Euthanasia for people with dementia paves the way for non-voluntary euthanasia.
The Netherlands is quickly expanding the euthanasia rules The Netherlands government recently announced that they plan to extend euthanasia to children, they are also expanding euthanasia for people with dementia while, at the same time, the Netherlands government is debating euthanasia for healthy people who claim to have lived a “completed life.”
The NL Times reported that the five regional euthanasia review committee’s have agreed to expand euthanasia for people with dementia by loosening the requirements in four areas. The article stated:
The updated Euthanasia Code says that a dementia patient’s statement requesting euthanasia does not have to be legally perfect. The statement, in which the patient describes the circumstances under which they want euthanasia, can sometimes be interpreted in multiple ways. Doctors will now have more room to interpret what the patient meant, for example by consulting family members.
Doctors will also be allowed to give a sedative to advanced dementia patients if they expect the patient will become aggressive or restless because they don’t understand what’s happening. The doctor also does not have to request a verbal confirmation from a patient with advanced dementia before the euthanasia procedure is performed. “Such a conversation is pointless, because such a patient lacks understanding of these topics,” is stated in the code.
And it will be up to the doctor to assess whether a patient is suffering unbearably and hopelessly, the updated code reads. “The RTE should test that medical professional judgment with caution.”
Not only do these new rules deny people with dementia the right to change their mind or consent at the time of death, but since they can be sedated, they will not even be aware that they are being killed.
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The change in the rules for people with dementia is based on the decision by the Netherlands Supreme Court in April 2020, concerning the euthanasia death of an incompetent woman with dementia who resisted at the death.
According to the case, a woman with dementia stated in her advanced directive that she wanted euthanasia but when the doctor came to inject her she resisted. The doctor put drugs in her coffee to sedate her but the woman continued to resist so the doctor had the family hold her down while the doctor injected her.
The Netherlands euthanasia law which came into effect in 2002. In 2017 there were 6585 reported euthanasia (lethal injection) deaths representing almost 4.5% of all deaths.
According to the DutchNL news, the number of assisted deaths for dementia or psychiatric reasons also increased in 2017, with 169 people dying by euthanasia for dementia (3 were advanced dementia) and 83 people dying by euthanasia for psychiatric reasons. The new rules concerning euthanasia for dementia will likely lead to many more deaths.
When the Netherlands legalized euthanasia, they required the person to consent to their death. The Netherlands has now come full circle as they are now willing to kill people who cannot consent, whether they have dementia or are children.