A new documentary sheds light on the horrors families in Belgium are enduring after 15 years of legalized euthanasia, and those behind the film say it is meant as a warning to other nations not to follow this path and explain how euthanasia is not the ultimate act of autonomy as its proponents claim.
Titled “The Euthanasia Deception: We Are All Vulnerable,” the documentary looks at the big-picture impact on health care in Belgium and also chronicles several heartbreaking stories of people who believed the callousness of the culture with euthanasia robbed them of time with their loved ones.
“The culture has become very accepting of euthanasia,” said Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and executive producer of “The Euthanasia Deception.”
“People are just giving up on life,” he told WND and Radio America. “Because euthanasia is an option, they are just saying, ‘I have cancer. I have early-stage Alzheimer’s or early-stage dementia.’ They ask for euthanasia and they qualify.”
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Schadenberg said the documentary is a splash of cold water in contrast to what the mainstream media say about euthanasia.
“This video is warning the world that what you’re hearing from the general media is not true,” he said. “What happens in the culture when you allow for euthanasia or assisted suicide is, it changes the attitude in general toward dying in one way, but in the second way toward causing the death of somebody.”
He said the Belgian society’s value of life is also plummeting as a result, for the elderly, the sick and the disabled.
“If you have any sort of sickness or disease that is considered somewhat serious, even if it’s in its earliest stages, you’re seen as better off dead,” Schadenberg said. “The cultural shift as occurred.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Alex Schadenberg:
As euthanasia gains in cultural acceptance, Schadenberg said there are more and more cases every year.
“The latest data showed about 4.6 percent of all deaths, which is about 4,000 euthanasia deaths in Belgium alone, which is a very tiny country,” said Schadenberg, who noted that assisted-suicide states in the U.S., such as Oregon and Washington, also see an increase in euthanasia deaths year after year.
He said the numbers may be even higher in the U.S. since the doctor administering the lethal drugs is also responsible for reporting the death as an assisted suicide, and some don’t do that in all cases.
Euthanasia is specifically giving doctors the right to terminate a life. Assisted suicide, which is legal in a handful of U.S. states, gives doctors permission to prescribe lethal doses of drugs that the patients then administer to themselves.
The argument to the contrary, of course, is that euthanasia and assisted suicide give the patients full control over the time and means of their own death, that it is the ultimate act of autonomy and a valid option in avoiding excruciating pain.
Schadenberg said this is one of the biggest myths involved with euthanasia. First, he said a huge chunk of euthanasia deaths in Belgium are not decided by the patients or their families.
“The studies show that, in Belgium, about one-third of all assisted deaths are done without requests,” Schadenberg said.
Watch a trailer for the documentary, “The Euthanasia Deception”:
Even when the patients or loved ones are involved in the deliberations, Schadenberg said it is not really autonomy.
“It’s not exactly an autonomous act. When we’re talking about euthanasia, we’re talking about somebody else lethally injecting you,” he said. “Even in assisted suicide, you’re talking about the decision of the doctor to be directly involved with the provision of a lethal dose.”
“The whole autonomy thing has a lot to do with selling it to our culture. Our culture is all about autonomy. This act is about somebody else having the right in law to cause your death,” Schadenberg said.
And he said he wants all other societies to see the effects of euthanasia because the world cannot put the genie back in the bottle.
“The problem is, by the time you’re asking whether this was or wasn’t a good idea, by then it’s become so culturally ingrained that’s it’s almost impossible to convince people that what they did to their mother or what they did to their friend was not an acceptable thing to do,” Schadenberg said.
In “The Euthanasia Deception,” the filmmakers feature numerous interview with families in agony over the deaths of their loved ones to euthanasia. One man told the story of his mother being euthanized while in fine physical health but asked and received a lethal dose because she was depressed.
Another tells the story of his grandmother unwittingly consenting to the termination of her husband’s life.
“The doctor said to his grandmother, ‘Do you want to keep your husband comfortable?’ She said, ‘Of course, I want to keep my husband comfortable.’ In no way did she realize what he was actually meaning by that was euthanasia,” Schadenberg explained.
The corrosive culture even hurts families who haven’t lost a loved one. One man interviewed is the father of an adult special-needs daughter.
“He remembers being asked on several occasions just going for a walk with the family and he’s got his daughter in the wheelchair. People come up and say, ‘Why didn’t you have your daughter euthanized?’ That’s a shocking cultural thing to happen to you,” Schadenberg said.
He said the documentary has a powerful takeaway for all viewers.
“Is it ever right for someone else to be directly involved with causing your death? And the answer is no,” he said.
More information on “The Euthanasia Deception” can be found at CaringNotKilling.com.