The late Terry Pratchett must be spinning in his grave. This is not what he intended with his campaign for dignity in death.
RT.com reports the following:
A healthy former nurse has killed herself at a Swiss euthanasia clinic because she feared developing a terminal illness and being unable to take her own life.
Gill Pharaoh, 75, who did not want to become a “hobbling old lady,” was not suffering from any serious illnesses before she died on July 12 at an assisted dying clinic called Lifecircle in Basel.
The former nurse said she didn’t want to become a burden to her children or “block beds” in hospitals and cost the NHS a “fortune.”
There was nothing wrong with Mrs Pharoah at the time of her death. Her reason for choosing to be euthanized is extremely hard to stomach, considering that it falls perfectly in line with the Conservative Government’s policy of condemning anybody with an illness as a burden on state benefits.
There was no medical reason for the procedure at all.
Meanwhile, genuinely-ill benefit claimants are being demonised by the Conservative Government and the media, and deprived of the benefits they need to survive. They are being told that their desire to carry on, managing their conditions as they go, is a selfish attempt to defraud the taxpayer.
Without wishing to be disrespectful of Mrs Pharoah or her family, it seems that, by her death, she has done a huge disservice to those who are trying to live.
‘Arbeit macht frei’: Roughly translated, it means ‘Work makes you free’. David Cameron will be familiar with that phrase as it is a favourite of his Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith. See http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/jun/16/lawrence-mead-tough-us-welfare-unemployed
Is this writer the only person who finds it more than a little sick that David Cameron visited Auschwitz on the International Day of Human Rights? What was he doing – taking notes in order to ensure that he can do a better job?
The parallels between what the Nazi regime did there, to anybody it considered subhuman, and what Cameron’s government has been doing to anybody it regards similarly are becoming so obvious that you would need to be a deaf-blind animal to miss them.
It is physically sickening to read about him lighting a candle at a memorial for holocaust victims and promising that proposals for a permanent British memorial to victims of the Nazis will be revealed next year, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the extermination camp, while his government continues to deny the fatal consequences of its own policies.
In Nazi Germany, people who were sick, disabled, or belonged to a foreign race were deprived of their human rights and shipped off to concentration camps like Auschwitz, if they weren’t “euthanized” at home under the Aktion T4 programme.
Here, people who are sick or disabled are subjected to a humiliating test intended to deprive them of the financial support they need to survive, and to implant the suggestion that it would be better all around if they simply took their own lives. Immigrants are depicted as a threat to the British way of life and the livelihoods of the indigenous population – but this means that people who were originally of a foreign race, but whose families have lived here for generations, and are British citizens themselves, are also likely to be targeted by the ignorant and easily-led.
Cameron himself has promised that, if a Conservative government is returned to office next May, he will strip every British citizen of their human rights by repealing the Human Rights Act that confers on us the legal protection available to every other human being in Europe. Instead he will throw us the scraps contained in his miserable ‘Bill of Rights’, that is notable more for the rights it forbids than any it permits.
Pay particular attention to the fact that Cameron is proposing to legalise torture in the UK.
And there he is, using what was probably the greatest human tragedy in history as the backdrop for a cynical and hypocritical photo opportunity.
Words cannot describe the contempt that we should all feel – as a matter of duty as human beings – for such a vile abomination as Cameron, and anybody like him.
“Lower than vermin” is no longer sufficiently pejorative.
Lord Carey: He may be demonstrating the amount of thought he has given to what unscrupulous people will do with his “change of heart”.
A “change of heart” by a former Archbishop of Canterbury over ‘assisted dying’ has dismayed at least one campaigner for the rights of people with disabilities.
Mo Stewart has been researching and reporting what she describes as the “atrocities” against the chronically sick and disabled in the UK for the last four years. She said Lord Carey’s decision to support legislation that would make it legal for people in England and Wales to receive help to end their lives would “play right into the hands of this very, very dangerous government”.
Justifying his change of position, Lord Carey said: “Today we face a central paradox. In strictly observing the sanctity of life, the Church could now actually be promoting anguish and pain, the very opposite of a Christian message of hope.
“The old philosophical certainties have collapsed in the face of the reality of needless suffering.”
The Assisted Dying Bill, tabled by Labour’s Lord Falconer, would apply to people with less than six months to live. Two doctors would have to independently confirm the patient was terminally ill and had reached their own, informed decision to die.
But Mo Stewart warned that the proposed legislation, to be debated in the House of Lords on Friday, would be subject to ‘function creep’, with unscrupulous authorities taking advantage of people with depression in order to relieve themselves of the financial burden of paying for their care.
“If this law is granted, what will be deemed a possibility for the few will, very quickly I fear, become the expected for the many,” she wrote in a letter to Lord Carey which she has kindly provided to Vox Political.
“It’s cheaper to help people to die rather than support them to live.
“There is a catalogue of evidence demonstrating that, in those countries where assisted dying is permitted, very often those taking their own lives are suffering from a clinical depression and leave our world to resist the perception that they are a burden to loved ones.
“I am stunned that you would use your voice to try to permit this to happen in the UK.”
She pointed out that medicine is an inexact science and policy changes such as this could have an enormous detrimental impact: “My own webmaster, who is now desperately ill with possibly only weeks to live, was advised he had less than six months to live over four years ago.
“Until very recently, he still enjoyed a high quality of life with his wife, family and friends; a life that could have been removed four years ago” had the Assisted Dying Bill been law at that time.
“What this debate is demonstrating is the failure of guaranteed high quality palliative care in the UK, that makes those with a life-limiting diagnosis feel that self termination is a reasonable solution,” she warned.
“If palliative care was at the peak of quality and access then there would be no need to ever consider such a Bill for this country, as those who wish to access self termination are usually living in fear of the possible physical suffering they may need to endure. This is a highway to clinical depression when quality of life is deemed to have disappeared with diagnosis.”
He said: “This is not scaremongering. I know of health professionals who are already concerned by the ways in which their clients have suggestions ‘to go to Switzerland’ whispered in their ears by relatives weary of caring for them and exasperated by seeing their inheritances dwindle through care costs.
“I have received letters from both disabled individuals and their carers, deeply concerned by the pressure that Lord Falconer’s bill could put them under if it became law.”
Mo Stewart’s letter concludes: “In the real world, this Bill – if passed – would, I have no doubt, lead to abuses where some were actively persuaded to self terminate for the convenience, and possibly the inheritance, of others.
“It’s really not a very long way away from an assisted dying bill to an assisted suicide bill.”
Mr Misprint was found to have been acting outside his powers as Secretary of State for Health, and in breach of the National Health Service Act 2006, when he announced his plan to close or substantially downgrade casualty and maternity services at Lewisham.
Mr Justice Silber said that the decision of the Trust Special Administrator – which was the first made under new, Conservative, health service guidance – was also unlawful.
And he referred to yet another spectacular Parliamentary lie by David Cameron. He’s really racking those up, now, isn’t he? In this one, he told Dame Joan Ruddock, “What the Government and I specifically promised was that there should be no closures or reorganisations unless they had support from the GP commissioners, unless there was proper public and patient engagement and unless there was an evidence base. Let me be absolutely clear: unlike under the last Government when these closures and changes were imposed in a top-down way, if they do not meet those criteria, they will not happen.”
Unfortunately for his reputation, it took a High Court judge to make sure that this guarantee was carried out. Liar Cameron would have pushed the unlawful measure through, even though none of the conditions he described had been met.
Of course the consequence would have been a reduced, substandard hospital service for people living in or near Lewisham – not because the hospital itself was poorly run (it wasn’t) but because the neighbouring South London Healthcare Trust has been haemorrhaging more than £1 million every week. The decision was made with an eye on costs, and with no regard for the effect on people’s health or lives.
Meanwhile, over in the Court of Appeal, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, upheld a ruling that the late Tony Nicklinson had not had the right to ask a doctor to end his life, and neither did fellow right-to-die campaigner Paul Lamb.
The perverse aspect of this is the possibility that they would have got what they wanted – if they had only kept their mouths shut.
Readers may think what follows is in bad taste, or out-of-turn, but it seems that every family in the country has a story in which they suspect doctors of “switching off” a loved one.
From my own family, I can think of two occasions without even trying: One was an uncle with a long-term illness. His wife (my aunt) cared for him but, being a senior citizen herself, she reached a point where she needed to take a break, and booked him into a respite care home. He didn’t survive the experience.
The other was another uncle with a terminal illness who was on painkillers which could kill him if a wrong dosage was applied. We don’t know that this is what led to his death – just as we don’t know what happened in the respite home. But on the face of it, the circumstances are questionable.
All of the above leads us to conclude that yesterday was not a good day to be Jeremy Hunt. You can be sure he was unhappy about it, too.
Picture the scene if you can: The Cabinet room, during a tea break. Various Tories are lounging around, sucking down on some of the plasma they privatised the other week, while Mr Hunt declares: “It isn’t fair! Iain’s policies get to kill hundreds of people every we- sorry, dozens. dozens of people every week – and I can’t even top one or two who want it? What’s the world coming to?”
What indeed. Perhaps Mr Hunt should remember he’s the Secretary of State for Health. It’s in his job title that he should be preserving health, not destroying it.
And money – filthy lucre – should be his last concern!
The minister for disabled people, Maria Miller, may be in line for promotion in David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle, according to the BBC.
This individual, under the guidance of DWP boss Iain Duncan Smith, has presided over the closure of dozens of Remploy factories, forcing thousands of disabled workers onto the dole.
Her colleague at the DWP, Chris Grayling, is also in line for promotion after being responsible for the Work Capability Assessment regime run by the infamous Atos organisation, which has caused the deaths of 32 people per week, on average, since the beginning of last year.
(The figures show that, between January and August last year, 1,100 claimants died after they were put in the “work-related activity group”. A further 1,600 people died before their assessment had been completed, and 5,300 seriously disabled people died after being put into the support group – the group for people who are found to be genuine in their need for continued support. The number who died after being judged “fit for work” was not recorded because the DWP does not keep records of those who have been written off its books.)
The latest person to lose her life was cancer patient Cecilia Burns, who was judged ‘fit for work’ by Atos in February this year. Her benefits were restored just a few weeks ago but the ordeal was clearly too much for a person in a weakened state due to fighting a potentially terminal illness, and she passed away last week.
Atos is still claiming that it does not make decisions on people’s benefit entitlement – it merely carries out the assessments and refers the results to the DWP. We know from TV documentaries Dispatches and Panorama that the findings of the assessments are rubber-stamped by the civil servants in the vast majority of cases.
The firm also claims that its service is “highly professional and compassionate” and that it adheres strictly to the rules. What it doesn’t say is that the government changed the rules – and the benefit – in order to make it easier to cut claimants off. Even after that, 40 per cent of those who appeal win their case at tribunal. If they have legal representation, that figure rises to 90 per cent.
I understand that our Paralympians have been safeguarded from assessment so far – but will all face Work Capability Assessments of their own next year. Like our armed forces, it seems the Coalition government is happy to use them for good publicity in the public eye; once that gaze has moved elsewhere, they’ll be shunted onto the scrap pile.
The reshuffle – and possible promotion for Ms Miller and Mr Grayling – follows a week of protests by the Atos Victims Group, focusing on the Paralympic Games. This culminated in demonstrations outside Atos’ London headquarters and the offices of the DWP on Friday, in which it has been claimed the police physically attacked those present, breaking one protester’s shoulder and damaging a wheelchair user’s chair.
This is what the Coalition government wants to do with the disabled, it seems – push them out of the way, cut off their benefits, forget about them, let them die.
This is extremely pertinent at the moment. Why? Because it is 73 years since the government of a certain European country put its own policy for disabled people into action. Adolf Hitler signed an order to begin the systematic euthanasia of Germany’s mentally ill and disabled people on September 1, 1939.
According to the Nazi policy of racial hygiene, people with physical and mental disabilities were “useless” in German society, and they were a threat to Aryan purity. They were deemed unworthy to live. The euthanasia programme (‘Operation T4’) cost the lives of around 270,000 people.
The best figures we have suggest that the new British assault on the disabled has killed nearly 5,000 so far (rising to almost 10,000 if you include those in the support group). But the Chancellor wants to cut a further £10 billion from the welfare budget (rather than get his rich pals to pay their taxes) so who knows how high this figure may rise before we get a chance to restore sanity in 2015?
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