April 21, 2024

Govt stats show euthanasia rise in Netherlands

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The number of official requests for
euthanasia in the Netherlands increased by 10% in 2008 over the
previous year, to 2,331, according to the latest government
statistics. A total of 2,146 people were euthanased and 152 died in
assisted suicides, while in 33 cases there was a combination of the
two practices. Most people were suffering from cancer and most died
at home. The figures come from an annual report published by five
regional euthanasia monitoring committees.

Ten cases have been referred to the
public prosecution department and health inspectorate for comment,
because the official guidelines had not been followed. A 2002 Dutch
law stipulated several criteria, including suffering unbearable pain,
informed consent, and opinion of a second doctor. The doctor has to
report his activities to a euthanasia vetting committee — a lawyer,
a doctor and an ethicist — in his region, and they determine whether
he or she acted within the law.

The committees acknowledge in their
report that the rise in reported euthanasia is a puzzle. It
speculates that the definition of euthanasia has become clearer in
recent times, which encourages doctors to be more open about what
they do. But it may also be possible that doctors are using terminal
sedation more and not reporting it as euthanasia. ~ Radio
Netherlands, May 29