Friday, March 12, 2010

Euthansia in the Netherlands: A Disturbing Chapter in the History of the Spread of the Culture of Death

Joe Carter over at the First Things website in the On the Square section has an excellent article chronicling the history of euthanasia in the Netherlands. Some of it makes for extremely disturbing reading. Here is how it begins:
"For centuries, the Hippocratic Oath, including the admonition against abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia, formed the core of Western medical ethics. While the Hippocratic ideal has been eroding for decades, the most direct challenge has emerged in the Netherlands, with the cultural and legal acceptance of the right to die. The medical community and broader citizenry have so embraced the right to choose death for oneself that the Dutch parliament is currently considering legislation that would allow assisted suicide for anyone who has reached the age of seventy and has merely grown tired of living.

In any other country, such a proposal might be considered radical and shocking. But in the Netherlands—the country that first legalized euthanasia—the change in the law will merely decriminalize a practice that has been occurring for decades. An examination of how this formerly conservative, tradition-bound culture could adopt what the modern Hippocratic Oath refers to as “therapeutic nihilism” is useful for understanding how the other nations will begin to accept euthanasia in the near future.

As occurred in many Western countries during the 1960s, the people of the Netherlands began to reject traditional authority structures in favor of increased individual freedom. While the change led most visibly to a liberalization of attitudes toward sex and drugs, it also carried over into the role of doctors and patients, particularly in the expansion of patient’s rights and patient autonomy."
In the course of the article he notes many turning points and landmarks. One shocking fact emerges in the following paragraph:
"According to the Dutch Ministry of Justice, of the 135,675 deaths recorded in 1995, 3,600 (2.4%) were the result of a doctor-assisted termination of life while another 238 (0.3%) were cases of assisted suicide. The most disturbing statistic, however, is that 913 (0.7%) were terminations of life without the express request of the patient. For every three lives ended at the request of the patient, one person was killed without consent."
So not only is it not necessary for a person to request euthanasia or assisted suicide, consent is no longer required either. Doctors can simply choose to kill those whom they think should die. And they admit to not following legal guidelines:
"A survey of 405 Dutch doctors published in the Journal of Medical Ethics in 1999 revealed that safeguards established by the Royal Dutch Medical Association to control how and when euthanasia is performed were often ignored. Dr. Henk Jochemsen of the Lindeboom Institute for Medical Ethics and Dr. John Keown of the University of Cambridge found that almost two-thirds of cases of euthanasia and assisted suicide in 1995 were not reported."
This means that as many as 7.5% of all deaths in the Netherlands may be caused by doctors killing people, with as many as one-third of those done without consent. And it is not just the elderly. The killing of children is gaining momentum:
"In October 2004, the Groningen Academic Hospital officially proposed a government policy—dubbed the Groningen Protocol—which would allow doctors to legally euthanize children under the age of twelve for conditions in which suffering was “so severe that the newborn has no hope of a future.” The hospital even admitted to administering a lethal dose of sedatives to four newborns in 2003. In the previous three-year period, fourteen other cases had also been reported by various hospitals to the Justice Ministry. No legal proceedings were ever taken against either the hospitals that condoned the practice or the doctors who carried out the killings."
Perhaps the most shocking case is the one described as follows:
"As reported in one Dutch documentary, a young woman in remission from anorexia was concerned that her eating disorder would return. To prevent a relapse, she asked her doctor to kill her. He willingly complied with her request."
Here is how the article ends:
"Over a period of forty years, the Dutch have continued the search for where to draw the line with euthanasia, shifting from acceptance of voluntary euthanasia for the terminally ill, to voluntary euthanasia for the chronically ill, to non-voluntary euthanasia for the sick and disabled, to euthanasia for those who are not sick at all but are merely “suffering through living.” While the initial impetus may have been spurred by a desire to give expanded rights to the person who faces extreme suffering or imminent death, the effect has been to concentrate power into the hands of state-sponsored medical professionals. And while the justification for assisted death is usually the supposed well being of the suffering patient, the Dutch have redefined natural dependency into an unacceptable or unwanted social burden.

By conflating the duty to reduce suffering with the perceived necessity to eliminate all suffering, Dutch physicians have increasingly resorted to euthanasia as a novel form of sympathectomy. A sympathectomy is a medical procedure that is sometimes required after a localized trauma or peripheral nerve injury, when a person may feel a syndrome of pain and tenderness that can only be relieved by the excision of a sympathetic nerve. In a similar manner, when faced with the many pains, heartaches, and disabilities that eventually afflict most of us in one form or another, the Dutch are resorting to the excision provided by euthanasia.

In doing so, they are severing more than the cords of life, they are cutting the sympathetic nerves that tie us to our fellow human beings. By perverting the traditional role of the physician, the Dutch are making a mockery of true human compassion, and providing a stark warning to those aging societies, like our own, which might one day be tempted to allow this sympathectomy of the soul."
Read it all here.

Can anyone seriously doubt that Divine judgment will fall on a country that allows these things to go on? Pray for the Netherlands. Pray that Canada may be spared these horrors.

1 comment:

D. Chambers said...

Dr. Carter, as much as I do not want these things to happen to Canada I must say that I would like to see the consequences of a nation turning away from God come to fruition. God has been merciful to the Netherlands, but if they do not reap the fruits that they are sowing then we can never see it for the raw madness it is perpetuating. We must hope that Europe becomes as worst as it can before liberal supreme judges rule to pass in the same laws as them.