UK – Human Rights Experts alarmed at growing trend seeking euthanasia for the disabled
United Nations Human Rights experts expressed alarm at a growing trend to legalise euthanasia based largely on having a disability or disabling conditions, including in old age. They said that Disability should never be a ground or justification to end someone’s life directly or indirectly. This, the experts said, that normalizing euthanasia for the people who are not terminally ill or suffering at the end of their lives would give rise to discriminative assumptions about the inherent “quality of life” or “worth” of the life of a person with a disability. Such assumptions are grounded in ableism and associated stereotypes. Disability is not a burden or a deficit of the person. It is a universal aspect of the human condition. Article, UN Statement.
Belgium – New study finds euthanasia ethically broken in Belgium
A new study in The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy has argued that Belgian euthanasia is ethically broken, both administratively and legally. The study draws on thoroughly researched academic research over the past 20 years and the reports of the control commission itself. The authors three main assertions are; the scope of the Euthanasia Law
That has stretched from being used for serious and incurable illnesses to cover tiredness of life. Tiredness of life is not supported by Belgian law but doctors circumvent the law by diagnosing “polypathology”– a jumble of ailments which nearly every elderly person has. This represented 19.4% of all reported euthanasia cases in 2019 and a “staggering” 47% of all reported nonterminal cases.
“Second, the obligatory consultation of one or two independent physicians may fail to provide a real safeguard. Their tasks are quite limited, and, more importantly, their advice is not binding anyway. The final authority to perform euthanasia lies with the attending physician who can perform it even against the (negative) advice of the consulted physicians.” For example: If euthanasia is requested for a psychiatric condition, a psychiatrist should be consulted. However, if the patient has another condition, it can be redefined as “polypathology” and a GP can approve it, eliminating the need for a psychiatric consultation.
Third, “The Commission is unable to check the fulfilment of various legal criteria, and it has substantial authority to (re) interpret the Euthanasia Law as it sees fit.” In fact, “the Commission does not seem to act as a filter between physicians who perform euthanasia and the Public Prosecutor, but instead as a shield that prevents potentially problematic cases from being referred.”
Conflict of interest is baked into the composition of the 16-member evaluation committee. Eight of them must be doctors and many of them, including the chairman, Wim Distelmans, perform euthanasia regularly. So they end up checking each other’s files for irregularities. They are supposed to recuse themselves if one of their own cases comes up – but they don’t. The Commission’s track record illustrates its ineffectiveness. In 18 years of legalisation, only one case was referred to the Public Prosecutor and it was so obviously in breach of the law that referral was needed to keep up appearances. Article, study.