Netherlands’ 2017 euthanasia deaths increase by another 8%

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The DutchNL news  is reporting that the regional euthanasia review committee’s annual report found that in 2017, there were 6,585 reported assisted deaths, an increase of 8% over 2016’s total of 6,091 reported assisted deaths.

According to the DutchNL news, the number of assisted deaths for dementia or psychiatric reasons also increased in 2017.

One hundred sixty nine people with dementia died by euthanasia (three were cases of advanced dementia) while another 83 people died by euthanasia based on psychiatric reasons.

In 2016 there were 141 people who died by euthanasia based on dementia (up from 109 in 2015) and 60 people died by euthanasia based on psychiatric reasons (up from 56 in 2015).

In January 2017, a Netherlands euthanasia review committee decided that the death of a woman with dementia, who died by euthanasia against her will, was done in “good faith.” The woman was held down while the doctor lethally injected her with the assistance of her family.

On January 1, 2018, Berna van Baarsen, a euthanasia assessor for 10 years in the Netherland, resigned over the acceptance of euthanasia for reasons of dementia. On January 26, 2018, a 29-year-old woman died by euthanasia for psychiatric reasons.

The Dutch NL news article, dated March 7, indicated that 12 of the euthanasia deaths were questionable:

Twelve cases were labeled by the monitoring committee as not being carefully carried out – these were mainly problems with medical care or not having an independent second opinion.

The Netherlands euthanasia review committees are lying when they state that nearly all of the deaths are done according to the law. The fact is that they simply do not know how many assisted deaths occur outside of the law.

The August 3, 2017, edition of the New England Journal of Medicine published a letter titled, “End-of-Life Decisions in the Netherlands over 25 years.”

The three authors who investigated “end-of-life decision-making practices in the Netherlands between 1990 and 2015” found that in 2015 there were 7,254 assisted deaths. Of those, 6,672 were euthanasia deaths, 150 were assisted suicide deaths, and there were 431 terminations of life without request.

The Netherlands’ 2015 euthanasia report indicated that there were 5,561 reported assisted deaths. Yet the data from the study reported in the NEJM indicated that there were 7,254 assisted deaths in 2015. Therefore, based on the data from the study, 1,693 (23%) of the assisted deaths were not reported.

The Netherlands euthanasia law uses a voluntary self-reporting system, meaning the doctor who lethally injects the patient also submits the report. Since doctors do not self-report abuse of the law, the law enables doctors to cover-up “abuse” of the law. The 431 terminations of life without request are usually not reported.

A woman in the Netherlands was interviewed for the upcoming Fatal Flaws film and explained how her mother died by euthanasia without request.

Due to the design of the Netherlands law, it is impossible to know how many people actually die by an assisted death in the Netherlands. Sadly the Belgian and Canadian euthanasia laws contain the same Fatal Flaws as the Netherlands law.

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