Dangers of euthanasia: the latest data from the Netherlands

HOPE-Netherlands-logo.jpgEvery five years, Statistics Netherlands publishes data on deaths by “medical end-of-life decision”.

The latest data reports on all deaths in the Netherlands in 2015.

In that year, there were 7254 deaths caused intentionally by lethal medication – 6672 deaths by euthanasia with a request; 431 deaths by euthanasia with no explicit request; and 150 deaths by assisted suicide.

This represents nearly 1 in 20 (4.93%) of all deaths in the Netherlands.

More than 1 in 10 (10.5%) of all deaths (other than sudden and expected deaths) of 17-65 year olds in the Netherlands are caused intentionally by euthanasia or assisted suicide.

More than 1 in 200 (0.52%) of all deaths (other than sudden and expected deaths) of 17-65 year olds in the Netherlands are caused intentionally by euthanasia without an explicit request from the person being killed.

There is a significant discrepancy (1306) between the number of cases of euthanasia with request and assisted suicide reported by Statistics Netherlands – 6822 – and the number of such cases reported (as required by law) to the Euthanasia Review Committees – 5516.  

This suggests that in nearly 1 in 5 (19.1%) cases where a doctor administers euthanasia with a request or prescribes lethal medication for assisted suicide there is a failure to comply with the law requiring such acts to be reported.

If the additional 431 cases of euthanasia with no explicit request are included, then nearly 1 in 4 (23.96%) of cases of explicit killing by euthanasia or assisted suicide are nor reported.

It is extraordinary that Andrew Denton can keep a straight face when he claims that the Netherlands is a model of transparency in euthanasia practice, which can be confidently taken as evidence that legalising euthanasia or assisted suicide can be done safely – but I guess he is a comedian by profession.

I found nothing ‘slippery’ or underhanded about what they were doing. The systems in Belgium and the Netherlands are based on full and transparent disclosure – where every case is reported and reviewed by peer committees, aligned with the coroner’s office, and with the power to report doctors to state prosecutors for any breaches.

Legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide empowers doctors to kill their patients.

In 2015 in the Netherlands, some 431 patients were killed by doctors who clearly felt empowered to do so despite there being no explicit request from the patient and no legal basis for their deadly action.