Euthanasia for Sore Backs: The Dutch Cure for Mild Discomfort


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In a story that sounds more like a dark satire than reality, a Dutch couple was euthanized by the state due to their persistent complaints about having sore backs. Yes, you read that right. Mild back pain has now joined the ranks of terminal illnesses in the Netherlands.

The Final Decision: A 50-Year Marriage Ends with a Needle

Jan Faber and his wife Els van Leeningen, married for 50 years, met their end in early June. Jan had been living with mild back pain for a few years—yes, mild—and Els had been diagnosed with dementia. Rather than seeking, say, physical therapy or other medical treatments, doctors seemingly pushed them toward euthanasia. Because, why not?

“Living Like a Zombie”: The New Dutch Reality

Jan reportedly explained his decision with the kind of clarity one might expect from someone pressured into a life-ending choice. “If you take a lot of medicine, you live like a zombie,” he said. “So, with the pain I have, and Els’ illness, I think we have to stop living.” Ah, the classic “I’ve lived my life, I don’t want pain anymore” rationale. Nothing says romance like deciding to die together because of manageable pain and an illness.

The Doctors’ Reluctance: From Ethics to Euthanasia

Their physician was reportedly uncomfortable approving Els’ assisted death due to her dementia. So, naturally, the couple turned to the Centre of Expertise on Euthanasia, an organization whose very existence seems to be an oxymoron. Expertise in ending lives? Sounds like a dystopian nightmare.

RELATED: Is Canada’s MAiD Expansion a Step Too Far? Can Babies Consent to ‘Assisted Dying’?

A Family’s Farewell: The Bitter End

Their son, who understandably wished to remain anonymous, recounted the final moments. “I remember we were having dinner in the evening, and I got tears in my eyes just watching us all having that final dinner together,” he said. “The final half hour was difficult. The doctors arrived and everything happened quickly – they follow their routine, and then it’s just a matter of minutes.” Because what better way to end a family dinner than with a lethal injection?

The Romanticization of Death: Holding Hands into the Abyss

The media has a peculiar way of romanticizing the macabre, especially when it comes to euthanasia. Take, for example, the deaths of former Dutch Prime Minister Dries van Agt and his wife Eugenie earlier this year, who were killed while holding hands. It’s a touching image if you ignore the fact that they were voluntarily ending their lives.

The Rise of Couples Euthanasia: A Grim Trend

Couples euthanasia is on the rise in the Netherlands. In 2021, 16 couples died together by euthanasia compared to nine in 2018. It’s a statistic that’s both alarming and surreal. Euthanasia, which involves a lethal injection of a paralytic drug, can cause a person to essentially drown. Outwardly peaceful? Perhaps. Inwardly, it can be excruciatingly painful.

Ethical Concerns: The Erosion of Moral Boundaries

Dr. Theo Boer, professor of healthcare ethics at the Protestant Theological University, expressed his concern about this trend. “In the past year we’ve seen dozens of cases of duo-euthanasia, and there’s a general tendency to ‘hero-ify’ dying together,” he warned. “But the taboo on intentional killing – that’s eroding, and especially when it comes to duo-euthanasia.”

Conclusion: A Messed-up reality

In a world where back pain and dementia lead to state-sanctioned death, one has to wonder where the line will be drawn next. While the Netherlands continues to push the boundaries of euthanasia, the rest of the world watches in a mix of horror and disbelief. For now, let’s hope that the trend of euthanasia for sore backs doesn’t spread beyond Dutch borders. After all, some discomforts in life are worth enduring, if only to avoid a premature end.

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