[Euthanasia in the Netherlands--and the debate in Norway]

Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2001 Oct 20;121(25):2965-9.
[Article in Norwegian]


The Netherlands is about to change the penal code so that starting in the autumn of 2001, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, will be lawful acts, provided that certain conditions are met. The concepts of "euthanasia" and "physician-assisted suicide" are defined in a detailed manner, congruent with Dutch theory and practice. In connection with these definitions, a sharp distinction is drawn between medicalized killing and withholding or withdrawing treatment, and it is demonstrated why so-called "active" and "passive" euthanasia are notions that make no sense in a Dutch context. The basic criteria for granting requests for euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are introduced. The physician-patient relationship in the light of these practices is also a topic. It is pointed out that it is not uncommon that Dutch physicians find it emotionally burdensome to perform euthanasia. The claim that proper palliative treatment and care will work against patients' wish for euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide is discussed. From the public debate in Norway, one gets the impression that all humanists defend euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Yet there are prominent humanists amongst doctors who are distinctly opposed to these practices. On the other hand, in the Netherlands, we find hospital chaplains who defend euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ethics, Medical
  • Euthanasia, Active* / psychology
  • Euthanasia, Passive* / psychology
  • Humans
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Public Opinion
  • Suicide, Assisted* / psychology