As Welsh palliative care specialist Ilora Finlay puts it: Modern palliative care is about more than relieving pain and other symptomatic suffering. It seeks to unravel what is causing distress - whether physiological or existential - to empower patients to receive care how and where they wish and generally to restore quality to the last days, weeks, or months of their lives. (Ilora Finlay, "The art of medicine: Dying and choosing," The Lancet 373 (30 May 2009): 1840-1841 at 1841.)
Holland's undeniable creep from 'voluntary euthanasia' to 'non-voluntary euthanasia' to 'involuntary euthanasia' caused great consternation among legislators. (See, for example, Cristina Odone, Assisted Suicide: How the chattering classes have got it wrong. (London: Centre for Policy Studies, 2010),)
It is clear that once euthanasia is permitted for one class of citizens, there are no logical reasons to deny it to other classes of citizens: indeed Holland is currently debating euthanasia for those who are simply 'tired of living'.
For an account of the Dutch Completed Life Campaign, see Kerri Anne Brussen, "Euthanasia: A Dutch Perspective," Chisholm Health Ethics Bulletin 15, no. 4 (Winter 2010): 4-8 at 6-7.
KEY POINTS from the presentation:
Euthanasia is NOT:
withholding or withdrawing ineffective or overly burdensome treatment
to be confused with the administration of pain relief - even if it is thought to shorten life (the evidence today is that it is more likely to prolong life)
These actions are legal and currently practiced by doctors and hospitals.
The Dangers of Euthanasia:
Our individual choices are constrained by the pressures generated by cultural, societal and economic factors:
Isolation of the sick, dying, disabled and elderly
Fragmentation of families
Average age of death rising
Economic pressures on our health-care system
This could all too easily result in:
The 'right' to die will all too quickly become a 'duty' to die.
People who feel neglected, undervalued and invisible will understandably see themselves as a burden and will want to do the 'right' thing.
"The old and the sick can easily be persuaded, and often in very subtle ways, that their lives have become burdensome both to themselves and their care-givers - that they have lives not worth living."
The key issue relating to euthanasia is not the protection of personal choice, it's about protection of people, the most vulnerable people - it's a matter of social justice and the common good
the effect legalising euthanasia would have on our trust in the medical profession
the 'slippery slope' argument -voluntary euthanasia will inevitably lead to non-voluntary and in-voluntary euthanasia of people of all ages and all forms of suffering (including depression and mental illness)
We cannot even contemplate creating a legal 'right to die' for some when it means many more will lose their right or will to live.