Should the Pill of Drion be on everyone's nightstand?

Member of Parliament Pia Dijkstra of the D66 party comes with a proposal to improve the sustainability of public finances. Give anyone over 75 a suicide pill, the Drion pill. Is this a good plan?

What is the Pill of Drion?
In 1991, legal scholar Huib Drion (1917-2004) proposed in an opinion article [1] that a suicide pill should be made available to all elderly people over 75 years old who requested it. This pill had to consist of two preparations: pill A and pill B. Only the combination of these two preparations would have a lethal effect. Preparation B should then be taken a few days after preparation A to allow the suicide to reconsider. This idea caused quite a stir and became the proverbial Pill of Drion.

Bill Completed Life in broad outlines

  • To be eligible, someone must be 75 or older;

  • These are people who do not qualify for euthanasia, but who do consider their lives complete;

  • These people first have a conversation with an end-of-life counselor;

  • There must be at least two meetings with the end-of-life counselor and there must be at least two months in between;

  • The end-of-life counselor is a doctor, nurse or psychiatrist who has completed a special head study to become an end-of-life counselor;

  • The life counselor must check whether the death wish is authentic and consistent, and whether other solutions are possible;

  • If the end-of-life counselor agrees, a date of death will be agreed;

  • The end-of-life counselor collects the lethal substance from the pharmacy, keeps it at home, administers it on the agreed date, stays with it until the client is dead and returns any remainder to the pharmacy;

  • An assessment committee checks whether everything has gone according to the rules. [4]

Benefits of Drion Pill
Proponents of the Pill of Drion cite arguments such as: if an elder feels that his life is no longer meaningful, he should be able to end his life in a painless way, because suicide is a human right.

Is being able to end your life voluntarily a human right?
Source: Adapted

Unspoken arguments are, for example: the elderly are expensive. They don't work, they eat our pension pot, make disproportionate demands on healthcare and to make matters worse, they exacerbate the housing shortage and vote more often than average for populist parties. They poison young, impressionable people with “wrong” ideas such as nationalism, religion and traditional festivals. Every year of life of an elderly person costs society tens of thousands of euros in pension and care, which can be more usefully spent on, for example, redundancy schemes for politicians and contributions to the European Union. Suppose that every older person over the age of 75 took the Pill of Drion, that would mean 1.4 million fewer AOW benefits, hundreds of thousands of empty houses and, if every older person over 65 took this pill, half the health care costs [2 ]. And think of the inheritance tax. Enough to keep even the most insane election promises and to spice up the European Union. At least, for a while. It is also remarkable that the discussion about the Pill of Drion flares up especially in times of economic hardship. For example, in 1991 the Dutch economy showed signs of cooling down and in 1993 there was a slight dip.

Some proponents, such as [3], the D66 proposal does not go far enough. They want everyone to have access to this “miracle pill”, including people under 75. Can Drion's “humane” Pill save our public finances?

Disadvantages of Drion's Pill
The main drawback of the Pill of Drion is that it makes it so much easier to kill without leaving a trace. A murder with this suicide pill can then seem like a suicide by a murderer. A forensic anatomist cannot distinguish between murder and suicide. Also, spreading deadly poisons among the population means that murder weapons are always close by. Every drink can contain a deadly poison. Not a pleasant thought.
In the D66 proposal, this disadvantage has been overcome by placing the professional “end-of-life counselor” as an independent third party. This makes the job more difficult for killers. However, murders by “end-of-life counselors” and psychological murders, in which wealthy older people are told that their lives are over and it is okay if they die, remain possible.

A second drawback is the drawback of euthanasia in general. It is a great violation of the dignity of human life.

Why do the elderly want to die?
A healthy person enjoys life. This also applies to almost all healthy elderly people. Reasons for no longer wanting to live for healthy elderly people are a feeling of loneliness, hopelessness or uselessness. As with young people, loneliness is a major problem among the elderly. We humans are a social animal species and contacts with young people are very important for the elderly. The elderly are the living memory of humanity and also ensure the transfer of culture. It is true that a transfer of culture that is in conflict with the “makeable society” so beloved by D66, but still: a transfer of culture.

Conclusion: the Pill of Drion is an unfortunate idea. There are plenty of useful things healthy seniors can do when they feel useless. The late Drion himself has also done many useful things after his retirement. Instead of glorifying death and seeing the elderly as a burden, we need to develop medical devices and medicines that help older people stay healthy longer (preferably: stop or reverse the aging process) and involve them more in society. There are reasons why older people are less involved with fashionable theories. Often, not always, these are very good reasons. Their life-based criticism can help put things in perspective and develop better concepts.

Sources
1. H. Drion, The Self-Willed End of Older People, NRC Handelsblad, 1991
2. People over 65 make half of all healthcare costs, Vectis.nl, 2018
3. 'Make the Drion pill available to everyone', John Jansen van Galen, Het Parool, 2020
4. Completed Life Bill, EO Explainer, 2020

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