When The Standards For Human Euthanasia Fall Below The Standards For Animal Euthanasia It’s Time To Get Scared

The euthanasia solution really is green by the way

When I read the heading of this article I thought it was talking about euthanasia in animals. I was wrong:

‘A CONTROVERSIAL system of mobile euthanasia units that will travel round the Netherlands to respond to the wishes of sick people who wish to end their lives has been launched.

The scheme will send the teams, made up of doctors and nurses specially trained for the purpose, to the homes of people whose own doctors have refused to carry out the patients’ requests to end their lives.

The launch of the ”Levenseinde”, or ”Life End”, house-call units, whose services are being offered to Dutch citizens free of charge, coincides with the opening of a clinic of the same name in the Hague which will take patients with incurable illnesses as well as others who do not want to die at home.

The initiative is that of the Dutch Association for a Voluntary End to Life (NVVE), a 130,000-member strong euthanasia organisation that is the biggest of its kind in the world.

The Netherlands was the first country to legalise euthanasia in 2002 and its legislation is considered to be the most liberal in the world. But doctors cannot be forced to comply with the wishes of patients who request the right to die and many do refuse, which was what prompted NVVE to develop a method to fill the gap.

Sick people or their relatives can submit their applications via telephone or email and if the request fulfills a number of strict criteria, the team is dispatched.

Legal guidelines state that the person must be incurably sick, be suffering unbearable pain, and have expressed the wish to die voluntarily, clearly and on several occasions.’

I come from the animal health perspective but this is insane! How is this ‘mobile team’ suppose to assess either the person’s health status or their mental state? What does ‘unbearable pain’ means exactly? What if the patient is in ‘unbearable pain’ because their daughter-in-law ‘unbearably’ wants them out of her house so she can turn their room into a home-theatre?

I could use a cliché along the lines of ‘this opens a can of worms’ but I think it is too late for that.

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About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim Chelom is a Registered Veterinarian, a writer and an educator

6 comments

  1. JT

    If we allow euthanasia to relieve the suffering of sentient animals then why not provide people this option?

    The above shortfallings are also apparent with animals.

    Someone who experiences uncontrollable suffering and pain should have the right to end it?

    • Dear JT. I am 33 years old. If I came to you saying that I have uncontrollable suffering you would send me to see a Doctor who would probably get me on some pain relief and arrange for counselling sessions do deal with emotional problems.
      What if I was not 33 but say 83? Why should my treatment be different? Are we assuming that older people are more entitled to want their life to end?

  2. JT

    Hi Vadim,

    If you had uncontrollable pain and were completely incapacitated and unable to move due to a terminal illness such as cancer I don’t believe age would matter and I think it should be the patients decision on what they want.

    Veterinarians make this decision for animals as their ambassadors to prevent unnecessary suffering.

    • That’s very graphic imagery you are using there, JT. Cancer patient, immobilised, in unbearable pain… most people would feel comfortable approving euthanasia in this case. The Dutch probably pictured this kind of euthanasia when they voted for it.
      They didn’t vote for ‘mobile euthanasia teams’ but they got them anyway. Those ‘teams’ get medical history by contacting the referring Doctor (by e-mail!) and the first time they see the ‘patient’ is when they are preparing his vein for the lethal injection.
      And that’s just the way it goes – one day you are voting for the immobilised, suffering, cancer patient to get the needle and talking about ‘dignity’ and ‘the right to choose’. The next day there is a ‘mobile euthanasia team’ knocking on your door. But don’t worry – it’s all above board. They already got the e-mail.

  3. AC

    And the part of the euthanasia debate that never gets discussed is when the patient and there family want every lifesaving measure to be used and the treating medical team believe that any further intervention is futile and therefore goes against family wishes. And this is a daily occurrence in most countries and not just in those that currently allow active euthanasia.

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