220 Dutch doctors take out ad to oppose euthanasia for patients with dementia

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

An article written last week by Janene Pieters and published in the NL Times reports

A group of 220 Dutch doctors took out an advertisement in NRC [a daily evening newspaper] on Friday to show that they are against granting euthanasia to advanced dementia patients. The doctors believe it’s wrong to give euthanasia based on a statement which the patient can no longer confirm.

“Our moral reluctance to end the life of a defenseless human being is too big”, the ad reads. Among the signers are also doctors specialized in helping patients die.

According to the article, there have been three cases of people with advanced dementia who died by euthanasia since December 2015.

Pieters explained

The rules for euthanasia for elderly people with dementia were adjusted in December 2015. The Ministries of Public Health and Security and Justice changed the euthanasia guidelines to state that euthanasia can be granted to advanced dementia patients if they made a written declaration with this wish while they were still lucid.

Before this adaption, a patient had to express the desire for death himself. But this is no longer required.

Recently a Netherlands euthanasia review committee decided that the doctor of a woman with dementia, who had previously stated in an advanced directive that she wanted euthanasia, should not have put a sedative in her coffee and should not have had her family hold her down while he lethally injected her.

But the committee also stated that the forced euthanasia was done in “good faith.”

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.