Friday, November 7, 2014

Dutch euthanasia law needs reform. Euthanasia is granted to people who have years to live

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Theo Boer
An article published in the NL Times on November 7, reports that Theo Boer, an ethicist and former 9 year member of a Regional Euthanasia Review Committee in the Netherlands is stating that doctors, politicians and the review committees need to re-evaluate the euthanasia law.

The NL Times articles begins by stating that Boer believes that:
Euthanasia Doctors sometimes give in too quickly to the claims of patients that they are suffering unbearably. It can therefore not be ruled out that in the Netherlands euthanasia is granted to people who still had years to live.
The article explains that Boer (54), who recently left the Regional Euthanasia Review Committee in September after working there for more than nine years, has evaluated more than 4 thousand cases of euthanasia. Based on that experience Boer concludes that doctors, politicians and review committees should seriously consider re-evaluating the euthanasia law.

There are 5 review committees, in the Netherlands, that assess,  after the death, whether physicians have complied with the legal due diligence in the performance of euthanasia.

According to the article, Boer is convinced that, the requirement that the patient must be suffering unbearably was not properly considered when the law was created. Boer says that physicians will not tell their patients that they do not qualify for euthanasia because their suffering is not unbearable. The article stated:
In the first years after the introduction Boer had fewer problems with the provision on unbearable suffering because almost only people with a terminal, physical condition were given euthanasia. But now euthanasia is often given to people who still had some time to live.
According to the article, Boer wants to add a stronger medical component in the law or in its review. The fact that some conditions may fall by the wayside is outweighed by the advantages of a more objective criterion. Boer is concerned that if developments continue in this way, he expects a strong increase in the number of cases of euthanasia because people do not want to be put in a nursing home.

A woman was recently euthanized in the Netherlands because she didn't want to go to a nursing home.

Boer wants a moratorium on any more groundbreaking cases. Boer stated:
If it were up to him, he would form a committee that will conduct a public and cross-party discussion. This should be about what practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands is most future-proof and safe.
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