Dutch Doctors Are Euthanising People With Autism And Intellectual Disabilities
3 July 2023
According to a Kingston University investigation of Dutch euthanasia cases, several Dutch citizens with autism or other intellectual disabilities have died by physician-assisted suicide in recent years after doctors determined their afflictions were ‘untreatable obstacles to a normal life.’
The Netherlands became the first country to legalise human euthanasia, but at the time, the focus was on people with cancer — not those with autism. However, between 2012 and 2021, nearly 40 people identified as autistic or intellectually disabled were legally euthanised.
Of those people, five people who were younger than 30 identified their autism as the sole reason for euthanisation.
The bombshell report has now forced lawmakers to ask whether allowing doctors to kill suicidal patients via lethal injection has strayed too far from the original intent of the practice. It’s a good question as the report’s results are very eugenic.
Kasper Raus, an ethicist and public health professor at Belgium’s Ghent University, said the types of patients seeking out physician-assisted suicide had changed dramatically and significantly over the past two decades in both the Netherlands and Belgium, where it is also legal.
Strict requirements need to be met before euthanasia may be considered, such as suffering from an incurable illness that causes “unbearable” physical or mental anguish. Doctors, however, have the final decision on the matter, which is perhaps worrying.
Irene Tuffrey-Wijne, a palliative care specialist at Kingston University, is one of the report’s authors and is now questioning the ethics of killing autistic people, even if they request it.
“There’s no doubt in my mind these people were suffering,” she said. “But is society OK with sending this message that there’s no other way to help them and it’s just better to be dead?”
A case in point is one man in his 20s who was severely depressed and had endured bullying his entire life. The man “longed for social contacts but could not connect with others” and eventually decided to die because “having to live on this way for years was an abomination.”
Dutch psychiatrist Dr Bram Sizzo also shares Tuffrey-Wijne’s concerns about the trend.
“Some of them are almost excited at the prospect of death,” Sizoo said. “They think this will be the end of their problems and their family’s problems.”
The report further notes that doctors believed that in a third of the cases, there was “no prospect of improvement” for people with autism and intellectual disabilities.
Those with knowledge of autism cases, however, believe that in many issues, the person might not even fully comprehend the decision to end their life.
The word “euthanasia” comes from the Greek words “EU” (good) and “Thanatos” (death). It’s legal in five European countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and more, recently Germany and Spain.
Source: NY Post