Friday, September 27, 2019

Dutch prosecutors ask Supreme Court to clarify euthanasia rules for people with dementia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Prosecutors in the Netherlands have asked the Supreme Court to clarify the euthanasia law, after a court in the Hague expanded the euthanasia law  by acquitting a doctor who euthanized a woman with dementia who resisted the euthanasia injection.
Dutch court expands euthanasia law by acquitting doctor who euthanized a patient with dementia, without effective consent.
The case concerns the euthanasia death of a woman with dementia who resisted. The doctor attempted to sedate the woman by putting the drugs in her coffee but she continued to resist so the doctor had the family hold her down to enable the doctor to lethally inject her.

Prosecutors are not seeking a different decision but rather clarity in the law. The reported:

In particular, officials want clarity about how doctors should deal with patients who are not in a position to confirm their wish to die. The case centres on a 74-year-old woman who had drawn up a living will some years before her admission to the nursing home and had regularly stated that she wanted to die. 
Judges in The Hague ruled that the euthanasia was carried out with proper care and that doctor, who has since retired, did not have to verify her patient’s wish to die with the patient because she was incapable of responding. In addition, the court said it supported the doctor’s decision to put a sedative in the woman’s coffee to calm her before euthanasia drugs could be administered because it had made her as comfortable as possible. The sedation took place in the full knowledge of her family.
It is disturbing that the court, in the Hague, decided that the doctor did not need to verify the wish of the woman with dementia because she was "incapable" of responding. This means that people with dementia lose the right to change their mind.

The decision of the Dutch Supreme Court will likely affect how the Canadian law evolves.

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