Monday, November 28, 2005

Animal and human euthanasia

What does a vet do when a pet owner wants them to carry out heroic surgery on a dying animal? Rebecca Coombes asks whether doctors and vets can learn from each other's ethical dilemmas

The ethical problems facing doctors and vets obviously differ in some ways. A veterinary surgeon, for example, can decide when a treatment is no longer valuable and opt for euthanasia. This course is not open to doctors. And a doctor has to seek the consent of a patient for treatment whereas veterinary surgeons need to steer a course between their own professional opinion and the wishes of pet owners. The animal itself has no rights. Moreover, there is no NHS for animals, and decisions about euthanasia often have to be made in the light of an owner's ability to pay for a lengthy course of life extending treatment. But, when considering these ethical issues with members of both the veterinary and medical profession, some interesting parallels emerge.

End-of-life choice in Japan

The Japan Society for Dying With Dignity had 108,841 members as of September 11, 2005 -- the largest right-to-die organization in the world.
The Tokyo based group <> does NOT advocate active euthanasia, suicide or assisted suicide, only LIVING WILLS to prevent the prolongation of suffering at the end of life.
There are two women to every one man in the membership of the Japanese group. Members 65 and older number
86,576, while those 75 and older number 49,907.
There are 39 members over 100 years old, 31 of them women and eight men.
SOURCE: Newsletter of Japan Soc. For Dying With Dignity, # 119, September 2005.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Assisted suicide, easy death

A view from the Netherlands:-

Is physician-assisted suicide in case of suffering from life justified? And if so, who decides? The patient, the doctor or an independent institution?
Former Dutch general practitioner Peter Kaldenhoven is certain that many of his colleagues do not fully realize how severe this kind of suffering is and, therefore, shy away from it. "After all, doctors are human beings and not always capable to assess the situation. In my first years I couldn'teither."
SOURCE: NVVE newsletter, October 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Euthanasia Weblog

"Great and Good Have Little Truck With God"

BRITAIN'S elite are half as likely to believe in God than the general population, and far less likely to believe in life after death, a survey suggests.

Michael Irwin, a retired GP and former chairman of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, wrote to 1,600 randomly selected people listed in Who's Who. To his surprise, 761 took the time to write back.

One Anglican bishop said that he did not believe in the survival of individual "souls" after death. The bishop did admit, however, to the possibility of a non-specific "life force" energising everyone on Earth.

Dr Irwin, 74, who as a former medical director of the United Nations is listed in Who's Who, had replies from the authors Bamber Gascoigne, Colin Wilson, Naim Attallah and Colin Dexter, the agony aunt Clare Rayner, the zoologist Keith Vickerman, the anthropologist Alan MacFarlane, Lord Alton of Liverpool, Lord Haskins and Lord Young of Norwood Green.

> Dr Irwin, who has published his findings in a booklet, What Survives?, said that previous surveys, such as a Reader's Digest poll of March this year, suggested that 64 per cent believed in the existence of God and 58 per cent in an afterlife. In the recent national census, more than 70 per cent described themselves as Christian.
But he found that just 29 per cent of those in Who's Who believed that a soul continued to exist after death and 5 per cent believed that no individual souls survived but did admit to the possibility of a non-specific life force. A further 46 per cent said that nothing at all survived death except a person's descendants, writings and other people's memories. Just 20 per cent were "uncertain" about what happened.
This year Dr Irwin was erased from the General Medical Council register. He had been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to bring about the suicide of a terminally ill friend on the Isle of Man, but no charges were brought. He was given a police caution.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Kevorkian 3rd plea for freedom

Press ReleaseSource: Attorney Mayer Morganroth

Noted Attorney Asks Compassion for 'Dr. Jack'
Saturday November 19, 12:43 pm ET

SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Nov. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Attorney Mayer Morganroth is asking Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to grant a pardon and/or commutation of sentence for Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

"Dr. Jack has served more than six and a half years in prison for an offense that not one other doctor in the entire United States has ever spent one day in prison for," Morganroth said.

Morganroth filed application asking the Michigan Parole Board to immediately forward the request to the governor who has the ultimate say in the matter.

Dr. Kevorkian is scheduled for release in June of 2007, a date, Morganroth says, Kevorkian may never see.

"The man is in dire shape," Morganroth explained. " Prison has deteriorated him almost to the point of no return. Jack is suffering from dangerously high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, temporal arteritis, peripheral arthritis, adrenal insufficiency, chronic pulmonary obstruction disease and cataracts. On top of all that, his Hepatitis C (which Jack contracted in Vietnam testing transfusions given to American soldier) is sapping him of what little energy he has left."

Morganroth said a recent MSNBC national poll showed that 88 percent of the people that participated believe Kevorkian should be freed. "It would be a most compassionate act for Governor Granholm to order Jack's release," Morganroth said " especially during the holiday season."

According to Morganroth, Kevorkian is so frail that simply walking is dangerous. "He's fallen twice, fracturing two ribs and injuring his wrist," Morganroth said. "Kevorkian also suffers from diplopia, vertigo, dysphasgia, headaches, and osteoporosis."

"Look, Jack is not a ogre. He's a doctor who has helped a lot of needy people over the years. The courts said he made a mistake, so be it, he's paid for that mistake with six and a half years of his life in prison. He's 77 years-old now, and it's time to let the man die with some dignity by being free." (Source: Attorney Mayer Morganroth)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

World news on euthanasia

A one-hour TV special called "Giving Death a Hand" will be screened by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) at six different times, starting November 23. The Evelyn Martens case will be a major focus of the show. (Evelyn was acquitted of two charges of assisting suicides after a lengthy trial.)

On Nov. 23 the show will be aired on regular television (that is, not cable) as the program "Fifth Estate", starting at 9 p.m. (probably local time - in any case, the time at which "Fifth Estate" airs in your part of the world).
Americans living near the Canadian border may be able to pick up this broadcast.

The later broadcasts are on the "Newsworld" program, via cable, and the times given are Eastern Standard Time:
Friday Nov. 25, at 10 p.m. Saturday Nov. 26, at 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday Nov. 27, at 7 p.m.

The CBC website, may be of help for further information.

"The Good Euthanasia Guide"

The Voluntary Euthanasia Society of Victoria Inc (Australia) is proposing to change its name to DYING WITH DIGNITY - VICTORIA. (This has yet to be
confirmed at the annual general meeting on 26 February 2006 at 2 pm.)

Dr. Rodney Syme, president, writes in the group's November newsletter: "This word [euthanasia] has come to be much misunderstood, and has a variety of
meanings and uses, many negative. This has made the Society vulnerable to misrepresentation and hinders us in presenting a clear and accurate message."

The organization is also moving offices at the end of November to
3/98 Salisbury Avenue, Blackburn, Victoria 31310. Its new telephone number will be +9877-7677
Email: Web:

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Acquiring the book 'Final Exit'

Right-to-die groups/chapters/branches of any ilk in North America may
purchase 'Final Exit' (with its Addendum)directly from ERGO at a 40 percent
discount for bulk orders of 10 or more copies.

The book -- 3rd edition -- retails at $15.00. It remains the only such
book in the world. The Addendum brings it right up to date. Previous
editions do not contain the helium method because it was unknown.

Of course, 'Final Exit' can be bought singly in good bookstores, individually, but
it does not have the Addendum.

Bulk orders can be called in to 541-998-1873 and charged to Visa/MC, or
ordered by regular mail with check or money order. (Individual orders,
also, but at the regular price.)

For example: Ten copies at $15.00 = $150. After 40 percent r t d discount
= $90.00. Shipping via USPS Media Mail: add $3.00.

Derek Humphry, journalist & author
President, ERGO. (Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization)
24829 Norris Lane, Junction City, Oregon 97448 USA.
ERGO: and