End of life decisions

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7116.1164 (Published 01 November 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1164

Good care aims at ending patients' suffering, not their life

  1. K F Gunning, President, World Federation of Doctors who Respect Human Lifea
  1. a Groene Wetering 24, 3062 PC Rotterdam, Netherlands
  2. b Sandwell Healthcare NHS Trust, Lyndon, West Brom wich B71 4HJ

    Editor—“The acid test for any society that claims to be civilised is whether it really protects the life and promotes the wellbeing of its most vulnerable citizens … certainly the mentally impaired.” Thus started the editorial by van der Maas.1 Having coauthored the so called Remmelink report on the practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands in 1990,2 van der Maas, with van der Wal, produced a second government sponsored report on euthanasia in the Netherlands in 1995,3 giving the proportions of end of life decisions both in 1990 (40% of total deaths) and in 1995 (43%).

    We must conclude that the Netherlands is becoming less and less civilised. Originally, the Dutch euthanasia movement opposed the idea that incompetent people could ever have their lives shortened, because euthanasia should be allowed only …

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