A man who said he could not continue to live as an alcoholic was euthanized by the Netherlands in what politicians across the pond point to as the danger of legalizing physician-assisted suicide.
Mark Langedijk told jokes, drank beer and ate ham sandwiches with his family in the hours before a general practitioner arrived to administer the lethal injection on July 14, according to an account published by his brother in the magazine Linda.
The 41-year-old had been in and out of rehab 21 times to try to treat his battle with alcohol, which ended his marriage and forced him to move back in with his parents.
“I want to die. Enough is enough,” he eventually said.
His death was approved by a doctor from Support and Consultation on Euthanasia in the Netherlands, a medical body that oversees requests from those who wish to die with the help of the state. More than 5,500 people were killed by the Dutch euthanasia practice last year.
A mercy killing law was enacted 16 years ago for people in unbearable suffering, but has since been used to kill people whose problems include “social isolation and loneliness.” One of those killed was a woman in her 20s who had been a victim of sex abuse and suffered from depression and anorexia.
Langedijk’s death comes as physician-assisted suicide laws have gained traction in the United States.
Colorado became the sixth state where doctors are allowed to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients, when voters approved of a ballot measure this year by a 65 percent to 35 percent margin.
“The Death With Dignity Act” is also well on its way to becoming law in Washington, D.C. It currently sits on the desk of Mayor Muriel Bowser for approval, but passed the D.C. Council by a veto-proof majority earlier this month and would require congressional intervention in order to derail.
British MPs said Langedijk’s death is evidence that such laws are a slippery slope.
“This news is deeply concerning and yet another reason why assisted suicide and euthanasia must never be introduced into the U.K.,” Tory MP Fiona Bruce, who co-chairs the All Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group, told the Daily Mail.
“What someone suffering from alcoholism needs is support and treatment to get better from their addiction — which can be provided — not to be euthanised,” Ms. Bruce continued.
“It is once again a troubling sign of how legalised euthanasia undermines in other countries the treatment and help the most vulnerable should receive,” she said.
Robert Flello, Labour MP, said Langedijk’s death demonstrates that Holland is a “dangerous place to have any physical or mental illness, to be struggling with any life challenges, or just to differ from what they might call normal.”
“The state-authorised killing of their citizens is out of control and is, quite frankly, terrifying,” he told the Daily Mail.