Euthanasia laws in the Netherlands and Belgium took effect in 2002.
What has occurred since that time is alarming to many inside and outside those countries.
A judge in Utrecht ordered the euthanasia death of an 80-year-old woman with dementia despite her doctors’ objections that she was not capable of consenting to a lethal injection. It was her family who said she wanted to die. The judge reprimanded the doctors for not respecting the woman’s wishes. She was euthanized the next day. [Daily Mail, 5/18/15]
The Dutch law states that only physicians can legally engage in euthanasia and assisted suicide. Yet a Dutch appeals court in Arnhem disregarded the law and cleared all criminal charges against Albert Heringa for assisting his mother’s suicide in 2008. The court said he had an “unwritten moral duty” to help his mother die. [AP, 5/13/15; Jurist, 5/14/15]
In June, the Dutch Pediatric Association (NVK) called for expanding the law to allow euthanasia for children under 12-years-old if their suffering is unbearable and hopeless and they understand what a euthanasia request means. If they don’t understand, then it should be up to the doctor and the child’s parents to decide if the child lives or dies. [dutchnews.nl, 6/19/15, 7/3/15](Continued, see “Belgium” on below.)
News briefs from home & abroad . . .
As is the case in the Netherlands, Belgium’s euthanasia and assisted-suicide practices are out of control.
A recent study, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, found that Belgian doctors are ending the lives of thousands of patients each year without those patients’ consent—in spite of the fact that Belgium’s euthanasia law stipulates that a patient’s death request must be voluntary and well considered.
Patients 80 and older who are not competent to request death, have incurable diseases, and whose quality of life is considered poor by doctors are most often the ones involuntarily euthanized.
According to Prof. Raphael Cohen-Almagor, the study’s author, “The decision as to which life is no longer ‘worth living’ is not in the hands of the patient but in the hands of the doctor.”
“The Belgian population should be aware of the present situation,” Cohen-Almagor warned, “and know that, if their lives may come to the point where physicians think they are not worth living… they might be put to death.”
The incidence of involuntary euthanasia deaths outnumber voluntary euthanasia cases. [Journal of Medical Ethics, 6/3/15]
Another alarming development involves a physically healthy, 24-year-old Belgian woman, fictitiously referred to as Laura, who is currently planning her funeral after Belgian doctors decided she was qualified for euthanasia.
She told the Belgian press that she wants to be euthanized because she’s had suicidal thoughts since she was in kindergarten. “I just never wanted to live,” she said. “Life, that’s not for me.”
A friend of Laura’s—another depressed and suicidal young woman who was in the same psychiatric facility as Laura—was euthanized 18 months ago.
[Newsweek, 6/29/15; Daily Mail, 6/27/15]
[ http://www.patientsrightscouncil.org/site/update-077-volume-29-number-3-2015-3/ ]