Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Euthanasia in Europe: Sliding down the slippery slope.

Wesley Smith
Bioethicist, Wesley J. Smith recently wrote an article, that was published in the National Review online, concerning the widening practise of euthanasia in some European countries. The article titled: Euthanasia Spreads in Europe in response to the fact that after a recent presentation by Smith, “a self-described “mentally ill” woman took the microphone and strongly declared that she too should have the right to doctor-prescribed death. More than half the audience applauded, validating the woman’s potential suicide.”

Smith then comments on the societal reaction to suicide prevention. He states:
“I am convinced that, at least in part, the assisted-suicide movement has eroded society’s commitment to suicide prevention. It has created an atmosphere where many people now see “dead” as better than “dying” and suicide as a valid remedy for the debilitations caused by serious illness, disability, or being frail, elderly, “tired of life,” or chronically — or even, as I have seen, mentally — ill.”
He then suggests that the trend toward the acceptance of suicide, will lead to the acceptance of assisted suicide and euthanasia. He says”
“once a society embraces doctor prescribed death as an acceptable answer to human suffering or as some kind of fundamental liberty right, there are no brakes. We need only look to European countries that have gone down the Euthanasia Highway to see how society is impacted deleteriously by accepting killing.”
 Smith first looks at the Dutch experiment with euthanasia. He says:
“Dutch doctors have gone from euthanizing the terminally ill to the chronically ill, to people with serious disabilities, to the emotionally and mentally ill (the last approved by the Dutch supreme court when it refused to punish a psychiatrist for assisting the suicide of a woman distraught over the deaths of her two children). Moreover, Dutch doctors murder infants born with serious disabilities or terminal conditions. Such euthanasia killings remain felonious under Dutch law, but the law goes almost wholly unenforced. Indeed, doctors at the Groningen University Hospital were so emboldened by the Dutch acceptance of infanticide that they published “The Groningen Protocol,” a bureaucratic checklist for deciding which babies qualify for euthanasia”
 Smith comments then on the recent suggestions by the Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) which has published a new set of suggested protocols. Those protocols include:
-        Loosening the definition of “unbearable suffering” for euthanasia qualification to include non-medical issues.
-        Social factors such as “loneliness,” strained “financial resources,” and a “loss of social skills.” Would be included.
-        Doctors have been told they may ethically supply “how to commit suicide” instructional materials to their patients who don’t legally qualify for euthanasia.
-        Dissenting doctors do not have a right to refuse participation in euthanasia on the basis of conscience, they must refer.

Smith then looks at the euthanasia experiment in Belgium. He says:
“Matters are even worse in Belgium, which legalized euthanasia in 2002. Where the Dutch slid slowly down the slippery slope over decades, Belgium has leaped off the moral cliff head-first.”
Smith comments on the recent decision to allow organ harvesting/euthanasia. The first known case of organ harvesting/euthanasia was a paralyzed woman who was asked if she could donate her organs after euthanasia. What is not surprising is that a recent study suggests that the quality of the organs retrieved from euthanasia were superior. Smith then states:
“Tying euthanasia to organ donation crosses a very dangerous bridge, giving Belgian society a utilitarian benefit from mercy killing, as it informs despairing, disabled, or mentally ill people that their deaths have greater value than their lives.”
 The article then looks further into Belgium euthanasia. Smith states that Belgium:
-        has allowed couple euthanasia, whereby one partner is terminally ill and the other partner is healthy,
-        A study published in the BMJ showed that 47% of all euthanasia deaths were not reported.
-        Nurses are doing euthanasia in Belgium.

Smith then examines the Swiss assisted suicide model. Smith states:
“suicide entrepreneurs have taken the practice to a whole new level, opening for-pay suicide clinics where people from all over the world come to die — a phenomenon known in the media as “suicide tourism.”
 Switzerland has allowed assisted suicide for:
-        Couple assisted suicide whereby one partner is terminally ill and the other partner is healthy.
-        A young man who was disabled with quadriplegia after a rugby accident.
-        The Swiss court decided that people with mental illness had a right to assisted suicide.

But the euthanasia and assisted suicide experiment in Europe continues to slide down the slippery slope. Let’s not follow the same suicidal path in North America.

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