Alex Schadenberg, International Chair - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
The Dutch News reported today that Professor Theo Boer, a Dutch euthanasia expert, is concerned that the Netherlands Paediatric Association (NVK) is extending euthanasia to children under the age of 12. Boer is concerned that children will be pressured by family members. Boer stated:
Around one in five patients who choose euthanasia in the Netherlands acts under pressure from family members.
Boer based the estimate on his experience as a member of a euthanasia review committee for nine years where he reviewed 4000 euthanasia deaths.
‘Sometimes it’s the family who go to the doctor. Other times it’s the patient saying they don’t want their family to suffer. And you hear anecdotally of families saying: “Mum, there’s always euthanasia”.’
Since one in five patients who die by euthanasia are pressured by family members therefore children who die by euthanasia are also likely to be pressured by family members.
Boer is also concerned by the growth of euthanasia in the Netherlands.
euthanasia and assisted suicide... has trebled from around 1,800 in the early years to 4,829 in 2013.
Although the vast majority of requests still come from terminally ill cancer patients, the parameters have gradually widened to take in growing numbers of people with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and psychiatric illness.
Boer is further concerned that euthanasia, which was considered a 'last resort' is now considered a right. The Dutch news reported
‘The debate has changed. Euthanasia is no longer a last resort. It was originally seen as a law that gave doctors rights rather than patients. But we very frequently hear it discussed in terms of a patient’s right to euthanasia.’
Boer also argues that the reasons for euthanasia has changed