Sunday, October 2

Opacity about euthanasia



Six months after its entry into force, there are no complete data on the application of the euthanasia law. The lack of official information from the Government and from many autonomous communities collides with the supposed social clamor that drove the approval of the law. ABC has had access to data from ten regions, which serve to draw provisional conclusions about the real impact of this law on the lives of thousands of citizens who suffer from this ‘serious and incurable disease’ or this ‘serious, chronic and incapacitating condition’ that describes the standard. So far, fifty sick people have availed themselves of their right to get help to die, which is how euthanasia is legally described.

Most of them suffered from neurodegenerative and oncological diseases. More than half of the requests have been registered in two communities, the Basque Country and Catalonia, which also account for 74 percent of the euthanasias carried out. Applicants died while their petitions were being processed and others were denied for not meeting legal requirements.

They are partial data that will have a more precise meaning when all the communities send their data to the Ministry of Health and allow to know the situation of euthanasia in its first months of application. In any case, the provisional figures for 2021 do not measure up to the political messages that accompanied the gestation and approval of the euthanasia law. Neither does it serve as an alibi for its defenders that there is a boycott by objector doctors and health workers, because no data allows them to affirm such a thing. What is evident is that the government’s policy on euthanasia, as with abortion, is characterized by the conscious refusal to offer alternatives to the incurable patient. Provoked death, as the only ‘worthy’ way out, elevated to the status of subjective right. Sad advance – or regression, rather – in civic development.

While medical science shows day after day its ability to diagnose, combat and cure diseases, the Government’s proposal is to extinguish any light of hope in the lives of the sick and, it must also be said, of the elderly. In countries like Belgium, where it is firmly committed to palliative care, the use of euthanasia falls to a minimum, unlike the Netherlands, for example, where palliative care is almost non-existent. Like in Spain.

On the other hand, it is a dramatic contradiction that the Government campaigns for the mental health of citizens – so affected by the pandemic because of confinements, loneliness and the loss of family or employment – and warns against suicide while jellies euthanasia on the back of concepts as indeterminate as a “serious, chronic and disabling condition.” Adding adjectives to a noun does not make it more precise or unequivocal. Many times the effect achieved is the opposite. When depression, anxiety or suicidal impulses rage, public institutions are more obliged than ever to give priority to life in their messages to citizens. The propaganda of euthanasia as liberation has a general impact on people with serious problems, who do not stop to read the Official State Gazette and are left with the fifteen seconds of government message that tells them that they have the right to have another take away life. With these proposals, society loses hope.

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