One-sided reports in Canada and the UK ignore data concerning euthanasia in Belgium and the Netherlands

By Alex Schadenberg, executive director,
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Editor’s note. The following is excerpted from a post that appeared at http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2012/11/one-sided-reports-in-canada-and-uk.html

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 [British Columbia], 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.

By analyzing 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. …

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; 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.

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.