Analysis

Survey finds 1 in 3 Dutch doctors willing to euthanize mentally ill

doctor-thinking

It would seem fairly obvious that if people are going to advocate for assisted suicide, those who are mentally ill should be strictly off-limits. Right?

The entire premise of legalizing assisted suicide relies upon the notion that it’s for people who are terminally ill and going through severe suffering, and that they aren’t actually suicidal, depressed, or mentally ill. But turning a profession that is supposed to center around healing into one that centers around killing inevitably results in a host of ethical problems. And the latest example is a survey of Dutch doctors, which found that not only were a very large minority willing to kill a patient, one out of three would be willing to kill a patient that was mentally ill.

This showed that a large majority (86 percent) would consider helping a patient to die. Six out of ten had actually done so.

Overall, 77 percent (and more than 90 percent of GPs) had been asked at least once for help to die. Only a few of the respondents (seven percent) had actually helped a patient who did not have cancer or another severe physical illness to die, whereas over half (56 percent) had helped a cancer patient to die, and around a third (31 percent) had assisted someone with another physical disease.

But feelings about euthanasia and assisted death varied for each health condition. The likelihood of helping was high for cancer patients (85 percent) and those with another physical disease (82 percent).

For mental illness, only 34 percent would consider helping the patient die, and 40 percent would help someone with early-stage dementia to die. The rate was slightly lower for late-stage dementia, at 33 percent.

But hey, it was only 34 percent. Only a little over one-third of all Dutch doctors would be willing to euthanize someone who was mentally ill, and therefore unable to make such a drastic decision on their own. No big deal, right?

None of this is particularly surprising. Once we start normalizing killing as part of practicing medicine, there’s really no stopping it. If we define suffering as an acceptable reason to kill someone, then why should mental illness not be included? It all boils down to the attitude that only certain lives are worth living, and it’s sad to see such a miserable outlook painted as somehow being “dignified.”

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