June 27, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Euthanasia is on the rise in the Netherlands, and it is taking an even uglier turn than many would have expected.
Cases of euthanasia have risen from 2,500 in 2009 to 2,700 in 2010; but even more shocking, last year 21 persons suffering from the early stages of dementia, but who were otherwise in good health, were euthanized. All of these 21 “mercy killings” were subsequently approved by the official euthanasia follow-up commission.
This 2010 annual report on euthanasia has yet to be published, but key figures were released by the official news channel, NOS, last Saturday.
The program on NOS told the story of 63-year-old Guusje de Koning, one of the “beneficiaries” of euthanasia last year. In a video shot by de Koning’s husband four days before the 63-year-old woman’s death, and aired on the television station, she explains her choice to be killed to her two children.
De Koning, a sympathetic, healthy and humorous woman with a loving husband and grown-up children, explains that she didn’t want to go on living after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She says she had witnessed her own father’s slow decline and death due to the illness.
“I don’t want that,” explaine de Koning to her children. “I don’t want to suffer.”
De Koning was “euthanized” in July last year. Her image is now being used to support the notion that killing of people in the first phase of dementia is a good way to avoid both suffering and the excessive cost of healthcare for elderly Netherlanders.
Euthanasia in the Netherlands is only legal when the patient is sound of mind and capable of consistently expressing the death wish. Once dementia has set in, it’s too late: even a living will made prior to the decline cannot be taken into account. The “solution” that is being proposed, therefore, is to step out of life before the disease runs its course.
For months now public meetings have been held in provincial community centers and hotels to encourage the elderly to learn about their “right” to die, even if they are in good health, but afraid of what diagnosed dementia may do to them in the near future.
However, although 95 % of the Dutch favor legal euthanasia, according to opinion polls, currently only 33 % of physicians are at this point in time prepared to euthanize a patient with incipient dementia
So we're a society that kills off the less-than-perfect unborn, quite often justifying that we don't want them to endure a life of suffering. I'm sure at times there are completely honest folks who will own up that they just don't want to be bothered with a special-needs child.
Now we see increasing use of "mercy killing" to help those at life's end avoid suffering. Or maybe it's more about not running up lots of medical bills for the family, after all families are nowhere near as close as they once were.
I wonder if in the long run we're not cheating ourselves of the opportunity to grow spiritually. I know from my own experience that I get a lot more benefits than I give to my two autistic sons. Maybe there's more of the same for those willing to care for the elderly infirm.
Maybe we should all treat life as a gift, to be treasured and valued for as long as possible. That would involve voluntary poverty, years of commitment to caring for someone, putting someone else before ourselves.
It's sad that those are increasingly becoming radical thoughts.