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And You Thought We Had It Bad

It’s been a tough time for optimists around the country lately. On any given day, there’s been some news out of Canberra that would have been inconceivable a decade ago - or even a week ago. Our political representatives have sought in vain for safe ground, and found only quicksand.

If that weren’t bad enough, as a nation we’re in deep ourselves, struggling to work out whether there’s any way to resolve the debate around marriage peacefully. Or are we doomed to shout at each other for weeks and decades to come?

HannieBut spare a thought for the Netherlands, the first nation in the world to legalise euthanasia. Last year, a documentary examined how the legal framework had been working, and it included the story of Hannie Goudriaan, a 68-year-old woman who was suffering from dementia.

Her husband, with the camera rolling, said this: “If [the euthanasia] doesn’t go through then Hannie will soon have to go to a care home. If she goes to a care home, I won’t visit her anymore because I won’t go visit an empty person. If Hannie doesn’t see me for a month then she won’t recognize me anymore and then I won’t feel like visiting her anymore.”

No matter where people stand on the ethics of euthanasia or quality of life, it is pretty unavoidable to consider Hannie’s husband’s words deeply offensive - not just to her, but also to the concept of marriage. Yet in the Netherlands, the next move is to further loosen the legislative constraints.

Worse than national division is a national consensus that is profoundly tragic. Lord have mercy.

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