Deadly Compassion (Part 2 of 3)

Some support physician-assisted suicide out of fear of a lonely, pain-filled death. Here are four professionals who are making the dying a part of the church's ministry.
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Second of three parts; (click here to read part 1)

Pellegrino has followed the legalization of PAS in the Netherlands because he sees it as a "living laboratory of what happens when a society accepts the legitimacy of PAS. You've got direct, empirical evidence." And there Pellegrino has found that "the reports of the Dutch government and the Dutch Medical Society provide ample evidence that the slippery slope is no myth but a reality."

In its Remmelink report, the Dutch government documented that 1,000 persons were killed without giving consent in what was supposed to be a "voluntary" program. And "there is nothing in the second Dutch report [released in 1995] to suggest that this is not still occurring." In fact, the second report explained that the eligibility for PAS had been extended from terminally ill patients to include children, severely depressed patients, and elderly persons who weren't satisfied with the quality of their lives.

"The Netherlands experience shows that euthanasia cannot be contained by regulation and that most advocates reason that it would be 'merciful' to extend it here and there in individual cases," Pellegrino explains. "Any time we deem any human life as of unacceptable quality—the infant with cerebral damage, the retarded, the chronically and terminally ill—we make that life a target for 'merciful destruction' and accelerate the slide down the slippery slope to involuntary euthanasia."

A particularly chilling example of such "desensitization" exhibited itself when Pellegrino talked with a physician from the Netherlands. "How does it feel to do euthanasia?" he asked the euthanasiast.

"It's hard the first time," the doctor responded.

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