¨ Dutch Penal Code Articles 293 and 294 make both euthanasia and assisted suicide illegal, even today. However, as the result of various court cases, doctors who directly kill patients or help patients kill themselves will not be prosecuted as long as they follow certain guidelines. In addition to the current requirements that physicians report every euthanasia/assisted-suicide death to the local prosecutor and that the patient’s death request must be enduring (carefully considered and requested on more than one occasion), the Rotterdam court in 1981 established the following guidelines:
¨ The patient must be experiencing unbearable pain.
¨ The patient must be conscious.
¨ The death request must be voluntary.
¨ The patient must have been given alternatives to euthanasia and time to consider these alternatives.
¨ There must be no other reasonable solutions to the problem.
¨ The patient’s death cannot inflict unnecessary suffering on others.
¨ There must be more than one person involved in the euthanasia decision.
¨ Only a doctor can euthanize a patient.
¨ Great care must be taken in actually making the death decision
¨ 2,300 people died as the result of doctors killing them upon request (active, voluntary euthanasia)
¨ 400 people died as a result of doctors providing them with the means to kill themselves (physician-assisted suicide).
1,040 people (an average of 3 per day) died from involuntary euthanasia, meaning that doctors actively killed these patients without the patients’ knowledge or consent.
• 14% of these patients were fully competent.
• 72% had never given any indication that they would want their lives terminated.
• In 8% of the cases, doctors performed involuntary euthanasia despite the fact that they believed alternative options were still possible.
In addition, 8,100 patients died as a result of doctors deliberately giving them overdoses of pain medication, not for the primary purpose of controlling pain, but to hasten the patient’s death. (13) In 61% of these cases (4,941 patients), the intentional overdose was given without the patient’s consent.