Alex SchadenbergInternational Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
A study released in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) analyzing the euthanasia deaths in the first year of operation at the Netherlands euthanasia clinic appears to have been done to prove that euthanasia is being done carefully at the clinic.
The study: A study of the First Year of the End-of-Life Clinic for Physician-Assisted Dying in the Netherlands was published online on August 10, 2015.
The data shows that in its first year of operation (March 1, 2012 - March 1, 2013) the Netherlands euthanasia clinic received 645 requests for assisted death and lethally injected 162 people.
Of the 162 who died by an assisted death, the data indicates that 6 assisted deaths were done for psychological reasons, 21 assisted deaths were done for cognitive decline, such as dementia and 11 assisted deaths were done based on "tired of living." Tired of living means that the person does not have any specific illness.
The study indicates that woman represented 62% of the requests for euthanasia and 65% of the euthanasia deaths.
This study represented the first year of operation for the euthanasia clinic. A recent news report indicated that the number of euthanasia deaths for psychiatric patients has increased substantially. Last month, the media reported that, in the first six months of 2015, 18 euthanasia deaths were done based on psychiatric reasons at the euthanasia clinic. The media report stated:
This is more than double the total figure of 17 in 2014 as a whole, the clinic's first half figures show.
In addition, almost 100 psychiatric patients are on the waiting list for help, the NRC said. This is because of a shortage of psychiatrists to make the assessments and manage the requests.
The Netherlands euthanasia clinic has also been implicated in several controversial euthanasia deaths, for instance:
An incompetent woman with dementia died by euthanasia, even after the nursing home opposed the death. A healthy woman with Tinnitus died by euthanasia.A woman died by euthanasia because she didn't want to live in a nursing home.
A similar study examining 100 consecutive requests for euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in Belgium was published on July 28, 2015 found that of the 100 requests for euthanasia for psychiatric reasons 48 were approved for lethal injection and 35 died by lethal injection.
Both studies appear to be in response to criticism of the expanding practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands and Belgium.
In July 2014, Theo Boer, an ethicist and a nine year member of a Netherlands euthanasia regional review committee stated that:
I used to be a supporter of legislation. But now, with twelve years of experience, I take a different view.
Boer changed his mind based on the increasing number of euthanasia deaths and the increasing reasons for euthanasia in the Netherlands.
Boer is also concerned that people, who have years to live, are dying by euthanasia in the Netherlands.
The 2013 Netherlands euthanasia report indicated that the number of reported euthanasia deaths increased by 15% to 4829 and the number of euthanasia deaths for psychiatric reasons tripled to 42 and the number of euthanasia deaths for people with dementia had more than doubled to 97.
The Netherlands euthanasia clinic opened on March 1, 2012. They began with 15 mobile euthanasia teams and have now expanded to 39 mobile euthanasia teams. According to the study, there were 645 requests for euthanasia in the first year, 749 requests for euthanasia in the second year and 1035 requests for euthanasia in the third year.