So what has happened in the Netherlands, pioneer of legal euthanasia? A June 5, 2004, article in the British Medical Journal reported on worries expressed by the Dutch health minister, Clemence Ross, that doctors are not fulfilling their legal obligations to report cases of euthanasia. Her appeal, noted the article, comes after figures for 2003 showed a fall in the number of reported cases of euthanasia for the fourth consecutive year, to 1,815. Changes in the law on reporting euthanasia took effect in 2002 after a study showed that only 54% of the cases in the previous year had been reported. Ross has asked for another study next year.
Another controversy arose in June 2004 when news broke that three people with Huntington's disease and another one with Alzheimer's died through euthanasia. Dutch law prohibits recourse to euthanasia in such cases, restricting its application to situations where patients are suffering from unsupportable physical pain (El Pais, June 7). The law specifies prison terms of up to 12 years for violations of the law governing euthanasia. But Dutch legal authorities have decided not to prosecute the doctors involved in these cases. According to El Pais, none of the Huntington's sufferers were in the final stages of their illness and the Alzheimer's patient was still in the initial phase of the condition (Zenit, July 3, 2004).
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|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||May 1, 2005|
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