Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Our response to Donald Low: Legalizing euthanasia has consequences and is not safe.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

On September 18, 2013, Dr Donald Low, the Canadian Microbiologist who became famous for his response to the SARS crisis in 2003, died from complications related to a brain stem tumour.

Eight days before he died, Low participated in a short video where he spoke about his fears related to dying with the disabling conditions that may result from his disease.

Low spoke about his wish to die by euthanasia or assisted suicide in Canada. He points out that it is simply impossible, in Canada, to die by euthanasia.

Urns found in Lake Geneva.
Low suggests that in countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland, where euthanasia or assisted suicide are legal, that it is easy to have an assisted death. Low said that he can't understand why we don't have euthanasia in Canada.

Maybe Dr Low should have considered that legalizing euthanasia has consequences.

In Switzerland, assisted suicide is essentially "self regulated" by the assisted groups. A few instances of abuse of assisted suicide in Switzerland include: the death of the Italian magistrate who had a wrong diagnosis, the death of a UK man with dementia, the founder of the Dignitas clinic has been accused of improprieties while becoming very wealthy from assisted suicide.

In the Netherlands, euthanasia has grown out-of-control. Euthanasia in the Netherlands has expanded to include euthanasia of disabled children, through the Groningen Protocol, euthanasia for people who are incompetent or lonely and mobile euthanasia teams for people who were refused euthanasia by their doctor. Studies have found that 23% of the euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands are not reported.

There is significant research indicating that the euthanasia law in Belgium is abused. A study published in the CMAJ June 2010 found that 32% of euthanasia deaths in the Flemish region of Belgium are done without explicit request. A study that was published in the BMJ Oct 2010 found that 47.2% of euthanasia deaths in the Flemish region of Belgium were not reported. A study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management – November 2011 found that requests for euthanasia in Belgium are rarely refused which explains the case of the depressed Belgian woman who died by euthanasia.

The book - Exposing Vulnerable People to Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, which is based on research from the Netherlands and Belgium concludes that when a doctor reports a euthanasia death, usually the rules of the euthanasia law are followed, but when a doctor does not report a euthanasia death it is usually because the doctor did not follow the rules of the euthanasia law.

Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide has consequences and is not safe.

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1 comment:

Madellen said...

Dr. Low demonstrates that so called 'choice' is motivated by fear and a sense of despair. This is not death in peace and dignity.

Margie deMello MSW
British Columbia