The Dutch euthanasia law does not require physicians to euthanize their patients, but the KNMG is urging doctors to always refer their patients to death. This new position may be in response to a recent poll by a Dutch TV program that showed that approximately 1/3 Dutch physicians were refusing to do euthanasia, 75% stated they were unwilling to euthanize a patient who were not suffering but feared that they may suffer in the future and 80% were unwilling to prescribe a lethal dose or lethally inject a patient who was not dying or suffering but "tired of living."
Radio Netherlands explains that the new KNMG report urges doctors to euthanize their patients who are not terminally ill or necessarily suffering but who experience multiple fragile health conditions that is making life difficult. The Radio Netherlands article states:
At the moment, there are approximately one million elderly people in the Netherlands with multi-morbidity (two or more long-term diseases or ailments) and that number is expected to rise to 1.5 million in the course of the coming decade. ...In other words, the KNMG is stating that dutch physicians can euthanize a person who is not dying but experiencing conditions that may lead to unbearable and lasting suffering. The dutch physicians are also stating that euthanasia is necessary to reduce the costs associated with the aging population.
As people age, many suffer from a complex array of gradually worsening problems, which can include poor eyesight, deafness, fatigue, difficulty in walking and incontinence as well as loss of dignity, status, financial resources, an ever-shrinking social network and loss of social skills. Although this accumulation of ailments and diseases is not life-threatening as such, it does have a negative impact on the quality of life and make the elderly vulnerable or fragile. Vulnerability also affects the ability to recover from illnesses and can lead to unbearable and lasting suffering.
The new KNMG guidelines state that euthanasia for loneliness, depression, disability and dementia is also acceptable. The Radio Netherlands report stated:
The KNMG now says that, if non-medical factors such as income or loneliness are to be taken into consideration, other specialists must be consulted when a patient has requested euthanasia. In an interview broadcast on Dutch television, KNMG chair Arie Nieuwenhuijzen Kruseman said weighing up non-medical factors was far from simple:Clearly the expansion of euthanasia and assisted suicide has been constant and deliberate. The decriminalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide in the Netherlands began with the requirement that a person be terminally ill and suffering uncontrolled pain.
"It's quite possible that the same constellation of factors would be experienced as unbearable and lasting suffering by one patient but quite tolerable by another. This makes it extremely difficult."
The physicians association says further investigation into non-medical factors is needed and Dr Nieuwenhuijzen Kruseman adds that euthanasia should be allowed even when a patient is not suffering from a terminal disease:
"It doesn't always have to be a physical ailment, it could be the onset of dementia or chronic psychological problems, it's still unbearable and lasting suffering. It doesn't always have to be a terminal disease."
Now the Dutch physicians association (KNMG)accepts physicians lethally injecting or writing lethal doses for patients who are living with dementia, chronic conditions, multiple disabilities, mental pain and even "tired of living".
It appears that the KNMG has been lobbied by the euthanasia lobby who have been pressuring the dutch government to allow euthanasia for people who are over the age of 70 and "tired of living." The KNMG appears to be caving-in to the political pressure by the Dutch euthanasia lobby.
What has happened in the Netherlands can and will occur in other jurisdictions, if they legalize euthanasia and/or assisted suicide.
Recently, I have commented on the research that was written by Margaret Battin, a long-time euthanasia advocate, that was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics in 2007, who stated that their is no proof that a "slippery slope" has occured in the Netherlands since they legalized euthanasia in 2002. Battin's false research paper is upheld by the suicide lobby as proof that there is no fear of a "slippery slope" when euthanasia is legalized. The new euthanasia position paper from the Dutch Physicians Association confirms my conclusion about the Battin research paper.