Jun 4, 2016
When the early Dutch settlers arrived in the American colonies, they brought with them a unique piece of architecture that immediately became popular. They introduced the typical Dutch farmhouse door. It was a door split horizontally with the bottom half remaining closed and the top half easily opened. The closed bottom half kept the children in the house and the animals out. The top half allowed fresh air in. This clever way of fashioning a door gave birth to the common English expression “going Dutch.” When two people dine together and split the bill, each taking care of their own expenses, they are said to be “going Dutch.”
Last year, Newsweek journalist Winston Ross headlined an article on euthanasia with the clever expression “dying Dutch.” How appropriate! It is from the Netherlands that many countries are now importing the practice of sanctioning euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. Euthanasia, the intentional ending of someone’s life to relieve suffering, is legal today in Belgium, Ireland, Colombia and Luxembourg. Assisted suicide, that is, intentionally providing a person with the knowledge or means to commit suicide, is legal in Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Albania and Canada. Other countries such as France and England are not far behind.
In the United States, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont all have gone “Dutch with dying.” These states have legalized euthanasia. Ten other states -- Alabama, Idaho, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming -- have no enactments that make it a criminal act to assist or counsel the suicide of someone wishing to end their life. In January, 2016, New Jersey legislators voted against a bill legalizing assisted suicide. A month later, a new bill was reintroduced to allow the terminally ill to end their lives.
The Dutch have been very liberal in removing any restriction on terminating human lives. Now, the vulnerable and the weak may have their lives ended. Newborn babies, teenagers with disabilities and individuals with depression or dementia may be euthanized. Even children ages 12 to 15 may be euthanized, if their parents agree. After 16, they can decide for themselves.
When people are ill or disabled, it is precisely those moments of caring for them that bring out the best in others to be selfless and compassionate. It becomes a time for family members and friends to deny themselves in order to be with and comfort those who suffer or are terminally ill. Suffering can strengthen the bonds of love and prepare both those suffering and their caregivers to be more closely united with the God of all love. No Christian can look at the cross of Jesus without acknowledging that suffering can be redemptive.