AMSTERDAM, May 31, 2004 ( – A pain control expert at the Netherlands Nijmegen University, is surveying the opinions of 1500 doctors in Holland who are finding that sedation is the preferable method of dealing with intractable pain. Terminal sedation, the inducing of a permanent state of unconsciousness, is a viable means of dealing with severe pain and is managable in palliatve care situations. “Most doctors no longer see euthanasia as a medical necessity for fighting unbearable suffering and that the solution of terminal sedation is suitable for that,” Dr. Bernardus Cruls said in an interview with the Dutch Evangelical Broadcasting Network.

However, euthanasia opponents warn that “terminal sedation” can include the witholding of food and water and is merely euthanasia by another name and that because of this re-definition, euthanasia statistics in Holland are not declining as reported. Euthanasia Prevention Coalition executive director Alex Schadenberg, who recently attended the International Congress on Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State in Rome, reported that, in 2002, 3.9% of all deaths in the Netherlands or 5460 deaths were caused by the intentional removal of food and fluids from permanently sedated patients. Said Schadenberg, “in fact the numbers are rising from the numbers who are dehydrated to death, but simply not reported as euthanasia.” The congress was the occasion on which Pope John Paul II defined the withholding of food and water as the “morally unacceptable deliberate killing of a human person.”  Holland legalized euthanasia in 2001 and the incidence of in-voluntary euthanasia by doctors acting “in the best interests” of patients has risen dramatically. A survey published in the Journal of Medical Ethics examined the figures for 1995, six years before the practice was legalized, and found that in addition to the 3,600 authorized cases there were 900 others in which doctors had acted without explicit consent.

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