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Dutch Supreme Court: Physician permitted to grant a written request for euthanasia from individuals suffering from advanced dementia

Friday, April 24, 2020

At Tuesday the 21st of April, the Dutch Supreme Court handed down a judgment in a case brought 'in the interest of the law'. In this judgment, the Supreme Court explained the premises for imparting substance to the requirements of due care in the special situation that the euthanasia is based on a written request from an individual suffering from advanced dementia.


Conclusion of the ruling

The Supreme Court ruled that a physician is permitted to grant a written request for euthanasia from individuals suffering from advanced dementia. All of the statutory requirements applicable to euthanasia must be satisfied in such situations, including the requirement of unbearable suffering without prospect of improvement. In that event, the physician is not subject to criminal prosecution. 

What happened before
It was September last year that Dutch prosecutors asked the Supreme Court to bring clarity on how doctors should deal with incapacitated patients
Earlier that month a doctor who performed euthanasia to a patient suffering from advanced dementia was dismissed of legal proceedings after that she was brought to court by the Dutch Public Prosecutor in 2018.
The doctor performed the euthanasia in 2016. 

 

Read more on the website of the Dutch Supreme Court:
- the English press release  
- the English summary of the judgment 
- the Dutch press release and the link to the original judgments (in Dutch) 

 

 

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