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Dutch euthanasia requests on the rise

AMSTERDAM (BP)–Official requests for euthanasia in The Netherlands totaled 2,331 in 2008, a 10 percent increase over the previous year.

The statistic was based on the yearly report from the European country’s five regional euthanasia monitoring committees, according to a DutchNews account based on a Nos TV report May 29.

But the total number of Dutch deaths by euthanasia is probably much higher, bioethics specialist Wesley Smith said.

“[S]everal studies show that about 40% of cases aren’t reported and that doctors sometimes intentionally overdose with morphine rather than formally euthanize with barbiturates and a [poison] like drug,” Smith wrote on his blog May 31. “Remember too that some doctors are now terminally sedating patients, meaning they don’t have to be present for” or report the death.

The Netherlands is one of three countries in which doctors can legally administer drugs to kill patients at their request. The others are Belgium and Luxembourg. In addition, Switzerland allows physician-assisted suicide, which involves a doctor prescribing but not administering the lethal drugs.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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