Dutch euthanasia growing rapidly

The number of Dutch euthanasia deaths in 2009 has risen by 13% over 2008 to 2,636. It appears that the rate of growth is increasing, as the 2,331 deaths in 2008 represented a 10% growth over 2007. Legalised euthanasia came into effect in the Netherlands in 2003, when there were 1,815 reported deaths.

Authorities are puzzled by the growing popularity of euthanasia. Jan Suyver, the chairman of the government's euthanasia monitoring commission, wondered if the "taboo" once attached to euthanasia has begun to fade. "It could also be that doctors are more likely to report it," he said.

It is well known that many cases – no one knows how many – go unreported because doctors are reluctant to do the paperwork which official euthanasia requires. The Dutch health ministry will begin an inquiry into the working of the 2002 euthanasia law at the end of June. The committee, headed by Professor Bregje Onwuteaka-Philipsen, will report next year.

Opponents of euthanasia claim that the growth is the result of a collapse in Dutch palliative care since euthanasia was legalised. Whether or not this is true, 85% of those who applied for euthanasia had cancer. ~ London Telegraph, June 20

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