Government to fund study
"Ghoulish" proposal in the Journal of Medical Ethics criticised by British politicians
A former member of a euthanasia review board is horrified at what is happening in his country
Choice, safeguards, and a loaded question.
Right-to-die groups are illegally promoting a "peaceful pill"
A Dutch doctor who refuses could find himself in hot water.
A leading American bioethicist admits that he is worried by euthanasia in the Netherlands and Belgium.
The first time that an institution has refused to allow a patient to be given a lethal injection.
It could double the number of organs available every year.
How does euthanasia sound?
Euthanasia is becoming a ‘default’ mode of dying for cancer patients.
The ends of medicine are health, cure and care, not taking innocent lives.
Should deep, continuous sedation at the end of life really be treated as normal medical practice in the Netherlands, ask three Dutch authors in the Journal of Medical Ethics. Although they do not appear to oppose euthanasia, they argue that “morally problematic aspects inherent to palliative sedation do not get the attention they deserve” under current guidelines. Since palliative sedation accounted for more than 12% of deaths in the Netherlands in 2010, this is an important issue.
Euthanasia in the Netherlands is nothing much to worry about, according to The Lancet. The latest survey shows that the overall levels of euthanasia and assisted suicide are about the same now as they were in 2002, when euthanasia was legalised. A small increase since 2005 is just due to the fact that more people are requesting euthanasia. At least that was the spin in The Lancet's press release.
In 2010 the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs published an FAQ about Dutch euthanasia. This is a very useful document as it provides an authoritative reference for defining exactly what happens there. It covers such issues as euthanasia of demented patients (not in principle, but there are exceptions), of chronic psychiatric patients (not prohibited in all cases), of minors (between 12 to 15, parental permission required), and of infants (never, except of newborn infants suffering extreme pain and discomfort).
Dutch Prince Johan Friso, brain-damaged after being buried by an avalanche in Austria last month, has been transferred to Wellington Hospital, in London. Doctors believe that the 43-year-old is unlikely to recover consciousness, although will be weeks before they have a clear idea of his prospects.
So when US presidential hopeful Rick Santorum described the state of euthanasia in the Netherlands on February 3 in a forum in Missouri, he failed to kick a goal. In fact, the Washington Post fact checker, who is the son of Dutch migrants and whose uncle was euthanased, disparaged his “bogus statistics” and awarded him four Pinicchios. He was ridiculed in the New York Times and on Radio Netherlands.
How much can on-line polls be trusted? Not much. An on-line poll about euthanasia? Even less. However, in view of the sketchy state of information about euthanasia in the first country to legalise it, any poll is welcome. The EinVandaag website in the Netherlands surveyed general practitioners in the last week in July and found that Dutch doctors support it, though sometimes reluctantly. (The number of official notifications of deaths by euthanasia rose 13% to 2,636 in 2009, although many deaths are apparently not reported.)
The Dutch voluntary euthanasia society (NVVE) is planning to open an eight-person clinic in 2012 where people can go to end their lives. It estimates that about 1,000 people a year would take advantage of its facilities. It would cater for people whose doctors have refused to euthanase them. Not only people with an incurable illness, but also people with chronic psychiatric conditions and dementia would be welcome.
The tenth anniversary of the legalization of euthanasia in the Netherlands on November 28 passed almost unnoticed.
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