Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

Dutch Euthanasia Law

Written by Rev. H.A. Bergsma
The trial of a doctor who assisted in the suicide of a depressed but otherwise healthy woman has caused a furore in the Netherlands. On June 22, the Dutch Supreme Court struck another blow to the anti-euthanasia movement when it ruled that a psychiatrist who supplied a fatal dose of sleeping pills to a woman was not violating the country's laws. The woman was in a state of depression because of a failed marriage and the death of her two sons. The law clearly states that the patient must be suffering uncontrollable pain and that "euthanasia must be a last resort." Observers note that the woman's condition was reversible, euthanasia was not used as a last resort and that the court ruling will further widen the country's already liberal euthanasia laws.

Reaction against the ruling came quickly. Holland's largest daily, De Telegraaf, said that the courts had crossed a "bridge too far." Karl Gunning, head of the Dutch Physicians' Union commented that "we always predicted that once you start looking at killing as a means to solve problems, then you'll find more and more problems where killing can be the solution."

Similar reactions to the court's decision occurred in Canada. Dr. Robert Pankratz, vice-president of the Compassionate Healthcare Network (CHN) said, "Holland is showing us the results of a social experiment that is revealing where the slippery slope leads." Dr. Philip Ney, a psychiatrist from Victoria B.C., commented that the Dutch psychiatrist's actions "undermines the whole medical profession, particularly psychiatry." (From The Interim, July 1994).

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