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Recently, pro-life leaders and experts in the field of euthanasia from throughout the world gathered in Hilversum, Holland, for an international conference – The Threat of Euthanasia. Hilversum, a picturesque Dutch village, is located near Amsterdam, in the heart of the pro-euthanasia movement.
Conference Chairman John C. Willke, MD, who is also the President of the International Right to Life Federation, opened the proceedings and welcomed presenters and participants. The event was co-hosted by the International Right to Life Federation and Schreeuw om Leven (Cry for Life), a Dutch pro-life, pro-family organization, under the leadership of Bert and Willie Dorenbos. Those gathered resembled a list of who’s who of world pro-life leaders representing the countries of : America, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Zambia and The Netherlands.
Dr. Willke provided a global update on pro-life trends and strategies to fight euthanasia. Greg Smith, President of New South Wales Right to Life of Australia, briefed the audience on the history, current status and future plans to reverse the first ever doctor-assisted euthanasia bill, officially passed into law. Krijn J.P. Haasnoot, MD, President of Holland’s Dutch Physicians’ League, shared what medical doctors, around the world, were doing to fight euthanasia.
Other presenters included: Mrs. Phyllis Bowman, President of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, who highlighted England’s world-leading hospice network. As a result of this superb system, they have been able to keep euthanasia from the shores of the United Kingdom. Brad Mattes, Executive Director of Life Issues Institute, presented a detailed report of the strategies of several pro-life entities working to stop euthanasia in America. Holland’s K.F. Gunning, MD, President of the World Federation of Doctors Who Respect Human Life, addressed the looming question of pain and suffering.
Barbara Willke, RN, also representing Life Issues Institute, revealed trends of pro-euthanasia organizations in America. Dr. Bert Dorenbos presented a paper on how new technology can be used to further the cause for life. In addition, he and John Smeaton of England shared practical ways in which this technology can be accessed and effectively used.
Conference participants were able to tour the first and only (to date) hospice in Amsterdam. There’s a tremendous need for such a facility in this large city. It is lovingly providing realistic alternatives to euthanasia, which is widely practiced, but not officially sanctioned, in The Netherlands. Latest figures report that of the 120,000 Dutch people who die each year, over 20,000 are killed by doctors.
Attendees were also treated to a private concert, held at the Kerbrink, a beautifully restored historic European church. The two hundred-plus voice choir was an inspiration to those gathered to protect innocent life.
The timing of this worldwide gathering was of particular importance due to the increased activity of pro-euthanasia forces around the world and pending court cases in the United States and Canada that will have a profound impact on society.
The contents of each presentation at this conference is currently being prepared for publication and will soon be available.