Dutch Supreme Court Rules Doctors Can Euthanize Advanced Dementia Patients

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The Dutch Supreme Court in a new legal directive has ruled that doctors in the Netherlands can legally euthanize patients suffering from dementia with no “reasonable alternative” to ending their lives. 

According to MRCTV, this new legal directive ruled on last Tuesday by the Dutch Supreme Court, “allows doctors to end the life of a patient who provided written consent for the procedure before their condition made such consent impossible.” The rule requires that patients must be going through “unbearable suffering without any prospect of improvement.”  

MRCTV reports:

The case was spurred by the account of a doctor who in 2016 euthanized a 74-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The woman had written out her wishes for assisted suicide prior to entering a nursing home, where her condition deteriorated. However, prosecutors alleged that the woman began sending “mixed signals” about her end-of-life decisions after she entered the facility.

According to the MRCTV report, prosecutors alleged that “As long as the woman was able to communicate, the nursing home doctor should have kept talking to her about her desire to live or to die.”

However, the court ruled in favor of the doctor, saying that a conversation over consent with the patient would have “been useless” because the patient “was no longer able to have a coherent conversation.”

The court’s ruling ultimately cleared the doctor of all charges and paved the way for future doctors to euthanize their patients as long as “all requirements for consent and suffering are met, even if a patient is no longer able to consent to the procedure due to their illness,” MRCTV reports.

“Even if it is clear that the request is intended for the situation of advanced dementia, and that situation is reached so that the patient is no longer is able to form and express a will, there can be circumstances where no follow-up on the request is possible,” the court’s ruling said.

It’s just “advanced dementia” patients for now but what vulnerable class of sick people will be next? 

Where humanism is concerned, only the bottom line matters. Eventually, it will just be a matter of burden versus benefit and that is a scary place for any society to find itself. 

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