Sympathectomy of the Soul
Mar 10, 2010
For centuries, the Hippocratic Oath, including the admonition against abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia, formed the core of Western medical ethics. While the Hippocratic ideal has been eroding for decades, the most direct challenge has emerged in the Netherlands, with the cultural and legal acceptance of the right to die. The medical community and broader citizenry have so embraced the right to choose death for oneself that the Dutch parliament is currently considering legislation that would allow assisted suicide for anyone who has reached the age of seventy and has merely grown tired of living.
In any other country, such a proposal might be considered radical and shocking. But in the Netherlands—the country that first legalized euthanasia—the change in the law will merely decriminalize a practice that has been occurring for decades. An examination of how this formerly conservative, tradition-bound culture could adopt what the modern Hippocratic Oath refers to as “therapeutic nihilism” is useful for understanding how the other nations will begin to accept euthanasia in the near future. the rest image by Alyssa L. Miller