I would like very much to respond to all of your points, but due to some serious time constraints I am going to limit this to one to your comment regarding my lack of knowledge about involuntary euthanasia in Holland and your unfortunate comment – “...live in any number of other places you also know nothing about yet imagine fictitious laws there that prevent people from living as long as they please.”
Gosh, I don’t know where to begin, so in the interest of time I will be as brief as possible. Please forgive any misspellings or grammatical errors – needless to say, I am quite upset over your unfounded remarks. (I waited 24 hours before I responded in order to temper my rejoinder.)
1) I am half Dutch and half Belgian – born in Holland. I have lived in 10 different countries.
2) I just returned from Holland 8 weeks ago. I usually go to Holland, Belgium, and other European counties twice a year. Unlike you, I have first-hand knowledge of what is going on over there. Over 50% of Dutch & Belgian seniors are scared that they will fall prey to the culture of death. Some of them have even a plea (please don’t kill me) tattooed on their arms!
3) My Dutch grandmother was a victim of involuntary euthanasia. Dutch doctors are very good about hiding their outright murders of innocent elders. Had it not been for the intervention of my husband (a fairly well-known prosecutor), her doctor would have gotten away with it. My husband worked very closely with the Dutch authorities and long story short, this criminal is now behind bars for murdering at least 18 other unsuspecting seniors. It is believed that he killed even more.
As to my so-called lack of knowledge, listed below are some indisputable facts. I am a careful researcher and never shoot from the hip when it comes to making factual statements. I hope that you don’t continue the folly of believing everything you read on the internet! Google searches can be manipulated so that the first several pages only contain information that certain groups want you to see.
1) The 2005 study of End-of-Life Practices in the Netherlands that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that in 2005 there were 550 deaths without explicit request or consent in the Netherlands.
2) Three studies that were recently published concerning euthanasia in Belgium found that: a. 32% of euthanasia deaths that were done by physicians in the Flanders region of Belgium were done without explicit request or consent. b. A similar study that analyzed euthanasia deaths that were done by nurses in Belgium found that 45% were done without explicit request or consent. c.. The third study concerning the reporting of euthanasia in Belgium found that only 52.8% of all euthanasia deaths were reported.
3) A committee (Committee to Investigate the Medical Practice Concerning Euthanasia) was appointed by the Dutch government and was ordered to conduct a nationwide survey of the practice of euthanasia. Very reliable methods of study were adopted and the researchers working for the committee had taken every effort to obtain full and truthful information.
Here are some of their findings:
***EVERY FIFTH PERSON EUTHANIZED—In other words, every fifth person in the country dies of euthanasia. Euthanasia is not limited to patients in terminal condition. According to the doctors’ own assessments, in 21 percent of the cases euthanasia shortened the patients’ lives by one to six months; in eight percent of cases, by more than six months. Further, the handicapped newborn babies and the psychiatric patients are certainly not terminal, and yet, euthanasia is practiced in these cases.
***EUTHANASIA WITHOUT CONSENT - According to the data published in the report, 14,691 people died in one year alone by involuntary euthanasia, which means the suspicions that doctors had arbitrarily cut short patients’ lives were justified. When this occurred in the hospital, in 45 percent of the cases, euthanasia was carried out not only without the knowledge of the patients but also without the knowledge of the family.
The death of 8,750 persons was caused by withdrawing life-prolonging treatment without the patients’ knowledge. And the lives of 5,941 persons were actively terminated without the involved persons’ consent or knowledge by administering lethal injections. Fourteen hundred persons who underwent active, involuntary euthanasia were fully competent. In 8 percent of the cases, the doctors proceeded to perform active involuntary euthanasia while they believed that other courses of action were still possible. “Low quality of life,” “no prospect of improvement,” and “the family could not take it any more” were among the most frequently cited reasons to terminate the patients’ lives without their consent.
So it happens in Holland that when a person is admitted to a hospital, which they are supposed to trust, a doctor will evaluate the quality of his life, will make up his mind, and without asking the patient whether he wishes this or not, will give him an injection which stops the breathing and the heartbeat. One Dutchman out of 22 dies in this way. The report of the governmental committee is the first official acknowledgment that involuntary euthanasia is practiced in Holland.
Some of the patients whose lives were cut short without their consent or knowledge were conscious at the time they “euthanized”. Some of them were competent. The number of fully competent, not partially, but fully competent patients who, according to the doctors themselves, could well evaluate their own situation and make decisions, and in spite of that were not asked about their own wishes and lives, totaled 1,474. These patients underwent involuntary euthanasia — 1,474 fully competent people who never asked for it, never required it, never requested it, and did not know it.
***GUIDELINES WIDELY DISREGARDED—The report of the governmental committee is the first official acknowledgement that involuntary euthanasia is practiced in Holland, not as some sporadic act committed by outcasts, but as part of regular medical practice. The report also showed that the rules of so-called careful conduct officially accepted as guidelines for euthanasia are widely disregarded by the physicians. In cases of voluntary euthanasia, 19 percent of the general practitioners disregard the rule to consult another physician. And 54 percent do not record the proceedings in writing, as required by the rules. Sixty percent of the general practitioners do not consult another physician before carrying out involuntary active euthanasia. On the death certificates, 72 percent of the doctors conceal the fact that the patient died by voluntary euthanasia. In cases of active involuntary euthanasia, the doctors, with a single exception, never stated the truth on the death certificates. The total number of cases in which the death is deliberately hastened by action or omission, is perhaps the most striking finding published in the report. There were 130,000 deaths in Holland in 1990. Of these, 43,000 people died suddenly due to accidents or sudden cardiac death, and this precluded any medical decisions about the end of life in the wording of the report. Of the remaining 86,700 non-sudden deaths, in about 49,000 cases (which is 56.5 percent!) the physicians made decisions that possibly or actually shortened the patients’ lives. This figure exceeds all previous estimates!
***FEAR AND UNCERTAINTY —What is happening to the society which has embraced euthanasia? Of course, life and work go on very much as usual. You shouldn’t imagine that there are horrors seen in the streets of Dutch cities. It’s not apparent at first glance. It takes some insight to perceive the future danger even now. But change there is. In general, you can say that the message society sends to its members is changed now. Instead of the message humane society sends to its members, “everybody has the right to be around, we want to keep you with us, every one of you;” the society that has accepted euthanasia tells its people, “we wouldn’t mind getting rid of you.” And this message reaches not only the elderly and the sick, but all the weak and dependent.
As a consequence, some groups live in fear and uncertainty. The Dutch Patients’ Association (DPA) stated in 1985, “The fear of euthanasia among people has considerably increased.” Now the DPA operate a hotline for anxious patients and families, and this line is very busy every day. A group of severely handicapped adults from Amersfoort wrote in their letter to the Parliamentary Committees for Health Care and Justice, “We feel our lives threatened… We realize that we cost the community a lot.… Many people think we are useless… often we notice that we are being talked into desiring death .… We will find it extremely dangerous and frightening if the new medical legislation includes euthanasia.”
There were several reports that out of fear of euthanasia, elderly people refused to be placed in old-age and nursing homes, refused to be admitted to hospitals, or to see doctors or to take medicines. A study of the elderly done by Segers showed that 47 percent of those living in their own homes, and as much as 93 percent of those living in the homes for senior citizens, oppose euthanasia “because later on when they won’t be in command of the situation any more, their lives, against their will, will be put to an end by others.”
Pathetic attempts are made to protect oneself from imposed medical death. The Sanctuary Association printed “Declaration of the Will to Live” cards which anyone can carry on his person stating that the signer does not wish euthanasia performed on him. You can buy such a card for two guilders fifty, which is about one dollar and 30 cents, and fill it in.
Since euthanasia has become an option, it is now up to every disabled and dependent person to justify his staying alive. It is now he who owes an explanation to his attendants, to the community, to his own family. And this is being clearly felt at the unavoidable turning points when his condition deteriorates, or as new and unpleasant chores are required of his attendants, or when there is a shortage of nursing staff.
***MANY FEAR THEIR FAMILIES—When analyzing the changed public scene, Attorney General Schalken, one of the members of the governmental committee, revealed , that changes have already occurred in the way some people view their own families. Indeed, in a society which embraces euthanasia, the families are no longer the beings who enrich our lives, lend it scope, purpose, and meaning.
A study conducted among patients showed that many fear their own families because these are the people who decide upon euthanasia or pressure the patient to request it. There is an uncomfortable awareness that if a doctor arbitrarily cuts short your life, he would get away unpunished. The impunity of involuntary euthanasia means that the articles of the Dutch Constitution protecting life and person have been de facto suspended. Those passports for life, the pitiful papers saying that the signer does not wish to undergo euthanasia, show that for protection of their lives, people can no more rely on the rule of law.
The members of the committee fear that when the present practice of euthanasia on handicapped newborns is legalized and, practically speaking, it is has been permitted, if not legal, this will mean the doctors, acting as they do everywhere under state supervision, will issue some newborn citizens permits to live while destroying the lives of others. To exist, a human being will have to be approved by the government which is a reversal of the democratic principle that the governments, in order to exist, have to be approved by the people.
***COMPULSORY EUTHANASIA - Compulsory euthanasia for the demented elderly, as advocated by some in Great Britain and discussed very broadly by the Royal Society of Medicine, is presently practiced on a small scale in Holland.
And they say that there is no slippery slope in the Netherlands! That is only because they are already at the bottom of the slope. Zeke, it seems as if your sense of ethics may be headed in the same direction!