Euthanasia / Assisted Suicide - Archive

Media Erroneously Indicate Netherlands Euthanasia Cases Decreasing (2007)

A recent report published in the New England Journal of Medicine (May 10, 2007) has been reported by the media as stating that the practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands has dropped since it was formally legalized in 2002.

When reading the actual report we learn of a different reality than the media has reported.

The report states that in 2001, the year before euthanasia was formally legalized in the Netherlands, there were approximately 3500 (2.6%) euthanasia deaths, there were approximately 300 (0.2%) assisted suicide deaths and approximately 8500 (5.6%) deaths by terminal sedation (sedation followed by dehydration).

The report states that in 2005 there were approximately 2325 (1.7%) euthanasia deaths, there were approximately 100 (0.1%) assisted suicide deaths and approximately 9685 (7.1%) deaths by terminal sedation.

It seems that the decreased incidence of active euthanasia was replaced by the increase in deaths by terminal sedation in the Netherlands.

The other fact in the study is that approximately 550 (0.4%) of deaths resulted from the ending of life without explicit request. These numbers are not part of the euthanasia numbers because they lack the requirement of voluntary request and therefore they are placed in a separate category. This number appears to have remained steady since 2001. The practice of terminal sedation needs to be separated from decisions to sedate patients without the explicit intention of causing death.

In 2005 there were another 1.1% of deaths whereby the patient was sedated without the explicit intention of causing death. [16May07, Alex Schadenberg, LifeNews.com]