Euthanasia in the Netherlands: The Policy and Practice of Mercy Killing

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Springer Science & Business Media, Jul 13, 2004 - Business & Economics - 205 pages
4 Reviews
The Dutch experience has influenced the debate on euthanasia and death with dignity around the globe, especially with regard to whether physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia should be legitimized or legalized. A review of the literature reveals complex and often contradictory views about the Dutch experience. Some claim that the Netherlands offers a model for the world to follow; others believe that the Netherlands represents danger, rather than promise, and that the Dutch experience is the definitive answer regarding why we should not make active euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide part of our lives. Given these contradictory views, it has become clear that fieldwork is essential to developing a more informed opinion. Having investigated the Dutch experience for a number of years, and after thoroughly reading the vast literature published in English, I went to the Netherlands for one month in the summer of 1999 to get a feel for the local situation. I felt that this would provide the basis on which I could better interpret the findings of the available literature. I visited the major centers of medical ethics, as well as some research hospitals, and spoke with leading figures in the euthanasia policy and practice. The time spent was extremely beneficial and enriching. I followed in the footsteps of Carlos Gomez, who 1 published a book following one month of extensive research in the Netherlands.
  

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Professor Simon Shimshon Rubin, Department of Psychology, University of Haifa:
How to best respect human beings at the end of life concerns all of us. Euthanasia in the Netherlands: The policy
and practice of mercy killing takes a long and careful look at the Dutch experience with active euthanasia. Whatever one's position on the issue, this book provides a clear and compelling look at the interface of social policy, law, and practice both as conceived and as practiced. Prof. Cohen-Almagor provides an accessible synopsis of law and policy on euthanasia before addressing the law and policy in the Netherlands. The bulk of the book informs the reader by presenting the results of semi-structured interviews with leading thinkers and policy makers in the Netherlands's medico-legal and ethical establishments. Analyzing and critiquing the results of these exchanges, Cohen-Almagor brings into sharp focus a range of concerns about euthanasia based on what his respondents have shared. In the final section, Prof. Cohen-Almagor translates his concern with human dignity into a set of important recommendations on how to dramatically improve the manner in which decisions to end human life should be handled.
Prof. Cohen-Almagor has given us a book that meets the highest standards in how to conduct social policy research ethically and responsibly. Euthanasia in the Netherlands is readable, scholarly, and thought provoking. It is relevant to bioethicists, physicians, legislators, and anyone who is interested in the matter of human life and dignity.
 

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Professor William R. Winslade, Institute for the Medical Humanities, University of Texas:
Euthanasia in the Netherlands is an excellent book on an important topic. It succeeds in giving an even
-handed appraisal of Dutch euthanasia practices, providing a better understanding and valuable insights of the Dutch experience with euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Cohen-Almagor analyses clearly and accurately the weaknesses of the policy and offers recommendations for correcting the deficiencies and developing a sounder policy. He combines an overview of the literature with analyses and interpretations of the intriguing interviews he conducted with key people in the Netherlands.
Cohen-Almagor’s book is critical but judicious. He gives a balanced account of the views with which he disagrees and he carefully explains the basis for his disagreement. His style of writing is straightforward, clear, easy to follow, logical, and coherent. Bioethicists and other scholars in medicine, public health, and law will be interested in this book. College teachers of medical ethics will also find it valuable, and educated general readers with a special interest in euthanasia will find it helpful.
 

Contents

Comparative Law
1
BACKGROUND
22
The Three Research Reports of 1990 1995 and 2001 and Their Interpretations
23
The Practice of Euthanasia and the Legal Framework
35
FIELDWORK
50
The Methodology
53
THE INTERVIEWS
57
Views on the Practice of Euthanasia
65
INTERVIEWEES GENERAL COMMENTS
145
UPDATES
153
c On the Work of the Regional Committees
161
d Further Concerns
164
CONCLUSION
172
a Preliminaries
175
b Suggestions for Improvement
179
Interviews in the Netherlands Summer 1999
189

Worrisome Data
75
The Remmelink Contention and the British Criticism
85
Should Physicians Suggest Euthanasia to Their Patients?
91
Breaches of the Guidelines
103
On Palliative Care and the Dutch Culture
123
On Legislation and the Chabot Case
133

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About the author (2004)

Raphael Cohen-Almagor is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communication at the University of Haifa in Israel.

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