The Netherlands is caught up in its own controversy over a proposal from the Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) to expand the definition of who may qualify for assisted suicide — including for the first time such nonmedical factors as loneliness and financial struggles.
“Many older people have various afflictions that are not actually life-threatening but do make them vulnerable,” wrote the KNMG in a ten-year study report published in October.
“Vulnerability stems not only from health problems and the ensuing limitations, but also the measure in which people have social skills, financial resources and a social network. Vulnerability has an impact on quality of life and on prospects for recovery, and can lead to unbearable and lasting suffering.”
Prior to publishing the study results, the KNMG polled its members online. More than 68 percent agreed with the statement that doctors should be “permitted to factor in vulnerability, loss of function, confinement to bed, loneliness, humiliation and loss of dignity” when determining whether a patient is a good candidate for euthanasia.
Only 45 percent agreed that “a medically classifiable condition is a prerequisite for performing euthanasia or assisted suicide.”
Dutch doctors end the lives of around 800 people each year without the patient’s permission, he contended
Last year 2,700 people chose to die by injection, up from 2,636 in 2009.