This started to change when a friend insisted that Van Loenen’s partner Niek would have been better off dead than living with a brain injury. Another acquaintance said to Neik over dinner at their house, “You chose to go on living so you have no right to whine.”
These experiences led Van Loenen to wonder. Where did this attitude come from? How did it become so widely accepted that people living with disability or illness are better off dead? Is the legalization of euthanasia in the Netherlands part of the cause?
Do You Call this a Life? Blurred Boundaries in the Netherlands’ Right-to-Die Laws is the result of his research. The book is an objective and exhaustive exposition of what is happening on the ground in the Netherlands with respect to euthanasia. Van Loenen traces changing attitudes through the media, medicine and the courts over time.
He finds that the cultural acceptance of euthanasia has expanded alongside Dutch laws, each step facilitating the next.
“The one thing you cannot do is deny,” states Van Loenen, “that the boundaries have been continually pushed back, moving the Netherlands a considerable distance from its original position.”