Monthly Archives

May 2014

Belgian euthanasia deaths increase by 26.8% in 2013

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Alex Schadenberg blog 29 May 2014
The Belgian euthanasia reports indicate that the number of reported euthanasia deaths continue to grow at a faster rate. In Belgium, there were 1133 reported euthanasia deaths in 2011 and 954 reported euthanasia deaths in 2010.

At the same time Belgium has recently extended euthanasia to children. The child euthanasia bill was passed after protests against the bill were held in Brussels and 160 Belgian Paediatricians denounced the child euthanasia bill.
Studies concerning the Belgian euthanasia law that were published in 2010, from the Flanders region of Belgium found that: 32% of all assisted deaths were done without request, 47% of all assisted deaths went unreported, nurses were euthanizing patients even though the Belgian euthanasia law prohibits nurses from doing euthanasia. There has never been an attempted prosecution for abuses of the Belgian euthanasia law.In Canada, the Québec government should be very concerned about the practice of euthanasia in Belgium since they have basedeuthanasia Bill 52 on the Belgian euthanasia law.

In January, the Belgian media reported that a euthanasia doctor admitted to not reporting his euthanasia deaths. The article confirms that many euthanasia deaths in Belgium are not reported and the actual number of euthanasia deaths is much higher than 1816.
http://blog.noeuthanasia.org.au/2014/05/belgian-euthanasia-deaths-increase-by.html?m=1

Swiss – assisted dying for elderly who are not terminally ill

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The Guardian 26 May 2014
A Swiss organisation that helps people take their own lives has voted to extend its services to elderly people who are not terminally ill.
Exit added “suicide due to old age” to their statutes at an annual general meeting held over the weekend, allowing people suffering from psychological or physical problems associated with old age the choice to end their life.
Assisted dying is legal in Switzerland and technically even a healthy young person could use such services. However, organisations involved in this work set their own internal requirements, which differ from group to group.
The move has been criticised by the Swiss Medical Association amid fears it will encourage suicide among the elderly. “We do not support the change of statutes by Exit. It gives us cause for concern because it cannot be ruled out that elderly healthy people could come under pressure of taking their own life,” said the association’s president, Dr Jürg Schlup.
But Exit said that most people who would choose this option were already members of the organisation and had been looking into assisted dying for years.
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/may/26/swiss-exit-assisted-suicide-elderly-not-terminally-ill

Euthanasia Report Warns of Elder Abuse & Coercion

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Media Release 12 May 2014
A report on the history of the euthanasia debate in New Zealand and an examination of the law and the research evidence overseas warns of the potential for even greater levels of elder abuse if euthanasia were to be decriminalised in NZ.
The Report “Killing Me Softly – Should Euthanasia Be Legalised?” by Professor Rex Ahdar of Otago University says that safeguards can only go so far, that coercion is subtle, and that patients will ask themselves why they are not availing themselves of it. He warns that the potential for abuse and flouting of procedural safeguards is also a strong argument against legalisation.
The report was commissioned by family group Family First NZ in response to another promised attempt to change the law by Labour MP Maryan Street after the upcoming general election.
The report warns that in practice, safeguards can only go so far, and that coercion is subtle. The everyday reality is that terminally ill persons and those afflicted with non-terminal but irreversible and unbearable physical or mental conditions are vulnerable to self-imposed pressure. They will come to feel euthanasia would be “the right thing to do”, they have “had a good innings”, and they do not want to be a “burden” to their nearest and dearest. Simply offering the possibility of euthanasia or doctor-assisted suicide shifts the burden of proof, so that patients must ask themselves why they are not availing themselves of it.
A recent study found that 32 percent of all assisted deaths in the Flemish region of Belgium were done without the patient’s explicit request. The requirement to report euthanasia has not been fully complied with in nations that have legalised euthanasia either.
There is some empirical evidence too from these same nations that the availability and application of euthanasia expands to situations initially ruled out as beyond the pale. For example, euthanasia has been extended to enable minors to avail themselves of it with parental consent in the Netherlands and, most recently, Belgium. Labour MP Maryan Street has been reported as saying “Application for children with terminal illness was a bridge too far in my view at this time. That might be something that may happen in the future, but not now.”
The report also notes that the majority of the medical profession and national medical associations around the world have been resolutely against the introduction of voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide, amidst real concerns that the role of the doctor would be irrevocably changed from healer to, at times, killer; from caring professional who saves lives to one who takes them. Inevitably, patient trust would be eroded.
The report concludes that any decriminalisation of euthanasia will introduce the era of “therapeutic killing”.
ENDS