CHN NEWS: UK BELGIUM Assisted suicide - euthanasia news from UK and Belgium

IN THIS REPORT:

bulletBaby euthanasia is a reality - 300 cases of infanticide
bullet Belgian lawmakers propose euthanasia for children  
bullet 47% 'would help sick relative die'  
bullet Euthanasia report reflects BMA stance
bullet Revealed: full scale of euthanasia in Britain
bullet Euthanasia issue won’t go away, claims Mellor
bulletDebate changed minds 
bulletDeath with dignity
bullet 20 Belgians a month die by euthanasia
bullet Give people a right to call time on their pain
bulletNo - to mercy killing
bullet SPUC welcomes Royal College of Nursing rejection of assisted suicide bill, UK
bullet 'I'd never have stopped my ill wife's suicide'
bullet Plan to legalise assisted suicide of terminally ill 

Comment Baby euthanasia is a reality: Let's look a little more carefully at this report - fatal doses of opiates were used to kill infants (their language active termination) 16 per cent of the parents had no say regarding their child's life, and were not consulted.  30 per cent of these babies were classified as not having a life - worthy of life, or to put it in their terms, "having an acceptable quality of life" -  That could mean that 30 per cent included infants with Downs or Spina bifida which are not life threatening, but to some, unacceptable conditions. 70 per cent of these infants were classified as having no hope "no chance of survival" - how do we know this is true? Did they try to save even one of them?   Lastly, though Professor Provoost says she looked at the medical files. This does not mean every physician's files in Belgium were reviewed.  We know as in the Netherlands, many cases go unreported.  This is tragic news, but we knew more infants would be killed once they legalized euthanasia in Belgium.  Editor, CHN

Baby euthanasia is a reality

11 April 2007

BRUSSELS – About half of the 300 deaths of infants under the age of one are the result of active life termination. This emerged from a study by Professor Veerle Provoost of the University of Ghent.

Provoost examined the medical files of about 300 babies. She also interviewed the acting physicians about the exact cause of death. In about 150 cases the baby's life had been actively terminated.

This involves stopping treatment or administering a fatal dose of opiates. In 9 percent of cases products were explicitly administered to end the child's life.

These cases were babies with no chance of survival, or, in 30 percent of these cases, little hope of having an acceptable quality of life.

In most cases (84 percent) the decision was made in consultation with the parents.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news


Source:http://www.expatica.com/actual/article.asp?subchannel_id=24&story_id=38607

 

Seek extension of law to allow assisted-suicide for those under age 18

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Belgian lawmakers propose euthanasia for children  

Posted: June 21, 2003  1:00 a.m. Eastern   © 2003 WorldNetDaily.com

Lawmaker's in Belgium have announced plans to propose an extension of the country's euthanasia law to allow the procedure for those under the age of 18, according to a report by Expatica in the Netherlands.

''Those under the age of 18 feel pain in exactly the same way as their elders,'' Flemish Liberal Senator Jeannine Le-Duc told the Gazet van Antwerpen.

Francophone politicians say they're open to the idea of a discussion about reducing the age to 16, but no less.

''Euthanasia for a seven-year-old kid – there’s no way,'' Liberal Senator Philippe Monfils told La Libre Belgique.

Last week, negotiators forming Belgium's new government called for every hospital across the country to have a team of doctors prepared to administer euthanasia to adults. The move was designed to counter opposition by some Catholic hospitals that have reportedly refused to permit assisted suicide on their premises.

Doctors will be given a protected status for performing euthanasia, which was was legalized in Belgium last year.

One lawmaker said euthanasia is the business of a doctor and a patient, and hospitals should not interfere.

PLEASE SEE ALSO Now They Want to Euthanize Children In the Netherlands by Wesley J. Smith http://www.chninternational.com/now_they_want_to_euthanize_child.htm

 

 
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47% 'would help sick relative die'  

Thu 9 Sep 2004

 NEARLY half of Britons would help a terminally-ill relative commit suicide, a survey showed today.

The Voluntary Euthanasia Society published a poll which showed 47 per cent of people said they would help a loved one die if they were suffering unbearably. Some 35 per cent said they would not, with the rest undecided.

It came on the day a House of Lords committee was due to begin an inquiry into the law on euthanasia.

The VES survey, conducted with 790 adults by NOP World, found 82 per cent of the public supported a change in the law on medically-assisted dying.

A further 11 per cent said the law should not allow people to receive medical help to die, with the remainder undecided.

The last time the VES asked the same question in a survey, before the death of campaigner Diane Pretty in 2002, the figure in support was 81 per cent.

In today’s poll, 51 per cent said they would want help to die if they became terminally ill and were suffering unbearably, while 37 per cent said "No", with the remainder undecided.

VES chief executive Deborah Annetts said: "NOP World’s survey shows the public’s support is unwavering and has actually increased since Diane Pretty died.

"By saying they would be prepared to break the law if a terminally ill loved one asked them to, the public are sending a clear message to our law-makers that the law needs reform."

She added: "The choice they have is between secret, unregulated assisted dying and a regulated system with the strictest safeguards in the world.

"It is plain that a one-size fits all law that criminalises the compassionate as much as it does serial killers is unsustainable."

Initial figures from the survey show 50 per cent of all Britons would consider going abroad to receive medical assistance to die if they were suffering from a terminal illness.

The Voluntary Euthanasia Society has handed more than 80,000 messages of support to the House of Lords Select Committee, which was due to begin examining Lord Joffe’s Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill today, with Ms Annetts its first witness.

Source: http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=318&id=1061152004

 
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Euthanasia report reflects BMA stance

by Alex Hanna Published 21/9/2004

EXTENSIVE research into whether euthanasia should remain illegal in the island reflects the findings of the British Medical Association.

Local spokesman Dr Brian Parkin said he was not surprised that the results of the investigation, which concluded that there should be no change to the current legal position, coincided with the enormous amount of work done in this area by the BMA.

‘One is always sensitive to the needs of seriously ill people and they should not be denied everything possible to keep them comfortable.
‘But, on the other hand, the working party has had time and access to all the expert evidence and has reached the same conclusion as the BMA ethics committee,’ he said.

‘It wouldn’t be terribly helpful for me to say whether the working party has come to the right conclusion – they are the ones that pored over the evidence and discussed it in depth and I respect the enormous amount of work they have put into it.’ He said that the conclusions drawn from 296 members of the public and interest groups who gave their views to the survey, of which 76% opposed voluntary euthanasia, did not surprise him either. 

‘Perhaps it is a more complex issue than sometimes people realise, but there is a lot of sense from the man in the street and they have come to the same conclusion as the vast majority of expert bodies, including our own committee.’ The two-year Death with Dignity working party investigation involved numerous local doctors and nurses.

A majority of both, 64%, wanted to see specific legislation to protect health-care professionals in any case of possible double effect as a result of administration of medication or other treatments to alleviate suffering. 


The working party has recommended that the fact that it is legal – the principle permits a doctor to provide essential pain-relieving drugs, which could also have a bad effect, as long as providing pain relief is the prime intention – should be clarified and included as part of any future legislation on end-of-life decisions.
‘This principle is well known and well used, but it is always useful to clarify these things, perhaps for the public,’ said Dr Parkin. ‘And if there are suggestions that some doctors feel vulnerable while giving this medicine, then they would welcome reassurance.’  To improve the situation for those suffering, the report has recommended that a lead clinician in palliative care be appointed.  It considered the current resources allocated to such care to be insufficient. ‘One of the problems is that you could always allocate more to all areas of health, but there is no infinite supply of money,’ said Dr Parkin.


‘Historically, palliative care has been relatively neglected. Perhaps at one time it was a rather Cinderella area, but now there is a lot of research and credence and I think there are moves afoot to try and improve that. 


‘It is a far more active and gnarled area of medicine than when I was training. ‘Obviously we would wish to support developments in that service, as we would all areas.’ Bev Clark, chairwoman of the Royal College of Nursing Guernsey branch, said that it would support a palliative care specialist in the island and anything that would support death with dignity and reduce suffering.  ‘The RCN as an organisation is against assisted suicide, which is what the report found, and I think it was what we expected,’ she said.  ‘The RCN is also against any legislation that would place the responsibility on the nurse to respond to the demand from a patient to end their life.’

Source: http://www.thisisguernsey.com/code/showarchive.pl?ArticleID=011939&year=2004&category=news

 

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Revealed: full scale of euthanasia in Britain

Fury as number of 'assisted deaths' claimed to be 18,000

Jamie Doward, social affairs editor
Sunday September 19, 2004
The Observer


British doctors help nearly 20,000 people a year to die, according to one of the UK's leading authorities on euthanasia. The claim, the first public attempt by a credible expert to put a figure on 'assisted dying' rates, will reignite the emotive debate over the practice.

Dr Hazel Biggs, director of medical law at the University of Kent and author of Euthanasia: Death with Dignity and the Law, calculates that at least 18,000 people a year are helped to die by doctors who are treating them for terminal illnesses.

Biggs, who has submitted evidence to the House of Lords select committee which is examining Lord Joffe's private member's bill on Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill, makes the claim in an article submitted to the European Journal for Health Law .

Her figures will place renewed focus on the doctor-patient relationship, which pro-euthanasia campaigners want changed so that medical staff can help conscious, terminally ill patients in pain to shorten their lives.

Biggs's figures are based on data from countries such as the Netherlands and Australia, which have published research into assisted dying rates, as well as evidence taken from British doctors.

'If you extrapolate from countries that have published data, you're looking at quite a large number of patients who may have had their end hastened, not necessarily with their consent,' she said.

'What this says to me is that we know these practices are going on, but they are completely unregulated. We don't know how many people are volunteers or non-volunteers, and maybe because of that the law ought to be changed so that people can give voluntary consent, which will give them more protection.'

An ageing population has meant that an increasing number of doctors are taking private decisions to aid the early demise of terminally ill patients, usually by increasing drug doses.

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, said there was an urgent need to clarify regulations governing assisted dying: 'We need to shine a spotlight on this. The medical profession doesn't want the public to realise they are making these decisions. It shows the need to make the patient the decision-maker. When it's left to the doctor, there is always the risk of abuse.'

Pro-euthansia groups point out that in Britain the maximum sentence for helping someone to commit suicide is 14 years in prison. 'With the exception of Ireland, no other country in Europe behaves like that,' Annetts said.

Opinion polls show overwhelming public support for law changes that would make it easier for terminally ill patients in pain to request medical help to shorten their lives. In successive surveys, about 80 per cent of people back the move. A survey by the society this month found that 47 per cent of people said they were prepared to help a loved one to die, even if it meant breaking the law.

But a spokeswoman for the ProLife party said: 'Surely the response of a compassionate society is to alleviate the pain, to love and comfort the patient, and to try and restore a sense of self-worth until death comes naturally.'

Politicians have repeatedly deflected moves to change the law on euthanasia, believing it is unlikely to be a vote-winner. But Joffe's bill might find its way through the Lords committee stage and into the Commons, which would alarm religious groups.

In a joint submission to the select committee, Church of England and Roman Catholic bishops said: 'It is deeply misguided to propose a law by which it would be legal for terminally ill people to be killed or assisted in suicide by those caring for them, even if there are safeguards to ensure that only the terminally ill would qualify.'
 

bulletSource: http://www.guardian.co.uk/medicine/story/0,11381,1307970,00.html

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Euthanasia issue won’t go away, claims Mellor

by Rosie Allsopp Published 18/9/2004

THE woman who spearheaded Guernsey’s voluntary euthanasia campaign yesterday supported Deputy Peter Roffey’s bid to legalise it. Former deputy Pat Mellor, who took a requete to the States in June 2002 asking that the issue of legalising euthanasia be examined, welcomed the Health minister’s minority report. It aims to allow assisted death for the terminally ill in certain circumstances. The majority of the Death with Dignity working party concluded that voluntary euthanasia was a step too far. ‘The prime issue is what the people of Guernsey want,’ said Mrs Mellor, speaking from her new home in Cyprus.  ‘Of course I support the minority report.’  She said it was her greatest regret that she left the States before the issue was debated.

‘That was not my fault but that of the Advisory and Finance Committee for not setting up the working party when they were instructed to do so.  ‘Had they not waited, this would have happened last year and I would indeed have been there.  ‘I opened this matter, I regret not being there for the debate, but if the minority report is not carried this time, be assured it will not go away.  ‘Guernsey should be strong enough to stand now and say what the people want. It is now up to the public of Guernsey to make their voices heard. It is no use leaving it to someone else.’  Mrs Mellor and Ann Crocker started the SpeakUpForGuernsey campaign in the run-up to April’s general election, asking islanders to let prospective deputies know their views on euthanasia.  

The group also commissioned an NOP survey, which concluded that 77% of respondents supported legalisation of voluntary euthanasia. ‘The poll showed an overwhelming wish of the majority to have this choice available under strict controls and that is what I would support.’ Mrs Mellor hoped that religious reasons would not influence debate and urged politicians to consider seriously the moral arguments when thinking about legalising voluntary euthanasia.
‘The operative word is voluntary,’ she added.  

Source: http://www.thisisguernsey.com/code/showarchive.pl?ArticleID=011930&year=2004&category=news

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Debate changed minds 

by Rosie Allsopp  ~ Published 17/9/2004


RESEARCHING whether Guernsey should legalise euthanasia was time and money well spent.

Advocate Gill Dinning, who headed the Death with Dignity working party, said that although the majority decided there were overwhelming reasons not to go ahead, it was still a worthwhile exercise.  ‘When you do that sort of thing, change laws like that, it has a profound effect on society and we didn’t feel it was appropriate, but that is not to say it was not worth examining,’ said Advocate Dinning.  

‘I can understand that pro-euthanasia people will probably think that no real effort was made, but I don’t think you can level that criticism at us. A huge amount of work was done so people could have an informed discussion.’  Advocate Dinning added that some panel members went in with one view and came out with another.  ‘I hope no one thinks we did not debate things – we had some very passionate discussions. Once you get into a subject like this you realise how complex it is. By the end the committee was very well informed.  ‘On a personal level, I don’t think I’ve ever read so much paperwork on a subject – and I’m a lawyer.’
Most of the panel were uncomfortable moving from the present situation, she said.

‘I think the majority felt it was a step too far for a variety of reasons. A lot of people struggled with the definite decision to end life and there was concern that once it was allowed, where it would end.’  She said legalising euthanasia was too great a leap for many countries to consider, not just a small jurisdiction like Guernsey.
‘I would question whether the UK changes its mind.’ Advocate Dinning fully understood why fellow panel member Deputy Peter Roffey produced a minority report outlining the case for euthanasia for the terminally-ill.  It is supported by deputies Hunter Adam – a retired doctor – and Francis Quin, two of the three other politicians on the working party.  ‘Having chaired the committee, I can see that people’s views were clearly very sincerely held. There is an obvious temptation to take a shot at politicians but, having debated with them, I know how passionate they are in their beliefs rather than [in] making a political statement.’  Deputy Roffey said it was a matter of regret that the working group members had not looked at how a law permitting voluntary euthanasia could be drafted. Advocate Dinning said they had not been asked to, rather they looked at whether there should be a change in the law.  ‘We felt it was more appropriate for the States to debate this in general. If they debate it and decide they would like the law, it is for someone to draft. ‘We did not want to hijack the debate. Group

Source:  http://www.thisisguernsey.com/code/showarchive.pl?ArticleID=011921&year=2004&category=news

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Death with dignity

Time for a debate on euthanasia

Leader
Sunday September 19, 2004
The Observer


A
s the Observer reveals today, thousands of very ill patients in Britain are helped to die each year by their doctors. Sometimes the fatal doses of morphine are administered with their knowledge, sometimes only with the knowledge of their families who don't want to see them suffer further. It is all done on the quiet because such an action can lead to the doctor being on a murder charge. Politicians naturally shy away from entering this emotive arena. The very term 'mercy killing' conjures up images of doctors administering lethal injections to comatose patients. There is also the very real concern that any legislation would put elderly people under pressure to agree to an assisted death to help their relatives.

But the law currently proposed by Lord Joffe, and being debated in the House of Lords, sets out a framework which would comprehensively outlaw such cases. His proposal is that only patients who are terminally ill and judged to have less than six months to live would be eligible for an assisted death. They would have to be in 'unbearable pain', be capable of making a rational decision about their future and would have to undergo both a medical and psychological examination. There would also be a 'cooling-off' period so that they could contemplate the process they had been through.

Polls show that both the public and the medical profession support reform of the law on assisted death. It is a basic desire to want our end to be as peaceful, dignified and pain-free as possible. The thousands of people with terminal illnesses have little hope of this at the moment. They need ministers to have the courage to look for a path which will cut through the ethical and legal complexities. If it is possible on abortion and cloning, it must also be possible to frame legislation that allows the dying the right to a dignified departure.

Source: http://politics.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,9115,1308039,00.html  see also http://observer.guardian.co.uk/leaders/story/0,6903,1307833,00.html

 

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20 Belgians a month die by euthanasia

16 September 2004

BRUSSELS – The first major study into the effect of Belgium's new legislation that permits euthanasia has found that around 20 terminally ill people a month ask doctors to help them to die.

The study, drawn up by a special federal commission tasked with assessing the impact of the September 2002 law, found that 259 acts of legal euthanasia were carried out in Belgium up until the end of 2003.

The vast majority of people asking to be allowed to die with dignity were suffering from terminal cancers, the survey revealed.

But perhaps the study's most surprising finding was that euthanasia appears far more popular in Dutch speaking Flanders than in Francophone Wallonia.

Of the 259 declared acts of euthanasia, 216 or 83 percent were written in Dutch.

Only 43 French declarations, just 17 percent of the total, were made in French.

The experts on the commission said they had no explanation for why there was such a large variation between the north and south of the country.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Source: http://www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=24&story_id=11921&name=20+Belgians+a+month+die+by+euthanasia

SEE ALSO V

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Give people a right to call time on their pain

by Rosie Allsopp  Published 17/9/2004


ASSISTED death must be available to people in intolerable pain.

Campaigner Ann Crocker was yesterday disappointed that the group investigating whether Guernsey should legalise euthanasia had decided not to recommend the practice.  But she supported Health minister Peter Roffey’s minority report, which calls for euthanasia to be legal only for terminally-ill people in a specific set of circumstances.  ‘People should not dictate to the terminally ill that they have to carry on regardless of how they feel,’ she said.
‘As I support voluntary euthanasia, I’m obviously disappointed they came to that decision because terminally-ill people – and those with conditions like motor neurone disease – their lives are awful at the end.  ‘Surely it is compassionate for those who need assistance.’

She also supports voluntary euthanasia in cases where an illness is not terminal, but causes the patient great pain or incapacitation.  ‘I truly believe that voluntary euthanasia should be available for terminally-ill people.  ‘I also feel that in certain circumstances and a limited number of cases, when all the avenues of treatment have been gone down and failed, there has to be a safety net for people.  ‘Maybe not voluntary euthanasia, but perhaps physician-assisted suicide [where doctors can prescribe lethal medication for a patient to self-administer] should be available to those people if the medical profession has nothing left to offer them and it’s their choice.’

Mrs Crocker said she was not hopeful that the States would vote in favour of the minority report but would instead maintain the status quo.  ‘I would be really ecstatic if they did vote for voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill. ‘It’s wrong not to give people the choice. That’s turning medical assistance into a dictatorship. ‘We have choice with all sorts of other things that we can accept or refuse.  ‘At the end, there should still be a choice with no pressure from the outside.’  Mrs Crocker supported the Death with Dignity working party’s recommendation to clarify the legal situation on making a living will.‘That will be very useful, because people can say what treatment they want and don’t want and make their views known beforehand,’ she said.  ‘I would like to see those filled in by everyone and lodged at the hospital. That would be a way forward.’ She also agreed with the panel that palliative care in Guernsey should be improved.
‘That’s a way forward and very good. There are cases where it doesn’t work but you have to go down that road first.’

Mrs Crocker began her campaign to legalise euthanasia after her father suffered in great pain over a five-year period before his death. Along with former States member Pat Mellor, she began the group, Guernsey4Doctor Assisted Dying.  During the election in April, the group’s campaign, SpeakUp ForGuernsey, carried out an NOP poll which found 77% of islanders in favour of legalising euthanasia.  ‘I would like to see cases like my dad included, although he wasn’t terminally ill, but that would make it more difficult because it could be seen as a slippery slope.  ‘But for incurable pain, people should have the choice to say when they’ve had enough

Source: http://www.thisisguernsey.com/code/showarchive.pl?ArticleID=011922&year=2004&category=news

 

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No - to mercy killing

by Rosie Allsopp Published 16/9/2004

EUTHANASIA should remain illegal in Guernsey.

A two-year investigation by the Death with Dignity working party into whether it would be right for Guernsey has concluded that there should be no change to the present legal position.  But not all of its members agree.  Health minister Peter Roffey has produced a minority report supporting the practice in very limited, specific circumstances. ‘I believe that most people have considerable sympathy for those requesting voluntary euthanasia to avoid suffering in the latter stages of a terminal illness,’ he said

Deputy Roffey will place an amendment before the matter is debated by the States next month which will give members the opportunity to support his minority report.  Two other members of the working party, deputy Health minister Deputy Francis Quin and former gynaecologist Deputy Hunter Adam, back him.
Two Policy Council members, deputies Lyndon Trott and Dave Jones, have said that if the States supports the minority report, the matter should go to a referendum, though the majority of the council disagrees with that.  ‘The working party’s report is very thorough and demonstrates the considerable effort and professionalism that Advocate Gill Dinning and her team applied to their research,’ said Chief Minister Laurie Morgan. Whether or not Guernsey should legislate to support voluntary euthanasia was clearly a matter of great importance and complexity, he added. ‘This is the type of issue about which many people have strong views,’ he said.

‘Although the majority of Policy Council members support the recommendation, States members may be expected to vote according to their individual views or conscience. ‘The report should enable them to be well informed on this complex and highly emotive subject.’ The council will recommend to the States that Guernsey should appoint a clinician for palliative care [improving the quality of life for terminally ill patients]. It also supports clarifying the law regarding living wills for people who draft legislation and for the island’s medical professionals. The council also wants to make the position on prescribing pain relief under the double effect principle. This is where giving essential pain relief to a terminally ill person also risks shortening their life.  The working party’s deliberations included public consultation and a detailed survey of the medical profession. * Guernsey currently has no system in place for referendums.

Source: http://www.thisisguernsey.com/code/showarchive.pl?ArticleID=011916&year=2004&category=news

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SPUC welcomes Royal College of Nursing rejection of assisted suicide bill, UK

15 Sep 2004


UK - The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) has welcomed the Royal College of Nursing’s rejection of the legalisation of assisted suicide and active voluntary euthanasia. The College said that a consultation of its members had received an “overwhelming response” opposing Lord Joffe’s Assisted Dying for the Terminally Bill and “reaffirm[ing] the core principles which lie at the heart of nursing: valuing life and ensuring patients are well cared for.” The College condemned the notion that some lives were ‘not worth living’.

Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary, said: “We strongly endorse the College’s analysis that Lord Joffe’s Bill 'normalises the concept that some lives are not worth living which is contrary to a core nursing belief in the intrinsic value of life.'

“The RCN’s findings are highly significant, in contrast to the Voluntary Euthanasia Society’s recent polls which should be treated with the greatest scepticism. We are concerned that the VES’s recent polls may have misled the poll’s respondents with ambiguous questions which confuse palliative care with lethal injections. Compassion in the natural dying process should not be confused with unnatural death through intentional killing. We challenge the VES to publish in full all the questions which were asked in their polls. We suspect that the VES’s claims and the true opinions of the poll’s respondents do not match.”

http://www.spuc.org.uk

Huge database of hospitals world wide .

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=13441

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'I'd never have stopped my ill wife's suicide'

Published on 16 September 2004

WHEN Roger Carr watched his terminally ill wife take her own life he never dreamt that less than three hours later he would be locked in a police cell on suspicion of murder. As the House of Lords Select Committee begins taking evidence on a bill to allow carers to help terminally ill people die if it is their wish, he tells the News his story.

ROGER Carr sat at his wife's bedside in their Haslingfield home in Cambridge and watched as she swallowed an overdose, both of them knowing that in a few hours she would be free of pain.

After battling breast cancer in 1995, Alison was diagnosed with cancer of the chest wall in 2001, which soon spread to her spine.

When the doctors could not tell her how long she had to live, she decided not to take chemotherapy treatment and Roger, with help from his mother, cared for Alison at home.

"I would get her up in the morning, bath her, and we would have a chat and have breakfast together. Alison used to say it was the best time of the day - first thing in the morning when she was not in as much pain."

He said that despite it all, as a couple they had "never been happier," spending those precious hours together.

But 55-year-old Alison, a solicitor and former parish councillor, was determined to keep her dignity and feared that her declining condition would see her confined to hospital or a hospice, where she would have no control over her own treatment.

She and Roger, who had been married for more than 30 years, had discussed euthanasia in the past and agreed if either was terminally ill, it would be an option.

"But you never expect to have to put your money where your mouth is," said Roger.

In November 2002, that moment came.

"She was really fading away and thought the time had come. I tried to put her off by saying there was the village bonfire night and we could have Tess (their grand-daughter) over to see it," said Roger.

Alison agreed and spent the evening with her five-year-old grand-daughter. The following night - Sunday, November 3 - Roger sat with his wife as she took an overdose of medication which included morphine tablets and liquid and Temazepam.

"I just accepted it when Alison said she had decided she had had enough. It must have been a terrible decision to make and it wasn't down to me to say it will be better tomorrow."

The couple had agreed Roger wouldn't call an ambulance until he was certain Alison had died so he waited before he made the 999 call. He explained his wife had taken an overdose and that he sat with her while she did it.

"The operator asked did I know what I was saying and I just said well, yes, I was there."

By 2.30am on Monday morning, Roger had been stripped and given a paper tracksuit to wear while he sat in a cell at Parkside police station in Cambridge, waiting to be questioned.

"I didn't realise I had been arrested until I spoke to a duty solicitor who said I could be charged for three things, assisting a suicide, manslaughter or murder," he said.

After six hours of questioning, Roger was driven back to his home by a senior officer and remained on bail, which was extended over eight months while police passed a file on to the Crown Prosecution Service.

No charges were brought against him but, if they had been, Roger said he would have faced the consequences.

"Most people like myself would not realise that just sitting there is classed as assisting but I understand the law is the law and ignorance of it is no excuse.

"But even if I had known it was against the law, I wouldn't have stopped her," he said.

As a member of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, Roger is now campaigning for a change in the law and last week, the House of Lords Select Committee began taking evidence on Lord Joffe's Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill.

The bill would enable terminally ill people to be helped to die if that is their settled wish, having been informed of the medical alternatives.

"Of course, it is not the right choice for everyone but is it right that Alison wasn't allowed to say enough is enough? If it is a situation where there is absolutely no prospect of ever recovering and it is just going to get worse, you don't need to be a nuclear scientist to work out that this system is morally wrong," said Roger.

"I miss her desperately but I have no misgivings at all. If we do get that law, for Alison, Diane Pretty, for all those people - it is lasting testament in their memory that their dying wasn't a waste," he said.

What do you think?
Have your say on our messageboards

Souce:  http://w3.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/story.asp?StoryID=61608

 

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Plan to legalise assisted suicide of terminally ill 

September 17 2004

Fariala, 36, was the author of Victoria, a to legalise assisted suicide for the terminally ill were unveiled yesterday in the House of Lords.Lord Joffe, a retired human rights lawyer and former honorary secretary of Oxfam, told peers his private member's bill was a "deeply humane piece of legislation" that would help patients and their families.Under the bill, which would apply only south of the border, a terminally ill adult could seek medical help to end their life.A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said there were no immediate plans to introduce such a measure in Holyrood, although close attention would be paid to Lord Joffe's bill.
Two doctors would be required to confirm diagnosis of the patient, make sure they are of sound mind, and check all other alternatives – such as increased pain relief and hospice care – had been considered.The patient would then have to sign a written declaration that they wished to die, witnessed by a solicitor and an independent witness.There is an opt-out clause for doctors who feel they cannot help a patient for reasons of conscience, and a 14-day waiting period to give the patient time to reconsider.
Giving evidence to the Lords select committee on the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, Lord Joffe said: "I believe that this bill is a deeply humane piece of legislation." assisted suicide for the terminally ill were unveiled yesterday in the House of Lords. Lord Joffe, a retired human rights lawyer and former honorary secretary of Oxfam, told peers his private member's bill was a "deeply humane piece of legislation" that would help patients and their families.
Under the bill, which would apply only south of the border, a terminally ill adult could seek medical help to end their life.
A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said there were no immediate plans to introduce such a measure in Holyrood, although close attention would be paid to Lord Joffe's bill.
Two doctors would be required to confirm diagnosis of the patient, make sure they are of sound mind, and check all other alternatives – such as increased pain relief and hospice care – had been considered.
The patient would then have to sign a written declaration that they wished to die, witnessed by a solicitor and an independent witness.
There is an opt-out clause for doctors who feel they cannot help a patient for reasons of conscience, and a 14-day waiting period to give the patient time to reconsider.  Giving evidence to the Lords select committee on the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, Lord Joffe said: "I believe that this bill is a deeply humane piece of legislation."

Source: http://www.theherald.co.uk/politics/24206.html

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