A 2010 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that a staggering 32% of deaths by euthanasia had no specific request from the person being euthanased. The study surveyed physicians in Flanders, Belgium and was conducted under strict anonymity.
Euthanasia Killings Without Request
Amongst the cases of involuntary euthanasia the majority of the patients were 80 years or older, did not have cancer, and were killed while at hospital.
Shockingly, in 22% of these involuntary euthanasia cases the physician had discussed the issue with the patient, who did not give consent to euthanasia but was euthanased by the physician anyway.
In 70% of cases where the patient was not consulted prior, he or she was comatose. In 21% of these cases the person had dementia, in 17% the physician felt it was ‘in [the] patient’s best interests’ and in 8% ‘discussion would have been harmful to [the] patient’
Who’s the Judge on Quality of Life?
There are as many definitions of what ‘quality of life’ means as there are people on this planet. If some doctors take matters into their own hands when a patient’s living conditions do not meet their personal standards of ‘quality of life’, that is a very scary prospect. Many doctors themselves would no doubt be uneasy if their profession acquires a reputation of killing patients instead of caring for them.
What legal euthanasia inevitably facilitates is not simply a means for individuals in difficult circumstances to choose their time of departure, rather a means for some physicians to choose to terminate the lives of patients whose conditions they find too difficult to medically treat.
The evidence from Belgium and the Netherlands is damning and there is no reason why any euthanasia bill in New Zealand would better protect vulnerable New Zealanders. So much for ‘end of life choice’.
You can read the full study here.