Lori Anderson is right to say “we must not open door to euthanasia” (Perpsective Extra, 11 October). However, the cases she mentions are only the tip of the iceberg.
Almost half of Belgium’s euthanasia nurses have admitted to killing without consent, despite involuntary euthanasia being illegal. Furthermore, a recent study found that in the Flemish part of Belgium, 66 of 208 cases of “euthanasia” (32 per cent) occurred in the absence of request or consent.
More worrying is the news that the Belgian parliament has resumed its debate on the extension of euthanasia to children with disabilities and people with Alzheimer’s. Already in the Netherlands, dozens of disabled children have been killed under the Groningen protocol, despite the fact that this is illegal.
Leo Alexander, a psychiatrist who gave evidence at Nuremberg in 1949, said of the Nazi Holocaust that “its beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitude of the physicians. It started with the attitude, basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived. This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually, the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially unwanted and finally all non-Germans.”
These chilling words are once again being heard in the arguments for euthanasia today. Euthanasia gives the green light to hopelessness and despair. It sanctions suicide as a response to hardship. It leaves the vulnerable more vulnerable and the right to die will become a duty to die. We must not open the euthanasia door. Ever.
Sir Graeme Catto (Letters, 12 October) states: “What the Belgian experience of assistance to die teaches us is … to make sure we draft the right law with robust and appropriate safeguards”. I’m sorry, but I disagree wholeheartedly with that statement, for it simply is not true, and would not work.
What the Belgian experience tells us is: when a society introduces a law like this, that society, over a period of time becomes used to the idea of assisted suicide, so taking lives becomes acceptable. Life is devalued, and there are always people who wish to extend laws such as this to include other patients and situations not previously included in the legal indication for assisted dying. Then there is a push for extensions to the law.
The same process has happened in the Netherlands, where the Groningen Protocol now legalises the involuntary euthanasia of children.
That is why we must never have the state legalising assisted dying, for once we have crossed the line to say that “some lives are not worth living”, we have lost an absolute standard, and extensions (legally or otherwise) will inevitably follow. The “slippery slope” or “deliberate incremental extension” is very real. We must never go down this route.
Alasdair HB Fyfe