One in 20 deaths in Netherlands last year was euthanasia
The number of euthanasia requests granted in the Netherlands rose by 13.7 percent last year. The Regional Euthanasia Testing Committees (RTE), which assesses whether doctors comply with all the statutory due care requirements, received a total of 8,720 reports of euthanasia. That means 5.1 percent of people who died in the Netherlands last year had chosen the moment themselves and received medical help for their death. A year earlier, that was 4.6 percent.
The upward trend in euthanasia has been visible for some time, though the review committees couldn’t give a clear explanation for it. No scientific research has been done into the causes, and the committees didn’t want to speculate.
There were a few exceptional cases in which things went wrong, and the RTE ruled the involved doctors did not fulfill all due care criteria. That happened 13 times last year (0.15 percent.) “This percentage is not high in relation to previous years and remains so low in the total that the conclusion can undoubtedly be drawn this year that the Dutch practice of euthanasia is very careful,” the RTE said.
Euthanasia is legally permitted if people suffer unbearably and without hope. The euthanasia law that makes it possible was implemented 20 years ago. In the annual report, RTE chairman Jeroen Recourt wrote that he has come to “the cautious conclusion” that the euthanasia law and the review committees have “achieved what was intended: a careful and transparent implementation of euthanasia in the Netherlands.”
Recourt added: “How many people will have found comfort in the thought that if things really go wrong, euthanasia is an option and then died of natural causes? I find that a reassuring thought.”