Monday, June 21, 2010

Dutch euthanasia deaths up 13%

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Last week I commented on the increase of deaths by euthanasia in the Netherlands at:

The National Post reprinted an article by Simon Caldwell from The Daily Telegraph. Caldwell's points are: euthanasia is up by 13% compared to last year, it is up significantly since 2003, the social taboo to not kill someone by euthanasia appears to be waning and finally, even Els Borst, the Dutch leader who had guided the euthanasia law through the Dutch Parliament has acknowledged that palliative care should have been developed first, before euthanasia become legal, the article follows:

Dutch Euthanasia cases up 13%

Euthanasia cases in Holland have increased by 13% in the past year, according to new figures, and Dutch medics have been accused of applying a liberal interpretation of the law and sometimes killing people who cannot properly consent.

Last year, 2,636 Dutch people were killed by euthanasia, with 80% of the cases involving people dying at home after their doctors administered a lethal dose of drugs. This compares with 2,331 reported deaths in 2008.

In 2003, the year after Holland became the first country since the fall of Nazi Germany to legalize the practice, there were 1,815 cases.

Euthanasia is usually carried out by administering a sedative, followed by a drug to cause death. To qualify, patients must be in unbearable pain and their doctor convinced they are making an informed choice.

The opinion of a second doctor is also required. Jan Suyver, chairman of the Dutch government's euthanasia monitoring commission, said the rising number of cases came as the "taboo" once attached to euthanasia began to fade. "It could also be that doctors are more likely to report it," he said.

Dr. Els Borst
The increase in cases in 2008 has prompted the Dutch health ministry to open an inquiry into the law. Dr. Els Borst, the former deputy prime minister who guided the law through the Dutch parliament, said in December that she regretted that euthanasia was effectively destroying palliative care. The British campaign group Dignity in Dying has acknowledged that euthanasia was open to abuse but said assisted suicide could work in practice.

Link to the article in the National Post:

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