A pro-euthanasia activist has been convicted in the Netherlands of sending suicide kits to approximately 1,600 people.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal in the Netherlands in certain circumstances under the Dutch Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act.
The activist, identified only as Alex S., was selling the kits to people who did not qualify for the program.
According to the court, the activist convinced people that the drugs were painless, but in reality, they suffered “severe distress and panic which led to a gruesome death.”
“He is convinced that every person has the right to decide about their own life and believes that government policy in this area falls short,” the Dutch court in Den Bosch said, according to a report from Fox News. The judge added that he “took the law into his own hands and single-handedly put the right to self-determination above all other rights and the law.”
The court sentenced Alex S. to three and a half years in prison but suspended 18 months of the sentence. He must only serve the full term if he reoffends upon release.
In April, the Netherlands announced plans to expand the assisted suicide and euthanasia program to allow children ages 1 to 12 years old to be eligible.
“The current Scheme for Termination of Pregnancy and Termination of Life for Newborns (LZA/LP) will be amended and expanded to include termination of life in children aged 1-12,” the Dutch government said in a press release. “This concerns a small group of terminally ill children who suffer hopelessly and unbearably, whose palliative care options are not sufficient to relieve their suffering and who are expected to die in the foreseeable future.”
In July 2021, the Psychiatric Times published an article in opposition to assisted suicide and noted that “preliminary reports suggest increased rates of suicide in the general population of states that have legalized PAS (physician assisted suicide). Specifically, ‘legalizing PAS has been associated with an increased rate of total suicides relative to other [non-PAS] states, and no decrease in non-assisted suicides.’ Similarly, suicide rates in the Netherlands (where medical euthanasia is legal) have accelerated, compared to neighboring countries that have not legalized medical euthanasia.”
They report that physician and ethicist Leon Kass, MD, has pointedly cautioned: “we must care for the dying, not make them dead.”
The American College of Physicians has said “physician-assisted suicide is neither a therapy nor a solution to difficult questions raised at the end of life. On the basis of substantive ethics, clinical practice, policy, and other concerns, the ACP does not support legalization of physician-assisted suicide. … However, through high-quality care, effective communication, compassionate support, and the right resources, physicians can help patients control many aspects of how they live out life’s last chapter.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress, as well as best practices for professionals and resources to aid in prevention and crisis situations.