According to a Dutch Supreme court ruling on April 21, doctors in the Netherlands are now allowed to euthanize a dementia patient provided the patient has submitted a written request in advance — even if later, the patient does not provide consent.
The court’s recent ruling follows a landmark court case previously reported by Live Action News, in which a doctor euthanized a woman with a severe case with dementia. The woman had written an advanced directive requesting euthanasia should she be placed in a nursing home and she felt the time was “right.” Her doctor went ahead with committing euthanasia, despite the fact that the woman wavered and did not provide consent at the end. In fact, she had to be held down by her own family members while the doctor killed her. Shockingly, the doctor was acquitted of murder following a trial.
“A doctor may respond to a written request for granting euthanasia to people with advanced dementia. In such a situation, all legal requirements for euthanasia must be met, including the requirement that there is hopeless and unbearable suffering. The doctor is then not punishable,” the Supreme Court said in a statement. “Even if it is clear that the request is intended for the situation of advanced dementia, and that situation is reached so that the patient is no longer is able to form and express a will, there can be circumstances where no follow-up on the request is possible.”
Cardinal William Eijk, president of the Bishops’ Conference of the Netherlands, decried the ruling, saying it only makes it easier for doctors to take the lives of their most vulnerable patients. He also argued that the directive will put more pressure on doctors to commit euthanasia. “One may fear that the Supreme Court’s judgment, though making physicians perhaps more uncertain in performing euthanasia in patients with advanced dementia, will not lead in general to a decrease of the number of cases of euthanasia and medically assisted suicide,” he told Catholic News Service. “Physicians of nursing homes therefore fear that they will be put under pressure by patients with dementia and their relatives to perform euthanasia as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s judgment.”
The ruling is just the latest allowance in the country’s ever-expanding euthanasia laws. The first nation in the world to legalize euthanasia, the Netherlands has been at the forefront in efforts to kill the less fortunate, including people with mental illnesses and disabilities. As this latest ruling shows, there’s no end to the slippery slope of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
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