Legalizing Euthanasia in Holland and the "Slippery Slope"

Washington, DC -- Today the lower house of the Dutch parliament passed legislation attempting to regulate approximately thirty years of euthanasia authorized by various court cases. The bill passed by a vote of 104-40. The legislation still has to pass the Senate but this is considered a formality and the legislation is expected to take effect next year.

"This decision to further codify the current practice of euthanasia is tragic," stated David N. O'Steen, Ph.D., executive director of the National Right to Life Committee. "The so-called new restrictions are little consolation in a country whose justification for euthanasia has slipped inexorably from the terminally ill, to the chronically ill, to the mentally ill, and most recently to those who have no mental pr physical illness at all."

Like previous regulations written by the Dutch Health Council, the requirements of the new law include that the request be voluntary and well-considered, that the patient have a consultation with the physician and demonstrate "unendurable" suffering with a "hopeless" clinical outlook.

Yet under these very regulations, euthanasia in the Netherlands has proved uncontainable. On October 30th of this year, a Haarlem court acquitted a general practitioner accused of assisting in the 1998 assisted suicide of an 86-year old man in perfect health. Edward Brongersma was a former Dutch senator who no longer had relatives or friends to care for him and claimed to be suffering from life itself. The court accepted this as legitimate grounds for death.

"We know depression can be treated and pain can be controlled in virtually all circumstances. Why then are we abandoning people at their most vulnerable time rather than offering them the help we know is available," stated Dr. O'Steen.

"The fact that euthanasia is being re-regulated in the Netherlands does not mean that it is going to be slowed," continued Dr. O'Steen. "Once you open the door to justify killing in some cases, the practice inevitably grows and grows as it has in Holland where there are not many patients killed who have never requested euthanasia at all."

Source: National Right to Life Press Release, November 28, 2000

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