Doctors Should Refer Patients for Euthanasia: New Dutch Guidelines

Country: Netherlands

Date of incident: September 8, 2011

According to new guidelines from the Dutch national doctors association, doctors with moral objections to euthanasia have “a moral and professional duty” to refer patients to another doctor willing to euthanize them.

“If a physician is not prepared to consider a euthanasia request from patients then he also should not initiate the procedure. The physician must then put the patient in touch with a colleague who does not have fundamental objections to euthanasia and assisted suicide,” states the KNMG’s position paper, titled “The role of the physician in the voluntary termination of life (2011).” “Though there is no legal obligation to refer patients, there is a moral and professional duty to provide patients with timely assistance in finding a physician (for example, within the practice) who does not have fundamental objections to euthanasia and assisted suicide,” it continues. A recent Een Vandaag survey of 800 general medical practitioners in Holland found that almost one third of doctors had refused a euthanasia request within the past five years, and that almost two thirds said they felt “under pressure” regularly or sometimes to commit euthanasia. Increasing pressure from the family of a patient for euthanasia was reported by 36% of respondents. Over eighty percent of respondents said they felt increasing pressure by society in general to commit euthanasia. We kindly thank Lifesite News for reporting. Read the full story at: The Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) position paper, in English: