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Thanks both Melissa Hardy and DJ Scott for your letters regarding Voluntary Euthanasia in the Southlands Times 12/10/2018 regarding the gradual widening of the criteria for Voluntary Euthanasia in the Netherlands..

As a Dutch person I must correct some persistently common misunderstandings regarding Euthanasia and the Euthanasia Law in the Netherlands.

The Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide Act (2002) states that physician-assisted dying (PAD) is not punishable (for the physician) if the attending physician acts in accordance with the criteria of “due care.”

The Act legalises euthanasia and PAD in very specific cases only. The criteria are very similar to those stated in David Seymour’s Bill currently before parliament. I will summarise to the best of my abilities and knowledge.

  • The patient’s suffering is unbearable with no prospect of improvement (compare NZ: terminal disease with less than 6/12 to live; irremediable medical condition and in an advance state of decline)

  • The request made by the patient, must be voluntary and persistent over time

  • The request cannot be granted when the patient is under the influence of others (compare NZ: no coercion) has a psychological illness or uses drugs

  • The patient must be made fully aware of his/ her condition, prospects and options (note: this excludes advanced dementia)

  • There must be consultation with at least one other independent medical doctor (similar to David Seymour’s Bill)

  • The death must be carried out in a medical appropriate fashion by the doctor or the patient, and the doctor must be present

  • The patient must be at least 12 years old, patients between 12-16 require parental consent. (compare NZ: 18 years of age)

  • An advanced directive can be made by the patient and must be reviewed on a regular basis. (compare NZ: no advance directive)

  • By law the patient always has to be “in their right mind”. This means that only patients in case of early dementia qualify, when the patient can still make their own decisions.

  • Each case of death is referred to the Municipal Coroner for review. Doctors that don t comply with the law will get reviewed and prosecuted.

  • Note that Euthanasia remains a criminal offence in cases not meeting the law’s specific conditions.

The content of the Act has not changed from the time of implementation in 2002. And yes, mistakes are sometimes made by the medical professionals and those doctors are reviewed and if necessary prosecuted just like in any other breach of the law.

Creepy criteria creep

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