By Wesley J. Smith, J.D., Special Consultant to the CBC

Euthanasia guidelines don’t work as advertised. We’ve seen that truth evidenced again — in the Netherlands — and again — in Switzerland — and again — in Belgium — and again — in Oregon. A new study published in the British Medical Journal shows that in Flanders, Belgium, only half of the euthanasia deaths are reported as required by the law. From the study:

The reporting rate for euthanasia in Flanders in 2007 is estimated to be 52.8%. This means that only one out of two cases of actual euthanasia is reported to and reviewed by the Federal Control and Evaluation Committee, and one in two is not. The most important reason given by physicians for not reporting a case to the review committee was that the physician did not perceive the act to be euthanasia (76.7%).Alarge majority of the unreported cases (92.2%) were in fact acts of euthanasia as defined in our study but were not perceived or labelled as “euthanasia” by the physician involved. Unreported cases of euthanasia were generally dealt with less carefully than reported cases: a written request for euthanasia was absent more often; other physicians and care givers specialised in palliative care were consulted less often; the life ending act was more often performed with opioids, sedatives, or both; and the life ending drugs were more often administered by a nurse instead of a physician.

Not only is it against the law for nurses to kill patients, as we discussed here before, a study by the Canadian Medical Association found that nearly half of nurse administered euthanasia deaths in Belgium are without request or consent.

I also don’t buy that doctors don’t know when they are taking direct action to terminate a patient. But be that as it may, this study demonstrates — again — that euthanasia cannot be controlled by doctor administered death regulations. Once you let the vampire out of the coffin, it goes where it will. Guidelines are primarily there to give a comforting illusion of control.