Doctor who euthanized struggling elderly woman says “just do it”

Back in 2018, I wrote about the rise of “non-consensual” euthanasia in the Netherlands, a process that would once have been colloquially referred to as murder. Later that year, I covered the story of an elderly woman who struggled and was pinned down in her nursing home so a doctor could euthanize her via lethal injection. Now, Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has more details on that horrifying story:

The Netherlands Supreme Court recently approved the euthanasia death of an incompetent person with dementia who resisted at the time of death. The woman with dementia, had stated in her power of attorney document that she would want to die by euthanasia rather than live in a care home. When the doctor came to inject her she resisted. The doctor tried to sedate the woman by putting drugs in her coffee but the woman continued to resist so the family held her down as the doctor injected her.

The published parts of an interview that Marinou Arends gave Nieuwsuur television. Arends is the doctor who carried out the euthanasia death. Arends says that she would do it again and advised other doctors in similar situations to “just do it”. The article states:

But although the woman repeatedly said she wanted to die, when asked directly, she would then say ‘not yet’.

If you asked her: “What would you think if I were to help you die?”, she would look at me bewildered and said: “That’s going a bit far!”

Arends says that she asked the woman three times and each time she received a negative reply. She said without the confirmation she had to take this step and stated that even though it is good to get the confirmation, doctors should ‘do it, just do it.’

Bioethicist, Wesley Smith, wrote that he didn’t think it possible, but her wrongdoing is now even more apparent. Smith wrote: “The patient had said, while competent, that she would want euthanasia after becoming incompetent, but wanted to be the one to say when. She never did. But she wasn’t just silent on the question. The patient affirmatively told Arends that she did not want to be euthanized! Not once, not twice, but three times.” 

Smith then quoted from the story:

“Although it is not required by the letter of the law, doctors’ organisation the KNMG had considered it good practice to confirm that a dementia patient still wants euthanasia before the moment of death – even after all other strict requirements have been fulfilled. Concerns had been growing about what to do if someone was no longer mentally competent to make this decision, and the public prosecution said it brought a case against Arends to get more legal clarity. ‘It is good to get the confirmation: do it, just do it,’ acknowledged Arends, who said she had asked the patient three times and had a negative reply. ‘But I couldn’t get this confirmation, and without it I had to take this step. It was tremendously difficult, but for the best. I believed I was working within the boundaries of the law.’”

The Dutch Supreme Court decision permits a doctor to lethally inject a person with dementia without confirming the final wishes of the person basing the euthanasia death on past statements.

The issue is that the woman with dementia resisted and said no. To say that it was acceptable for the doctor to kill this woman is the same as saying that someone with dementia cannot change their mind.

This decision opens the door to more euthanasia of people with dementia and more euthanasia without explicit consent.

This is the track that Canada is on, as well.


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