First Euthanasia Prosecution in Holland


In the first case of its kind since the Netherlands legalised euthanasia in 2002, Dutch authorities are prosecuting a doctor who killed a patient against her wishes. The decision was taken after a regional euthanasia review board found the doctor had “overstepped the mark” in euthanising the 74-year-old Alzheimer’s patient.


Prosecutors allege the patient’s will was “unclear and contradictory” when it came to her final wishes.


The doctor, who has not been named, says she acted cautiously in the case. Her spokesman told Dutch television channel NOS that she welcomed “further guidance on the question of the wishes of incapacitated patients”, but “regrets” that she is being prosecuted over the April 2016 case.


Prosecutors said in this particular instance, the woman “had regularly stated that she wanted to die, [but] on other occasions she had said that she did not want to die,” which meant that it was unclear whether she wanted euthanasia to be performed. “The doctor should have checked with the woman whether she still had a death wish by discussing this with her," the statement said, adding that the case will address "important legal issues regarding the termination of life of dementia patients.”


Hugo de Jonge, the Dutch health minister, told NOS he did not think the case was a reason to change the law.


The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise euthanasia. Last year, almost 7,000 people were killed by euthanasia in the Netherlands - equating to more than 4 per cent of all deaths. Despite repeated concerns that the supposed “safeguards” in the law are being abused, this is the first time prosecutors have taken a case beyond a criminal investigation.

BBC. November 9.

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