Politics & Policy

The Corner

Belgian Palliative Care MDs and Nurses Flee Euthanasia

You become a doctor or nurse to be a healer palliator of people in serious pain and distress. You have a special place in your heart for the dying, and so you enter the specialized field of palliative care and hospice medicine.

But then, your country decides you should also become killers of the patients you want to succor. If you refuse, you face public criticism, the prospect of being sued, and perhaps one day, professional censure

What do you do? If you are an ethical professional, rather than be complicit in homicide, you leave the field. 

That’s what seems to be happening in Belgium as palliative care doctors and nurses flee the euthanasia regime. From the Catholic Herald story:

Belgian nurses and social workers who specialise in treating dying patients are quitting their jobs because palliative care units are being turned into “houses of euthanasia”, a senior doctor has alleged.

Increasing numbers of hospital staff employed in the palliative care sector are abandoning their posts because they did not wish to be reduced to preparing “patients and their families for lethal injections”, according to Professor Benoit Beuselinck, a consultant oncologist of the Catholic University Hospitals of Leuven.

He said that after more than 15 years of legal euthanasia in Belgium “palliative care units are … at risk of becoming ‘houses of euthanasia’, which is the opposite of what they were meant to be”.

Prof Beuselinck said palliative care nurses found the demands for euthanasia an “impossible burden” and a “complete contradiction of their initial desire to administer genuine palliative care to terminally ill patients”.

Apparently Belgium is cutting palliative care budgets too. As one Dutch doctor once put it (this is close to a quote), “What do we need with palliative care when we have euthanasia?”

Here’s a preview of coming attractions: Euthanasia for convicted prisoners who would rather die than remain incarcerated:

A British contributor, Dr Trevor Stammers of St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London, predicted in his article that Belgium would soon effectively re-introduce the death penalty by permitting the euthanasia of prisoners so their organs be harvested for transplant surgery. He said about 15 prisoners had already elected to die this way.

Such a prisoner euthanasia was approved in Belgium, but after an international outcry, the prisoner euthanasia was postponed for further consideration.

The same things will happen here too eventually if we keep on the current course. But then, powerful forces want to drive Hippocratic Oath-believing and pro-life doctors and nurses out of their professions.

Euthanasia corrupts everything it touches. Those who have eyes to see, let them see.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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