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  1. #1 I supported our euthanasia law, but I was terribly wrong: Dutch ethicist 
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    I supported our euthanasia law, but I was terribly wrong: Dutch ethicist
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/...dutch-ethicist
    Theo Boer


    In 2001 The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia and, along with it, assisted suicide. Various safeguards were put in place to show who should qualify and doctors acting in accordance with these safeguards would not be prosecuted. Because each case is unique, five regional review committees were installed to assess every case and to decide whether it complied with the law. For five years after the law became effective, such physician-induced deaths remained level - and even fell in some years. In 2007 I wrote that ‘there doesn’t need to be a slippery slope when it comes to euthanasia. A good euthanasia law, in combination with the euthanasia review procedure, provides the warrants for a stable and relatively low number of euthanasia.’ Most of my colleagues drew the same conclusion.

    But we were wrong - terribly wrong, in fact. In hindsight, the stabilization in the numbers was just a temporary pause. Beginning in 2008, the numbers of these deaths show an increase of 15% annually, year after year. The annual report of the committees for 2012 recorded 4,188 cases in 2012 (compared with 1,882 in 2002). 2013 saw a continuation of this trend and I expect the 6,000 line to be crossed this year or the next. Euthanasia is on the way to become a ‘default’ mode of dying for cancer patients.

    Alongside this escalation other developments have taken place. Under the name ‘End of Life Clinic,’ the Dutch Right to Die Society NVVE founded a network of travelling euthanizing doctors. Whereas the law presupposes (but does not require) an established doctor-patient relationship, in which death might be the end of a period of treatment and interaction, doctors of the End of Life Clinic have only two options: administer life-ending drugs or sending the patient away. On average, these physicians see a patient three times before administering drugs to end their life. Hundreds of cases were conducted by the End of Life Clinic. The NVVE shows no signs of being satisfied even with these developments. They will not rest until a lethal pill is made available to anyone over 70 years who wishes to die. Some slopes truly are slippery.

    Other developments include a shift in the type of patients who receive these treatments. Whereas in the first years after 2002 hardly any patients with psychiatric illnesses or dementia appear in reports, these numbers are now sharply on the rise. Cases have been reported in which a large part of the suffering of those given euthanasia or assisted suicide consisted in being aged, lonely or bereaved. Some of these patients could have lived for years or decades.

    Whereas the law sees assisted suicide and euthanasia as an exception, public opinion is shifting towards considering them rights, with corresponding duties on doctors to act. A law that is now in the making obliges doctors who refuse to administer euthanasia to refer their patients to a ‘willing’ colleague. Pressure on doctors to conform to patients’ (or in some cases relatives’) wishes can be intense. Pressure from relatives, in combination with a patient’s concern for the wellbeing of his beloved, is in some cases an important factor behind a euthanasia request. Not even the Review Committees, despite hard and conscientious work, have been able to halt these developments.

    I used to be a supporter of legislation. But now, with twelve years of experience, I take a different view. At the very least, wait for an honest and intellectually satisfying analysis of the reasons behind the explosive increase in the numbers. Is it because the law should have had better safeguards? Or is it because the mere existence of such a law is an invitation to see assisted suicide and euthanasia as a normality instead of a last resort? Before those questions are answered, don’t go there. Once the genie is out of the bottle, it is not likely to ever go back in again.

    Theo Boer is professor of ethics at the Protestant Theological University at Groningen. For nine years, he was a Member of a Regional Review Committee. For the Dutch Government, five such committees assess whether a euthanasia case was conducted in accordance with the Law. The views expressed here represent his views as a professional ethicist, not of any institution. The article was first published on the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition's blog and is printed here with Dr. Boer's permission.
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Dori's Avatar
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    When will people ever learn?

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    Senior Member Celtic Rose's Avatar
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    I'm a firm believer in compassionate palliative care. Patients with late stage cancer, COPD that has advanced to the point that a person can no longer breathe comfortably, end stage liver disease, etc. all have the right to know what medication is available to make the dying process as painless as possible, but I don't believe that active euthanasia is ethical. There is a huge difference between recognizing that a person is dying and trying to make them comfortable versus helping that process along.

    I see a lot of people in my daily work as a nurse who are critically ill, I've been with patients as they've died, and I've given care that I know is futile. I've personally changed my living will based on what I've seen at work. However, I have also seen some miraculous recoveries. Some people will not get better, no matter what we do, and facing that reality and focusing on the comfort of people in their last hours is more ethical, in my opinion, that continuing futile, and often painful, care.
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  4. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celtic Rose View Post
    I'm a firm believer in compassionate palliative care. Patients with late stage cancer, COPD that has advanced to the point that a person can no longer breathe comfortably, end stage liver disease, etc. all have the right to know what medication is available to make the dying process as painless as possible, but I don't believe that active euthanasia is ethical. There is a huge difference between recognizing that a person is dying and trying to make them comfortable versus helping that process along.
    I agree with you here. I have personally watched the end stages of cancer; all you want to do is take away the person's pain so they can die peacefully. It would be inhumane to do otherwise than provide palliative care.

    Deciding on how someone dies, when it's their time, is an ethical responsibility. Deciding on when someone dies is a great wrong. The ethicist in the OP makes it clear that assisted suicide has gone from the truly terminal (with excruciatingly painful days or weeks to live) to those with psychological issues who could actually live many years. Someone who is in the early stages of Alzheimers or who is merely depressed or lonely is not a candidate even for end-of-life palliative care. Helping them commit suicide is profoundly unethical.
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  5. #5  
    Power CUer noonwitch's Avatar
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    I support legalized assisted suicide for terminal patients in horrible pain. I have no problem with pulling the plug on people who are brain dead and are only breathing by machine.

    Euthanasia is different-the patient doesn't necessarily consent to his or her death. One could make the case that Terri Schiavo's death was euthanasia, as she did not consent, yet she was breathing on her own without a respirator. I think the argument that was made was that her feeding tube qualified as "artificial life" the way a respirator does. Starving someone with a brain injury to death is not "pulling the plug" or assisted suicide.
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  6. #6  
    Why should it be the business of the State (the Feds in particular) if a person chooses suicide? Certainly the Constitution granst no such Power to the Feds.
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  7. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celtic Rose View Post
    I see a lot of people in my daily work as a nurse who are critically ill, I've been with patients as they've died, and I've given care that I know is futile. I've personally changed my living will based on what I've seen at work. However, I have also seen some miraculous recoveries. Some people will not get better, no matter what we do, and facing that reality and focusing on the comfort of people in their last hours is more ethical, in my opinion, that continuing futile, and often painful, care.
    Two points ... Mrs. SVPete works in Patient Records at a local hospice. To qualify for hospice care, a patient must be diagnosed as having 6 months or less left to live. People being as they are, many patients receiving hospice care die within a week or two, and not infrequently, within a day. The patient in such cases really did not benefit from hospice care. OTOH there are a few patients who have been in hospice care for several years (and trust me, this hospice is very careful to be sure a 6-month diagnosis is good-faith) or even recover to the degree that it is clear they won't be dying within 6 months.

    What led to Mrs. SVPete working there was that her mother received care from this hospice in the last couple of weeks of her life (Yep, we made that mistake!). She literally died in her room in our home. In the last couple of months of her life, my MIL's body was gradually shutting down. She could be revived some briefly - plateau-like - with IV nutrition and fluids (she also had a problem with chronic (my choice of adjective) hyponatremia - sodium deficiency), but it was to no medium- or long-term purpose, as she was really dying. She had a living will with appropriate (i.e. carefully written) advance directive, and we followed that.
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  8. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by american patriot View Post
    Why should it be the business of the State (the Feds in particular) if a person chooses suicide? Certainly the Constitution granst no such Power to the Feds.
    People whose entire business is killing people is OK? Such professional killers and selfish and/or greedy relatives would not pressure a mentally susceptible person into committing suicide?

    While the 10th Amendment, as I understand it, reserves such legal considerations to the states rather than the federal government, I think there are non-trivial considerations - more than I mentioned above - that states should not dismiss as casually as you did in your post.
    SVPete

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  9. #9  
    I do not believe that my State should allow assistance of suicide, abortion or certain self-mutilating surgeries to be advertised, performed by a corporate business or for a fee to be charged. That said such activities also should not be the subject of State prohibition.


    Take suicide for example- Case #1 - An elderly gent who knows he is down to weeks at best. Weeks where the pain meds are soooo strong that he is here for perhaps two achy/foggy hours per day. Those weeks will leave his wife of 50 years a pauper and he knows this.

    Case#2 - Man of forty (married, father of two teens, rising star at local manufacturer) who has been placed a the curb by wifey for adultery and busted at work for a project failure. PS- man's on father was a suicide and he KNOWS how that devastated him as a teen.

    Both cases are real and a way around the State's existing explicit prohibition was found in each case.

    Case#1 - I think the old guy if not a hero, was at least a prudent man who placed his family first right to the end.

    Case#2 - This toad was a wek willed coward who plunged his kids into poverty. (the suicide was obvious and cancelled all of the life insurance) Sooooo all the Law (explicit prohibition) managed was to harm the family even further.
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