Euthanasia in the Netherlands Essay

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As most countries abstain from the right to euthanasia, the Lower House of Parliament on November 28, 2000 passed a bill, legalizing euthanasia in the Netherlands. Will this law impact the beliefs and ideals of other countries and cause them to re-evaluate their medical procedures? In “Why Physicians? Reflections on the Netherlands’ New Euthanasia Law,” Jos V. M. Welie provides a descriptive overview of the history of the Dutch penal code on euthanasia in the Netherlands. In “Euthanizing Life,” John F. Kavanaugh discusses an anorexic patient who was illegally euthanized and presents Judge Miner’s offered opinion based on equal protection of the law.

In “Why Physicians? Reflections on the Netherlands’ New Euthanasia Law,” Welie introduces the audience to the origin of the law and states his opposition to it. The next few paragraphs describe the history of article 40 of the Dutch penal code and how it excused physicians from euthanizing at a time when it was illegal. “Article 40 waives the liability to punishment for anyone who commits a crime while compelled to do so by force majeure, that is, by a psychological or moral force so strong that the perpetrator could not resist it” (Welie 42). Many doctors felt liable in not obeying the law, however, they felt morally wrong in prolonging a particular patients’ suffering. Physicians are faced with the dilemma of whether or not relieving a patient’s suffering is worth the risk of being prosecuted and losing their license to practice medicine.

How would courts measure this so called “psychological or moral force” described in Article 40 of the Dutch penal code? Welie states that when confronted with prosecution, physicians would base their defense on “medical exception...

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... resist medical treatment, which may result in death, but are unable to have a doctor do the unfortunate job for us.

Welie’s article makes a great transition from describing the history of euthanasia to reflecting upon the present situation. He proposes many of his own thoughts to the issue and makes the reader question the differences in medical law between America and the Netherlands. Kavanaugh, in his article, tells a surprising story that keeps reader intrigued and follows it with an informative viewpoint from a judge. Overall, these articles do a plausible job on describing how euthanasia is practiced in another country.
Works Cited

Welie, Jos V. M. “Why Physicians? Reflections on the Netherlands’ New Euthanasia
Law.” The Hastings Center Report Jan/Feb 2002: 42-44
Kavanaugh, John F. “Euthanizing Life” America May 2001: 28

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