Doctors demand right to refuse euthanasia

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No image availableNL Times

Doctors do not want to be obligated to perform euthanasia if their patients request it. They want to be able to determine themselves how or if they want to cooperate with a patient's wish to die, and if necessary they want to be able to refuse, doctors federation KNMG said in NRC on Tuesday.

This follows the Dutch Society for a Voluntary End Of Life advocating for a so-called "last wish pill" - a pill prescribed by a doctor or pharmacist that a patient can administer themselves when they are ready to die. The KNMG feels that this is going too far.

Rutger Jan van der Gaag, chairman of the KNMG, told the newspaper that most doctors are open to discuss the option of euthanasia with their terminally ill patients, but it must never lead to "an obligation for the doctor to cooperate". Euthanasia must never be something a patient can "force" on a doctor.

"Euthanasia is just one of the options, there must be room for consideration. Do we want the government to allow an end of life pill being available to everyone? How do we protect the vulnerable against pressure from the environment, against their own impulsive acts?" Van der Gaag said. "The doctor is now at least an important safety valve which ensures that reasonable alternatives can not be overlooked and euthanasia resources are not misused. With doctors as central professional it never becomes 'you ask, we inject'."