Mutatis mutandis ... on Euthanasia and Advanced Dementia in the Netherlands

Martin Buijsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are common practice in the Netherlands. In response to increasing requests from patients to end their lives, physicians are finding themselves placed in particularly precarious situations because of advance directives written by patients suffering from severe dementia. In April 2020, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands issued two judgments in the so-called Dormicum case: a case involving the deliberate termination of the life of a 74-year-old woman suffering from advanced dementia by a geriatrician in a nursing home in The Hague. The judgment of the lower criminal court was upheld, but the sanction imposed by the appellate disciplinary court was quashed. In this paper, the author reviews the two Supreme Court rulings, argues that both are fundamentally flawed and raises questions as to what they mean for Dutch criminal law, physicians, and patients going forward.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-53
Number of pages14
JournalCambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2022

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