Submitted by Veronica Coffin
Written by SARAH ZAGORSKI
In Belgium, a new report reveals that thousands of patients are being killed against their will under the country’s euthanasia law. According to the Daily Mail, the study found that around one in every 60 patient deaths involved someone who didn’t want to die and half of the patients were over the age of 80. Additionally, two-thirds of those who died were not suffering from a terminal disease.
The study was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, and shockingly, reported that doctors didn’t inform the patient’s family because they believed medical staff should make the decision.
The author of the study, Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor of Hull University, said, “The decision as to which life is no longer worth living is not in the hands of the patient but in the hands of the doctor. It should also be noted that deliberately ending the lives of patients without their request is taking place in Belgium more than in all other countries that document such practices, including the Netherlands. It is worrying that some physicians take upon themselves the responsibility to deliberately shorten patients’ lives without a clear indication from the patients that this is what they would want.”
He added, “The Belgian population should be aware of the present situation and know that if their lives may come to the point where physicians think they are not worth living, in the absence of specific living wills advising physicians what to do then, they might be put to death.”
As LifeNews previously reported, Belgium’s 2002-euthanasia law has led to the death of countless elderly patients and most recently, to the death of sickly children. In 2014, the Belgian Parliament voted to extend euthanasia to children with disabilities and terminal illnesses. Alex Schadenberg from the Euthanasia Prevention Coaction said the following about their unethical law: “The Belgian Socialist government is adamant that the euthanasia law needs to extend to minors and people with dementia even though there are significant examples of how the current law is being abused and the bracket creep of acceptable reasons for euthanasia continues to grow. The current practice of euthanasia in Belgium appears to have become an easy way to cover-up medical errors.”
He added, “Regardless of disability, life should be valued. To pass legislation that allows termination of life for people with disabilities who are minors is unacceptable. Instead we must make every effort to use the research provided to us to provide attentive care to relieve their physical suffering in a moral way.”
Professor Cohen-Almagor also said that these findings should encourage the medical profession to address this issue. He said, “Given that ending patients’ lives without request is more common than euthanasia, it is suggested to urge the Belgian medical profession to put this issue high on its agenda.”
The study was published after Rob Marris, Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West, announced that in September he will introduce a Private Member’s Bill into the House of Commons to legalize assisted suicide.
There have been a series of attempts in the courts and in Parliament to overthrow the assisted suicide laws which in Britain mean anyone who helps someone else to die faces a maximum 14 years in jail. Former Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer, now a Labour MP, brought in prosecutions rules which mean no-one is likely to be charged with assisting a suicide unless they acted out of greed or malice, and Tony Blair’s former Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer introduced an assisted suicide bill into the Lords. This would have allowed two doctors to kill a terminally ill patient who asked to die.
Supreme Court judges have held back from legalizing assisted suicide but their rulings have piled pressure on Parliament to consider a new law. Opponents of assisted suicide said that the Belgian use of euthanasia showed that an assisted suicide law would be a slippery slope towards medical killing.
Lord Carlile of Berriew, the Liberal Democrat peer who sat on the parliamentary committee that advised against the legalization of euthanasia in the UK a decade ago, said: ‘I am horrified by it. ‘What it demonstrates, if the facts underlying it are correct, is that in Belgium, and elsewhere, so-called euthanasia is being carried out without controls and it underlines why I am opposed to the Bill which Rob Marris is going to put to the House of Commons,’ he said. ‘The safeguards which are being provided under his Bill are completely inadequate.’
Fiona Bruce, Tory MP for Congleton and the chairman of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, said: ‘The situation in Belgium is a stark warning that in this country we should not go down the road of legalizing assisted suicide. ‘Where does that road end? Whatever safeguards those proposing this suggest can never be enough to protect our frail, elderly, vulnerable or disabled from the risk of feeling an unwanted burden or, worse still, from abuse.
‘Doctors enter the medical profession to be protectors not destroyers of life. This Bill could utterly change the doctor-patient relationship, with vulnerable patients living in fear of a lethal injection from their doctor.’