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Health Canada says more than 2,000 medically assisted deaths since legalization

by Andrew Russell, Global News, 7 October 2017

Health Canada said the number of assisted deaths has been rising, with 803 assisted deaths reported in the first six months after it became legal compared to 1,179 deaths that occurred in the following six months from January to June 2017.

This is consistent with other jurisdictions around the world that allow some form of assisted dying, including Oregon (72 per cent), Belgium (69 per cent) and the Netherlands (71 per cent.)

And while the majority of cases, 150, involved people aged 56 to 85, there were 18 cases of people aged 18 to 45.

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The murky issue of whether the public supports assisted dying

by Katherine Sleeman, The Conversation, 6 October 2017.

Katherine Sleeman is a NIHR Clinician Scientist and Honorary Consultant in Palliative Medicine, King’s College London.

Campaigners are often quick to highlight the strength of public support in favour of assisted dying, arguing that the current law is undemocratic. But there are reasons to question the results of polls on this sensitive and emotional issue.

It may not be surprising that support varies considerably according to the nature of the condition described, but it is important. First, because the neat tick boxes on polls belie the messy reality of determining prognosis for an individual patient. Second, because of the potential for drift in who might be eligible once assisted dying is legalised. This has happened in countries such as Belgium which became the first country to authorise euthanasia for children in 2014, and more recently in Canada where within months of the 2016 legalisation of medical assistance in dying, the possibility of extending the law to those with purely psychological suffering was announced.

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101 oncologists oppose assisted suicide legislation

Letter sent to Parliament of Victoria, 19 September 2017

We collectively represent a significant proportion of the oncology workforce in the state of Victoria.
Physician assisted dying places people at risk of coercion that is both active and passive. As a consequence of assisted dying laws, society re-assesses the value of life; and the individual is taught to devalue their own life. Those with serious illness may perceive that they are a burden on society or their carers and come to feel that assisted dying is appropriate for them.
 
Assisted dying laws are easily challenged from a human rights and equality perspective. Indications over time will be extended beyond adults with terminal illness, to those with mental illness alone, dementia, disability, children and the healthy elderly who have “completed lives”.
Click here to read the full letter.
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Words Matter

A blog post from HOPE: Preventing Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, 4 September 2017

HOPE is a coalition of groups and individuals who oppose the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide and support measures that will make euthanasia and assisted suicide unthinkable. 

Unmistakeably, [sic] in acts of euthanasia, the subject person’s life is ended by the direct and deliberate action of a doctor who, by his or her actions, kills the person. Unmistakably also, a doctor who provides assistance (usually in the form of a prescribed lethal dose) so as to enable a person to take their own life using that substance, assists in their suicide.

Yet repeatedly over recent years we have seen the adoption of euphemisms that attempt to disguise these realities. Bill titles worldwide such as, ‘Death with Dignity’, ‘Dying with Dignity’, ‘End of Life Options’ and, my personal favourite, ‘Patient Choice at the End of Life’ have obfuscated the truth.

The intention is clear: words like ‘euthanasia’ and even ‘suicide’ in this context have a clear ‘yuk factor’. That may be so. But surely the public have a right to the truth and the political classes, an obligation to legislate factually. Options? Choices? Dignity? Really?

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Asia-Pacific Hospice Group Condemns ‘Assisted Dying’

by Cynthia Goh, Asia-Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network, 2 August 2017

Associate Professor Cynthia Goh is Chair of the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network.

Australia and New Zealand are acknowledged leaders in fostering palliative care development in the Asia Pacific region. In much of this region, pioneers are struggling to establish good end-of-life services in the face of little political and financial support. Eighty percent of the world’s dying has little or no access to morphine for pain relief.

The United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand have been ranked as the top three countries worldwide in the 2015 Economist Quality of Death Index. The eyes of the world are on these nations and on how they discharge their responsibilities to dying people.

Click here to read the full statement.

This was also reported on by Living and Dying Well, a think tank based in the United Kingdom that explores the complexities surrounding the debate on ‘assisted dying’ and other end-of-life issues.