Euthanasia: a historical perspective from the Netherlands with Dr. Hannah van den Ende

Dr. Hannah van den Ende

Dr. Hannah van den Ende

There were many take aways from Dr. van den Ende's lecture on euthanasia. Here's a summary of some of these;

  • definition of euthanasia - deliberate termination of life by a doctor, at a patient's specific request.

  • big question is should we all have the autonomy to decide on ending our life? This pro-automony philosophy is what drove the formation of the law.

  • 80% of euthanasia patients in the Netherlands are cancer patients

  • worldwide morphine is usually used, but there are 2 downsides, 1) you can become immune 2) its secret, you have to lie about the dosage in your medical file (not very honest way to go about things)

  • criteria of due care jurisprudence

  • Is it always ethical to keep someone alive with all the medical advances of today? This will become even more of a difficult question as we advance.

  • In the Netherlands you have 'scen doctors' who provide a 2nd opinion. In the Netherlands the method used to conduct euthanasia is through an intravenous sleeping medication to induce a coma followed by an intravenous muscle relaxant. Total duration = 5-20 minutes. In the US (at least where it's allowed) they use physician assisted suicide, an oral method, anti-emetics, barbiturate, which is only possible with strong patients.

  • In NL, physicians may refuse to give euthanasia, but in most cases they will refer you to a doctor who will perform euthanasia.

  • 12-15 year olds need parents' permission

  • 16-18 year olds only possible with parents' involvement

  • remains an ethical debate, even the term euthanasia.

Hannah Huber