At something called the American Heartland Forum, held just before the Missouri Republican primary in February, Rick Santorum made some incredible claims during an interview with James Dobson. Santorum alleged that people in the Netherlands wore bracelets that read, “Do Not Euthanize Me,” that 10% of all deaths in the Netherlands were the result of euthanasia, and that half of those were forced euthanasia. The point of these assertions was that “Obamacare” would lead America down the same road. From Right Wing Watch:
Sounds pretty scary, right? Never mind that none of it is true. Jonathan Turley debunks Santorum’s “facts”:
“Clearly people can wear bracelets with their blood type or other instructions like do not resuscitate — as they do in this country. However, such bracelets are not needed in the Netherlands and Santorum’s comments appear to come as a surprise to people in that country.
[T]he number of people choosing euthanasia remains small and less than 3%. In 2010, 136,058 people died in the Netherlands and only 3136 did so through euthanasia. That is roughly 2.3% of the total deaths…In 2009, the annual report on euthanasia showed 2,636 cases of euthanasia — or 2 percent of all Dutch deaths.
As for those 50% of cases dispatched against their will, the Dutch law is extremely strict. It now only requires consent but a waiting period. If a doctor dispatches someone without their consent or satisfying the tight controls, he is charged with murder.
The doctor must document that he or she confirmed that the patient requesting euthanasia or assisted suicide is making a voluntary and informed request. The record must also show that the patient was suffering unbearably and was fully informed about the prospects. Then a second doctor must examine the patient and supply a second written opinion on the satisfaction of the criteria.”
Oops. Santorum’s press secretary was asked recently by a Dutch television reporter to explain the remarks:
Well that clears that up.