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Netherlands report indicates that euthanasia deaths increasing out-of-control

by | Sep 24, 2013

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director and International Chair Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

WedonteliminateThe Netherlands have reported that the number of reported euthanasia deaths increased by 13% to 4,188 in 2012, more than 3% of all deaths. The report stated that 42 people with dementia and 13 people with psychiatric conditions died by euthanasia in the Netherlands in 2012.

The number of euthanasia deaths for people with dementia will likely increase since the Dutch Medical Association provided more clarity for doctors concerning the euthanasia of people with dementia.

These statistics should affect the debates in Quebec and France which are considering the legalization of euthanasia.

As bad as these statistics are, they only tell part of the story.

On July 11, 2012, The Lancet published a meta-analysis study concerning euthanasia and end-of-life practices in the Netherlands in 2010, including a comparison to the previous meta-analysis studies that were done in 2005, 2001, 1995, and 1990.

The Lancet study indicated that in 2010 there were 3,859 euthanasia deaths and that 23% of all euthanasia deaths went unreported in the Netherlands.

Since 20%-23% of all euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands are not reported, we can estimate that the actual number of euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands was likely between 5,025 and 5,151.

Assisted suicide deaths are separate section in the official Netherlands statistics. Since there were 192 assisted suicide deaths in the Netherlands in 2010 and since the number of euthanasia deaths have increased by 18% in 2011 and 13% in 2012, it is likely that there were 226 assisted suicide deaths in 2011 and 255 in 2012.

Therefore the total number of assisted deaths in the Netherlands in 2012 was likely between 5,280 and 5,406.

The report indicated that health inspectors investigated 10 cases where the legal requirements for euthanasia were not been met. Two of those cases involved people with dementia.

It is important to recognize that the number of reported euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands increased by 13% in 2012, 18% in 2011, 19% in 2010 and 13% in 2009.

There were 1,923 reported euthanasia deaths in 2006.

There were 2,120 reported euthanasia deaths in 2007.

There were 2,331 reported euthanasia deaths in 2008.

There were 2,636 reported euthanasia deaths in 2009.

There were 3,136 reported euthanasia deaths in 2010.

There were 3,695 reported euthanasia deaths in 2011.

There were 4,188 reported euthanasia deaths in 2012.

The report does not indicate the number of children with disabilities who died by euthanasia under the Groningen Protocol in the Netherlands.

The rate of deep-continuous sedation has also risen significantly in the Netherlands.

The 2001 euthanasia report indicates that 5.6% of all deaths in the Netherlands were related to deep-continuous sedation. The 2005 euthanasia report indicates that 8.2% of all deaths in the Netherlands were related to deep-continuous sedation. The 2010 euthanasia report indicates that 12.3% of all deaths are related to deep-continuous sedation.

If we go back to 2001, the rate of deep-continuous sedation has more than doubled in the Netherlands.

There is a growing concern about the abuse of the terminal sedation guidelines in the Netherlands. How often are deaths by deep-continuous sedation actually euthanasia?

Combined with the growth in the use of terminal sedation for people who are not otherwise dying (slow euthanasia) and the number of unreported euthanasia deaths, one must conclude that the practice of euthanasia continues to be out-of-control in the Netherlands.

The report stated that:

“Researchers have been unable to determine why the number of cases is rising, but say they suspect it is due to greater acceptance of euthanasia by both patients and doctors.”

On March 1, 2012, the NVVE (the euthanasia) lobby in the Netherlands launched six mobile euthanasia teams. The NVVE, announced that they anticipate that the mobile euthanasia teams would carry-out 1,000 euthanasia deaths per year.

The mobile euthanasia team fill “unmet demand” for euthanasia for people with chronic depression (mental pain), people with disabilities, people with dementia and loneliness, and for those whose request for euthanasia is declined by their physician. In the past, 13% of euthanasia requests in the Netherlands were declined. It appears likely that fewer requests for euthanasia are being declined.

The “safeguards” that are devised to control euthanasia actually protect physicians and do not protect the people who die by euthanasia.

The only way to uncover euthanasia deaths without request and the abuses of the law, is by investigating the unreported euthanasia deaths.

Categories: Euthanasia