It was 6,938 in 2020. A few days ago, however, the Regional Euthanasia Review committees (RTE), which every year in the Netherlands analyze data and numbers of deaths due to euthanasia and verify whether the “strict criteria” envisaged by the Dutch law have been adhered to in order for a person to decide to die, have counted 7,666 in 2021. Nearly 8,000 people died “of euthanasia” in the Netherlands last year, an increase of 10.5%.
If you want to continue with statistics and percentages, this is 4.5% of the deaths that occurred in the country during the year.
In seven of these cases, in particular, the RTE committees determined that the deaths did not occur in full compliance with the six basic requirements that Dutch law requires to ensure that “death by choice” is given in accordance with the regulations in force: that the choice of euthanasia is “voluntary and carefully considered”, that the suffering of the person resorting to it is “hopeless and unbearable”, that the person has been precisely informed by the doctor of his situation and prospects for the future, that there is no other “reasonable solution”, that an independent doctor has provided his advice with respect to the choice undertaken, that from the medical point of view the whole procedure takes place in a “correct” way.
Among the reasons, in addition to the disabling disease in the terminal stage, is dementia: more than 200 people with dementia were killed in 2021 in the Netherlands, in addition to a hundred patients with psychiatric diseases. Just last year, in fact, a Supreme Court ruling made a change to the code of ethics and procedure for physicians who care for patients with dementia. “Specifically,” the RTE committees ruled in agreement with the justices, “physicians can best judge whether a patient with advanced dementia is ‘suffering unbearably,’ which is one of the six legal requirements for euthanasia. If the person had previously made a written request for euthanasia in case of dementia while he was still sane, doctors are not required to confirm it.”
If the general practitioner does not feel up to the assisted dying procedure, the Expertisecentrum Euthanasie, for example, steps in and takes care of every aspect of the matter in a “careful and considerate manner”.
As early as last year, Jeroen Recourt, the chair of the RTE committees, said he was not surprised by this growth. “These figures are part of a larger development,” he argued. “More and more generations are seeing euthanasia as a solution.” Yes, unfortunately it is so.