Euthanasia on the rise in Netherlands

Deaths by euthanasia in the Netherlands increased by 10% in 2014, according to a new report released by Holland’s regional euthanasia review committees. A total of 5306 cases of assisted dying were reported to the regional committees in 2014, including 5033 cases of euthanasia (a 10% increase on the 4501 cases reported in 2013).

The overall number of reported cases has doubled since 2009, when the committee received 2636 notifications of assisted dying. On most occasions, the report states, patients were euthanized in their homes, having had their request for euthanasia approved by a general practitioner. In only four cases the committees deemed physicians to have failed to act in accordance with their duty of care to patients.

In the vast majority of cases (3888) the reason for euthanasia was ‘cancer’, the next most common reason being ‘cardiovascular disease’ (247). 41 patients were euthanized on account of psychiatric disorders.

A spokesperson for the review committees said that the increase might indicate a growing social acceptance of euthanasia. The director of the Dutch Voluntary End of Life Association (NVVE) Robert Schurink said that the report indicates changing values in society: “self-determination now prevails over fate…[patients] want to take control when conscious”. 

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