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Dr. says euthanasia research skewed

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Dangers of assisted suicide highlighted at Catholic doctors gathering
By Carolyn Francis
Dr. Williard Johnston speaks to Vancouver doctors and attendees at a conference of the Catholic Physicians Guild about the dangers of euthanasia.  Carolyn Francis / The B.C. Catholic.
Elder abuse comes in many forms, says Dr. Williard Johnston. The Vancouver doctor highlighted the dangers of euthanasia Sept. 22 by relating four tales of elder abuse involving men and women being tricked into giving up their properties to their dependents.
Speaking at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish to the Catholic Physicians Guild, Dr. Johnston warned the elderly could be coerced into "choosing" euthanasia if the practice were legalized.

Most research evidence presented at court by euthanasia advocates has argued with a lot of rhetoric and not much substance, he explained, and a lot of the research is skewed in favour of euthanasia. Only a careful examination of the research itself, he suggested, will allow the truth to rise out of a lot of misinformation.

"Who's doing this research? Under what context are they doing the research? How is the information collected?" Dr. Johnston asked. He revealed that most of the research has been collected by those seeking to prove themselves correct.

"They are the people who want to move society in the direction they believe is forward. Most of their data is collected from anonymous questionnaires mailed out and returned only by those who want to answer. This method cannot exhibit the opinion of the population as a whole. In fact it may simply highlight the extremes."

Dr. Johnston explained that in Belgium there are patients being killed with no evidence of request or even consent.

"What is more concerning is that no cases of euthanasia have been brought to the department of justice," he claimed; "not even a single report has even been filed. Does this data warrant the conclusion that every doctor performing euthanasia has perfect judgment?"

The argument over euthanasia should focus on the people who become the casualties of human error and not on the sophisticated, articulate people who have unimaginable diseases, Dr. Johnston suggested.

"We must attack the central fallacy. Could our laws be so perfect that no mistakes are made?" he asked.

"Canada outlawed capital punishment because it was universally acknowledged that it would be worse to kill a single innocent man than to let 10 murderers live. Why, then, is the risk of euthanizing one person who did not give proper consent considered a reasonable level of error in order for the choice to be given to 10 people who consented?"

He highlighted the risk of killing someone without their consent, noting that if euthanasia were legalized doctors would be legally bound to offer it as an option. "The suggestion of euthanasia elevates it as a thinkable option to those who would not have considered it before."

"Is it right to fear that our doctors and nurses could steer us towards the option of death?"

The occurrence of euthanasia, Dr. Johnston added, lowers the social inhibition against it, and he wondered if people would feel obligated to make that choice rather than truly desire it.

"The legalization of euthanasia would not give you the choice to decide when you want to go; it would give the power to kill you to someone else."

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 October 2012 08:22  
 
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