Major gaps persist in knowledge of the practice of assisted suicide and euthanasia


‘On November 8, 1994, the citizens of Oregon voted in favor of a Death With Dignity Act…

Even though assisted suicide has been legal in Oregon for 25 years, there are big gaps in our knowledge of how assisted suicide and euthanasia work.

An article in BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care by two Belgian physicians outlines the shortcomings in research. Here are some of its findings:

…In some jurisdictions, research is quite difficult as there are no legally required reporting procedures. In some of them mentioning “medical aid in dying” on a death certificate is forbidden.

“One major caveat of studying MAiD practice through the reported cases is that it suffers from an under- reporting bias. Studies have estimated that, even several years after legalisation, from 1/5 (the Netherlands) to 1/3 (Belgium) [of] cases is [sic] not reported.”

“More in-depth knowledge overall is needed into the MAiD decision- making process, especially concerning vulnerable population groups such as the oldest old and people suffering from severe mental illness … most research on MAiD practice has been limited to interviewing or surveying physicians. More research exploring the narratives from patients and patients’ relatives is particularly needed to gain a more complete picture…”

“Concerns are also expressed regarding the possibility of people feeling pressured towards requesting euthanasia due to feeling a burden for their relatives and society in general and the fear that MAiD is seen too soon as a solution for suffering. Therefore, there is a knowledge-need about how MAiD legislation eventually affects societal discourses regarding palliative care, suffering, old age and dying.”’

Read more here…

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