Monday, June 8, 2015

Euthanasia in Belgium: A subtle but real form of coercion

This article was published on the Vivre dans la Dignitè (Living with Dignity) website.

A recent visit to a nursing home in Belgium reveals that residents are bombarded with the idea that euthanasia is a good choice. It was the "fortnight on 'end of life'". An admittedly important subject, but which must be discussed in a balanced way. Here, at the opening of the event, a video was presented, biased in favour of euthanasia. The rest of the program isn't objective either.

Under the pretense of informing residents, they plant the idea that euthanasia is a good solution. But nowhere is a balanced view presented in the program: they do not speak of options for life; they only speak of the choice of death.

First week's schedule posted
in the lobby of the residence.
We were told that most residents feel quite lonely. They no longer have friends. Their family does not come to visit them, or rarely. Even friendships formed at the rest home go out when friendslose their mobility or die. The sense of isolation is very strong for a majority of the residents of such nursing homes.

The schedule of this "fortnight on end of life" is displayed at the entrance of the residence, and also in the elevator and on each floor. This is part of the social activities of the residence. Not having very much to do, residents attend almost all of these social activities. The term "captive audience" comes to mind.

It is a form of subtle and very effective coercion. Nobody forces the individual to make that "choice." It's not like they twisted their arm, or that they held a gun to their head. No, nothing as obvious.

Yet, requests for euthanasia follow one another.

  • The "Early declaration" document is about euthanasia. See the official document in French.
  • The screening of the movie "Amour", in which an elderly man uses a pillow to smother his wife who has aphasia (and perhaps dementia), after refusing the assistance that had been offered to him. More uplifting movies should be offered, especially to elderly people who may be at the end of their life.
  • This propaganda comes from the Association pour le Droit de Mourir dans la Dignité (Association for the right to die with dignity), a Belgian association that was incidental in the legalisation of euthanasia in Belgium (including for children). Half of the members of the euthanasia surveillance commission in Belgium belong to ADMD. We should expect elderly people in Québec will be facing similar propaganda in the coming years.
The program displayed
in the elevator.

Monday, June 1: Opening of the fortnight on "End of Life"

Introductory remarks
Videotape "Living with euthanasia" of the ADMD

Tuesday, June 2: Presentation of "Advance directives"

Wednesday, June 3: Speech on "The place of the family at the end of life"

Thursday, June 4: Conference on "end of life" presented by ADMD

Friday, June 5: Philo Workshop "What is a good death? "

Saturday, June 6: Movie "Stepmom"

Sunday, June 7: Presentation of the document "Early Declaration"

Monday, June 8: "The importance of aesthetics at the end of life"

Tuesday, June 9: Conference on "pain"

Wednesday, June 10: Presentation on "The end of life of the elderly"

Thursday, June 11: "The institutions Residents of Rights"

Friday, June 12: Roundtable discussion on the fortnight

Saturday, June 13: Movie "Amour"

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