Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Psychiatric euthanasia deaths tripled in the Netherlands.

By Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

This Friday, January 16, the British House of Lords will resume its debate on the assisted dying bill. Today, the Daily Mail published an extensive article on the euthanasia practice in the Netherlands.

The article focuses on the Netherlands euthanasia statistics and recent trends including the fact that psychiatric euthanasia tripled in the Netherlands in 2013. The article states:

The latest official figures also revealed a 15 per cent surge in the number of euthanasia deaths from 4,188 cases in 2012 to 4,829 cases last year. 
The incremental rise is consistent with a 13 per cent increase in 2012, an 18 per cent rise in 2011, 19 per cent in 2010 and 13 per cent in 2009. 
The rise is also likely to confirm the fears of Dutch regulator Theo Boer who told the Daily Mail that he expected to see euthanasia cases smash the 6,000 barrier in 2014. 
Overall, deaths by euthanasia, which officially account for three per cent of all deaths in the Netherlands, have increased by 151 per cent in just seven years.
The statistics also indicate that of the 4829 euthanasia deaths in 2013, about 3600 were people with cancer, 97 were people with dementia and 42 were people with psychiatric issues.

Peter Saunders
Dr Peter Saunders, a founder of the Care Not Killing Alliance, told the Daily Mail that the experience with euthanasia in the Netherlands indicates that euthanasia is impossible to effectively regulate.
‘What we are seeing in the Netherlands is “incremental extension”, the steady intentional escalation of numbers with a gradual widening of the categories of patients to be included.’ 
...there was a similar pattern of increasing numbers of assisted suicide and euthanasia in the US state of Oregon, Switzerland, and Belgium. 
‘The lessons are clear. Once you relax the law on euthanasia or assisted suicide steady extension will follow as night follows day.’
Theo Boer
The article then interviews Professor Theo Boer, who was a member of Euthanasia Review Committee in the Netherlands for 9 years, recently changed his mind and now opposes euthanasia.

Professor Boer, who has reviewed 4,000 cases of euthanasia in his role as a regulator, told Parliament in the summer: ‘Don’t go there.’ 
Once a firm advocate of euthanasia, he said that he now the Dutch were ‘terribly wrong’ to think they could control it.

Writing in the Daily Mail, he said his country has witnessed an ‘explosive increase’ in the numbers of euthanasia deaths since 2007 and that he expected the number of such deaths this year to hit 6,000. 
He was also gravely concerned at the extension of killing to new classes of people, including the demented and the depressed. ‘Some slopes truly are slippery,’ he said.
The article then examing the experience with euthanasia in Belgium.
Doctors in neighbouring Belgium, which this year legalised euthanasia for children, are now killing an average of five people every day by euthanasia, according to latest figures, with a 27 per cent surge in the number of euthanasia deaths in the last year alone. 
In one of the most shocking cases, a Brussels man last week described how he arranged the double euthanasia of his octogenarian parents who wanted to die because they were afraid of loneliness.
The article concludes by explaining that the Netherlands have now interpreted the term "unbearable suffering" to apply to mental anguish. The article states:
It has also emerged that a Dutch woman in her 80s was killed by her doctors just because she did not want to live in a care home. 
The case is the first to be referred to Dutch prosecutors by regulators since euthanasia was legalised in Holland 12 years ago.
The British House of Lords needs to listen to the experience of Professor Boer and reject the assisted dying bill.

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