By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
The number of reported cases of euthanasia in 2007 has increased by 10 percent in the Netherlands.
In 2007 the Regional Euthanasia Review Committees received 2120 euthanasia reports, which is up from 1923 reported cases in 2006.
Euthanasia as defined in the Netherlands only includes voluntary actions that are requested by a person who is competent. Any intentional action that causes the death of a person who is incompetent or involuntary are not counted as acts of euthanasia but rather deaths without explicit request.
The report that is published in the Magazine of the Right to Die - NL (NVVE) does not include the number of assisted suicide deaths or the number of deaths without explicit request.
It was reported that their were approximately 550 deaths without request in 2005 and approximately 400 assisted suicide deaths.
It must be noted that these are the number of reported cases. There has been a long-standing problem with under-reporting in the Netherlands.
There were three reported cases that did not fulfill the requirements of the Dutch law. Those cases were reported to the Inspection of Health Care. There is no indication that the three cases resulted in any punishment.
Experts had anticipated that the actual number of reports would decrease because of the increase in deaths by terminal sedation and dehydration. The report from the NVVE does not include the estimated number of cases of terminal sedation and dehydration.
The highest number of reported cases of euthanasia in the Netherlands was in 2000 (2123) with the lowest number of reported cases in 2003 (1815).
There is no explanation in the report as to why the euthanasia rate has increased in the Netherlands.