Dutch Ethicist Resigns Over Euthanasia Without Consent
A medical ethicist has resigned from a Dutch regional assessment committee for euthanasia over a law which allows non-consenting demented patients to be killed by euthanasia. For ten years Berna van Baarsen helped to assess whether euthanasia had been performed in accordance with the law in the North Holland region. She resigned on January 1.
Under Article 2.2 of the Dutch euthanasia law, a doctor may euthanize a patient who can no longer make clear what he wants, but who had previously left a written declaration. “In people with a terminal illness like cancer, in whom euthanasia has already been agreed but who suddenly ended up in a coma because of their illness, that’s fair,” says van Baarsen.
However, dementia is a very different kind of ailment, she told the Dutch newspaper Trouw. “That disease is more erratic and patients often live longer. A lot of things can happen during that period. “For instance, a patient might say that she would want euthanasia if she no longer recognizes her relatives. “This could happen. But at a next visit she can still recognize her partner or her children. What is the right moment to grant euthanasia? ”
Furthermore, the suffering of a dementia patient is difficult to assess. “It is fundamentally impossible at this stage to establish that the patient is suffering unbearably, because he can no longer explain it”, says van Baarsen.
Van Baarsen is not the only member of a euthanasia review committee to resign over the interpretation of the law. Three years ago ethicist Theo Boer also stepped down and has become a harsh critic of the Dutch euthanasia system.
Life News. January 22.