Dutch professor now opposes euthanasia: ‘I was terribly wrong, in fact.’
The Daily Mail UK is reporting that a former euthanasia supporter, Professor Theo Boer, has told the House of Lords in the UK not to make the same mistake as the Netherlands.
Next week, the British House of Lords will debate the Falconer assisted suicide bill. Lord Falconer is a long-time supporter of assisted suicide who is also known for writing a one-sided report calling for the legalization of assisted death in Britain.
The Daily Mail reported Dr Boer to have told the House of Lords:
‘Don’t do it Britain.’
‘Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely ever to go back in again.’
According to the Daily Mail report, Dr Boer, who is an academic in the field of ethics, had argued seven years ago that a ‘good euthanasia law’ would produce relatively low numbers of deaths. But, speaking in a personal capacity he said that
he now believed that the very existence of a euthanasia law turns assisted suicide from a last resort into a normal procedure.
Dr Boer, who is a Utrecht University academic who since 2005 has been a member of a review committee that monitors euthanasia deaths stated that:
Euthanasia is now becoming so prevalent in the Netherlands, that it is ‘on the way to becoming a default mode of dying for cancer patients’.
Assisted deaths have increased by about 15 per cent every year since 2008 and the number could hit a record 6,000 this year.
Campaigns for doctor-administered death to be made ever easier ‘will not rest’ until a lethal pill is made available to anyone over 70 who wishes to die.
‘Some slopes truly are slippery.’
Dr Boer said that he was concerned at the extension of killing to new classes of people, including the demented and the depressed, and the establishment of mobile death units of ‘travelling euthanasing doctors’. He admitted that:
he was ‘wrong – terribly wrong, in fact’ to have believed regulated euthanasia would work.
‘I used to be a supporter of the Dutch law. But now, with 12 years of experience, I take a very different view.'
The Daily Mail article quoted Paralympian, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, said:
‘What Dr Boer says comes as no surprise.'
‘An assisted dying law is playing with fire, especially when there are no safeguards in place. Lord Falconer’s bill just isn’t fit for purpose.’
The article then quoted disability rights leader, Baroness Jane Campbell who stated:
‘As happens in Holland, Lord Falconer’s bill could end up encompassing significant numbers of seriously ill people.’
The 2013 Netherlands euthanasia statistics have not yet been released but the 2012 Netherlands euthanasia report indicated that there were 4188 reported assisted deaths, which did not include the unreported assisted deaths, that according to a Lancet study released in 2012 accounted for 23% of all assisted deaths. Therefore the real number of assisted deaths in 2012 was likely more than 5100 deaths.
The expansion of euthanasia in the Netherlands has been significant. Last year a healthy woman who was going blind died by euthanasia.
In February the Dutch Health Minister, Edith Schippers admitted that in 2013 there were 45 psychiatric assisted deaths in the Netherlands which was up from 14 in 2012.
In his article Chabot referred to several psychiatric euthanasia deaths including:
a 54 year-old woman with a personality disorder, eating disorder and a chronic obsessive-compulsive neurosis.
a physically healthy man of 63 who was working for a government institution. He never had a relationship and the only thing he did his whole life was work. This man had been treated for a long time for depression, but the treatment didn’t work out.
Soon after euthanasia was legalized in the Netherlands some people may have thought that euthanasia would not be abused, but after more than eleven years experience with legal assisted death in the Netherlands and Belgium the message from Dr Boer should cause the world to say NO TO EUTHANASIA.
Reprinted with permission from Alex Schadenberg's blog.