In the euthanasia debate, those who hold out the Netherlands as a textbook case of a ‘slippery slope’ often see a law originally designed to help the terminally ill – but that has now ‘slipped’ to include those who aren’t. But the Dutch law wasn’t written to deal only with certain diseases; guided by doctors themselves, it was deliberately created for people whose suffering is ‘unbearable and untreatable’.
This might include, for example, people with long-term, corrosive illnesses such as multiple sclerosis or motor neurone disease. In some circumstances, it may even include people with Alzheimer’s.
But if the basis of your law is that only a mentally competent adult can request euthanasia, how do you deal with cases where that competence is unclear?
In episode 6 of Better Off Dead, Andrew Denton continues his search for answers about the Netherlands' law – this time focussing on concerns about a culture of devalued human life, and how the system can protect those vulnerable to exploitation.
Please note: this podcast is not about suicide. If you are interested in increasing your understanding of suicide and how to support someone experiencing suicidal ideation, visit the Conversations Matter or beyondblue websites.
If you (or someone you know) require immediate assistance, contact one of the following 24/7 crisis support services: Lifeline (13 11 14), Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467), MensLine (1300 78 99 78), beyondblue (1300 22 4636), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or eheadspace (1800 650 890).