Warning bells ring in the Netherlands
Life | Experts point out the repercussions of legalizing assisted suicide
by Leah Hickman
Posted 9/21/20, 04:40 pm
As countries around the world consider legalizing assisted suicide, strong voices out of the Netherlands warn of a slippery moral and ethical slope. In a Dutch medical journal last month, one of the Netherlands’ most prominent euthanasia providers chronicled how the practice easily went beyond its original limits. A different Dutch ethicist testified before the British Parliament this month that legalizing assisted dying leads to an increase of nonassisted suicides.
Countries that allow euthanasia “irrevocably slide down to the random killing of defenseless sick people,” Bert Keizer, who works for the Dutch end-of-life clinic Expertisecentrum Euthanasie, wrote in August in the NTGV Dutch Medical Association Journal. Laws intended to allow only terminally ill patients to end their lives early now let elderly people who are physically and mentally healthy but discontent with life request and receive euthanasia.
“Every time a line was drawn, it was pushed back,” Keizer wrote. He predicted the Netherlands would eventually offer euthanasia to prisoners serving life sentences and to disabled children whose parents think they have no hope of a full life.
Some lawmakers in the U.K. have renewed their push for legalizing assisted suicide, saying they want a “very, very tight reform” that would not lead to the slippery slope of the Netherlands.
Dutch ethics professor Theo Boer testified at a U.K. parliamentary event on Sept. 10, World Suicide Prevention Day. He once supported the expansion of assisted dying but changed his mind when he recognized negative effects such as how it exacerbated the suicide crisis in the West.
Boer presented statistics from the Netherlands that showed suicides in the country rose by 35 percent in the last decade, corresponding with a 150 percent increase in the number of people seeking assisted suicide. He said other countries such as Germany that do not allow euthanasia saw a decrease in suicides during that time: “The signal that is being sent to a society is that death is the solution to any form of unbearable and irremediable suffering.”
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