"...guilt was a factor; if she hadn't gone away, would her patient still be alive? Now she was making plans to leave the practice, but hadn't yet made an announcement for fear of unsettling her other patients. 'How can I stay here?' she said. 'I am a doctor and yet I can't guarantee the safety of my most vulnerable patients,'" de Ballaige wrote.
Currently, a doctor is being investigated in the first case of euthanasia malpractice in the Netherlands. The case was the kind Van Baarsen was wary about - the woman in the case had signed an advance directive, requesting euthanasia if she was still mentally competent at the time it was carried out.
After getting dementia and being confined to a nursing home, the woman was secretly slipped a sedative by the doctor in question and then given a lethal injection. While the woman fought the doctor, her family held her down.
Prosecutors say they are investigating the doctor for administering euthanasia to a woman who had voiced different desires about euthanasia at different times, and for euthanizing her without checking to be sure it was her wish at the time. Two other cases investigating possible euthanasia malpractice have been dropped.
De Ballaige wrote that these cases may be the cause of a 9 percent drop in euthanasia and assisted suicide that has been reported for the first nine months of 2018.
Boer told the Guardian that when he speaks to lawmakers from other countries considering legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide, he points to the Netherlands as a warning.
"Look closely at the Netherlands because this is where your country may be 20 years from now," he said.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal only in a handful of states in the U.S., though there has been a recent push to legalize the practice in more places, in part due to the high-profile case of Brittany Maynard, a 29 year-old with terminal cancer who ended her life via assisted suicide in 2014. Compassion and Choices, which advocates for legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide, helped publicize her death.
Catholic social teaching holds assisted suicide and euthanasia to be "morally unacceptable." The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable. Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged."
"Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of," it adds.
In June 2016, Pope Francis denounced assisted suicide as part of a "throwaway culture" that offers a "false compassion" and treats a human person as a problem. Addressing medical professionals from Spain and Latin America at the Vatican, the Pope criticized "those who hide behind an alleged compassion to justify and approve the death of a patient."
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"True compassion does not marginalize anyone, nor does it humiliate and exclude – much less considers the disappearance of a person as a good thing."