For years, pro-life activists have argued against the slippery slope of euthanasia. Once mercy killings were normalized, it was argued, they would become more common and larger numbers of people would be killed. That argument would seem to be proven after 15 years of legal euthanasia in the Netherlands.
In 2002, the Netherlands legalized euthanasia for those with “unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement,” according to the Telegraph. Since then, the country has expanded the right to die to more and more people including children and the mentally ill. According to a new report in Life News, euthanasia has even been approved for at least one “hopeless alcoholic.”
The article is based on a story in the Dutch magazine, “Linda,” in which Marcel Langedijk writes about his brother, Mark. Mark was an alcoholic and the father of two children. He fought alcoholism for eight years, losing his marriage in the process. After 21 trips to rehab or hospitals, Mark was tired of fighting and depending on his family to care for him. He asked to be euthanized.
The Life News account states that since he was physically and mentally ill, Mark met the minimum standard for death in the Netherlands. “A woman doctor in a black dress and sneakers arrived to give him his lethal injection. She confirmed his decision and then gave him three doses. He died quickly.”
According to the Telegraph, Mark is not alone. Euthanasia for people with mental illness and dementia are increasing. Euthanasia cases are up 75 percent in the past five years. Euthanasia for psychiatric reasons increased from 0.1 percent to one percent of the total. Dementia cases increased from 0.8 percent to two percent.
There have been several euthanasia cases for people with chronic depression. One euthanized patient was a sex abuse victim. Another was a victim of post-traumatic stress syndrome and personality disorder. The last was the mother of a three-year-old child.
The psychological grounds for euthanasia has been dumbed down to the point where, according to the Daily Mail, a woman with tinnitus, a ringing in the ears, was euthanized in 2013. The 47-year-old clarinet player said she was subjected to a constant noise in her head “like a train screeching or someone scratching their nails on a chalk board.” She was given a poison potion to drink by a doctor at the euthanasia clinic and left behind a 13-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl.
The Daily Mail notes that euthanasia has become so common in the Netherlands that almost everyone knows someone who has taken their life. As many as one in 33 Dutch people have been euthanized, about 6,000 in 2014. Since the Netherlands is a small country with a population less than that of New York City, the total numbers are small, but they are increasing.
With increasing numbers of mentally ill and dementia patients, an obvious question is whether they are competent to make the decision to end their life or whether they are pressured by friends and family members. There have been reports that thousands of Dutch patients have died in mercy killings without their consent. That doesn’t include the hundreds of babies born alive who are then “killed by doctors each year because they are deemed to be in pain or facing a life of suffering” according to another report from Life News. For many elderly and disabled Dutch, the fear of forced euthanasia is so great that they carry cards specifically stating that they do not want to be euthanized.
The marked increase in the number of killings and the lack of objective standards for who is allowed to be killed have caused some Dutch to change their minds about euthanasia. The killings started with the terminally ill, but have rapidly expanded to many patients who should be treatable.
Theo Boer, a Dutch ethicist who changed his mind on euthanasia after seeing the increase in killings, said on Life News, “Is it because the law should have had better safeguards? Or is it because the mere existence of such a law is an invitation to see assisted suicide and euthanasia as a normality instead of a last resort? Before those questions are answered, don’t go there. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely to ever go back in again.”
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