Number of Dutch killed by euthanasia rises by 13 per cent
The Telegraph 24 Sept 2013
Voluntary euthanasia or physician assisted suicide, where a doctor is present while a patient kills themselves, usually by drinking a strong barbiturate potion, has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002.
Requests have risen steadily since 2003 when 1,626 people applied for medically administered euthanasia, in most cases by a lethal injection, or assisted suicide.
As previously controversial “mercy killings” have become socially and medically acceptable, the number of cases, the vast majority of medical euthanasia, have more than doubled over the decade to 2012.
One explanation for the steep rise of Dutch cases is the introduction last year of mobile euthanasia units allowing patients to be killed by volunatry lethal injection when family doctors refused.
Forty two people with dementia and 13 patients suffering severe psychiatric problems were medically killed in cases that are rarer and still generate concern over the competence of individuals to request death.
Medical review committees, that oversee euthanasia after the event, ruled that doctors had failed to meet legal requirements in 10 cases, with two incidents involving the difficulty of informed consent by people suffering from severe dementia.
It is not known whether or how often a decision to prosecute doctors was taken.