Care Not Killing has expressed sadness at the death of Belgian Paralympian Marieke Vervoort whose life was ended by euthanasia yesterday, but warns against changing the law in the UK.
Dr Gordon Macdonald, Chief Executive of Care Not Killing, commented: "It is extremely sad news that Ms Vervoort has chosen to end her life this way - But her death highlights how the right to die has become a duty to die in both Belgium and their near neighbours in the Netherlands.
"In these countries, laws which were only ever supposed to apply to mentally competent terminally ill adults have been extended and safeguards removed. Euthanasia laws in Belgium and the Netherlands now include those who are not terminally ill, disabled people, non-mentally competent adults, those with mental health problems, couples and even children.
"The astonishing extension to the law in Belgium and the Netherland is highlighted by the case of Godelieva De Troyer (64). She was physically healthy, but had a long and well-documented history of mental health problems. In 2012 she was euthanatised by the Belgium State without consulting either her son, or the psychiatrist who had cared for her for more than 20 years.
"Worryingly this does not appear to be an isolated case, as researchers reported in a peer-reviewed study for the Canadian Medical Association Journal that nearly half of Belgium's Euthanasia nurses admitted that they had taken part in 'terminations without request or consent'.
"The study went on to say that the nurses 'operated beyond the legal margins of their profession' - i.e. these people had killed their patient either without any consent or outside of the legislation.
"No wonder not a single doctors group or major disability rights organisation supports changing the law, including the BMA, the Royal College of GPs, British Geriatric Society and the Association for Palliative Medicine. Or why Parliamentarians across the UK, continue to reject attempts to introduce assisted suicide and euthanasia, more than ten times since 2003, out of concern for public safety, including in 2015 when the House of Commons overwhelmingly voted against any change in the law by 330 votes to 118."
Care Not Killing is a UK-based alliance bringing together over 40 organisations - human rights and disability rights organisations, health care and palliative care groups, faith-based organisations groups - and thousands of concerned individuals.
If you are affected by any details in this report, and would like to talk to someone, the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day see: www.samaritans.org
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