The following article is originally by Michael Cooke, editor of the MercatorNet website and was first published on 16th October 2013.
This op-ed appeared in today’s issue of The Mercury, the main newspaper in Hobart, Tasmania, where members of Parliament are gearing up for a debate on euthanasia. It was a companion piece to an article in favour of legalisation by Emeritus Professor Colin Wendell-Smith, convenor of Doctors for Dying with Dignity and co-convenor of Doctors for Voluntary Euthanasia.
As Tasmanian MPs ponder legalising voluntary euthanasia as a remedy for unbearable suffering, they should take a close look at the situation in Belgium, where it has been legal since 2002.
For starters, at this very moment their colleagues in Brussels are pondering whether to legalise euthanasia for children. Are Belgian five-year-olds really capable of voluntarily choosing to die?
The Belgian MPs are also studying whether to authorise euthanasia for patients with dementia who have written advance directives, even if they appear to be cheerful and content with their impaired life. Is that really voluntary?
The history of euthanasia in Belgium is one of unremitting bracket creep. What began with euthanasia only for constant, unbearable, untreatable suffering and only for consenting adults keeps expanding and expanding with consequences which no one foresaw. Here are a few of them…