A Dutch doctor who euthanised a stroke victim because she didn’t want to live in a nursing home is being investigated by prosecutors.
The woman, in her 80s, was killed by lethal injection at the ‘Life End Clinic’ which was started by activists to make euthanasia more accessible for people in the Netherlands.
She had expressed a desire not to live in a care home in writing 20 years earlier, and repeated her wish verbally 18 months ago before a stroke left her unable to communicate properly.
After a family member contacted the clinic, a doctor visited the home and said the woman was ‘suffering unbearably’ and so qualified for euthanasia.
The assessment was based on gestures and her use of the words ‘kan niet’ (can not).
It is the second time in four months that the clinic has been criticised by regulators.
Earlier this year, a Dutch academic who previously supported legalising euthanasia in the Netherlands urged Westminster not to introduce assisted suicide, ahead of a debate on the issue in the House of Lords.
Theo Boer, who has been part of a committee monitoring euthanasia cases since 2005, said the number of such deaths in the Netherlands has soared since the legalisation of euthanasia in 2002.
Boer has reviewed close to 4,000 euthanasia cases and said: “Euthanasia is on the way to become a ‘default’ mode of dying for cancer patients.”
He warned of other developments, such as the rising number of patients with psychiatric illnesses or dementia being euthanised.
“Cases have been reported in which a large part of the suffering of those given euthanasia or assisted suicide consisted in being aged, lonely or bereaved.
“Some of these patients could have lived for years or decades”, he added.
Opponents of assisted suicide in the UK have used the Netherlands as an example of a dangerous ‘slippery slope’ if the practice is legalised.