There is such a thing as the “slippery slope” and it’s alive and well in the Netherlands. Once the country legalized doctor-induced euthanasia for physically suffering adults, courts and medical professionals began expanding the practice to include children, disabled newborns, and those with mental suffering like depression.
Now, there is a citizens’ initiative being circulated calling for euthanasia deaths for all Dutch people over the age of 70 who are simply tired of living.
In just one week, the petition garnered more than the required 40,000 signatures needed to force a debate in the Dutch Parliament.
One initiative backer, Dutch lawyer Eugene Sutorious, said there would be virtually no abuse risk for the over 70 set: “No one stands to win or gain personally from it”. When asked about the existence of a slippery slope in the Netherlands, Sutorious replied, “I have seen nothing of the kind happen.” [NRC Handelsblad, 2/8/10; Dutch News 2/14/10]
Recently released figures indicate that the number of reported 2009 euthanasia and assisted suicide deaths increased by 200 cases over the previous year, bringing the total to 2500. According to the Dutch Right to Die Association, six of those cases involved the induced deaths of “people in the early stage of dementia”. [NVVE, Relevant Magazine, 1Feb10; International Task Force Update, 2010, vol. 24, no. 1, internationaltaskforce.org]