Rick Santorum's claim that the Netherlands advocates mass murder through involuntary euthanasia has prompted a furious backlash from the Western European country, with local news sources calling the Republican a crazy extreme candidate making up facts to stir up his political base.
Rick Santorum Thinks He Knows the Netherlands: Murder of the Elderly on a Grand Scale fumed the headline of the newspaper NRC Handelsblad on Saturday.
The article references an interview, barely played up by the American press, in which Santorum claims that euthanasia makes up 10 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands, and that many of those people were essentially murdered by the state.
Half of those people are euthanized involuntarily, because they are old or sick, Santorum told social conservative leader James Dobson earlier this month in an American Heartland Forum.
And so elderly people in the Netherlands don't go to a hospital, they go to another country, he continued. Because they are afraid, because of budget purposes, that they will not come out of that hospital.
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Rick Santorum also asserted that elderly Dutch citizens, in an effort to stop themselves from being killed, have taken to wearing bracelets that read Don't Euthanize Me, an assertion that prompted gasps from the conservative crowd.
Statistics Tell a Different Story
In reality, public statistics, which have been recorded since the practice was legalized in the Netherlands in 2002, report that roughly 2 percent of all deaths in the country are due to euthanasia. The idea of involuntary euthanasia, meanwhile, is baffling to residents of the liberal state, implying as it does patients wheeled off to die the moment their vitals drop.
But after incredulity came anger, and plenty of it.
Rick Santorum is an archconservative, the piece, translated by Dutch blogger Bertine Moenaff, begins. The most conservative of all the candidates in the Republican primary race. He loathes abortion and euthanasia.
So now, he loathes the Netherlands, the article continues with an acid wit. Because in the Netherlands, we kill the elderly like there's no tomorrow.
The author, credited as Niels Posthumus, accused Santorum of shoveling on baseless 'facts' to support his erroneous conclusions.
This man is really imaginative, Posthumus concludes. It would be a laughing matter, if he weren't in the race for the Republican nomination to take on Barack Obama in the race for the presidency of the most powerful country in the world.
Nor is the Dutch daily paper the only news source gunning for Santorum in the aftermath of his comments.
Rick Santorum's campaign has yet to respond to the backlash his euthanasia comments have caused in the Dutch media. The offending interview can be seen below.
Rick Santorum Warns of Euthanasia in Netherlands, Wishes Abortion Still 'In The Shadows':