The cross-party Working Group on Human Dignity in the European Parliament has strongly affirmed that elderly who are terminally ill should have access to comprehensive palliative care without having to fear that their life – especially at this most vulnerable stage – will be threatened by acts that hasten death.
“Euthanasia does not fit within this definition of palliative care,” the MEPs affirmed during a hearing on the topic ‘Elderly and Palliative Care’.
“Euthanasia is incompatible with human dignity,” stated Miroslav Mikolasik MEP (EPP). “Eliminating a problem by eliminating the person is not a solution.”
Father Patrick Verspieren SJ, COMECE‘s rapporteur on palliative care in Europe, said: “The time is ripe to enshrine in the legislation of each Member State a right to access to palliative care for every sick person whose condition requires it, to ensure that this right is respected and therefore to develop palliative care to the extent necessary – and to this end to create a sufficient number of institutions adapted to the needs and the culture of the country […] with the resources and the means necessary.”
“This requires that political decision-makers in every country should be aware of deficiencies in their health system and in the training of healthcare professionals in this field, and they should have a firm desire to provide a solution,” Verspieren continued. “This mobilisation of public authorities depends partly on the reaction of the population which currently remains, in too many countries, poorly informed and insufficiently aware.”
“Despite the trends emerging from the Netherlands and Belgium, and despite advancements in palliative care in recent times, there are consistent calls for governments to enact legislation to legalise euthanasia. Many would have doctors forced into positions where they become arbiters of life and death, rather than focusing on treating illnesses and providing palliative care,” said Laurence Wilkinson, European Legal Counsel of ADF International, referring to the case of Tom Mortier, the university lecturer who discovered that his mother has been killed under the euthanasia regime in Belgium. ADF International has taken the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
“Colleagues and experts strongly reject euthanasia legislation in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. We are hearing concrete and touching examples of how it [actually] works out in practice,” observed Bastiaan Belder MEP (ECR), Chairman of the Working Group.
“The road to euthanasia was paved with so many ideological arguments but how can it be controlled now? The quality of a society is measured by the attention a society pays its weaker members,” remarked Alojz Peterle MEP (EPP), vice-chair of the Working Group, on the importance of successfully integrating palliative care into existing healthcare systems.
The Working Group on Human Dignity is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Dignity, and is formally affiliated to the Dignitatis Humanae Institute. It was launched by President of the European Parliament Hans-Gert Pöttering MEP in 2009, with the purpose to serve as a catalyst to change the way policy makers perceive human dignity, emphasising the universal recognition of human dignity and the prospering of society.