“Even in countries where medically assisted suicide is legal, doctors are often reluctant to help patients who ask to die”. This is the conclusion reached in several European studies but it does not prevent the number of euthanasia cases from increasing.
One of the studies reviewed assisted suicide requests received by a Dutch clinic in 2012-2013: in most cases, the persons were not able to “convince their GP to carry out the act” and therefore turned to this “end-of-life clinic”. This establishment accepts 25% of requests. The others “die or withdraw their requests before their situation can be assessed”.
The author also notes that some doctors exercise conscientious objection or refuse “because they are not sure that the case in question satisfies legal criteria”. They are more inclined to “approve euthanasia for patients with intolerable suffering rather than for those with psychological problems”.
Another study highlighted Belgian results: medically assisted suicides accounted for 4.6% of deaths in 2013 compared to 1.9% in 2007. In this country, the number of euthanasia cases is increasing in all situations and all health establishments but even more “dramatically” in “women, people over 80 years of age, people with few qualifications and retirement home residents”. According to a Belgian scientist, “this increase was to be expected. In the first few years following legalisation,doctors were still hesitant but now they are on a slippery slope”.
The “most worrying study” noted that, in the Netherlands, 7% of euthanasia cases were approved “because the people in question were tired of living” and 4% “for psychological suffering”, including solitude in most cases.
The authors are calling for “an ethical response”. According to one of them, “In the light of these results, it’s time to cut the red tape”.