Netherlands: we have euthanasia, but no place for coma patients…

Posted on | February 27, 2012 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D. |

The Dutch public is offended over remarks made by Rick Santorum in a TV talkshow:

“In the Netherlands, people wear different bracelets if they are elderly. And the bracelet is: ‘Do not euthanize me.’ Because they have voluntary euthanasia in the Netherlands but half of the people who are euthanized — ten percent of all deaths in the Netherlands — half of those people are enthanized involuntarily at hospitals because they are older and sick. And so elderly people in the Netherlands don’t go to the hospital. They go to another country, because they are afraid, because of budget purposes, they will not come out of that hospital if they go in there with sickness.”

While the Washington Post believes that those statements were grossly incorrect, other sources confirm that his remarks were certainly not far from the truth.

Whatever the statistics are, the tragic skiing accident of Prince Johan Friso of Nassau-Oranje, who is in a coma after having come under an avalanche, unexpectedly sheds new light at the situation. As Dutch media report, the Royal Family is now looking for a medical institution that will treat Prince Johan Friso. But tha chance to find such treatment in the Netherlands are small, as “there is no institution in our land that treat this sort of patient”(!).

Other media have noted that in the Netherlands medical doctors may decide to terminate the treatment of a coma patient even without consulting his family, if they find that its continuation “makes no sense”.

In other words: in the Netherlands coma patients are killed, not treated.

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Turtle Bay and Beyond is a blog covering international law, policy and institutions. Our experts - at the UN, European Institutions, and elsewhere - explore an authentic understanding of international law, sovereignty, and the dignity of the human person. We expose those who would seek to impose a radical social vision that is contrary to these principles.

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