Webcast archive: News briefs

This week, we have a recap of recent news, including a new Not Dead Yet affiliate and an update on the Bentley case.

Webcast archive: News briefs

In this episode of Euthanasia & Disability, Amy Hasbrouck and Christian Debray catch up on some news briefs.

Please note that this text is only a script and that our webcast contains additional commentary.


  • New Group – NDY Aotearoa
    • Activists with disabilities in New Zealand have launched Not Dead Yet Aotearoa to combat assisted suicide in that country. An initiative proposed by the liberal party was withdrawn before the elections last September, but a new bill is expected sometime this year.
  • Assisted suicide bills defeated in the U.S.
    • On February 7, the Public Health and Human Services committee of the Colorado House of representatives rejected a bill that would have allowed assisted suicide. Activists Anita Cameron, Carrie Ann Lucas and Robin Stephens from Not Dead Yet were among the hundreds of people who testified before the committee.  They explained that disabled people will be vulnerable to financial pressure, and that the terminal illness requirement will not exclude people with disabilities.
  • On March 5 in Utah, the Health and Social Services committee of the state’s house of Representatives voted to refer the assisted suicide question for study, thus tabling it for this legislative session.
  • On March 31 in Maryland, the two committees considering assisted suicide decided to put off action on that state’s bill, and to organize a commission to study the question. This followed a hearing on March 10, where Samantha Crane from the Autism Self-Advocacy Network and Crosby King of Not Dead Yet testified in opposition to the bill.
  • The assisted suicide bill in Connecticut seems to be in trouble in the judiciary committee, after hearings earlier this year. Stephen Mendelsohn, Cathy Ludlam and John Kelly from Second Thoughts were among those who spoke out against the bill.  The fate of the bill is still up in the air.
  • There are still several other bills, most notably in California, New York, New Jersey, and elsewhere. Stay tuned for updates as we get them in.
  • Bentley v. Maplewood, appeal rejected
    • The British Columbia Court of Appeal has dismissed a request from the family of an 83-year-old woman [Margaret Bentley] that their mother no longer be given nourishment or liquids by staff members at the nursing home where she resides. Justice Mary Newbury agreed with a lower court judge, ruling that the woman, who has advanced Alzheimer’s disease, is exercising her consent when she opens her mouth to accept food and water, despite her family’s position that it was her wish while she was mentally capable that she not be fed in her current condition.
  • France rejects continuous palliative sedation
    • By a vote of 89 to 70, French parliamentarians recently rejected amendments to a 2005 statute that would have allowed for continuous palliative sedation
    • Politicians on the left felt the measure did not go far enough
    • The senate will take up the bill this month or next.
  • “Ghost Boy”: the story of Martin Pistorius
    • An autobiography was published in 2011 by a young man named Marin Pistorius, where he recounts the more than ten years during his adolescence he spent with locked-in syndrome.
    • His story received increased attention after a U.S. Public Radio broadcast earlier this year.
    • Following a mysterious illness that rendered him paralyzed and unconscious at the age of 12, Pistorius slowly regained consciousness near the age of 16 years.
    • But since he could only move his eyes, those around him missed his efforts to communicate.
    • His parents thought he was in a coma or a vegetative state, but he could hear and feel everything that was going on around him.
    • Finally, one of his attendants noticed that he was responding to her voice and words with his eyes. That’s when rehabilitation began.
    • He was married in 2009 and now works as a web designer.
  • Danielle Davis refuses to unplug her husband Matt, thereby saving his life.
    • This week we learned of Matt Davis, who received a traumatic brain injury due to a motorcycle accident in 2010. After only nine days in a coma, the doctors told his wife that she should disconnect his life-support equipment, since there was a less than 10% chance he would ever awaken.
    • But Danielle decided to care for her husband. She brought him home, and after a couple of months he was able to hold objects in his hands.  Soon he was talking and he eventually got around with a walker. It’s worth noting that the American Neurological Association recommends that rehab efforts be continued for people with head injuries for at least six months.