Blogs

Posted on Monday 13th September 2021 at 8:07pm

The Canberra Times demonstrates why the mainstream media can sometimes be the problem in public-square debates publishing misinformation and failing to publish corrections.

Last month, the Catholic Archbishop of Canberra & Goulburn, Christopher Prowse, published an opinion piece about VAD in the Canberra Times. Naturally, Prowse's views were opposed, which is fine. A range of views is always welcome. Misinformation, however, is not.

It would be unreasonable to expect that the opinion editor of the Canberra Times, Andrew Thorpe, would be intimately versed in the empirical evidence about voluntary assisted dying (VAD). So, it was reasonable that he publish an opinion piece on the topic offered by Archbishop Prowse. What is not reasonable, however, is that the counter-opinion I promptly submitted, pointing out several points of significant misinformation, was not published. A month later, still nothing.

Keywords: Fearmonger | Flapdoodle | Filibuster | Flip-flop | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Assisted dying (AD) | Euthanasia | Australian Capital Territory | New South Wales | Religion | Rhetoric: Palliative care can always help | Rhetoric: Slippery slope | Rhetoric: Suicide | Rhetoric: The 'vulnerable'

 

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Posted on Wednesday 26th May 2021 at 4:03am

The other day, a TV commercial from more than 30 years ago popped into my head. In a rollicking exposé of hidden interests and purposeful agendas, I explain why.

The other day a TV commercial from more than 30 years ago popped into my head. It was a humorous slice-of-life scene in which a teenage son gobbles down a breakfast bowl of Sultana Bran cereal. He complains that his health-kick girlfriend had made him eat vegetarian the night before. His family eye each other with mirth as he eats.

The punch line? “Don’t mention it’s healthy and they’ll eat it by the boxful.”

sultana_bran_ad_1990.jpg The Kellogg's Sultana Bran TV commercial from 1990.

Despite having worked in advertising research for years, I’m sure I hadn’t thought of this ad for at least a couple of decades. So what brought this vignette suddenly to mind?

Keywords: Fearmonger | Flapdoodle | Filibuster | Flip-flop | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Assisted dying (AD) | Euthanasia | Belgium | Catholic Church | Catholic

 

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Posted on Tuesday 27th April 2021 at 7:12pm

The Netherlands' euthanasia commission has just released its latest annual report card, showing a modest rise in cases but a steady proportion of all deaths.

The Netherlands euthanasia commission has just released its 2020 annual report.

The report shows that the number of cases rose around 9% over the 2019 year. However, the number of total deaths was also up, resulting in a continuation of relatively level rate in recent years (Figure 1).

netherlandsbelgium2020.gif
Figure 1: The assisted dying rate in the Netherlands and Belgium

Keywords: Assisted dying (AD) | Belgium | Netherlands | Regulation | Statistics

 

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Posted on Saturday 13th March 2021 at 11:57pm

Anti-VAD campaigners have caused themselves further major embarrassment by repeatedly cherry-picking statistics to try and establish a case that the full data conflicts with.

Here we go again. Branka van der Linden of Catholic anti-VAD website “HOPE”, and the Australian Care Alliance — endorsed by a number of well-known, committed Catholic doctors — have just published more egregious misinformation against VAD. This time they've collectively piled it on Victoria's general suicide statistics, recently updated by the Victorian Coroner. So what did they say, and how did it misrepresent the actual situation? Let's take a look.

The reason the statistics are being discussed is because in 2017, Victoria's parliament legalised voluntary assisted dying (VAD) for the terminally ill. The law came into effect halfway through 2019, and 2020 was the first full year of its operation.

Australian Care Alliance gets the basics wrong

Here's the Australian Care Alliance's (ACA) splashy page trumpeting that Victoria's suicide rate has jumped 21.2% from 694 in 2017 to 842 in 2020.

Keywords: Bull | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Assisted dying (AD) | Australia | Victoria | Branka van der Linden | Religion | Catholic | Statistics | Rhetoric | Rhetoric: Suicide

 

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Posted on Wednesday 3rd March 2021 at 9:32pm

Belgium and Oregon have just released their 2020 reports cards covering voluntary assisted dying practice.

Belgium and the USA state of Oregon both released their annual voluntary assisted dying (VAD) reports this week. I report on the numbers.

While the Netherlands and Washington state haven't released their 2020 annual VAD report cards yet, Belgium and Oregon have.

Keywords: Assisted dying (AD) | Belgium | Netherlands | Oregon

 

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Posted on Sunday 11th October 2020 at 11:19pm

The latest media release from the Australian Christian Lobby against voluntary assisted dying (VAD) law reform exposes the soft underbelly of their desperation -- headlining their argument with a bullshit anecdote.

"Bullshit!"

That was the reaction of Dutch Senator Erik Jurgens when I asked him about a Dutch euthanasia anecdote spread by Mr Paul Russell, then head of the Australian anti-VAD Catholic front organisation "HOPE". In 2011, Mr Russell had been spreading the story:

"I often use the story of the death of a 26 year old ballerina in Holland [sic]. She had contracted a form of arthritis at this young age and her dancing career and dreams were dashed. An American oncologist who spoke later to the killing doctor reported the Dutch medico as saying something like 'One doesn't like doing it, but it was her choice.'" — Paul Russell, "HOPE" [my emphasis]

Keywords: Fearmonger | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Australia | Netherlands | Paul Russell | Religion

 

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Posted on Sunday 4th October 2020 at 4:13am

Swiss law allows assisted suicide with only one condition: assistance may be rendered for non-selfish motives. So has a significant increase in assisted deaths lead to so-called "suicide contagion"? I spill the beans.

Supposed Dutch suicide contagion from assisted dying

Recently, Dr Theo Boer, an Assistant Professor at a "black-stocking" (strongly conservative Protestant) theological college in the Netherlands, was at it again — criticising the Dutch euthanasia law to anyone who would listen: "don't follow the Dutch euthanasia law path because it leads to 'suicide contagion'".

I've exposed Prof. Boer's cherry-picked nonsense before. Astonishingly, he even ignores data from the Dutch Euthanasia Commission, despite the fact he used to serve on one of its five Regional Review Committees.

Keywords: Fearmonger | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Assisted dying (AD) | Australia | Victoria | Belgium | Netherlands | Switzerland | Theo Boer | Margaret Somerville

 

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Posted on Friday 18th September 2020 at 4:47am

A recently-published account of a grandmother's death paints a scathing picture of Victoria's voluntary assisted dying law. So what's its provenance? I expose a trail of vested-interest backing, leading to a particular source. Hold on to your hats…

A friend pointed out to me an opinion piece published this week in MercatorNet that slams Victoria's voluntary assisted dying (VAD) law. Written about an elderly woman with cancer who used the law to die peacefully, it's an angry diatribe written by the woman’s granddaughter-in-law: one Mrs Madeleine Dugdale.

Update 21-Sep-2020

Mrs Madeleine Dugdale's article has been withdrawn from MercatorNet without explanation. Here's a screenshot of the original.

dugdalegranscreenshot620.jpg

And this is Mrs Dougdale's "about" page after the article was withdrawn.

Keywords: Fearmonger | Filibuster | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Australia | Religion | Catholic | Claim response | Legislation | Rhetoric | Rhetoric: Suicide | Rhetoric: The 'vulnerable'

 

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Posted on Tuesday 15th September 2020 at 12:42am

If you're wondering how religious the organised opposition to voluntary assisted dying (VAD) law reform is, current ructions in Tasmania provide a marvellous petri dish of evidence.

If you're wondering how religious the organised opposition to voluntary assisted dying (VAD) law reform is, current ructions in Tasmania provide a marvellous petri dish of evidence.

Catholic church call to arms

Back in 2011, the now Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, wrote a lengthy, deliberative editorial against VAD, calling on the church to enlist people with no obvious religious connections to help the church fight VAD law reform. He wrote:

“The man or woman in the street … may well be open to persuasion that permissive laws and practices cannot be effectively narrowed to such circumstances”; and

Keywords: Fearmonger | Flapdoodle | Filibuster | Flip-flop | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Assisted dying (AD) | Australia

 

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Posted on Sunday 30th August 2020 at 9:13pm

Hobart Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous makes a number of incorrect representations about voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in his recent Talking Points article (Hobart Mercury 23rd Aug). And, most of his own flock disagree with his opposed stance.

Hobart Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous makes a number of incorrect representations about voluntary assisted dying (VAD) in his recent Talking Points article (Hobart Mercury 23rd Aug). And, most of his own flock disagree with his opposed stance.

Let's take a look at the facts, and the Archbishop's 'alternatives'.

NOTE: While The Hobart Mercury published Archbishop Porteous' arguments, they declined to publish this rebuttal.

Key points

  1. Archbishop Porteous wrongly equates VAD with general suicide and insinuates they are lonely deaths when they aren't.
  2. He claims that palliative care can always help, when palliative care peak bodies clearly state that it can't.
  3. He insensitively co-opts Covid-19 victims and their families into his arguments, despite them having nothing to do with VAD.

Keywords: Fearmonger | Fudge | Fiction | Faith | Australia | Tasmania | ANZSPM | Palliative Care Australia (PCA) | Religion | Catholic | Rhetoric: Palliative care can always help | Rhetoric: Suicide | Rhetoric: The 'vulnerable'

 

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