Assisted Suicide "Consultant" in the Netherlands Jailed for a Year

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 11, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Assisted Suicide "Consultant" in the Netherlands Jailed for a Year Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 11, 2005

Amsterdam, Netherlands ( — In a rare prosecution of someone who aided a patient in killing herself, a Dutch court has sentenced a man who says he is a "suicide consultant" to one year in prison for helping a woman die.

Jan Hilarius is the 73 year-old founder of De Einder, (Dutch for Horizon) a Netherlands-based group that promotes assisted suicide. She was found guilty of showing a 25 year-old woman in 2003 how to obtain the drugs necessary to end her life.

According to a Reuters report, a court in the northern town of Alkmaar said Hilarius assisted the woman in finding deadly doses and combinations of drugs. The euthanasia advocate communicated with the woman online, but the court said the penalty would have been the same as assisting her in person.

"On the basis of his experience as a social worker, J.H. should have known that he could not diagnose whether the woman was suffering unbearably," the court said. "J.H. professes to respect the boundaries of the law but crossed them by providing assistance in suicide to people who possibly were really looking for medical help."

The court also worried about the woman not being sure she wanted to die.

"Everything has now come very rapidly, there is no way back anymore," she wrote shortly after getting the drugs.

Hilarius, who has worked with the euthanasia group since September 2004, has not decided whether to appeal the conviction.

The Netherlands was the first country to allow euthanasia, but doctors have to follow certain protocols beforehand.

According to Reuters, Hilarius established De Einder in 1995 to offer so-called "professional help" for patients who want to kill themselves. The group’s web site says it does not offer the drugs to patients will point them to them.

The group says it has directed 350 people to assisted suicide drugs and claims 35 of the patients have ended their lives thanks to the directions.

Another of the group’s "consultants" was sentenced to six months in jail in 2003 for helping a woman commit suicide.