Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bad news for anti-euthanasia campaigners

One can understand why anti-euthanasia campaigners get ever more desperate in their campaign strategies. After all, they can't be entirely honest with us any longer about their true motives, namely their religious convictions that just are not shared by most of us. So they have resorted to go on and on and on about the dangers of sliding down a slippery slope from voluntary to non-voluntary euthanasia, endless warnings about abuses of all kinds, stuff like that. They even publish agitprop papers in scientific outlets. An example as good as any is an article by Ottawa palliative care specialist Jose Pereira in Current Oncology that consist to a large extent of empirically false claims 'supported' by references that do not sustain his claims. As far as stooping low is concerned, anti-euthanasia campaigners do not seem to know what shame is all about, they certainly seem to have none. Remarkably the online outlet that chose to publish Mr Pereira's agitprop piece has so far refused to publish what would be a very long list of corrections to Pereira's error ridden article. The interested public, coming across Pereira's piece in medical databases, is still downloading his stuff without being notified about the long list of errors the article contains, even though the editors of the online publication are very much aware of these mistakes. I do wonder why basic principles of editorial professionalism seem to be of no concern to them. For what it's worth, in my considered view as an experienced editor of a large international bioethics journal, Pereira's piece should have been retracted a long long time ago. I encourage you to read his article as well as the second piece I link to above (by Jocelyn Downie and colleagues - they're showing how error-ridden this article really is).

One of the biggest current claims by anti-choice campaigners is that vulnerable elderly are at grave risk of being abused, should voluntary euthanasia ever come about. The thing is, of course, there is exactly zero evidence that  the decriminalisation of assisted dying has resulted in abuse of anyone, including vulnerable elderly. Today the New York Times has a remarkable line on this particular matter. It writes about a medical doctor, 67 year old Dr Wesley, a patient suffering from ALS, a disease that in effect lays waste to our muscles while leaving our mind intact, as the New York Times so aptly describes. The article notes, 'Dr. Wesley is emblematic of those who have taken advantage of the law. They are overwhelmingly white, well educated and financially comfortable. And they are making the choice not because they are in pain but because they want to have the same control over their deaths that they have had over their lives.' None of this is any news to pro-choice campaigners, but this kind of information doesn't suits the anti-choice crowd's scare campaigns, so you will undoubtedly hear more about vulnerable elderly and abuse and horror etc etc. All this in the service of subjugating secular societies' citizens to religious dictates as to how our lives must end. 


  1. Dr. Els Borst (former Health Minister and deputy P.M. of the Netherlands, and responsible for steering the euthanasia law through the Dutch parliament) stated in 2010 that the law had led to a decline in the quality of care for terminally ill patients, noting that the Netherlands Hospice Service is very poor.
    In Oregon there have been a number of well reported cases where the Oregon Health Plan, and other insurance bodies, have refused to pay for treatment for seriously ill persons, but have offered to pay for drugs to assist their suicide. And, as in the Netherlands, hospice and palliative care in Oregon is very poor.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to write.

    have used anti-choice activist Jose Pereira's article to show that the anti-choice lobby does not hesitate to make facts up on the run or to misrepresent facts as long as it suits their ideological agenda. I hope you don't mind me saying that your comment is a non-starter for no other reason then that your claims are not referenced. It did not take me long to realise that you undertook a copy-paste job of bits and pieces from anti-choice websites.

    Your first paragraphs is pretty much verbatim to be found on many 'pro-life' websites. The only supporting reference I managed to find on one of those sites is the following 'reference': ' Dr Anne-Marie The: “Redeemer Under God”.' - I kid you not. Now, even if the claim about the alleged statement by the former dutch health minister was bona fide (I have no way of telling, you did not provide any credible reference), evidence it constitutes not. If you wanted to demonstrate that there is an inextricable link between the introduction of assisted death the a deterioration of palliative care services you'd need more than a quote from a politician (much as you might agree with the quote).

    I didn't even bother checking the origin of the second paragraph, but I suspect it's another copy paste job. Again, you provide no evidence for your claim, no reference, nothing. Even if it was true, it is entirely unclear what the willingness or unwillingness of insurers in Oregon to pay for particular kinds of medical care has to do with Oregon's decriminalisation of assisted dying.

    I am always surprised that you anti-choice campaigners can't seem to understand a basic logic point: X happening in jurisdiction A after it decriminalises B is not evidence that B is the cause of X. It's trivial, but clearly it is something you can't get your heads around.

  3. Quote from an anti-euthanasia novel (in Russian): "You did kill because you were too intelligent"

  4. Hmm, right, thanks for sharing this tremendously insightful statement. Reminds me a bit of the Texan Republic Party, whose objective is to kill critical thinking courses in educational curricula. You know that your side won the argument when all the other side has left is to lie about facts of the matter and attack your capacity to think coherently about the issues at hand.

  5. (the anonymous above is me)

    The other side is not much better, as shown by Schiavo case.

    About "critical thinking courses in educational curricula", I am sceptic.
    Most probably they are politically biased if aren't entirely promoition of partuicular ideology.
    Also, public education is mostly a profanation of anything, and "critical thinking" is a subject among the most prone to such profanation.

  6. Edgar DahlAugust 19, 2012

    Everyone in Oregon - proponents as well as opponents of physician-assisted suicide agree that since the enactment of the Death With Dignity Act palliative care has vastly improved. (Just have a look at Linda Ganzini's papers.)

  7. I may be able to shed some light on the above comment re Oregon (at least as far as the origin of the claim).

    One of the supplementary segments on the DVD of "How to Die in Oregon" depicts a cancer patient who is sent a letter by the state health plan informing him that he is being denied treatment as it would be of no benefit (his cancer was too advanced), and offering him the alternatives of palliative care and/or euthanasia. He reacted negatively and IIRC went public with the letter. The state insurance reversed the decision and gave him treatment. He died anyways, as predicted.

    The spin given this by Gwenfrewi (ie. the source she is cribbing from) is disingenuous -- cancer treatment, like any expensive medical resource, must be subject to triage, and inevitably some patients will be judged to be beyond reasonable hope. This is the case whether or not euthanasia is a legal alternative. The way the unlucky patients are informed of their remaining choices might arguably be handled more delicately, but it remains the case that they should know the options available.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

COVID19 and the ethics of hospital triage decision-making

There is a lot of talk these days about the predicted coming wave of COVID19 patients needing ICU beds and ventilators in particular, and th...