The trial of a doctor who assisted in the suicide of a depressed but other wise healthy woman has caused a furor in the Netherlands.
One June 22, the Netherlands Supreme Court struck another blow to the anti-euthanasia movement when it ruled that a psychiatrist who supplied a fatal dose of sleeping pills to a woman was not violating the country’s laws. The woman was in a state of depression because of a failed marriage and the death of her two sons.
The law clearly states that patients must be suffering unrelievable pain and that euthanasia must be a last resort.” Observers note that the woman’s condition was reversible, euthanasia was not used as a last resort and that the court ruling will further widen the country’s already liberal euthanasia laws.
Reaction against the ruling came quickly. Holland’s largest daily, De Telegraaf, said the courts had crossed a “bridge too far.” Karl Gunning, head of the Dutch Doctors’ Union commented that “we always predicted that once you start looking at killing as a means to solve problems, then you’ll find more and more problems where killing can be the solution.”
Similar reaction to the court’s decision occurred in Canada. Dr. Robert Pankratz, vice president of the Compassionate Healthcare Network (CHN) said “Holland is showing us the results of a social experiment that is revealing where the slippery slope leads.”
Dr. Phillip Ney, a psychiatrist from Victoria, B.C. commented that the Dutch psychiatrist’s actions “undermines the whole medical profession, particularly psychiatry.”