisted suicide for people determined to be "chronically" depressed.
3. Oregon has legalized physician-assisted suicide where:
§ A recent Health Division report of assisted suicides reveals that not one patient had documented uncontrollable pain. All of the patients who requested assisted suicide cited psychological and social concerns as their primary reasons.
§ "Although numerous studies in the Netherlands and elsewhere report an assisted-suicide failure rate up to 25%, Oregon has yet to report even one complication in over four years. This failure to report complications has led even euthanasia advocates themselves to call the credibility of Oregon reporting on assisted suicide into question.
(Note: The state of Washington and Montana have recently legalized physician-assisted suicide)
4. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1997 in Washington v. Glucksberg that there is no federal constitutional substantive right to assisted suicide. In a 1997 companion case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Vacco v. Quill that there is no federal constitutional equal protection right to assisted suicide.
5. Virtually every established medical and nursing organization in the United States declares physician-assisted suicide is unethical.
6. There are no laws, medical associations, church denominations, or right-to-life groups who insist that unnecessary, heroic, or truly futile treatments be provided to prolong life and all recognize the right of competent patients to refuse medical treatment.
7. 95% of cancer pain is controllable and the remaining 5% can be reduced to a tolerable level.
8. The states of California, Washington, Michigan and Maine rejected ballot referenda questions to legalize physician-assisted suicide in their respective states. The Supreme Court of Alaska in Alaska v. Sampson declared there is no state constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide, as did the Florida State Supreme Court in McIver v. Kirscher. The Hawaii State Senate voted down a bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide.
(Source the Nightingale® Alliance)
Theresa Marie Schindler was born to Robert and Mary Schindler on December 3, 1963. She was the first of three children the Schindlers would have.
Terri was a shy, but comical, child who had an affinity for music, animals and the arts. She kept a small circle of friends and was dear to schoolmates, neighboring families and her own extended family.
Following high school, Terri came into her own. She developed a knack for sketching and doodling. She enjoyed outings with her friends. She was an adoptive mother to the family's dog, Bucky. Terri attended Catholic School while growing up and remained close to her faith throughout her life.
In 1983, Terri met Michael Schiavo at Bucks County Community College and the two began dating. He was the first romantic interest Terri had.
The couple was engaged within a few months and married a year later at Terri's church in Southampton, Pa. She was 21.
In 1986, Terri and Michael relocated to Pinellas County, Florida and her parents followed three months later.
In 1990, at the age of 26, Terri suffered a mysterious cardio-respiratory arrest for which no cause has ever been determined. She was diagnosed with hypoxic encephalopathy - neurological injury caused by lack of oxygen to the brain. Terri was placed on a ventilator, but was soon able to breathe on her own and maintain vital function. She remained in a severely compromised neurological state and was provided a PEG tube to ensure the safe delivery of nourishment and hydration.
On March 31, 2005, Terri Schindler Schiavo died of marked dehydration following more than 13 days without nutrition or hydration under the order of Circuit Court Judge, George W. Greer of the Pinellas-Pasco's Sixth Judicial Court. Terri was 41.
The mission of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network (Formerly Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation) is to develop a national network of resources and support for the medically-dependent, persons with disabilities, and the incapacitated who are in or potentially facing life-threatening situations.
Promoting a Culture of Life, "Terri's Network" embraces the true meaning of compassion by opposing the practice of euthanasia.
The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit group dedicated to helping persons with disabilities, and the incapacitated who are in or potentially facing life-threatening situations.
Incorporated in 2001 to fight for the life of Terri Schindler Schiavo, the focus of Terri's Network now and in the future is to help others avoid tragedies that reflect what Terri endured.
Therefore, Terri's Network has set a course to address the following objectives:
§ Hire staff, build infrastructure and provide for a stable base of operations.
§ Develop a model support network, implement it at the state or regional level and make preparations to eventually expand operations into a nation-wide support network.
§ Establish the Foundation as the authoritative, indispensable resource for patients and families facing life-threatening situations.
§ Establish a Terri Schindler Schiavo Memorial site and erect the memorial sculpture "Compassion."
Terri's Network anticipates establishing Terri Schindler Schiavo Neurological Centers to provide care for brain injury victims and support for their families.
Terri Shiavo Life and Hope Network
If you have a family member who is in or potentially facing a life-threatening situation please contact us immediately:
Phone: Call TOLL-FREE 1.855.300.HOPE (4673)http://www.terrisfight.org/need-help/
Killing us Softly: The Dangers of Legalizing Assisted Suicide
(Disability and Health Journal – January, 2010)
Impact of legalized assisted suicide on people with disabilities and the broader public.
(Right to Die Movement is really about Euthanasia – not Compassion - Wesley Smith)
“Medical misdiagnoses can have fatal consequences”
(The State Journal-Register — June 26, 2011)
Stephen Reindl told his mother, Mary Reindl, what he thought would be his final goodbyes after doctors suggested she had fewer than 24 hours to live. Then the case was reviewed by a doctor who bucked what he called “that assumption bandwagon.” Other doctors opposed any further diagnostic tests. Reindl was called into a meeting and told his mother shouldn’t be put through what doctors believed would be a futile procedure. “Each one took a turn trying to grind me down,” Reindl said. “The only time they worked together was when they said she needed to be put down.” Mary Reidl now says, “I’m thankful to be alive. I didn’t realize I was so close to not being alive.”
Note: Article contains suggestions on ways patients can help avoid errors.
(Catholic New York)
A Curious Encounter with a Philosopher from Nowhere
By Fr. Richard John Neuhaus
Fr. Richard John Neuhaus reflects on his debate with Princeton ethicist Peter Singer who advocates killing persons deemed undersirable by society.
1) Euthanasia would not only be for people who are "terminally ill"
1. Euthanasia would not only be for people who are "terminally ill." There are two problems here -- the definition of "terminal" and the changes that have already taken place to extend euthanasia to those who aren't "terminally ill." There are many definitions for the word "terminal." For example, when he spoke to the National Press Club in 1992, Jack Kevorkian said that a terminal illness was "any disease that curtails life even for a day." The co-founder of the Hemlock Society often refers to "terminal old age." Some laws define "terminal" condition as one from which death will occur in a "relatively short time." Others state that "terminal" means that death is expected within six months or less.
Even where a specific life expectancy (like six months) is referred to, medical experts acknowledge that it is virtually impossible to predict the life expectancy of a particular patient. Some people diagnosed as terminally ill don't die for years, if at all, from the diagnosed condition. Increasingly, however, euthanasia activists have dropped references to terminal illness, replacing them with such phrases as "hopelessly ill," "desperately ill," "incurably ill," "hopeless condition," and "meaningless life."
An article in the journal, Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, described assisted suicide guidelines for those with a hopeless condition. "Hopeless condition" was defined to include terminal illness, severe physical or psychological pain, physical or mental debilitation or deterioration, or a quality of life that is no longer acceptable to the individual. That means just about anybody who has a suicidal impulse .
2. Euthanasia can become a means of health care cost containment
"...drugs used in assisted suicide cost only about $40, but that it could take $40,000 to treat a patient properly so that they don't want the "choice" of assisted suicide..." ... Wesley J. Smith, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute.
Perhaps one of the most important developments in recent years is the increasing emphasis placed on health care providers to contain costs. In such a climate, euthanasia certainly could become a means of cost containment.
In the United States, thousands of people have no medical insurance; studies have shown that the poor and minorities generally are not given access to available pain control, and managed-care facilities are offering physicians cash bonuses if they don't provide care for patients. With greater and greater emphasis being placed on managed care, many doctors are at financial risk when they provide treatment for their patients. Legalized euthanasia raises the potential for a profoundly dangerous situation in which doctors could find themselves far better off financially if a seriously ill or disabled person "chooses" to die rather than receive long-term care.
Savings to the government may also become a consideration. This could take place if governments cut back on paying for treatment and care and replace them with the "treatment" of death. For example, immediately after the passage of Measure 16, Oregon's law permitting assisted suicide, Jean Thorne, the state's Medicaid Director, announced that physician-assisted suicide would be paid for as "comfort care" under the Oregon Health Plan which provides medical coverage for about 345,000 poor Oregonians. Within eighteen months of Measure 16's passage, the State of Oregon announced plans to cut back on health care coverage for poor state residents. In Canada, hospital stays are being shortened while, at the same time, funds have not been made available for home care for the sick and elderly. Registered nurses are being replaced with less expensive practical nurses. Patients are forced to endure long waits for many types of needed surgery. 1
3. Euthanasia will only be voluntary, they say Emotional and psychological pressures could become overpowering for depressed or dependent people. If the choice of euthanasia is considered as good as a decision to receive care, many people will feel guilty for not choosing death. Financial considerations, added to the concern about "being a burden," could serve as powerful forces that would lead a person to "choose" euthanasia or assisted suicide.
People for euthanasia say that voluntary euthanasia will not lead to involuntary euthanasia. They look at things as simply black and white. In real life there would be millions of situations each year where cases would not fall clearly into either category. Here are two:
Example 1: an elderly person in a nursing home, who can barely understand a breakfast menu, is asked to sign a form consenting to be killed. Is this voluntary or involuntary? Will they be protected by the law? How? Right now the overall prohibition on killing stands in the way. Once one signature can sign away a person's life, what can be as strong a protection as the current absolute prohibition on direct killing? Answer: nothing.
Example 2: a woman is suffering from depresssion and asks to be helped to commit suicide. One doctor sets up a practice to "help" such people. She and anyone who wants to die knows he will approve any such request. He does thousands a year for $200 each. How does the law protect people from him? Does it specify that a doctor can only approve 50 requests a year? 100? 150? If you don't think there are such doctors, just look at recent stories of doctors and nurses who are charged with murder for killing dozens or hundreds of patients.
Legalized euthanasia would most likely progress to the stage where people, at a certain point, would be expected to volunteer to be killed. Think about this: What if your veternarian said that your ill dog would be better of "put out of her misery" by being "put to sleep" and you refused to consent. What would the vet and his assistants think? What would your friends think? Ten years from now, if a doctor told you your mother's "quality of life" was not worth living for and asked you, as the closest family member, to approve a "quick, painless ending of her life" and you refused how would doctors, nurses and others, conditioned to accept euthanasia as normal and right, treat you and your mother. Or, what if the approval was sought from your mother, who was depressed by her illness? Would she have the strength to refuse what everyone in the nursing home "expected" from seriously ill elderly people?
The movement from voluntary to involuntary euthanasia would be like the movement of abortion from "only for the life or health of the mother" as was proclaimed by advocates 30 years ago to today's "abortion on demand even if the baby is half born". Euthanasia people state that abortion is something people choose - it is not forced on them and that voluntary euthanasia will not be forced on them either. They are missing the main point - it is not an issue of force - it is an issue of the way laws against an action can be broadened and expanded once something is declared legal. You don't need to be against abortion to appreciate the way the laws on abortion have changed and to see how it could well happen the same way with euthanasia/assisted suicide as soon as the door is opened to make it legal.
4. Euthanasia is a rejection of the importance and value of human life. People who support euthanasia often say that it is already considered permissable to take human life under some circumstances such as self defense - but they miss the point that when one kills for self defense they are saving innocent life - either their own or someone else's. With euthanasia no one's life is being saved - life is only taken.
History has taught us the dangers of euthanasia and that is why there are only two countries in the world today where it is legal. That is why almost all societies - even non-religious ones - for thousands of years have made euthanasia a crime. It is remarkable that euthanasia advocates today think they know better than the billions of people throughout history who have outlawed euthanasia - what makes the 50 year old euthanasia supporters in 2005 so wise that they think they can discard the accumulated wisdom of almost all societies of all time and open the door to the killing of innocent people? Have things changed? If they have, they are changes that should logically reduce the call for euthanasia - pain control medicines and procedure are far better than they have ever been any time in history.
1Much of this section is taken from the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide's "Frequently Asked Questions" web page.
This page contains not just some of the individuals and groups that have been supportive to Terri's Life & Hope Network over the years, but they act as a valuable resource to help protect the lives of all vulnerable persons.
Disability Rights Organizations
American Association of People with Disabilities
Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
Joni and Friends
National Spinal Cord Injury Association
Recovery Awareness Foundation
Society for Disability Studies
The Family Cafe
World Association of Persons with Disabilities
World Institute on Disability
American Life League
Franciscan Brothers of Peace
Family Life International New Zealand
Human Life International
National Right to Life
Human Life Matters
Laity for Life
Life Issues Institute
Pro-Life Action Ministries
Priests for Life
Students for Life of America
More Links ...
Bridges for Brain Injury
He's Our Brother
Hospice Patients Alliance
Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity