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NRL News
Page 26
January 2010
Volume 37
Issue 1

Euthanasia Deaths Increase in the Netherlands

By Alex Schadenberg

Editorís note: The following is reprinted with permission from the blog of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition.

An article in the Dutch News has reported that there were approximately 200 more euthanasia deaths in 2009 as compared to 2008 in the Netherlands. This means that approximately 2,500 euthanasia deaths took place in 2009 in the Netherlands, but the actual number is unknown because the government acknowledges that only 80% of all euthanasia deaths are reported.

In order to have an accurate picture of the number of deaths that are directly and intentionally caused by physicians in the Netherlands, you need to know that assisted suicide is a separate category in the Netherlands. Therefore you must add the assisted suicide deaths to the number of euthanasia deaths. The number of assisted suicide deaths was not reported in the article but it is approximately 400 deaths each year.

Another category of deaths is deaths without explicit consent. The most recent government report (2005) showed that the number of deaths without explicit consent was approximately 550. Many of the 550 deaths are directly and intentionally caused by the physician but not reported as euthanasia because they lacked consent.

It was also reported that in 2007 approximately 10% of all deaths in the Netherlands were connected to the practise of terminal sedation. Many of those deaths were caused by dehydration, due to the physician sedating the patient and then withholding hydration until death occurs, which usually takes 10Ė14 days.

Finally, the article acknowledged that people with dementia are dying by euthanasia in the Netherlands, but the article didnít mention how many infants died by euthanasia in 2009. The Groningen Protocol allows infants who are born with disabilities to die by euthanasia based on the request of the parents and the agreement of the physician.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition is concerned that since the Netherlands does not collect information concerning the euthanasia of people with disabilities, we therefore ask the question, how many people with disabilities are coerced into death by euthanasia based on a false concept that living with a disability is a life of suffering.

The article stated:

The number of registered cases of euthanasia rose by 200 to some 2,500 in 2009, according to new figures from the official monitoring body, quoted in the Telegraaf.

It is not known how many cases of mercy killing there actually are in the Netherlands, but in 2007 experts said around 80% of instances are registered with the monitoring body.

There were also six registered cases of euthanasia on elderly patients with senile dementia, all of whom were in the early stages and able to make their wishes known, the monitoring commission chairman Jan Suyver told tv programme Nova.

Euthanasia for cases of dementia has been officially recorded since 2003. In total, 22 cases have been registered and approved by the commission.

The law states a number of criteria which must be met before euthanasia can be administered. For example, the patient must be suffering unbearable pain and the doctor must be convinced the patient is making an informed choice.

The opinion of a second doctor is also required.