Category Archives: Euthanasia

“Mary Kills People” Trades Comforting Fantasy For The Reality of “Assisted Deaths”

NRL News Today

By Dave Andrusko

Caroline Dhavernas stars in the new Global TV show Mary Kills People. (CORUS ENTERTAINMENT)

Caroline Dhavernas stars in the new Global TV show Mary Kills People. (CORUS ENTERTAINMENT)

When anti-life forces talk about “normalizing” their agenda, a key component is persuading an already receptive entertainment industry to portray aborting children or “assisting” people to die in the most favorable possible light.

Enter “Mary Kills People”–and no, I am not making this up. It is a new series, debuting tomorrow on Global Television , about an “angel of mercy.” ( I didn’t know what Global TV is, either–it’s a “Canadian English-language broadcast television network.”)

If you read the snap summary on the Global TV site, it begins thusly:

Dr. Mary Harris has a secret – beneath the surface of being an ER doctor and loving mother, Mary is also Dr. Death, helping terminal patients end their lives. She and her partner Des have been operating covertly for almost six months but a series of unforeseen circumstances, beginning with the assisted death of superstar football player Troy Dixon (Adrian Holmes) goes wrong, conspire to tear Mary down.

(“Conspire to tear Mary down”? After she merely “assists” someone to die. How judgmental.) After that the usual soap opera storylines.

To get a feel for the series, go to the Facebook page for “Mary Kills People.” In a very short clip, you see Mary smoking a cigarette and then saying to no one in particular, “I really have to quit.” Some guy responds, “Killing people?”

To which Mary angrily answers, “No, smoking.” The man [sarcastically? Ironically? Apologetically?] responds, “Oh no, yeah, you’re right. Sure, it’s a filthy habit.”

I first ran across a mention of the show today at The Toronto Star where Bill Brioux gushes over how clever it all is.

Brioux tells us

The series is about a single mother, Mary Harris, who is an ER doctor by day, an angel of mercy by night. In her illegal side gig, Mary kills terminally ill patients she helps slip away on their own terms.

Of course all the deaths in this six-part series are sought by hospice patients, although the graphic that accompanies the promo doesn’t send that message at all. It is nothing short of menacing.

These stories (ala “Law and Order”) may be ripped from the headlines but if so, they didn’t read the stories. The (typically) nurses who are killing vulnerable patients offer the usual rationalizations but they are killing them not because they are “asked” but because of twisted, demented reasons of the killer’s own.

What fascinates Brioux begins with the origins of the series:

Tara Armstrong developed the idea for the series while still a student at the University of British Columbia.

“I don’t know why exactly, but I was always obsessed with death when I was younger, when I was a kid,” Armstrong said late last year while on location in Mississauga, Ont., with the cast and producers.

Armstrong was working on a writing degree at UBC and developed Mary Kills People in a creative non-fiction class. “I chose to go into a hospice and interviewed all the people who worked in there; it kind of came from that,” she says.

Does the choice of Dr. Harris’ first name mean anything?

The name “Mary” was a starting point. “I knew I wanted a biblical name,” says Armstrong.

Leave it to the death peddlers to cover their tracks with a “biblical name.”

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Secrecy and Immunity Destroy “Safeguards” in Assisted Suicide Laws

NRL News Today

How Secrecy and Immunity Destroy “Safeguards” in Assisted Suicide LawsBy Nancy Valko

euthanasia81reFinally this November, a mainstream media source, the Des Moines Register, investigated some of the problems with legalized physician-assisted suicide in other states such as complications during the process, prolonged deaths, non-existent or incomplete data in assisted suicide and even the “disputed meaning of ‘self-administer’” of the lethal overdose. This is crucial since Iowa is considering an assisted suicide bill in the legislature.

However, the Register’s reporting ignored one of the most dangerous legal problems in assisted suicide laws: the criminal, civil and professional immunity given to doctors and others involved as long as they claim they acted in “good faith.”

In addition, the secrecy and often yearly destruction of even the minimal information self-reported by the doctors–as well as falsified death certificates listing such deaths as natural effectively–destroys any pretense of an enforceable law.

This has made enforcement of so-called “safeguards” virtually impossible in states with legalized assisted suicide and affects even a state like my home state of Missouri that has a law with penalties to prohibit assisted suicide.


Missouri’s law against assisted suicide states:

A person commits the crime of voluntary manslaughter if he knowingly assists another in the commission of self-murder. — Mo. Rev. Stat. § 565.023.1

Yet despite years of failure, the pro-assisted suicide forces are again trying this year to get the standard assisted suicide bill passed in the Missouri legislature.

However, enforcement of the current Missouri law has been problematic. In the only case involving a health care professional, just a five years probation plea agreement was reached before a trial despite a nurse admitting she killed the patient, not assisting a suicide.

In 2001, Daillyn Pavia, RN faced murder charges after she admitted giving a lethal dose of morphine to a new patient who had just had a stroke and was taken off life support. According to police, Pavia admitted to co-workers that she had “without authorization and within a half-an-hour of taking charge of Julia Dawson as her patient … intentionally (given) Ms. Dawson 15 times the maximum dosage of morphine that had been prescribed” as well as Propofol, a strong sedative, that was not prescribed. The victim’s son defended the nurse’s action, saying it was done out of compassion and should not be prosecuted.

In 2003, 2 years later, nurse Pavia pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 5 years probation. Nurse Pavia did not show up at a hearing before the Missouri State Board of Nursing which noted that Pavia was placed “on five years of supervised probation with the special condition that she surrender her nursing license.”

(Ironically, this decision followed on the heels of the decision not to prosecute Dr. Lloyd Thompson, then head of the Vermont Medical Society, for intentionally giving a paralyzing, “life ending drug” to an elderly woman with terminal cancer whose breathing machine had been removed. The family opposed prosecuting the doctor. Instead Thompson was reprimanded by the Vermont Medical Practice Board that required a monitoring and review of his care of all terminally ill patients. 10 years later, Vermont became the third state to legalize physician-assisted suicide.)

I could find only two other cases of people being charged with assisting a suicide in Missouri. One occurred in 1996 when Velma Howard, a woman with ALS, died of suffocation in a motel with family members who admitted giving her sleeping medication, alcohol, and a plastic bag. The prosecuting attorney later dropped charges against the family members.

The Jacob Runge assisted suicide case in 2010 resulted in a jury acquitting a young man who provided a gun to his emotionally disturbed friend in a self-described mutual suicide pact but said he could not go through with killing himself.


The fallout from these cases, like many others around the country, show that if someone–even a doctor or nurse–claims that they acted out of “mercy,” it is unlikely that a person will face more than a slap on the wrist for ending or helping to end an ill or troubled person’s life.

In addition for those of us who are ethical and conscientious nurses, we feel the chilling effect discouraging us from even reporting other health care providers like nurse Pavia in such cases since we may face repercussions ourselves, including firing. There are apparently no real whistleblower protections for nurses (and thus the public) in such cases, especially since these cases routinely garner much media and public sympathy for the perpetrators and routinely result in minimal if any penalties. Conscience rights may not be enough to protect our patients and ourselves.

As a 2014 Medscape article titled “Should Nurses Blow the Whistle or Just Keep Quiet?” by a nurse/lawyer author explains with regard to patient safety violations (which, of course, should include reporting the killing of a patient) :

Am I recommending that nurses adopt the “see nothing, hear nothing, speak nothing” attitude? No. I am saying that under current law, it is safer for a nurse not to report than to report. That surprises me, and it may be right- or wrong-minded, but it’s the way it is. (Emphasis added.)

This is exactly what pro-assisted suicide groups like Compassion and Choices could have hoped for when they fashioned the immunity protections and the secrecy of even the minimal self-reporting standards in their assisted suicide laws. Eliminating the possibility of future potential lawsuits or prosecutions is what keeps their myth of “no problems, no abuses” alive.

Unfortunately, that is also what puts all of us and our loved ones at risk, especially when we are at our most vulnerable. With legalized assisted suicide laws now quickly expanding to other states, we must step up our efforts to educate the public and fight against the well-funded and relentless Compassion and Choices machine.

And there is one significant effort that any of us can do. Consider asking your own doctor or health care provider where he or she stands on assisted suicide and feel free to state your position. If your doctor is in favor of assisted suicide, you might want to consider asking for a referral to another doctor who refuses to provide assisted suicide.

The life you save may be your own.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Nancy’s blog.


Severe Brain Injuries Should Never Be An Excuse to Starve Patients

NRL News Today

The “mystery” of severe brain injuries should never be an excuse to starve and dehydrate patients

By Dave Andrusko

the-mysteryPeriodically, the popular press will pick up on something almost as if it were a sudden revelation when in fact it’s simply been off their radar screen. “Flash! [fill in the blank].” That is the typically the case with the ‘discovery’ that some severely brain-injured patients who survive the initial trauma have been misdiagnosed.

Typically the medical staff concludes that patient “A” is so badly damaged he/she will never “wake up.” The counsel is (in that ugly, dehumanizing phrase) to “pull the plug.” And then, lo and behold, the patient does become responsive, most often because the family refuses to be bullied.

The misdiagnosis has customarily been two-fold: What condition the patient actually is in (coma, persistent vegetative state, or minimally conscious) and the likelihood that they will come out of it.

Adding drama and urgency to such “discoveries” is the genuine discovery that the patient has been hearing and processing all along! The medical staff missed the signs–or weren’t looking for them.

Here are two articles  illustrating the “discoveries.” The first–a more general overview –appeared in the Wall Street Journal. “Brain Stimulation May Give Hope to Coma Patients,” is written by Patricia Churchland, described as a neurophilosopher

The second, “How One Brain Came Back From Unconsciousness,” is by Stephen S. Hall, and deals with one young man who was in a horrific accident and whose chances to survive, let alone anything else, seemed slim and none.

As the title suggests, Mrs. Churchland is almost exclusively talking about coma. She does a very nice job explaining how neurologists are attempting to compensate for the damage done to the brain. She writes

A head injury damages the circuitry of the arousal system. Hemorrhages—that is, bleeding—are a major culprit. The pressure of blood in a closed skull can crush the delicate nerve fibers. Normally, to wake us up, the brainstem boots up the central thalamus. In some patients with minimal consciousness, disrupted wiring means the brainstem’s “wake up” signals cannot reach the central thalamus, and thus it stays quiescent. The patient’s brain is stuck in unconsciousness.

Some neurologists, such as Nicholas Schiff at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, have hoped to compensate for the missing signals by directly stimulating the central thalamus. Research with animal models has suggested this could work in humans to restore consciousness.

Less satisfying are Churchland’s conclusions, which are not as optimistic as they could have been. More important (as perhaps follows from of her gloomier assessment) she ends her essay talking about “double-digit billions” in annual costs for patients in minimally consciousness states, in coma, or in a vegetative state, a figure that could not possibly be correct.

More ominously, Churchland talks about only “modest” “quality of life” improvements “for some” using deep brain stimulation. Her last sentence is

Research will soon clarify which patients stand to benefit.

Really? If you follow the research, the overarching conclusion is that what was thought to be dogma proved to be incorrect.

And what if patients don’t “stand to benefit”? Churchland doesn’t say, but others are quick to offer a ‘solution’: starve them to death or kill them more quickly.

Stephen S. Hall’s very in-depth, very long story about Dylan Rizzo is no Pollyanna account, but it is a corrective to Churchland’ more pessimistic assessment. If you have time, please also read “People with severe dementia should be starved and dehydrated to death to save money says BMJ editorial” which is also posted at NRL News Today.

Churchland’s story is a reminder that teenagers and young adults who are injured in crashes do recover from brutal brain injuries. By contrast an older person with severe dementia will not recover his or her mental faculties.

But in either case, you don’t take away their food and fluids. That path leads  not only to death but to madness.