Competing Canadian reports on mental illness and euthanasia

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash  

The Provincial and Federal governments in Canada need to amend their euthanasia laws quickly. They have to meet a March 2020 deadline set by last year by Quebec Superior Court Justice Baudouin who ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny Canadians the right to die unless their deaths were “reasonably foreseeable”.

Amongst other issues, lawmakers need to determine whether people with mental illness will be able to access euthanasia, or Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD), as it is called in Canada.  

In every jurisdiction… MORE

Is the ‘slippery slope’ just a big nothingburger?

Opponents of assisted dying legislation often issue dire warnings about “slippery slopes”. Supporters take the philosophical high ground and respond that slippery slopes either do not exist or are conceptually incoherent.

Take Canada. Journalists discussing MAiD for mental illness have told readers that the country is slip-sliding away. A National Post editorial recently suggested that “the words ‘slippery slope’ are more than mere alarmism … In every state or country in which the practice has been normalized, it has also, to some degree, become banalized, with eligibility criteria increasingly relaxed.” In the Calgary Herald, columnist Licia Corbella wrote that “with every year… MORE

Making Alabama men share the burden of reproductive rights restrictions

This news from the “weird and wonderful” department comes from Alabama.

First, the backstory. Last year its legislature passed a bill to make it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion. This effectively would have constituted a ban on all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest. The only exception was if the pregnancy posed a risk to a woman’s health.

A judge quickly issued a preliminary injunction against the abortion ban, deeming it unconstitutional. However, the bill’s sponsors were not unhappy, as they hope that their appeal will rise to the US Supreme Court, giving it… MORE

Coronavirus has killed 1500. But are quarantines the answer to stopping the epidemic?

The latest figures for the coronavirus (now known as COVID-19) epidemic are about 67,000 confirmed cases of globally and 1,500 reported deaths. The fatality rate is currently 2.3%. It has spread to at least 29 countries, although nearly all of the cases and deaths have been in China.

The response of many governments, including Australia and the United States, is to ban or restrict travel to and from China.

And while travel bans are frequently used to stop the spread of an emerging infectious disease, a new University of Washington and Johns Hopkins University study of published research found… MORE

BMA surveys doctors on assisted dying

Supporters of euthanasia and assisted suicide in the United Kingdom have cheered the British Medical Association’s survey of members on assisted dying. Polling began on February 6.

The BMA is officially opposed to a change in the law on assisted dying. The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) dropped its longstanding opposition in favour of neutrality following a controversial membership survey last year. The results of a recent poll by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) will be released later this month.

The BMA’s decision to survey its 160,000 members for their views on assisted dying follows a debate at… MORE

Australian euthanasia movement gathers momentum

Uluru, in Central Australia 

Two Australian states, Victoria and Western Australia, have legalised euthanasia. This year will see battles over the divisive issue in Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania.

The euthanasia lobby is cock-a-hoop. “It’s not often we get to start a year on such a high,” says Go Gentle Australia, one of the leading lobby groups. “The passage of Western Australia’s Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill has bolstered morale across the country for assisted dying law reform in other states and territories.” 

However, in a perceptive article in The Catholic Weekly, Monica Doumit,… MORE

Switzerland to allow prisoners to request assisted suicide

Euthanasia and assisted suicide in prison is always a controversial issue, even when they are legal. Informed consent is difficult to verify; the prisoners are evading their debt to society. The cost of maintaining inmates may decrease but voters may be horrified by utilitarian policies.

Nonetheless, Switzerland has decided to allow prisoners to request assisted suicide. The details have yet to be worked out.

Switzerland's cantons have agreed "on the principle that assisted suicide should be possible inside prisons," the Conference of Cantonal Departments of Justice and Police said.

Conference director Roger Schneeberger told AFP that there were still differences between cantons… MORE

Spain gears up for right-to-die fight in its parliament

A scene from "Mar Adentro" 

A bill to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide took its first step in the Spanish parliament this week, in a win for the new left-leaning government. In a vote on whether to allow the bill to proceed, 203 deputies voted in favour, 140 against and two abstained. The bill will be debated before a final vote.

After two previous attempts to change the law failed, the government succeeded with the support of the centre-right Ciudadanos party and a handful of smaller parties.

“We’re talking about clearly debilitating diseases without a cure,… MORE

Heroic Chinese health workers battle equipment shortages

Security guards checking temperatures Guangzhou / EPA-EFE 

Last week BioEdge reviewed some of the ethical issues in the Coronovirus pandemic. At the time of writing (Feb 8), according to the World Health Organization 31,481 had been infected and 638 had died. Of these, nearly all are in China – 31,211 infected patients and 637 deaths. The pressure on Chinese doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers is immense. Often it requires dedication to the point of heroism to care for patients.

Here are some excerpts from an interview with Dr Peng Zhiyong, director of acute medicine at… MORE

Is the NEJM pushing organ donation after euthanasia?

The latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine contains an engaging appeal to consider the possibility of organ donation after euthanasia in the United States. Drawing on experience from Canada, where this is legal, Dr Lisa Rosenbaum, a cardiologist and a regular contributor to the NEJM, argues that the issue should be open for debate.

Nowhere in the US is euthanasia legal, so at the moment it is just a talking point. But the article suggests that a number of physicians are talking about it as a way to boost the supply of organs and to give… MORE

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