Netherlands legalise euthanasia
- By: Debbie Cohen
The Netherlands is the first country to legalise euthanasia, after a controversial law came into effect in April; the Dutch parliament finally gave its approval to the bill in April 2001.
Terminally ill patients are able to request euthanasia, and doctors carrying out the mercy killings are not prosecuted, provided they have adhered to strict rules. Doctors who disregard the rules will risk a possible murder conviction: assisted suicide and euthanasia outside of the criteria are still criminal offences.
A patient must have an incurable illness, have no prospect of recovery, and be in unbearable pain. The request to die must be voluntary, well considered, and both the doctor and patient must be sure no reasonable alternatives exist. An independent doctor must give written approval after spending time with the patient, and the termination must be done in a medically appropriate way.
The new law also establishes regional review committees,