Netherlands: New push for suicide pill

This article was published on the HOPE Australia website on May 24.

By Paul Russell, the director of Hope Australia

Paul Russell

Paul Russell

There’s a question that I have put to those who are pushing for euthanasia and assisted suicide laws on occasion. Put simply I ask: If you are successful in your push for law reform on this subject, will you celebrate your victory and then close down your organisation? After all, if the objective is reached, what else is there to do?

I expect that there would be ‘rank-and-file’ members of the various societies and organisations on this bandwagon who may well think: job done, back to the gardening (or other pursuits). But not so the leadership.

Unless a parliament is willing, in the first instance, to legislate euthanasia and assisted suicide for everyone in any circumstance, there will always be more to agitate for. Of course, such a bold initial push is never likely to happen. That’s why, in observing repeated attempts to legislate in my home state of South Australia, we see variations on the theme in the many different ways that bills have been designed and presented, all with the primary goal of getting something (anything!) on the statutes. Go for the full agenda and failure is guaranteed; go for a minimalist approach and maybe success will come, enabling, thereafter, the possibility of an incremental agenda.

We are seeing this in Canada at the moment with the excise of euthanasia and assisted suicide for minors and for mental health issues from the debate and the promise of revisiting that agenda in three years’ time. Even in Belgium, which enacted the most liberal of euthanasia laws in 2002, we saw the amendment to include children pass in the parliament in 2013. In Holland there is continued agitation for euthanasia under the term ‘tired of life’ or ‘completed life’, ostensibly for people over the age of 70. The Dutch parliament is also looking into child euthanasia whilst already having euthanasia available for ‘emancipated minors’ from the age of 12.

Today the Dutch news is reporting that two euthanasia organisations are renewing their push for the so-called ‘Drion Pill’ to be available ‘for people who do not qualify for euthanasia.’

Link to the full article

Netherlands euthanasia clinic approves lethal injection for a woman who was sexually abused as a child

Alex Schadenberg, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

On May 14, the Daily Mail reported that a 45 year old woman, known as "Jackie," was approved for euthanasia based on psychiatric issues related to sexually abuse.

"Jackie" is the most recent case in a trend of increasing numbers of euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands combined with increasing numbers of euthanasia deaths for psychiatric reasons.

The 2015 Netherlands euthanasia report stated that there were 5561 reported euthanasia deaths in 2015, up from 5306 in 2014, there were 109 reported euthanasia deaths for dementia, up from 81 in 2014, and there were 56 reported euthanasia deaths for psychiatric reasons, up from 41 in 2014.

News about this recent case comes after the shocking case of a physically healthy woman, in her 20's, died by euthanasia in the Netherlands for psychiatric reasons related to being sexually abused. 

According to the Daily Mail article by Sue Reid, in the most recent case, Jackie's sister stated:

This follows a traumatic childhood experience when she was sexually abused at five years old and developed depression as a result.

The Daily Mail reported that the euthanasia clinic received 1234 requests and was responsible for 36 of the 56 psychiatric euthanasia deaths in 2015.

Earlier this year, a study examining 66 cases of euthanasia for psychiatric reasons uncovered several significant concerns. The report indicated that women represented 70% of the psychiatric deaths. The researchers noted that controversial cases included:

a woman in her 70s without health problems had decided, with her husband, that they would not live without each other. After her husband died, she lived a life described as a "living hell" that was "meaningless." 
A consultant reported that this woman "did not feel depressed at all. She ate, drank and slept well. She followed the news and undertook activities."

The "End of Life" euthanasia clinic opened March 2012 with mobile euthanasia units in order to offer death to people who were either turned down by their doctor, or they people who lack mobility, sucha as people with disabilities and the frail elderly.

According to the Daily Mail article the first case of psychiatric euthanasia was also controversial:

After the clinic opened in 2012, its first psychiatric patient was a 54-year-old woman who had mysophobia (a pathological fear of germs or dirt). She, like other End Of Life patients, was killed at home after first being injected with a strong sedative and then a muscle relaxant which stops the heart. 
Gerty Casteelen, one of the clinic's psychiatrists, conducted eight hours of interviews with her before deciding that she really wished to die. 'It was a long process', the medic recalls. 'I came to understand that her fears completely controlled her life. 
'All she could do all day was clean. It was impossible for her to maintain a relationship. Her whole development had stalled.'

Other psychiatric euthanasia deaths attributed to the Netherlands euthanasia clinic include a woman who was going blind and obsessed with cleanliness

The Supreme Court of Canada stated in its Carter decision that euthanasia could be permitted for physical and psychological suffering. They did not define psychological suffering.

Canadians should be concerned that we are following the Dutch path.

Further reading:

Woman, in the 20's, who was sexually abused, dies by euthanasia in the Netherlands

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The 2015 Netherlands euthanasia report that was recently released states that there were 5561 reported euthanasia deaths in 2015, up from 5306 in 2014, there were 109 reported euthanasia deaths for dementia, up from 81 in 2014, and there were 56 reported euthanasia deaths for psychiatric reasons, up from 41 in 2014.

Shockingly, a woman who died by euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in 2015 was in her 20's and had been sexually abused.

The Daily Mail news reported:

The woman, in her twenties, was given a lethal injection after doctors and psychiatrists decided that her post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions were incurable. 
It went ahead despite improvements in the woman's psychological condition after 'intensive therapy' two years ago, and even though doctors in the Netherlands accept that a demand for death from a psychiatric patient may be no more than a cry for help. 
The woman, who has not been named, began to suffer from mental disorders 15 years ago following sexual abuse, according to the papers released by the Dutch Euthanasia Commission.

The Daily Mail reported that the Netherlands government released information about the case to prove that the case fulfilled the requirements of the law.

Link to the full article

Parliament Hill - Press conference - May 11, 2016

Presentation by Dr Lise Poirier-Groulx at the Press Conference on May 11, 2016

Dr Lise Poirier-Groulx  with Alex Schadenberg

Dr Lise Poirier-Groulx
with Alex Schadenberg

First, I need to say that I am not an activist; I am not representing any particular group or organization.

I am a concerned physician… Je suis un médecin, troublée, comme bien d’autres, par la tournure des évènements, concernant l’euthanasie et le suicide assisté.

Throughout the history of the civilized world, Physician Assisted Death has always been a forbidden medical act. The foundation of medical ethics is being shaken to its core.

Today, I hope to be a voice for those who’s lives are deemed “lacking in dignity and not worth living”; the sick and dying patients, and those living with disabilities, as well as dementia. The implication of Physician Assisted Death is the unspoken assumption, under the guise of self-determination, that it is better to die than to live with a disability.

Comme médecin de famille et psychothérapeute depuis plus de 30 ans, j’ai eu le privilège, auprès de mes patients, d’être témoin de leurs plus grandes souffrances.

It has been my clinical experience, which is supported by research, that the overwhelming majority of patients do not want to die. They do however want to end their pain; succumbing to despair and hopelessness they may want to end their lives, especially if they are lacking in support.

I remember as naïve medical students, the faith we had in our mentors, who were teaching us the art and science of Medicine, in order to “cure disease, save lives and relieve human suffering”. And that is exactly what we set out to do upon graduation. 

Link to the full article

Dutch euthanasia deaths continue to rise in 2015

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Netherlands 2015 Euthanasia report indicates that euthanasia deaths continue to increase. According to the 2015 report, there were 5561 reported euthanasia deaths in 2015 up from 5306 reported euthanasia deaths in 2014

Since 2006, there has been a 289% increase in euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands.

There is also an increase in the number of euthanasia deaths for people with dementia and for psychiatric reasons. There were 109 people who died by euthanasia based on dementia in 2015, up from 81 in 2014 representing a 34% increase. There 56 people died by euthanasia based on psychiatric reasons in 2015, up from 41 in 2014 representing a 36% increase.

Similar to the 2014 report, there were only 4 cases referred by a Regional Euthanasia Control and Evaluation Commission for investigation.

In January 2016, the Netherlands decided to extend euthanasia to people with severe dementia. The Netherlands euthanasia lobby is now lobbying the government to approve euthanasia for people who are healthy but "tired of living."

A study, that was published on Feb 10, 2016 in the Journal of Psychiatryconcerning euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in the Netherlandsuncovered significant concerns. According to researcher Scott Kim:

in one EAS case, a woman who died by euthanasia was in her 70s without health problems had decided, with her husband, that they would not live without each other. After her husband died, she lived a life described as a "living hell" that was "meaningless." 
A consultant reported that this woman "did not feel depressed at all. She ate, drank and slept well. She followed the news and undertook activities."

Every five years the Netherlands conducts a major study on euthanasia. We are expecting to receive the 2015 study in early 2017. The 2010 study was published in the Lancet (July 2012) indicated that 23% of all assisted deaths went unreported in the Netherlands.

Rushing toward death - Euthanasia in the Netherlands

Theo Boer

Theo Boer

Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

In July 2014, Professor Theo Boer, who was member, for nine years, of a euthanasia regional review committee in the Netherlands, wrote an article that was published in the Daily Mail urging the British parliament to reject the legalization of assisted suicide. Boer then gave the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition permission to publish the full text of his article entitled "Assisted Suicide: Don't go there."

Today Professor Boer published a significant critique of the Netherlands Euthanasia Law under the title: Rushing toward death?

Boer begins by explaining how euthanasia became legal, and how the law works in the Netherlands. He wrote:

In 1994 the Netherlands became the first country to legalize assisted dying. The Dutch added a clause to the Burial and Cremation Act allowing doctors to help a person die as long as the patient made an informed request and faced unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement; a second doctor concurred in the decision; and medically advised methods were used. The clause was further codified by the Assisted Dying Act in 2001. Belgium followed suit with similar legislation in 2002. 
In the Netherlands, five regional review committees, each consisting of a lawyer, a physician, and an ethicist, were charged with keeping an eye on the practice and assessing (after the fact) whether a case of assisted dying complied with the law. 
Two forms of assisted dying are legally practiced: euthanasia, in which the action of the physician causes death, and physician-assisted suicide, in which a physician provides the patient with a lethal drink administered by the patient. The overwhelming majority of patients who make use of the law (95 percent) choose euthanasia.

Boer then explains why he originally supported the Netherlands euthanasia law.

Link to the full article

Smith: Euthanasia by Organ Donation

Wesley Smith

Wesley Smith

This article was first published by National Review on March 25, 2016.

By Wesley Smith

In 1993, my first anti-euthanasia article published in Newsweek, warned that if society ever embraced assisted suicide, we would eventually couple medicalized killing with organ harvesting “as a plum to society.” 

That is now happening in Netherlands and Belgium, where doctors are on the lookout for mentally ill and people with neuromuscular disabilities who want to be killed and harvested.

An article written by a gaggle of Netherlander doctors and medical professors in the Journal of Medical Ethics, now suggests taking the next step of directly harvesting-to-death sick, disabled, and mentally ill suicidal people (all eligible for euthanasia in both countries) without bothering with the lethal injection beforehand.

Link to the full article