Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Euthanasia of people with dementia in the Netherlands

The Daily Mail paper in the UK reported on June 29, the for the first time euthanasia of people with dementia has been included in the official statistics of euthanasia in the Netherlands.

The article reported that:
A total of 21 patients with early-stage dementia, including Alzheimer’s, died by lethal injection last year, according to a forthcoming annual report. ...

The figures have caused alarm among critics who say the pool of patients who qualify for euthanasia in the Netherlands is expanding.

The figures, which are due to be formally released later in the summer, were leaked on NOS, the state television news channel.

The NOS television news channel featured video footage of Guusje de Koning (63) explaining to her children why she wanted to die by euthanasia. The article stated:
Euthanasia advocates are using her story to promote the idea that euthanasia for dementia sufferers is a suitable way to avoid suffering and the expensive healthcare.

The article suggested the euthanasia of people with dementia is controversial. It stated:
the practice of assisted suicide for dementia patients remains controversial. While some 95 per cent of Holland’s population support the country’s euthanasia laws, only 33 per cent of Dutch doctors agree with offering lethal injections to dementia sufferers.

The article concluded by pointing out that the number of euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands continues to rise. There were approximately 2700 reported euthanasia deaths in 2010, which is up from 2636 reported euthanasia deaths in 2009.

It is important to note that the euthanasia numbers do not include the approximately 550 deaths without request or consent, the approximately 400 deaths by assisted suicide and the fact that it is estimated that 20% of the euthanasia deaths are not reported.

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