Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
Newsweek published an extensive article titled: Dying Dutch. The article focuses on stories supporting euthanasia and assisted suicide and information from people like Theo Boer, who, for nine years was a member of a Euthanasia Evaluation Committee but now opposes it, because euthanasia in the Netherlands has become out-of-control.
Under the heading - Death is Contagious, The Newsweek article reports:
In the first few years after the Netherlands decriminalized euthanasia in 2002, the number of cases declined. Then, in 2007, the statistics began a steady climb, an average jump of 15 percent a year...
Theo Boer, the ethicist, has some theories. Once a supporter of euthanasia, he’s now one of its most vocal critics. Among the reasons for the euthanasia boom, Boer suggests, is propaganda. Over the past decade, he says, Dutch journalist Gerbert van Loenen has been tracking a series of documentary films that depict euthanasia in a wholly positive light. “They do ask certain questions,” Boer says. “But they systematically ignore most critical questions, so that the general public is presented with an opinion that is completely good, and has no risks. This is contagious.”
Another key factor: It’s getting easier each year to qualify for euthanasia. In the beginning, most of those eligible were terminally ill. Now doctors are helping people die if they no longer want to bear depression, autism, blindness or even being dependent on the care of others. “There are increasing numbers of double euthanasia—one of the partners is terminal and the other partner is care-dependent, they don’t want to live alone,” says Boer. One in 10 of the past 500 dossiers he has read contains some reference to “loneliness,” he adds. “Those are the cases where I have become increasingly uneasy.”
The numbers support Boer. In 2012, 13 patients were euthanized after convincing a doctor they were suffering unbearably from mental illnesses ranging from depression to schizophrenia. The following year, the figure more than tripled, to 44. The number of patients with dementia who killed themselves grew from 43 in 2012 to 97 in 2013. “I’m afraid,” Boer says, “the situation in the Netherlands is out of control.”Boer, who was a member of a regional euthanasia committee for 9 years commented on how the euthanasia law works.
In the Netherlands, a doctor must report the cause of such deaths to the coroner. The case is then reviewed by one of five regional Euthanasia Committees, consisting of a doctor, a lawyer and an ethicist. But that review happens after the patient is dead, and it’s only to determine whether a doctor might be charged with a crime. The review committees have deemed about five cases per year to be illegal since 2002, but no physicians have been prosecuted. “The doctors always promised not to make the same mistake again,”The article then explains that assisted death is also out-of-control in other jurisdictions.
The euthanasia debate is often reduced to horrifying anecdotes. A doctor in Switzerland is under investigation for helping French twins with schizophrenia kill themselves. In Belgium, where assisted suicide cases rose in 2013 by 27 percent to 1,816, a Brussels man arranged the “double euthanasia” of his parents so they no longer had to be alone.
“We see people denied the care they need for economic reasons. Assisted suicide is the cheapest kind of treatment that could be offered by the system. These pressures are a reason for concern.”
In 2008, Oregon Medicaid officials sent a letter to Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup after the couple sought treatment for her lung cancer and his prostate cancer. The state denied their (costly) treatment, but on a list of alternative options, it offered to pay for assisted suicide.
Coleman argues, doctors should offer better suicide prevention. When asked why they want to end their lives, people invariably check the same boxes: They’ve lost autonomy, or don’t want to be a burden on friends and family. But allowing physicians to help patients commit suicide is a cheap out, she says. What they should do instead is to help people make their lives livable, even if that’s just for the last few weeks.
“The majority of Jack Kevorkian’s victims were people with disabilities who were not terminal,” Coleman says. “I saw him on TV once say, ‘Well, they need it more, because they’re going to suffer long.’”Diane Coleman then offers her personal experience.
... After a lifelong battle with congenital myopathy, a neuromuscular disorder, she was hospitalized in 2012 with acute respiratory failure after a bout with viral pneumonia. On her way to the hospital, one of the EMTs asked her husband if she had a do-not-resuscitate order. “Something about the way they asked the question led him to not only say ‘No’ but also to explain to them that I have a full-time job,” she wrote later. “He felt that this changed their tone.” A month later, Coleman was again hospitalized with chest congestion, and one of her doctors questioned whether she wanted it treated. “He looked at me in my wheelchair with what I’m sure he viewed as sympathy for my condition and a genuine concern to be sure that he knew what I wanted. But I also felt sure that he wouldn’t have spoken that way to a nondisabled woman at age 58.” Again, Coleman said, “I have a full-time job,” and “he backed off, stopped talking and left.”The author finished the article by writing about the death of her grandma.
Once society determines that it is acceptable to kill a person, the only remaining question is for what reason.
- Theo Boer: Assisted Suicide - "Don't go there".
- Gerbert van Loenen: What happens once euthanasia becames legal.
- Diane Coleman: New Jersey assisted suicide proposal is a dangerous prescription.