Human Rights

Doctors in the Netherlands euthanize one mentally ill patient every week

When people speak about legalizing assisted suicide, they often think that it will be used only for people suffering from terminal illnesses, like end-stage cancer or ALS. Unfortunately, the reality is quite different. Wesley J. Smith spotlights a disturbing new development out of the Netherlands, where assisted suicide runs largely unchecked.

Regional monitoring boards released statistics from the last year, and in total, deaths from euthanasia rose 10 percent from the previous year. Euthanasia now accounts for 4 percent of all total deaths in the Netherlands.

Most of the cases were due to illnesses such as cancer, heart or lung disease, and ALS. 32 cases involved euthanasia due to dementia, and 60 cases were due to severe psychiatric diseases. That equals more than one person every single week, euthanized despite suffering from mental illness. And the movement is growing.

In Europe, multiple countries allow the euthanization of people suffering from mental illnesses or mental health disorders. Here in North America, the Canadian government is beginning a formal study to consider allowing “requests made by individuals with mental illness as their sole underlying condition” for euthanasia.

It has become so commonplace that the American Psychiatric Association felt it necessary to take a stand against assisted suicide for people with mental illnesses, releasing a statement condemning the practice. And according to Dr. Martin Komrad of the APA ethics committee, the statement was specifically released to combat the spread euthanasia for people with mental illnesses and psychiatric disorders in Europe. “So far, no other country that has implemented physician-assisted suicide has been able to constrain its application solely to the terminally ill, eventually including non-terminal patients as legally eligible as well,” Dr. Komrad said. “This is when psychiatric patients start to be included.”

And he was absolutely right — in the Netherlands, people are, indeed, being euthanized for reasons like being autistic, hearing voices, suffering delusions, suicidal victims of sexual abuse, or fighting addiction. 1 in 3 Dutch doctors have said that they would be willing to euthanize people who are mentally ill.

The latest report out of the Netherlands proves that the spread of assisted suicide is continuing to spread unchecked throughout Europe, with people who are the most vulnerable in society being taken advantage of and victimized. And unless people speak up and refuse to allow this atrocity to continue, it’s only going to keep happening, with lives senselessly being taken.

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