Dutch Euthanize Woman Despondent About Macular Degeneration; No Evidence of Routine Intervention to Address Depression

The rise in euthanasia in The Netherlands, allegedly voluntarily at the person’s request, has raised questions about the state of medical ethics in that nation. The latest case being discussed is that of a woman who was killed by her physician because she was feeling depressed about her macular degeneration.

Wesley J. Smith, J.D., a lawyer and bio-ethics expert consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture, said the woman, in her eighties, was euthanized because of her impaired vision and other typical symptoms of advancing age. A 2010 annual report by the five regional euthanasia review committees in the Netherlands stated that the patient, a woman in her eighties, could no longer do many things that she once enjoyed [Note: I don’t know any senior citizen who can!]. “She lived on her own. She had always enjoyed intellectual challenges in her life” and had used the computer, emails and liked “reading, philosophising, debating, politics and art.” But she began feeling depressed as she felt like she was deteriorating due to macular degeneration, bouts with dizziness, poorer hearing and occasional incontinence. 
Smith writes that these depressed states in the elderly are treatable with routine geriatric psychiatric interventions but that there was no indication whatsoever that her geriatric psychiatrist even attempted that type of help.  In fact, as Smith sees it, the psychiatrist “might have killed her.”  See Smith’s recent discussion of the euthanasia epidemic in the Netherlands in First Things: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/secondhandsmoke/2012/02/22/euthanizing-the-mentally-ill-in-the-netherlands/
Another independent psychiatrist who was also consulted by the state noted that despite the patient’s poor hearing he was able to interview her successfully. “She was lucid and was well oriented to time, place and person,” the report said. “The interview did not reveal any memory problems. The patient was coherent and responded appropriately to questions. She was able to explain why her disabilities (deafness, impaired vision and dizziness) prevented her from living her life as she had always done….” According to the report, she wanted to end her life (or have it ended) because she was “suffering from being alive.”
The Dutch have reported a 19 percent year-to-year annual increase in assisted suicides in 2010, rising from 2,636 in 2009 to 3,136 in 2010. Their “guidelines” allow doctors to euthanize not just the terminally ill, but also the chronically ill, such as those with diabetes or heart disease. The emotionally and mentally ill can be killed, as well as infants with serious disabilities.
Also included in the 2010 numbers were 21 early-stage dementia patients who were euthanized by lethal injection, calling into question whether “guidelines” which require a patient’s ability to make an informed choice and to voluntarily request death could possibly have been met.
Despite these sad statistics, advocates of euthanasia refuse to acknowledge the problems and some groups in The Netherlands now want to legalize “dying assistance” for those 70 and older to encourage them in their desire to die for reasons of “humanity.”
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About Ray Noble

Deus et Patria -- A Website for Americans Who Enjoy Being Catholic ... and Vice Versa. ABOUT ME: Retired lawyer-law professor-author. Raised in NJ, now living in Florida. Widower and Father. EDUCATION ACHIEVEMENTS: Summa Cum Laude, Undergrad debating scholarship, Fulbright scholarship, Campion Scholar at Oxford University, Presidential Scholar at Boston College Law School, law review editor. DIVERSE PROFESSIONAL LIFE: Corporate lawyer, state (NJ) Deputy Atty General for Civil Rights, Law school associate professor (St. John's University), legal writer, author of guide for women at the request of the New Jersey League of Women Voters, state judiciary's chief of long range planning, state bar association's chief counsel, USIA law reform rep in Gaza and the West Bank, co-founder and overseer of 9/11 Mass Disaster relief program for World Trade Center victims. In 2001, after 33 years of marriage and 8 children (6 living daughters), Alice, the love of my life (my high school sweetheart), died when she was only 55 years old. I still miss her deeply and always will. But in 2002, an unexpected, new chapter began when I left the practice of law and became a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal for 3 blessed years. I served in the Hispanic apostolate and the pro-life ministry, counseling outside abortion mills in Manhattan and the Bronx. I loved the CFRs' radical commitment to poverty. I also treasured the abundant daily prayer that included Mass, the Divine Office, daily Eucharistic adoration and rosary, and both communal and private contemplative prayer. But in 2005, while I was still in temporary vows, one of my daughters was hospitalized, with long term needs. It became clear to others and to me that my 3 years as a friar.was to become a prelude to other things. Retiring to central Florida, I continue to see my daughter's needs as my first commitment. I also work to combat human trafficking. In my parish ministries and in my life as a single senior citizen, I try to continue the life I knew as a friar as much as I can. This website is a recent development. I hope you find it helpful and, at least occasionally, fun. I do.
This entry was posted in euthanasia, macular degeneration, medical ethics, Netherlands, Wesley Smith and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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