Supreme Court Decision Relied on Biased Reports
8 February 2015
Euthanasia-Free NZ deplores the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to lift the ban on assisted suicide and euthanasia.
The Supreme Court falsely concluded that “a properly administered regulatory regime is capable of protecting the vulnerable from abuse or error”. Nowhere in the world has that been achieved.
The Court based its conclusion on the reports by the Royal Society of Canada and The Quebec National Assembly’s Select Committee on Dying with Dignity.
Both reports ignored the findings of five peer-reviewed studies on euthanasia and assisted suicide in Belgium and The Netherlands. These studies found that a significant percentage of Belgian and Dutch assisted deaths are not reported, flaunt legal safeguards and are performed without the patient’s consent.
A 2012 Lancet study found that 272 Dutch people were euthanised in 2010 without their consent. In half of cases the doctor made the decision without consulting a colleague and in a quarter of cases the doctor didn’t discuss it with either the patient, the patient’s relatives or a colleague. In 6% of cases with the patient’s consent, only one doctor was involved in the decision. About 23% of assisted deaths were not reported.
Three 2010 studies focused on Flanders, where 82% of Belgian assisted deaths occur:
A 2010 BMJ study concluded that 48% of euthanasia deaths were not reported. Legal requirements were met in only 73% of reported assisted deaths and in only 12% of unreported cases.
A 2010 CMAJ study found that 32% of assisted deaths occurred without the patient’s explicit request. More than 90% of victims were elderly – a vulnerable demographic group that was also confirmed by a 2009 NEJM study.
Another 2010 CMAJ study reported that Belgian nurses administer lethal injections in 12 % of cases, which is illegal, and 45% of these cases were without request.
“The belief that legal assisted suicide and euthanasia can be safe and transparent is based on wishful thinking, not evidence”, says Renée Joubert, Executive Officer of Euthanasia-Free NZ. “It’s appalling that judges of the Supreme Court failed to take such important scientific studies into account.”
Euthanasia-Free NZ is a secular, nationwide, non-profit organisation that opposes the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide in New Zealand because legalisation would endanger society.