Jueves 11 de Abril de 2002, Ip nº 12

Euthanasia law already effective in Holland
Today Holland is becoming the first country in the world to consider euthanasia a legal act, though subjected to strict conditions. Today a law sanctioned in April 2001 after 27 years of juridical debate is being declared effective.

The Dutch Senate adopted the law last April 10, thus confirming the preceding approval given by the low chamber, which had agreed on it by 104 votes against 40 in November 2000.

The Dutch law stipulates that doctors can practice euthanasia as long as certain strict criteria is observed. They should be convinced that the patient's request has been expressed after profound reflection. And patients should be in a terminal medical situation and suffer unbearably.

The legalization of euthanasia does not imply a decrease in the interest for palliative treatments in Holland, intended to limit suffering and pain in terminal patients through an integral approach to illnesses. Paradoxically, "one of the consequences of the law could be a deeper reflection on the possibilities of existing palliative treatments, particularly within the medical world", considered the president of the Dutch Medical Association (KNMG), Ruud Hagenouw.

Two weeks ago, the British justice accepted a quadriplegic (single, with no children) woman's request to be disconnected form the artificial respirator, even knowing that would cause her death. The sentence has no precedents, since the woman's life is not endangered. The court decided that, being mentally sane, she has the right to decide whether she accepts or not an invasive medical treatment.

  04/04/2002. Clarín.com.