Nonfiction | April 28, 2014
Paying the Piper
On April 1, 2002—April Fool’s Day—the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia. Euthanasia: the termination of a terminally sick individual’s life, for reasons of mercy, an answer to suffering. The Dutch law stated that patients must be adults, must have made a voluntary request and must be facing unbearable suffering with no reasonable alternative. There were 1,815 reported deaths by euthanasia the following year.
At first, unbearable suffering was the only acceptable reason to allow euthanasia, but definitions changed as the Royal Dutch Medical Association’s guidelines for interpreting the 2002 Euthanasia Act became the protocol to follow. The definition of “unbearable suffering” came to include “unbearable suffering of either a physical or mental nature.” Then “mental and psychosocial ailments” such as “loss of function, loneliness and loss of autonomy.” More recently, the guidelines have allowed doctors to connect a patient’s lack of “social skills, financial resources and a social network” to “unbearable and lasting suffering,” opening up the possibility of legally assisted death based on “psychosocial” factors alone.
I never dreamed that these laws would affect my life, and I am a pretty good dreamer. Maybe I should have seen it coming.
This essay is currently not available online.
If you are a student, faculty member, or staff member at an institution whose library subscribes to Project Muse, you can read this piece and the full archives of the Missouri Review for free. Check this list to see if your library is a Project Muse subscriber.
Want to read more?Subscribe Today
SEE THE ISSUE
May 17 2022
Facing it Sally Crossley “there will be time To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;” —T. S. Eliot The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
May 16 2022
Oranges Robin Reif We called it the Buffet of Dead Food: flaccid bacon, eggs—hard-boiled and cold—and toast so tough it scratched the roofs of our mouths. Still, the meal had
Jan 07 2022
Cover Up I did not begin my time in Jerusalem with the desire to be dangerous. I arrived in that most intoxicating, infuriating, enervating, derelict, and sad of cities with