It is four years since the Netherlands introduced its new euthanasia law making it one of the first places to properly regulate mercy killing.

Now, however, the unforeseen consequences of too much regulation are becoming more obvious.
Today we have the case of an 80-year-old woman in a care home in Almelo. She had been seriously ill for some time and asked for her life to be ended. But the doctor said she was not in ‘unbearable pain’ and refused her request.
She died a few days later and now her son and five others have been arrested on suspicion of helping her.
The law is so hedged with safety measures and checks that it has become a nonsense. In another recent case, the family of a dying man asked for his struggle to be ended and was told he would be dead anyway before the required second doctor’s signature could be arranged.
It is not surprising that the number of official cases of euthanasia is going down. It was all so much easier before euthanasia became legal. In the UK, where helping someone to die is still a criminal offence, it is now easier to arrange than here. Doctors use their common sense. A quiet request for a dignified end will often do the trick.
There are times when making something legal has the opposite effect to what was intended.

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