March 5, 2024

Dutch debate euthanasia of their prince

Nearly six months ago Prince Friso, the son of Queen Beatrix, of the Netherlands, was buried in an avalanche while skiing in Austria. By the time he was rescued, he had already suffered severe brain damage. Ever since he has been in Wellington Hospital in London, where he was living and working before the accident. There is little chance that he will recover.

Now a well-known Dutch ethicist has claimed that if he had been hospitalised in the Netherlands, doctors would have stopped treating him. Heleen Dupuis, who is a member of the Dutch Upper House for the ruling Liberal Party (VVD), told Radio Netherlands, “it’s questionable whether the prince will ever have a normal life again. I understand that the chances are extremely small.”

Dr Dupuis made her remarks in a discussion about the cost of health care, an issue in the upcoming election in the Netherlands. As in other countries, the proportion of elderly is growing and ever more expensive drugs are being developed to keep them alive a bit longer. She supports a utilitarian cost-benefit analysis for the dilemmas that this creates.

According the Evening Standard, the royal family would like to bring the prince home to the Netherlands. “If doctors switch off his life support he would become the highest-profile patient to die under the euthanasia reforms.”

Michael Cook
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