May 24, 2024

Healthy patients deserve euthanasia, too, say Dutch doctors

 Doctors should be allowed to kill patients who are "suffering through living", the Royal Dutch Medical Association has recommended after a three-year inquiry. It could find no good reason to exclude suffering from living" from the list of motives for legal euthanasia. At the moment, doctors must follow a 2002 ruling from the Dutch Supreme Court that only a "classifiable physical or mental condition" constitutes the "hopeless and unbearable suffering" which can justify a case of legal euthanasia.

The report argues that the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the law is simplistic. It is "an illusion", it says, to contend that the suffering of a patient can be "unambiguously measured according to his illness". The emeritus professor of clinical psychology who led the report, Dr Jos Dijkhuis, denied that Dutch doctors would agree to a request for euthanasia from a patient who was simply tired of living. His committee believes that "suffering through living" is real suffering which involves a range of physical and mental ailments. In about half of the cases studied Dr Dijkhuis said that there had been no "classifiable disease". "We see a doctor’s task is to reduce suffering; therefore we can’t exclude these cases in advance," he argues.