The Netherlands: is euthanasia legally permissible if an individual feels that their “life is over?”

Publié le 18 Dec, 2017

Whilst the annual report of the Regional Committees for the Control of Euthanasia (RTE) in the Netherlands “states that the official number of euthanasia cases increased once again in 2016“, their president, Jacob Kohnstamm, “warns against the uncertainties inherent in applying euthanasia legislation“. Increasing numbers of patients are receiving euthanasia because they “are fed up of living” or feel that “their life is over“.


Feeling that one’s life is “over” is indicative of “existential suffering“. Legislative provisions regarding euthanasia in the Netherlands, “one of the objectives of which (…) is to provide legal security for doctors“, “has never targeted end of life due to existential suffering“.


The sole purpose of the RTE is to verify that the act of euthanasia conforms with the law and “to note that, today,“, existential suffering is very often accepted as a reason. Thus, “voices are being raised in the Netherlands, suggesting that it is not within the remit of the RTE Committees “to interpret” or “redefine” the legal criteria for euthanasia“.



For further reading:

Discontentment of psychiatrists faced with euthanasia in the Netherlands

Euthanasia: the efficacy of Dutch legislation challenged

Euthanasia: Criminal investigation in the Netherlands against a doctor


Institut Européen de Bioéthique (05/12/2017)

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