Belliague writes in The Guardian (18 Jan 2019) regarding the social impacts in the Netherlands since the legalisation of euthanasia 20 years ago. The Netherlands has discovered that although legalising euthanasia might resolve one ethical conundrum, it opens a can of others – most importantly, where the limits of the practice should be drawn.
A translated article written by Dr Boudewijn Chabot who supports euthanasia, and indeed is credited for its introduction in the Netherlands during a landmark trial for ending the life a (consenting) healthy 50 year old social worker. Dr Chabot comments “Silently, the foundation of the law is being eroded.” There is no reason to believe that the same thing will not happen in Western Australia.
Often touted as an example of a stable assisted suicide law, the Senate in Oregon is currently debating SB893 which would permit the legal expansion of assisted suicide to euthanasia. Currently, a terminally ill patient can end their life only by their own hand. However, if SB893 became law, some one else would be allowed to directly end that patient’s life.
The Dutch regional euthanasia review committees are not concerned whether patients should have (or have not) received their euthanasia / assisted suicide treatment. Instead, these committees worry more about how well the doctors deliver these treatments … and from this report, there is a worrying level of “unprofessional or overconfident physician behaviours” ranging from improper medication administration or inadequate consultation.
According to official records, around 7,000 people were euthanised by doctors in 2017. This is an increase from 4,188 five years ago. To date, there has yet to be a single prosecution of a doctor involved. In addition, there are concerns that euthanasia / assisted suicide is becoming normalised.
Oxford Professor David Albert Jones warns that legalising euthanasia has created a ‘new normal’ in Belgium: “Death by euthanasia in Belgium is, generally, no longer regarded as an exception requiring special justification. Instead, it is often regarded as a normal death and a benefit not to be restricted without special justification.”
On average, five people per day were killed by euthanasia in Belgium in 2014. No wonder the New Zealand Parliamentary Inquiry could not recommend similar laws in that country.
The US State of Oregon has a ‘death with dignity’ law that is held up as a model for similar legislation around the world. But all is not as it seems. This article lists ten disturbing facts about the Oregon model that should sound alarm bells in Western Australia.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby explains why he opposed a British assisted dying bill in 2015.
Prof Theo Boer says that “In the beginning, 98% of cases were terminally ill patients with perhaps days to live. That’s now down to 70%.” Prof Boer had supported the 2002 legislation but he now believes the scope of euthanasia has become too wide and death has become too professionalised.
Theo Boer is a Dutch medical ethicist who has changed his mind on euthanasia. This is an article he wrote for the UK’s Daily Mail warning the House of Lords not to pass an “assisted dying” bill.