Euthanasia laws in the Netherlands are very liberal, leaving not only physically ill but also mentally ill patients vulnerable to assisted suicide.
In one case in the Netherlands recently, this resulted in death for a depressed patient with autism. The Washington Post report on this disturbing case shows that Holland’s Regional Euthanasia Review Committees “almost never find fault” with “mercy killings.”
In a recent case, a 30-something patient with autism was labeled “treatable” by one Dutch doctor, but after one more year his request to be killed was approved. The patient was administered a fatal combination of drugs, though the man’s only diagnosis was autism, according to the report. Doctors said the man had been neglected and abused as a child, which also could have been a factor in his wish to die.
The man was one of 110 people to be euthanized for mental disorders between 2011 and 2014 in the country, according to the report. This is a tremendously high number, especially given that the country’s population is nearly 20 times smaller than the United States’.
Columbia University psychiatrist Paul S. Appelbaum writes that widespread euthanasia access is “inducing hopelessness among other individuals with similar conditions and removing pressure for an improvement in psychiatric and social services.”
Appelbaum chairs the World Psychiatric Association’s ethics committee and is planning to address the issue this month.
In the Post article, Charles Lane says, “Once the Netherlands authorized euthanasia for physical illnesses in 2002, demands to extend this ‘right’ to the suffering mentally ill were inevitable and, indeed, logically consistent.”
Assisted suicide also is facing increased access in Canada, with pressure to include that access to patients with mental illness.
In a column at LifeNews, Wesley Smith listed the proposed guidelines for Canada’s new assisted suicide laws:
- Death on demand for those with medically diagnosed serious sicknesses;
- Death on demand for those with disabilities;
- Death on demand for those with medically diagnosed mental illnesses.
- Death on demand for “mature” children with the above conditions, perhaps with parental consent required;
- Nurses ordered to participate in euthanasia under the direction of a doctor, normalizing killing as an answer to suffering and making it easier for doctors to avoid the dirty work of homicide;
- Government-paid euthanasia.
The assisted suicide push also continues in the United States. In October, California became the fourth state to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide.