Monday, September 19, 2011

Euthanasia film on Youtube "Euthanasia: False Light"

Between the scaremongering introduction and the blatant pulling of heartstrings about how much these terminally ill people enjoy life, this film does raise one or two interesting issues. It's helped me understand some of the anti-euthanasia framing a little better I think. Unfortunately it also has a few outrageous-sounding claims about how euthanasia is practised in Holland that I can't readily verify.

The framing I see is simply one of mistrust, specifically mistrust of the medical system. This is fair in that no modern system is infallible. But it seems to go further in this film: doctors are presented as inherently unable to judge the question of life and death accurately, and this seems to be at least in part because subjective experiences of life and death are viewed as inherently spiritual, not medical, concerns.

One recurring person in the film was a doctor, and he raised an interesting point in that doctors are trained to be clinical, and that talking to patients about issues of life and death with a patient require an empathetic approach, not a clinical one. Doctors right now aren't really trained to handle euthanasia very well because they see it in clinical, not medical, terms. Is this true?

I ask because several of the claims made about how euthanasia had worked out in Holland seem a tad dubious. One of them was referenced on ABC show QandA tonight. The claims were (1) that handicapped children are being euthanised in Holland, (2) that some people in Holland felt the need to go around carrying cards in their wallets saying "do not euthanise me", and (3) that an un-named 26-year-old ballerina was euthanised after getting arthritis in her toes, and the doctor who euthanised her said "one doesn't enjoy these things, but it's her choice". A garbled version of the last claim appeared on QandA, saying she was 25 rather than 26, and claiming that the doctor was required to perform the euthanasia (something that I don't think was mentioned in the film at all).

I'm going to have a quick hunt to see if these claims can be verified or not, though I don't hold out much hope. The film itself is fairly short, and is on Youtube. It's two parts, each about 7 minutes each:

Part 1
Part 2

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