Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Euthanasia still a dilemma for Dutch doctors

I was going through my emails and found this article from May 7, 2008 that was written by Emma Thomasson and published in Reuters.

The article starts by referring to a play that is called "The Good Death" that appears to be very popular in the Netherlands. It is a play about a doctor who injects an old friend, who has cancer, and all the agonising decisions that revolve around the question of euthanasia.

The article then goes on to assess the statistics related to euthanasia in the Netherlands, now that it has been officially legal for 6 years.

The article shows how the number of official euthanasia deaths appears to be dropping while the number of deaths by terminal sedation have skyrocketed. In the Netherlands euthanasia is strickly defined as a voluntary and intentional action. To dehydrate someone to death may be voluntary and intentional but it is an omission.

The article quotes Dr. Rob Jonquire, the leader fo the Right to Die society in the Netherlands who said:
"It is more than a coincidence that euthanasia has gone down and palliative sedation has gone up."

Jonquire then states:
"We hear anecdotal evidence from families that patients actually wanted euthanasia but the doctor instead gave palliative sedation."

The article states that a survey published this year in the Journal of Medical Ethics showed that almost half of the Dutch doctors try to avoid euthanasia because it is against their own values or was difficult to deal with.

Jonquire stated at the World Federation of Right to Die Societies conference in Toronto - September 2006, that the final goal of the Right to Die Society in the Netherlands is the legalization of the "Last-Will-Pill".

The article explains that recent polling shows that 74% of the Dutch people support the concept of the "Last-Will-Pill"

Politically it seems unlikely that such a concept would gain support at the present time especially since certain members of parliament are pushing for better pain relief and less euthanasia.

Dr. Stans Verhagen, a cancer specialist who serves about 800 patients every year said:
"We started with euthanasia in Holland because people were suffering so much pain -- it's what makes us afraid of dying, he said. He likened the end of life to landing a plane."

He then stated:
"We should give less attention to emergency exit and more to how not to crash. It is possible to have a good death."

Bravo Dr. Verhagen.

We should care for people and not kill them.

The story:

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