Thursday, May 7, 2020

Assisted suicide lobby promotes no treatment during Covid-19 crisis.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Spectator published an excellent article, on May 6, by Michael Wee, the education and research officer at the Anscombe Bioethics Centre. The article concerns the push by the assisted suicide lobby for people, with certain medical conditions, to agree to refuse all medical treatment. Wee writes:
... alarm bells should be ringing that an organisation called ‘Compassion in Dying’ has been offering advice on how to make advance decisions. (The clue’s in the name: it was founded by its more well-known sister organisation, Dignity in Dying, which campaigns for the legalisation of assisted suicide.)

Back in 2014, concerns were raised by disability campaigners when Compassion in Dying received £1 million in lottery funding for an outreach project on advance decisions. Compassion in Dying later reported that its approach would ‘save money in the long-term’ by ensuring people did not get unwanted treatment.

More recently, the organisation has rolled out a special coronavirus page on refusing treatment, with a format almost identical to the information pages on driving licences or tax returns. This seems highly unusual for a registered charity, and potentially misleading.
The danger with this approach is that it is misleading and during the Covid-19 crisis it results in the denial of life-saving treatment, based on discriminatory assumptions, when the treatment is beneficial. Wee states:
Follow the coronavirus page and it leads you to its bespoke advance decision pack, where the template form directs a person to consider refusing all life-sustaining treatment in the event of whichever condition one chooses to include. First on the list is 'any type of dementia'.

The message is clear: people are asked to judge whether life with a certain condition or disability is worth living. Coronavirus, Parkinson’s, or stroke – the question is the same, regardless of one’s chances of survival. This cannot be less egregious than the actions of those two unfortunate GP surgeries. It is almost assisted suicide by the backdoor.
The philosophy of the assisted suicide lobby negatively affects people with disabilities and people with other vulnerable conditions. Wee explains:
Paralympic gold medallist Baroness Grey-Thompson once wrote that legalising assisted suicide would ‘exacerbate the assumption that because there may [be] some things I cannot do, everything must be negative’. Such an attitude can easily go on to influence vulnerable people.

Promoting blanket refusals of treatment has the same, pernicious effect of promoting a blanket dismissal of life with disability. And no one should be using the coronavirus crisis to encourage such thinking.
Purchase the Life-Protecting Power of Attorney for Personal Care from Euthanasia Prevention Coalition to protect your life to assure that you will receive beneficial treatment or care, giving you the power to decide. (Link).

People sign a "no treatment" advanced decisions document out of fear of lingering on excessive life-saving or preserving treatments. A blanket no treatment directive results in a greater concern that you will be denied beneficial treatment and basic care that is not excessive or burdensome. Watch out what you sign.

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