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Dutch cardinal: Bishops warned of euthanasia's slippery slope


  • Dutch Minister of Health Edith Schippers is pictured prior to a 2016 debate in The Hague, Netherlands, about a proposal to legalize assisted suicide for older people who are generally healthy but feel they have led a full life. (CNS photo/Bart Maat, EPA)
  • Boudewijn Chabot, a top Dutch psychiatrist, is pictured in an undated photo. (CNS photo/Singel Publishers)

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OXFORD, England (CNS) -- Recent increases in euthanasia and assisted suicide deaths among psychiatric and dementia patients reflect the concerns church officials expressed years ago, said a Dutch cardinal.

Cardinal Willem Eijk of Utrecht, Netherlands, said psychiatrist Boudewijn Chabot was right to complain that doctors were now ignoring legal requirements that a patient requesting death should be "suffering unbearably and without prospect."

Writing in the NRC Handelsblad daily, Chabot, a pioneer of the Dutch euthanasia law, said he fully favored "self-determination" and was unconcerned about the increase in euthanasia deaths. However, he added that he was alarmed by euthanasia's extension to psychiatric patients, as well as to dementia sufferers, 141 of whom were killed in 2016, compared to just 12 in 2009.

In an Aug. 1 statement to Catholic News Service, Cardinal Eijk, who heads the Dutch bishops' medical ethics commission, said, "Chabot is now complaining about a development he himself initiated."

"Of course, it's good to read that an initiator and early advocate of euthanasia and assisted suicide is now concerned," the cardinal said. "But the Dutch bishops' conference has warned from the beginning against violating the intrinsic dignity of human life through euthanasia or assisted suicide, because it is never ever allowable to violate intrinsic values, and because in doing so you put yourself on a slippery slope.

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