As reported by Bruno Waterfield of The Telegraph, UK, last month, the number of Dutch people choosing medical euthanasia has more than doubled in the 10 years since legislation was changed to permit it, rising 13 per cent last year to 4,188.
Voluntary euthanasia or physician assisted suicide, where a doctor is present while a patient kills themselves, usually by drinking a strong barbiturate potion, has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002.
Requests have risen steadily since 2003 when 1,626 people applied for medically administered euthanasia, in most cases by a lethal injection, or assisted suicide.
As previously controversial “mercy killings” have become socially and medically acceptable, the number of cases, the vast majority of medical euthanasia, have more than doubled over the decade to 2012.
Two years ago, a BBC documentary by Sir Terry Pratchett – ‘Choosing to Die’ – resulted in high media coverage but since then the topic has been somewhat shrouded in silence.
Our readers will also remember Ashubodha’s choice to leave his body in his own terms.
However, the legality of euthanasia and assisted suicide has not changed since then. Since 2002 euthanasia is only legal in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemburg. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland, and in the US states of Washington, Oregon, Vermont and Montana. Although physician-assisted suicide has been legal since 1751 in Germany, the subject remains controversial; opinion polls showed that about a third of the German population is in favour of active euthanasia and assisted suicide in the case of terminal illness.
The right to consciously choose to end one’s life is still fiercely debated globally, while at the same time there don’t seem to be any scruples killing innocent people on a daily basis in the ongoing wars on our planet. Those people have no choice in the matter yet the same governments involved in warfare deny terminally ill persons to choose death over endless suffering. The hypocrisy is painful to behold.
Society is so afraid of death that it does not allow death even for people who are ready to die.”
Osho, Ancient Music in the Pines, Ch 8, Q 1