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Push for Assisted Suicide in Canada, UK Ignores Involuntary Euthanasia

by Alex Schadenberg | Ottawa, Canada | LifeNews.com | 11/29/12 2:15 PM

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In the past year there have been three reports and two court cases concerning the legalization of euthanasia and/or assisted suicide in Canada and the UK. All three reports concluded that euthanasia and/or assisted suicide can be safely legalized and one of the court cases came to the same conclusion.

It has recently been reported that another study on the legalization is being prepared in Australia.

Reports that are written from a one-sided perspective, that intentionally ignore data from Belgium and the Netherlands that prove that legalizing euthanasia will result in vulnerable patient groups losing their lives by euthanasia without request, are not needed because they already exist.

In response to these one-sided reports and the decision by Justice Lynn Smith in the Carter case in BC, I decided to research and compare the most recent peer reviewed studies concerning the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Based on this research, I wrote the book: Exposing Vulnerable People to Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide that is now published and available. Link.

By analysing the data from three studies on the practice of euthanasia in Belgium (Physician-assisted deaths under the euthanasia law in Belgium: a population-based survey – CMAJ June 15, 2010, The role of nurses in physician-assisted deaths in Belgium – CMAJ June 15, 2010, Reporting of euthanasia in medical practice in Flanders Belgium: cross sectional analysis of reported and unreported cases – BMJ November, 2010) and the most recent major study on the practice of euthanasia and assisted suicide in the Netherlands (Trends in end-of-life practices before and after the enactment of the euthanasia law in the Netherlands from 1990 to 2010: a repeated cross-sectional survey – Lancet July 2012) we learn that the practice of euthanasia is often abused and the euthanasia law is often ignored.

These four studies indicate that:
1. 32% of the euthanasia deaths are done without explicit request in the Flanders region of Belgium.
2. We learn that nurses are carrying-out euthanasia deaths in Belgium, even though it is illegal for nurses to do euthanasia.
3. 47% of the euthanasia deaths in the Flanders region of Belgium are not reported and 23% of the euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands are not reported as euthanasia.

A further analysis of these four peer reviewed studies indicates that:
1. When a physician reports a euthanasia death, as euthanasia, the physician usually follows the rules that are outlined by the law.

2. When a physician does not report a euthanasia death, as euthanasia, the physician usually does not follow the rules that are outlined by the law.

3. The reasons for not reporting a euthanasia death, as euthanasia, include the following: to avoid the administrative burden, the legal due requirements were not met or to avoid possible legal consequences. Often the physician never intended to report the death as euthanasia.

4. When a euthanasia death is not reported in Belgium, or done without explicit request the patient is more likely to be over the age of 80, die in a hospital, and is often incompetent to consent to the act. The same demographic is also over represented when a euthanasia death is done by a nurse in Belgium. Euthanasia deaths that are done without explicit request, that are unreported, or that are done by nurses fit the same demographic group. This demographic group “fits the description of a ‘vulnerable’ patient group” who have died by euthanasia without request.

5. Euthanasia deaths that are done by nurses in Belgium are not legal but occur. These deaths are usually done by order of a physician, but sometimes they are done without consulting a physician. These deaths are usually done by intentional opioid overdose, even though sometimes they are done by neuromuscular relaxants. Nurses who had previously been involved with a euthanasia death and male nurses were far more likely to carry-out euthanasia in Belgium.

One-sided reports on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In November 2011, the Royal Society of Canada published its one-sided End-of-Life Decision Making panel report stating that euthanasia and assisted suicide can be safely legalized and based on evidence from jurisdictions where “assisted death” has been legalized, there is no fear of a “slippery slope.” From its inception, the End-of-Life Decision Making panel was stacked with pro-euthanasia activists.

In January 2012, the Commission on Assisted Dying in the UK published its one-sided report calling for the legalization of assisted suicide in the UK. Also known as the Falconer Commission report, it was funded by euthanasia activist Terry Pratchett and the assisted suicide lobby in the UK and chaired by Lord Falconer, a long-time promoter of legalizing assisted suicide.

In March 2012, the Quebec government Dying with Dignity report recommended the legalization of euthanasia in Quebec. The report stated that Quebec could safely legalize euthanasia as a medical act in a similar manner to the Belgium euthanasia law. From the outset, members of the committee advocated for Belgium style euthanasia.

In June 2012, Justice Lynn Smith decided in the Carter case in British Columbia to strike down Canada’s assisted suicide law and to order parliament to legalize euthanasia. Smith stated that “assisted death” could be safely legalized in Canada and that there are no signs of a “slippery slope” in jurisdictions where it is legal.

In August 2012, a three judge High Court panel in the UK found in the Nicklinson/Martin case that the court had no authority to overturn the UK laws preventing euthanasia and assisted suicide. The UK High Court found that only parliament could change the law.

The reports that were published by the Royal Society of Canada, the Commission on Dying in the UK and the Quebec Dying with Dignity report are one-sided reports that appear to have ignored the data from Belgium and the Netherlands that prove that vulnerable patient groups are dying by euthanasia without request and that doctors are abusing the law and covering it up by not reporting the death as euthanasia.

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The decision by Justice Smith in the Carter case was heavily based on the Royal Society of Canada report and needs to be overturned for its lack of objectivity.

Order the book – Exposing Vulnerable People to Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide and learn about what is happening in Belgium and the Netherlands where euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal, learn what the one-sided reports missed, and learn why euthanasia and assisted suicide is simply not safe.

LifeNews.com Note: Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and you can read his blog here.