Lockdown and summer recess bring euthanasia threat closer

28 August 2020

Carys Moseley comments on recent moves to bring forward the legalisation of euthanasia and assisted suicide in the UK.

Increasing threat of euthanasia has been in the news over the summer holidays. This should not surprise us given that hopelessness has set in for many people due to Coronavirus lockdowns across western countries. The most significant stories have come from the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada. Given that the last three countries have legalised euthanasia, what is going on there serves as a warning for us in the UK.

Belgian woman praises ‘right to choose death’

Belgian activist Amy de Schutter is in her 30s and physically healthy. Three doctors have agreed that she should have the right to die as her mental suffering due to having autism and depression is ‘unbearable’. Sky News journalist Becky Johnson travelled to Antwerp to interview her. This in itself is a rather telling sign of pro-euthanasia bias in the media. Whenever did journalists travel to interview pro-life activists in another country?

Amy says she suffered ‘extreme traumas from childhood’, and started experiencing depression at age 11 or 12. Due to multiple suicide attempts as a teenager, she was in and out of psychiatric institutions. Interestingly she has not attempted suicide since she was granted the ‘right to die’.

Dutch MP pushes euthanasia for elderly ‘tired of life’

In the neighbouring Netherlands, Pia Dijkstra and MP from the D66 party recently tabled a private member’s bill to permit ‘completed life’ euthanasia. The Coronavirus situation delayed its introduction by a few months. The bill is aimed at elderly people over 75 who ‘have finished their lives’.

Dijkstra makes a questionable and frankly arbitrary distinction between a person’s ‘biological’ and ‘biographical’ lives:

“The problem is getting bigger now that the difference between your biological and your biographical life is increasing thanks to advancing medical conditions.”

However, it is good to see Christian politicians rise to challenge this culture of death. Gert-Jan Segers who leads the ChristenUnie political party had this to say to the press:

“If corona has made anything clear to us, it is that real attention and good care make the difference in a human life.”

Where are the Christian politicians in the UK who are prepared to be so clear in their public pronouncements about the end of life?

Canadians fear being a burden on family

Canada serves as another stark warning of the effect that legalised euthanasia has had on a country. In 2019, 5,631 Canadians chose Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID). Of those, more than one third (34%) said they were worried about being a burden to their families. Many others (13.7%) said that ‘isolation and loneliness’ were the key factors for them. The vast majority (92.2%) of requests for MAID were approved.

Legal euthanasia has led to a situation where the right to conscientious objection has been eroded. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in 2019 that pro-life doctors had to do effective referrals for euthanasia and thus take part in the process. Bullying of pro-life doctors is said to be on the rise according to the Physicians’ Alliance Against Euthanasia. To make matters worse, early this year the Canadian federal government tabled Bill C-7 which would expand euthanasia to those without a terminal illness.

Pro-euthanasia MP says law could change within 4 years

At the start of lockdown I warned that the Coronavirus crisis would highlight the sanctity of life in a fundamental way. Now Tory MP Andrew Mitchell, who supports euthanasia, has told Sky News that euthanasia could become legal in the UK within the next 4 years.

It is tempting to ask whether Mitchell knows something the rest of us don’t. It is far too much of a coincidence that Do Not Resuscitate Orders were being made from the start of lockdown, and that those most vulnerable to euthanasia propaganda were forced to isolate themselves for weeks on end.

MPs enter into the debate

Andrew Mitchell’s interview has led to other MPs giving their views. It is noticeable how those supporting euthanasia say they do so on grounds of personal experience, rather than arguments from principles. For example here are the views of Trudy Harrison MP for Copeland:

“Like many people, my opinions on assisted dying have been influenced by personal experience.

“My Dad passed away recently following a short but horrible battle with MND.”

By contrast Tim Farron has spoken out against assisted suicide giving the following reasons:

“However, I am not in favour of changes to the law for several reasons. Firstly, it would detract hugely from the important focus on and investment in palliative care. I spoke to a leading oncologist recently whose objection to assisted dying was centred on this very real concern; she felt that proper palliative care would render euthanasia completely redundant and so we should focus all our efforts on that instead.”

We will be keeping close watch on the situation in the United Kingdom as far as euthanasia is concerned.


You can read more about this topic in our new booklet, Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide.
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