A novel idea for decreasing euthanasia rates
A group of five academics from Switzerland and the UK have come up with a novel idea to keep the incidence of euthanasia from rising rapidly.
As the debate on assisted suicide in the British House of Lords approaches, a group of five academics from Switzerland and the UK have come up with a novel idea to keep the incidence of euthanasia from rising rapidly: legalise assisted suicide.
In a July 12 letter to The Lancet they observe that the incidence of “hastened deaths” in countries with carefully regulated assisted suicide is much lower than in Belgium or the Netherlands where euthanasia is legal.
The exception to this is Switzerland, where assisted suicide has been legal since 1918. But the authors point out that Swiss suicide is not tightly regulated. In the Netherlands and Belgium, where both assisted suicide and euthanasia are on the books, patients overwhelmingly choose euthanasia. Why? The authors believe that it is easier to ask someone else to kill you rather than to do it yourself.
“ … if patients are given the choice, they prefer to have their doctors do the procedure. Since overall incidence rates of hastened death are much higher in these two countries than in regions where only assisted suicide is allowed, the availability of euthanasia done by a physician could lower the psychological threshold for requesting hastened death.”
They say that more research is needed.
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