Since 2010, almost all elderly homes and assisted living facilities have been closed down in The Netherlands. The elderly, facing further budget cuts that have removed almost all alternatives of home care, are left to fend for themselves with the help of family or neighbors. Community centers and recreation facilities where the elderly used to build a social life have been defunded. Aging migrants who moved to The Netherlands as adults, even after 30+ years of work, are not entitled to full pension benefits and, in some cases, are unable to afford even basic 2 euro meals offered by NGOs. Elderly people from the colonial territories in the Caribbean, classified as “foreign” under Dutch pension law find themselves in a colonial limbo, unable to access the full set of pension benefits afforded to native Dutch. Migrants from Morocco or Turkey, who moved here during the post war reconstruction efforts are denied the full scope of their pension if they choose to move back to their countries of origin (…) It is in this context of never ending austerity that euthanasia is presented as the ultimate individual success story. A matter of personal choice where the State has eschewed all sense of obligation towards aging or chronically ill persons and where the ruling Party, with ongoing support from opposition neoliberal Parties such as D66, pushes narratives of “completed lives”. The underlying message, one where a life outside the capitalist system of production, a life that requires care (and a budget allocation) is a life that has outgrown its usefulness. The “soft death”, in its pastel colored rhetoric, presented as the lesser form of suffering, the individual triumph over the inevitable. However when all options of care and support are removed, is there really any choice left? When the State insists that the care for those in need should be left in the hands of unpaid neighbors and strangers, the “soft death” for a “completed life” is obliquely presented as the best viable alternative. The supposedly non violent “soft death” as a mask for the violence brought upon by endless budget cuts.
Flavia Dzodan in Euthanasia as a Dutch neoliberal success story (Medium.com)