The number of euthanasias carried out in the Netherlands is declining for the first time since euthanasia was legalised back in 2002. 4,600 cases of euthanasia have been reported since January 2018, i.e. 9% less than the same time last year. Jacob Kohnstamm, the chair of the regional monitoring committee, is surprised: “We would have anticipated an increase in view of the ageing population”.
Last winter’s flu epidemic could have prevented recourse to euthanasia through natural deaths. GPs refute this explanation, pointing out that the flu is particularly dangerous for the elderly but most requests for euthanasia come from cancer patients. Dick Bosscher, spokesperson for the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, explains that the launch of five criminal enquiries into dubious cases of euthanasia has halted physicians in their tracks: “Our members tell us that doctors are becoming increasingly suspicious”.
To make a legal request for euthanasia in the Netherlands, the patient must be suffering from intolerable pain and two doctors must be certain that the patient in question is making an informed decision.
Dutch News (17/10/2018)