Letter to the Editor
The Washington Times, April 17, 2002
Copyright 2002 News World Communications, Inc.
The assertions in the April 16 letter to the editor "Columnist Maggie Gallagher mounts unfair attack on euthanasia in Netherlands," from Netherlands Ambassador Boudewijn J. Van Eenennaam, are misguided beyond belief.
Ten years ago, I spent several weeks in the Netherlands interviewing the top people on both sides of the euthanasia debate. They disagreed strongly on the morality of euthanasia, but everyone was remarkably candid about how routine it had become and how readily the laws were flouted.
The ambassador claims, "The main requirements are that the request must be voluntary, the physical suffering must be unbearable with no prospect for improvement, and the request must be reviewed by a second, non-treating physician." That may be how the statute reads, but as Dr. Pieter Admiraal, at one time the nations leading proponent (and practitioner) of euthanasia, told me, in reality "the courts are never against you" if you commit euthanasia.
In one famous case, three nurses at the Free University Hospital of Amsterdam killed several comatose patients. There was no possibility of consent, no suffering, and no doctors opinion. Yet, at trial, the nurses were found guilty only of acting without the guidance of a physician.
Even a decade ago, convictions for involuntary euthanasia were so difficult to obtain and those that were obtained were so consistently reversed by higher courts that prosecutors essentially threw their hands up and stopped even trying. The term "voluntary" has become so meaningless that even babies with serious but fixable birth defects often are killed, and the pressure on old people to "give consent" is tremendous.
I love the Dutch people and have visited their country many times. However, my own research and volumes of published material show that in the Netherlands, a medical license is a license to kill.
Read Michael Fumentos additional work on euthanasia.