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in my considered view as an experienced editor of a large international bioethics journal, Pereira's piece should have been retracted a long long time ago.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.