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In Belgium, where euthanasia is now legal for people over the age of 18, the government is considering extending it to children — something that no other country has done. The same bill would offer the right to die to adults with early dementia.

Advocates argue that euthanasia for children, with the consent of their parents, is necessary to give families an option in a desperately painful situation. But opponents have questioned whether children can reasonably decide to end their own lives.

Belgium is already a euthanasia pioneer; it legalized the practice for adults in 2002. In the last decade, the number of reported cases per year has risen from 235 deaths in 2003 to 1,432 in 2012, the last year for which statistics are available. Doctors typically give Continue Reading »

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Tasmania’s lower house has rejected voluntary euthanasia by the narrowest of margins.
The private members bill, co-sponsored by Labor Premier Lara Giddings and Greens leader Nick McKim, was defeated 13-11 with Speaker Michael Polley effectively using his casting vote against it.

Debate in the 25-member House of Assembly had indicated a 12-12 result after all parties had granted a conscience vote on the contentious legislation.

With Greens deputy speaker Tim Morris – who supported it – in the chair and unable to cast a vote, it failed by two votes.

Tasmania would have become the first Australian state to allow assisted suicide had the bill passed its two houses, joining four European countries and four states in the United States (OR, WA, MT, VT).

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Maine has become the first state to allow the direct purchase of medications from foreign pharmacies, (so the Wall Street Journal reports)

Drug manufacturers have filed a lawsuit, saying the move puts consumers at risk for counterfeit or tainted products. Maine’s governor counters, “It’s not a safety issue. It’s turf.”

The potential for cost-savings is immense: The city of Portland has been using a Canadian broker to purchase medications for its employees for years, saving the city over $3 million between 2004 and 2012.

While the FDA forbids medication imports, consumers are rarely stopped from shopping abroad.

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The number of people opting to die by euthanasia [in the Netherlands] rose by 13% last year to 4,188, according to the five regional committees charged with ensuring the legal conditions for assisted suicide are met.

Euthanasia requests have risen steadily since 2006 when 1,923 people applied for assisted suicide.

Researchers have been unable to determine why the number of cases is rising, but say they suspect it is due to greater acceptance of euthanasia by both patients and doctors.

A large majority of last year’s requests came from people with cancer – 3,251. In 42 cases, people with dementia were involved and 13 had severe psychiatric problems.

In just 10 cases, the committees ruled doctors had not met all the conditions for assisted suicide and involved health ministry inspectors. Two of these related to dementia patients and the difficulty of ensuring they had given informed consent.

Some 80% of people who opt for mercy killing die at home.

Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands under strict conditions. For example, the patient must be suffering unbearable pain and the doctor must be convinced the patient is making an informed choice. The opinion of a second doctor is also required.

[Report by Expatica]

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The US Congress moved a step closer to averting an impending shutdown of the federal helium reserve, a key supplier of the lighter-than-air gas used in a products ranging from party balloons to MRI machines.

The Federal Helium Program, which provides about 42 percent of the nation’s helium from a storage site near Amarillo, Texas, is set to shut down Oct. 7 unless lawmakers intervene. The shutdown is a result of a 1996 law requiring the reserve to pay off a $1.3 billion debt by selling its helium.

The debt is paid, but billions of cubic feet of helium remain. Closing the reserve would cause a worldwide helium shortage – an outcome lawmakers from both parties hope to avoid.

The Senate approved a bill 09/19/13, by 97-2, to continue the helium program, following action in the House this spring.

Preserving access to the federal helium supply “prevents a shock to the health care sector and other critical industries that depend on helium,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, said. “Protecting America’s manufacturing base, its research capabilities, its health care system and its national security by temporarily extending the life of the (federal) helium program is just common sense.”

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In the current issue of THE HUMANIST magazine there is a fine article about a man with early stage Alzheimer’s taking his life with the guidance of the Final Exit Network.

The End by: Nontheist
Published in the September/October 2013 Humanist


That final day had been a long time coming. John was a scientist—a health physicist who loved to educate others about radiation safety. He was a world traveler, a skydiver, a hiker, a reader, and a man who never passed a museum without going in. Now he had Alzheimer’s. His father, his grandmother, and his uncle had all had it.

One day, approaching his sixty-eighth birthday, John told me he was worried. My modest, kind, and loving husband acknowledged what I had already seen for two years. His short-term memory was going. The disease could eventually lead to loss of speech, an inability to eat or walk unaided, a complete oblivion of the man he had been. In time he would not even recognize me.

The day we both faced the inevitable, we gazed at one another with tears in our eyes. He took a deep breath and then told me that when he could no longer follow his intellectual pursuits, when he could no longer drive legally, when he was not yet incontinent or blaming me for his own inabilities, he would take his own life.

[end extract]

Read the whole article at this site:

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You may like to see my up-to-date new listings of the films and videos made between l939 and 2013, and perhaps bookmark the site for future reference.
ERGO’s Annotated Filmography
Films, Made for TV Dramas, TV Documentaries and Videos Dealing with Dying and Euthanasia. Divided into three sections:
1. Feature films dealing with aspects of dying and death
2. Made for TV Movie Dramas
3. Television and/or DVD Documentaries
Go to this site:

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The Living Will/Advance Directive named “My last wishes: In the event of irreversible cognitive decline” is available for $5 download pdf at this ERGO Bookstore site:
See the icon named “Control and Choice” low down the books page.

The Mirror in London printed this article by Dr Irwin on 19 August 2013:
Euthanasia: The right to die should be a matter of personal choice

Retired GP Michael Irwin is patron of the British Humanist Association and coordinator of the Society for Old Age Rational Suicide (SOARS)
We are able to choose all kinds of things in life from who we marry to what kind of work we do and I think when one comes to the end of one’s life, whether you have a terminal illness or whether you’re elderly, you should have a choice about what happens to you.
There are so many people getting early dementia and if they are mentally competent they should be allowed to decide if they want to stay alive as their dementia develops or take assisted suicide.
I’m 82 and if I get diagnosed with dementia I will be on the next plane to Switzerland.
I wouldn’t want to see myself deteriorating and be completely unaware of my surroundings.
I don’t want the burden to be placed on my family.
The fact that the NHS [UK National Health Service] is now focusing more and more on early diagnosis of dementia would give options for early doctor-assisted suicide – which is an excellent option for people to have.
When you have a medical condition like dementia, which is incurable, the choice of seeing yourself deteriorate or have a quick exit is something you should be able to make.
I have made a living will where I stipulate that if I develop any condition which renders me mentally incompetent for more than two weeks then I do not want to be kept alive.
I’m pro life – I want to live as long as I possibly can, but l also believe the law should be changed to let anyone with some severe medical condition which is causing unbearable symptoms to have an assisted suicide. I wouldn’t want to be unnecessarily kept alive against my own will.

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A good many people who are interested in choices in dying are also seeking information about organ donation. Here is some useful information on the subject compiled by a colleague, John Abraham, in Arizona. He writes:

I have long been a proponent of establishing body farms (not like the TN operation where bodies are left to decompose, but a place where organs can be harvested). We could have centers that retain and sustain “neomorts” (my term for newly dead bodies) from which organs could be salvaged. Given that this is unlikely in the foreseeable future, here is some additional information:

Donating your body serves science and might save you money. Some facilities that accept donations provide a free cremation. Check “body donation programs” maintained by the University of Florida State Anatomical Board. Most provide body pick-up and return the cremains within a year or two.

Most major medical schools have similar programs.

The Anatomy Gifts Registry receives body donations utilizing one of two possible methods:
(1) Gift of Body by Will – – Recently supported by new drafts of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA), this process is both a way to register in advance and alert your family members to your wishes. This method will not require your family’s authorization upon your death, and AGR’s comprehensive form also serves as an authorization to cremate.
(2) Gift of Body by Informed Consent – This method requires an AGR representative to obtain consent from your legal next-of-kin, or authorized agent, upon your death. The consent is typically obtained by telephonic recording. This method enables AGR, unlike many other similar programs, to obtain body donations without any advance registration.
Some organizations which claim to be “national” have a limited scope, such as Life Legacy which does not operate in some western states and only serves major metropolitan areas in other states such as MI and AZ.
Life Legacy

Science Care

BioGift Anatomical, Inc.

MedCure Inc.

Anatomy Gifts Registry

Medical Education & Research Institute

John Abraham, Tucson, AZ 520-235-5646 (J-O-H-N)
Video Link — http://youtu.be/0fnVUI48FxM

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