April 16, 2024

Is there a “right” to euthanasia?

Milou de Moor committed suicide after her doctor refused to euthanize her.    

When it comes to lawsuits, doctors are extremely gun-shy. Their business is healing people, not lining the pockets of lawyers. That’s why the fall-out from a euthanasia case in the Netherlands may be highly significant.

As you can read in this week’s BioEdge, a family doctor refused to sign off on the euthanasia of a 19-year-old woman suffering from lupus-related depression, so the teenager committed suicide. Her bereaved family believes that she was denied the right to a peaceful death and has brought the case to a disciplinary tribunal. 

If the doctor is censured, will this effectively lead to euthanasia on demand in the Netherlands? Rather than fight to have their professional judgement respected, I’ll bet that most doctors will just rubberstamp every request that passes across their desks. It will be interesting which the Dutch respect more: the informed consent of the patient or the informed consent of the doctor. 

Michael Cook
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