The Lung Cancer Patient

The memoir Dancing with Mr. D, written by a Dutch nursing-home doctor named Bert Keizer. Keizer writes about a patient who had been tentatively diagnosed with lung cancer. A relative tells Keizer that the man wants to be given a lethal injection, a request later confirmed by the patient. Keizer quickly agrees to perform the killing. Demonstrating the utter uselessness of "protective guidelines," Keizer never tells his patient about treatment options that may be available or how the pain and other symptoms of cancer can be palliated effectively. He never checks to see if the man has been pressured into wanting a hastened death or is depressed. Indeed, Keizer doesn't even take the time to confirm the diagnosis with certainty or to prepare a prognosis about the expected course of the disease. When a colleague asks, why rush, and points out that the man isn't suffering terribly, Keizer snaps:

Is it for us to answer this question? All I know is that he wants to die more or less upright and that he doesn't want to crawl to his grave the way a dog crawls howling to the side walk after he's been hit by a car. The next day, he lethally injects his patient, telling his colleagues as he walks to the man's room to do the deed, "If anyone so much as whispers cortisone [a palliative agent] or 'uncertain diagnosis,' I'll hit him."

Source: Wesley Smith article "We Ignore the Dutch Legalization of Euthanasia at Our Own Peril" December 17, 2000.

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