The Evolution of Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide Essay

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The Evolution of Euthanasia

This essay will investigate the evolution of the practice of euthanasia in the one country that has promoted it steadfastly for some years. The surprising result of my studies for this essay is the revelation that the Netherlands' practice of euthanasia has become so liberalized that it is no longer recognizable as the same program that was originally legislated.

Euthanasia in the Netherlands has gone from requiring terminal illness to no physical illness at all, from physical suffering to depression only, from conscious patients to unconscious, from those who can consent to those who cannot, and from being a measure of last resort to one of early intervention. Although respect for patient
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The guidelines when carrying out euthanasia were formally published by both the government and the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) in 1984 and in 1987. [3] They required that the request be voluntary, well-considered and durable, that there be unacceptable suffering and that a second doctor be consulted. For many years, all these provisions have been known to be often abused. For example, regarding a well-considered request, a study by van der Wal in 1990 [4] showed that the interval between the first request and euthanasia was no more than a day in 13% of cases, no more than a week in another 35% and had been as short as a few hours.

Since 1984, the courts have created increasingly liberal grounds for exempting doctors from prosecution after euthanasia, accepting psychological distress as a reason and no longer requiring terminal illness. To justify what was admittedly an offence, the courts decided that it was lawful for a doctor, faced with the alternative of leaving the patient in pain or giving relief by killing, to take the 'compassionate' option, by taking life. The doctor is said to be acting under a higher duty or 'force majeure'.

Many unsatisfactory court determinations followed. In 1985, a doctor was

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