Monday, May 28
“Here we go again,” Gladys said, sighing dramatically as she surveyed the rainbow of pills in the little plastic cup that nurse Char had given her. Then, suspiciously, “What’s the blue-and-green one for?”
Char bent close to her patient and lowered her voice, but anyone in the vicinity could hear her. “It’s for depression, Gladys. It’s the new one that your psychiatrist prescribed.”
“Well I don’t want it!” Gladys picked it out of the cup and threw it on the table, amidst her arrangement of the greenish puzzle pieces that would ultimately fit into a jungle scene packed with lizards and lemurs.
Char retrieved the capsule and tucked it carefully into a drawer on her cart. “I’ll let him know.”
“You do that, honey. And tell him I don’t care to see him again. There’s nothing wrong with me. Who wouldn’t be depressed at my age?” Gladys scowled at Sadie. “These doctors are trying to poison us, I tell you!”
She spotted an aide passing the doorway. “Girl! Girl! Come here this instant! Take me home!”
Astoundingly, the young woman complied; if Sadie had been in her position, she would have feigned deafness and kept going.
“I’m warning you,” Gladys hissed at Sadie as she was whisked away, her chin jutting out regally. “It’s all poison!”
--From The Song of Sadie Sparrow, pages 327-328
Now hear this from a 2011 research report published in the peer-reviewed Canadian journal Current Oncology: “Although the initial intent was to limit euthanasia and assisted suicide to a last-resort option for a very small number of terminally ill people, some jurisdictions now extend the practice to newborns, children, and people with dementia.”
Is this correct? If so, where, and under what circumstances? (I've emailed the authors for details but have yet to hear back.)
How about this: Is there any truth to reports of human euthanasia in the European Union? How about the whispered rumors of involuntary euthanasia—for instance, the 2018 report on putting an elderly dementia patient to sleep in The Netherlands, while she tried in vain to fight off her attackers?
Then there’s this study from the Netherlands, published in late 2018. Its authors claim euthanasia is quite rare. Here's the scoop: They analyzed the medical records of 5361 patients who died over the course of four months in 2015--patients who had had “psychiatric disorders, dementia, or an accumulation of health problems.” In this select group, they said, euthanasia was given to only 6.3% of those who had requested it, whereas 4.9% of these folks were denied euthanasia.
Let that sink in.
A total of 11.2% of the dead people studied, at least some mentally challenged and all in the care of medical professionals, asked to be murdered. And these medical professionals “only” granted the request for 6.3% of them.
To put it into a sound bite: 338 of the people in this limited group, all suffering from “psychiatric disorders, dementia, or an accumulation of health problems,” were euthanized in the Netherlands in late 2015.
Keep in mind that these deaths occurred several years ago, presumably when the European debate over euthanasia was still ongoing, if not exactly raging. Consider, too, that those analyzed represented just a slice of the deceased in Holland during that period.
Perhaps most disturbing, this study only looked at patients who had requested euthanasia. No word on those who didn’t ask for it.
You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to find hard statistics on this practice, even in the scientific journals. But if the deafening silence on this topic is any indication, the practice of putting human beings out of their misery--willingly or unwillingly--may be gaining steam.
Perhaps we’d best launch the debate in the U.S. sooner rather than later. If we don’t, the application of EAS may well slip beneath the radar of Americans too distracted to notice—or too hardened by our culture of death to care.