The Dutch law allowing euthanasia under certain sharply defined circumstances often raises eyebrows abroad. And it gives rise to countless unfounded allegations.
The criticism is often made in foreign media that euthanasia is too easy in the Netherlands. The elderly are said to fear for their lives in Dutch hospitals. A Dutch clinic where people tired of living can have their lives terminated is apparently going to open its doors soon. These of course are bogus reports, but what exactly is the real state of play?
Myth 1: Euthanasia is really easy is in the Netherlands (as claimed by Lifenews)
In April it will be a decade since the Dutch law allowing doctors to perform euthanasia was passed. A patient is required to ask for the procedure specifically and be the victim of unbearable suffering – having an incurable disease, for example – or of hopeless psychological problems. All cases of euthanasia have to be registered with special review committees.
Performing euthanasia and assisting suicide are in principle illegal, with a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison. The procedure is only allowed if the doctor has fulfilled the legal requirements.
Myth 2: Elderly Dutch people prefer to go to hospitals abroad for fear of being murdered by doctors in hospitals in the Netherlands
Dutch hospitals are not allowed to end people’s lives. Dutch people do sometimes go abroad for treatment but this is to avoid being put on a waiting list and get certain operations or treatments more quickly.