Sean Davison - from inconsistent to unbelievable

We reported recently that the head of South Africa's pro-euthanasia organisation had admitted at the Chicago gathering of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies (WFTRDS) that he had assisted in the death of a South African doctor in 2013. 

We believe that this death should be investigated by the South African authorities and, if what Davison is saying is found to be true, he should be charged under South Africa's criminal code.

Davison himself seems not too concerned, telling South African media that, "I would be worried if there was something to worry about." He also curiously stated that he would not be willing to do the same again.

"Anrich Burger was a very close friend. I wouldn't want to ever go through that again. It was very stressful," said Davison in an interview.

But Davison seems happy with the idea that South African doctors should be able to do what he claims is too stressful. The same article says that his group is preparing a bill for the South African parliament.

We pointed out in our last article that not only had Davison most likely stepped outside for the law, but that he had also stepped outside of the limits that his organisation proposes for legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide. Dr Burger was not terminally ill.

But what if, in a legalised context, someone did precisely what Davison himself claims to have done and stepped outside the law? What if another doctor killed another quadriplegic who was not terminally ill?

If the authorities do not investigate Davison they will be giving a clear message that such breaches will likely be ignored - as they are in Belgium; as they are in Holland.

That this faux division between what is legal and what is not is simply a technicality can be quite easily observed when we consider that, either side of the 'safeguards' line, it is still the killing of a patient and may still be claimed as for 'compassionate reasons'. Once the extant prohibition is breached, this all becomes rather arbitrary. We will not have shifted the line of prohibition on killing; we will have totally obliterated its meaning and potency.

Consider the example of the draft euthanasia & assisted suicide bill currently being considered by the Australian Senate Inquiry. It provides for legal immunity for any doctor who kills a patient solely on the basis that he or she is cognisant of the legal provisions and acts in good faith. This is really a 'get out of jail' card, or perhaps more accurately, a 'get away with murder' card. 'Good Faith' is very difficult to prove and would be assumed in the absence of anything to the contrary.

Davison is nothing if not inconsistent and unbelievable, both in his actions and also in his own rhetoric. Not only has he acted outside of his organisations stated ethical framework, he has also tried to sell a 'dummy pass' by insinuating that his plan is only as a 'last resort'; when all else fails.

We have written before on this false notion of the 'last resort' which was also powerfully debunked most recently by Wesley Smith. Given that Davison's organisation, like most of their counterparts worldwide, also promotes patient autonomy through Advance Care Directives, he should be well aware that this idea of 'when all else has been tried' is utter nonsense. No-one can be forced to exhaust all medical options. No one can be forced to accept any intervention. Davison knows that. He's acting like the snakeoil salesman who knows that his product is flawed and ineffective but who plays on people's natural emotions and concerns. Never mind the detail, just open wide and swallow the 'sincerity' pill!

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