Holland: the new killing fields

Adam Levenstein cleon42 at SPAMyahoo.com
Fri Dec 8 07:56:26 MST 2000

--- Marta Russell <ap888 at lafn.org> wrote:
> I (and many others) believe that assisted suicide
> will lead to
> euthanasia.  After all, that is what has happened in
> Holland.
> First it was assisted suicide, then authorities
> turned their
> heads when doctors injected people with lethal
> drugs,  now
> euthanasia is legal.   The slippery slope theory has
> just been
> proved in Holland.

I think you're muddling the euthanasia/"Assisted
suicide" definitions. What is legal in Holland is for
a doctor, upon repeated request of the patient, to
either stop care or provide a painless lethal
injection. That's assisted suicide - in the very same
way Kervorkian was practicing it. It's also euthanasia
- or "mercy killing," as the popular US term has it.
So there's no slippery slope at all - in this case,
it's the same damn thing.

What I think you're trying to see - and so far, what
we don't see - is masses of doctors killing their
patients against their will.

While I guarantee I'll get flack for this, I compare
the whole situation to abortion. Like abortion, taking
your own life is a very, VERY personal decision. One
of the anti-choice arguments against abortion is that
doctors allegedly pressure women into having them,
essentially forcing the woman to have an abortion. Of
course, I needn't point out here how ridiculous this
argument is.

Now, I don't mean to say anything like "if you're
pro-choice, you should be pro-AS." But there are many,
many parallels. Yes, both can be done at home
(legality aside). A coathanger will give you your
abortion just as a bullet in your head will kill you -
about 60% of the time. However, because we recognize
the right of a woman to have this procedure, we make
sure there is a *safe*, relatively painless (depending
on the procedure), effective way to accomplish it
through the medical profession. So why, if we grant
the right of a person to take their own life (and
frankly, I don't think much can be done to take away
that right), do we not provide the same?

The Netherlands law takes into account outside
pressure, mental illness, and depression - and
provides for all of the above.

Your concern that the bourgeois mindset of money
leading the desire to kill off patients is a valid
one, I think - but not for the same reasons you've
brought up. You think hospitals will start pressing
for AS to save money. I think, especially in a
government-owned health care system like the
Netherlands, this is unlikely. #1, because the profit
incentive, while there, isn't very strong. #2, because
the law is very strict about the *patient* requesting
it a number of times (three, IIRC). #3, simply because
they wouldn't be able to get away with it. Any time
any organization (especially a government one) tries
to pull something like that off, they wind up having
all the stealth and finesse of an exploding cigar at a
state funeral. The public backlash would be disastrous
for them.

My main concern is the patients themselves. I can see
a situation where a patient, feeling a
financial/emotional/etc. burden on their family, gets
depressed and requests the procedure. Depression,
especially non-medically caused depression, is very
hard to diagnose. My concern is whether the Dutch will
take that into consideration.


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