Editor’s note. The following letter was sent to Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition whose blog appears at alexschadenberg.blogspot.com. HB1325 would legalize physician-assisted suicide in New Hampshire.
I , William Reichel, M.D., am a physician who has been involved in Medical Ethics since 1984, and since 1998, I am Affiliated Scholar at the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown in Washington, D.C. Arthur Dyck, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of Population Ethics at the Harvard School of Public Health, and for 40 years, he had taught Medical Ethics at Harvard. His home has been in Alton, New Hampshire for 30 years.
Since 1988, my main interest has been in assisted suicide and also euthanasia, in Oregon and Washington state, and especially in the Netherlands. From 1988-1990, I was a Visiting Scholar at Harvard studying assisted suicide and euthanasia with Professor Dyck.
Dutch doctors have practiced assisted suicide and euthanasia for decades. Although the law calls for performing assisted suicide and euthanasia with the patient’s consent, it is often involuntary. The law also calls for obtaining a second opinion of another physician, but this is often never done.
By 1991, the Remmelink Report showed that 1,040 people (an average of three per day) were actively killed by Dutch doctors without the patient’s knowledge or consent. In addition, 8,100 patients died as a result of doctors giving them overdoses of pain medication, not for the primary purpose of controlling pain, but to hasten the patient’s death. This pattern continues to this day.
Early death can save money for health-care systems as well as for surviving family members. Once assisted suicide and euthanasia are accepted, abuses are possible and difficult to control.
Those who believe that the Assisted Suicide bill HB1325 will assure their control over the “time, place, and manner” of their death, are naive.
William Reichel, M.D.
Arthur Dyck, Ph.D.