Tom Mortier: Surely you’re joking, Mr Denton - Belgian euthanasia is a problem free zone?

This article was published by Mercatornet on their Careful blog on November 4, 2015

By Tom Mortier

Tom Mortier

Tom Mortier

In May 2015 Paul Russell, of Hope, an Australian coalition opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide, invited me to come to Adelaide to speak about my experiences with the Belgian euthanasia law. It is now well known that my physically healthy mother was killed by a lethal injection given by the Flemish euthanasia practitioner Dr Wim Distelmans.

At the conference, Paul told me that someone called Andrew Denton wanted to interview me. I had never heard of Mr Denton, but Paul told me that he was very famous and that it would be a good opportunity to talk with him. So I did. I don’t remember much from the interview, but he did ask searching questions.

I told him that a staff writer from The New Yorker was also working on a piece about the suicide of my mother. When it was eventually published, I forwarded it to him because it gave a good insight into the Flemish euthanasia lobby.

When I spoke with Mr Denton in Adelaide, I didn’t realise that he was so well-known in Australia. He had even been featured pulling faces on the cover of Rolling Stone. I learned that he was both a comedian and a real television celebrity.

But I was very disappointed in his treatment of euthanasia and assisted suicide. He mentioned me during a radio interview but he said that the story of my late mother was sad, but did not prove that the Belgian euthanasia law wasn’t working. Australia needed an euthanasia law as soon as possible and Belgium (and the Netherlands) is the model, he declared.

Most citizens support the law and “only five percent” of all deaths there are due to lethal injections, he claims. For Denton, it is all about “free choice”. He told TV viewers that he had attended a big “anti-euthanasia” conference and that everything that the people had been telling him during that conference was a lie. Belgian euthanasia is a problem-free zone.

No problems, Mr Denton? Really? Are you speaking as a comedian or as a journalist? Perhaps you should watch a bit more Australian television.

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