News from Europe

Record number of people died by assisted suicide in the Netherlands in 2020

A record number of people were "euthanised "in the Netherlands last year. Some who died suffered from psychiatric issues, according to Dutch News NL. Both the Netherlands and neighboring Belgium are known for their liberal euthanasia laws that have expanded the scope beyond patients suffering from a terminal disease.


Each year, the RTE Regional Euthanasia Review Committees analyze all deaths by euthanasia to check whether they met the six criteria dictated by the law for euthanasia or doctor-assisted suicide. In total, 6,938 patients died in this manner in the Netherlands last year. The RTE determined that two cases didn’t meet the six requirements.

These requirements stipulate, in part, that the patient’s request must be voluntary, their condition is so severe that their body cannot heal, and they are suffering “unnecessarily and this cannot be reduced.” The doctor is also required to “perform the euthanasia (or assisted suicide) in a medically careful manner, for example with the right medicines and in the right steps.”

The increasing number of deaths by doctor-assisted suicide in 2020 comes on the heels of proposed plans announced in October in the Netherlands to expand the euthanasia law to allow children ages one to twelve to be euthanised under certain circumstances. The practice was already permitted for youth ages twelve and older and possible for infants during their first year of life.

In 2004, Dutch medical directives stipulated that doctors would be allowed to perform “active ending of life on infants” without fear of legal repercussions — called the Groningen Protocol — provided they have a serious disability or a terminal illness. 


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