Dutch doctors get license to murder their patients

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Dutch doctors get license to murder their patients

Maggie Gallagher - Special

Friday, April 13, 2001

The Netherlands, by a peaceful and democratic process, just gave its doctors a license to kill.

The New York Times, as usual, got the story embarrassingly wrong, calling the new law ''aided suicide'': ''The new law insists adult patients must have made a voluntary, well-considered and lasting request to die.''

The law explicitly allows patients to give a physician the right to kill them when in the doctor's opinion they are too physically or mentally ill to decide for themselves, provided he can get a second doctor to agree.

Unlike my native state, Oregon, which sadly became the first in our country to authorize suicide under restricted circumstances, the victims of the Dutch Death need not have a fatal illness and they need not administer the death blow themselves. Two doctors backing each other up are now authorized by the law to get rid of life they consider unworthy of living.

This is not assisted suicide. This is not even euthanasia. This is murder, pure and simple -- especially when, considering our rapidly advancing pain-control technology, it is the doctor's skill, knowledge and compassion that decide whether or not a patient's suffering will be made bearable or not.

The victims of the Dutch Death will be people we will never know about, never hear from: the ones who would have recovered, the ones who might have embraced their suffering, the depressed and mentally ill whose cries for help are met with efficient dispatch.

Doctors will take on the dual burden of healing and hurting. And the power thrust upon them by the law will corrupt, as such power does. Doctors will get used to the idea, their hospitals will benefit financially from dispensing with expensive care of the chronically ill, and elites who get off on breaking taboos will praise their callousness as courage.

If you doubt how easily doctors (like other people) can get used to murder, consider what happened last summer in France, where euthanasia is officially a crime but ''mercy killing'' is gaining ground. At La Martiniere, a 120-bed clinic in a suburb of Paris, prosecutors uncovered a scandal over ''killing for convenience by overworked staff,'' as The Guardian put it. As usual in such cases, it was the nurses who rebelled.

Six nurses reported that doctors were giving ''cocktails of death'' to intensive care patients so they could have their weekends free. ''I thought I was going mad,'' one nurse said. ''It seemed that everyone avoided talking about what was going on. I remember seeing an old patient walking about and laughing, and then the next day she was dead.''

Doctors' consciences were no obstacle. ''He gave us the impression that he was doing people good,'' a colleague said, describing the process. ''In the end, the practice became institutionalized.'' Some killed were neither old, nor in a coma, nor even near death, one of the nurses told a French radio show.

How will Europe react to legalized murder in its midst? Probably ignore it, maybe rationalize it. What about us? It seems to me such a radical departure from civilized norms requires an official reaction, lest we dishonor our own war dead. Officially sanctioned murder cannot be treated as just an internal matter for the Dutch. In the long run, it calls into question our special alliance with Europe, which is ultimately based on shared values as much as it is on national self-interest.

At a minimum, Congress should offer refugee status to any Dutch citizens who fear that now or in the future they may be killed by the Dutch medical establishment (an arm of the government in states with nationalized health care systems). Give us your tired, your poor, the sick who are now the hunted, yearning to breathe free.

Maggie Gallagher's column appears Fridays.

Syndicated columnist in New York

-- Swissrose (cellier3@mindspring.com), April 13, 2001

Answers

So we have an opinion by a syndicated columnist. If Gallagher wants an important issue to get on a soapbox I'd like her to mention a little about overpopulation, the on-going consequences and the cure. I don't think the odd dozen or so doctor assisted self-terminations in the Netherlands is something to worry about.

I think she's got too much time on her hands if she can't figure out bigger problems to address.

-- Guy Daley (guydaley@altavista.com), April 14, 2001.


Guy, while I was the Navy I got to fly in A-6 Intruders whose mission was low level attack. As a result I had the privilege of flying over great portions of the U.S., and many Middle/Far Eastern countries. Frankly, I did not see the overpopulation problems you are referring to. If people congregate on the coasts stressing natural systems, whose fault is that? "The innocent," or should we, the able, face the consequence of our choices?

-- Phil Maley (maley@cnw.com), April 14, 2001.

To young and healthy people, still in the grip of an unconscious belief in their omnipotence- that they will never be old, weak, or seriously ill- I am sure it doesn't matter. The reasoning involved goes something like this: Death and tragedy happens only to others, and empathy with the elderly and sick is far away...hence, I see them as a statistic, and why should I care if they are dispatched. They are not "me", I am not "them", thus, I couldn't care less. This will never happen to my precious body and ego, the only important criterion in the world. The feelings of the old, their experiences, and desire to be treated with respect and as human beings, are of no importance, they are old freaks.

Woe to us who raised a generation without compassion, one blinded by arrogance and narcissism. One day their time will come. Swissrose.

-- Swissrose (cellier3@minspring.com), April 14, 2001.


About 10 years ago, I had to order my father off life support. He had made his wishes VERY clear to me, for a number of years. In his living will I was named the alternate because he knew my mother would never be able to do it, but I would, out of love and respect.

He lost his arm in WWII, his leg when I was in high school in 68. They estimated he had a life expectancy of 7-9 years then. They took his remaining leg off in 90. Their was no blood during the amputation because there was no circulation. There was also no chance that the wound from the amputation would heal, again, because there was no circulation. They had taken the leg at the hip, they could no no higher.

I had to sneak around the hospital, and whisper my fathers wishes to the medical staff. Why, because the SOB right to lifers don't believe in a right to die. If they had gotten wind of what was happening they would have gone to court and I could not have honored my fathers wishes.

It was the hardest thing I ever did. I was very close to my father. I had been his arms and legs my whole life. I had been by his side for many years as his condition continued to worsen. Before he went to the hospital for the last time, he gave me instructions again, he knew it was over, so did I. I have no regrets, I did what had to be done, what my father wanted, what we had discussed many times.

The one thing that burns in my soul is the SOB's we had to hide from. I wanted to order a lethal injection, that's what my father wanted. I couldn't. I would have given him the injection, I couldn't. The hospital wanted no part of it.

When my time comes, I want the injection. I don't want my family to go through what I had to go through. The doctors and the medical staff went out of their way to make me feel like dirt. If some SOB, motherf*cking, self rightous, hypocritical, lifer tries to stop my termination when the time comes, I vow, so help me God, I will find a way to shot the scum before I go.

I will put this simply, the right to life, no right to die assholes are lower than slime.

-- Tom Flook (tflook@earthlink.net), April 14, 2001.


Tom - As it should be, a personal choice, unregulated by the right-to vegetablism movement like Maggie Gallagher.

-- Guy Daley (guydaley@altavista.com), April 14, 2001.


Tom, you need to forgive, otherwise you have invited your cancer in.

-- Phil Maley (maley@cnw.com), April 14, 2001.

Tom, that is a sad story. I've seen similar
situations many times. Here in OR we have
passed legislation in that direction but it
isn't enough. The local Catholic based hospital
does not recognize that right and will not
let their doctors perform the procedure.

When my time comes, I can only hope that I will
be able to avoid going into a hospital where
my rights will be ignored. If we have any rights
as humans, the right to end our suffering should
be paramount ::::-

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), April 15, 2001.


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