In 2013, 650 babies died under Holland’s assisted suicide law because their parents or doctors deemed their suffering too difficult to bear.
Although the law was designed to help terminally ill patients have a dignified death, the right to die has also been granted to a growing number of people who are physically healthy but have psychological problems. Official figures show that 13 patients suffering from mental illness were euthanized in 2011; by 2013 this number had risen to 42 patients.
And it is not just adults who are being euthanized. According to the Royal Dutch Medical Association, as many as 650 babies are killed by doctors each year because they are deemed to be in pain or facing a life of suffering.
Writing in the National Review, Wesley J Smith, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism has called on those who support assisted dying to “stop pretending assisted suicide is about terminal illness and admit it is much more about disability–which is why the disability rights movement remains so opposed as they are the primary targets. It is about allowing killing as an acceptable answer to many causes of suffering, whether terminal or chronic disease, disability, mental illness, or existential despair.”
Thankfully, according to Breitbart News, these statistics have caused some supporters of the legislation to question their reasoning. Dutch Ethicist, Theo Boer, used to believe that “slippery slope” arguments were invalid and argued in support of assisted suicide legislation; but now he has a very different view.
He said, “I used to be a supporter of legislation. But now, with twelve years of experience, I take a different view. At the very least, wait for an honest and intellectually satisfying analysis of the reasons behind the explosive increase in the numbers. 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.”
Meanwhile, a recent article in the Daily Mail highlights the problem with our society’s growing acceptance of assisted suicide.
In the article, the author starts by sharing the story of Andre Verhoeven, a man who chose to end his own life through lethal injection in the Netherlands. Andre was a schoolteacher and had plans to retire and travel the world with his wife, Dora.
However, at the age of 65, he was diagnosed with acute leukaemia, a cancer of the blood. Currently, there is no cure for this horrific disease and because of the complications, Andre became paralyzed from the neck down.
His daughter, Bregje, said, “His end was so peaceful. Once my father had decided on euthanasia, he was relieved. He was looking forward to the date he would die. In the last few days he was able to say goodbye to his family, his friends, to talk about old times.” This story is definitely heart wrenching but stories like this are fairly commonplace in discussions concerning assisted suicide. When we think of someone who chooses to commit suicide, we think of terminal patients like Andre who simply don’t want to suffer anymore. But what many people are unaware of is that assisted suicide advocates promote the euthanasia and suicide of non-terminal patients.
For example, the author of the Daily Mail article, Sue Reid, also shares the story of a woman whose assisted suicide choice paints a fuller picture of what’s going on in some parts of Europe.
She writes “In Holland I also spoke to the family of a 47-year-old woman with tinnitus, a persistent ringing in the ears, who ended her life last March with the help of an ‘Life End’ clinic. Gaby Olthuis, a divorcee, was a brilliant clarinet player, but said she suffered ‘24-hour noise’ in her head, ‘like a train screeching or someone scratching their nails on a chalk board’. She explained: ‘I look healthy from the outside, but inside I am being tortured.’
To end her suffering, she was given a lethal potion to drink by one of the clinic’s doctors at her home. Shockingly, she left behind two teenagers, a boy of 13 and girl of 15. Her mother Joan explained: ‘Gaby told the children that she was planning to die, she was in pain and there was no cure for her. The euthanasia was agreed by doctors and she said her goodbyes and had time to organize her memorial service. She died a month later. Of course the children miss her badly, but they understand her decision.” So in other words, Gaby legally killed herself because of persistent ringing in her ears. Now, we shouldn’t make light of her suffering, but most people would agree that this is absolutely outrageous.
In Holland, mentally ill patients are dying as well. In 2013, 42 psychiatric patients died through euthanasia, which is three times as many that died in 2012. Some of these patients chose to end their own lives but for others, their family members made the choice.
In the National Review, Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism said we should “stop pretending assisted suicide is about terminal illness and admit it is much more about disability–which is why the disability rights movement remains so opposed as they are the primary targets. It is about allowing killing as an acceptable answer to many causes of suffering, whether terminal or chronic disease, disability, mental illness, or existential despair.”
Here’s the unavoidable problem with assisted suicide legislation: today, we’re legally killing the terminally ill and the sick but assisted suicide laws won’t stop there, instead they will open Pandora’s box to all sorts of “justifiable” killing.