Spiegel OnLine — When Petra de Jong first killed a person, she didn’t know what she was doing. The doctor was working as a lung specialist at a Dutch hospital, and her patient was suffering from cancer. It was a hopeless case, she says.
The man asked her to help him die. De Jong injected him with a drug that was supposed to be fast-acting — but it took nine hours for him to die because the dosage was too low. He wasn’t in any pain, de Jong says, but his wife remained at his bedside throughout the ordeal and was afraid that her husband could lie like that for the next 20 years. At the time, euthanasia was still illegal in the Netherlands, so the doctor wasn’t allowed to tell anyone what she’d done. Today, 20 years later, de Jong plays an influential role in the world of physician-assisted suicide.
When the Netherlands legalized euthanasia 10 years ago, it was also a victory for Right to Die-NL (NVVE), the organization that de Jong now directs. It calls itself the world’s largest association advocating voluntary euthanasia, and its members promote the right to a self-determined death. What’s more, they have just come one step closer to assuring that this option is available to everyone.
The World’s First Euthanasia Clinic
In early March, the NVVE opened the world’s first euthanasia clinic. It’s called the Levenseindekliniek, the “end of life clinic.” It serves as a point of contact for all Dutch people who want to die but don’t have a primary care physician prepared to help them do so. The clinic has mobile euthanasia teams, each of which consists of a doctor and a nurse. When an individual qualifies for the program after passing a screening, one of the teams makes a house call to inject two drugs. One puts the patient into a deep sleep, while the other stops all breathing, leading to death.
No outsiders are allowed into the clinic in The Hague. Until now, only an office worker has sat there and received applications. Since the beginning of the month, 70 patients have contacted the clinic, and the first two cases have already been selected and forwarded to the physicians.
There are also plans to eventually have beds for euthanasia patients in the building itself, but the doctors will still mostly make visits to patients, since most Dutch would prefer to die at home.Continue Reading on www.spiegel.de