This article was written Jeanne Smits and published by LifeSiteNews on April 30, 2015
An 80 year-old woman in the Netherlands was euthanized last week after her family obtained a court order obliging the care facility for the elderly where she was living to let her leave in order to fulfill her “death wish.” The woman was incapable of expressing her will. She was legally killed one day after having left the Clinic “Ter Reede” in Flushing. The management, medical staff, and the woman’s general practitioner were all opposed to the euthanasia.
The case marks a milestone in the slippery slope of legal euthanasia in the Netherlands. For the first time, a court has overridden a doctor’s decision not to euthanize a patient because of his or her mental incapacitation, ordering measures to be taken for euthanasia to take place anyway. The “End of Life Clinic” took over at the family’s request to perform the act – whether in her former home or in that of her relatives is not clear. It was also involved in the euthanasia request itself.
Little is known about the woman’s condition. She was not staying in a hospital, but in one of the establishments of “WVO” (Werkt voor Ouderen : “works for the elderly”). The Clinic “Ter Reede” caters for the demented, offering them individual studios, a supermarket, a library, a café, a hairdresser’s, and even a shop selling old-fashioned Dutch sweets, as well as catering, help with domestic chores and entertainment.
Some sources say the woman was very ill. But the nature of her illness has not been revealed: it seems safe to assume that she was at least suffering from some form of dementia. Campaigns led by the “Right to die” association in Holland, NVVE, encourage elderly people in the Netherlands to make their wishes known beforehand in the event of losing their mental capacity, especially in the case of their becoming demented. The fear of losing the ability to recognize family members or of being placed in a specialized center are among the reasons given by the elderly who leave advance directives in view of euthanasia.
Most doctors in the Netherlands refuse to act on advance directives when patients have lost their ability to express their own will.
In this woman’s case, an emergency proceeding was initiated by her family in Middelburg, near Vlissingen in the south-west, once the clinic “Ter Reede” had refused to let her be euthanized there or anywhere else. The clinic’s management and the association WVO argued that the woman’s personal doctor as well as the house psychologist had found her incapable of expressing her will, and asked for an independent enquiry to be made into the woman’s condition. The judge refused, and ordered the clinic to hand her over to her family.