Commentary by Alex Schadenberg, Chairman, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

June 16, 2010 ( – The Netherlands’ 2009 euthanasia statistics were reported today in the Dutch media. The number of euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands has been significantly increasing on a yearly basis. The most recent report suggests that there were 2636 reported euthanasia deaths, a 13% increase over the 2008 statistics.

It should be noted that media reports about euthanasia in the Netherlands do not include all categories of direct and intentional reported deaths. The Netherlands has separate categories for assisted suicide and deaths without explicit request or consent.

The most recent full report concerning euthanasia in the Netherlands (2005) stated that there were approximately 400 assisted suicide deaths and 550 deaths without explicit request or consent.

Therefore a more accurate number of reported deaths would be 2636 reported euthanasia deaths, plus 400 reported assisted suicide deaths, plus 550 deaths without explicit request or consent.

The number of reported euthanasia deaths has grown significantly. In 2008 there were 2331 reported deaths, in 2007 there were 2120 reported deaths, in 2006 there were 1923 reported deaths, and in 2003 there were 1815 reported deaths.

The number of deaths by euthanasia continues to escalate. Consider the fact that the 2005 official study of euthanasia in the Netherlands indicated that 7.1% of all deaths were by sedation and dehydration. These are often euthanasia deaths because the death is direct and intentional and the method of death is dehydration. A 2007 report suggested that up to 10% of all deaths in the Netherlands were by sedation and dehydration.

There is a clear ethical difference between intentionally withholding fluids from a person who is near death and dies a natural death, and a person who was not otherwise dying and dies by intentional dehydration.

The yearly reports from the media also exclude the number of infant eugenic euthanasia deaths, killed via the Groningen Protocol. (See an article concerning the number of euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands here.)

Meanwhile, a study by Anthropologist Anne Marie The suggests that many of the reported cases of euthanasia were not voluntarily requested by the person who died. Anne Marie The interviewed physicians who participated in euthanasia and asked them about specific circumstances. She found that often the decision to go ahead with euthanasia was made by the physician.

Anne Marie The stated to the NRC Handlesblad: “There is the euthanasia law and then there is the euthanasia reality. To think that we have neatly arranged everything by adopting the euthanasia law is an illusion. Reality is more complicated than that: every patient, every situation and every doctor is different.”

Leaders of the Dutch euthanasia lobby, including Eugene Sutorius, the former leader of the NVVE, are now urging parliament to legalize euthanasia for people who are 70 years old and “tired of living.” This concept is ridiculous if you consider the reality of elder abuse in the Western culture.

An article in the Dutch news stated that: “The 2008 increase led the health ministry to set up an investigation into the increase. That investigation is due to start this month.”

The reality is that euthanasia is out of control in the Netherlands.

At the same time, momentum is shifting against the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide in other parts of the world. In January, the New Hampshire legislature voted 242 to 113 to defeat a bill to legalize assisted suicide. In April, a bill to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide was defeated in Canada by 228 to 59. Most recently, the Connecticut court rejected a legal challenge by Compassion & Choices to strike down the State assisted suicide law.