Calls for Euthanasia Rights are Growing

By Emily Thompson

Zoraya ter Beek, 28, is a Dutch woman who has decided to legally end her life due to her struggles with crippling depression, autism and borderline personality disorder, according to a Free Press report.

Ter Beek, who once aspired to be a psychiatrist, has been dealing with mental health struggles throughout her life. Today, she lives in a small village in the Netherlands near the German border and is scheduled to be euthanized in May. Her 40-year-old boyfriend will be in attendance when she is “put to sleep.”

The word “euthanasia” originates from the Greek “eu” denoting “well” and “thanatos” meaning “death”, i.e., a good death. Many people, it seems, just want to die this good death at a time of their choosing.

But is it that easy to just legally kill yourself if you’re not happy?

Some experts have objected to the culture of legal death in the Netherlands.

The Free Press article quotes Theo Boer, a healthcare ethics professor at Protestant Theological University in Groningen, who served for a decade on a euthanasia review board in the Netherlands. “I entered the review committee in 2005, and I was there until 2014,” Boer told the author. “In those years, I saw the Dutch euthanasia practice evolve from death being a last resort to death being a default

The problem, according to critics, is that governments should not be in the business of encouraging people to kill themselves with laws that destigmatize suicide. Beyond the law, people are exposed to a social media culture that glamorizes euthanasia, and radical right-to-die activists demand the right by law to choose when they die.

The Netherlands became the first country in the world to make assisted suicide legal in 2001.  Since then, it’s become an increasingly popular option among the population.

In 2022, there were 8,720 euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands— representing roughly 5% of all the country’s deaths and up from 14% from the year prior, according to Dutch media.

In February, the 93-year-old former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt and his wife died hand in hand by euthanasia.

Switzerland has allowed assisted suicide since 1942 with the caveat the individual must self-administer the life-ending drugs. Other European countries, including Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, and Portugal followed. The position in North America is less clear cut; in the U.S., legislation varies by state, whilst, in Canada, the Medical Assistance in Dying act encompasses the whole country. The debate continues in other jurisdictions.

A recent paper on views of euthanasia and dementia focuses on people’s opinions in the United Kingdom regarding euthanasia and assisted dying, using data specifically related to individuals with dementia.

Many observers interviewed for the study had considered this issue previously and, based on their responses, researchers Pentaris and Jacobs suggested policy makers should consult the British public before making far-reaching decisions with significant, literally life-changing consequences.

According to Guardian columnist Frances Ryan, “Advocates of assisted dying say there will be ‘safeguards’ in place to protect older and disabled people who might be coerced by abusive family members. That may well be, but it is naive to suggest such protections could be foolproof. Some matters cannot neatly be reduced to a rulebook or a few lines of legislation; they run deeper, leaking into the fabric of society and what it means to be alive.”

“This is not to say that the UK shouldn’t go down the path of legalising assisted dying, but we must at least do so with eyes wide open,” she advised.

A recent BBC article notes that UK laws prevent people from asking for medical help to die. “Euthanasia is illegal under English law and is considered manslaughter or murder. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment.”

The Suicide Act 1961 also makes it illegal to encourage or assist suicide in England and Wales, ad those found guilty could face up to 14 years in prison.  Similar laws also exist in Northern Ireland.

“There is no specific crime of assisting a suicide in Scotland, but it is possible that helping a person to die could lead to prosecution for culpable homicide,” according to the article.

At the end of the day, euthanasia is a complex subject with obvious serious ramifications. The many concerns and risks involved turn people off from the idea, but proponents believe personal rights and liberties to choose trumps all.

Today, Ter Beek is a headline. In the not-too-distant future, it is possible euthanasia will be the norm. She won’t know it, but she may be taking part now in a revolutionary change in society.

Also See from Activist Post:

Austria Leads the Pack in Selective Lockdowns, Vaccine Mandates and Euthanasia

Image: Euractiv

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