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Holland legalizes killing of sick and elderly (Netherlands).

The Hague--The Netherlands, which has long turned the Nelson eye to the practice, now has the distinction of being the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. The Dutch parliament passed a law to this effect on November 28, 2000, by a vote of 104 to 40.

Cardinal Adrian Simonis, who has become the often unheeded conscience of his nation, still hopes that the senate may have second thoughts. The European Union has pointed out to the Netherlands that their euthanasia law conflicts with human rights.

"Mercy-killing" has been a common practice in Holland for over two decades. A 1973 court decision set out the conditions under which doctors could ignore their vow to preserve life and could ignore the Criminal Code, which continued to carry a maximum 12-year prison term even after 1993, when guidelines set out more liberal conditions under which doctors could avoid prosecution.

The minority Christian parties, which opposed the Bill's passage through the legislature, have no confidence that these guidelines will be adhered to. They are convinced that there will be many more horror stories of patients involuntarily euthanised by either direct injection or by withdrawal of treatment.

Official figures from 1999 say 2,216 persons died either by euthanasia or assisted suicide; however, theactual number is much higher because the majority of cases are not even reported.

A similar situation exists in neighbouring Belgium (which has no laws in place), in which 10% of deaths in 1998 were attributable to "mercy-killing," often without the patient's request (BBC news report, Nov 24).

Holland is also renowned for the almost non-existence of hospice/palliative care. Proper pain and symptom management should be considered essential to the art of medicine, and yet due to the acceptance of euthanasia the Dutch have not developed the needed hospice and palliative care programs. The Dutch euthanasia program has turned killing into the only available "caring" option.
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Title Annotation:euthanasia law
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUNE
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Previous Article:Syro-Malankar Catholics (India).
Next Article:Vatican decries law (Netherlands).

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