my view onDutch euthanasia legislation hangs together like loose sand. Euthanasia in the Netherlands is not punishable, but it is subject to a number of due care requirements, which are then far too voluntary. Should suffering be prevented or terminated early by committing euthanasia? The challenge for physicians, who are in favor of euthanasia, is to substitute an alternative for this. After all, suffering is an essential part of life. Doctors can do anything to alleviate suffering.
Requirements to perform euthanasia
In the first place, euthanasia must be performed by a physician who must also report this. The requirements are specified in the Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide Assistance Act and include that the doctor:
is convinced that there is a voluntary and well-considered request from the patient
is convinced that there is hopeless and unbearable suffering for the patient
the patient has been informed about the situation he is in and about his prospects
the patient has come to the conviction that there is no reasonable alternative for the situation in which he finds himself
has consulted another independent doctor who has seen the patient and has given a written opinion about the due care requirements
has performed the medical termination of life or assistance with suicide with care
Patient competence of the patient
The law only applies to cases of active euthanasia, so life-ending acts and assistance with suicide at the explicit request of the patient himself. Every Dutch citizen aged sixteen and older can prepare a euthanasia statement in case he or she becomes incapacitated. The question is, however, when it is possible to speak of incapacity. This always remains a gray area. In the Netherlands a patient has no "right" to euthanasia. The decision to comply with a euthanasia request is up to the treating physician. A doctor has two primary obligations towards his patient: to alleviate or eliminate suffering or to preserve his life. The question is whether doctors can assess when someone is suffering or when a patient is 'just' dying.
The medical ethics policy in the Netherlands must be aimed at protecting the patient and providing good care. Medical professionals working in this context must refuse to grant a request for euthanasia. Healthcare providers cannot be prosecuted for their refusal. Fortunately, the law is still such that a doctor does not have to act contrary to his own conscience. However, it remains a matter of conscience if a rejecting doctor has to refer the patient to a colleague who may respond to the request. If we assume the doctor's basic obligations, he will always act against his conscience.
Protection of a doctor
Doctors have followed a study to promote life. Not to take it away. If the euthanasia legislation is not clear pro-life heading in the wrong direction then it threatens Slippery slope to become. This legislation must be there not only to protect the citizen but also to protect the physicians to practice their profession properly. Euthanasia is not an act that promotes life, but rather counteracts knowledge, reproduction and sociability. If the government takes patient protection and, with it, life, seriously, this can have a positive effect on the quality of medical care in the Netherlands.
Video: Global Journalist: Euthanasia in the Netherlands (February 2020).
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