Dutch MD Euthanized Dementia Patient Despite Being Told ‘No’

By Wesley J. Smith

I have written before about Marinou Arends, the Dutch doctor who euthanized a woman with dementia struggling to stay alive. Readers may recall the doctor first drugged her patient’s coffee and then, when the woman awakened and fought against being killed, had the family hold the patient down while administering the lethal injection. Not only was she exonerated, but she was even praised by the judge.

Arends has just given an interview about the case. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but her wrongdoing is now even more apparent.

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. 

From the DutchNews.nl story:

‘I believed that her suffering was truly awful and I knew that it could last for a long time,’ she told Nieuwsuur. ‘If you asked her: “What would you think if I were to help you to die?,” she looked bewildered and said: “That’s going a bit far!” I saw in her eyes that she didn’t understand it any more.’

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.’

“For the best” for whom? The caregivers? The family? Society? Certainly not the patient! She said repeatedly she didn’t want to die.

This involuntary euthanasia was motivated by bigotry against people with dementia, masked as compassion. What other conclusion can we reach? That she was no longer compos mentis, so her opinion about her own life was unimportant?

“I believed I was working within the boundaries of the law,” Arends said. Why wouldn’t she? The boundaries are meaningless. They just exist for show.

Editor’s note. Wesley’s great columns appear at National Review Online and are reposted with his permission.