Chapter XX: Dutch Government-Ordered Surveys of Euthanasia
Fenigsen, Richard, Fenigsen, Ryszard, Issues in Law & Medicine
In 1990, the government-appointed committee on euthanasia, chaired by professor J. Remmelink, commissioned the Institute for Social Health Care of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam to conduct a nationwide survey. While the project was discussed in the parliament, a Liberal representative, Mr. Jacob Kohnstamm, introduced a motion that would restrict the investigation to euthanasia on the patient's explicit request. On June 14, 1990, the Second Chamber of the Parliament rejected this motion, and approved the committee's plan, strongly supported by the Minister of Justice, professor Ernst Hirsch-Ballin, to investigate both euthanasia upon patient's request and the various forms of termination of life without the patient's request. Immunity from prosecution and total anonymity were granted to all doctors participating in the study.
Three studies were conducted. In the retrospective study, more than four hundred physicians were interviewed about their opinions on, and their practice of euthanasia. Then, during a six month period, the same physicians were asked to record and report their actions in cases with a fatal outcome (the prospective study). In the third part of the survey, a representative sample of death certificates was taken from the register at the Central Statistical Office, and the physicians who had been involved in the care of the deceased were asked to provide information. National estimates were obtained by weighed extrapolation of the findings.
When the committee released their report, (199) it immediately became clear that it contained the most valuable, extensive, and reliable information on euthanasia in the Netherlands to date. The data on active euthanasia are shown in Table 1.
The total of 11,800 persons who died of active euthanasia in 1990 is nine percent of all deaths in the country. As estimated by attending physicians, most patients who underwent active euthanasia would soon die anyway; however, in about one-third of the cases euthanasia shortened the patients' lives by one to six months, or even by more than six months. (200)
The great majority (80%) of patients who underwent active euthanasia upon their request suffered from various forms of cancer. In cases of involuntary euthanasia the percentage of cancer patients …
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Publication information: Article title: Chapter XX: Dutch Government-Ordered Surveys of Euthanasia. Contributors: Fenigsen, Richard - Author, Fenigsen, Ryszard - Author. Journal title: Issues in Law & Medicine. Volume: 28. Issue: 2 Publication date: Fall 2012. Page number: 237+. © 1999 National Legal Center for the Medically Dependent & Disabled, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2012 Gale Group.
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