Patient Disabled by ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)

The physician must have consulted at least one independent physician, who has examined the patient and formed a judgment about the above points. The idea of independent physicians acting as a check and balance to prevent abuses sounds good. But in practice, it offers little actual protection. Proof of this is found in a Dutch euthanasia documentary --played in the USA on the ABC television program Prime Time Live. It is the euthanasia of Cees van Wendel, a patient disabled by ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). As depicted in the film, the driving force behind the euthanasia appears to be the man's wife who does all of the talking for her husband (who is able to communicate). This also proves true during the second opinion consultation, which is cursory and perfunctory. Suicide expert, the New York psychiatrist Dr. Herbert Hendin, in his book about Dutch euthanasia Seduced by Death, describes the "consultation," such as it was:

The consultant, who practices on the same block as the doctor, also makes no attempt to communicate with Cees alone, and he too permits the wife to answer all the questions put to Cees. When the consultant asks the pro forma question if Cees is sure he wants to go ahead, his wife answers for him. The consultant seems uncomfortable, asks a few more questions, and leaves. The consultation takes practically no time at all. Dutch euthanasia is a human-rights disaster. Not only does the practice devalue the lives of the most defenseless people, but once killing became an acceptable answer to one problem, it soon became a solution to one hundred. Indeed, in their nearly 30 years of euthanasia practice, Dutch doctors have gone from killing terminally ill patients who ask for it, to chronically ill patients who ask for it, to disabled patients who ask for it, to depressed patients who ask for it, to babies who cannot by definition ask for it, to thousands of patients without request or consent. Now, the last slight remaining impediment to killing by doctors --its technically illegal status --has been dismantled. And as an additional plum to depravity, teenagers beginning at the age of 16 will be able to receive euthanasia without parental consent.

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

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