Dutch Lawmaker Warns Dementia Patients Being Killed

by Stephen Wynne  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  July 24, 2017   

Concerns mounting over Dutch euthanasia policy

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THE HAGUE (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Dutch lawmaker is slamming the creeping nature of euthanasia in the Netherlands.

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece Thursday, parliamentarian Kees van der Straaij warned that the government's euthanasia policy is an increasingly slippery slope, highlighting plans to expand euthanasia eligibility to those who are not ill, but merely feel that their lives are "complete."

Euthanasia lobbyists, he pointed out, maintain that safeguards built into existing Dutch law are enough to prevent abuse of the euthanasia policy; but in practice they are difficult to enforce.

Van der Straaij recounted the case of Hannie Goudriaan, who was profiled a Dutch television documentary on euthanasia. Suffering from dementia, Goudriaan drifted in and out of lucidity. At one point, she was overheard saying "Upsy-daisy, let's go." Her doctor and her husband both interpreted her to mean, "I want to die."

Goudriaan was subsequently euthanized, her final moments captured on film. "Terrible," she muttered, as the injection was administered.

In a subsequent review of the case, a committee ruled that Goudriaan's death was in accordance with Dutch law — "an outcome," Van der Straaij wrote, that "very few would have imagined possible as recently as 10 years ago."

Dutch MP Kees van der Straaij, euthanasia policy critic

The Netherlands was the first country to legalize euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. In the 1980s, the Royal Dutch Medical Association began collaborating with the country's judicial system to develop euthanasia guidelines.

Though technically illegal, the practices were tolerated for decades, until in 2002 they were fully legalized for patients in the last stages of life or for those suffering from a terminal illness.

In January 2016, euthanasia eligibility was extended to patients suffering from psychiatric disorders and dementia. A study published later that year in the Journal of Psychiatry found that in the dozens of cases reviewed, most euthanasia recipients "had personality disorders and were described as socially isolated or lonely." The majority of these were suffering from depressive disorders.

Official figures reveal that recourse to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide has been increasing in the Netherlands for several years. More than 6,000 Dutch were euthanized in 2016, a 10 percent increase over the previous year.

As many as 431 of these cases were administered "without explicit consent."

In January, a report emerged illustrating what euthanasia "without explicit consent" looks like. In a widely publicized case, a newly admitted nursing home patient was unhappy and having trouble adjusting to her new surroundings. After seven weeks, her psychological condition was judged irredeemable and euthanasia was prescribed. The NL Times described what came next:

To calm the woman down, the nursing home doctor gave her a first dose of sedative in a cup of coffee. A second dose was injected into her. She seemed to fall asleep. But when the infusion was inserted she "pulled back," and while the doctor injected the euthanasia agent, she moved as if to get up. The doctor decided to continue while family members held the patient down. The woman died shortly afterwards.

In February, 220 Dutch physicians took out a full-page ad one of the country's largest newspapers to denounce the country's ever-widening criteria of eligibility. "Our moral reluctance to end the life of a defenseless human being is too big," the ad declared.

Included among the signatories were physicians who specialize in assisted suicide.


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