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Netherlands had record number of euthanasia procedures in 2020

A new report from the Regionale Toetsingscommissie Euthanasie (RTE), who annually analyse all deaths by euthanasia in the Netherlands, found that 6,938 deaths by euthanasia occurred during 2020, the highest yearly figure on record, almost 4.3% of the year’s total deaths.

Euthanasia deaths in 2020 outnumbered the previous peak of 6,585 in 2017. In 2002, the year the Netherlands became the first European country to legalise euthanasia, 1,882 deaths by euthanasia were recorded.

Jeroen Recourt, chair of the RTE, told a Dutch newspaper, “More and more generations see euthanasia as a solution for unbearable suffering… [and] the thought that euthanasia is an option for hopeless suffering brings [many people] peace”.

Expanding assisted suicide legislation

In October 2020, the Dutch government announced its plans to permit expanding current euthanasia laws to allow children aged 1-12 to be euthanised. The process had already been permitted for children aged 12 and above if consent was granted by both the patient and their parents, and was possible for infants during their first year of life.

Catherine Robinson, spokesperson for Right To Life UK said: “It is tragic but unsurprising that the Netherlands is witnessing not just a spike in deaths by doctor-assisted suicide, but that its laws are expanding to include children and those tragically suffering from suicidal thoughts”. 

“As is demonstrated by nearly every jurisdiction where various forms of assisted suicide have been permitted, once we accept that wanting to die merits legal and moral permission to be assisted in doing so, it usually naturally follows that more people will be pushed into doing so and that the categories will eventually expand far beyond the voluntary euthanasia of those with a terminal illness”.

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