Euthanasia in the Netherlands: History, developments and challenges

Martin Buijsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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In 2002, the Netherlands enacted legislation allowing euthanasia. Well before the Euthanasia Act took effect Dutch criminal courts had already considered euthanasia not punishable if certain condi- tions were met. The Netherlands was thus the first country to decriminalize euthanasia to a considerable extent. Because of the way it is regulated, much is known about Dutch euthanasia practice and how it has developed. In this paper law and practice are explained and clarified, and current issues are dis- cussed and reflected upon. Particular attention is given to performing euthanasia on the decisionally incompetent, the issue of completed life and the growing call for further decriminalization of euthana- sia. It is concluded that the Netherlands is at a crossroads. While the current law on euthanasia is ulti- mately based on compassion, various initiatives put forward by advocacy organizations and political parties are firmly rooted in the principle of self-determination. If these proposals were ever to become law, the law on euthanasia as we know it will be seriously subverted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-100
Number of pages24
JournalRevista Derecho y Religión
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2022


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