At the time of the coronavirus pandemic, as we care for our seniors and when we are aware of their importance in our lives, we are informed that the Dutch Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday 21 April that doctors are legally allowed to euthanize patients with severe dementia, provided the patient has expressed a desire to euthanize while still in a legal capacity, he writes Catholic News Agency.
The lower courts had previously ruled that the doctor did not act improperly when he euthanized a 74-year-old woman with advanced dementia, although the woman had to undergo multiple doses of sedation during the procedure and was physically disabled. The case was referred to the Supreme Court for further clarification of the Euthanasia Act, which allows doctors to kill patients deemed to be in “unbearable suffering”.
According to Dutch law, euthanasia is legal only for people with dementia who have written or verbally expressed an ‘anticipated order’ to their doctor.
“The chances that someone will ever suffer from dementia may be reason enough to put together an ‘anticipated order’ (via a life will). This can be done on its own or first discussed with a family doctor. A doctor can only perform euthanasia on a dementia patient if such an ‘order’ exists if legal care is exercised and if the patient, in his or her opinion, suffers unbearable suffering without the prospect of improvement, ”the Dutch government says.
What if a person changes his mind?
A woman who resisted euthanasia four years earlier had written an ‘anticipated order’ demanding that this procedure be carried out instead of being placed in a nursing home. In the ‘order’, she said she wanted to “be able to decide while I still have common sense, and when I think the time is right.”
Prosecutors argued that her attempt to resist the doctor indicated that she may have changed her mind but was unable to communicate verbally.
In the end, it all comes down to a doctor’s decision
Dr. Charles Camosy, a bioethics, and professor at Fordham University told CNA that the Supreme Court’s decision was part of a legal “slippery ground” in the Netherlands on euthanasia. Camosy said patients with conditions that include mental impairment will be the focus of future discussion.
“I believe that the next major battle for basic human equality will be beyond the assessment of the value of a person with advanced dementia,” he said. “In my view, it is impossible to separate what is happening in the Netherlands from the general rejection of basic human equality in the post-Christian West.”
A person with advanced dementia or severe brain injury, Camosy notes, is unable to consent to be euthanized, which means that the doctor performing the euthanasia is likely to decide whether the patient is in such severe suffering that he or she should die.
“Doctors are obviously bad at judging these things,” Camosy said. “Study after study reveals that they evaluate their patients’ quality of life worse than patients think. They assume that people want the quality of life more than life expectancy, although the figures show the opposite. ”
Camosy told CNA that, given that the Netherlands has been euthanizing an infant for two decades, which is also unable to express how severely it suffers, “it follows logically that someone with late-stage dementia might say so.”
Instead of further expanding euthanasia, Camosy suggested that the Netherlands instead increase the number of caregivers for patients with dementia and to empower families of dementia patients to provide care. transfers IKA.
What does the Catholic Church say about euthanasia?
Concerning euthanasia, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Whatever the incentives and means, direct euthanasia means ending the life of a person with special needs, sick or dying. Euthanasia is morally unacceptable. Such an act or omission, which in itself or intentionally causes death to end the pain, constitutes a murder hardly contrary to the dignity of the human person and respect for the living God, its Creator. An error of judgment, which can be misled in good faith, does not change the nature of that killing act, which must always be condemned and remedied.