This article by Euthanasia Prevention Coalition - Europe Director, Kevin Fitzpatrick OBE, is a response to claims by Belgian pro-euthanasia academic, Etienne Vermeersch that commentary against the Belgian regime, in particular by Belgian academic, Tom Mortier, are simply a smear.
This article first appeared in Alex Schadenberg's Blog:
By Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick
Director of EPC Europe and a leader of Not Dead Yet - UK
|Dr Kevin Fitzpatrick|
To smear someone is to tell lies, or to reveal the dark things they do, for personal gain. No one is ‘smearing’ Wim Distelmans - as Prof Vermeersch claims in a Belgian humanist publication (deMens.nu). No-one is telling lies – we are telling the truth so people may realise what is really going on under the guise of ‘good, medical practice’ in Belgium. We seek no gain apart from that truth and we seek the suspension of their terrible practice of euthanasia.
Patients must feel completely safe when they go to doctors for help. It was originally believed that psychiatric, demented or depressed patients would not be targeted by the Belgian law. However, the Belgian Control Commission headed by Distelmans and which never investigates any of the euthanasia deaths reported to it, approves euthanasia in such cases today. (One study found that 47% of the euthanasia deaths are not reported). Tom Mortier’s mother was not ill apart from her depression. She was certainly not dying. But she died by the hands of Distelmans anyway. Just like the tortured transsexual, or the woman who was sexually abused by her treating psychiatrist; both euthanized as a response to their despair. Is this safe?
It is the worst kind of danger – when someone can facilitate your depressed wish to die. And then to have this same man in charge of the commission which is supposed to regulate euthanasia is the most fundamental conflict of interest. How do we know he is telling us everything when his commission has never referred even one reported euthanasia for investigation? Are we to believe there is never any doubt, ever?
Vermeersch calls this ‘significant social and ethical progress’. I have a totally different opinion. For me, it is the exact opposite. It is the clearest evidence of how far Belgium has fallen - into the worst moral decline. These people have no questions about their auto-satisfaction. To quote a much better philosopher than Vermeersch:
Philosophers with no suspicion that anything is beyond their professional competence, or may be too deep for their individual talent, ‘mistake [their] vices for the virtue of thinking radically, courageously...’, [and they] have contributed to a drive that feeds an aggressive and now much less self-reflective lobby, who make the same mistake of vice for virtue. (Rai Gaita, 1991)
They do not even stop to ask any more: can euthanasia really be right? In every case? Vermeersch himself stated on November 13, 2013 that ‘a man with no arms and no legs’ was right to want to die and it was his mission to help. He is clear, the euthanasia law in Belgium is for disabled people.
This is reflected in the British euthanasia lobby’s recent move to pretend that disabled people are in favour of legalizing assisted suicide. They used an out-of-date survey that did not even ask a question about euthanasia, and they recruited a disabled ‘patsy’ to front their propaganda. Yet all that work just confirms that the euthanasia lobby are seeking euthanasia in Britain for disabled people; nothing to do with terminal illness at all. So clear, so cynical.
There are so many questions that are being ignored. How, for example, do so many people find themselves in a ‘medically hopeless situation’ in Belgium? Has medicine failed them. Why has social care for disabled people been described as a human rights nightmare in Belgium by the European Social care Committee. Little wonder that people with disabilities are faced with no option at all – and just in case you think so, death is not an option, it is the end of all options.
Do doctors strive to do better medically? I believe most doctors do. But some say instead:
‘We can do no more for you, so here, let us kill you’.
The worst part is they call this ‘compassion’. Then they lie about anyone who asks questions or opposes them. They say we are cruel people. We are not cruel people. We are able to think, and we become afraid when these people get hold of us. Who wants to turn up in the emergency room and ask the doctor who might just save our lives ‘Are you a card-carrying member of the Euthanasia Lobby?’
We are simply saying: rather than concentrating on dying, we want dignified living.
For people who are not dying and for the tiny number of people (just 0.75% of all people who die in Belgium every year) who sadly experience refractory symptoms, real care might be deep sedation to allow a peaceful death. Even then there are still important questions, but good palliative care doctors say they can already help these unfortunate few.
Why must we legalize euthanasia at all?
Laws, by their very nature, must be general – must cover every citizen – and when such laws result in the deaths of children or rebellious teenagers, they must be bad laws. A good and decent society protects its most vulnerable members – it does not simply say ‘Here’s a way to die’.
When someone is standing on a bridge and afraid of their future that they want to jump, only the cruel abandon them by saying ‘Great! Jump!’ or worse, actually push them off. Why then, when someone who is disabled, sick, depressed, or a child, and says ‘I want to die’ – why do we say to them ‘But of course you must die, we’ll even do it for you’? Who is the cruel one?
Belgium certainly is unrivaled in the world - but make no mistake, much of the world is horrified by how quickly and easily Belgians have slipped into this moral depth, where some people gleefully praise themselves for valuing death far more than life. How many more must be killed out of this twisted argument.
And I am certainly not impressed by quotations from a green-skinned ancient Egyptian pagan god. And as I understand even that old legend, the dead face 42 judges who decide if they have lived a life of truth and justice.
I am asking that each Belgian citizen stops, for a moment, and wonders – are we really living for truth and justice? Are we really doing the right thing? Or have we allowed ourselves to sleepwalk into this terrible place, pretending it is compassion, when really we just do not want sick, elderly and disabled people around to remind us of the fragilities of our human lives? Are we so afraid of becoming sick or disabled that we rid our world of anyone who would remind us of what true caring and compassion is? You also rid our world of what others might teach us on how they can triumph over the most limiting of human conditions?
Sharing the Earth with every human being whether they are sick or disabled requires a society that cares for others rather than kills by lethal injection. This is what it means to be truly compassionate.