AMSTERDAM, Mar 16, 2001 ( – The bill to legalize euthanasia which was expected to fly through the Dutch Senate may be upset after a Dutch physician was charged with murder for administering drugs which killed a woman without her request to die. Dr. Wilfred van Oijen, a general practitioner was found guilty of killing an 84-year-old sick and comatose woman in February 1997 after her daughters asked him to finish her off, ostensibly to end her suffering.

The woman stopped breathing shortly after Van Oijen gave her a muscle-relaxing drug commonly used in euthanasia. The doctor was charged with murder, not so much for the act, as for not following the required procedure for allowable euthanasia in the Netherlands, which entails consent of the patient, and consultation with the patient and with a second doctor.

Despite the involuntary nature of the killing, the Dutch Voluntary Euthanasia Society (DVES) supported the doctor. “The doctor was confronted with a patient who was dying at that moment. What he did was to make that dying more humane… It’s a very thin line and very subtle difference, but there is a difference,” said Rob Jonquiere, managing director of DVES. Jonquiere did admit, though, that the timing of the guilty verdict would hurt the cause in the Senate. “I’m sure the Van Oijen case will raise questions around the debate. In that way, it couldn’t have come at a worse time.”

For more see the Reuters coverage at: