Members of the government’s Medical Ethics Committee unanimously oppose the proposal for a law on voluntary assisted dying, drafted by the Silver Thread Association for Ageing with Dignity (Društvo Srebrna nit). Members of the Committee believe that the bill brings with it a high ethical risk, according to an explanation of their position, sent to the media by the Commission’s chairman, Božidar Voljč.
The Commission, which is an advisory body to the Minister of Health, stressed in the explanation of its position that it is obvious that the bill was prepared with good intentions, but that they wish to draw attention to its nature. In their view, the law would introduce a situation in which doctors would act in accordance with the law but contrary to the ethical principles of their profession. If the proposal is adopted, the mismatch between professional ethics and practice will be reinforced, which, according to the Commission, cannot have good consequences: “This is not changed by the fact that there are euthanasia advocates among doctors in Slovenia who would be willing to implement the law.”
The Commission added that the bill lists unbearable suffering as a key condition for ending one’s life, linking it to various medical conditions or disabilities. However, the cause of suffering is not decisive in defining unbearable suffering. The image of suffering varies from case to case and is a purely personal experience. What is unbearable for one person is bearable for another, and the judgement of others, including those closest to us, is always risky.
“In view of the above, the Commission doubts that patients will always choose to end their lives, even if seemingly freely, without external influence or pressure. Forced death wishes will result in the murder of patients, which cannot be regarded as a voluntary ending of their lives,” they stressed.
Members of the Commission also warned that even if everything was done under proper supervision and in accordance with the law, the reactions of the doctor’s patients and the local environment would be different. “The doctor and nurse will be perceived differently by patients and people in the environment in which they live and work, they will be associated with death, they will be burdened by any subsequent conscientious objections from relatives, all to the detriment of their reputation and professional dignity.”
Members of the Commission also pointed out that in the face of euthanasia, the Commission has always called for palliative care to enable a pain-free death, with the emotional and social support of human dignity.