“Existential” suffering not a justification for euthanasia

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 15 December 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1384
  1. Tony Sheldon
  1. Utrecht

    A legal test case has defined the limits within which doctors in the Netherlands, especially general practitioners, can agree to a patient's request for mercy killing.

    The judgment draws a line between suffering of a medical nature—the result of a physical illness or mental condition on which doctors can act under the euthanasia law—and “existential” suffering, often associated with ageing, resulting from loneliness, emptiness, and fear of further decline. It accepted expert opinion that doctors had no expertise to judge …

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