When I found out that euthanasia in the Netherlands is not only legal, but almost a common practice in certain cases, I was really impressed. As I grew up, I watched people around me -either in my own social circle or on the news- get sick or have terrible accidents and suffer for months or years, until they eventually died. I also heard grownups say things like “what kind of life is that!” or “they’d be better off dead”. The suffering of the family members of the unfortunate person was also often mentioned. This has led to a few of my relatives saying that they ‘d rather be euthanized, if it came to that much suffering or being in a long-term coma. The question is, would they really make that choice, if there was the option?
Life is sweet after all…
One of the things that I love in this country is how easy it is to find official information in English. So when I started researching this topic, all I had to do to find out about euthanasia in the Netherlands, was to read the info on the government website. According to this page, euthanasia can be legally performed in case of extreme suffering and no signs of improvement of the patient’s health. If a physician does not feel comfortable to perform an euthanasia, he or she is not obliged to. Fair enough, if you ask me.
Euthanasia in the netherlands: Legally DIY: Assisted Suicide
A very interesting concept included in the Dutch euthanasia law is that of assisted suicide. This means that the doctor provides the drug, but the patient administers it. In Greece, where I come from, if a person wants to end their life due to suffering, they have to try and illegally source the drugs, which very few doctors-if any- risk to give. If they get caught, this means the end of their career. If me or a loved one suffered with no end in sight, I would definitely love to have the option to put an end to it. And I am grateful that I could do so, living in the Netherlands. But not everyone agrees with me.
Many religions -all forms of Christianity that I know of included- see suicide as a great sin. In fact, in the case of the Orthodox Church that I am familiar with, priests inform the flock that anyone who commits suicide will go straight to Hell. The idea behind this concept of sin is that God offered us the gift of life and we should not waste it. Pardon me if I upset some of you, but I have seen many people who are so miserable, that hell couldn’t be much worse anyway.
Southpark’s idea of hell might not exactly coincide with the Christian one…
Euthanasia on the rise
Euthanasia in the Netherlands was legalized back in 2002. In the decade that followed, medical euthanasia doubled and has risen by 13% the last year. It is mainly cancer patients who seek this way to end their suffering. What happens, however, in the cases of people with dementia or serious mental issues? Is the individual really able to think rationally and choose death? And how can we be sure that their social environment does not pressure them to make such a decision? Of course, there is an intricate system of evaluations and committees, that serve as a protection mechanism for the sick individuals. But are there real guarantees?
Well, the way I see it, if you are so unfortunate and unable to make your own decisions and your family wants to get rid of you, they will find a way. It does not matter if euthanasia is legal or not. There are certainly other ways, that can be much less humane. If I were a burden for my family, I’d rather slip in a deep coma and die in my sleep, rather than get essentially killed by neglect. But that’s just me and I’d love to know what you think about it.
Euthanasia in the Netherlands: Tired of life after seventy?
Monty Python knew the truth.
In 2010 a group of Dutch citizens was formed, that requested that everyone over the age of seventy should have the right of euthanasia in the Netherlands. Their request did not manage to make it into the Dutch legislation. One of the main arguments of this group is that many elderly people suffer from depression due to a sense of lack of purpose in life. Seeing all your loved ones die, as you grow older is not pleasant either. And this is partly why so many elderly people commit suicide. Euthanasia could put an end to all those suicides, the group claimed. You can read more about it here. I find that having a choice is most of the times a blessing, so it sounds like a great idea to me, but I do realize that there are factors like social pressure that need to be taken into consideration. For example, if an elderly person wanted to live to be 100 but their friends chose assisted suicide and their family kept asking them “isn’t your life complete yet?!”, I am worried that people could be guilt-tripped into ending their life.
What do you think about it?