Sunday, January 5, 2014

William Reichel MD: Dutch law allows euthanasia

Originally published in The Advocate, the Official Publication of the Idaho State Bar, October 2010.
I am a physician who has studied assisted-suicide and euthanasia since 1988, especially in the Netherlands.  I respond to Margaret Dore's article, which quotes me for the proposition that those who believe that legal euthanasia and/or assisted suicide will assure their "choice," are naive.  ("Aid in Dying: Not Legal in Idaho; Not About Choice").  The quote is accurate....

In the Netherlands, Dutch law calls for performing euthanasia and assisted suicide with the patient's consent.  This is not, however, always done.  Indeed, over time, assisted-suicide on a strictly voluntary basis evolved into allowing euthanasia on an involuntary basis.  Euthanasia is also performed on infants and children, who are not capable of giving consent.

2005 is the most recent year for which we have an official report from the Dutch government.  The report is "spun" to defend its law, but nonetheless concedes that 550 patients (an average of 1.5 per day) were actively killed by Dutch doctors "without an explicit request."  The report also concedes that an additional 20% of deaths were not reported to the authorities as required by Dutch law.
 [Proponents of assisted suicide and euthanasia] hold . . . out the carrot of  "choice" to induce the public into believing that [these practices] are somehow benign.  Do not be misled.

William Reichel, M.D.
Affiliated Scholar
Center for Clinical Bioethics
Georgetown University School of Medicine
Washington DC