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Severely disabled urge Canadian Parliament to protect the vulnerable

‘I’ve gone to the hospital because of illness, and medical staff questioned whether extreme measures were worth it,' James Schutten told a Parliamentary committee.

‘I’ve gone to the hospital because of illness, and medical staff questioned whether extreme measures were worth it,’ James Schutten told a Parliamentary committee.

OTTAWA, May 10, 2016 (Lianne Laurence for LifeSiteNews) — Twenty-one-year-old James Schutten volunteers at a nursing home a few days a week and helps out at an elementary school.

But he also requires “someone to set up my feeding tube, suction my trach, turn me over in bed, take me to the bathroom, and scratch my head,” he told the House of Commons justice committee last week.

“I’m not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me. I don’t feel sorry for myself,” added Schutten, who at age two was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative neuromuscular disorder that affects motor muscles and weakens the respiratory system.

“But you need to know that these professionals and family members need to care about my life and whether I live or die.”

The House justice committee heard public testimony on suggested amendments to the Liberals’ controversial euthanasia law last week, and Monday evening began its clause-by-clause study of Bill C-14, which passed second reading May 4.

The bill is intended to amend the Criminal Code to conform with the Supreme Court’s February 2015 Carter decision, which struck down the prohibition against assisted suicide and euthanasia as unconstitutional, and takes effect June 6.

Schutten, who voiced his worries about Bill C-14 on behalf of the Association of Reformed Political Action Canada (ARPA), said that he’s “gone to the hospital because of illness, and medical staff questioned whether extreme measures were worth it.”

“This makes me very nervous because I feel like I’m not worth the trouble. Thankfully, my family has my back to speak with the doctors on my behalf,” he said.

“I have anxiety now. How much more if Bill C-14 comes into effect?”

“With this right to die, it makes me feel like
society thinks I should choose to die.”

Schutten asked the committee to amend Bill C-14 to require “that palliative care is meaningfully made available to the patient.”

“I’m one of those people who the Supreme Court of Canada thinks should have this right to doctor-assisted death,” he noted. And “with this right to die, it makes me feel like society thinks I should choose to die.”

“But what if instead I had the right to palliative care or resources to help me continue to be a productive member of society?” he asked.

“What if society started from the perspective that I do have value? What if people didn’t view me as a burden for others to carry?” Schutten added.

“Look past my wheelchair and see that I am an asset in my community.”

Schutten has been volunteering at his brother’s elementary school since 2014, and at a nursing home in Ancaster since last September, at the invitation of a friend who works there.

“I really enjoy it,” he told LifeSiteNews in an email. “I found that because I’m in a wheelchair the elderly felt they were helping me, not vice versa. An example would be when they play bingo, they all want to help ME with my bingo card.”

Or people will “think they are pushing me to activity but actually I am just driving slow in my power chair,” related Schutten, a member of the Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church.

“In a crazy way I have purpose, and I give them purpose.”

Pieter Harsevoort, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy on his first birthday, also spoke to the committee May 3 along with James, and friend André Schutten, ARPA Canada’s director of law and policy and general legal counsel.

Harsevoort, aged 32, told LifeSiteNews in an email that “since Bill C-14 will affect my future I was happy to accept André’s invitation to voice my concerns.”

He added: “In general, I’m concerned with the way the ruling devalues the lives of the disabled and aged, and how any legalization of euthanasia leads to abuse of the most vulnerable members of society.”

A special-ed teacher at a Hamilton Christian school, who described himself on a past blog as “a crooked man on a straight path,” Harsevoort told the committee that Bill C-14 lacks “precision in language” and is “dangerously dependent on euphemisms.”

Bill C-14 uses the term “medically assisted dying” to refer to what is actually “physician assisted suicide,” he said, adding that palliative care is, in fact, medically assisted dying.

“I urge you to please use accurate terminology so that termination of life is not confused with palliative medicine,” he said, noting that the bill requires amendments “to ensure that physicians don’t approve euthanasia for vulnerable persons like James and myself in moments of weakness.”

Bill C-14 allows euthanasia or assisted suicide for competent adults who have a grievous and incurable illness, disease or disability which causes them enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable to them and cannot be relieved under conditions they consider acceptable, who are in an advanced state of irreversible decline, and whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable.

“The reality is that intolerable suffering is relative,” Harsevoort told the committee. “Suffering is modified by many diverse factors.”

He recommended the bill be amended to require the euthanasia and assisted suicide be approved on “reasonable proof” the person meets the eligibility criteria rather than “mere opinion” they do, and eligibility based on a “specific prognosis” rather than on “reasonably foreseeable death.”

And the bill should include specific oversight to ensure people can revoke their request, he told the committee.

While these amendments to the bill  “will improve the situation for the disabled and ill,” Harsevoort said, the “only true protection of the sanctity of life is a ban on euthanasia.”

“Instead of investing money into a bill which normalizes the choice of death, our country should invest time and money into giving people with illness, disabilities, and old age a will to live,” Schutten observed earlier.

“I don’t believe that anyone has the right to choose exactly when to die, but God alone decides,” he told the committee.

“And He does not make mistakes. He has a purpose for everything.”


Suffering and Dying with a Purpose

Written by Jeremy Kee

Recently while walking down Bath House Row in Hot Springs, Arkansas with two friends of mine, nurses both, I found myself involved in a conversation regarding the matter of assisted suicide, personified by the recent case of Ms. Brittany Maynard, who elected to end her own life prematurely so as to avoid the suffering and perceived indignity that would come to her terminally ill body. In her final statement to the world, she stated that her reasons were motivated in equal parts from a desire to avoid the pain of further deterioration, and to spare her family and friends from remembering her in such a state of disrepair. As Wesley Smith points out in his article at First Things, her decision to end her life was based entirely on the potentiality of living through the worst-case scenario.

The Brittany Maynard case, and indeed the entire euthanasia movement, disturbs me to my very soul, and I quite believe the reason it shakes so me is because it presupposes that life is only for those who can live it to the fullest, thereby rendering the quality of one’s life subjective; no longer is the purpose of life to reflect God’s glory onto a fallen world. It now becomes to earn money, take vacations, marry, have children, and so forth. These are all great things, and indeed comprise an overwhelming portion of what we are called to do in this life, but if one is rendered incapable of doing these things, can he no longer serve an edifying purpose for the Kingdom? It neglects the fact that a life spent in immense pain and suffering can serve a far greater purpose than the life spent on one’s feet. The euthanasia movement denies the great dignity, and I would here say the greatest dignity one can know, that can only be experienced through suffering.

I cannot help but to wonder if anyone has ever seriously suggested that Jesus should have taken His own life rather than suffer the indignity of the death towards which He marched. After all, there is nothing dignified about dying naked and splayed on a tree, a crown of thorns digging into your brow, with the pain of your lungs collapsing, slowly, and the heat of the sun baking what remains of your torn and tattered flesh. More dignified would it be to die by one’s own choosing, surely, in a comfortable place surrounded by loved ones.

And yet, Jesus chose His death. He chose it through not seeking another way, through allowing the will of the Father to be manifest. God the Father ordained this death, and Jesus knew full well that which awaited His brief odyssey in the flesh. While He certainly asked the Father for another, easier way out, he left that up to God to decide. “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup form me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done,¹” He uttered in Gethsemane, and His prayer was answered. He was crucified because God was not willing to “remove this cup,” for to do so would remove also Christ’s purpose. God’s will was done, and Jesus accepted it because He understood that it was the will of the Father, and therefore it was good. It is no insignificant point that Jesus references Psalm 22 when He cries out, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” – “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?²” So, too, does David lament in the 22nd Psalm, before declaring the goodness and the glory of the Lord.

He went to His death because He knew what we seem to be forgetting, namely that death, like life, has a purpose. It is not an isolated event that one must get through. It is not without meaning. In truth, it is a challenge to find a more meaningful event in one’s life than one’s death. As with one’s birth, in one’s final moments he is at his most vulnerable. In these moments, all pretension vanishes and what is left is the person in his most basic and true form. In our dying breath we are found to be our most genuine and honest self. Without His death, the sinner is still crimson stained.

What’s more, His death illustrates what it means to follow the Lord – it is not something that will always end well. If the lives of the Apostles are any indicator (and I believe that they are), then the life of a Christian is not meant to resemble a metaphorical walk through the garden. Jesus died when He could have lived. He died when He, as a third of the Trinity, could have just as easily found another way for salvation to be offered to man. He died because His death, and indeed all death, was and is the natural end to life. He died because God called Him to death.

If Christ endures a death under duress, why not we as well? Aren’t we called to take up our Cross and follow the Christ, even unto death? To “die with dignity,” which is the manner in which Ms. Maynard has been portrayed, seems to now exclude a natural death under less-than- beautiful conditions. It is, evidently, not considered dignified to allow God to determine when the man shall breathe his last. It is not dignified to place one’s trust in the Lord that one’s suffering in life will be naught but a distant and unfamiliar memory when we reach the Ever-after. No, to die with dignity now seems to mean only that death which is chosen by the individual, a “designer death”, if you will. The precedent this sets is dangerous, as the normalization of choosing how one’s life shall end opens the door for all manner of rationalized suicide. How many depressives, for example, who have considered in their darkest moments taking their own life, would have done so had the option been legally and readily available to them?

The argument that death was for Ms. Maynard inevitable is null and void, for all humans will sooner or later die. To suggest that she was right to end her life due to the suffering she was and would continue to experience not only mocks all the saints who could have ended their life rather than suffer at the hands of men, but also throws mud in the face of all who have died a prolonged death from the natural perversions of cancer. To end one’s own life is to suggest that God is not in control, that He is not with you and that you are left to take care of yourself.

I think about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who spent his final days in a series of Nazi prisons and concentration camps. He must have known that his fate had been sealed given the crimes for which he was accused, and yet he lived joyfully. The morning of his death, he is said to have lead a sermon for his fellow condemned. Even in his final moments, naked on the gallows as our Lord was naked on the Cross, he is said to have been in prayer and unafraid.

I think of St. Stephen, who as he was being publically stoned to death in Jerusalem, “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the son of Man standing at the right hand of God.³” And then he fell asleep. To have one’s body crushed by the weight and velocity of the stones seems most undignified, and yet in these horrible final moments, all Stephen could see or feel was the comfort of the Lord.

The scriptures tell us many times through that Jesus, had He so chosen, could have turned stones to bread, could have thrown himself from the top of the temple without worry, and that he could have summoned legions of angels at his arrest to upend the evil done by Judas and the Pharisees, and yet Christ walked to His death. He did not do so joyfully, but the fact remains that Jesus turned His eyes towards the Cross and allowed it to happen.

The quality of one’s death has nothing to do with the circumstances in which he finds himself, and has everything to do with the heart, and the manner in which he finds his rest.

¹ Luke 22.42, ESV
² Mark 15.34, ESV
³ Acts 7.55-6, ESV

Jeremy KeeJeremy Kee is a Graduate Student in Counseling at Dallas Baptist University. He does research in Theology, Philosophy, Human Rights and Liberalism and has interests in many centers of study including Cosmopolitanism, Equality, Ethics, Theological Ethics, Christian Ethics, Political Science, Political Philosophy, Social Contract Theory, Education, History, Psychology, Economics, Theodicy, Book of Job, Theology of Suffering and Evil and International Relations Theory. Find other compelling written pieces from Jeremy at

Euthanasia in Belgium DOUBLES in only six years


As reported on Tue 17/03/2015 by Colin Clapson at

Almost one in 20 people in northern Belgium died using euthanasia in 2013, more than doubling the numbers in six years, a study released Tuesday showed.

The number of people undergoing euthanasia in Belgium has doubled in only six years. In 2007 only 2% of deaths were attributed to euthanasia. By 2013 the figure had jumped to 4.6% according to figures produced by a research group linked to the Universities of Ghent and Brussels (VUB).

Researchers from the Care Research Group see two grounds for the rise: more and more people are requesting the procedure, while more and more doctors are prepared to carry it out.

In only six years the number of people requesting euthanasia soared from 3.5% of the number of deaths in 2007 to 6% in 2013. In 2013 three-quarters of requests were met, while in 2007 the figure was only half.

The researchers point to growing acceptance of euthanasia in society at large. Researcher Luc Deliens: “For the first time the figures are higher in Belgium, though the Netherlands has a longer history with the practice.”

6,000 doctors, signatories of death certificates, were quizzed as part of the research, the results of which are published in an article of New England Journal of Medicine.

“Starve Alzheimer’s Patients” Pushed Again

By Wesley J. Smith
February 8, 2015

The principle that all patients must always receive humane care is under pronounced assault in bioethics, Indeed, some bioethicists now argue that nursing homes should be required to starve Alzheimer’s patients to death–even if they willingly eat, and presumably even if the patient begs for food–if so instructed in an advance medical directive.

1To show you how the culture of death corrupts, spoon feeding isn’t a medical treatment. It is basic humane care–akin to keeping clean, warm, or turning to prevent bed sores. Just as the latter three would never be withheld regardless of an advance directive, neither should food and water!

But suicide pushers now teach people how to kill themselves by starvation, called “voluntary stop eating and drinking” (VSED) in the culture of death trade. So, these bioethicists say that those who aren’t competent to commit VSED, should have the right to have others kill them slowly by refusing to provide them food and waterwhen they are capable of eating and drinking by mouth.

“VSED-by-proxy” is supported increasingly in high places. For the second time (that I know of), a supportive article was published in the prestigious Hastings Center Report. From, “Controlling the End Game of Dementia,” by Paul T. Menzel and M. Colette Chandler-Cramer:

Advance directives to withhold food and water by mouth add an important option not contingent on happening to need life-sustaining treatment. Existing U.S. law does not provide such directives a bright green light, but it provides considerable logical support.

Competent patients already have the legal right to die by stopping eating and drinking, as well as the legal right to direct refusal of treatment in advance, including treatments absolutely necessary for continued life. So if becoming incompetent doesn’t cause someone to lose her rights but only means the rights have to be invoked by a proxy, why should becoming incompetent cause someone to lose the right to die by refusing to eat and drink?

Understand: This is not refusing a feeding tube–which is deemed medical treatment and can be refused by advance directive. Ditto, antibiotics, etc…

Rather, to repeat myself so that the point is sure to sink in–it would force nursing homes and care facilities to starve patients to death who willingly eat and drink!

The advocacy strategy here, of course, is to allow lethal injecting Alzheimer’s patients, e.g., “Why should we be forced to starve these people when we could easily inject them?” The answer is: We shouldn’t starve them! 

The way things are going, the only people allowed in medicine will be those willing to kill. How scary is that?

We Need to Help Patients Battling Depression, Not Push Them Into Assisted Suicide

Article by Patricia Russo for

My concern with the legalization of assisted suicide is the psychological impact on the rest of society. I am writing from my personal experience.

I have dealt with depression for almost 50 of my 63 years. I have been suicidal on numerous occasions and at one point, within the past ten years, I experienced active suicidal ideation for a continuous six-month period almost 24 hours per day. I even carried a knife in my handbag, just waiting for the right moment to stab myself.

When I learned of the assisted suicide story of the Canadian woman who went to Switzerland, I personally heard the message that my life was not worth living. That assisted suicide death gave me the message that when things get really bad and there doesn’t seem to be any hope, I should give up my struggle. Being actively suicidal is often a terminal illness.

I have beehands9n struggling during the past 35 years, in particular, through multiple varieties of therapy and medication and through hospitalizations.

Adults are role models. No amount of denial will change that fact of human nature. Children imitate what they see their parents, teachers, idols and even their peers doing.

I am a parent and I want to show my children that one can grow through the struggle. I watched my own parents leading very unhappy lives and living in an unhappy marriage. They were not good role models for me, but I also understand that they tried their best, in spite of their limitations. My father was diagnosed with a ‘nervous disorder’ in the 1950’s and was treated with barbiturates. Looking back, I can see that he was seriously depressed much of the time and he was unable to work because of his illness. My mother’s depression was never diagnosed, nor acknowledged by anyone, but I saw her endless tears. When one is ill or depressed, one is very often also angry, even if the anger is involuntary, and I witnessed for many years my parents’ anger, especially towards each other. My own depression developed in my early teenage years and I modeled my parents’ anger during the next decades of my life.

I am a role model for my children, even though they are now adults. I have warned them of the strong family history of depression and that they should be alert to its signs and symptoms in themselves, in order to get help early. I want my children to see and believe that life involves struggle, pain, grief, illness and growing old. I need to grow old with dignity and even with joy, just to prove to my children that it is possible to do so. I want them to grieve for me at my natural death. If I were to die by my own hand or with the intentional involvement of someone else, I know that my children would have a much more difficult time not taking their own lives when facing a serious trial in life.

With the prevalence of suicide in our society, especially among the young, how can we endorse this truly devastating role-modeling of assisted suicide? How can we dare to call it anything other than suicide?

The idea of “dying with dignity” is being deliberately presented in a romantic manner to the public, as suggested by the image of a person dying in the arms of a loving spouse. Those who are contemplating suicide are most often very depressed, feeling hopeless, alone, isolated, and often unloved.

When the suicidal thoughts overtake me, I feel completely alone, unable to communicate, I lose any sense of personal identity and I want to scream from the severity of the mental pain.

The image of dying in the arms of one who loves you is very painful to behold by one who is suicidal and feeling unloved, and increases their feelings of worthlessness. If someone wants to die who is loved, how much more does one want to die who is not loved.

Those with serious depression and suicidal tendencies need encouragement to live and grow into healthier attitudes. They do not need societal inducement to give it all up. Unfortunately, they are also usually unable to speak publicly on their own behalf.

Patricia Russo writes for the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.