Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The development of palliative care and legalization of euthanasia in Belgium

The British Medical Journal has recently released an analysis by Jan Bernheim and colleagues concerning the: Development of palliative care and legalization of euthanasia in Belgium.

Just because the article is published in the British Medical Journal does not mean that it represents a research study or that it represents a scientifically proven point of view.

The article on the development of palliative care and the legalization of euthanasia in Belgium is the story of how a group of people worked to build the palliative care movement and simultaneously worked to legalize euthanasia in Belgium.

Bernheim states that two of the founders of palliative care in Belgium, Karel Roelants and himself, were also euthanasia activists.

The article attempts to prove that euthanasia and palliative care do not represent opposite medical models and both models can work effectively together.

The real purpose for the article appears to be the story of how certain members of the euthanasia movement in Belgium were able to co-opt the palliative care movement by taking it outside of its natural roots and making it a model for killing rather than care. It may also be a story associated with the pride of these individuals who effectively made palliative care into something it is not.

When palliative care is based on a model of caring for dying persons, affirming their life and their gifted-ness until their natural death, then it leads to a society that cares for its weakest members.

When palliative care is connected to euthanasia or assisted suicide, it stops being a model of care and becomes a medical model that is concerned with ending the lives of individuals using medical means that may provide comfort but are essentially oriented to dying rather than living until a natural death.

This article only proves that certain people effectively transformed the concept/practice of care for the dying into a medical model for effectively killing the dying.

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