Since euthanasia was legalised in Belgium in 2002 and it has increasingly become normalised as the go-to response to an ever widening range of circumstances including children with disabilities, uncompleted suicides and victims of child abuse.
It is therefore surprising to learn of two recent case of criminal investigation, one of which is now being prosecuted.
Dr Marc van Hoey, who estimates he has personally euthanased about 140 people, is being investigated for his actions in 2015 when he performed euthanasia on an elderly woman who was threatening to commit suicide after the sudden death of her daughter.
Dr Lieve Thienpont, a psychiatrist, and two other doctors are being prosecuted for the poisoning in April 2010 – under the guise of euthanasia - of a 38 year old woman, Tine Nys.
Lotte, Tyne and Sophie Nys
A population wide study covering 20 years of data from England has confirmed that people diagnosed with cancer are at increased risk of suicide – 20% overall – compared to the general population, with some cancer diagnoses (such as mesothelioma, pancreatic, lung, esophageal, and stomach cancers) associated with a higher relative risk.
The study found that the elevated risk was highest during the first six months following diagnosis including a risk of suicide within one week of diagnosis.
On Wednesday 14 November 2018, the second last sitting day for the year, the Queensland Parliament agreed to a motion moved by the Premier, Anna Palaszczuk "That the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee inquire into aged care, end-of-life and palliative care and report to the Legislative Assembly on:
- (a) the delivery of aged care, end-of-life and palliative care in Queensland across the health and ageing service
- (b) Queensland community and relevant health practitioners views on the desirability of supporting voluntary
assisted dying, including provisions for it being legislated in Queensland and any necessary safeguards to protect
The Committee is to consider "the current legal framework, relevant reports and materials in other Australian states and territories and overseas jurisdictions, including the Victorian Government’s Inquiry into end-of-life choices, Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017(Vic) and implementation of the associated reforms".
The unicorn is a lovely, delightful creature with just one unfortunate defect – it is a creature of fantasy that doesn’t exist in the real world.
In a media release dated 12 November 2018 the McGowan Labor Government has formally announced its intention to “introduce a Bill into State Parliament to legalise voluntary assisted dying in Western Australia.”
The Bill will be drafted in consultation with a panel of 11 experts who are tasked with providing “advice to government on a safe and compassionate framework for voluntary assisted dying in Western Australia”.
Is it OK to kill a person with dementia who does not want to die?
How vague can an advanced statement regarding euthanasia be and still be relied upon to justify killing a person with dementia?
These are the kinds of questions to which the common sense answers no longer seem to suffice once a jurisdiction normalises euthanasia and assisted suicide.
A decision by authorities in the Netherlands has once again lowered the bar for euthanasia in that country. In this case it was determined that hand squeezes, nods, eye blinking and crying (!) were all sufficient signs of consent from a woman drifting in and out of a comatose state to go ahead with euthanasia.
Victoria's assisted suicide bill, which is scheduled to come into effect on 19 June 2019, explicitly provides for assisted suicide and euthanasia requests to be made by gestures.