Dutch Doctor cleared of charge after euthanizing patient with dementia without consent

 

In 2016, a Dutch physician euthanized a patient with dementia in spite of the 74 year old female patient physically resisting the lethal injection.

The elderly woman was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease four years prior to her death. She had stipulated in an advance directive that she wished to die by euthanasia at a time of her choosing. 

The patient did not give her consent to euthanasia on that fateful day. She was not asked if she wanted to die. The doctor first put a sedative in the patient’s coffee without the patient’s knowledge. When the doctor proceeded with the lethal injection, the patient began fighting off the doctor. The daughter and son in law of the elderly woman restrained her so the doctor could complete the injection.

The family agreed with the doctor’s decision. Obviously, this was not autonomy or choice. Force was used to enable the physician to euthanize the patient.

The physician was charged and the case went to a district court in the Hague. In her decision, Judge Mariette Renckens said according to The Guardian: “We believe that given the deeply demented condition of the patient, the doctor did not need to verify her wish for euthanasia.”

The prosecution’s case rested on the fact that the doctor had not sought the patient’s consent, a necessary step to ensure that the patient is requesting and wants to die by euthanasia. The prosecution contended that absence of consent was a violation of the Netherlands euthanasia law.

The court’s decision means that if a patient loses capacity, the advance directive is what matters. A patient may be happy in his condition and no longer expressing a desire for euthanasia but power is now transferred to doctor and family who decide that death is in the patient’s best interest. As we ‘ve always said safeguards do not protect patients from involuntary euthanasia.

Bioedge related: “In a detailed study of the case in the Journal of Medical Ethics, it was reported that “She regularly told her caregivers that she wanted to die. But when she was asked whether she wanted to die, several times she answered, ‘But not just now, it’s not so bad yet.”

Euthanasia was committed on the 74 year old woman seven weeks after she was moved to a nursing home.

The female physician has since retired.

Wesley J. Smith wrote in the National Review about the case commenting:

“There was never any chance the doctor would lose her license or do any jail time for the homicide, and indeed, the Dutch prosecutor said as much publicly. You see, the point in cases such as this in the Netherlands is not to punish wrongdoing, but rather, to set precedents for death doctors to follow going forward. Indeed, this is why supposedly restrictive guidelines don’t restrict much of anything. It’s all a big fat fraud.

Once a society accepts the culturally cancerous premise that suffering justifies killing, the issue of actual consent becomes increasingly less important. Indeed, once one is consigned to the killable caste, there are almost no protections at all — as the court’s approval of the homicide by doctor of an incompetent woman struggling against being put down clearly demonstrates.

Those with eyes to see, let them see.”

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