The Netherlands, an outsider's view.

The Netherlands, an outsider's view.

HEALTH

Majority of Dutch favor euthanasia legalization

A heavy majority of Dutch investigated by the Centraal Bureau for Statistics (CBS) support the legalization of euthanasia in some cases. CBS reports 87% of those polled support some form of euthanasia; 8% opposed euthanasia in all cases, and 5% did not express an opinion.

80% of those polled said euthanasia should be an option for those with advanced dementia – provided they requested it while lucid. 75% favored the option of euthanasia for those with serious mental illness and for terminally ill children.

A slight majority – 55% of adults – said euthanasia should be an option for otherwise healthy people who are “tired of life”, while 32% opposed legalizing euthanasia for this population.

CBS reports that religion “plays a clear role” in the choice to support or oppose euthanasia as 98% of non-religious people approved of some form of the treatment. The support for euthanasia is lower among the religious – especially Muslims, whom CBS characterizes as “relatively often against euthanasia, more than 4 in 10 believe that euthanasia is in no way permitted.”

The poll also included a more divisive section surveying the role of the doctor in the decision to euthanize, asking, “If a patient meets the conditions of euthanasia, do you think that a doctor can still refuse a request for euthanasia?” 4 out of 10 responded “yes” to this question while an almost equally large group said a doctor should not be able to refuse to euthanize a qualifying patient. Nearly 8 of 10 people said that if a doctor refuses to euthanize a patient who meets the conditions, then the doctor should refer the patient to another doctor.

The Netherlands became the first country to legalize euthanasia for some patients in 2002. Currently, seriously ill people older than 12 can request euthanasia if they meet the 6 due care requirements of the euthanasia law. CBS reports 6,126 cases of euthanasia in the year 2018, adding “That is 4% of the number of people who died in the Netherlands that year.”