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Psychiatrists in pro-euthanasia Belgium scorned for choosing life for patients

James Risdon James Risdon

BELGIUM, July 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Psychiatrists who dare to go against the new, more liberal interpretation of Belgium’s euthanasia laws are now being derided as inhumane and lacking empathy for those facing unbearable suffering, says a bioethicist.

“The moral climate has changed drastically, in the sense that euthanasia is called by some a ‘fundamental right’ and death a ‘therapeutic solution.’ Euthanasia is sacralized, so to say, and every critique is dismissed as inhumane, thus immoral,” Dr. Willem Lemmens, a professor of modern philosophy and ethics at the University of Antwerp, reportedly said earlier this month.

In Canada, the law legalizing euthanasia for adults who ask for it came into effect two years ago. Under that law, only those at least 18 years old and mentally competent, facing grievous and irremediable medical conditions, and who make an informed decision about their requests for medical assistance in dying are eligible.

These people must also be at a point where their natural death has become reasonably foreseeable, according to Canada’s federal health department.

But Canada is the new kid on the euthanasia block.

When it comes to medical assistance in dying, all eyes usually turn to Belgium because that country now has 16 years of experience in dealing with its euthanasia law.

It’s a social experiment that terrifies many pro-lifers.

“In just a few years, requests for euthanasia in psychiatry became more and more ‘acceptable’ and common in Belgium, despite the fact that one often said — also among pro-euthanasia doctors — that the law was intended for somatic terminal diseases, not mental suffering caused by psychiatric diseases,” Lemmens reportedly said.

A 29-year-old woman who was suffering from depression and other mental illness, but was otherwise perfectly, physically healthy, was killed under the Netherlands euthanasia laws earlier this year. That country’s laws now allow for those struggling with mental illness to ask for and get help to end their lives.

“Psychiatrists and mental health professionals are precisely the kind of persons those who are suicidal might go to for help,” Michael Wee, the education officer at the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, reported said earlier this year. “The shift to suicide assistance, by the very people whose role we customarily think of as being suicide prevention, is one that will therefore interest and, indeed, alarm many.”

According to the national organization Dying With Dignity Canada, more than 1,300 people chose medical assistance in dying during the first year it was legalized in this country.

On its website, the organization urges all Canadians who want access to medical assistance in dying to raise their voices and lobby to force all publicly-funded hospitals, hospices and long-term care homes to provide this legalized form of euthanasia.

“Increasingly, groups who oppose assisted death are mobilizing and lobbying provincial governments to make access as limited as possible,” the Dying with Dignity Canada website reads. “Ontario has even passed a bill that allows public institutions to hide their position on MAID from the communities they serve. If we don't act, then we risk allowing these harmful policies to become permanently entrenched.”

As a bioethicist in the Netherlands, though, Lemmens offers up a different warning – and a call to action for those who value a culture of life.  

According to him, pro-lifers should “raise your voice in a dignified manner and listen to the critical testimonies and voices in Belgium and the Netherlands.”

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