Belgium: ‘Euthanasia leads to the decline of a society?

This article was published on the HOPE Ireland website.

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick is the director of HOPE Ireland.

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick

Hermann de Dijn, emeritus professor of philosophy at the Belgian University of Leuven, says: ‘Once the law is there, you have people asking themselves new questions… ‘Do I really have quality of life? Am I not a burden on others?’

De Dijn believes that ‘human dignity should include not only respect for personal choices but also for connectedness to loved ones and society.’ The concept of human dignity in Belgium has been ‘reduced to the ability to have certain experiences’.[1]

He is absolutely right of course. The concept has been stretched beyond its limits. It has lost all meaning in Belgium.

We must now, ever more urgently, return to clear ground, to be sure we are really speaking about dignity, not some corrupted notion which has no actual bearing on what should be our proper concerns.

If the questions are not exactly new, the locus of them is: Belgium’s veneration of death – the lazy moral thinking in a whole society which has allowed itself to be led on a leash to accept the idea that death is, and should be, the default ‘treatment’ for all ailments. This is the societal tectonic shift that allows a young woman, just 24 years old, with apparently serious mental health issues, to apply for and be granted a euthanasia death (believed to be scheduled for August this year), and to say she finds ‘euthanasia a nice idea’.
I was under the impression that children do not form a concept of death until about the age of 7 years, yet this young woman speaks about wanting to die at 4 years old. I can’t buy that. Language development is essential to intellectual development. We cannot form concepts for which we have no words. Early years’ development in children is sufficiently academically explored to make me very suspicious at least, of this ‘memory’.

Personal experience is not scientific, but it is still evidence. I know the interventions of some psychiatrists actually do more damage than good. I want to ask: is her memory then ‘recovered’ memory – false memory? It is very difficult to be clear. It is entirely possible that she genuinely feels the way the short piece I could read indicates.

But in most other healthcare the first response to suicidal ideation is suicide prevention, not a ‘validating’ white-coated arm around the shoulder from a supposedly trusted professional, a doctor who says; ‘Well we can help. We have euthanasia.’

Link to the full article

Assisted suicide for disabled people – democracy in Britain?

By Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE, Director of Hope Ireland, and published on the Hope Ireland's blog.

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick

Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor’s recent research results[1] are extremely important.

As Baroness Helena Kennedy QC said in a public debate (Southbank, January 28 2012), ‘This is about the kind of society we want to live in’.

Cohen-Almagor’s paper reprises a truth Baroness Jane Campbell, founder of Not Dead Yet UK, has spent years trying to help people understand. We have clear evidence that assisted suicide/euthanasia laws are aimed primarily at disabled people. Lord Falconer has now openly admitted this on the Daily Politics show (BBC 9 June 2015).

Pain, we have repeatedly said, is not the primary reason for asking for assisted suicide. Falconer agrees: ‘…pain…can be dealt with…it is the sense of people losing independence and being reliant on other people…there’s a small number of people who…find that an intolerable position…’ Yes, 61% of people in Washington State US say they want to die because they feel themselves ‘to be a burden on others’.[2]  No small number that.

Rob Marris, MP is now determined to bring forward in the House of Commons the Assisted Dying Bill. But this softened language is mere disguise according to page 39 of Lord Falconer’s own ‘commission’ report: ‘assisted dying’ just means ‘Assisted suicide/voluntary euthanasia’.[3]

Marris topped the ballot for a Private Member’s Bill. Falconer came twenty-first. Suddenly, Marris had adopted Falconer’s Bill as his own project. I cannot help but wonder how the other nineteen who came out of the hat before Falconer now feel. Is this really democracy in action? So that people may die if they fear the kind of ‘dependence’ millions of us disabled people accommodate every day?

Link to the full article

Dublin Ireland - new group opposing euthanasia & assisted suicide launched.

Thank you to Paul Russell for writing this article and posting it on the Hope Australia website.

Kevin Fitzpatrick

Kevin Fitzpatrick

It was a great privilege to be invited to be present at the launch of the new organisation, HOPE Ireland and to speak at their inaugural conference in Dublin on the 6th of June.

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick, director of HOPE Ireland, convened the conference in the wake of recent announcements that a bill will soon be tabled in the Dail (Parliament) in the nation's first attempt through the parliament at legalising assisted suicide.

Alex Schadenberg, head of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition International opened the conference and set the scene with the troubling history of both euthanasia and assisted suicide in the few jurisdictions where these practices are approved in law.

William Binchy, Fellow Emeritus, School of Law at Trinity College Dublin outlined the current case law on euthanasia and assisted suicide and reflected on the challenges that these decisions pose to the protection and application of human rights.

Caroline Roux explained the current troubling developments in France including a dangerous decision in the European Court of Human Rights that endorsed a French Court's earlier decision to starve and dehydrate Vincent Lambert.

Henk Reitsema (Holland) and Tom Mortier (Belgium) outlined their personal and family distress at the euthanasia deaths of a family member while Henk also exposed the undercover killing of patients without consent occurring through the specious use of sedation and then dehydration to death in The Netherlands.

Link to the full article

Hope Ireland: Assisted suicide and euthanasia could be discriminatory towards people with disabilities

By Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Kevin Fitzpatrick

Kevin Fitzpatrick

HOPE Ireland - Saying No to Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide held its inaugural conference before a "full-house" at the RDS Centre in Dublin. Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick told RTE news that: 'legalising assisted suicide would have catastrophic consequences.'

Link to the video news report.
Listen to the interview on News Talk radio.

The RTE news reported that:

Director of the group, Kevin Fitzpatrick, warned that it was not possible to put enough safeguards into legislation to cover every aspect of human nature and human motivation. 
Dr Fitzpatrick, who is partially paralysed and who uses a wheelchair, said that assisted suicide and euthanasia were discriminatory against disabled people, arguing that while doctors would not hesitate to treat able-bodied people with suicidal ideation, the same was not always true for the disabled or those with other conditions. 
"Too many doctors look at someone like me, or someone with a progressive condition in a worse situation, and they say, "yeah, we can't blame you" [if you are feeling suicidal.]" Dr Fitzpatrick said. 
He went on to say that such a response was based solely on the persons disability, and, he said, that was where the discrimination came in, and that such discrimination "leads to death". 
Dr Fitzpatrick said that evidence showed that "once you open the door and legalise [euthanasia] things change dramatically," and that's what HOPE Ireland wants to prevent.

Conference speakers were from Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Australia including Alex Schadenberg and Amy Hasbrouck from Canada.

HOPE Ireland conference opposing euthanasia

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick

Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick

On June 6th 2015 the inaugural Hope Ireland conference will take place in the RDS in Dublin. This free-to-attend conference will focus on how euthanasia laws are rooted in discrimination against disabled people of all ages and will highlight the terrible consequences of legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide in other countries.

Speaking in advance of the conference, Director of Hope Ireland Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE said that the current law in Ireland protected vulnerable people and saved lives. ‘Those defences in law cover every citizen of Ireland and must be maintained, strengthened if possible, not overthrown.’

“We must look to the experience of other countries and states where we can see once euthanasia and/or assisted suicide is legalised those laws are very quickly extended to people who are not terminally ill at all, most often targeting vulnerable people. In Belgium one in twenty deaths are now deliberately caused. Euthanasia for children of any age is now legal. A Belgian government adviser stated publicly in 2013, their euthanasia law was drawn up specifically for disabled people who he believed were right to want to die. Now this includes considering euthanizing a man with bi-polar condition, and life-term prisoners who are fed up in jail.

Early this year Canada specifically legalised euthanasia even when the sole criterion was on the grounds of disability. Dr Fitzpatrick said that it was now impossible to deny euthanasia laws were rooted in discrimination against disabled people and were used to end the lives of people who were not terminally ill.

Link to the full article

Let’s have a big conversation on assisted suicide in Ireland – open, honest and balanced

By Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick - Director of EPC - International and HOPE Ireland.

Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick

Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick

Brendan O’Connor has thought about Bernadette Forde’s death more deeply than most. (Ireland’s Sunday Independent May 3 2015), though his conclusions are still wrong.

Forde was failed, miserably. But not by the lack of a euthanasia/ assisted suicide law. That is still the wrong answer to the right questions.

For a ‘big conversation’ about the complex subject of euthanasia/assisted suicide to work, it must be open, honest and balanced at all turns, not just in rare articles by more intelligent journalists - who still go badly wrong.

O’Connor chose to reinforce the dreadful idea that ‘this, or any disabled life is not worth living’. The vast majority of people with multiple sclerosis do not commit suicide or even want to (never mind the rest of us disabled people). It is not just because Forde was battling multiple sclerosis that she fell into despair, enough to want to commit suicide. By all reports, she had no real nursing care let alone very good palliative care; and she was isolated from her family apart from one niece. 

Disabled people are a minority amongst those who come to suicide. Tragically, it is mostly younger, non-disabled men who find themselves in what is surely the loneliest place on the planet. But when we can we try to help them, prevent the ultimate act of despair. 

Link to the full article

Level-headed assisted suicide debate based on real evidence, not misplaced emotion

By Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick - Director of EPC - International and HOPE Ireland.

Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick

Dr. Kevin Fitzpatrick

Emer O’Kelly writes emotionally in the Irish Sunday Independentabout Marie Fleming. 

Marie was my friend and colleague in Swansea University for several years. At times we ‘colluded’ – the Northern Irish Two against the world – in the nicest and fun way of course.

I had already been disabled for twenty years when we met. My catastrophic change to wheelchair user came in an instant, collateral damage in a war I had no hand in. We did not know Marie was to become a wheelchair user herself, through progressive multiple sclerosis. 

I joined Not Dead Yet UK, a loose coalition of disabled people, at the request of its founder Baroness Jane Campbell, friend, fellow Disability Rights Commissioner, and herself a lifelong disabled activist. I had visited the idea of suicide myself seriously, so I was unsure how I felt about euthanasia/assisted suicide. I began researching. When I uncovered for myself what exactly is going on where the act of taking another’s life is legal, I was horrified.

I have since appeared in front of many highly emotionally-charged audiences, extremely hostile to my opposition to legalisation. I am not usually afforded the courtesy of time to explain my position, constantly shouted down by angry people, including supposedly impartial journalists. 

What most audiences, and what Emer O’Kelly fails to understand is that opposition to legalising euthanasia/assisted suicide is not about some cruel desire to stand in Tom or Marie’s way. 

Disabled people reflect the views of the people around them, just as much as a studio audience, for example. So it is understandable that some disabled people think they should be allowed to die by euthanasia or to have someone else assist them to commit suicide. I can respect this and understand their fears of a painful death or of not wishing to be a burden on others. But I can still oppose such legislation for reasons of its terrible consequences. 

Link to the full article