Euthanasia : LUSENET : U of C General Studies 500 : One Thread

Wonder what Nietzsche & Jung might think:

SICK AND POOR FEAR FOR THEIR LIVES, WITH GOOD REASON "Don't Kill Me" Is the Dutch Plea as Legal Euthanasia Looms

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, DEC. 5, 2000 ( With the approach of legal euthanasia, a number of sick and poor people in this country are beginning to carry a printed statement in their pockets with a simple message: They don't want doctors to put them to death.

While liberal groups applauded the recent approval of euthanasia by the lower house of the Dutch Parliament, others prefer to take steps to deny doctors or relatives the "license to kill" unconscious patients.

This facet of life in the Netherlands was outlined in an interview with Dutch Dr. Karel Gunning, president of the World Federation of Pro-Life Doctors. The interview appeared in today's issue of the Italian newspaper Avvenire.

Quoting the 1991 Remmelink Report, the first official government study of the practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands, Gunning said that there were about 2,000 cases of euthanasia a year. That number that jumped to 3,000 in 1996, the physician said. Official figures estimate there are some 3,200 euthanasia cases every year, in this nation of 15.8 million.

Gunning concludes that the law does no more than legalize what, so far, was done secretly. "In the beginning, the explicit request of the patient was necessary," he said. "Now, one can do away with the comatose, and children with severe malformations. Initially, euthanasia was allowed only for terminal patients, but later it was extended to people with psychic depression."

He recalled a case in Assen in the spring of 1993. A panel of three Dutch magistrates absolved a psychiatrist who collaborated in his patient's suicide; the latter was a healthy 50-year-old woman who had lost her two sons and was just divorced.

The court stated that psychiatrist Boudewijn Chabot acted legitimately because his patient was competent to make the free decision to die, that her suffering was irremediable, and that the doctor had complied with the legal requirement of a "force majeure," which obliged him to give precedence to his patient's well-being over the letter of the law, which formally prohibited assisted suicide and euthanasia.

In another case, euthanasia "benefited" a 25-year-old girl suffering from anorexia. Moreover, recently, Edward Brongersma, an 86-year-old former Socialist senator, requested and succeeded in having a physician "put an end" to him, not because he was sick or depressed, but because he was tired of living.

Gunning believes that "the path to death opened in 1971, when the Dutch Medical Association allowed abortion. This removed the pillar of professional ethics: the unconditional defense of human life."

"When killing in one case is accepted as the 'only solution,' it will end by finding hundreds of other cases in which the 'solution' of killing becomes acceptable," he said.

Gunning quoted documented cases: "I know an oncologist who was treating a patient for lung cancer. [The patient] suffered a respiratory crisis that necessitated hospitalization. The patient rebelled; 'I do not want euthanasia,' she implored. The doctor assured her this wouldn't happen.

"He himself accompanied her to the clinic and cared for her. After 36 hours, the patient was breathing normally, her general condition improved. The doctor went off to sleep. The next morning, he did not find the patient in her bed. A colleague had 'put an end' to her, because there weren't enough free beds."

"People are afraid," observed Gunning, who suffers from Parkinson's disease. He referred to another case of an elderly patient who was hospitalized in great pain. "The son asked the doctors to 'speed up the process,' so that the father's funeral could be held before [the son's] holidays abroad, for which he had already made reservations. The doctors agreed and increased the morphine.

"However, a few hours later, the patient sat up in bed in good humor. He had finally had sufficient morphine given to him to assuage his pain and he was better! Incidents like these are discussed among doctors as something normal, as though it is normal to kill a patient to please the relatives."

Gunning's World Federation of Pro-life Doctors has presented a proposal to the United Nations to be included as an appendix to the Declaration of Human Rights: "Every state has the duty to protect the life of all its citizens without discriminations." ZE00120503

-- Anonymous, December 06, 2000

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