Doctor has family restrain woman during lethal injection
By: BOB UNRUH
A Dutch doctor carrying out a lethal injection on an elderly woman ordered her family to restrain her when she resisted, creating what even euthanasia advocates called a "horrible picture."
The case has been documented by a regional review board in the Netherlands, reported the National Catholic Register, which noted the church "has always considered euthanasia, like suicide, a 'gravely evil choice,' while allowing that grave fear of hardship, suffering or torture can lessen the responsibility of persons who take their own life."
The case in Amsterdam, the report said, is one of several similar instances of resistance, including "a sex-abuse victim in her 20s, a 41-year-old alcoholic, a woman with ringing in her ears and now an Alzheimer's patient."
The woman in Amsterdam, whose name was not released, was in her 70s.
Suffering from Alzheimer's and in a care home, she previously had indicated a desire for euthanasia, the report said. She wrote a living will, "saying she did not want to go into a care home and that she wished to die when she considered the 'time was right,'" the report said.
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When she was admitted to the home, she told the staff she wished to die, "but not now."
Her condition was typical of Alzheimer's patients, the report said, sometimes fearful and angry and other times content and peaceful.
Although she never verbally requested to die, her husband and doctor made the decision for her, and the doctor ordered a sleeping drug, Dormicum, concealed in her coffee, "which she was not told about because she would have objected," the report said.
The drug failed to put her to sleep.
"Instead, she was excited and made plans to spend the afternoon with [her family] going out to eat," the report said.
The doctor then gave her an injection of another sedative.
According to the Register: "When the doctor went to inject the [lethal] drug, thiopental, the woman woke from her semi-slumber, got a fearful look in her eyes and kicked the doctor. The report says that the family helped to hold her down while the doctor gave the drug and that the doctor did not think it was 'appropriate to halt termination of life' since it had been considered for a long time and [the doctor] did not want her to 'get cold feet.'"
The review board even noted that the doctor testified, "Even if the patient had said, 'I don't want to die,' the doctor would have continued the termination."
Jacob Kohnstamm of the review board admitted to the Register the actions were troubling.
"You can't expect an answer to the question, 'Are you aware that there will be a little Dormicum in your coffee?' So it is at least questionable whether it is fair to say that the sedative was administered secretly," he told Register correspondent Celeste McGovern, who writes from Scotland.
Kohnstamm compared the woman's reaction to flinching when getting a flu shot.
And he said, "The family and the doctor, they restrained her - they just held her for a second.
"That's, of course, a picture that is a horrible picture. But there is a dilemma: What to do if a person was really decisive, had written down her request asking the doctor to help her die if she would be in deep dementia?"
The review board ultimately ruled that the doctor "crossed a boundary" by giving a secret dose of sedatives in the coffee and failing to halt the "execution of the termination of life" but exonerated the doctor.
Kohnstamm told the Register the guidelines need to be much more clear, especially since 250,000 people in the country already have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
In nearby Belgium, euthanasia already has broadened to include children, a person whose sexual "transition surgery" left behind a gender-identity disorder and twin brothers, only in their 40s, both suffering from a condition that would cost their eyesight.
Alistair Thompson of Care Not Killing told the Register it's a typical slippery-slope scenario.
"The problem is that the law always evolves. It's always pushed on, a little bit, and a little bit. Once you've crossed the Rubicon, it becomes people who are not mentally competent, people who are frail or weary of life.
"It says: We care so little for people that we allow it. 'You're old; your life must be over.' 'You're disabled; your life must not be worth living' ... This is another good example of why the law has to be clear: that we do not kill people who are ill or disabled."
The original review of the case, translated from Dutch, confirmed the woman had discussed euthanasia but had said she would have it carried out by making a specific request.Murder, Doctors, Assisted Suicide, Euthenasia, Elderly Dutch Woman, Restraining Victim