Republicans in the House Oversight Committee voted yesterday to block D.C.’s rapidly advancing move towards legalizing assisted suicide in the District. Though the District of Columbia has the right to elect its own city officials and pass its own laws, Congress retains the ability to veto any of the city’s legislation, if a vote can be achieved to do so. Despite the criticism they might receive (and are currently receiving) from D.C. citizens, Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and his fellow Republicans are right to thwart this misguided policy. Legislation such as this opens the door to abuse. How do we know this? Because it is already happening in the Netherlands.
In case you missed it, two weeks ago the Regional Review Committee in the Netherlands ruled that a doctor acted “in good faith” when administering lethal drugs to an apparently uncooperative patient. The patient was over 80, and reportedly expressed the desire to be euthanized “when the time was right,” though, some time after expressing this desire, was seen roaming the halls of her nursing home, displaying signs of fear. She reportedly stated several times “I don’t want to die” in the lead up to being euthanized.
The episode began with the senior doctor at the nursing home slipping a soporific drug into the patient’s coffee, effectively sedating her. She did this without informing the patient first so as to avoid causing undue further distress to the patient. However, during the process, the patient began fighting back, trying to avoid receiving the fatal dose. At this point, the doctor asked the patient’s family to hold the patient down, and once controlled, administered the fatal drug which ended the patient’s life.
Now, the Netherlands has a 17-year history of legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide, but this case provides the most vivid example of the dangers posed by a culture that endorses such action. Because the doctor determined that the patient was “suffering unbearably,” she had freedom to force the patient into euthanasia. Yes, force. The patient expressed a desire to live: “I don’t want to die.” She fought against the action in the moment, but her will was trumped by that of her family. And why?
Because she had dementia.
There were 109 cases of euthanasia for dementia patients in Holland just last year. Despite the supposed safeguards in place to prevent such obvious ethical lines being crossed, assisted suicide and euthanasia laws still opened the door for this being abused.
This is the question that lies ahead of D.C — and ahead of our nation. Already, the Netherlands has shown us the dangerous road on which legalizing assisted suicide places us. Do Americans really want to continue down it?
Kevin Dawson is the Operations Manager at American Principles Project.