Poverty. Loneliness. According to new regulations in the Netherlands, both conditions could now make it possible for those who are experiencing “unbearable, lasting suffering” of a type that doesn’t involve a mortal disease to request euthanasia from a physician.
Via Radio Netherlands Worldwide, “Until now, factors such as income or a patient’s social life played almost no role when physicians were considering a euthanasia request. However, the new guidelines will certainly change that. After almost a year of discussions, the KNMG has published a paper which says a combination of social factors and diseases and ailments that are not terminal may also qualify as unbearable and lasting suffering under the Euthanasia Act.”
Those other social factors? Vulnerability, the accumulation of advanced age or health conditions that on their own wouldn’t necessarily lead to death, but reduces quality of life to a point where suffering then becomes “unbearable and lasting.”
Some fear that this new definition being considered could lead to a slippery slope of making euthanasia too easy to obtain, despite the fact that one parameter being set is that a second specialist must be brought in for an independent consultation as well. But others argue that if suicide is already an option, isn’t euthanasia simply a kinder, gentler way of ending a life, and a choice each person should make for him or herself?
In 2010, there were 3136 cases of registered euthanasia, out of a population of 17 million.
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