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New Study on Assisted Suicide Finds Worrying Trends

© SHUTTERSTOCK

John Burger - published on 08/25/15

Numbers continue to rise in every jurisdiction where practice is legal

A new study of euthanasia and assisted suicide worldwide shows several worrying trends.

There are common patterns which emerge in each of the states or nations where physician-assisted suicide is legal, says the Anscombe Bioethics Center, which produced the report: in every jurisdiction, numbers have increased over time and continue to do so; there has also been a shift from permitting assisted suicide for cancer victims to include more cases of other diseases. In Europe, this includes non-terminal conditions such as neuro-psychiatric conditions and multiple co-morbidities (for example, those associated with old age). Supposed safeguards such as psychiatric referral have also declined in frequency (see below for further details). Essentially, the practice has become more widespread and more routine.

“Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: A Guide to the Evidence” was published ahead of a debate over a bill iin the UK Parliament to legalize assisted suicide for the terminally-ill. The debate is expected to begin on Sept. 11.

The Anscombe report links to data from the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the US states of Oregon and Washington, where the practice is legal.

The center, which has said inaccurate media-friendly public opinion polls have dominated the debate, has used research and data in peer reviewed journals to paint the most accurate picture of public opinion, noting that people are liable to change their mind when presented with the best arguments from each side, The UK Catholic Herald reported:

In the Netherlands, the guide says, euthanasia doubled for those with mental disorders and increased by 130% for dementia sufferers between 2012 and 2013.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticised the country twice for its use of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

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