Netherlands Euthanizes 29-Y-O Mentally Ill Woman; Bioethicists Ask ‘Where Does This End?’

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The Netherlands has euthanized a 29-year-old woman who was not diagnosed with a physical disease but was suffering psychologically, an example of the growing allowances for what is being called "dignified death."

The Dutch woman, Aurelia Brouwers, died by physician assisted suicide last Friday. Dutch media reports indicate that she chose death, arguing that she had a right to a "dignified death" after living with severe psychological issues since her childhood.

"I think that after such a rotten life I am entitled to a dignified death," Brouwers told Dutch media outlet RTL. "[P]eople who have a serious illness get a chance for a worthy ending, so why is it so difficult for people who are psychologically out?"

"Every second is torture, I'm so trapped in my head, those demons are not going away, I've been so devoured by my psychiatric illnesses that I'm completely broken, and I fought against that," she said.

Approximately 9 percent of requests for euthanasia because of psychological suffering are reportedly honored in the Netherlands and it is also rare for the government to approve it for people younger than 30 but such cases are indeed happening.

Matthew Eppinette, executive director of the California-based Center for Bioethics and Culture, commented to The Christian Post on Thursday that though he did not want to diminish Brouwers' real suffering, it's worth questioning where this ends.

"Who, ultimately, can say to someone, your suffering doesn't quite qualify for assisted suicide?" Eppinette asked.

"If only you were suffering a little more or suffering in a slightly different way ... Indeed, what we have seen over and over is an ever-expanding category of what kinds of suffering and what kinds of distress qualify as worthy of assisted suicide and euthanasia."

He noted that while some may call this kind of slippery slope argument a fallacy, the truth is that upon closer review, "the slope is covered in a sheet of ice."

"The better, safer, more human and humane course is to draw a bright line that says no one helps anyone commit suicide, full stop. Human beings are not isolated, completely independent, fully autonomous individuals. We are dependent on one another in many ways. None of us are as independent as we imagine ourselves to be. There is genuine virtue in recognizing our shared dependence: it allows us to better care for one another, and it provides the means for us to allow ourselves to be cared for by others (which can be a very difficult thing)."

Assisted suicide for mental illnesses also undermines all efforts at suicide prevention in society, he went on to say, which endangers people who can be helped and might otherwise make significant improvements or fully recover.

Similarly, Andrew Walker of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, noted in National Review Wednesday that advocates who favor euthanasia often fail to acknowledge how euthanasia laws wind up loosening as time passes and how the tight restrictions regarding the conditions and ages of eligible people for euthanasia start to disappear.

"Where euthanasia is legalized, the justification for its use expands over time," he said.

Physician-assisted suicide is legal in several states in America, including its most populous one.

"In the first year of California's End of Life Option Act," Walker continued, "111 individuals ended their lives under its stipulations. If California follows global trends, more and more Californians will commit state-sanctioned suicide."

Last March, talk of expanding the right to die for anyone 75 or older, even if they are in good health, appeared in the Netherlands when Alexander Pechtold, leader of the progressive Dutch political party D66, told reporters that he favors an incremental approach in liberalizing euthanasia laws and that he regards it as the "the next step for our civilization." He maintained that political support for euthanizing completely healthy people exists and said he hopes that eventually people younger than 75 can opt to end their lives whenever they so choose.

In February 2017, a group of over 220 doctors took out an ad in Dutch newspaper NRC to express their refusal to administer euthanasia drugs to those suffering from advanced dementia since such people cannot give verbal consent to it. In a detailed article in NRC in June, Boudewijn Chabot, a psychogeriatrician who is supportive of assisted suicide, said that the practice of euthanasia "is out of control," noting the erosion of important legal constraints over time.

"I do not see how we get the genie back into the bottle. It would be a lot if we recognize that he is gone," Chabot said.

This article was originally posted here.  

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