Dutch court decisions on nonvoluntary euthanasia critically reviewed

Issues Law Med. 1998 Spring;13(4):447-58.


The author critically reviews Dutch court decisions on nonvoluntary euthanasia. First, he examines euthanasia practice in the Netherlands. The author next discusses in detail the 1995 cases of two physicians who were prosecuted for terminating the lives of infants who were severely ill and disabled. The courts accepted nonvoluntary euthanasia and relied on the physicians' defense of necessity. Jochemsen exposes serious flaws in the reasoning of the courts and concludes that newborns with congenital disorders should be given appropriate palliative care. Jochemsen fears that by extending the practice of euthanasia to infants with disabilities the Dutch courts have taken another step toward endangering the lives of all incompetent persons.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Disabled Children / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Double Effect Principle
  • Ethics
  • Euthanasia / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Euthanasia, Active*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intention
  • Judicial Role*
  • Legal Guardians*
  • Moral Obligations
  • Netherlands
  • Palliative Care / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Parental Consent
  • Persons
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Vulnerable Populations
  • Wedge Argument
  • Withholding Treatment