By Jim Forest
>> Dutch MPs on Wednesday held their first debate on the government’s plans to legalise assisted suicide for elderly people who consider their lives to be complete. The proposal follows years of discussion in parliament and in society at large about the right of people who consider their lives have reached the end to die peacefully. Outlining the plans earlier this month, health minister Edith Schippers and justice minister Ard van de Steur said people who feel their ‘life has been completed’ should get the legal right to die with the help of a specialist care worker. (DutchNews, item dated 27 October 2016) <<
Specialist Care Worker: Knock knock…
Hans Bakker, senior citizen, 75 years old: Come in.
SCW: Hi! I’m Annet van Dam. I wonder if you could help me with a little survey I’m doing?
HB: Yes, of course. Come in. Have a cup of coffee.
(coffee is served)
SCW: Mister van Dam, we are trying to find out how many people regard their lives as complete. Would you say your life is complete?
HB: What do you mean by complete?
SCW: First of all are you still working?
HB: Oh no, I retired ten years ago.
SCW: And you’re not looking for a job?
HB: I wouldn’t mind going back to work, just part time, but there really are no jobs for people my age, especially if you have some health issues as I do.
SCW: Then one could say that the work part of your life really is complete. Let me take note of that. And what about plans for the future? Do you have any plans for travel?
HB: Well, my retirement income travel is pretty limited. Also I have to use a cane. Occasionally I get to the zoo. But I don’t mind. I did quite a lot of traveling when I was younger. Of course my wife was still alive in those days.
SCW: So you could say, in terms of travel, that you’re life is pretty much complete?
HB: Yes, that’s true.
SCW: I’ll take note of that. Another question. Do you have grandchildren?
HB: Yes, three of them! Great kids…
SCW: Do you see much of them? Help with child care?
HB: Sadly, no. My son and his wife now live in Canada. We sometimes skype, but my computer isn’t working right now. I’d love to do more as a grandfather but I’m really not up to flying to Vancouver!
SCW: So one could say your life as a grandfather is pretty much complete?
HB: When you put it that way, yes.
(Ten more questions follow, each producing an agreement that, area by area, Hans Bakker’s life is complete.)
SCW: I hate to mention it, Mister Bakker, but you are costing the state a great deal of money yet it seems all you doing most of the time is watching television. It doesn’t seem quite fair to the taxpayer, does it? As you’ve said yourself, your life is complete.
HB: I sometimes think the same, on bad days. Sometimes I feel like a used car slowly rusting, ready for the junkyard.
SCW: I understand. But there is a solution, Mister Bakker. You have the right to decide whether you want to continue having those bad days. When your life is complete, well, you can let go of it. No more illness, no more worries. All you have to is sign here. We call it the “completion form”….
[Note: Nothing like this is happening in Holland today. But the news item is real. The debate is in progress.]
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28 October 2016
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