A complicated set of circumstances lead to the approval, over a three year period, of euthanasia for Dutch resident, Milou de Moor who suffered from Lupus; a debilitating autoimmune disease. Treated in Belgium at the University Hospital in Ghent, de Moor was to be euthanased by her neurologist of six years.However, her Dutch general practitioner, who had not been required to approve the euthanasia, intervened and, after discussing his or her reservations with the Ghent Hospital ethics committee, the approval for her euthanasia was formally withdrawn. On hearing the news, de Moor then took her own life.According to reports, the intervention at this point of de Moor's GP was entirely unexpected; especially considering that he or she had been virtually silent on the matter over the preceding three years and had seemed to support the process.The Dutch and Belgian laws presuppose the involvement of the persons GP, but they do not mandate it. De Moor's family are now said to be considering legal action against the GP and the Ghent hospital.There's much in this sad situation that we do not know. The GP concerned has not spoken publicly and is on leave.According to the media, de Moor's family wants to take action to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. One can understand their grief. But what, precisely, would a successful law suit prevent?This is a very serious question. On the face of it, perhaps the remedy being sought is to prevent any medical professional from intervening in a euthanasia process once initiated. If that is the case, any remaining sense of obligation of the state to protect its citizens will have been all but obliterated. Any vestige of process, be it genuine or otherwise, would become a rubber stamp; medical judgement and even any requirement of second or third opinions will become meaningless. The Low Countries will have reached euthanasia on demand.Over all of that, as I've pointed out before, the damage to the culture can be seen in this false dichotomy that only offers euthanasia or suicide as solutions.
SBS Dateline special report: Allow me to die
The 'end of the therapeutic path': supporting suicide in disguise