UTRECHT, January 11, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Royal Dutch Medical Association has concluded, after a three-year investigation, that Dutch doctors ought to be able to kill patients who are not ill but who are judged to be “suffering through living.”

The decision contradicts the Dutch Supreme Court that ruled in 2002 that patients may only request euthanasia if they have a “classifiable physical or mental condition,” and not if they are merely “tired of life.” The law however, does not require a medical condition, but only that a patient must be “suffering hopelessly and unbearably.” Pro-life activists have warned that such ambiguous language is an open door for new interpretations that would make the law a license to kill. 

The new report says many Dutch doctors believe some cases of “suffering through living” could be judged “unbearable and hopeless.”

Jos Dijkhuis, the emeritus professor of clinical psychology who led the study said, “In more than half of cases we considered, doctors were not confronted with a classifiable disease. In practice the medical domain of doctors is far broader … We see a doctor’s task is to reduce suffering, therefore we can’t exclude these cases in advance. We must now look further to see if we can draw a line and if so where.”

Mira de Vries, of the Association for Medical and Therapeutic Self-Determination, a pro-suicide group, pointed out that the law exists only to protect doctors from prosecution for homicide. She commented on the British Medical Journal’s forum page, “By claiming that the medical domain of doctors is far broader, and includes the reduction of suffering unrelated to classifiable and measurable somatic illness, physicians are proposing to redefine medicine, and vastly expand its already inflated territory.”

Henk Jochemsen, director of the anti-euthanasia Lindeboom Institute for Medical Ethics, said the report gave the message that, “we as a society should say to people who feel their life has lost meaning: right you had better go away.” 

See here for British Medical Journal coverage.