Dutch Euthanasia Expert: “We Were Terribly Wrong”

From Patients Rights Council . . .

Dutch euthanasia expert:  “We were wrong—terribly wrong, in fact.”

A Dutch expert on euthanasia has not only stopped supporting the death practice and the euthanasia law for which he campaigned, but he has made the reasons for his about-face public—something usually frowned upon in Dutch circles.

Professor Theo Boer held a unique position for seeing how the country’s euthanasia/assisted-suicide law, enacted in 2002, actually worked. For nine years, Boer, a medical ethicist, was a member of one of five Dutch regional review committees charged with investigating all reported euthanasia and assisted-suicide deaths for the government to see if each case complied with the law.

In an article Boer submitted to London’s Daily Mail—in the hope of persuading Britain’s House of Lords not to pass an assisted-suicide law (see p. 6)—Boer said he and his colleagues were “terribly wrong” when they concluded five years after the Dutch euthanasia law took effect that there was no “slippery slope” associated with that law.  Mr. Boer concerns include:

  • Beginning in 2008, the numbers of these deaths show an increase of 15% annually, year after year.
  • The annual report of the committees for 2012 recorded 4,188 cases (compared with 1,882 in 2002)
  • Euthanasia is on the way to become a ‘default’ mode of dying for cancer patients.
  • The extension of killing to new classes of people, including the demented and the depressed, and the establishment of mobile death units of ‘traveling euthanizing doctors’.
  • Under the name ‘End of Life Clinic,’ the Dutch Right to Die Society NVVE founded a network of traveling euthanizing doctors. Whereas the law presupposes (but does not require) an established doctor-patient relationship, in which death might be the end of a period of treatment and interaction, doctors of the End of Life Clinic have only two options: administer life-ending drugs or send the patient away. On average, these physicians see a patient three times before administering drugs to end their life. 

Hundreds of cases were conducted by the End of Life Clinic. The NVVE shows no signs of being satisfied even with these developments. They will not rest until a lethal pill is made available to anyone over 70 years who wishes to die. Some slopes truly are slippery.


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