Saturday 15 August 2020

Doctor will not be prosecuted for euthanasia of semi-conscious woman of 72

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Prosecutors will not pursue a case against a doctor who performed euthanasia on a 72-year-old woman in a state of semi-consciousness, the public prosecutor announced on Friday.

The case in April 2017 was one of a number referred to the public prosecution for potentially breaking strict rules by the Regional Euthanasia Review Committees, which assesses all cases each year.

She had advanced and incurable cancer, was suffering ‘unbearably’, and two days before the procedure had a cerebral haemorrhage resulting in a coma. Afterwards, she found it difficult to speak and was less aware of her surroundings.

The public prosecution service, however, said it was convinced that the woman’s wish for euthanasia was voluntary, well-considered, and that she could properly communicate her wishes by nodding her head and gesturing with her hands.

‘This meant that a written declaration of intent was not necessary,’ said the service in a news release. She had also expressed her wish for euthanasia several times before the brain haemorrhage, and was clearly in pain and suffering unbearably with no hope of treatment, it concluded.

The RTE had referred on the case (2017-73) saying that the doctor breached its criteria for due care but the public prosecutor has confirmed that the doctor – who has not been named – did ‘act in accordance with care standards’.

Another four criminal investigations are underway into other euthanasia cases, and earlier this year Trouw reported that numbers are apparently falling for the first time since the 2002 euthanasia law – possibly due to increased criminal investigations.

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