16 September 2011

Euthanasia for Loneliness

The Dutch Physicians Association (AKNMG) has released a position paper proposing that doctors opposed to euthanizing patients be required to refer them to a doctor who will euthanize them. The paper also broadens the scope of qualifying patients to those who suffer from loneliness and vulnerability:
AKNMG chair Arie Nieuwenhuijzen Kruseman said weighing up non-medical factors was far from simple:

"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."
Of course, the target group is the elderly. It is said the position paper is a response to a recent Dutch poll showing that a third of Dutch physicians refuse to practice euthanasia, 3/4 refuse to euthanize a patient who merely feared future suffering, and 80% will not lethally inject a patient who is simply "tired of living."