Euthanasia Deaths in Netherlands Increase 13 Percent

Euthanasia Deaths in Netherlands Increase 13 Percent


Euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands jumped 13 percent last year to constitute about 3 percent of all deaths in the European country, Baptist Press reports. Official statistics released Sept. 23 show 4,188 people died by euthanasia in 2012, an increase of nearly 500 from the previous year, The Daily Mail reported. It marked the sixth consecutive year for an increase in the Netherlands, which legalized euthanasia in 2002. Last year was the first during which mobile euthanasia units staffed by doctors and nurses started crossing the country to end the lives of people in their homes. The teams -- known as Levenseinde, or "Life End," units -- go to the homes of people who desire to be euthanized but whose physicians have refused to do so. Dutch law supposedly limits those eligible for euthanasia to people who are incurable and in unbearable pain, but the actual practice appears far more expansive. Newborns with disabilities and people with chronic depression, mental pain and even macular degeneration have been euthanized, said Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Macular degeneration is an affliction typically in older people that causes a loss of vision in the center of the eye. Euthanasia foes say the totals do not include terminally sedated patients and involuntary victims of the practice. Anti-euthanasia organizations decried the practice's increasing acceptance. "The Dutch experience shows that euthanasia becomes routine," said Elspeth Chowdharay-Best of anti-euthanasia ALERT. "It traps more and more people into thinking they ought to leave this world prematurely. In that kind of culture euthanasia becomes expected and inevitable and everything else -- such as good palliative care and a functional hospice movement -- is gradually portrayed as rather selfish." The Netherlands is one of three countries that have legalized euthanasia. The others are Belgium and Luxembourg.

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