- The Twenty-Five Most Influential Atheists Pictures and short descriptions of 25 of the world’s most influential living atheists from Super Scholar.
- Eminent Surgeon joins right-to-die campaign The heart transplant pioneer Sir Terence English has joined the right-to-die campaign. As one of Britain’s most eminent surgeons, and a former president of the Royal College of Surgeons, Sir Terence’s involvement will give added impetus to demands for doctors to be allowed to assist terminally ill patients to take their own lives.
- Campaigner Lyn Allison takes on new role for Dying With Dignity Victoria “We want to change the law,” she said. “There are 80 to 85 per cent of Australians who have consistently said they want a choice if they face a terminal illness.”
- Precedent set in assisted suicide case in Switzerland The judge’s decision in the case of a Neuchâtel doctor who assisted in the suicide of a patient who could not herself activate the mechanism that enabled her to die, has not been appealed. Until now the rule governing assisted suicide in Switzerland has been that patients must themselves be able to drink the medicament or operate the mechanism delivering the fatal drug. But a doctor operated the mechanism on the signal of a completely paralysed patient. She was acquitted, and the judgement will not be appealed. This may set a significant precedent, according to the Swiss assisted suicide organisation Exit.
- Robert Latimer has been granted full parole Just in time for Christmas, Robert Latimer finally gets to go home. Christian conservatives are all up in arms about it – of course — but perhaps, at last, Mr. Latimer will get some peace. While right to die advocates do not encourage actions similar to Mr. Latimer’s, since assisted dying is about choice and autonomy, the question of non-voluntary euthanasia for those who are suffering acutely – as all the evidence suggests that Tracy Latimer was — is still an issue of great importance for society. To have punished Robert Latimer as if he were a dangerous criminal, when he acted in a tragic situation entirely from motives of compassion, needlessly victimised a loving father and a good and decent man, and brought the law into disrepurt. There must be a better way.
- It’s over. St. Joseph’s is no longer a Catholic hospital Roman Catholicism lurches towards despotism. According to the bishop, this was a matter of the church’s absolute authority. There is no room for personal choice. The church’s support for Franco and Mussolini was not a mistake, just as Pius XII’s refusal to challenge Hitler openly was consistent with his hatred of democracy. It is time to recognise the Roman Catholic Church for what it is: an enemy of freedom and reason.
- More on the Vatican men’s cult of death The lust for power and the Vatican’s War against Women and freedom. The church maintains its power by relentlessly seeking to assert absolute control somewhere. Practically anywhere will do, so long as it is absolute and unbending. The “pro-life” agenda is the place where the church has chosen to make its stand. It is vital to the church’s conception of itself as the moral authority of the world. It has lost the fight against democracy and individual freedoms. It is determined to win in the fight against reproductive rights and the right to die.
- Vatican: Pope did not back condom contraception use Although the pope recently suggested in an interview that the use of condoms might be justified to prevent the spread of AIDS, he did not say that they could be used to prevent pregnancy. Of course not. How could we have been so stupid?
- Arizona Hospital may lose Catholic status over 2009 abortion case In a move of stunning inhumanity, Bishop Thomas Olmstead is considering terminating St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center’s status as a Catholic hospital because it saved the life of a woman by terminating her pregnancy, when continuing it threatened the woman’s life. The vice president of the hospital, Sister Mary McBride, who approved the procedure, has been excommunicated, and Bishop Olmstead believes he must act so as to “repair the grave scandal to the Christian faithful that has resulted from the procedure.” “There cannot be a tie in this debate,” stated the bishop. The bizarre madness of this situation makes it clear that Roman Catholic morality is sub-human and destructive. Bishop Olmstead is right. There isn’t a tie in this debate. He and his church are simply mind-numbingly wrong. If showing mercy to a woman has caused a grave scandal to the faithful, the idiocy of Roman Catholic morality is painfully obvious, and it’s vaunted “pro-life” stance is shown in its true colours: obstinately anti-life.
- Alex Schadenburg takes Dying with Dignity (Canada) to task for breaking the rules of the Canada Revenue Agency. Since the Roman Catholic Church, and many of its associations is in many respects virtually a lobbying organisation, lobbying government against any change in the law which would enable assisted dying, it seems clear that if DWD is acting contrary to CRA rules, the Roman Catholic Church may be acting in contravention of CRA rules as well. Indeed, the Roman Catholic Church actively lobbies governments to ensure that it’s moral claims are represented in law. The Roman Catholic Church even has a diplomatic representative in Ottawa to represent its concerns. The Roman Catholic Church has also been known to threaten politicians with church sanctions should they vote contrary to the church’s stated position. This link will take you to a letter from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to the Prime Minister transparently lobbying the Prime Minister regarding right to die legislation.
- Irish abortion laws breach human rights, court rules The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Irish abortion law breaches human rights, because it does not permit abortion when a woman’s life is at risk. The situation is complicated by the fact that, while the Irish constitution guarantees a woman’s right to abortion when life is at risk, the opposition to abortion is religious, so that the Irish bureaucracy makes exercising that right very difficult. However, since law is based on the Roman Catholic position that abortion is never justified, getting rid of these bureaucratic obstacles, even when a woman’s life is at risk, raises difficult issues for the government. And that’s why the government keeps making statements that seem so harsh and insensitive. We are told that at the ECHR the Irish ”Government robustly defended the laws and said Ireland’s abortion laws were based on ‘profound moral values deeply embedded in Irish society’.” So robust is this embededness, in fact, that the philosopher-lawyer Russell Blackford, suggests that “Ireland has managed to turn something simple – abortions should be legal but providers should be regulated to ensure they are trained, competent, and meet standards of safety, etc. – into a frakking legal mess. I hardly need to say that this is what happens when religion is allowed to influence the law.” (Comment #10 at Butterflies and Wheels) That’s why I include this news story here. Since the church’s opposition to assisted dying is based on the very same principles that govern its opposition to abortion, it is important to keep this relationship in mind when considering the court’s ruling. The Irish Health Minister Mary Harney said that making changes “will take time as it is a highly sensitive and complex area.” One suspects that the complexity and the high sensitivity has to do with accommodating the church and its inflexible beliefs. But the important point is this. The ECHR has not, so far, supported appeals from those who were seeking the right to assistance in dying. But since it is only two or three generations since abortion was absolutely forbidden almost everywhere, for the same religious reasons that assisted dying is forbidden now, challenging those reasons is vital. This is the only thing holding up recognition of people’s right to die. It’s time we let people know this, loud and clear.
New Angus Reid poll shows a majority of Canadians favour the legalisation of euthanasia. (Download is in pdf format)
Matt Gurney on the Politics of Euthanasia ”… between the patient and their health-care provider is a dazzling array of competing interests, all demanding to be heard — religious groups, disability activists, bioethicists, philosophers, politicians, and so on.”
Man with “locked in” syndrome wants to end his life He suffered a stroke in 2005 and can now only use his head and eyes to communicate. His wife Jane says there there is no chance that her husband Tony will change his mind.
- No charges in 20 assisted-suicide cases as public prosecution is accused of re-writing law The Director of Pulic Prosecutions Keir Starmer has been accused of rewriting the law after his testimony before the Falconer Commission.
- Purdy: Lords ruling on suicide gave me new life Multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy has spoken of her new lease of life since winning a landmark ruling from the House of Lords on assisted suicide.
- Swiss Doctor Cleared over Assisted Suicide In an apparent departure from Swiss rules governing assisted suicide, a doctor who administered a lethal drug to a patient unable to administer it to herself was cleared of criminal charges. [December 2010]
- Legal euthanasia ‘could prolong lives’ The architect of the Northern Territory’s overturned euthanasia legislation, Marshall Perron, says denying people the right to die is forcing them to take their own lives when they are still relatively healthy. The ABC report includes the following. [December 2010]
Mr Perron says many elderly people are prepared to do anything to end their lives.
“At the moment, Australians at 75 and older suicide at the rate of three a week,” he said.
“Most of those people die in terrible, violent ways and they die alone.
“It’s a tragedy that families have to find them that way, people have to clean up. And it’s all just so unnecessary.”
Mr. Perron also points out that 85% of Australians are in favour of legalising assisted dying, and that many politicians are also in favour, but that ”religious groups make them reluctant to speak out.”
- I’ll try again says Margo MacDonald, as right-to-die bill is crushed Scottish Parliament defeats right-to-die bill by large margin. [December 2010]
- Elderly man pleads not guilty to wife’s murder 88 year old man brought to court in a wheel chair to plead not guilty of murdering his wife in a California nursing home. Clara Laird had suffered for years from dementia and declining health. [December 2010]
- Tyneside police apparently misunderstand the Director of Public Prosecutions Right-to-die campaigners, who accompanied a man with a rare debilitating disease to the Dignitas clinic in Zurich, where he died in July, have had their bail extended until April next year. Yet the man had gone to exceptional lengths to make sure that people knew what his plans were, that he was mentally competent, and that he had made the decision freely – all indications, according the new guidelines of the Director of Public Prosecutions, that it would not be in the public interest to prosecute. [December 2010]
- Assisted suicide law to be reviewed by Lords Lord Falconer will chair a commission that will question whether or not relatives should be able to apply to a judge for permission to assist a loved one to commit suicide. [December 2010]
- Suicide a serious option, patients say An older Ottawa Sun article which reports on a poll of patients receiving palliative care. A significant number would opt for assisted dying, if it were legally available.
- Elizabeth MacDonald died fighting for others’ rights A news story from 2007 telling of my wife Elizabeth’s assisted dying in Switzerland, and her desire to see that Canadians should receive the right to assisted dying in their own country.