According to a recent article published in Current Oncology by Dr. José Pereira, Medical Chief of Palliative Care at Bruyère Continuing Care in Ottawa, so-called safeguards to limit the practice of legalized euthanasia don’t work
Dr. Pereira addresses the safeguards one by one.
1. In the Netherlands, where assisted suicide and euthanasia were made legal in 2001, the law states that individuals must give written consent that they want to die. In spite of this, a 2005 study of deaths by euthanasia in the Netherlands found that almost 500 people are killed annually without their consent. Belgium has the same safeguard, nonetheless, a 2010 study found that in the Flemish part of the country, 32 per cent of euthanasia cases were carried out without request or consent.
2. Another suggested safeguard is mandatory reporting: all cases of euthanasia must be reported to the proper authorities so that they can ensure the other safeguards are being followed. But Dr. Pereira notes that in Belgium, nearly half of all cases aren’t reported. In the Netherlands, at least 20 per cent of all cases aren’t reported.
3. The third safeguard is that assisted suicide or euthanasia be carried out only by doctors. Yet a 2010 study of 120 Belgian nurses found that nurses administered life-ending drugs in 45 per cent of assisted suicide cases. The study also found that this was more likely when the hospital nurse was male and the patient was over 80.
4. The fourth safeguard is a second opinion. But in Oregon, public reports show that a physician tied to a pro-assisted suicide lobby group provided consultations in 58 of 61 cases of assisted suicide in Oregon. Dr. Pereira notes, “in 1998 in the Netherlands, 25 per cent of patients requesting euthanasia received psychiatric consultation; in 2010 none did.”
READ the full summary of the article from the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada