Andrew Denton on Assisted Dying

Earlier this month Andrew Denton presented what might be called his findings on the need for assisted dying, or voluntary euthanasia in Australia. Without this legislation one Victorian per week suicides to escape pain. Just one state. These mainly “elderly violent suicides” are composed in the book Denton released on August 10th titled The Damage Done.

Denton has travelled to Belgian, The Netherlands and Oregon where assisted dying legislation exists in law. Whilst there are differences and similarities in these laws it was what such legislation is not that is most striking to the Australian situation at present. There is no sign that the many horrors organised opponents insist will accompany such legislation exist.

No slippery slope. No sanctioned killing of the disabled, the elderly, the sick or the frail. No sign of greedy family members metaphorically marching a family member to an early unwanted demise. The legislation itself presents this from happening by ensuring the decision is that of the individual in question.

An individual must be of sound mind, enduring intolerable suffering, aware of the consequences of their decision and checked and double checked by separate, independent physicians. There are many reasons why the fear conjured by self-appointed moral guardians is simply fallacious. Not least, in their own words, organised planning to distort facts and feed the public and legislators unrealistic images as to what assisted dying would mean.

It’s important Australians understand that we were once world leaders in such legislation. Assisted dying existed in N.T. under the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act 1995. The Liberal Party’s Kevin Andrews (“a leading member of the conservative Lyons Forum, dubbed by some ‘The God Squad'”) and Labor’s Tony Burke, assisted by powerful fellow Catholic busnessmen undermined the will of the N.T. public, ultimately having the law repealed. Their harmful work continues today. 28 attempts have been made in the last 20 years to pass assisted dying legislation.

Denton argues the two politicians have “engineered” a denial of evidence. He covers this dynamic, the reality of assisted dying legislation and the importance of palliative care. A significant number of patients who meet eligibility requirements and whose cases satisfy safeguards for assisted dying ultimately do not take life-ending medication. In Oregon this figure is 40%. What this tells us is that the peace of mind that comes with knowing one has control over their end is powerful indeed.

What we often call euthanasia is not “killing”. It is assisted dying. It is dying with dignity. I do urge finding the time to listen to Denton’s material.

 – Andrew Denton: The Damage Done. The price our community pays without a law for assisted dying

© National Press Club of Australia, 10 August 2016

© ABC Lateline, 10 August 2016

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Podcast; Better off dead. The Wheeler Centre

Andrew Denton investigates the stories, moral arguments and individuals woven into discussions about why good people are dying bad deaths in Australia – because there is no law to help them.

 

‘No Jab No Pay’ Success: Government will not profit financially

It has been widely reported today that the Turnbull Government’s “No Jab, No Pay” legislation has led to an increase in childhood vaccination rates.

This is excellent news and a Parliamentary Budget Review indicates conscientious objectors are not being roundly exploited to fill government coffers. Unless of course, they choose to be.

The success of the policy means a great number of Australians who previously registered as conscientious objectors, no longer do so. Therefore they are not being denied Child Care Benefit (CCB), Child Care Rebate (CCR) or Family Tax Benefit (Part A). It follows then that the government is not guaranteed financial profit from this policy.

The policy was implemented on January 1st this year. 5,738 children whose parents had previously denied them the protection of immunisation have been vaccinated since then. Social Services Minister, Christian Porter stated that 148,000 children who were not up to date with immunisations were now meeting requirements.

The Australian Childhood Immunisation Register indicates increases in immunisation for one, two and five year olds. For one and five year olds there has been an increase from 90% to 93%. The ABC reported:

Vaccination rates had fallen to such a historically low level, that we were seeing the re-emergence of diseases that we had been free of for years,” Mr Porter said.

“Of course, that was a matter of major concern to the overwhelming majority of parents who aren’t vaccination objectors and just want their kids to be safe.

In the Parliamentary Budget Review 2015-16 Michael Klapdor and Alex Grove published ‘No Jan No Pay’ and other immunisation measures. They note that No Jab No Pay involves closing off:

… some exemptions from the immunisation requirements for eligibility for the FTB-A [Family Tax Benefit, Part A] end-of-year supplement, Child Care Benefit (CCB) and Child Care Rebate (CCR) payments stating that it was extremely concerned at the risk non-vaccinated children pose to public health. […]

On 12 April 2015, the Government announced that it would remove the conscientious objector exemption but retain the medical and Christian Scientist exemption. On 19 April 2015, Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison, announced that after discussions with the Church of Christ, Scientist, their specific exemption would be removed as the Church advised it was no longer necessary.

Also reported today is that families may lose up to $15,000 per year if parents fail to have their children vaccinated. As readers may well be aware, and as is evident in the above paragraphs from the Budget Review, “failing to have their children vaccinated” would be an insistence to deny one’s children vaccine induced immunity, by remaining “conscientious objectors”.

There is no sound reason to make this choice. There never has been, and it is most regrettable that the anti-vaccine lobby has worked feverishly to further distress those who hold misguided anti-vaccine beliefs. One theme has been that the right to make “health choices” has been removed. Or, promises of court action to challenge the legislation on the back of donations scammed by The Australian Vaccination-sceptics Network. Another, that the government would profit financially from discriminating against conscientious objectors.

However a close read of Klapdor and Grove’s Budget Review shows this claim loses credibility as more children of conscientious objectors are vaccinated. Conscientious objectors make up “a minority of the total number of children not up-to-date with their vaccination schedules”. Only 20% of one, two and five year olds not up to date with vaccinations [citation]. The authors cover in depth a number of “other immunisation measures” aimed at raising and maintaining immunisation levels, and finish their review with:

Through these efforts to improve coverage rates, coupled with financial penalties for non-compliance with immunisation schedules, the Government believes that it is taking a ‘balanced “carrot and stick” approach’ to encouraging vaccination. Of course, the sizeable savings expected from the ‘stick’ element may not be realised if these policies succeed in significantly lifting childhood immunisation rates.

The question then, is what percentage of conscientious objectors does the 5,738 children vaccinated since January 1st represent? Using Klapdor and Grove’s reference we may take the figure on page iv. 14,869 children aged one, two or five years were recorded as conscientious objectors in 2012-13. Klapdor and Grove state that whilst there has been an increase in immunisation rates since 1998 overall rates have remained static in recent years [citation].

Thus with some degree of reasonable confidence we may view the 5,738 children of conscientious objectors reported by Social Services Minister Christian Porter, as a percentage of 14,869. This figure of 38.6%, in light of the historical data cited in the Budget Review, might reasonably be viewed as “significantly lifting childhood immunisation rates”, to quote from Klapdor and Grove. And as these authors reasoned a lift in immunisation rates would mean that, “the sizeable savings expected from the ‘stick’ element may not be realised”.

Thus the antivaccinationist claim that they would be exploited to fill government coffers is at this stage seemingly without merit. More to the point if antivaccinationists wish to retain their status as conscientious objectors they are making a conscious choice for financial hardship.

Immunise Australia have provided the below summary and catch up recommendations for children 10 – 19 years.

No Jab No Pay New Immunisation Requirements For Family Assistance Payments

From 1 January 2016:

  • Only parents of children (less than 20 years of age) who are fully immunised or are on a recognised catch-up schedule can receive the Child Care Benefit, the Child Care Rebate and the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement. The relevant vaccinations are those under the National Immunisation Program (NIP), which covers the vaccines usually administered before age ve. These vaccinations must be recorded on the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR).
  • Children with medical contraindications or natural immunity for certain diseases will continue to be exempt from the requirements.
  • Conscientious objection and vaccination objection on non-medical grounds will no longer be a valid exemption from immunisation requirements.
  • Families eligible to receive family assistance payments and have children less than 20 years of age, who may not meet the new immunisation requirements, will be notified by Centrelink.
  • To support these changes, the ACIR is being expanded. From 1 January 2016, you will be able to submit the details of vaccinations given to persons less than 20 years of age to the ACIR.1. Free catch-up for children less than 10 years of ageFrom 1 January 2016, all states and territories will be providing free catch-up NIP vaccines for all children less than 10 years of age on an on-going basis.2. Free catch-up for young persons 10 to 19 years of age, of families who currently receive family assistance payments

    From 1 January 2016, parents who wish to immunise their children in order to continue to receive family assistance payments will have access to free catch- up vaccines for a time-limited period (1 January 2016 to 31 December 2017).

“Something has happened in the motorcade route”

“Something has happened in the motorcade route”

Friday November 22, 1963 Sam Pate, a reporter for KBOX Radio describing President Kennedy’s motorcade

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I was struck by recent tweets from Australia’s most troublesome, and arguably troubled, antivaccinationist.

In a splendid example of the transcendental world view that conspiracies are everywhere Meryl Dorey retweeted and commented on a pro-chemtrail tweet. Not just any pro-chemtrail tweet. This came from an account so packed with conspiracy tweets it’s almost suffocating to read. Ample antivaccine waffle, false flags, a comment on the strange absence of accents from Orlando shooting witnesses, the Sandy Hook “actors”, GMO, depopulation, etc, etc.

“TheMatrix” hashtag worked overtime and happened to accompany the tweet that caught Ms. Dorey’s eye.

Dorey_chemtrails2

This prompted a number of replies criticising the lack of thinking behind the chemtrail conspiracy theory. Meryl offered one critic:

Dorey_chemtrails

Understanding conspiracy theorists and the role implausible fallacy plays in their thinking is not as simple as accusing them of being crackpots. As individuals, they come from any age, race, socioeconomic status, education level, occupation, gender, political viewpoint. Uscinski and Parent wrote the 2014 book American Conspiracy Theories. They note on page 11 that laboratory experiments that induce loss of control and anxiety prompt subjects to draw conspiratorial explanations and see nonexistent patterns.

Such agenticity and patternicity are intuitive human qualities. Left unchecked they are qualities that steer one toward justifying the world as filled with interconnected events. Events that happen for a reason. Despite the evidence void, intuition can shape transcendental conspiracy thinking to believing the reason behind such events is generally one of malignant control.

Empiricism lacks the intuitive quality of transcendentalism. The empiricist accepts that coincidence and random events are part of reality. Any belief thus requires evidence. In this way skeptics are not prone to conclude based upon unchecked intuition. A simple but worthy example is the well used truism that correlation is not causation. For so many claims of the antivaccination movement (say, so-called vaccine injuries as opposed to genuine injuries) there is no evidence – just a claim based upon correlation.

These claims resonate with intuition. But subject to empirical examination and scientific skepticism we find these injuries (as opposed to genuine injuries) do not exist. The evidence supports another cause. With no evidence to the contrary and the inability to accept reality, we find the antivaccine lobby will cry conspiracy. Indeed there are a great many false claims kept in circulation by this lobby that are defeated with scientific evidence. Rather than accept the consensus the group cries conspiracy.

In March ABC Minefield produced Is the truth still out there? Why do conspiracy theories still exist? It’s an excellent episode. Hosts Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens discuss the persistence of conspiracy theories with guest, Patrick Stokes. Enjoy.

© ABC

Dravet syndrome is not a vaccine induced genetic mutation

Recently I was sent some appallingly misleading nonsense on Twitter regarding Dravet (pron. druh-vay) syndrome and vaccination. Or more specifically that Dravet (a rare intractable form of epilepsy) is a “vaccine induced genetic mutation”.

The phrase appeared on a screen grabbed page (below) full of harmful misinformation. It took advantage of the fact that in around 80% of cases Dravet is linked to a de novo genetic mutation. More specifically the uninherited SCN1A mutation leads to the development of dysfunctional ion channels in the brain.

Seizures develop within the first year of life and infants develop normally until this time. The first seizures infants experience may often be associated with fever. Later seizures can present without heat triggers or illness. Nonetheless the first seizures often occur around six months of age and are associated with vaccination. Although it begins in infancy Dravet syndrome is a lifelong condition. It is also known as Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI).

A range of health challenges accompany Dravet syndrome including a higher incidence of SUDEP (sudden unexplained death in epilepsy). According to The Dravet Syndrome Foundation other conditions which require proper management and treatment include:

Behavioral and developmental delays, movement and balance issues, orthopedic conditions, delayed language and speech issues, growth and nutrition issues, sleeping difficulties
chronic infections, sensory integration disorders, disruptions of the autonomic nervous system (which regulates things such as body temperature and sweating)

Whilst the screenshot below offers a copious amount of rubbish and does so with absurd confidence, we can see how important facts have been abused to push a fearful message of misinformation. Firstly the presence of a de novo (new, not inherited) genetic mutation. Secondly the association of vaccination with the first seizure.

McIntosh et al (2010) state:

Vaccination might trigger earlier onset of Dravet syndrome in children who, because of an SCN1A mutation, are destined to develop the disease.

That statement is quite unambiguous. Infants are destined to develop the disease because of the genetic mutation. Not because of vaccines. Vaccination may trigger a seizure; the early onset of Dravet syndrome. In what may be considered a firm conclusion that vaccinations do not cause Dravet syndrome, they continue:

However, vaccination should not be withheld from children with SCN1A mutations because we found no evidence that vaccinations before or after disease onset affect outcome.

We’re now in a better position to judge how misleading this insult to evidence is.

P01YN0NYM0U55_2016-May-24

Interestingly I have not been able to source it. Nonetheless it is intellectually offensive to see so much effort go in to falsely accuse the scientific and medical communities of hiding information. Apart from targeting the WebMD page on Dravet syndrome, the piece merely insists “the medical establishment” studied six children “who had previously been diagnosed with vaccine induced Dravet”. Then the children were “re-diagnosed” as not vaccine injured. Keep an eye out and one can see a “pattern of coverups like this…”.

Below is a short audio of Dr. Linda Laux, MD, of Lurie Children’s Hospital speaking on behalf of Dravet Syndrome Foundation [Which can also be accessed here]. She is quite clear in stressing that in Dravet, vaccinations can trigger seizures. “It is not the cause of the epilepsy syndrome. But it may precipitate seizures just the way an illness may precipitate seizures”.

Dr. Laux argues this was first shown by “an Australian group” (McIntosh et al) wherein the authors chased up adults who had previously been compensated for vaccine encephalopathy. They checked for Dravet and found the majority were positive for the SCN1A gene mutation. As we saw above there is good evidence to continue vaccinating. Laux reminds us that vaccine preventable diseases would trigger seizures for such a cohort.

The researchers checked the sample’s seizures as children. They defined the “vaccine proximate group”, who had their first seizure within two days of a vaccine. The second group who had their first seizure not associated with a vaccine, was labelled the “vaccine distant group”. Then the researchers studied subsequent seizures, severity of seizures and development of both groups.

They found no difference in the prognosis of these variables. This suggests that in this study Dravet syndrome seizures initially triggered by vaccination did not lead to a more deleterious prognosis than Dravet syndrome seizures initially triggered by another means.

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Another study (Pediatrics, 2011) by Reyes et al entitled Alleged Cases of Vaccine Encephalopathy Rediagnosed Years Later As Dravet Syndrome, includes in the abstract:

It was reported recently that a proportion of patients previously diagnosed with alleged vaccine encephalopathy might possess SCN1A mutations and clinical histories that enabled a diagnosis of Dravet syndrome, but these results have not been replicated. We present here the cases of 5 children who presented for epilepsy care with presumed parental diagnoses of alleged vaccine encephalopathy caused by pertussis vaccinations in infancy. Their conditions were all rediagnosed years later, with the support of genetic testing, as Dravet syndrome.

Verbeek et al studied data of 23 children with epilepsy onset after vaccination. In October 2014 they published in Pediatrics Etiologies For Seizures Around The Time Of Vaccination. They write in their abstract conclusion:

Our results suggest that in most cases, genetic or structural defects are the underlying cause of epilepsy with onset after vaccination, including both cases with preexistent encephalopathy or benign epilepsy with good outcome. These results have significant added value in counseling of parents of children with vaccination-related first seizures, and they might help to support public faith in vaccination programs.

The constant theme that emerges as one pursues research on vaccination and Dravet syndrome is that the SCN1A mutation underlies Dravet, and as demonstrated by Verbeek et al, “genetic or structural defects are the underlying cause of epilepsy with onset after vaccination”. The valuable work of McIntosh et al, reinforces the importance of maintaining vaccination regimes for these at-risk populations.

As for nonsense claiming Dravet syndrome is a “vaccine induced genetic mutation”, supporters of vaccine programmes should be aware that perpetrators of these lies can distort facts to cause fear and confusion in the unaware. Evidence to confirm vaccination does cause Dravet syndrome has not been forthcoming.

Fortunately the medical establishment has never tried to hide the truth. Vaccines can trigger seizures in infants with the SCN1A mutation at a rate of 1:16,000 – 1:21,000. The reality is that if not a vaccine causing a fever, then another trigger will certainly bring Dravet syndrome to the fore. Evidence suggests there is no difference in prognosis between the vaccine proximate and vaccine distant.

Dravet syndrome remains a very rare condition and there is still no vaccine conspiracy.

Vaccines and autism: A thorough review of the evidence

The following post is an exceptionally detailed review of the evidence, and scientific consensus, specific to the persistent claim of a link between vaccination and autism.

Those familiar with the integrity of the scientific method and its value in examining this particular issue will be grateful for both the quality and extent of this review.

Use of the seven tiered Hierarchy of Scientific Evidence provides an excellent device by which to gauge the value of evidence, and as such, introduces one to a reliable tool for similar endeavours.

I trust you find the article a valuable resource.

Hierarchy of Scientific Evidence

© thelogicofscience.com

The Logic of Science

One of the most common concerns that people have about vaccines is that they might cause (or exacerbate) autism. This idea is perpetuated by celebrities and innumerable websites, and it has become one of the cornerstone arguments of the anti-vaccine movement, but is there any truth to it? Perhaps unsurprisingly, both sides claim a superiority of evidence. Indeed, you can find numerous websites presenting lists of papers that they claim provide evidence that autism is caused by vaccines (such as “124 research papers supporting the vaccine/autism link“). Conversely, those who support vaccines also have lists of papers which they present as evidence that vaccines do not cause autism (for example, here and here). So which is correct? The internet is full of misinformation on this topic, so I want to cut through that crap and talk about the actual studies themselves rather than simply tossing lists around…

View original post 17,466 more words

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