Right to Life believes that the community should be wary of doctors who are prepared to kill their patients as a treatment option. A pro euthanasia group has sought the urgent help of retired Belgium Professor Jan Bernheim (pictured) to address meetings Right to Life believes have been hurriedly arranged in New Zealand to promote the Belgium model of euthanasia. Right to Life believes that the community should be concerned that this speaking tour is disrespectful of our Parliamentary democracy. This advocate for a culture of death clearly intends to undermine the medical profession in New Zealand and to influence the Parliamentary Health Select Committee which is, at this time finalizing its report to Parliament. The pro-death group is well aware that 77 per cent of the 21,435 submissions are strongly opposed to the law being changed to allow the strong to kill the weak. This opposition is also reflected in the 1,800 oral submissions. We believe that it is his intention to attempt to generate public support for the Belgian model of euthanasia, in opposition to the anticipated report of the Committee.
The community should be aware that Professor Bernheim is in violation of the ethics of the medical profession which he swore to uphold at the time of his graduation, specifically “to have the utmost respect for life.” The World Medical Association in 2013 declared;
Physicians-assisted suicide, like euthanasia, is unethical and must be condemned by the medical profession. Where the assistance of the physician is intentionally and deliberately directed at enabling an individual to end his or her own life, the physician acts unethically. However the right to decline medical treatment is a basic right of the patient and the physician does not act unethically even if respecting such a wish results in the death of the patient.
This professor claims that New Zealand should follow the Belgium model of euthanasia. There are two studies from the Flanders region of Belgium that display a rampant disregard for the law. In 2007, a study found that 32 percent of assisted deaths were performed without any request and that 47 percent of all assisted deaths were not reported. (See footnote 1) A further study in 2013 revealed that two percent of all deaths were hastened without an explicit request and that 40 percent of hastened deaths were not reported. There has been in Belgium a 500 percent increase in euthanasia in 10 years.
Arguments for euthanasia are founded on terminally ill patients being in intolerable pain. The lie to this is given by the fact that people in Belgium have been killed by a doctor in Belgium for diagnoses that include; depression, fatigue, autism and anorexia.
Assisting in suicide and homicide are serious crimes in the Crimes Act under which laws are in place for the protection of the most vulnerable ,members of our community, the aged, the disabled and the seriously ill. We change these laws at our peril.
Right to Life
Footnote 1 Physician-assisted deaths under the euthanasia law in Belgium: a population-based survey. Chambaere K, Bilsen J, Cohen J, Onwuteaka-Philipsen BD, Mortier F, Deliens L CMAJ. 2010 Jun 15; 182(9):895-901. [PubMed] [Ref list]
Thank you so much for printing this vital and important information. What should also happen is some advance planning. We need to identify which Low Countries or other medical advocates for the pro-euthanasia lobby are likely to visit New Zealand, which have already done so overseas in other national euthanasia debates, what their arguments are, and what rebuttals and answers to their position local pro-life and disability rights groups have come up with to counter them.
You are doing an excellent job against this facet of the culture of death and I applaud you all for it!