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A New Kind of House Call

Posted Jun 05 2012 4:13pm

When I was a kid growing up, we had a practice that is almost nonexistent today – doctors making house calls. One time when I was about ten years old, I had a sore throat and a high fever, too sick to get out of bed. Dr. Huston came to our house one afternoon, examined me, and gave me an injection of penicillin. I may not have liked getting a “shot,” but I never doubted that Dr. Huston came to make me well.

Fast forward to modern-day Netherlands. In March, a new service began, featuring mobile euthanasia units, with their own trained doctors and nurses. The teams will go “to the homes of people whose own doctors have refused to carry out patients’ requests to end their lives.” The new entities are called  Levenseinde (“Life End”) house-call units, and their services are free of charge to Dutch citizens.

Euthanasia has been officially legal in the Netherlands since 2001, though it was practiced unofficially for many years before then. The argument of a “slippery slope” dominated the debate at the time. Right-to-die proponents argued that there would be many safeguards, and that only those truly desiring the service would be offered it.

Yet the slippery slope predictions may have been warranted. By some estimates,2,300 to 3,100 acts of euthanasia take place in Holland each year. In fact, this is surely an underestimate, because many cases are simply not reported. Now add “Life End” units, which seem to be promoting an agenda. No wonder even the Royal Dutch Medical Association has distanced itself from the practice. Could it be that someday soon, there will be an “expectation to die” for the elderly and infirm, so that social pressure will make “euthanasia house calls” an everyday occurrence ?

Whether at life’s beginning or life’s end, when you devalue the sanctity of human life, you only reap what you sow.

 

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