Euthanasia law fuels suffering in Holland

Dr Els Borst, the architect of legal euthanasia in Holland, has admitted that she may have made a mistake in pushing the law through.

Dr Borst made the comments during an interview for a new book, Redeemer Under God.

The former Health Minister and Deputy Prime Minister admitted that care for the terminally-ill had declined since the law came into effect.

Dr Borst said: “In the Netherlands, we first listened to the political and societal demand in favour of euthanasia.”

She added: “Obviously this was not in the proper order.”

She also said that more should have been done to give legal protection to those who want to die naturally.

The author of Redeemer Under God, Dr Anne-Marie The, has studied euthanasia for 15 years. Her research found that the available palliative care in Holland was so inadequate that patients “often ask for euthanasia out of fear”.

She added: “to think that we have neatly arranged everything by adopting the euthanasia law is an illusion”.

Phyllis Bowman, of British campaign group Right to Life, says that because of the Dutch euthanasia law “people can no longer get palliative care when they need it – they just get an injection.”

Ms Bowman said that Amsterdam, a city of 1.2 million people, only has two hospices.

Holland became the first country in the world to legalise voluntary euthanasia in 2002.

The number of cases of euthanasia in Holland has increased sharply in recent years.

In 2003 there were 1,626 cases while in 2008 there were 2,331 cases.

The Dutch Government has acknowledged that involuntary euthanasia poses a serious problem.

Euthanasia remains illegal in the UK.

However, earlier this year the Law Lords ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions, Kier Starmer, to issue draft guidance on when a person may be prosecuted for assisting suicide.

These guidelines are currently being challenged in the Supreme Court.