News, 3 March 2003
3 March 2003
3 March 2003 Doctors in the Netherlands are performing euthanasia illegally on thousands of patients because they regard the legal reporting requirements as too bothersome, according to a Dutch television investigation. Euthanasia became formally legal in the Netherlands last year after a decade of medico-legal toleration, but an anonymous survey of 355 lung specialists found that many doctors thought that the legal requirement to report requests for euthanasia to regional committees was too time-consuming. Although recorded instances of euthanasia fell by 8% last year, the Reporter programme alleged that the true euthanasia rate was far higher than official records suggested because doctors regularly administered lethal doses of morphine under the pretext of pain management or gave patients powerful sedatives and allowed them to die of dehydration and starvation. [LifeSite, 28 February ] The Civil and Administrative Tribunal in the Australian state of Victoria has ruled that assisted feeding constitutes medical treatment. The ruling marks a successful conclusion to the first stage of a legal bid by a man from Melbourne to have nutrition and hydration removed from his wife who is suffering from dementia. Dr Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, a prominent Australian ethicist, urged the attorney general to refer the ruling to the Supreme Court on the basis that the tribunal had misunderstood the law on medical treatment and had effectively decided "to end the woman's life by starving her to death". The head of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society of Victoria welcomed the ruling. [The Age, 2 March ] It was by re-defining assisted sustenance as medical treatment that the English high court justified its ruling in the 1993 Bland case that patients in so-called persistent vegetative states could be starved to death. It is reported that the Countess of Wessex and her husband Prince Edward, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II, have undergone two unsuccessful IVF treatment cycles and are about to embark on their third. Sophie Wessex opted for IVF treatment last year after she lost an unborn child in December 2001 following an ectopic pregnancy. [The Sunday Times, 2 March; The Scotsman, 3 March ] The tragedy of IVF is that the vast majority of humans brought into being as a result die in the course of the treatment either before or after they have been transferred into the womb. The prime minister of Malta has accused campaigners against Maltese membership of the European Union of lying over the issue of abortion. The people of Malta will vote on whether to join the EU in a referendum next Saturday (8 March), and the matter of whether EU membership will threaten Malta's total legal prohibition on abortion remains an important issue. Prime Minister Fenech Adami said yesterday that campaigners for a 'No' vote knew better than to claim that the government had misled both the Church and the people over abortion, but that they continued to repeat lies and inventions about the matter. [The Times of Malta, 3 March ] Pro-life groups, including SPUC, have warned that the protocol on abortion in Malta's EU accession treaty will not prevent Maltese taxpayers from funding abortions overseas through the EU's general budget. New abortifacient methods of birth control are being introduced to the US market as a result of renewed interest in contraception on the part of drug companies. The Wall Street Journal claims that concerns by drug companies to protect profit margins have led to the introduction of a variety of new birth control pills, patches and devices, including a new intra-uterine device (IUD) that works for years and limits menstruation. [Detroit News, 2 March ] IUDs are thought to work by preventing a newly conceived embryo from implanting in his or her mother's womb. Conventional 'contraceptive' drugs can also cause early abortions in some cases.