The dignity of life – Catholic Herald

Long story short, a woman who had suffered several painful, chronic illnesses for much of her adult life decided to go to Switzerland to legally kill herself. She shared the journey with her friend, the reporter Ryan Prior.

The story was touching. Painful. The kind of piece that draws in the compassionate reader. The subject was presented as courageous in choosing her own death, unnecessarily suffering from the long journey to Switzerland: For her, the gentle, peaceful death she prayed for was simply unlawful in Tennessee.

As I am reading the piece, my first thought is that I sympathize with this woman. I feel for her. I pray for her. But my second thought is, why didnt she simply take a bottle of aspirin at home in Tennessee? The legal consequences would not have concerned her. Or, had she waited longer, would she not have had that gentle, peaceful death at home?The answer is, of course, political. She used her death as a tool, and the reporter used her story. This is not unbiased journalism.

This is an example, a very sad one, of how political persuasion works. Unwary, compassionate readers will be drawn in by the story. Although they may be ideologically opposed to euthanasia, the pathos of the situation will make them question their beliefs why is it so wrong? Why should this woman suffer unnecessarily, when she is already so near death?

Then, if this becomes a trendy issue, they will be constantly pummeled by such stories, until they cannot remember why they believe euthanasia is wrong. Moral voices will not speak loudly enough to cut through the secular clamor. Weve seen it all before: Love is love. Why shouldnt they be allowed to marry? Its a womans own body. Why shouldnt she be allowed to choose?

The article also contained the usual linchpin a quote from a celebrated religious figure, in this case the South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu giving unexpected approval, and there you have it. The convictions of people who once objected on moral grounds will slowly begin to erode, as the numbers of faithful erode, and the tides of public opinion will turn. Soon it will be just another platform issue, a regular on the dropdown list on candidates websites.

Why should we stand fast against this? As Catholics, we believe in the dignity of human life, from conception to natural death. We believe in heeding Gods commandments, as in the fifth: Thou shalt not kill. We believe in the wisdom of Pope Francis when he calls euthanasia false compassion and tells medical professionals to reject the temptation of assisted suicide.

But times are changing, and holding onto our beliefs will become more difficult. The views of a growing number of atheists and nones will override traditional Christian views, as they have already in left-leaning politics and popular culture, and progressive-minded Catholics will continue to find themselves ignored or, ultimately, politically homeless.

The greatest challenge is, perhaps, that atheists and agnostics dont have any moral reason to object to assisted suicide. If there is nothing after this life, and no greater moral authority to whom we answer, why shouldnt we terminate life when it becomes too uncomfortable? After all, weve been doing it for decades via abortion.

One reason is the slippery slope of government. Canada has permitted MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying) only since 2016 but already hospices who dont provide euthanasia services are losing their funding (as many have noted, euthanasia and hospice are not compatible, and hospice is far more expensive), and here are a couple of chilling sentences, couched in detached medical language, from the abstract of a 2018 paper on euthanizing children: We propose that an opportunity exists for MAID-providing institutions to reduce social stigma surrounding this practice, but not without potentially serious consequences for practitioners and institutions themselves. Thus, this paper is intended as a road map through the still-emerging legal and ethical landscape of paediatric MAID. (DeMichelis, Zlotnik Shaul, Rapoport, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30242079/)

I thought of how to respond to my family members Facebook post. Ultimately I decided social media wasnt the proper place to do it. Ill speak to her about it instead.

I will say that once human dignity is lost the moment a culture fails to value life it is that moment that police officers who have vowed to protect their community will become criminals complicit in murder; gang members will indiscriminately kill each other, innocent passers-by and children; genocide will be perpetrated against unwanted populations; rioters will bring death and destruction even as they protest injustice; and even the most educated and respected among us will rationally and dispassionately (and self-interestedly) discuss how to end the lives of children who, as doctors know from their training, cannot possibly have the mental development to consent to their own deaths.

Nothing about our fellow human beings not their race or infirmity or disability, gender, nationality, religion, age, lack of self-sufficiency, criminal history or any other facet of human identity must shake our firm belief in the sacredness of life. We must speak life and uphold life, even when our voices are drowned out, because that is what God has commanded us to do.

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The dignity of life - Catholic Herald

‘I Want to Die with Dignity’: Kelly Bone on Death With Dignity – Being Patient – Being Patient

By Tanner Jensen | June 25th, 2020

For many contemplating end-of-life planning and the later stages of dementia and other cognitive disorders, euthanasia and assisted suicide remain contentious issues. While the right to die or death with dignity for Alzheimers and other neurodegenerative conditions is largely inaccessible in the United States, new developments in Switzerland and the Netherlands offer options for those committed to the idea.

Being Patient spoke with Kelly Bone about her early-onset Alzheimers diagnosis and her fight for the right to death with dignity.

Being Patient: Why is the Death with Dignity issue so important to you right now?

Kelly Bone: The reason its important to me is because I saw what my mother went through. She was diagnosed at 58 years old and ended up passing away from Alzheimers, and her death I felt was a very long and harrowing experience that I personally would not want to go through. I didnt feel like it really allowed her to die with much dignity, even though she was in hospice. So, Ive just decided that if theres a way that I could possibly do it in a dignified forum, where I could go to another country or ideally to the United States, at the point in my life where my quality of life has diminished, I would like the opportunity to do so.

Being Patient: Since your mom had Alzheimers, do you have a familial link?

Kelly Bone: Yes, my mom had Alzheimers and my uncle had dementia, I had another great uncle who had dementia, my grandmother also, and then I have several great aunts and uncles who had it as well. So, it definitely does run in our family. I was very, very close to my mom, and my mom and I are almost like doppelgangers, you know Im exactly like her.

We both had quite a bit of medical problems as well, so as we were going through it with her, I thought, You know what, theres a good chance Im going to have it. So when I had genetic testing done and saw that I have the ApoE4 gene, I decided to pursue it and have further testing done.

Being Patient: A lot of people are really uncomfortable talking about this Alzheimers and end-of-life planning, people are either really for it or really against it. Tell us a little about your feelings on the topic.

Kelly Bone: I agree with you, I think its a very uncomfortable topic for people to talk about. When I talk about it with my friends and my family and stuff like that, a lot of them shy away from it, and some people just tell me, I dont agree with it because of religious reasons. And I understand that. But for me its important because I have seen my mom and some other people that I know go through it.

For example, my mom lived in assisted living, and I ended up moving in and lived there for a while with her. So I saw firsthand what it was like to live in a memory care unit, I lived there full time for a while, and its not something I want to go through. I dont feel that the people there have death with dignity. It was a beautiful facility that she was at, it had nothing to do with the facility. Its just, not the way that I would like to go. And so, Ive looked at different options.

Im kind of going down a dual path right now if you will, where one of the things that Im looking at is donating my brain to the Florida brain bank. Im going on Monday to talk with the funeral home about how to do that, because I have to sign the paperwork while Im healthy and all that, and I have to get all this testing done. So Im looking at all that because theres a chance that Im not going to be able to do this in a dignified fashion, and Im not the type of person whos going to commit suicide. Thats not something I believe in.

Id like to be able to do euthanasia, where I go on my own terms and I do it when my quality of life is diminished. So if Im not able to do that, then Ill go down the other path. So the other thing that Im looking at is assisted living facilities. That would be the worst-case scenario for me would be to go into assisted living, I cannot imagine anything worse for me than to do that.

Being Patient: What is the difference between euthanasia and assisted living?

Kelly Bone: Assisted living would be where once I reach a point in my cognitive decline, my husband would put me into a home that would be a memory care unit for people who have Alzheimers, or dementia, or Parkinsons disease. And I would go and stay there until the end of my life when they would bring in hospice so I could pass away at the home.

And then euthanasia would be where I would make arrangements with potentially another country, like you said the Netherlands, they allow euthanasia. Switzerland also does it, where you can do euthanasia and they do allow people with cognitive disorders. But Switzerland has much more stringent guidelines right now, and they do not allow people with advanced level cognitive disorders to pass away.

Being Patient: You would have to give permission for this to happen while you are still in an earlier stage of the disease, is that correct?

Kelly Bone: Yes, when I talked to the people in Switzerland about doing that, I would have to be able to sign the paperwork now, have my doctor sign off on it, get a second opinion saying that yes I have the Alzheimers diagnosis, we submit the paperwork to Switzerland, and then they would have their doctors verify it. I asked them, Well, when would I do it? Would I do it later on in life? Right now Im at the very beginning of stage three of Alzheimers, and theres seven stages, so personally I feel like I still have quite a bit of quality of life on the table.

However, what they told me was that no, I have to do it in Switzerland while Im still totally cognitive. So that could mean that in the next year or two Id have to go over there and allow them to administer the medication that will allow me to end my life. And that doesnt really make sense for me.

So now, in the Netherlands they just passed a new law saying that they will allow people with advanced dementia to do assisted suicide or euthanasia as well. If you sign something now, and you get your doctors to sign off on it and things like that, they will potentially allow people to do that with advanced dementia. I would just like the opportunity to decide what Id like to do. I dont like the idea that I have to live with it, that I have to go into assisted living or stay at home and just diminish.

Being Patient: What does death with dignity mean, for you?

Kelly Bone: I know this is hard to believe, but Ive had people tell me, even people who are police officers and things like that, you know what, you could always do it by doing this, and they tell me how to commit suicide. They give me suggestions of how to do it and things like that. To me, that is not dying with dignity. Going and doing it somewhere in my house all clandestine, not being able to say goodbye to my husband and leaving him with all that guilt, having him find the body and things like that, that to me is not a good way to go. Its not fair to my family members.

I would like my family members, including my children, to be in on this and support me in the decision. At this point my family does support the decision, they just say, Well, if thats what you want to do, and fortunately for me they were there when they say my mom pass away. They were there seeing her slowly diminish over a period of years. They understand why Im saying the things that I do.

To me, thats the difference. Not leaving the situation where all of my loved ones walk in and Ive taken an overdose of medication and Im lying on the bed, or perhaps I didnt die, or maybe I had a gun or something like that. To me, that is not dignified. Dignified is, I consciously made the decision, discussed it with my family members, Ive discussed it with a doctor thatll be administering it as well as my own doctors.

At some point, Im going to move forward. And hopefully theyre going to support me, and hopefully my family members will be there for me when I do it. From what I understand its a fairly peaceful process, they administer the medication and half an hour later it stops your heart, and to me thats a much more dignified and easy way to go when Ive reached that point and that quality of life.

Being Patient: Do you have any reservations about going through with it?

Kelly Bone: I have cousins who have a lot of reservations about it, and they dont think what Im doing is appropriate. I dont have any reservations about it because Ive been a caregiver for people who have this condition, and I know what they go through. Im a good person, and Ive done a lot of good things for people in this life, and Im doing a lot for the Alzheimers movement in trying to move the ball forward by doing a lot of fundraising and things like that.

I think Gods going to forgive me for this. I dont think God is saying that he wants you to suffer, and I think God is an all-loving God and hes going to have mercy on me if thats the decision that I decide to make.

Edited for clarity

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'I Want to Die with Dignity': Kelly Bone on Death With Dignity - Being Patient - Being Patient

A story of light in the darkness for persons with cognitive disabilities – Religion News Service

(RNS) It's not difficult to find examples in these dark times of people with cognitive disabilities being discarded. The New York Times recently told the story of patients with dementia being dumped like trash from nursing homes into unregulated boarding houses so the nursing homes could take more lucrative patients with COVID-19. One patient with dementia was found wandering the streets of Los Angeles.

But every so often, if we look hard enough, we find a story in which those with cognitive disabilities get a break.

Many readers will be familiar with the cases of Alfie Evans and Charlie Gard, both British toddlers from working class and deeply religious Christian families. They both had profound cognitive disabilities related to very serious neurodegenerative disease. In both cases, the U.K. medical and legal systems decided the two boys could not benefit from their lives and that life-sustaining oxygen, nutrition and hydration should be withdrawn.

In both cases, however, their parents thought that, since they were in no danger of dying and likely couldn't even feel the treatments they were getting, ending treatment was tantamount to euthanasia. The boys' parents refused to accept the doctors' advice and pointed out that medical professionals in Italy Pope Francis publicly advocated for them to be transferred and the U.S. were both prepared to try experimental therapies. If these attempts didn't work, the organizations abroad would offer the boys a dignified death when their time came.

Both cases caused intense debate, but Alfie and Charlie, subjects of the British crown, were forcibly held against the will of their parents. Their treatment was withdrawn, and they died. Sometimes even getting a break, in the form of international attention to your medical plight, doesn't work.

But another similar story from the U.K. had a very different ending.

Five-year-old Tafida Raqeeb sustained a very serious brain injury such that,according to the National Health Service hospital treating her, she has no awareness and, with no prospect of recovery, life support should be withdrawn.

Charlie Gard, in an undated photo, at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. Gard died on July 28, 2017. (Family of Charlie Gard via AP)

Like Alfies and Charlies parents, Tafidas are very religious and they obtained religious ruling from the Islamic council of Europe stating that it would be a great sin and absolutely impermissible to consent to the removal of her life support.Also like Alfies and Charlies parents, they managed to find a cost-free opportunity to travel to Italy for treatment of their child.

They argued in court that the National Health Service was detaining their child unlawfully again, just as Alfies and Charlies parents did. But the judge in Tafidas case sided with her parents and not the National Health Service. Though he was persuaded by medical opinion that Tafidas situation was irreversible and that medical treatment (which included a ventilator) imposed a large burden with virtually no or little benefit, the judge nevertheless respected the fact that Tafida and her family were religious and gave weight specifically to their religious views about the sanctity of human life for its own sake.

Despite the unfortunate fact that a secular court once again took it upon itself to determine a vision of the good for this religious family, the U.K. court's granting of Tafidas freedom was an astonishing and hopeful development.

And there is more good news: Just a few months after being transferred to a childrens hospital in Genoa, Tafida was moved out of intensive care and into a rehabilitation unit. At last update, she was being weaned off her ventilator and can now breathe on her own for an hour at a time. Her Italian doctors said that it is extremely difficult to understand her degree of participation in the environment, and when there is doubt, we must always behave as if participation were greater than what we are able to perceive.

They admit the relationship between neurological damage and future consciousness is murky and are therefore trying to give this little girl time to see if there is potential for improvement. Humbly acknowledging the limitation of medicine in this area, they note that much of that potential improvement is yet to be understood.

Indeed, I wrotean RNS column a few months back explaining how, given the latest therapies and interventions, about 20% of patients deemed to be vegetative can actually regain consciousness. Such improvement would have been thought impossible just a few years ago. We understand so little about consciousness and how the mind works in relation to the brain and the rest of the body. Tafidas doctors in Italy are right to acknowledge their limitations.

It is a terrible tragedy that Alfies and Charlies cases were not decided along the same lines as Tafidas. One German doctor who was willing to treat Alfie put the foundational concern well:

Because of our history in Germany, we've learned that there are some things you just don't do with severely handicapped children. A society must be prepared to look after these severely handicapped children and not decide that life support has to be withdrawn against the will of the parents if there is uncertainty of the feelings of the child, as in this case.

Think the invocation of Nazi Germany is too dramatic? In 2016, Dutch doctor Marinou Arends euthanized a patient with dementia according to her previous medical directive, despite her telling the doctor three different times that now she no longer wanted euthanasia. Arends, ignoring her new request, decided that her suffering was just too much and euthanized her anyway, making her own judgement that it was for the best.

All fellow members of the human family are equal in dignity regardless of their level of ability or contribution to society. In an ableist and consumerist throwaway culture that prefers to locate the value of our lives in our rationality, autonomy and productivity, religious traditions such as Christianity and Islam must continue to witness to their preference for life for the most vulnerable members of the human family who cannot speak up in their own defense.

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A story of light in the darkness for persons with cognitive disabilities - Religion News Service

Health decisions and capacity for choice – The Irish Times

Sir, Prof Des ONeill (Letters, June 25th) comments on a case in which the Dutch supreme court exonerated a doctor who administered euthanasia to a 74-year-old woman living with dementia (World,< June 23rd).

According to reports of the case, this was in compliance with the womans wishes as previously expressed in a living will but at the time of her death there were indications that she had changed her mind. The court held that the doctor had acted in her patients best interests.

Drawing on this example, Dr ONeill cautions against binding advance healthcare directives, which deny our ever-changing future selves.

The Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 when fully commenced will provide for advance healthcare directives. The stated purpose is to allow persons to be treated according to their will and preferences and to provide healthcare professionals with information about persons in relation to their treatment choices. An advance healthcare directive will not become applicable while the person still has capacity to give or refuse consent to treatment.

The 2015 Act contains mandatory guiding principles. A person is presumed to retain capacity until the contrary is shown and a person shall not be considered to be unable to make a decision unless all practicable steps have been taken without success to help him or her to do so.

As Prof ONeill writes, we can participate in care decisions to the end, and our communications should be facilitated and respected. These considerations are consistent with advance healthcare directives as provided for under the 2015 Act.

The 2015 Act mandates respect for dignity, bodily integrity, privacy and autonomy. Best interests are not mentioned. For the avoidance of any doubt, the Act expressly states that recognition of advance healthcare directives does not in any way affect the current law prohibiting euthanasia. Yours, etc,



Decision Support Service,

Mental Health Commission,

Waterloo Road, Dublin 4.


Health decisions and capacity for choice - The Irish Times

Dont let your pet go missing this July 4th – WKRG News 5

FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WKRG) July 4th is a time for friends and families to celebrate, but the holiday can be a scary and dangerous time for your furry family members. More pets go missing or get sick around the 4th of July than at any other time of year.

The Haven Adoption Guarantee Shelter for Animals in Fairhope has the following safety tips for you and your pets to keep them happy and safe, whether you celebrate in your backyard with a barbeque, camping, or at the beach.

Make sure that your pet is wearing a collar and tag with legible, up-to-date contact information and, ideally, is also microchipped, for easy identification.

Keep harmful items away from pets. This includes matches, lighter fluid, glow jewelry, and fireworks used or unused.

Never leave alcoholic beverages unattended. They can be poisonous to pets.

Keep your pet on its normal diet. No party food allowed, as your pet could become very sick. If going elsewhere to a picnic or party, leave your pet securely at home.

Do not let your pet drink pool water or sea water. Both are harmful.

Do not apply sunscreen or insect repellent on your pet unless labeled for animals.

Keep pets safe from noise in a quiet, sheltered, escape-proof area in your home.

Loud noises scare animals, so if you are planning to leave your home on July 4th, please keep your pets inside in a comfortable space. If your pet gets lost or you find a lost animal, report it immediately to your animal control agency and visit local shelters often. The Havens Executive Director, Michael Graham, says, Tax-funded animal control shelters have enough stray pets in their care, so preventing just one pet from entering a shelter can save more homeless pets.

Following these simple guidelines will ensure that you and your pets will have a wonderful holiday weekend. The staff and volunteers of The Haven wish you and your loved ones a very happy, safe 4th of July.

Learn more about The Haven and see animals available for adoption at http://www.havenforanimals.org. Adoptions are continuing on an appointment basis.

The Haven is a no-kill, nonprofit animal shelter leading Baldwin County to end the euthanasia of dogs and cats in our animal control shelters. Since 2000, The Haven has continued to work on the no-kill movement, saving over 10,000 orphaned cats and dogs. In addition to the shelter, The Haven has many helpful programs, including emergency pet food assistance, adoptions, veterinary care for their animals, educational programs, and much more. Wonderful dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens are waiting for their forever homes.

As a nonprofit, The Haven has a continuing need for monetary donations, which may be sent to:The Haven, P. O. Box 1063, Fairhope, AL 36533.

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Dont let your pet go missing this July 4th - WKRG News 5

One year of voluntary assisted dying in Victoria: 400 have registered, despite obstacles – The Conversation AU

One year ago, the Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying Act came into effect after a prolonged, intense and divisive public debate.

For some, it marked a major step forward for individual freedom in Victoria an acknowledgement of the right of individuals to choose how they wished to live and die. For others, it signified a betrayal of some of the most fundamental moral precepts of our society and a reversal of the basic commitments of the medical profession.

A year later, what can we say about the impact of the legislation on Victorian life? We have been considering this question as part of our federally funded research project examining the impact and consequences of the Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation.

While its too soon to make a definitive judgement and its certainly not the case that the deep social wounds have healed, the Act appears to be functioning reasonably well, though some logistical and bureaucratic issues remain.

Meanwhile the coronavirus pandemic has complicated the picture as many patients seek advice on dying amid anxiety about contracting the disease.

The Act appears to be functioning tolerably well in that a series of workable arrangements have been put in place across a number of hospital and community settings. Its not yet known how many Victorians have used the laws to end their lives. The number of people making inquiries (the first step along the way to assisted dying) was about 400 in this first year double what had been anticipated.

But the Act has not opened the floodgates, unlike in Canada, where the number of people undertaking voluntary assisted dying were many times the anticipated number.

The system of care navigators to assist patients and their families to negotiate the complex bureaucratic processes has been working well. They have served as an important point of contact for patients, their family members and carers.

Given the difficulties of finding doctors who have signed up to do the assisted dying training, the navigators have established a network of participating health professionals and provided education across various health settings.

They have also supported clinicians through the difficulties of training and the existential realities of a changing role for medical professionals.

Inbuilt safeguards mean progressing through the procedural steps takes time. It isnt possible to say if these are functioning effectively, or if they are too stringent or too lax. More data are needed from the participants in the scheme on their experiences of the procedure.

There has been criticism of the bureaucratic requirements, which include a large amount of paperwork and multiple forms, taking weeks or even months to complete. Yet, some of these issues are inherent in the need for caution and there may be no way around them.

Ultimately, as the Parliament recognised from the beginning, a balance has to be struck between the right to access and the valid concerns of those who are more cautious.

Some logistical issues have arisen. There have been delays because of shortages of specialist doctors who have expressed willingness to participate and have completed the required training especially in key specialties in some rural areas.

The responses of individual institutions have been variable. This was to be expected, because many health services were very clear about their opposition to voluntary assisted dying. Such services have sought to develop responses including involving broader health-care networks (such as those offered by care navigators) as patients have sought to exercise their rights under the law.

One issue yet to be resolved involves a law which prohibits using an electronic carriage service to directly or indirectly counsel or incite someone to end their life. Some legal experts have interpreted it to mean practitioners cant use telehealth for assisted dying counselling. But we dispute whether this legislation can be applied to Victoria in our paper soon to be published in the Journal of Law and Medicine.

Another issue relates to a section of the laws which mean practitioners are only allowed to discuss assisted dying if the patient explicitly raises it. This safeguard exists to ensure coercion of patients doesnt occur including by health workers. But some have suggested it works as a barrier to full and open communication including sensitive exploration of an expressed wish to die. This clause has been omitted from the Western Australian legislation which was approved in December last year.

Read more: WA's take on assisted dying has many similarities with the Victorian law and some important differences

The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the picture as a number of patients have sought advice on dying amid anxiety about contracting the disease.

Anecdotal evidence suggests additional fear from the pandemic has increased demand for assisted dying services. But simultaneously, many are avoiding hospitals where many of the assisted dying assessments are occurring because of the fear of contracting COVID-19. The impact of the coronavirus means it is difficult to compare Victorias experience of assisted dying with other parts of the world (some of which implemented assisted dying long before the pandemic).

Overall, while not problem free, there have been no major obstacles to the functioning of the Act itself.

But none of this, of course, resolves the underlying ethical differences that have characterised the debates about assisted dying and euthanasia in Australia for decades. However, the uneasy compromise in Victoria has at least allowed the debate to move on and possibly has enhanced mutual respect for the two opposing sides.

It remains to be seen whether there will be a deep, fundamental shift in attitudes to death and dying, concepts of death, the care of elderly and vulnerable people, and the goals and purposes of medicine.

Our greatest protection against an undermining of key values, however, will lie in continuing open and articulate debates about these subjects, based on rigorously collected data. It is critical these debates continue.

Read more: From 'right to die' to 'right to choose the way you die' the shifting euthanasia debate

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.

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One year of voluntary assisted dying in Victoria: 400 have registered, despite obstacles - The Conversation AU

Zoos offered aid to avoid unplanned euthanasia of animals – Plymouth Live

Funding is being made available to help struggling zoos ensure they do not have to carry out unplanned euthanasia of animals due to financial woes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The announcement comes just days after Plymouth's National Marine Aquarium has said it faces a "battle for survival" - and today announced that it will be reopening its doors to customers from July 6.

Paignton Zoo had previously insisted that the current coronavirus pandemic and lockdown would have to become "much worse" before it would even contemplate the drastic measure of euthanising any of its animals. It has since confirmed that it will officially re-open next month - and has thanked supporters for helping it survive through lockdown.

Last week Newquay Zoo revealed it is in danger of permanent closure and placed all of its staff at risk of redundancy - but has since announced it will be reopening next week. And Dartmoor Zoo has said it will be able to open 'much sooner' than anticipated.

However, marine zoo Living Coasts in Torquay has said it cannot afford to reopen and has now closed permanently due to the coronavirus pandemic and falling visitor numbers - but later said it had found new homes for its animals.

Now, environment minister Rebecca Pow said the Governments 14 million zoos fund will help address avoidable animal suffering in zoos.

Some zoological attractions reopened to the public in England last week but many still face significant financial difficulties.

Tory MP Lee Anderson (Ashfield) raised concerns that struggling zoos might be forced to put to sleep animals to cut costs.

He said: Unfortunately the best chances of survival for some animals is in captivity.

For centuries we have taken away the natural home of animals and we should all accept responsibility.

We owe it to these animals to make sure they survive and continue to be a part of this planet.

So can my honourable friend (Ms Pow) please assure me that Government will do what it can to ensure that not one animal in our zoos and parks is put to sleep due to financial constraints caused by this pandemic?

Ms Pow responded: The objective of the Zoos Support Fund which by the way is open until July 19 is to address avoidable animal suffering in zoos, including in the worst-case of preventing unplanned euthanasia.

My department continues to engage weekly with zoos to keep on top of what is happening.

Earlier, Ms Pow outlined some of the support available to zoos.

She said: The Government has introduced a 14 million zoos fund for licensed zoos in England.

Outdoors areas of zoos and safari parks have already been allowed to reopen subject to social distancing measures being in place, and the indoor areas of zoos and aquariums will be permitted to open from July 4.

An announcement on further support for the zoos is expected imminently.

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Zoos offered aid to avoid unplanned euthanasia of animals - Plymouth Live

Opinion: Is it possible to be pro-life and pro-choice? – The Cincinnati Enquirer

Susan Vogt, Opinion contributor Published 8:50 a.m. ET June 29, 2020

People rally to support and oppose the "heartbeat bill" outside the Ohio House of Representatives chamber at the Ohio Statehouse on April, 10, 2019.(Photo: Jackie Borchardt/Cincinnati Enquirer)

I am a pro-life Catholic. But before you put me in an ideological box and assume you know who I will vote for this fall, let me complicate the issue.

My conscience and faith lead me to oppose abortion. Indeed, Catholics are taught not to take the life of an unborn child. However, Catholic or not, this is a moral question which women facing an unwanted pregnancy have to wrestle with. There are indeed, situations in which even a rigorist conscience might pause when faced with rape, incest, or risking the death of the mother.

Add to this that we live in a pluralistic society. One groups religious and moral convictions should not be imposed on another without broad societal consensus. Our country does not have consensus about abortion. Therefore, the emphasis should be on persuasion and compassion rather than seeking a political solution to abortion (like overturning Roe v Wade).

It is not honest to talk about being pro-life without also talking about what Cardinal Joseph Bernardin called "the Seamless Garment,"or the Consistent Ethic of Life. Of course, this includes opposition not only to abortion, but also taking a life through euthanasia, capital punishmentand unjust war. Equally unacceptable are failures to protect life by tolerating poverty, racism, lack of affordable health careand similar societal injustices that threaten the lives and dignity of human beings.

Thats a tall order, but to be pro-life one must stand in solidarity with all humanity and work to protect all life. Unfortunately, too often the loudest voices against abortion are weak on protecting the lives of vulnerable human beings after they are born.

People protest outside of the U.S. Bank Arena during President Trump's "Keep America Great" campaign rally on Thursday, August 1, 2019. A bus with an anti-abortion message drives by during the protest.(Photo: Madeleine Hordinski/The Enquirer)

Would it not be better to:

The evidence is that such holistic caring for pregnant women and children reduces the abortion rate more than restrictive laws.

So, is it possible to be pro-Life AND pro-choice? First, this is a false binary choice. Being pro-choice does not equal favoring abortion. It remains a tragic choice.

The answer, however, I believe, is simple and complex: Who is my neighbor? If my neighbor is everyone, then how do I love, respectand protect their lives and dignity? To be pure about protecting human life means that I have to respect all human lives born and unborn.


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In order to be a fully pro-life voter I propose asking:

As regretful as abortion is, I believe the decision rests within the conscience of the pregnant woman. This should not primarily be a legal issue, but a moral one. It must be won by persuasion and support, not law.

Susan Vogt lives in Covington and was employed for over 25 years as a Family Life Minister in two Catholic dioceses, including responsibility for overseeing the pro-life work of the Diocese of Covington.

Susan Vogt(Photo: Provided)

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Opinion: Is it possible to be pro-life and pro-choice? - The Cincinnati Enquirer

Victoria’s first year of euthanasia sees lives end in peace and devastation – Sydney Morning Herald

He died hours later after ingesting a cocktail of lethal drugs as Amazing Grace hummed softly in the background.

"The last thing I said to him was 'dad you go with so much love', Ms Scott said. "Dad replied 'and I dont want anything else'.

Mr Bareuther, meanwhile, left a note politely asking those who discovered his body not to waste any of their time on any silly theories of foul play before taking his own life alone in his shared public housing block in St Kilda.

He wrote letters to two of his neighbours, thanking them for being good friends. They were pushed under the door of one of the nearby units.

The 68-year-old, had been dying of inoperable pancreatic cancer, but was denied access to the states assisted dying laws.

His lonely death in September last year was described as a very sad tale by a Victorian coroner this week.

Keith English as an 18-year-old soldier

Fifty two people with a terminal illness have died using lethal medication sanctioned by the state government since Victorias voluntary assisted dying laws were enacted on June 19 last year.

The laws allow access to a lethal substance for terminally-ill adults who have only about six months to live, or no longer than 12 months for those with a neurodegenerative diagnosis, and who meet other strict eligibility criteria such as being able to give informed consent.

On the first anniversary of the introduction of voluntary assisted dying, doctors say while some terminally-ill Victorians are dying swift, peaceful deaths under the laws, others are being blocked due to red tape, or dying after being unable to find a doctor willing to help them.

Figures obtained by The Age show more than 300 applications have been lodged by terminally ill Victorians since the state's landmark euthanasia laws came into force last year.

While it remains unclear how many of those applications have been successful, the figure is more than double the 135 people who applied for permits and were deemed eligible between June 19 and December last year.

Mr Bareuther was deemed ineligible for the voluntary assisted dying laws because, despite having lived in Australia for about 40 years after moving from the UK,he never became a citizen or permanent resident - a key eligibility requirement.

Keith English and his daughter Marita Scott.

Coroner Phillip Byrne was moved by the case and has asked whether it was possible to introduce some level of discretion in the assessment process.

Although one can understand the rationale behind the denial of the [voluntary assisted dying] process to Mr Bareuther, I must say I have found it difficult not to feel sympathy for [his] plight, he said, in findings handed down this week.

The coroner stopped short of issuing a formal recommendation.

Euthanasia advocate Rodney Syme said tragically Mr Bareuther's inability to access the laws was not unique.

"If there was one thing I could change immediately about the laws, it would be getting rid of the clause which says you have to be an Australian citizen," he said. "Many people have lived in Australia for decades after moving here as migrants, they call Australia home. But they're being denied access because they don't have a piece of paper."

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said she was deeply saddened to learn of the circumstances of Mr Bareuthers death, and had sympathy for the situation.

However, she added that the states euthanasia scheme was the safest and most conservative model in the world and was developed after lengthy consultation and consideration to give people suffering with an incurable illness at the end of their lives another compassionate choice.

St Kilda GP Nick Carr has assisted 15 people with applications to access euthanasia. Most died with the lethal medication in hand, but without having used it.

By the time they come to someone like myself, theyve come to terms with the fact that they are going to die, said Dr Carr, who sits on the board of Dying With Dignity Victoria.

Mr Bareuther was Dr Carrs first patient to approach him about applying for the euthanasia drug.

He said like many terminally-ill patients he had seen, Mr Bareuther had been hugely relieved when he told him he could help coordinate his euthanasia application, and devastated when it emerged that he was not eligible.

He was an Australian in every sense but a technical one, a previous taxpayer, a current Centrelink recipient and on the electoral roll, Dr Carr wrote in his submission to the coroner.

I personally was immensely distressed when I heard that Julian had killed himself. Here was a lonely man, dying of a horrible cancer, who sought my legitimate help.

Among the many successful applications hes been involved in, Dr Carr has also seen upsetting cases where it has taken people too long to fulfil documentation requirements, or they have been unable to get a second doctor to assess them, amid an ongoing shortage of medical practitioners willing to be involved.

He recalled a case of a prostate cancer patient in terrible pain who did not want to die alone, but encountered a series of hold-ups with his application, including finding a doctor to give a consulting opinion.

He actually did die alone, exactly as he didnt want to.

Go Gentle Australia chief executive Kiki Paul said while Victoria's euthanasia laws were working as intended, some of the scheme's 68 safeguards were still creating barriers for eligible patients.

"There has been a relatively low number of doctors, particularly specialists, who have undertaken the mandatory training," Ms Paul said. "This has obvious ramifications for patients seeking a doctor who is qualified to guide them through the process. This reflects experience overseas where take-up of similar laws in their early years was small."

She urged the state government to embark on a education campaign, targeted at the medical community, outlining their rights and responsibilities in relation to assisted dying.

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board, which assesses every application, will release its next report in July, which will reveal the number of people who have taken their own life using the laws in the first year.

Aisha Dow reports on health for The Age and is a former city reporter.

Melissa Cunningham is The Age's health reporter.

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Victoria's first year of euthanasia sees lives end in peace and devastation - Sydney Morning Herald

VSED has been normalised. But is it ethical? – BioEdge

VSED has been normalised. But is it ethical?

Euthanasia and physician assisted suicide are now legal in dozens of jurisdictions around the world. Yet many people who want to end their lives do not meet the strict eligibility criteria outlined in euthanasia and assisted suicide legislation.

In light of this, medical ethicists have become increasingly interested in what is known as Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED). VSED refers to an action of a competent, capacitated person, who voluntarily and deliberately chooses to stop eating and drinking with the primary intention to hasten death because unacceptable suffering persists. Patients who opt for VSED often receive palliative care from a medical professional as they die. Some commentators have describe VSED as a legal alternative to euthanasia for patients who are suffering unbearably but who are not terminally ill or who for some other reason do not meet relevant eligibility criteria for assistance in dying.

VSED is becoming increasingly common and accepted in some jurisdictions. Indeed, two articles have recently been published in medical journals offering clinical and ethical guidance to clinicians who have a patient seeking VSED.

In an review article in the Annals of Palliative Medicine, three researchers from Lancaster University claim that VSED may in fact be more common than physician-assisted forms of dying simply because it falls beneath the level of legal scrutiny. The authors suggest that VSED is legally permissible in countries such as the United States, the UK and Australia. In the United States, they note that little relevant legal precedent has been set, either related to patients undertaking it or clinicians aiding patients in their VSED effort. Some states explicitly permit VSED in at least some circumstances. A law passed in Nevada in May 2019, for example, allows individuals to create an advance directive for dementia, including the ability to specify that care providers should stop administering food and fluid by mouth.

Handling requests for VSED, however, can be complicated. In a recent article in the Medical Journal of Australia, three Victorian palliative care doctors discuss a case of a 71-year-old man who suffered a massive stroke that resulted in paralysis and severe cognitive impairment. The man required feeding and hydration by medical staff, though there was hope that he could recover his mobility. The man had an Advance Care Directive, however, stating that all care to be discontinued if he found himself in a dependent state. In light of this, his medical team ceased medications and no longer provided food and hydration, despite the fact that the manappeared to accept food and fluids and was capable of making a partial recovery. He died four days after medical care was withdrawn.

Some authors have attempted to distinguish VSED from physician assisted suicide. Legal scholars Thaddeus Pope and Lindsey Anderson, for example, argued that VSED is not a form of assisted suicide as it does not involve the administration or dispensation of a lethal medication by a healthcare professional. Rather, the patients own biology...causes the death. Lynn Jansen and Daniel Sulmasy, however, take a more cautious approach. They state that it is permissible for a physician to support a patients choice to refuse treatment, including nutrition and hydration, where such care is futile. But they believe that many cases of VSED amount to suicide, particularly where a patient is not terminally ill. Physicians, therefore, should not recommend VSED as an option to patients.

Xavier Symons is deputy editor of BioEdge

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VSED has been normalised. But is it ethical? - BioEdge

Michigan Pet Fund Alliance offers Out of the Box Awards – The Oakland Press

The Michigan Pet Fund Alliance and the Humane Society of Macomb Foundation are sponsoring a $4,000 Out of the Box Awards competition for Michigan animal shelters and rescue organizations.

The alliance created the annual awards in 2017 to showcase creative ways that animal shelters and rescues save pets lives and to share their ideas with others in the animal welfare community.

We are building a database of programs and processes that shelters and rescues can easily replicate by just taking them out of the box and tweaking them for their needs, Deborah Schutt, the alliances founder and chairwoman, said in a press release.

Three $1,000 cash awards will go to new projects or programs with proven results. Extra consideration will be given to those that engage and strengthen relationships with the community.

One $500 award will go to a standard operating procedure for euthanasia.

Despite Michigan shelters achieving no-kill status in 2018 with a 90% average save rate, humane end-of-life decisions are still required for animals that are too sick, injured or dangerous to save. One of the most difficult topics in animal welfare, every facet of the euthanasia process must be scrutinized to eliminate guesswork and minimize suffering for both animals and humans.

Another $500 award will go to a standard operating procedure in any category, such as adoptions, fosters, transport or animal care. Submissions must demonstrate knowledge of animal welfare best practices and exceptional standards of care.

Applications for the awards are due by midnight June 30. For eligibility requirements and to apply, please visit michiganpetfund.org/no-kill-michigan/2020-out-of-the-box.

Michigan Pet Fund Alliance is a nonprofit advocating best practices to save lives and stop the killing of healthy and treatable homeless cats and dogs in Michigan shelters. The alliance provides lifesaving grants, mentoring, educational opportunities, networking and other support to animal shelters and rescues.

For more information, visit MichiganPetFund.org.

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Michigan Pet Fund Alliance offers Out of the Box Awards - The Oakland Press

Wanted cat Lee is on his way to Peru – The Brussels Times

A cat named Lee who faced euthanasia after being illegally flown into Belgium has boarded a plane back to Peru to be quarantined there before being flown back to his Antwerp owner.

Lee left for Peru this morning. Unfortunately, I wasnt allowed in Peru because of the lockdown, the cats owner, 23-year-old student Selena Ali, wrote on Facebook.

Ali said that the cat, who risked being put to sleep because he was not certified to be free of rabies, would be allowed to return to Belgium from 1 August.

The cats arrival to the country at the height of the pandemic caused a media stir that prompted the highest levels of government, both in Flanders and wider Belgium, to spring to action.

After being told by federal food safety agency AFSCA that Lee would have to be euthanised, Ali put the cat in hiding and launched an online petition which gathered over 80,000 signatures.

The petition prompted a back and forth between Ali and AFSCA which drew in federal and regional Flemish ministers as well as of authorities back in Peru, where Ali found the cat during a year abroad.

The agency said that, without the proper authorisation papers, it could not be fully certain that the cat was free of rabies and said euthanasia was the only solution because there were no dedicated facilities in Belgium to put pets in quarantine.

Making the announcement on Monday, Ali said she was very grateful to Flemish minister Ben Weyts, responsible among other things for animal welfare, for his efforts to save the life of many innocent animals.

According to reports by Het Nieuwsblad, Ali revealed that the cats hiding spot was an animal quarantine centre in Zaventem which was created at the suggestion of Weyts.

On 15 May, AFSCA conducted a house search but found no traces of the cat in Alis home, suggesting the cats hiding place was arranged only weeks after she was first notified of the euthanasia decision in late April.

The cats return flight across the Atlantic will be done at the expenses of Ali, her lawyer said.

According to Alis lawyer, his client still faces criminal prosecution for bringing the cat into the country illegally but said that the coronavirus crisis meant that she had no other choice.

Gabriela GalindoThe Brussels Times


Wanted cat Lee is on his way to Peru - The Brussels Times

David Seymour is standing for ACT in Whangarei – but he’s not that David Seymour – Stuff.co.nz


Meet the David Seymours - the new Whangarei candidate is the one on the right

Two men named David Seymour, both from Whangarei, and both standing for ACT.

What are the odds? That's a semi-serious question if any mathematician out there has a few spare minutes.

On Tuesday ACT put out a statement headlined: "David Seymour to stand in Whangarei". Very droll but not a bad way to grab attention, at least among those who care about these things.

The second line of the statement clears up any confusion that might have arisen.

READ MORE:* Religious leaders' anti-euthanasia letter sparks fiery David Seymour response* Will terminally ill life insurance policyholders be covered if they ask for help to die?* Euthanasia referendum likely

Im not the ACT leader, but I am a strong advocate for end of life choice," the statement quoted the Whangarei candidate, also called David Seymour saying.

Diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2017, he was standing for ACT in Whangarei to "highlight the importance of providing compassion and choice for terminally ill New Zealanders", he said.

David White stuff.co.nz

ACT Party leader David Seymour labels the Labour led Govt 'sleazy' in his party's policy launch on Waitangi Day.

At the general election in September, as well as voting for MPs, New Zealanders will have two referendums to consider.

One is whether cannabis should be legalised, and the other whether the End of Life Choice Bill should become law.

That bill was sponsored by the David Seymour who is the leader of ACT, and MP for Epsom. By a vote of 69 to 51 last November, MPs decided the bill should go to the referendum.


ACT leader David Seymour during the third and final reading for the euthanasia bill at Parliament.

If endorsed by the public, the law will allow those who are terminally ill to request assisted dying. The patient must be the first to suggest assisted dying, and two doctors must agree that the patient is well-informed and other legal criteria are met.

Ive lived a full and active life, but I believe that when my time comes, I should have a choice about how I go. Its my life and my choice," the Whangarei David Seymour said.

Not surprisingly, the announcement of the candidate prompted some comment:

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David Seymour is standing for ACT in Whangarei - but he's not that David Seymour - Stuff.co.nz

Board to decide on taking over animal control from sheriff – Morganton News Herald

Burke County commissioners are expected to decide next week on whether to create three new animal control positions after Sheriff Steve Whisenant earlier told officials he wants out of animal control.

A decision on the positions is expected to come the same day County Manager Bryan Steen unveils his recommended budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The county animal shelter operation moved out from under Whisenants supervision in August. It is now under Steens supervision. But then in January, Whisenant told county officials he also wanted out of animal enforcement, which remained under his supervision.

Steen told commissioners during their pre-agenda meeting last week that Whisenant has, on multiple occasions, gone on and on and on about wanting out of animal control.

Steen said the three new positions would cost the county less than the four sworn officer positions that are currently assigned to do animal control. Whether Whisenant will be able to keep any of those four positions in the sheriffs office is not known at this point. Steen said he is evaluating that and will present his recommended budget Tuesday.

Commissioner Chair Johnnie Carswell said Whisenant has been quite adamant about wanting out of enforcement of animal control. As county commissioners, they have had more complaints about Whisenants animal control officers and he feels like the county will get fewer complaints with new animal control staff.

Carswell addressed the current animal control staff during the pre-agenda meeting, saying Whisenant has six or seven vacant positions at the sheriffs office. He said if Whisenant wants to move those officers into those vacant positions, more power to him, because they are sworn officers.

The time is here for us to take charge of this animal shelter, which we already have now, it looks like its time to take our animal control, which this sheriff is not going to do because he said he doesnt want it, Carswell said during the meeting.

Vice Chair Scott Mulwee said if the county is going to get complaints about animal control he at least wants the ability to do something about the complaints and how its run on a day to day basis. The positions, if created, will be under the supervision of the county manager.

Rhonda Lee, director of human resources for the county, said the salary range for the Animal Services Enforcement Supervisor position is between a minimum of $38,970 and a maximum of $60,403.

The salary range for the Animal Services Enforcement Officer positions is between a minimum of $33,661 and a maximum of $52,188, Lee said.

The positions would be one Animal Services enforcement supervisor and two Animal Services enforcement officers, according to information from the county.

The Animal Services enforcement supervisor position requirements include a high school diploma and at least four years experience in the animal services field, including one year of supervisory experience; or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

The position also requires the person be certified to give rabies vaccinations, and be certified in euthanasia. In addition, the position requires completing of courses related of basic animal control functions or an equivalent combination of education and experience, according to county information.

The requirements for the two Animal Services enforcement officers positions include a high school diploma and at least one year experience in the animal services field or an equivalent combination of education and experience. Other requirements include certification as a rabies vaccinator, or become certified within six months of employment, and certification in euthanasia, or become certified within six months of employment. In addition, the positions require completing courses in basic animal control functions, or an equivalent combination of education and experience, according to the county.

If commissioners approve creating the positions, the positions will be in the budget for next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Commissioners will hold budget meetings before having a public hearing and adopting a budget. The public hearing is expected to be held on June 16.

Because of precautions due to COVID-19, commissioners have been holding meetings electronically. Videos of the meetings are posted to the countys YouTube channel at Burke County NC.

For electronic meeting credentials (Zoom), contact Kay Draughn, clerk to the board of commissioners, at 828-764-9354 or by email at kay.draughn@burkenc.org by 4 p.m. Tuesday. Residents wanting to submit written comments for the informal public comments portion of the meeting can email Draughn or fax her at 828-764-9352, hand deliver to Burke County Governmental Offices, 200 Avery Ave., 2nd floor, Morganton, or send by US mail to Burke County Governmental Offices, Attn: Kay Draughn, P.O. Box 219, Morganton, NC 28680.

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Board to decide on taking over animal control from sheriff - Morganton News Herald

Local animal advocacy group needs votes to win $10K in funding – Huntington Herald Dispatch

HUNTINGTON One By One Animal Advocates, a small local organization that works to find homes for animals in the community and reduce euthanasia rates at area shelters, has been nominated to win $10,000 from Freshpets Fresh Start program, but it needs votes to get it across the finish line.

The Fresh Start program, which was started in 2018 to provide support for overlooked cats and dogs that are often deemed unadoptable, was moved from September to April to meet the growing financial needs of shelters during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fresh Start has awarded more than $100,000 in contributions in the past two years, according to a news release.

This year, Fresh Start will award five $10,000 grants to shelters across five regions in the U.S., and will recognize two runner-up organizations in each region with $2,000 each.

Ashley Morrison, foster coordinator for One By One, said she found out about the contest through social media.

I have been with One By One Animal Advocates for a little over eight years, she said in an email to The Herald-Dispatch. We serve the entire Tri-State area, pulling from all local shelters, also taking in owner surrenders, medical cases and strays. We provide vetting and match them with our reputable rescue partners. Last year alone, we sent out 4,500 homeless animals out of the Tri-State area to their forever homes.

One By One, based in Huntington, works toward its goal by finding reputable rescues that can accept local animals. It also, through donations, has conducted local TNR (trap, neuter and return) efforts to vet and sterilize feral cat colonies in the region. In addition to reducing future feral cat populations, organizers say TNR helps to both prevent the spread of diseases like feline AIDS and feline leukemia, which also benefits domestic cats, and it makes the communities the cats live in better.

With COVID-19, like many places, our normal annual fundraisers have been canceled or postponed indefinitely, which is why winning this contest will mean so much more, Morrison said. The funds will be used to cover our medical expenses, vaccinations, pull fees from shelters, transportation costs and also toward our goal of having our own transport van.

The group currently rents vans several times a week to complete its animal transports.

Voting is open to the public now through Sunday, May 17, and users can vote once per day. Winners will be announced on National Dog Rescue Day, which is Wednesday, May 20.

Read the original here:

Local animal advocacy group needs votes to win $10K in funding - Huntington Herald Dispatch

Millions of animals are being euthanized due to meat plant closures – Vox.com

Across the country, meatpacking plants are shutting down over coronavirus outbreaks among staff. Since the start of April, huge meat firms like Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods, JBS USA Holdings, and Cargill have closed at least a dozen pork, beef, and chicken processing plants, per the Wall Street Journal. At least 3,400 people in meatpacking facilities have tested positive, and at least 17 have died, the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting estimates.

And because of the intense concentration of the meatpacking industry, these facilities account for a massive share of Americas overall meatpacking capacity. As much as 40 percent of Americas pork-packing capacity is currently idle, by one estimate.

This wont necessarily lead to meat shortages, as Nicole Narea explains (though it might cause spot shortages at your local grocery store). But it has severe consequences for the animals left on farms across the country.

Pork and poultry production (and to a lesser extent beef production) is done on a just-in-time basis, explains Jayson Lusk, an agricultural economist at Purdue. Farms typically operate on the assumption that theyll be able to send off mature hogs to slaughter so that hogs still being grown have room to live; there isnt much excess capacity if the mature hogs have to stick around due to meatpacking bottlenecks.

If the finished pigs, who weigh about 280 lbs, are unable to head to the packing plant, there is no room in the barn to receive the new batch of pigs from the nursery, Lusk explains in a recent blog post. If the nursery isnt vacated, there is no room for the piglets. All the while, new piglets are being born with nowhere to go.

That means that the number of excess hogs on pig farms is growing rapidly. We have a national pork processing capacity of about 500,000 head per day, Lusk writes. Latest data suggests that because of plant closures and slowdowns, we are processing about 40% fewer pigs, which means an extra 500,000*0.4 = 200,000 pigs that are left on the farm. Every. Single. Day. Do that for 5 days, and thats 1 million excess pigs left on the farm. This holds at both small and large farms; these problems are faced by producers at all levels.

So farms across the country are facing a massive dilemma: What do we do when there are millions of additional animals we dont have space, labor, or food to care for? There are several options available, but they boil down to three big strategies:

Youre having to choose between amazingly bad options for protecting their welfare, or making the incredibly difficult choice to euthanize them all because there are fates worse than death, says Candace Croney, a professor of animal sciences at Purdue and an expert on animal welfare on farms.

Some farms are already taking the extreme step of euthanasia (a term some might argue is a misnomer since their killing isnt strictly for the animals benefit in this case). Allen Harim, a poultry processor, has announced it will euthanize 2 million chickens in Delaware and Maryland. JBSs pork plant in Worthington, Minnesota, has reopened to euthanize pigs from local hog farms, not to process them for sale. A representative for the Minnesota Pork Producers Association told the Star-Tribune he expects 60,000 to 80,000 hogs will be put down this week in Minnesota alone.

This kind of effort isnt unprecedented. In 2015, an avian influenza outbreak led to the US Department of Agriculture assisting in the euthanizing of 31.5 million birds in Iowa. But the animal welfare costs of the Covid-19 outbreak are relatively underpublicized, and severe. The costs on human farmers forced to euthanize animals are severe as well. It takes a significant emotional and psychological toll on the people who have to do it, Croney says. Theyll try to avoid it if at all possible. Its devastating to make these kinds of decisions and they have some lasting psychological repercussions.

Because animal agriculture in the US is a highly competitive industry, the life cycles of the livestock and poultry being raised and slaughtered are tightly regulated for maximum efficiency. A pig typically goes through a 292- to 311-day (about 9 1/2 to 10 1/2 months) life cycle from a female pigs impregnation through to slaughter for market, the National Pork Board explains.

That process involves four separate types of enclosures for the animals: gestation facilities for pregnant pigs; farrowing facilities for mothers (sows) and their newborns; nurseries for piglets after theyve been weaned; and finishing barns for pigs as they grow up to market size.

Each of those facilities is usually filled to maximum capacity, for efficiencys sake. That makes a bottleneck like closed processing plants immensely challenging for farmers. If they cant offload mature pigs to meatpacking plants (which usually slaughter and dismember the finished pigs), then they have nowhere to place pigs coming up from nurseries. If they leave pigs in their nurseries, then the youngest piglets just weaned off their mothers have nowhere to go. If those piglets go nowhere, then pregnant pigs have nowhere to go once they give birth. A blockage at one point in the process causes problems throughout the whole process.

Poultry faces a similar problem, though given that meat chickens lifespans are typically only 6 to 8 weeks, farmers have a bit more flexibility and fewer built-in time costs. Pasture-raised cattle are more flexible since you can add additional cattle to the pasture, but they face overcrowding concerns as well.

So, what can farms do if theyre faced with excess animals? Croney notes that they can try to slow the growth of animals, perhaps by reducing food given to them. But this comes with immense costs. You can curtail growth by curtailing how much you feed them, but then you have animals that are hungry and crowded, which sets them up for competition around food, which can lead to injury and death, she notes.

Pork and especially chicken plants already dont offer much space to their animals. A 2011 survey found that pigs got on average 7.2 square feet each; the National Chicken Council reports that standard industry practice is to give about 0.8 square feet for each chicken, or barely more than a standard sheet of paper. Overcrowding due to Covid-19 could entail offering them even less space.

Farmers can theoretically place excess animals outdoors but this might be an even worse option. In order to let them have access outdoors, much less to house them outdoors, you have to have a certain level of setup and protections for them, Croney explains. The types of fencing, shade, water access, protection from predators and inclement weather youd have to have that set up and reworked. If you have a farm with a couple thousand animals, that would be incredibly difficult to do. You certainly dont have labor to spare to help you do that, and those systems require much more intensive oversight and management.

For chickens, there are particular concerns apart from overcrowding or outdoor dangers that come into play when mature chickens are no longer being slaughtered. Broiler chickens, or chickens bred for meat as opposed to egg-laying hens, have been bred to be so large that if theyre allowed to live longer than planned, they suffer from animal welfare problems because they could be too large relative to their ability of legs to withstand the weight, Lusk explains. You dont have near that problem with pigs or cows. The animal welfare problem with pigs is the backing-up issue, and the animal welfare problem with chickens is them getting too big.

Given these difficulties, its not hard to see why some farms are already opting for euthanasia. But that comes with its own difficulties. Processing plants are supposed to render animals insensible and unable to feel pain before slaughtering them, and to use calming practices that make slaughter as minimally stressful as possible. As sad as even that death is, the process is typically smooth and the animals shouldnt be able to anticipate what is happening, Croney says. With mass euthanasia and limited personnel, that orderly, one-by-one, careful, generally consistent process is difficult, sometimes impossible to achieve, which is why no one ever wants to be in that position.

Croney notes euthanasia can take many forms, from gassing to bolt guns to straight-up gunshots; the latter creates obvious noise problems and is difficult to scale. Especially if people are using physical methods with captive bolt or gunshot, people are becoming stressed themselves and having to hurry, Croney says. That may mean that things are not done as accurately or humanely.

Then theres the problem of disposal. Without processing plants that can dismember animals, ship out usable meat, and dispose of the rest, its not obvious what farmers can do with the animals they euthanize. JBS, a massive pork processor, is sending hogs sent to it for euthanasia by hog farmers to landfills (basically mass graves) or external meat rendering plants. As processors like JBS shut down facilities, though, more and more of these tasks may be taken up by the farms themselves, not meatpackers and meat processors. That leaves disposal as more of an open question, with options like burial on the farm itself presenting themselves.

The entire situation is tragic, Croney concludes, and not just for animals. Whatever our stances on meat-eating, this is a time to be a little sensitive. There are people who are incredibly depressed, who are struggling, who really do care about their animals, and this is incredibly hard for them. The human toll this takes is not often talked about.

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Millions of animals are being euthanized due to meat plant closures - Vox.com

Distress at dying law plans in Tasmania – The Catholic Weekly

Reading Time: 3 minutesArchbishop Julian Porteous addresses media in Tasmania in 2017. PHOTO: Archdiocese of Hobart

Pro-life leaders are appalled that an assisted suicide campaign in Tasmania will continue with minimal delay despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Independent MLC Mike Gaffney will introduce his private members bill to the Parliaments upper house in September, after it was originally slated for August.

The End-of-Life Choices (Voluntary Assisted Dying) Bill 2020 it is the most extreme assisted dying regime the country has yet seen. It would allow assisted suicide for those who are not terminally ill, not currently experiencing physical or emotional suffering in relation to their medical condition, and without the need to be seen by a specialist doctor.

It comes as New Zealand also prepares to go ahead with its planned referendum on euthanasia in September.

When the elderly and vulnerable are isolated and anxious, while the government and community fight to protect and save their lives, how can (Mr Gaffney) promote assisted suicide? said Australian Christian Lobbys acting Tasmanian director Christopher Brohier.

He should learn from NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro, who pulled Nationals MP Trevor Khan into line for promoting assisted suicide during the bushfire crisis earlier in the year.

We need consistent messaging from Tasmanian MPs that elderly vulnerable lives are worth saving

Whilst Mr Gaffney is saying COVID-19 responses will take precedence, he should cancel his campaign for assisted suicide indefinitely. We need a statewide and national united front in addressing the COVID-19 crisis. We also need consistent messaging from Tasmanian MPs that elderly vulnerable lives are worth saving.

The Tasmanian Australian Medical Association (AMA) is also strongly opposed to the push. A doctors role is to care for patients, to treat them, provide comfort and support, and to relieve suffering, but not to intentionally end a patients life, Tasmanian AMA President Professor John Burgess told media.

Professor Burgess also said the timing of the Bills introduction this year is inappropriate, as the circumstances around the pandemic impede an effective consultation process.

The Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous has repeatedly said that the sick and dying need to be treated with the best possible care and compassion and warned that any assisted suicide regime would put vulnerable people at risk. There is simply no safe way of legislating for euthanasia and assisted dying that does not fundamentally threaten the lives of the vulnerable in our society, he told The Catholic Weekly.

Peoples suffering and pain should be relieved in a way consistent with the dignity of human life through the use of palliative care in the final phase of their life.

The Bill lists disease, illness, injury, or medical condition, of the person that is serious, incurable and irreversible as relevant medical conditions under which Tasmanian residents over 18 would access the regime.

A person would be eligible if they had intolerable suffering caused by the relevant medical condition, or its treatment, or anticipation of the suffering that may arise from these.

The Tasmanian Parliament has voted down similar bills three times already, most recently in 2017. This is the first to be introduced and debated in the Upper House.

Mr Gaffney said he is confident it will be passed into law this year. It if is, it would make Tasmania the third Australian state with an assisted suicide regime after Victoria and Western Australia which passed their laws in 2017 and 2019 respectively. The primary purpose for me for this Bill is to give people a choice, Mr Gaffney told media.


Watch hard-hitting new euthanasia awareness campaignMonica Doumit: From bad to worse on euthanasiaNick Goiran: Elephant in the euthanasia room

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Distress at dying law plans in Tasmania - The Catholic Weekly

Terminally ill Hobart woman wants to choose when she dies, but coronavirus delays assisted dying legislation – ABC News

Updated April 21, 2020 06:30:20

Sue McCuaig fell sick "out of nowhere" when a visit to the GP around Christmas time and a subsequent brain biopsy revealed grade four cancer.

Ms McCuaig, 66, was diagnosed with glioblastoma - an almost always fatal brain cancer with an average life expectancy of just over a year.

She has had radiation and chemotherapy, but the coronavirus pandemic has meant plans to travel with her family, other than a brief trip to Uluru in March, had to be cancelled.

The first question Ms McCuaig asked her doctor following her diagnosis was whether she would have the chance to stop treatment and life if she chose to.

"I am very conscious of wanting to say when it's time for me to go," she said.

"I don't want to die when I'm the sickest I could possibly be because that's the only way we're allowed to do it."

Ms McCuaig and her family are concerned that debate on a Bill to introduce voluntary assisted dying in Tasmania will be delayed due to coronavirus.

Before the pandemic, Tasmania's Parliament had been expected to debate legislation to introduce voluntary assisted dying in August.

With changes to the sitting schedule, the Bill is now likely to be tabled in late September by independent Upper House MP Michael Gaffney, and debate will need to work around a Budget session of Parliament expected in October.

Ms McCuaig's daughter Shelley said any delay could have an impact on her mother's choices.

"Knowing she would have a choice down the track would make now a less anxious time," she said.

"We'd just be a bit more reassured if we knew we could carry out mum's wishes.

"For us it absolutely is a matter of urgency and we would just ask that the politicians do prioritise this piece of legislation and do address it now."

Mr Gaffney's End of Life Choices Bill would be the fourth Bill of its kind to be debated in Tasmania's Parliament, but the first to be debated in the Upper House.

The numbers are expected to be tight in both chambers.

Under the draft Bill, to be eligible for voluntary assisted dying a person would need to be 18 or over, a Tasmanian resident, capable of making decisions, and be suffering intolerably in relation to a relevant medical condition.

It would involve two medical practitioners, and the person would need to make first, second and final requests.

Mr Gaffney said he was optimistic the Bill could pass both Houses by the end of this year, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

"The primary purpose for me for this Bill is to give people a choice. That sounds really nice, but I do believe people should have the right to choose how they exit this world, especially if they're in intolerable suffering," he said.

"Nobody wants their parent or friend or loved one to suffer needlessly. Therefore I think the time is right for this debate.

"We've got to think that if this doesn't succeed at this hearing, it will be some years before Tasmania takes on the debate again."

The Australian Medical Association's Tasmanian branch is opposed to the draft Bill as it stands.

President John Burgess labelled the proposed legislation a form of physician-assisted suicide, "to which the AMA is strongly opposed."

He has called for the Bill to be changed to remove any need for doctors to be involved, other than by providing certificates of diagnosis and prognosis.

"The legislation as a fundamental starting point should not require the doctor to be involved in the administration of the medication or whatever process is used for euthanasia," Professor Burgess said.

"That's not a doctor's role.

"A doctor's role is to care for patients, to treat them, provide comfort and support, and to relieve suffering, but not to intentionally end a patient's life."

Separately, Professor Burgess said it was "inappropriate" to progress the Bill during current circumstances due to the difficulty of running an effective consultation process.

Mr Gaffney said no doctor or nurse would be required to participate unless they wished to be involved, and they would need to undertake training similar to what was required in Victoria and Western Australia, where voluntary assisted dying has been legalised.

The now-Health Minister Sarah Courtney told Parliament during debate on the last Bill in 2017 that she wanted it to be legal for an individual to choose to end their life when their circumstances were filled with intolerable and unrelievable suffering, but ultimately voted against that Bill.

Ms Courtney said she would give the new legislation careful consideration and scrutiny.

Mr Gaffney is seeking feedback on the draft Bill.


First posted April 21, 2020 05:41:44

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Terminally ill Hobart woman wants to choose when she dies, but coronavirus delays assisted dying legislation - ABC News

Euthanasia allowed by Dutch court in cases of advanced dementia – CNN

In the landmark decision, the court said that a physician may respond to a written request for euthanasia made before someone develops advanced dementia, provided certain legal requirements are met -- even if the patient's condition means they become unable to confirm that request.

Euthanasia is legal in the Netherlands if the relevant criteria are met, which include a voluntary and well-considered request from the patient, "unbearable suffering without any prospect of improvement," and the lack of a "reasonable alternative," according to the Royal Dutch Medical Association.

If those conditions are not met, the practice is still a punishable offense.

In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia.

The woman had written a directive asking for euthanasia in the event she was admitted to a nursing home with dementia and she thought the time was right.

Prosecutors had argued that the doctor did not do enough to confirm consent in ending the woman's life, saying that once she was admitted to the home, she gave "mixed signals."

At the time, the court concluded that the unidentified doctor, who has since retired, carried out euthanasia in accordance with the law and had not been negligent.

"A doctor may respond to a written request for granting euthanasia to people with advanced dementia. In such a situation, all legal requirements for euthanasia must be met, including the requirement that there is hopeless and unbearable suffering. The doctor is then not punishable," the Supreme Court said in a statement Tuesday.

The ruling also noted that doctors can legally follow through with the procedure if the patient can no longer agree to it, due to their illness.

"Even if it is clear that the request is intended for the situation of advanced dementia, and that situation is reached so that the patient is no longer is able to form and express a will, there can be circumstances where no follow-up on the request is possible," it said.

Ren Hman, president of the Royal Dutch Medical Association welcomed the ruling, but warned that the situation remained complicated for doctors.

"It is good that there is now a ruling from the Supreme Court. But even with more legal clarity, not all complicated dilemmas around euthanasia in the case of dementia are gone. With every request to end a life, a doctor must still make an individual assessment if euthanasia is appropriate and if all due care criteria are met," Hman said in a statement.

"Doctors act according to professional standards and also on their moral compass. The doctor's own consideration is and remains very important," he added.

Read more from the original source:

Euthanasia allowed by Dutch court in cases of advanced dementia - CNN

The elderly can still be heroes in the Covid-19 crisis – BioEdge

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. Thats Sydney Carton awaiting the guillotine, laying down his life for a friend. An example of extreme altruism if ever there was one.

The Covid-19 pandemic offers employment opportunities for many more Sidney Cartons, even, or especially, elderly patients infected with the virus, write Julian Savulescu and Dominic Wilkinson, both from Oxford University, in the blog of the Journal of Medical Ethics.

there is a constant national emergency: we are all aging and slowly dying. There is a war against aging and death: we are fighting it with medicine. And people should be able sacrifice their interests or lives in this war.

They give several startling examples of what they mean.

Volunteering for risky trials in COVID patients with severe illness. People should be able to consent to take part in trials, or even compassionate use, of risky interventions on COVID-19 provided these generate usable knowledge of benefit to others.

Voluntary research euthanasia. When a patient will certainly die, they should be able to consent while competent to experimentation being performed on them for others, even if the experimentation may itself likely or possibly end their life sooner.

Organ donation euthanasia. A person could consent in advance to donation of their organs if it were decided that they would have medical treatment withdrawn on usual grounds, and they would certainly die of respiratory failure over a period of hours or days provided, of course, that the organs were not infected with Covid-19.

Military research service. Early or risky vaccine trials of a COVID-19 vaccine could be conducted on soldiers in exchange for avoiding active service, which involves risk of death.

Nursing home volunteers for risky research. The elderly could perhaps take place in risky challenge studies for coronavirus or early trials of vaccines or treatments. Perhaps many nursing and care home residents wouldnt want to take part in risky research. But they ought to be given the opportunity, if they are competent.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge


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The elderly can still be heroes in the Covid-19 crisis - BioEdge