The regional commission in the Netherlands has just published its annual report disclosing the official number of euthanasia cases for 2016. Showing another increase of 10%, the number of cases has tripled since it was decriminalized in 2002.
In 2016, there were 6091 cases reported, representing 575 more than the previous year, or 4% of the total number of deaths in this country. In 216 cases the patient himself administered the lethal dose, (qualified as assisted suicide). In 2002 the Netherlands reported less than 2000 acts of euthanasia, whereas in 2012, there were approximately 4000 reported acts, and again in 2016 another increase of 2000 cases.
The European Institute of Bioethics carried out a thorough analysis of this trend according to the pathology, emphasizing the increase in euthanasia for dementia patients, those suffering from psychiatric problems or multiple pathologies due to old age.
Dutch law specifies that euthanasia requests are only approved in cases of unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement, and if the patient has “considered the decision thoroughly”. However, in spite of these criteria, euthanasia is practiced on individuals suffering various pathologies, especially psychiatric problems. Because of these abuses, in less than a week’s time, over 350 Dutch doctors have already signed a petition refusing euthanasia for persons with dementia. Last autumn, the Dutch government introduced a draft law to authorize assisted suicide for elderly people who have the feeling of having lived a full and complete life, even if they are perfectly healthy.
For Alliance VITA, the rules implemented in 2002 are regularly subject to interpretation, and one after another, the protective measures are being by-passed. Faced with rising requests for euthanasia, the Dutch people are starting to react. It is shocking and contemptible to present euthanasia as the only solution for individuals in difficulty.
Several opposing parties have criticized the draft law, worrying that such a text would “put pressure on other elderly individuals into feeling like a burden on society”. Others in the Netherlands have voiced the same concern for « those who are vulnerable, alone and desperate”. Dutch University Professor Theo de Boer, completely changed his original position and has become one of the most vocal critics of the euthanasia law. He now criticizes the growing number of assisted suicide cases in the Netherlands and also regrets the fact that euthanasia is extended to other categories of patients, including those with dementia or depression. « Legalizing assisted suicide is a slippery slope towards systematically practicing murder on sick people”.
Recall in 2009, the UN Human Rights Committee strongly urged the Netherlands to revise their law on euthanasia and assisted suicide in view of the high number of euthanasia cases.