Washington Post attacks Santorum on Dutch euthanasia statement, Post bias trumps facts, Santorum point valid, Citizen Wells awards 4 Orwells
“As soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any partiucular number of the Times had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in it’s stead. This process of continuation alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound tracks, cartoons, photographs–to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to be correct; nor was any item of news, or expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to be on record.”…George Orwell, “1984″
“Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room.”
“the sight or even the thought of Goldstein produced fear and anger automatically.”
“He was an object of hatred more constant than either Eurasia or Eastasia.”
“There were also whispered stories of a terrible book, a compendium of all the heresies”
“In it’s second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy. People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices”… George Orwell, “1984?
“Not every item of news should be published: rather must
those who control news policies endeavor to make every item
of news serve a certain purpose.”… Joseph Goebbels
Rick Santorum made the following statement at the American Heartland Forum in Columbia, Missouri on February 3, 2012:
“In the Netherlands, people wear different bracelets if they are elderly. And the bracelet is: ‘Do not euthanize me.’ Because they have voluntary euthanasia
in the Netherlands but half of the people who are euthanized — ten percent of all deaths in the Netherlands — half of those people are enthanized
involuntarily at hospitals because they are older and sick. And so elderly people in the Netherlands don’t go to the hospital. They go to another country,
because they are afraid, because of budget purposes, they will not come out of that hospital if they go in there with sickness.”
Santorum may have been guilty of hyperbole but his fundamental message rings true.
The Washington Post, as one would expect, attempted to discredit Santorum, one of the Republican frontrunners.
From the Washington Post February 22, 2012.
“In 2001, The Netherlands became the first country to legalize euthanasia, setting forth a complex process. The law, which went into effect a year later,
codified a practice that has been unofficially tolerated for many years.
Under the Dutch law, a doctor must diagnose the illness as incurable and the patient must have full control of his or her mental faculties. The patient must
voluntarily and repeatedly request the procedure, and another doctor must provide a written opinion agreeing with the diagnosis. After the death, a
commission made up of a doctor, a jurist and an ethical expert also are required to verify that the requirements for euthanasia have been met.
Late last year, in the first such case, a 64-year-old woman with advanced Alzheimer’s disease was euthanized, on the strength of her insisting for years that she wanted the procedure to be done.
Nevertheless, the statistics show it is still a relatively uncommon form of death. In 2010, the number of euthanasia cases reported to one of five special
commissions was 3,136, according to their annual report. This was a 19 percent increase over 2009, but “this amounts to 2.3 percent of all 136,058 deaths in
the Netherlands in 2010,” said Carla Bundy, spokeswoman for the Dutch embassy in Washington.
At the time of the annual report, the commissions had been able to reach conclusions in 2,667 euthanasia notifications reported to the agency and found only nine in which “the physician had not acted in accordance with the due care criteria,” the annual report said. More than 80 percent of the patients were
suffering from cancer; almost 80 percent died at home.
A 2005 study by the New England Journal of Medicine found only a minimal number of the cases — 0.4 percent — in which there was an ending of life without
explicit request by the patient. The study concluded the rate had actually been cut in half since the euthanasia law was passed.
These statistics were so at odds with Santorum’s claims that we wondered how he could have thought that 50 percent of the elderly were put to death
involuntarily (or that 10 percent of all deaths in Holland were from euthanasia.) Spokesmen for Santorum did not respond to a query, but the best we can
tell, he is grossly misinterpreting the results of a 1991 survey known as the Remmelink Report, which was influential in crafting the 2001 law.”
“The Pinocchio Test
There appears to be not a shred of evidence to back up Santorum’s claims about euthanasia in the Netherlands. It is telling that his campaign did not even
bother to defend his comments.
From Dutch News November 9, 2011.
“A 64-year-old woman suffering from severe senile dementia has become the first person in the Netherlands to be given euthanasia even though she could no
longer express her wish to die, the Volkskrant reports on Wednesday.”
“The case has serious implications for Dutch euthanasia law because it means patients who are no longer able to state their wish can still be helped to die,
Constance de Vries, who acts as a second opinion doctor for euthanasia cases, told the paper.”
From Forbes February 26, 2012.
“But Rick Santorum’s Sorta Right About Dutch Euthanasia”
“Not that I particularly care to defend a politician I most certainly don’t support: but the piling in on Rick Santorum over his remarks on the prevalence of involuntary euthanasia in Holland does seem a little over the top.”
“The numbers the Senator puts forward are also wrong: euthanasia, voluntary, involuntary, is not 10% of all deaths.
Well, actually, that’s not quite true either. It depends upon how you define these different activities. If we say that voluntary euthanasia is the doctor or
medics ending the life of someone who has requested that their life be ended, involuntary that they use perhaps the same drugs or treatments to deliberately
end the life of someone who has not so requested then no, the two together do not amount to 10% of all deaths.
However, there’s a third category. From an overdose of painkillers (and we should note that European hospitals still use opiates in a manner which I believe
US hospitals do not: heroin is not an unusual treatment for final stage cancer over here although whether you think that diamorphine is quite the same thing
or not is really up to you) through to a complete withdrawal of treatment. That withdrawal including a complete withdrawal of not just food but also
hydration. Whether you consider starving to death a terminal cancer patient euthanasia is again something really up to you. Ditto with your opinions of
If we include these latter then the numbers are rather over 10%. Indeed, withdrawal of nutrition and hydration counts for an observable portion of deaths in the British medical system where we most certainly do not have any form of right to any form of euthanasia.”
“How about a current advisor to the Obama Administration? Even the Special Advisor for Health Policy to Peter Orszag? A previous Chief of the Department of Bioethics at the Clinical Center of the U.S. National Institutes of Health? A supporter of health care reform indeed one of the architects of it?
Yes, why not Ezekiel Emanuel? Dr. Emanuel is using the above mentioned Remmelink Report and an update to it as the basis of his figures:
First, the update found that beyond the roughly 3,600 cases of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia reported in a given year, there are about 1,000
instances of nonvoluntary euthanasia. Most frequently, patients who were no longer competent were given euthanasia even though they could not have freely,
explicitly, and repeatedly requested it. Before becoming unconscious or mentally incompetent about half these patients did discuss or express a wish for
euthanasia; nevertheless, they were unable to reaffirm their wishes when the euthanasia was performed. Similarly, a study of nursing-home patients found that in only 41 percent of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia cases did doctors adhere to all the guidelines. Although most of the violations were minor
(usually deviations in the notification procedure), in 15 percent of cases the patient did not initiate the request for physician-assisted suicide or
euthanasia; in 15 percent there was no consultation with a second physician; in seven percent no more than one day elapsed between the first request and the
actual physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia, violating the guideline calling for repeated requests; and in nine percent interventions other than
physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia could have been tried to relieve the patient’s suffering.
Second, euthanasia of newborns has been acknowledged. The reported cases have involved babies suffering from well-recognized fatal or severely disabling
defects, though the babies were not in fact dying. Precisely how many cases have occurred is not known. One estimate is that ten to fifteen such cases occur
each year. Whether ethically justified or not, providing euthanasia to newborns (upon parental request) is not voluntary euthanasia and does constitute a
kind of “mercy killing.”
The Netherlands studies fail to demonstrate that permitting physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia will not lead to the nonvoluntary euthanasia of
children, the demented, the mentally ill, the old, and others. Indeed, the persistence of abuse and the violation of safeguards, despite publicity and
condemnation, suggest that the feared consequences of legalization are exactly its inherent consequences.”
“It is of course possible to look at this in various different ways. The most obvious to me is that the Senator’s audience would not have been any less
shocked to be told that 0.5%, or 1%, are, according to the views of that audience, murdered by their doctors than they were by being told it was 5%. On these matters ethical it’s not how often it happens but that it happens at all which shocks. We wouldn’t be all that impressed by the school principal who said he
only killed a couple of the kids, not the 5% of the entire student population that was alleged.”
From the Daily Caller February 21, 2012.
“But the media mocking had a purpose beyond making fun of a conservative. It distracted people from the fact that Santorum’s overarching message is true —
euthanasia consciousness breaches the dikes of morality and exposes the weak and vulnerable to great risk. Indeed, while Santorum overstated some of the
details — the elderly are not flocking to out-of-country hospitals — he was spot-on regarding the charge that many Dutch doctors practice death medicine.
Indeed, anyone paying attention to recent stories from the Netherlands knows that things have gone from very bad to much, much worse.
Official Dutch euthanasia statistics undercount the actual toll: Much was made out of Santorum’s claim of a 10% euthanasia rate when official statistics
generally report that 2-3% of Dutch deaths come from doctor-administered lethal injection. (The same rate in the USA would amount to about 70,000 euthanasia killings per year.) But realize, about 1/3 of the Dutch die suddenly, e.g. by sudden stroke, heart attack, or accident, without significant end-of-life
medical intervention. Take those deaths away from the total count, and using the Dutch government’s estimate, the percentage of euthanasia deaths in cases
involving end-of-life medical treatment rises to 3-4%.
But even that number is far too low. Repeated studies have shown that Dutch doctors fail to report at least 20% (or more) of actual euthanasia deaths, which
means that hundreds of euthanasias aren’t included in the official statistical count. Moreover, about 1% of all Dutch deaths come as a result, to use Dutch
parlance, of being “terminated without request or consent” — e.g. non-voluntary euthanasia. Such deaths are also not technically part of the official
euthanasia count. That gets us up to about 6% of all deaths involving medical treatment at the time of death. Add in a few hundred assisted suicides each
year where the patient takes the final death action rather than being lethally injected, and suddenly, Santorum’s 10% claim becomes far less problematic.
Wait, there’s more: Dutch doctors also kill patients by intentionally overdosing them with pain killers. I am not referring here to death caused as a side
effect of legitimate pain control, but overdosing with the intent of causing death. The exact number of these deaths isn’t known, but the authoritative 1990
government study known as the Remmelink Report found that there were 8,100 deaths from intentional opioid overdose, of which 61% were done without the
request or consent of patients. Now, add in, say, half of the nearly 10% of deaths that occur after Dutch doctors place patients into artificial comas and
deny them food and water — that is, those cases in which palliative sedation is not medically necessary to control otherwise irremediable suffering — and we
see that Santorum’s claim of a 10% euthanasia rate isn’t materially overstated at all.
The Dutch are moving toward euthanizing the elderly: A Dutch elderly dementia patient was recently euthanized in the Netherlands without request and despite
being incompetent — and the killing received the approval of the state. Meanwhile, the Dutch parliament is actively debating whether to expand the practice of assisted suicide to the elderly “tired of life” or who want to die because they “consider their lives complete.” Not coincidentally, a Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) ethics opinion advocated including “loneliness,” loss of social skills and money problems among the factors for allowing the elderly to receive legal doctor-prescribed or doctor-administered death.”
“I could go on and on:
● Dutch doctors have published the Groningen Protocol, a bureaucratic checklist for committing infanticide on terminally ill and seriously disabled babies, as two studies in The Lancet show that 8% of all babies who die in the Netherlands each year (about 90) are terminated by doctors.
● Mobile euthanasia “clinics” will soon be operating to bring euthanasia to the homes of patients whose own doctors say no.
● The Dutch media also mocked Santorum for claiming that thousands of Dutch citizens wear bracelets saying they don’t want to be euthanized. Fair is fair.
Santorum was wrong. They don’t wear bracelets — they carry please-don’t-euthanize-me cards in their wallets or purses.
Enough. Rick Santorum is exactly right in his broader criticism that the Netherlands as leaping head-first off a vertical moral cliff. Maybe if Dutch
reporters paid closer attention to what is happening under their very noses, they’d stop laughing at Santorum’s minor factual errors and start acting like
It is apparent that the Washington Post, just as their counterpart the Times in “1984” did, is doing their part to take down the opposition to the “party.” The Post let biased reporting interfere with the facts. It is for that reason that I bestow 4 Orwells upon the Washington Post for their Orwellian efforts.