According to a 2015 article in the NEJM , of the 3882 deaths due to physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia in Flanders, Belgium, in the year 2013 alone, 1047 (27%) involved physicians deciding to administer medication dosages to hasten death without patients’ consent. Such patients are generally unconscious and may or may not have family members around.
In 2014, a statement on end-of-life decisions by the Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine asserts that “shortening the dying process” should be permissible “with use of medication… even in absence of discomfort” . When discussing these facts, two prominent physicians, one from the Netherlands and another from Harvard, told me that where they come from, they call that murder.
These two doctor's both used the word ‘murder,’ which might at first glance seem strong. Yet, I realized this accurate statement pivots entirely on physician intent and patient awareness.
When physicians are participating in a procedure designed to take a person’s life, will patients feel 100% certain that their physician is firmly on the side of healing? What message does it send about the value of every human life when physicians endorse the exchange of one life for another? What effect has it already had on physicians complicit in such death-causing procedures?
In the 1973 science fiction classic “Soylent Green”, detective Frank Thorn searches for answers to dying oceans and a deteriorating human race on overcrowded Earth. He discovers the high-protein green food produced by the Soylent Corporation is recycled, euthanized humans. “Soylent Green is people!” he screams.
“Soylent Green” was set in 2022. We are 3 years away.