Euthanasia / Assisted Suicide - Archive

Dutch Doctors Hasten the Death of Sick Children (2005)

A new analysis of Dutch doctors by researchers in the Netherlands finds that they are more frequently using euthanasia to kill sick children, sometimes taking the country’s assisted suicide laws as far as they will allow.

The European nation legalized euthanasia in 2002 and previous reports show Dutch doctors granting most patients’ request to be killed.

The new study involves the deaths of 64 children during a four month period and finds that doctors hastened the deaths of 42 of them. The government-sponsored study gave the doctors immunity from having their names revealed or being prosecuted for their actions and their responses were kept anonymous.

According to the Irish Examiner newspaper, the report finds doctors engaged in actions varying from withholding life support from patients doctors believed would die anyway to administering drugs such as morphine with the intent of hurrying a patient’s death.

One case involved euthanasia in the strictest sense — a doctor making the decision to directly take a patient’s life because he believed the patient was beyond hope.

Astrid Vrakking of Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam told the Examiner that, in other situations, the actions “take place at the boundaries of what is legally allowed.”

“Whether or not these boundaries are supportive or rightful is, of course, a matter of debate,” Vrakking added.

The report describes one case where physicians gave an 18 month old suffering from a progressive neuro-degenerative disease drugs & sedatives after the parents requested them.

[Netherlands,, 9Sept05]