Letters Law on assisted dying

Anti-euthanasia cards

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d3187 (Published 24 May 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3187
  1. Ron L P Berghmans, lecturer1
  1. 1Maastricht University, Maastricht, Netherlands
  1. r.berghmans{at}maastrichtuniversity.nl

Fitzpatrick argues against legalising assisted dying.1 The argument is partly built on quicksand. Particularly when referring to empirical fact, the water becomes turbid.

When he argues that older disabled people’s lives are under threat if euthanasia is legal he uncritically cites McColl, who apparently said, “Many elderly people in the Netherlands are so fearful of euthanasia that they carry cards around with them saying that they do not want it.” However, this claim has no empirical foundation. To my knowledge, no such anti-euthanasia cards exist in the Netherlands. What does exist is a living will (the “levenswensverklaring”), which is distributed by the Christian Dutch Patient Association. In this living will people can express their wishes regarding end of life medical and nursing care in case of incompetence and can state that active life termination is not an acceptable option.

It is not known how many people have completed such a living will. McColl’s quote is both incorrect and overly suggestive.


Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3187


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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