August 14, 2017

"Nic and Trees Elderhorst, both 91, died [together, by euthanasia] in their hometown of Didam, in the Netherlands, after 65 years of marriage."

"The couple both suffered from deteriorating physical health over the past five years..."
...with Mr Elderhorst left with reduced mobility after a stroke in 2012.  Walking had also become increasingly difficult for his wife, who had also suffered from memory loss.

“It soon became clear that it could not wait much longer,” the couple’s daughter told The Gelderlande. “The geriatrician determined that our mother was still mentally competent. However, if our father were to die, she could become completely disoriented, ending up in a nursing home. Something which she desperately did not want. Dying together was their deepest wish.”
We're told it's rare for 2 persons to go together, given that each must meet the standard.

75 comments:

tim maguire said...

But then those poor kids are left with the issue of what to do with the bodies! How can they enjoy their inheritance with such things hanging over them?

The Inuit knew how to do what needed to be done. Stick them on an ice flow and give it push.

Done and done.

Sigivald said...

Don't think that last link is correct?

Achilles said...

Are we supposed to be happy or something?

n.n said...

So, that's what happened to The Hippocratic Oath.

Lives deemed unworthy, even if self-deeemed. Progress.

Ann Althouse said...

Link fixed. Thanks.

Ann Althouse said...

"Are we supposed to be happy or something?"

You can react any way you want.

Me, I don't like it.

Birkel said...

I'm not sure why that fish stayed with that bicycle so long.

Michael K said...

The "Standards" in the Netherlands are pretty loose. They will deny it but ask if a doctor has ever been prosecuted for involuntary euthanasia.

n.n said...

While there is a natural right to abort one's own life, it's clearly a progressive slope to normalize and integrate that Choice into society. There is a further risk associated with doctors rejecting The Hippocratic Oath and participating in these rites. Life at the twilight's edge.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

This is known as bending the cost curve.

robinintn said...

Alternate headline: "Elderly couple murdered."

Robert Rogers said...

Jason Isbell - If We Were Vampires

jj121957 said...

How bad must the health care and senior care system of a country be to drive people to decide they'd rather be dead?

Michael said...

This is just wrong

Big Mike said...

Did they fall, or were they pushed?

n.n said...

jj121957:

That's not the only issue. There is also a question of existential outlook. Most people would wait for a natural end. They would not advocate, let alone assist, in an elective abortion.

Achilles said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Are we supposed to be happy or something?"

You can react any way you want.

Me, I don't like it.


Perfect response.

Feste said...

“They gave each other a big kiss and passed away confidently holding hands. According to their own wish.”

Dutch factor driven criteria defining due care require a larger review committee.

Family who want to witness a last kiss are free at least from lingering criminal liability.

Mark said...

Suicide pacts are actually relatively common.

And there are NO STANDARDS in the Netherlands. They have fully embraced the idea of lebensunwertes leben and even if it does not meet some "rule" that exists only on the books, there will be no prosecution of anyone who aids and abets.

Glen Filthie said...

Well I say good for them. We put our dogs down when it's their time, and we do it out of love and mercy. That isn't muder, it's death with dignity and I respect the couple and the fortitude of the physicians that did the deed. I don't think I could do it.

Feste said...

Annual report on Dutch euthanasia practice published, Thursday, April 13, 2017;

Cancer, cv, neuro, pulmonary by far, far largest percentages ... very few rejections by review committees.

roadgeek said...

And I support the post made by Glen Filthie a little earlier. My first wife is dying of Alzheimer's even as I type these words. She's shown symptoms since 2010, and is now completely non-verbal and out of it. What kind of death is that? What sort of mercy is it to have your brain just rot away, until it even forgets how to breathe?

I strongly believe that those who call assisted suicide murder have never dealt with a relative or loved one with Alzheimer's, or stomach cancer or Lou Gehrig's, or they might reconsider. Glen's comments about how we treat a beloved pet resonate with me as well. Why the double standard?

mockturtle said...

Some neighbors of my brother--an older couple--did the same. They used carbon monoxide. She had been disabled for many years and they left a note explaining that they both wanted to end their lives together. My brother, noting that he hadn't seen them for a while, discovered their bodies.

mockturtle said...

And I support the post made by Glen Filthie a little earlier. My first wife is dying of Alzheimer's even as I type these words. She's shown symptoms since 2010, and is now completely non-verbal and out of it. What kind of death is that? What sort of mercy is it to have your brain just rot away, until it even forgets how to breathe?

Roadgeek, I can relate. The last ten years of our 40-year marriage, my husband suffered from Lewy Body Dementia. There were times when I considered killing us both but couldn't do it, as he was unable to give his consent. It's a nightmare and I can certainly empathize. But there is light at the end of the seemingly endless tunnel. God bless!

Mark said...

You want dignity in death? Then don't kill the one you love. There is no dignity in killing. Even if you medicalize it. In fact, save yourself the money and simply smash her head in with a hammer. Either way, it is the opposite of dignity. No dignity for the deceased, no dignity for the killer or the one aiding and abetting a killing.

Feste said...

Criminalia continued ...

June 17, 2015, On May 13, 2015, a Dutch appeals court in Arnhem cleared Albert Heringa of all criminal responsibility in assisting his 99-year-old mother to commit suicide in 2008 ... link;

So criminal liability hangs over his head for about 7 years.

Various defenses.

“In its decision overturning the 2013 trial court ruling, the appeals court said that Heringa should not be prosecuted for helping his mother die and noted that decide between obeying the law against assisting suicide and his ‘unwritten moral duty to help his mother die in the manner she wished.”

It’s not clear what weight the court attached to this unwritten moral duty.

I don’t understand Dutch legislative process (studying Swiss direct democracy right now), but I’m assuming that the Dutch populace could counter the court finding such an unwritten moral duty, throwing the decision back onto popular laps.

If they don’t care to push back, they don’t care.

Mark said...

There's a rallying cry -- "Let's treat people like dogs!"

Mark said...

And while you are reveling in death, know this --

By your actions, you are pushing off the cliff some vulnerable person who is depressed and in despair.

exiledonmainstreet said...

"The last ten years of our 40-year marriage, my husband suffered from Lewy Body Dementia. There were times when I considered killing us both but couldn't do it, as he was unable to give his consent."

I am very sorry for what must have been a hellish experience.

I am very glad you are still here with us, mockturtle!

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
exiledonmainstreet said...


"You can react any way you want.

Me, I don't like it."

Yep. While I have great sympathy for this couple, I can see "I want to die and spare myself pain and suffering" turning into "We want you to die and spare us pain and suffering" very quickly.

"You've had a full life, grandma. Why do you want to keep on fighting? You're being rather selfish don't you think? "

Eric said...

The geriatrician could be hit by a bus this afternoon and left paralyzed and in agony, so...

Feste said...

~
“ ... and so you go on, ever more sublimely happy, ever nearer suicide. During your more lucid moments you realize, of course, that you're getting to be a little bit batty, and you come to crave some stabilizing influence to dampen your oscillations. Contact with an old friend becomes so welcome that you hold your tongue even if he says something stupid like, 'Welcome back! Have a good vacation?"

For biology-haters, who’d rather we call priests before calling “an old friend,” discount the fact that these words are just an ethological observation, from the “Handbook of Ethological Methods,” which the Pope’s otherwise embrace of Darwinian mechanisms as a mode of creation has not yet, to my ignorance, formally passed upon, nor do I consider as Authority either way, save in Thomas’s Aristotelian graceful moments of exceptions for conscience.

bagoh20 said...

It's like a lot of things. Depending on the situation it can be the best option, but taken too lightly it becomes sadly common and easy. Like, marriage, divorce, or skinny jeans.

n.n said...

The emotional bias is why we don't allow prejudiced people to sit in judgment. We violated that reasonable and rational approach with establishment of the Pro-Choice Church, that progressed to, among other things, an rationalization for compassionate abortion of human lives deemed unworthy.

mockturtle said...

Yep. While I have great sympathy for this couple, I can see "I want to die and spare myself pain and suffering" turning into "We want you to die and spare us pain and suffering" very quickly.

This is one of several reasons I am against assisted suicide.

mockturtle said...

BTW, thank you, exiled.

Mark O said...

Yes. Of course. We must "meet the standard."

Trumpit said...

I believe they should go parachuting together. It would be so thrilling. I would tell them where the ripcord is, and leave it at that. If they get caught in a tree, then it wasn't meant to be.

jimbino said...

In Holland, a 16-year old can freely choose to be euthanized without consulting her parents. In Amerika, a 16-year old does not have the right to freely choose her sex partner.

How did the Dutch end up so much more advanced than Amerikans, both personally and as a nation?

G Joubert said...

Isn't that just special? Yes, we know how to kill. Now let's see them bring them back.

Robin Eatmon said...

I really dislike that term "death with dignity" when referring to assisted suicide.

Feste said...

“ .. emotional bias is why we don't allow prejudiced people to sit in judgment ..”

Ouch. And true. And sorta true.

The reason why we don’t entrust emotion-free AI or emotion-free computers to sit in judgment, and why we prefer judgmental humans, is in part because of the component of emotional evaluation, as just one among all other human juror senses, and when emotional jurors cross the line into “bias,” then that error is not easily (if at all - there are exceptions) reviewable on appeal, along with all other sensate fact findings. Emotions cover such a wide spectrum under pressures of judgment, especially life and death judgments, that I agree with exorcizing bias, and following law.

The - sorta true - is that I’m not sure that there is such a thing as an emotion-free human, we’re not built that way. Studies on emotional and psychological ‘priming’ (among related emotional mechanisms) show that religious values asserted in generalized terms, and even implicitly held, affect our emotions in judgments. It’s not that atheists or believers experience emotions any more, or any less ‘primed’ by their cherished values, relative to judgment.

Lots of stuff on this throughout the years in “The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.”

We have a dear friend, PhD in mathematics, on a research team studying military pilots, neural-fastest response times, under conditions of “fully engaged” (baseline for pilots as well as soldiers), and the smallest introduction of an emotional trigger can affect even the most disciplined.

No easy answers on my end.

Bad Lieutenant said...

How did the Dutch end up so much more advanced than Amerikans, both personally and as a nation?
8/14/17, 7:21 PM

Maybe if you leave here and go there we could catch up.

TwoAndAHalfCents said...

"Skinny jeans" - thanks for the laugh bagoh20

Richard said...

The issue is not that there aren’t circumstances that would justify a mercy killing. The issue is that once we legally allow it to be done, we begin to justify it for almost any reason. Instead of being a gut wrenching decision, it becomes a perfunctory decision by someone who is used to saying yes. A mercy killing should be a very difficult decision to make because it cannot be undone.

chickelit said...

Flashback to 1912: Ida and Isidor Strauss (co-owners at the time of Macy's) died to together on the Titanic, as described in numerous books and films. Both could have been saved, but Isidor refused while women and children could still be saved. Ida joined him and was reported to have said: "I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so will we die, together."

Mark said...

It is not just about the person dying (ill, elderly, disabled, unwanted, unworthy, etc.). It is also about the person who causes the death -- it is about a persona becoming a killer, either directly or indirectly. And it is about doctors and nurses becoming agents of death, rather than agents of healing.

And these issues are not new. People have been sick and suffering for the entire history of humanity.

And it sure as hell ain't about mercy. Or trying to justify killing as an act of mercy. It is about a perversion of mercy, a perversion of love and compassion.

D. B. Light said...

All I can say is that I DO NOT give anyone permission to kill me.

mockturtle said...

jimbino asks: How did the Dutch end up so much more advanced than Amerikans, both personally and as a nation?

I'm sure most of us don't consider that advanced.

chickelit said...

jimbino asks: How did the Dutch end up so much more advanced than Amerikans, both personally and as a nation?

Maybe if he had any Dutch relatives or spent any significant time in NL, he wouldn't ask such stupid questions. Instead, I think jimbino spends most of his time smoking dope in NP's and observing who doesn't go to them.

Fernandinande said...

I've been meaning to make a living will wherein I would be "put down" under certain circumstances, e.g. can't recognize anybody, etc., but dunno if it's legally possible.

Part 1. HOMICIDE AND RELATED OFFENSES
...
(3) This section shall not apply to a person, including a proxy decision-maker as such person is described in section 15-18.5-103, C.R.S., who complies with any advance medical directive in accordance with the provisions of title 15, C.R.S., including a medical durable power of attorney, a living will, or a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) directive.

(4)(a) This section shall not apply to a medical caregiver with prescriptive authority or authority to administer medication who prescribes or administers medication for palliative care to a terminally ill patient with the consent of the terminally ill patient or his or her agent.

(b) For purposes of this subsection (4):

(I) "Agent" means a person appointed to represent ...

(II) "Medical caregiver" means a physician, nurse ...

(III) "Palliative care" means ...treatment that relieves pain and suffering and supports the best possible quality of his or her life.

(c) Paragraph (a) of this subsection (4) shall not be interpreted to permit a medical caregiver to assist in the suicide of the patient.

Trumpit said...

"All I can say is that I DO NOT give anyone permission to kill me."

Good luck with that. Never sign a DNR or an Advance Directive. You may be killed anyway because some bad people may want you dead including your allegedly loving children and the so-called compassionate doctors. Give away your property, or most of it, while you are alive, so nobody in your family tries to kill you while you are in the hospital. I'm quite serious about this.

Big Mike said...

For a huge ("yuge") change, you're right, Trumpit.

David said...

We are born to suffer. Your results will not vary, regardless of how and when your life ends.

The Godfather said...

If they euthanize me, I want a Viking funeral, a burning long ship with all my possessions on it, so there won't be an incentive for someone to off me for the inheritance (or the death duties). Oh, and I want the "phyician" who administered the deadly dose tied to the mast of the ship.

But that's just me.

Bad Lieutenant said...

chickelit said...
Flashback to 1912: Ida and Isidor Strauss (co-owners at the time of Macy's) died to together on the Titanic, as described in numerous books and films. Both could have been saved, but Isidor refused while women and children could still be saved. Ida joined him and was reported to have said: "I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so will we die, together."
8/14/17, 8:12 PM


Thanks chickelit. I came to my senses and omitted a bitter rejoinder to Etienne. Instead let me cite a like piece by the Queen Mother:

"The children won't go without me. I won't leave without the King. And the King will never leave." On suggestions that the Royal princesses should be evacuated during the Blitz in 1940.

Feste said...

Fernandinande

Colorado Prop 106 authorized right to die (if I’m reading this correctly).

I don’t know any case law that’s interpreted the new law. Colorado news reports show that people have used the new law.

If you authorize professional caregivers (Docs, maybe licensed hospice workers) to judge your status per your wishes, then the these pros should already be informed and know the ropes, and willing to discuss them with you. I'm not sure that a living will or trust, rather than advanced directives is the mechanism to use (I'm not giving legal advice). If you do include a non-professional agent too (family, friend), to make that judgment collaboratively, then that agent might want legal advice, if for no other reason than for the sheer peace of mind about not running afoul of any stretched out homicide statute, like the one you cited.

I don’t know the Colorado law on living trusts or advanced directives, but you might/should be able to use a revocation clause somewhere, just in case you change your mind.

MadisonMan said...

Old Lives Matter.

I won't outline the details of my parents' deaths, but both had Advanced Directives. Their choice. I still tell myself that.

Killing people to be compassionate. I'm sorry -- that cannot be done.

Leigh said...

Will we never get it? LIfe is not fair. It is not fair at all. And efforts to make it "fair" invariably end up making life far worse.

n.n said...

Feste:

An emotional bias is just that: a bias. We try to avoid this by reducing or increasing the distribution of overlapping and convergent interests.

Fernandinande said...

Brain-Dead Teen, Only Capable Of Rolling Eyes And Texting, To Be Euthanized

The parents of 13-year old Caitlin Teagart have decided to end her life, saying she can now do nothing but lay on the couch and whine about things being "gay".

+

Feste said...
just in case you change your mind.


My living will concern is not having a mind to change! The cancer or whatever which leaves your brain intact is a different issue.

mockturtle said...

Brain-Dead Teen, Only Capable Of Rolling Eyes And Texting, To Be Euthanized

The parents of 13-year old Caitlin Teagart have decided to end her life, saying she can now do nothing but lay on the couch and whine about things being "gay".


LOL!

Feste said...

n.n said ... Aye that.

Fernandinande said ... and through The Onion we go, and hoping that I took, and not mistook, your former post seriously, and no matter how much I love The Onion, the condition of having no mind at all still varies state to state, with some states holding in practice that merely shaking one’s head upon request qualifies as competence to change what little is left of a “mind” and its qualia, and though I don’t think that private instruments (will, advanced directives) can override statutory definitions of competence, you’re still entrusting others to make third-party judgments on your state, meaning that you’ll need trust in proportion to their trustworthiness, a task formidable and requiring much attention, in getting to yes or no. And best wishes to you!

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Robin Eatmon,

I really dislike that term "death with dignity" when referring to assisted suicide.

Me too. The implication is that someone who doesn't accept the poison cocktail from the doctor is dying without dignity. As though the one and only "dignified" way to die is by prescription poison, presumably surrounded by all your family and friends. Gaaaaaah. I prefer Seneca's death in Monteverdi's Ritorno d'Ulisse. He was surrounded by friends, too, but they pleaded for him not to die, and he slit his wrists anyway. Which has the virtue of zero co-pay.

Feste said...

~
Fernandinande

For further peeling of "The Onion" ...

“I Will Put My Law in Their Minds: Social Control and Cheating Behavior Among Catholics and Protestants”

Catholics and Protestants differ in terms of social autonomy versus heteronomy. We propose that the regulation of behavior in accordance with social norms depends on the social control exercised by an authority for Catholics more than it does for Protestants. Two experiments measured cheating behavior (the transgression of a social norm) as a function of the religious group (Protestant vs. Catholic) and social control (with vs. without). Catholics were found to be more responsive to social control, that is, to cheat less when social control was salient, whereas Protestants' behavior did not depend on this dimension. In Study 2, intrinsic-extrinsic religiousness was found to mediate this difference. Results are discussed in the context of the effects of public policies based on social control.

Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 10 August 2017

Takeaway is to find intrinsically motivated agreement partners and make your agreements extrinsically (written), for what you will.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Suppose a guy in his right mind says "I am going into dementia. Kill me. I'll sign the papers now." The docs agree, and come back a week later with the ajudicated order and a poison shot. But our guy is now into dementia and can't remember (or doesn't care about) his request to end his life. They struggle and hold him down while the injection is administered.
That would be murder, right? Right?

Yancey Ward said...

There are a lot of ways to kill yourself that involve no one but yourself. It shouldn't be easy to do either.

Feste said...

Lewis Wetzel,

I think that your question points at a part of the objection that those here make who hold unqualified judgments against assisted suicide, saying it’s murder, that is, those who hold the opinion (it’s murder) on both legal and moral grounds.

If you answer your own question for yourself, on moral grounds, and under the facts that you’ve given (yes, it’s murder), then don’t sign any such papers, and more, you might want to get legal advice (which I’m not giving) on how and whether to express your moral judgment in whatever legal papers that you do sign for your end of life care.

I’m not sure how to interpret Michael K’s comments hereabouts (he’s a med-surg physician) about what doctors do in real life practice regarding how scrupulously they administer end of life heroic care (life saving care at all costs), when physicians face what they accurately consider terminal cases, in advanced-final stages, and when no provisions are written by patients to guide the physicians.

The legal answer to your question (not the moral answer) is state-by-state, and then, only in the few states that allow for assisted suicide, as I understand it.

I don’t think (but, I don’t know) whether there is any such thing as an “ajudicated order” (wondering now about a declaratory judgment in this case), until there is a controversy that goes to a judge in the first place, but if there is such an “adjudicated order” from a judge, then holding down a patient found to be in the dementia that the patient anticipated would not qualify legally as murder, because the judge is so ordering.

exhelodrvr1 said...

With abortion and now euthanasia, we're starting at the edges and gradually working our way towards the center.

Robin Eatmon said...

I watched the onion report that was linked...the "real" news is just as warped.

Michelle, "The implication is that someone who doesn't accept the poison cocktail from the doctor is dying without dignity. As though the one and only "dignified" way to die is by prescription poison, presumably surrounded by all your family and friends." YES!

sparrow said...

The standards will be lowered and who will enforce them if abused? Dignity in death is stoicism during suffering, suicide is an escape.
I remember when doctors actually treated patients and took an oath to do no harm. It wasn't so long ago.

exhelodrvr1 said...

We see what is happening in Iceland with Downs syndrome.

PatHMV said...

Personally, I think mercy killing is the right thing for some people in some circumstances. I don't think it should be legal nor should it be sanitized or turned into a profession. If you have been married for 60 years and your spouse is suffering so badly they are begging to die, and you can bring yourself to smother him or her with a pillow or whatever, then that's between the two of you and your families. I don't want nosy busybodies or (far worse) the state interfering in these exceedingly personal, painful decisions.

Historically, authorities have generally shown kindness and compassion and reality in such circumstances, declining to charge the 90 year old widow or widower with murder. But when the widower was poor and the late wife was wealthy and 10 years older than him, the cops took more interest and could prosecute because the motive was clearly tainted.

But when you institutionalize that, it becomes much, much easier for the bad people to get away with murder, because bad people are generally very good about manipulating the rules to their advantage. And it becomes far too easy.

mockturtle said...

I'm sure all the antifa millennials will be more than willing to off us boomers in our old age. If they even wait that long.