Death by request in The Netherlands: facts, the legal context and effects on physicians, patients and families

Med Health Care Philos. 2010 Nov;13(4):355-61. doi: 10.1007/s11019-010-9265-0.


In this article I intend to describe an issue of the Dutch euthanasia practice that is not common knowledge. After some general introductory descriptions, by way of formulating a frame of reference, I shall describe the effects of this practice on patients, physicians and families, followed by a more philosophical reflection on the significance of these effects for the assessment of the authenticity of a request and the nature of unbearable suffering, two key concepts in the procedure towards euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. This article does not focus on the arguments for or against euthanasia and the ethical justification of physician-assisted dying. These arguments have been described extensively in Kimsma and Van Leeuwen (Asking to die. Inside the Dutch debate about euthanasia, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 1998).

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Ethical Review / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Euthanasia, Active, Voluntary / ethics
  • Euthanasia, Active, Voluntary / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Euthanasia, Active, Voluntary / psychology
  • Humans
  • Netherlands
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Religion and Medicine
  • Suicide, Assisted / ethics
  • Suicide, Assisted / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Suicide, Assisted / psychology