Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Study: 93% of Belgian neonatal doctors support euthanasia of newborns with disabilities.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Recently there has been an awakening concerning the eugenic attitudes of past leaders. Many leaders in the past believed that the lives of people with disabilities had less value

Today's society thinks that it is more enlightened and more supportive of people with disabilities. The study I am writing about today indicates that eugenic attitudes towards newborns with disabilities not only continues but is disguised as compassion.

The study titled: Healthcare professionals' attitudes towards termination of pregnancy at viable stage primarily concerns late-term abortion. This article concerns the response to the question on euthanasia of neonatal infants.

In 2018, a questionnaire was sent to 117 Neonatal Intensive Care medical professionals in the Flanders region of Belgium with 92 responses. The respondents to the questionnaire were provided anonymity.

One of the questions concerned (euthanasia) lethally injecting newborns with disabilities. The study found that:
Of all healthcare professionals, 89.1% (93.6% of physicians) agree that in the event of a serious (non-lethal) neonatal condition, administering drugs with the explicit intention to end neonatal life is acceptable. About the same proportion (87.9%) agrees that Belgian law should be changed to make this possible.
It is concerning that nearly every Belgian medical professional who works with a neonatal intensive care unit supports euthanasia of newborns with disabilities. The respondents also agreed that Belgian law should allow euthanasia of newborns when in fact it was technically legalized in 2014.
Eugenic attitudes towards people with disabilities is not limited to newborns with disabilities.

Catalina Devandas
Catalina Devandas who is the first Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities for the UN Human Rights Council published a statement, in March 2020, concerning her report the New Eugenics and ableism in medical practise.

Devandas expressed her concerns on the impact of euthanasia for persons with disabilities. She stated:

"If assisted dying is made available for persons with health conditions or impairments, but who are not terminally ill, a social assumption could be made that it is better to be dead than to live with a disability," the expert warned. 
"People have the right to live and to die with dignity, but we cannot accept that people choose to end their lives because of social stigma, isolation or lack of access to personal assistance or disability-related services." 
Devandas was also concerned about medical developments that she referred to as the new eugenics. Devandas stated:

The UN expert explained that developments in gene therapy, genetic engineering and prenatal screening experienced enormous growth, increasing our power to repair the body and prevent disease, but cautioned about "eliminating" human characteristics deemed undesirable.

"People with disabilities are genuinely concerned that these developments could result in new eugenic practices and further undermine social acceptance and solidarity towards disability - and more broadly, towards human diversity," she said.
The euthanasia lobby declares that they support "voluntary" euthanasia, but when a newborn is lethally injected clearly it is a case of involuntary euthanasia. 

Eugenics and euthanasia go hand in hand. The average person who supports euthanasia does not base their support on eugenic attitudes, but the euthanasia lobby has exploited fear of suffering to expand the scope of killing.


Village Girl said...

I think all disabled people, their parents, family and are-givers in New Zealand are afraid that this type of legislation will prevail. Does anyone have the right to say that a person with a disability would be better off dead. I have taught disabled teenagers and I am sure they would not agree. For most disabled people suffering is caused by society's treatment of them more so than their disability. They are discriminated against for being different and even seen as threat to others safety assuming that disabled people are violent.
Weneed these people in society. Only three days ago I was helped at the petrol station by a young man slightly intellectually impaired. He checked my car's oil and water and washed my front windscreens and back window. When I returned to my car from paying for petrol, he apologised that he had not quite finished washing the side windows on the passenger side. He had done the driver's side. I was very touched. Often you don't even get your windscreen washed. How kind was this and done so beautifully. The disabled people have a lot to teach us. They bring joy to our lives.

Karen Dwyer said...

As always, Alex, an excellent article. And sadly, as all too often, exposing extremely concerning attitudes among those who allegedly promised "first, do no harm".

Paul Anderson said...

Belgium, sadly, provides the world with a vivid example of the reality of the slippery slope in euthanasia. It reflects a broader mentality that gives permission to discrimination against those seen as "less valuable" in general. Belgium has one of the highest suicide rates in Europe. The country's culture must embody some seriously dysfunctional thinking. It is as though Belgium itself wants to die.

Heather H. said...

Village girl makes some valid points. I am a 52 year old disabled woman living in rural Saskatchewan, Canada. I've lived with Cerebral Palsy every day of my life and as I have gotten older, I have lost functional abilities. I was bullied, beaten, mocked, ostracized and told I should have died when I was a child. As an adult, I've faced bullying and discrimination in the workplace by those who did not want a disabled colleague and sought to sabatoge. I had to prove that I could physically do my job every single day of the 22 years that I worked in healthcare (Community Services and Outpatient clinics in hospital).

My personal life is equally a struggle. When I go out shopping in stores, people avoid me, look through me, talk to my husband about me (while I sit there in my wheelchair) and then look uncomfortable when I answer the question addressed to my husband. Parents still stop their children from approaching or asking questions. How are they to learn? The ignorance I faced as a child remains 52 years later. It is very discouraging.

Covid has further isolated me. I am limited to where I can go, due to a lack of accessible sidewalks, entrances and exits, washrooms, etc. I have literally been in my house since March 15/20 and only left to go to the medical clinic and the hospital after calling ahead and obtaining "permission" to go. No one visits and no one calls. I may as well be in a facility and would be without my husband's help.

I'm extremely concerned, having spent long periods in hospitals last year, that one day a medical doctor may determine that I have no quality of life and impose euthanasia against my will. As limited as my life is now, it is still my life and I should have access to the same kind of compassion and care that everyone else does, but I simply do not. I am treated like an imposition, a burden, a waste of space and a drain on our medical system. At times I feel less than human and worse, utterly invisible.