Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Netherlands 2012 euthanasia report: Sharp increase in euthanasia deaths.

Alex Schadenberg
By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Netherlands have reported that the number of reported euthanasia deaths increased by 13% in 2012 to 4188 deaths, more than 3% of all deaths in 2012. The report stated that 42 people with dementia and 13 people with psychiatric conditions died by euthanasia in the Netherlands in 2012.

185 of the 4188 deaths were assisted suicide deaths and 38 were a combination of  euthanasia and assisted suicide.

An article in the Telegraph reported that, where euthanasia is legal that:
Euthanasia is lowest in Luxembourg, where it has been legal since 2009, between 2011 and end 2012, 14 people were killed, a per capita rate a tenth of that in the Netherlands.
The number of euthanasia deaths for people with dementia has been increasing since the Dutch Medical Association  expressed support for the euthanasia of people with dementia.

These statistics should affect the debates in Quebec and France who are considering the legalization of euthanasia.

As bad as these statistics are, they only tell part of the story.

On July 11, 2012, The Lancet published a meta-analysis study concerning euthanasia and end-of-life practices in the Netherlands in 2010 including a comparison to the previous meta-analysis studies that were done in 2005, 2001, 1995 and 1990.

The Lancet study indicated that in 2010, 23% of the euthanasia deaths were unreported in the Netherlands, which was an increase from 20% in 2005. The Lancet study found that there were 3859 euthanasia deaths and 192 assisted suicide deaths while only 3136 euthanasia deaths were reported in 2010.

Since (20 - 23%) of the euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands are not reported, we can estimate that the actual number of euthanasia deaths was likely around 5025 to 5151.

The report indicated that health inspectors investigated 10 cases where the legal requirements for euthanasia had not been met, with 2 of those cases involving people with dementia.

My book - Exposing Vulnerable People to Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, is based on research concerning all assisted deaths in the Netherlands and Belgium. Exposing Vulnerable People concludes that when a doctor reports the euthanasia death, usually the rules in the euthanasia law are followed, but when a doctor does not report a euthanasia death it is usually because the doctor never intended to follow the rules of the euthanasia law. Abuse of the Belgian and Netherlands euthanasia laws are common.

The only way to uncover euthanasia deaths without request and the abuses of the law, is by investigating the unreported euthanasia deaths.

It is important to recognize that the number of reported euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands increased by 13% in 201218% in 201119% in 2010 and 13% in 2009.

The report does not indicate the number of children with disabilities who died by euthanasia under the Groningen Protocol in the Netherlands.

The rate of deep-continuous sedation has also risen significantly in the Netherlands.

The 2001 euthanasia report indicates that 5.6% of all deaths in the Netherlands were related to deep-continuous sedation. The 2005 euthanasia report indicates that 8.2% of all deaths in the Netherlands were related to deep-continuous sedation. The 2010 euthanasia report indicates that 12.3% of all deaths are related to deep-continuous sedation.

The rate of deep-continuous sedation has more than doubled in the Netherlands since 2001. 

There is a growing concern about the abuse of the terminal sedation guidelines in the Netherlands. How often are deaths by deep-continuous sedation actually euthanasia?

Combined with the growth in the use of terminal sedation for people who are not otherwise dying (slow euthanasia) and the number of unreported euthanasia deaths, one must conclude that the practice of euthanasia continues to be out-of-control in the Netherlands.

The report stated that:
Researchers have been unable to determine why the number of cases is rising, but say they suspect it is due to greater acceptance of euthanasia by both patients and doctors.
On March 1, 2012; the euthanasia lobby in the Netherlands launched six mobile euthanasia teams. The NVVE, euthanasia lobby in the Netherlands, announced that they anticipate that the mobile euthanasia teams would carry-out 1000 euthanasia deaths per year.

The mobile euthanasia team fill "unmet demand" for euthanasia for people with chronic depression (mental pain), people with disabilities, people with dementia  and loneliness, and for those whose request for euthanasia is declined by their physician. In the past, 13% of euthanasia requests in the Netherlands were declined. It appears likely that fewer requests for euthanasia are being declined.

Legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide is not safe and the safeguards that are devised to control euthanasia actually protect physicians and do not protect the people who die by euthanasia.

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