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Could there ever be enough botched cases to end euthanasia of the vulnerable?

by | Jan 29, 2018

By Dave Andrusko

Charles Lane

It is a regrettable truism. Outlets such as NRL News Today and many other pro-life sources of information can write and write and document and document but until a “mainstream” news source takes what is going on seriously, it’s like the old adage about the tree that falls in the forest. If the Washington Post or the New York Times or the three major television networks and/or CNN don’t hear it, does it still make a sound?

That’s why I was so encouraged by Washington Post columnist Charles Lane’s opinion piece last week, “How many botched cases would it take to end euthanasia of the vulnerable?”

It wasn’t as if he wrote about atrocities and abuses we hadn’t written about, or MercatorNet, or the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition had documented. But to read, for example, the revolting case of physician-assisted death of a 74-year-old woman with dementia in the Netherlands in 2016 in the Washington Post is a breakthrough. Here’s a long excerpt:

The patient, referred to in official documents only as “2016-85,” had made an advance directive requesting euthanasia in case of dementia. But the directive was ambiguously worded, and she was no longer able to clarify her wishes by the time she was placed in a nursing home — though her husband did request euthanasia for her.

Despite the lack of a clear expression from the patient, a physician concluded her suffering was unbearable and incurable — though there was no terminal physical illness — and prepared a lethal injection.

To ensure the patient’s compliance, the doctor gave her coffee spiked with a sedative, and, when the woman still recoiled from the needle, asked family members to hold her down. After 15 minutes were spent by the doctor trying to find a vein, the lethal infusion flowed.

Neither voluntary, painless nor dignified, this physician-assisted death has become the first ever referred to prosecutors by the Dutch regulatory commission — with, so far, unknown consequences.

The family members held her down while the “doctor” looked for a vein. The case was so over-the-top that even the euthanasia saturated Netherland authorities were caught short. The circumstances were so disturbing, even the Dutch regulatory body that retrospectively reviews, and usually rubber-stamps, euthanasias could not countenance it,” Lane wrote.

As an example of the slippery slope on steroids, Lane went on to write about “Sarah,” a 29-year-old woman, who’d fought “serious, nearly lifelong depression and self-harming behavior.” She had received permission for euthanasia to take place last Friday after Lane’s column would appear.

Sarah (Aurelia Brouwers) died, as scheduled, last Saturday. As Lane had observed in his column

She was released from prison in December 2016 after serving 2½ years for arson. She received no therapy while incarcerated and, 12 months later, she persuaded doctors her psychological suffering was unbearable and untreatable.

The overarching reality is that advocates in the “Low Countries” (how ironic) seem incapable of finding any case that is (to them) a genuine abuse. “Many in the region hail legal euthanasia as a victory for individual autonomy over church doctrine,” Lane writes.

Lane ends on a very sobering note.

International pressure from secular institutions might prevent the expansion of medical euthanasia for mentally ill or cognitively impaired people, whose ability to “consent” to their own deaths is manifestly doubtful. But the World Psychiatric Association completely ducked the issue last October during its congress in Berlin.

For now, these vulnerable people, and those in Belgium and the Netherlands who would protect them, are on their own.

This is the kind of dream world “Compassion &Choice” wants to bring to the United States. For the coalition that is fighting them here at home, it is a living nightmare that celebrates death.

Categories: Euthanasia