Seventeen years after the Netherlands decriminalised euthanasia, more than 25 per cent of all deaths in the nation are induced, rather than through illness or other natural causes. Source: Aleteia.
That figure is based on statistics from 2017 and includes almost 6600 cases of euthanasia, 1900 suicides and some 32,000 people killed through a practice called palliative sedation, according to an article published in The Guardian last week.
In the article, journalist Christopher de Bellaigue traces the history of euthanasia in the Netherlands from when it was introduced in 2002 for extreme cases (“unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement”) to the point where some are advocating for a legal pill that practically anyone can take in case they are tired of living.
“The process of bringing in euthanasia legislation began with a desire to deal with the most heartbreaking cases—really terrible forms of death,” said Theo Boer, who teaches ethics at the Theological University of Kampen. “But there have been important changes in the way the law is applied. We have put in motion something that we have now discovered has more consequences than we ever imagined.”
Mr Boer is a former member of one of the five regional boards that were set up to review every act of euthanasia and hand cases over to prosecutors if irregularities are detected, Mr de Bellaigue explained.
“One of the reasons why euthanasia became more common after 2007 is that the range of conditions considered eligible expanded, while the definition of ‘unbearable suffering’ that is central to the law was also loosened,” he wrote.
Today, euthanasia is counted as a basic health service, covered by the monthly premium that every citizen pays to his or her insurance company, Mr de Bellaigue said.
Physicians can opt out, but an agency known as the Levenseindekliniek, or End of Life Clinic, matches doctors willing to euthanise people with patients seeking an end to their lives. In 2017, the Levenseindekliniek was responsible for the euthanasia of some 750 people.
Death on demand: has euthanasia gone too far? (The Guardian)