Dutch Euthanasia Law Marks 5th Anniversary – What They Won’t Tell You

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 4, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Dutch Euthanasia Law Marks 5th Anniversary – What They Won’t Tell You Email this article
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by Wesley J. Smith
April 4, 2007

LifeNews.com Note: Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, an attorney for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture.

In his book Seduced by Death, Herbert Hendin reported that one reason the Dutch people have not turned against their euthanasia law is that doctors and the media in Holland do not candidly report about the many abuses and violations of the law that occur with regard to their country’s euthanasia policy.

A recent news report on Radio Netherlands, to commemorate the fifth anniversary of formal legalization, gives a good example. It contained no discussion of the approximately 1,000 patients who, without requesting euthanasia, are nonetheless killed by Dutch doctors.

It contained no discussion of the Dutch Supreme Court permitting the depressed to be assisted in suicide. It contained no substantive dissent at all.

It did, however, contain quotations from Dr. Bert Keizer, author of the book Dancing with Mr. D, in which he describes his euthanasia work as a nursing home doctor. He said, for instance, “People who ask for euthanasia are not put under pressure, they are under the burden of suffering.”

Hendin and others have demonstrated otherwise. And there are all sorts of ways to pressure patients into killing themselves—some of which in Keizer himself notes in his own book. For example, there’s Van de Berg, a Parkinson’s patient who asks for euthanasia. But before Keizer can kill him, Van de Berg receives a letter from his religious brother telling him that it would be a sin to commit suicide and would violate the way they were raised as children by their parents.

The man hesitates. Keizer is not amused. From page 94:

And now this letter, which to my surprise, he takes seriously. I don’t know what to do with such a wavering death wish. It’s getting on my nerves. Does he want to die or doesn’t he? I hope I don’t have to go over the whole business again. . . . Suddenly, I have an idea: “You know what we’ll do? We’ll ask Hendrik Terborgh, our vicar. Would you agree to that?” He cries and types “yes.” . . .

Next day Hendrik tells me that it’s all right. He refers to his meeting with Van de Berg. “Well, he knows what has to be done. He knows what he wants now.” . . . It goes well. He has good veins.

Keizer does not tell us what the vicar told Van de Berg, but I think it is a good bet he didn’t engage in suicide prevention or validate the brother’s religious concerns. Also, note that Keizer is far more concerned about the bureaucratic matters than with the well being of his own patient. One can imagine how depressing it would feel to have such a doctor, how alone and abandoned it would seem.

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