NOTE from CHN ... though these reports are over a decade old, we see that some things are timeless.  We hope these archives help you better understand the modern euthanasia movement.


COMPASSIONATE HEALTHCARE NETWORK

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM CHN FACTS-BRIEF INAUGURAL EDITION NOVEMBER 1992'


 

 


 

John Hofsess, executive director of Right to Die Society Victoria BC, announced that the Canada Council "declined to provide the funding needed to complete ... Requiem: Death and Dying in Canada ...." Hofsess alleged that the additional funding (estimated at $18,000) was declined because of the recent exposure in the BC REPORT and Toronto Sun. Earlier this year, (1992) Hofsess received $18,000 from C.C. & $5,000 from BC Ministry of Culture. 

Mr. Hofsess wrote: "In the Donations column of the current issue, it's stated that I have invested $18,000 of my own funds so far to get the Society up and running. This sum is not repayable nor is it tax-deductible. The latest figure is closer to $19,500 and much of this money came from grants awarded by the Canada Council and the BC Ministry of Culture...." (Printed in a private insert to his members, Issue #3)

BC REPORT journalist, Dave Cunningham took the information contained in Hofsess's own words, and made it public knowledge. Hofsess accuses both publications of prejudice and inaccurate reporting.   [pull out Personal from rtd Last rights [Last Rights Issue #6 ("Insert")]  

  Hofsess is currently lobbying to have Sue Rodriguez attain legal assisted suicide. Rodriguez suffers from ALS, the disease that ended Lou Gerhig and David  Niven's  lives. Hofsess is hoping to set a legal precedent in Canada, and has gone so far as to write a contract stating: "I, John Hofsess, do agree to assist Sue Rodriguez in termination her life at a time of her choosing, preferably by permission of Canadian law failing that, by the moral authority of personal conscience." [GLOBE & MAIL 19.09.92:D1&D4]

{ It was Cheryl Eckstein, Founder and President of the Compassionate Healthcare Network (CHN) who leaked the information of the grant to Dave Cunningham of the REPORT MAGAZINE.   For obvious tactical reasons, this information was not disclosed until the late 90's that Eckstein had been a mole in Hofsess' organization for several years - during that time she received all the magazines and letters that the right-to-die members were getting. 

Hofsess wrote to his right-to-die 'members only' boasting about the grant, which was to go towards helping him publish his book.  That letter was a "insert" in his LAST RIGHTS issue #6.  Hofsess admitted to his members that he put that money into his right-to-die organization because it was low in funds.  Eckstein wrote Canada Council and asked them if they knew how their awards were being abused by Hofsess. All that information was then turned over to Dave Cunningham who revealed that to readers in the September 1992 issue of THE REPORT magazine.   After investigation by Canada Council, Canada Council then refused  Hofsess the second part of the grant which matched the first grant in the amount, $18,000.  However they declined to comment on the first grant other than to say they had been assured that the book would still be published and were satisfied with Hofsess' promise.  13 years have passed and Hofsess' "promised" book has not been published.}


ROY SLATER, KNOWS FIRST HAND WHAT IT IS LIKE TO LIVE WITH A.L.S.

Roy Slater has had ALS for more than 11 years. He is now 66, and married for 45 years. Until recently, he was president of BC's ALS society for 9-years and national head for 2 years. (see THE PROVINCE, "ONE STUBBORN FIGHTER" 08.06.92:A4)

Then there is the sensitive and remarkable story of May Dang, who has lived with ALS for more than 20-years. May and Roy's stories are filled with courage, love, compassion, faith, support, caring and trust.  It was impossible to read about these two persons, and forget Sue Rodriguez's own battle. Since Mr. Hofsess has become part of this clinically depressed and vulnerable woman's life, it seems her only future vision is choosing the day she will die.

Hofsess has helped to place Sue Rodriguez  in an emotional casket of hopelessness. Is she receiving true compassion, or has Hofsess got his "jaws of death" grip on her, so now no outsider can possibly reach her? How can Ms. Rodriguez possibly have the time to focus on living today, when Hofsess has exploited her and plans to continue to do so till the day she dies!


 

Dr. Denis Boyd, Psychologist and counsellor for the Hospice teams, lists some very important basic and special needs for the dying, in a paper called CARE OF DYING FAMILIES, the following are excerpts from his list:

However, these are some of the words of utter hopelessness, John Hofsess offers, concerning Sue and her assisted suicide:

Although a court ruling honoring Sue's right to die is her greatest hope, I cannot let things rest there...." "It is the biggest single decision in both our lives. Sue has limited energy and needs all the strength and inner peace she can muster to live as long as possible: if she is assured of a physician's assistance in dying, she can take the risk of living longer and accepting a greater degree of disability; secure in the knowledge that she will be given and injection when she finally decides that her quality of life has deteriorated beyond an acceptable degree. My wish is to live in a society where compassion is not a crime; where relieving suffering in the name of humanity is not a scandal; where someone like Sue Rodriguez can have her intelligence and human rights respected.

 Hofsess then goes on to the words of his written contract, adding: 

Together we will find out exactly what kind of society we live in: how sensitive to human suffering? How enlightened about relieving suffering? How Christian in the most profound and abiding sense?...No Canadian should have to become a fugitive or a criminal in the search for a good death. [LAST RIGHTS ISSUE #6:10-11]




All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.  They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.  They will do such things because they have not known the Father or Me.  

John 16: 1- 3




Dr. John F. Scott, Palliative Medicine, University of Ottawa, in an article called: LAMENTATION AND EUTHANASIA says 

False presuppositions about palliative care confuse the euthanasia debate. Palliative care, at a clinical and psychologic level is the affirmation of life and not a choosing of death. Pain relief is achieved without hastening death... The central and most dangerous supposition is that the dying are asking for death by euthanasia. We fail to recognize their struggle as lamentation. An analysis of the lament as a deeply embedded cultural and psychologic response pattern to suffering helps us to respond not only to the cry of our patient but also to our own lament as caregivers.

Dr. Scott went on to warn: 

Over the next decade I predict the term, palliative care, will be "hijacked" by the euthanasia lobby. The deception is spreading that a person can have "death with dignity" only by choosing death through active or passive euthanasia. Unless we issue a strong challenge, palliative care may soon become a euphemism or synonym for choosing death, thus making a mockery of its origin as the active alternative to euthanasia. [ HUMANE MEDICINE VOL.8 #4.APR.92:116. ]




In mid-October of 1992, I received a phoned call from a distraught woman named Amy asking me for help. She told me she was phoning from the hospital where her husband, Marin, was lying in a bed extremely ill. Amy told me they had just injected him with undisclosed amounts of morphine, and had a drip bag containing 50 mg. morphine. She insisted they were euthanizing her husband.  Amy also confided in me, that she felt abandoned by her family. She admitted feeling frightened and alone. I took the information down and promised to phone her back as soon as I had consulted with one of my colleagues. I also tried to comfort her by telling her I would meet her at the hospital that morning. I conferred with Dr. Johnson. He advised me on what questions to ask and what to look for, but he sensed there must be some misunderstanding between the woman and her husband's doctors. Dr. Johnson gave me his page number so that I could reach him when needed. Soon I was at the hospital, playing the role of mediator.

I decided to wear a suit, and bring my brief case.  I suppose I thought if I looked rather serious, I might be taken seriously.  When I arrived, staff asked me who I was, I simply announced "The family has called me in."  I must have looked intimidating enough, because no one asked me again who I was and I got the answers I needed; plus a few other things for Marin and Amy that was not provided when I first arrived. 

The hospital room was stark and dark, drapes had been drawn to keep all light out.  There was one very uncomfortable chair in his room.  I looked at his night table and was disturbed by what was not there - no water jug or cup, no mouth swabs, nothing to help keep that man comfortable.  I called on the staff and asked them to please bring a comfortable chair in for his wife to sit; mouth swabs, water and ice chips. Within minutes, all the items were brought in.  I then went about finding out what was wrong with Marin, and his prognosis.

Marin had oat cell carcinoma, a vicious cancer. That same week he had received one chemo-treatment. His physician had just begun to control Marin's pain with morphine. I spoke with the staff, and his doctor, who informed me all they could do for him is give him palliative care. A drip bag was releasing morphine at 3 mg per hour. He was semi-conscious, drifting in and out of sleep. His doctor said he did not expect him to last the night, adding "Could you please talk with his wife, and convey to her that he is dying."  They said Amy was in complete denial, and the doctors and staff were concerned.

I have never been in a position like this before. I have never had to tell someone .. "Your husband is dying, he probably won't last the night ... do you want me to call a priest?" Amy broke down in tears, she finally understood.

I called a Greek Orthodox priest, who arrived very quickly to administer last rites. I really did not understand a word of what he said, as he spoke Marin's language, which was totally foreign to me.  Still I thought, a prayer is a prayer, and I said "Amen."

Much later, I return home, ate, had a shower and went to bed. That evening, I am called to return to the hospital.    I arrived at 11p.m.   When I entered Marin's room, I saw the careworn look on Amy's face. She had not left his side in several days.  I asked the staff to bring in a cot, blanket and pillow so Amy could finally rest for the night.  They quickly complied and when the cot arrived, I immediately put Amy to bed, promising I would wake her the moment I saw any change in Marin. She soon drifted into sleep.

Marin's breathing was a death rattle - it was so heavy and loud it heard down the hallway. The lump on the left side of his neck was much larger than tennis ball size. It was causing his let arm to swell severely. Moved by compassion, I walked over to his side, placed my hands on his lump and prayed: " Lord please take away this lump. I don't know what Your will is for this man, but I ask in Jesus'  most precious name that You remove this lump, so that his arm be restored, Your will be done Lord."

Marin did not die that night. I left the elderly couple at 5:30 AM to return home to rest.

At 2 PM that same day, Amy phoned me and said: Can I have hope?  I answered, "There is always reason to hope!" Amy paused, then informed me they had taken an x-ray.  I wondered about that, since I was told several times just hours before that he wouldn't last the night.   Amy sounded very tired, perhaps that is why she so calmly told me "By the way, the lump has nearly disappeared and his arm is normal size." Normal size!  I admit that at first, I could not apprehend the news.  I humbly praised the Lord, for His bountiful mercies. I returned to the hospital, as I had to see this with my own eyes.  Indeed, the enormous swelling was gone!  I stayed a little while just to keep Amy company and returned home.

Marin did die ... peacefully ...  over four days later.

I was disturbed that comfort care had not been provided until I intervened. Could I have done more?  Possibly, but I had no medical training and was so very new to this role of being an anti-euthanasia activist.  Looking back, knowing what I know now, I don't remember if he was getting IV fluids for hydration.  That disturbs me now, because it is quite possible that he hadn't been receiving hydration. I have often heard it said that "too much knowledge is a dangerous thing" - I don't agree.  I can not stress enough how important it is for family to know down to every single detail, what is or is not being done to keep a patient comfortable and not hasten death. Imminently dying means exactly that - that death is to occur at any moment. Marin's death did not come for over 5 days after I first saw him. If food and water were purposely withheld, it would have been to hasten his death, and that is not palliative care.

It is easy to understand this woman's fear of loosing her husband. She needed a mediator. Someone to spend extra time with her. She needed rest. She needed someone to help her to understand. No one wants to hear that their loved one is dying. She needed simple acts of kindness.

What a tremendous privilege it was to be of some small help to her, and to serve the Lord. I shall never forget how He allowed me to witness His tender mercies, and see his love working in the dying, and in the living. I thank God I had been part of Marin's last days.  [from C. Eckstein's personal journal, October 1992]


 

 

An American physician, Dr. Thomas Taylor vocal anti-euthanasia opponent, recently died. Before his death, he had signed a `limited' living will, specifying that he did not want to be resuscitated "once he was dying." Taylor's widow lamented her husband's doctor misinterpreted Taylor's will, and even violated the conditions by withholding oxygen, pain medications and food. Dr. Taylor had to beg for pain relief.

Dr. Curtis Harris of the American Academy of Medical Ethics said: "Most physicians don't honestly understand a living will, they get the impression that the patient said "I just don't want every thing done". Dr .Harris concluded with a warning "the safest thing is NOT to sign a living will at all." [Carrie Gordon, FAMILY NEWS IN FOCUS, excerpts from written transcript. (Colorado Springs, Co.) 18.09.1992]

 

On the Canadian scene, some horses fared better! Clive Wishart who died last year, "willed that [the] four healthy horses be shot by the RCMP" rather than have them "abused after he died." The four draught horses Barney, King, Jack and Bill had more than 4,500 animal activists from North America petitioning to save their lives. Justice Thomas Riordon "ruled Wishart's request invalid," stating "shooting the horses would be an abuse in itself." [Vancouver Sun 15.10.92:A11] 


 

 

On Nov. 8, 1991 35-year-old paraplegic Robert Corbeil executed a "legal directive requesting that he be allowed to die by starvation." Judge Gontran Rouleau of the Quebec Superior Court first heard the case Dec, 20, 1991, and continued on Jan.6 and 7 1992. The hearings included a bedside visit by the judge; testimonies given by family members; medical staff; and finally a psychiatrist, who certified Corbeil as "lucid and competent."

"Judge Rouleau issued his decision on Jan. 22. On the basis of legal doctrine and precedents in cases such as that of Nancy B., he approved the petition" in favour of Corbeil. Judge Rouleau included that the institute where Corbeil resided must "neither administer any treatments to him nor transfer him elsewhere." The article concludes with: "As of mid-June, M. Corbeil had not exercised his right to die." [HUMANE MEDICINE VOL.8 NO.4/OCT.92:303]


 

 

Dr. Nigel Cox broke down in tears as Mr. Justice Ognall handed out a guilty verdict to the 47 year-old physician. The majority verdict of 11-1, was met with tears, shock, and weeping. Dr. Cox was "found guilty administering a lethal injection of potassium chloride to Mrs. Boyes, of Bishopstoke, Hampshire, who died...within minutes of the injection." Hospital spokesperson announced that "Dr. Cox will remain suspended on full pay" adding that, "[the case] will undoubtedly stimulate demands for a review in the law."

In the same paper, Ludovic Kennedy, Vice President of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society managed to get no less than half a page of the large format paper to present his article "THIS SHAMEFUL VERDICT ADVANCES THE CAUSE OF DEATH WITH DIGNITY" to which he "calls for a law that would have ended the dilemma of Dr. Cox and answered the prayers of victims like Lillian Boyes." A third journalist (same edition) reported (CARING DOCTOR WOULD SPARE NO DETAILS OF PAIN) that "Nurses and doctors increased her heroin dose from 1 mg an hour to 60 mgs but the pain did not ease. It was then that Dr Cox made his decision to administer her final treatment." Dr Cox's lethal injection might have gone unnoticed, as he himself did not report it. But one nurse read the charts, thought about it for the weekend and decided to report her concerns to her seniors. Nurse Hart wanted to contact Cox but changed her mind, later confessing that "she did not find the brusque-mannered consultant the easiest of people to approach" [THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH,20.09.92:1&2]

PROPOSITION 161 (CALIFORNIA)

This November 3rd, California will decide if it is to become the first jurisdiction in the world to dispense physicians with a license to kill. Using deceptive rhetoric, proposition 161 is dubbed "Death with Dignity Act". Physicians opposing 161 warn it "could open the door for the coercion of elderly or poor patients to accept active euthanasia as a way of relieving family financial pressures. "Also noted in the article, Dr. Jack Kevorkian has renewed his license to practice medicine in California. [THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER,26.07.92:K3]  {This is the same state that Hofsess says he will take Rodriguez, should Canada fail to bow to their value-changes.}


 

 

Recently the Registered Nurses Association of British Columbia (RNABC) submitted a response to Royal Commission on Health Care and Costs (titled Closer to Home) The following are some excerpts from the section titled: The Right To Die With Dignity. RNABC believes that one of the most important policies in this regard is the provision of funding for adequate palliative care.

The commission makes a recommendation concerning the prescription and administration of pain-killing medication that may lead to the death of terminally ill... any legislative provision permitting this practice must be carefully worded and should stress that "a physician is permitted to prescribe and the health care worker to administer pain control medication in sufficient doses to alleviate suffering even when this action may have a secondary effect of shortening the duration of the life of the patients."

The commission also makes a recommendation concerning assisted suicide. RNABC does not support this recommendation as it would not be ethical nursing practice. While the Association recognizes and supports the right of a patient to self-determination, this right is not absolute. Much more dialogue and reflection is needed with Canadian society before such a policy could be see as acceptable by nursing. RNABC encourages government to promote such dialogue in the public arena and would certainly participate in such discussions.

The commission also recommends that physicians have more latitude in terminating life when instructions have not been provided for by the patient and there is not substitute decision-maker involved. RNABC will be addressing this issue in more detail within guardianship legislation. It is important, however to stress that the opinion of two physicians should be required in these circumstances and that they should be required to consult with those involved in the care and support of the patient.  [NURSING BC/JULY-AUGUST.92:16,17]

 


Q U O T E S


Commentaries by C. Eckstein


CHN'S BOARD (1992)

FOUNDER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER: CHERYL ECKSTEIN

ADVISORY BOARD


 

 

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