Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dutch Health Minister calls for tighter euthanasia guidelines

By Alex Schadenberg
International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Edith Schippers
Dutch Health Minister, Edith Schippers, reacted to comments by Professor Theo Boer by calling for tighter guidelines for euthanasia. Boer, an ethicist who was a member of a Euthanasia Review Committee for 9 years and oversaw more than 4000 euthanasia cases in the Netherlands.

Recently Boer wrote an article calling for reform of the Dutch euthanasia law. Boer stated that euthanasia is being granted to people who have years to live. 

The media reported that Schippers is calling for tighter guidelines on euthanasia. The article stated:
Minister Schippers wants a geriatrician to be always involved in euthanasia of people with dementia and in the case of psychiatric patients a psychiatrist must always play a role. The latter often happens in practice though, but it should be according to Schippers clearly laid down in guidelines.
Schipper also wants: 
 a second specialist to always be involved in complex euthanasia cases.
Theo Boer
Last July Boer wrote an article opposing euthanasia where he stated:

I used to be a supporter of euthanasia. But now, with twelve years of experience, I take a different view.

Boer argued that the number of euthanasia deaths, and the reasons for euthanasia have greatly expanded since the introduction of the euthanasia law in 2002. Boer stated that:

"Cases have been reported in which a large part of the suffering of those given euthanasia or assisted suicide consisted in being aged, lonely or bereaved. 
Whereas the law sees assisted suicide and euthanasia as an exception, public opinion is shifting towards considering them rights, with corresponding duties on doctors to act. 
Pressure on doctors to conform to patients’ (or in some cases relatives’) wishes can be intense. Pressure from relatives... is in some cases an important factor behind a euthanasia request."

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