Is euthanasia a treatment?
Abigail Frank reflects on a conference on palliative care
“Euthanasia is not my preferred method of treatment,” said a senior lecturer at a conference on palliative care last summer in Groningen. This sentence conveys how differently medical practitioners in the Netherlands perceive euthanasia. Despite being aware of the legal status of euthanasia in the Netherlands, I had not realised the extent to which it is considered a therapeutic option. Throughout the conference, euthanasia was repeatedly mentioned as a treatment. I initially assumed that this was to spark debate on the ethics of palliative care. However, it became evident that the meeting accepted euthanasia as standard medical practice, even though this contradicts the position of the World Medical Association, which has a “strong belief that euthanasia is in conflict with basic ethical principles of medical practice.”1
It was intriguing to find that our Dutch counterparts have never been in a medical system where prematurely terminating a patient's life is illegal,