Reasons people are being euthanised without consent

Western Australia’s Report on the Joint Select Committee on End of Life Choices, suggested that legalising euthanasia reduces the risk of patients being put to death without their consent. 

The WA report reads:

[I]ntroducing a legal framework for assisted dying reduces the incidence of unlawful activity, including non-voluntary euthanasia.

The Committee, however, failed to report the frightening reasons patients are being put to death without their consent under a legalised euthanasia regime.  The very study they used to suggest that legalising euthanasia improves the safety of vulnerable people revealed some very alarming reasons that people were being put to death without their consent.

The study found that in a six-month period, life-ending drugs were used to kill 66 people without their explicit consent.  That equates to one person being killed without their consent every three days. 

Of those being killed without their explicit consent:

  • in more than 77 per cent of cases, the decision was not discussed with the patient;
  • in more than half of cases, the patient had never expressed a desire for their life to be ended;
  • in 17 per cent of cases, the decision was made because the person making the decision decided it was “clearly in [the] patient’s best interests”;
  • in more than half of the cases, the reason given was because killing the patient was the wish of the family;
  • in 38 per cent of the cases, the reason given was because it was an unbearable situation for the family;
  • in 46 per cent of cases, the patients received less than a month of treatment for their illness; and
  • in more than 20 per cent of cases, the physician was not present when the lethal drugs were administered.

As frightening as these statistics contained in this report are, what is more frightening is that the WA Joint Select Committee used this report to try and prove the point that legalised euthanasia was safer than having it banned. 

If one person being killed every three days is proof that a legalised euthanasia regime is safe, one would have to ask how many people would need to die for it to be deemed “unsafe.”

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