UK bioethics centre releases data-driven guide to assisted suicide

Belgian legislators voted to make their country the world's first to allow euthanasia for small children, despite vigorous opposition from the Catholic Church and all main religious groups. (CNS photo/ Laurent Dubrule, Reuters)

A leading Catholic academic institute in bioethics has released a guide to data surrounding assisted suicide and euthanasia, in an effort to help form public opinion.

‘Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: A Guide to the Evidence’, released by The Anscombe Bioethics Centre, links to data from the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the American states of Oregon and Washington, where the practice has already been legalised.

According to the guide, it aims to “inform the debate” and help people decide whether or not they are reassured by the courses of action taken in these countries.

The centre, which has said inaccurate media-friendly public opinion polls have dominated the debate, has used research and data in peer reviewed journals to paint the most accurate picture of public opinion, noting that people are liable to change their mind when presented with the best arguments from each side.

The evidence laid out in the guide, shows a steady increase in the use of assisted suicide and euthanasia in these countries, while the use of safeguards, like psychiatric assessment, have decreased. The practice is also being used more liberally to include patients with a variety of conditions.

In the Netherlands, the guide says, euthanasia doubled for those with mental disorders and increased by 130% for dementia sufferers between 2012 and 2013.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticised the country twice for its use of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

MPs will debate a Bill which would legalise assisted suicide for the terminally-ill on September 11.