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Frightening Expansion of Assisted-Suicide in Holland, Oregon

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June 18, 2015

Tell your legislator to vote “No” on Assisted Suicide.

Two recent court decisions have eroded limits of the Netherlands 2002 euthanasia law, appearing to open assisted suicide doors even wider in a country which now euthanizes nearly 5,000 people a year.

In Oregon, legislators are making similar attempts to expand when people can ask a physician to help them kill themselves.

An 80-year-old woman with dementia in Holland died recently under court order even though all involved conceded that she was not personally able to consent to it.

In another case a Dutch appeals court held a man guiltless for killing his 99-year-old mother with an overdose of pills, although it was done outside the law.

The 80-year-old woman's death was ordered by a judge after doctors serving the dementia care home where she lived refused to authorize it. The woman's doctors said she was not mentally capable of agreeing to undergo a lethal injection. But her family asserted she had a death wish and went to court for an order to end her life on that basis.

Although her doctors emphasized that the woman was not capable of making such a profound decision the judge overruled them and ordered her death, siding with the woman's family, according to European media reports.

The next day the woman was moved to an "end-of-life" clinic and put to death under the country's 2002 euthanasia law.

In the other case, a man killed his 99-year-old mother by overdosing her medication.

Although the killing was done outside the Netherlands euthanasia law, the court lauded the man's "unwritten moral duty" to assist his mother in a peaceful death. If he had not, the court said, he might have suffered from "life-long feelings of guilt."

Assisted suicide advocates lauded that decision because it appears to erode the Dutch law's strict requirement that a doctor carry out the killing under careful conditions.

When the Dutch law was enacted advocates asserted that its use would be rare and deaths would be few. That was the pattern in its first few years.

But the pattern has shifted; now the number of people put to death legally in the Netherlands is rising steeply every year. Government authorized suicides have risen by double digit percentages every year since 2009.

In 2013 nearly 5,000 people in the Netherlands were euthanized, official data shows, a 151 per cent increase in seven years.

Netherlands has a population of 17,000,000, or about half as many people as California.

If the same pattern developed in California after assisted suicide became legal, the Netherlands experience suggests that a decade after legalization about 10,000 Californians could die each year under assisted suicide authority.

Closer to home, the current legislation proposed in California, SB 128, is modeled after Oregon’s law - yet California is not Oregon. Our population is nine times the size of Oregon and is composed of a more diverse and vulnerable population.  Almost 11 million Californians depend on Medi-Cal for their health care needs; this number far surpasses the population of the entire state of Oregon (four million residents).

As in Holland, assisted-suicide is gradually expanded in areas where it has been legalized.  In Oregon, for instance, legislation has been proposed to extend the six-month terminal diagnosis to qualify for assisted-suicide to 12 months.  (The six-month timeframe is arbitrary anyway.)

Tell your legislator to vote “No” on Assisted Suicide.