WYA Releases New Declaration on Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia

March 6, 11, 13, 18, and 20, 2021, via Video Conference – World Youth Alliance recently concluded its 18th International Solidarity Forum on Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia which was held online for the very first time.

The International Solidarity Forum (ISF) is WYA’s annual training event. The ISF brought together its largest delegation ever of around 90 World Youth Alliance members from Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and the Carribean, and North America. The 2021 theme “Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia” opened discussions on the growing pressure related to physician assisted suicide and euthanasia. Delegates examined the “right to die” and what is required to respect each person’s dignity in end-of-life care in light of law, policy, and practice, with a special concern for the protection of the vulnerable.

Featuring experts in policy, medicine, and the vulnerable communities, attendees learned how to bring person-centered solutions in their own countries. After listening to the experts, WYA delegates then negotiated an outcome document articulating WYA’s views on the topics mentioned above.

Lecturers:

 

 

Farr A. Curlin, MD, is Josiah C. Trent Professor of Medical Humanities in the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities and History of Medicine; Co-Director of the Theology, Medicine and Culture Initiative at Duke Divinity School; and Senior Fellow in Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics. Before moving to Duke in 2014, he founded and was Co-Director of the Program on Medicine and Religion at the University of Chicago. At Duke, Dr. Curlin practices hospice and palliative medicine, and he works with colleagues across the university to develop opportunities for education and scholarship at the intersection of theology, medicine and culture. He has authored more than one hundred and thirty articles and book chapters dealing with the moral and spiritual dimensions of medical practice. Dr. Curlin’s work focuses on the relevance of religious ideas and practices for the doctor-patient relationship, the moral and professional formation of clinicians, and care for patients at the end of life.
 
 
 
After graduating in June 1995 as a Doctor in Medicine at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, Benoit Beuselinck spent several years working in Development Cooperation in Africa and Latin America. In 2003, he started an internship in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology in the University Hospitals of Leuven (KULeuven) and the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris (Université Paris-Descartes). In 2010, he became a staff member at the Department of Medical Oncology of the University Hospitals Leuven. He was appointed Professor of Medicine at the KULeuven in October 2015. Since the approval of euthanasia in Belgium in 2002, Benoit Beuselinck has taken several initiatives to show the shortcomings of this law. He actively contributed in 2014 to the mobilization of pediatricians against the extension of the law to children and in 2015 to the mobilization of psychiatrists against the application of euthanasia to patients with psychic suffering. He has published several studies and book chapters on the meaning of life in the suffering person, based mainly on the theories of Viktor Frankl.
 
 
 
Stephanie Woodward is an attorney and Disability Rights activist based in Rochester, NY. As the co-founder of Disability EmpowHer Network, Stephanie is committed to empowering young women with disabilities through transformational learning experiences. Stephanie attended Syracuse University College of Law where she earned her J.D. with a certificate in Disability Law and Policy and her M.S.Ed. in Disability Studies. Stephanie is a proud disabled person and member of ADAPT, a national grass-roots community that organizes to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom. She has been arrested multiple times while advocating for Disability Rights. Stephanie is also a member of Not Dead Yet, a national, grassroots disability rights group that opposes legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia as deadly forms of discrimination and she has also spoken on opposition to legalizing assisted suicide at conferences and other public forums as well as in media interviews.
 
 
 
MMag. Dr. Gudrun Kugler, Mts majored in Law and Theological Studies on Marriage and the Family. She holds a PhD in International Law and serves as a member of the Austrian parliament (ÖVP), and is the human rights spokesperson of her party. Before that, she was a member of Vienna’s Regional Parliament from October 2015 where she especially covered human rights, European affairs, and integration of refugees. Gudrun was the director of the Catholic online dating service kathTreff.org which operates in nine languages and in 13 countries. She founded the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe. Since September 2008, she is a visiting professor at the International Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Trumau, Austria. From 2001 to 2004, she worked as a director of WYA Europe. She is married to Martin and has four children. They live in Vienna, Austria.
 
 
 

 

Kristen Hanson is Community Relations Advocate for the Patients Rights Action Fund (PRAF), a national, secular, non-partisan leader in the defense of the rights of patients, people with disabilities, elders, and the poor from the threat of legalized assisted suicide. She did her undergraduate work at The University of Miami, and earned a master’s in Education at SUNY New Paltz. She is the widow of JJ Hanson, a Marine Corps combat veteran, and late president of the Patients Rights Action Fund. At 33, her late husband, JJ, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and given only a few months to live. He went on to live for over 3.5 years, dedicating his final days to fighting the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. Kristen continues to share their story to provide hope to people in similar circumstances and to challenge policymakers and medicine to reject such a dangerous public policy. She has been published and interviewed in media outlets such as the Washington Post, the New York Post, and CBS Sunday Morning News.
 
 
 

 

Grégor Puppinck, PhD, is the Director of the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ). In 2016, he was appointed member of the Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief of the OSCE/ODIHR. Since 2000, he regularly serves as an expert representing the Holy See in committees of the Council of Europe, currently in the Committee of experts on the System of the European Convention on Human Rights (DH-SYSC), under the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH). After passing his Master of Law from the Law School of Pantheon-Assas (University Paris II), he graduated from the “Institut des Hautes Etudes Internationales” (IHEI) where he specialized in International and European Law (1999). Grégor Puppinck holds his Ph.D. with a dissertation entitled “The Author of the Bioethical Norms”, where he studied the elaboration of the norms at the crossroad of ethical, scientific and legal normativities (Summa cum laude, 2009). He has lectured on human rights, international and constitutional law at the Law School of the Universities of Mulhouse and Strasbourg and has authored several books and numerous legal articles published in several languages.
 
 
 

 

Mislav Barišić joined WYA by attending WYA’s Certified Training Program (CTP) in Croatia in 2014. He served as president of WYA Croatia, is a longtime CTP trainer, and was active in a number of WYA projects. He is a graduate of the University in Zagreb where he studied the Law and has a degree in French Language and Literature and Philosophy. His interest in philosophy, politics, history and science are something that led him to the position of Director of Advocacy at WYA Europe which he currently serves.
 

 

Hrvoje Vargic is originally from a small town of Đakovo in the eastern part of Croatia, but moved to Zagreb when he was 18 to pursue his studies. He holds a BA in Business and Master of Arts in Economics from the University of Zagreb. Prior to being selected as WYA Europe Regional Director, he worked as project manager for a business consultancy company. He also holds a second BA in Philosophy and has finished the MA Philosophy Program of the University of Zagreb. He is a Phoenix Institute alumnus, from which he was awarded a Diploma in Advanced Studies in Political, Economic and Social Sciences. Hrvoje was one of the founders of the WYA Croatia Chapter in 2012, and was part of several other civic initiatives in Croatia. He has given several speeches in different symposia and conferences, published a scientific article in a peer reviewed journal, and co-authored a book on EU project management. He is happily married to Maja, who is his greatest supporter.

Countries Represented:

  • Austria
  • Bangladesh
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Cameroon
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Congo
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Dominican Republic
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • France
  • Germany
  • Guatemala
  • Hungary
  • Iraq
  • Italy
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Lebanon
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Palestine
  • Paraguay
  • Poland
  • the Philippines
  • Russia
  • Saint Lucia
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Thailand
  • Tunisia
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA
  • Zambia

ISF Highlights

Experts in the field of the theme, including activists, professionals, researchers, and scholastics, presented global issues to the participants. The positions expressed by the lecturers in the ISF greatly influenced the declaration made. Although the ISF was hosted online, the delegates were still able to experience different cultures and perspectives during the event especially during the closing ceremony which was hosted via Gatherly (an online event platform that replicates the experience of physically moving between rooms). 

As a diverse group of people from different parts of the world, the discussions tackled topics reflecting insights from their respective regions.

The Declaration on Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia is now available on WYA’s Declarations page.