Netherlands Under Scrutiny For Euthanasia Cases

( – In recent years, researchers have discovered that a number of individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities in the Netherlands have been legally euthanized due to their belief that they cannot lead ordinary lives.

These cases involved five people who had not even reached age 30 yet, who cited autism as either the sole reason or a significant contributing factor for seeking euthanasia. This development has raised concerns among experts who believe it pushes the boundaries of what the law initially intended.

In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country to permit doctors to fulfill patients’ requests for euthanasia, provided certain strict criteria were met. These criteria included having an illness that can’t be cured that causes “unbearable” physical or mental suffering.

According to the new committee in charge of reviewing Dutch Euthanasia cases, nearly 59,000 people were euthanized at their own request between 2012 and 2021. To shed light on the application and interpretation of the regulations, the committee has made public documents related to over 900 of these cases. Most of the individuals involved were older and had conditions such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS.

Concerns about potential abuses of legal euthanasia to evade addressing health, economic, and social issues have also been put forward by Canadian disability groups. In 2021, the requirement that death be relatively close to the person’s life expectancy was removed, further exacerbating these concerns.

As with the Netherlands, euthanasia, or “assisted suicide,” is an extremely controversial subject in Canada as well. It has been subject to much scrutiny all over the internet, and even some politicians have talked about its controversies. Two “first world” countries allowing assisted suicide are interesting because usually, the quality of life in such countries is relatively high.

The practice of legalized euthanasia is also provoking controversy for the apparent decline in safeguarding standards and the broadening of the types of conditions that make a person eligible. Common mental health issues, such as anxiety, are listed as reasons as to why someone can legally euthanize themselves.

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