The first reported case of a Dutch doctor killing an Alzheimer’s patient was lawful, according a regional euthanasia committee. It denied that this case showed that the Netherlands was on a slippery slope towards euthanasia for all victims of Alzheimer’s.
The incident took place last year when a patient with Alzheimer’s made a “well-considered and voluntary request” to die. He was also deemed to be suffering “hopelessly and unbearably”, another criterion for lawful euthanasia. The man was 65 and had had Alzheimer’s for three years. He did not wish to linger in an increasingly demented state and had repeatedly asked for help in committing suicide.
An interesting complication was the overruling of the second opinion which is required by Dutch legislation. This doctor — who had been trained in the euthanasia guidelines — claimed that the man’s awareness of his suffering would diminish as the disease progressed and that he was not competent to express a wish to die. Other doctors were consulted and they supported the first prognosis. The man was killed.
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