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Netherlands: No Consent Required to Kill Dementia Patients

elderly manIn spite of rules saying euthanasia can only be provided for patients who repeatedly request death, the Netherlands has decided to slide a bit further down the slippery slope by “relaxing” these rules for dementia patients and allowing them to be put to death based on past agreements rather than with current consent.

Writing for LifeNews, bioethics attorney Wesley Smith is reporting that Dutch doctors will now be permitted to kill dementia patients who have not requested to die and cannot currently consent to it provided they once signed a “kill-me-later” request when competent.

“In the Netherlands, euthanasia is supposed to be strictly restricted . . . to mentally competent people who repeatedly request to be killed, and even then, only when it is the only way to prevent suffering," Smith writes.

However, the Dutch newspaper announced yesterday that new guidelines would now allow dementia patients to be killed even though they are not mentally competent to give their consent.

“The guidelines for performing euthanasia on people with severe dementia have been relaxed a little so that patients can be helped to die even if they incapable of making their current feelings known, the justice and health ministries said on Thursday,” DutchNews reports.

“However, they will have to have signed a euthanasia declaration with their family doctor before they became seriously ill to be considered for help in dying . . . ”

This is in spite of the fact that some doctors believe these so-called consent forms should be renewed regularly, particularly for dementia patients, so that they can be more sure of the current wishes of their patient. It would also better fulfill the current requirement of “repeated requests” to die before euthanasia can be permitted.

“So much for repeated requests made by competent patients,” Smith laments. “But then, protective guidelines aren’t meant to really protect, but to give false assurance.”

He goes on to remind that Alzheimer’s often causes loved ones and medical personnel more suffering than the patient.

“How tempting it will be for the MD to put the patient out of the family’s misery.”

These alarming developments are causing concern even among the Dutch medical community.

For instance, a Dutch ethicist named Professor Theo Boer, who once supported euthanasia laws in his country has now turned against the practice, admitting that he was “wrong – terribly wrong” to have supported it.

“ . . . [W]ith 12 years of experience, I take a very different view," he told the British Parliament in 2014 when they were considering legalizing assisted suicide.

"Euthanasia is now becoming so prevalent in the Netherlands, that it is on the way to becoming a default mode of dying for cancer patients. Assisted deaths have increased by about 15 per cent every year since 2008 and the number could hit a record 6,000 this year. Campaigns for doctor-administered death to be made ever easier will not rest until a lethal pill is made available to anyone over 70 who wishes to die.”

He concluded: “Some slopes truly are slippery.”

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