An influential Dutch medical society that endorses medically-aided euthanasia has raised eyebrows by advocating for assisted suicide by starving and dehydration for those younger than age 60.
The Royal Dutch Society for the Promotion of Medicine released new guidelines Jan. 23 to “care for people who consciously stop eating and drinking to hasten the end of life.”
Alexander de Graeff, chairman of the committee that penned the new guidelines, told Dutch news outlet NOS, “The reason for maintaining an age limit in the old guide was that at the time no patients were actually described who were under the age of 60 and who brought the process to an end,” adding that people seeking death were better off being aided by medical professionals.
The expanded access to assisted suicide in the Netherlands comes at a time when the rates of requests for euthanasia increased 14% in 2022 and has averaged around 10% increases a year, according to a report in DutchNews. The same year, the number of dementia patients who received aid in dying increased 34%, the report says.
In the United States, 10 states and the District of Columbia now have legal assisted suicide, according to the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, a Christian bioethics research center at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois. In 2023, 15 states introduced legislation to legalize assisted suicide.
“First, legalizing assisted suicide increases overall suicide rates. To say it another way, suicide contagion is real,” wrote Matthew Eppinette, executive director of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, in a Jan. 31 Newsweek.com column. “A 2015 study published in Southern Medical Journal found a 6.3 percent increase in all suicides following a state’s legalization of physician-assisted suicide, and for those over 65 years of age, the increase was 14.5 percent. This puts those struggling with thoughts of suicide, clearly, even those who are not approaching the end of their lives, at increased risk.”
Eppinette further argues that money spent promoting euthanasia could be better spent increasing access to palliative care for the terminally ill, and that such laws disproportionately threaten the livelihoods of the disabled, even when legal “safeguards” are spelled out.
“This is why all national disability rights organizations with a position on assisted suicide legislation oppose it,” Eppinette wrote.
“Lastly,” Eppinette argues, “assisted suicide is out of step with the fundamentals of the practice of medicine.” Even the American Medical Association, he notes, continues to oppose assisted suicide.
The Bible speaks to the dignity, value and divine timetable for each human being. Notably, Psalm 139:16 says: “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”