Dutch doctor who killed dementia sufferer against her will acted ‘in good faith’, panel rules

A doctor who euthanised a dementia sufferer against her will did not break any laws according to a medical committee in the Netherlands.

The doctor drugged the unidentified woman and then asked for her family members to assist in holding her down as she tried to resist being given a lethal injection.

Official documentation shows that the woman said several times in the days before she was given a lethal injection that she did not “want to die”.

‘Crossed the line’

The Regional Review Committee cited the country’s controversial euthanasia laws and came to the conclusion that the doctor had acted ‘in good faith’.

The Committee admitted that the doctor had ‘crossed the line’ by giving her the drug and should not have persisted after she showed resistance.

The case has been referred to court according to the Volkskrant newspaper with Committee Chairman Jacob Kohnstamm saying he would like to get “judicial clarity over what powers a doctor has when it comes to the euthanasia of patients suffering from severe dementia”.

Dementia

The elderly woman had previously expressed a desire for euthanasia when she decided that ‘the time was right’.

Her health deteriorated and she was put into a nursing home where it was believed she was no longer mentally capable of choosing when to die.

However, the doctor decided that the woman’s circumstances made it clear that the time was now right and proceeded to perform euthanasia.

UK vote

Assisted suicide remains illegal in the UK.

Under the law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a person who intentionally encourages or assists the suicide or attempted suicide of another person, commits an offence which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

A Bill to legalise assisted suicide was soundly defeated in the House of Commons in 2015 by 330 votes to 118.