". . . In contrast
to doctors of every other Nazi-occupied country . . . Dutch doctors never
recommended or participated in a single act of euthanasia during World War
II. All such orders were disobeyed."
". . . it took only a generation of Dutch doctors "to transform a war crime into an act of compassion."
Assisted suicide no act of compassion - EDITORIAL May 10, 2002
Our position The evolution of euthanasia in the Netherlands shows how expedience can replace conscience and principle. After Britain's highest court refused her request, a terminally ill and paralyzed woman appealed to the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg, France. She wanted assurance that her husband would not be prosecuted if he helped her commit suicide. The court said no. The decision was a wrenching one but a welcome recognition of the inviolable nature of human life.
The case was closely followed by European media and considered a test of both law and public sentiment. Interest was hyped by the fact that the Netherlands legalized euthanasia last year and Belgium expects to approve assisted suicide soon. As for the Netherlands, its law passed in April 2001 was little more than confirmation of what had become almost commonplace.
Mercy killings have gone unpunished for decades in that country, but their numbers have dramatically accelerated. Elderly or chronically ill patients and deformed or critically ill newborns have long been considered eligible subjects.
Now a new segment of the population has been added. As of last fall, doctors have been able to euthanize sick children as young as 12, as long as Mom and Dad agree.
In some respects, the far-out Dutch version has turned off some groups normally supportive of assisted suicide and euthanasia. They correctly fear the law is ripe for abuse. Unfortunately, the law has also energized groups that countenance no restriction on the individual's right to die when and as he chooses.
There is irony in the Dutch experience, said Richard Miniter, a writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe. In contrast to doctors of every other Nazi-occupied country, he noted, Dutch doctors never recommended or participated in a single act of euthanasia during World War II. All such orders were disobeyed.
Essayist Malcolm Muggeridge saw irony as well in that it took only a generation of Dutch doctors "to transform a war crime into an act of compassion."
The evolution of euthanasia in the Netherlands demonstrates how readily expedience can replace science and principle. Evil is habit-forming. Studies suggest that habitual offenders commit up to 90 percent of all crime. Once a society loses its way, it ends up in a moral no-man's land.
|SOURCE http://www.indystar.com/article.php?editsuicide10.html |
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