Euthanasia deaths continue their relentless rise in the Netherlands
According to Dutch media reports yesterday, euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands in 2012 increased by 13% to 4,188. This follows increases of 13% in 2009, 19% in 2010 and 18% in 2011 and comes in the first year after the introduction of 'mobile clinics' which euthanize people in their own homes.
In fact from 2006 to 2012 there has been a steady increase in numbers each year with successive annual deaths at 1923, 2120, 2331, 2636, 3136, 3695 and 4,188 - an overall increase of 118% in just six years.
Euthanasia now accounts for over 3% of all Dutch deaths.
In addition 42 people with early dementia and 14 psychiatric patients were euthanized.
But as alarming as these statistics may seem they tell only part of the full story.
On July 11, 2012, The Lancet published a long awaited meta-analysis study concerning the practice of euthanasia and end-of-life practices in the Netherlands in 2010 with a comparison to previous studies done in 1990, 1995, 2001 and 2005.
The Lancet study indicated that in 2010, 23% of all euthanasia deaths were not reported meaning that the total number of deaths last year may not have been 4,188 but rather 5,151.
The 2001 euthanasia report also indicated that about 5.6% of all deaths in the Netherlands were related to deep-continuous sedation. This rose to 8.2% in 2005 and 12.3% in 2010.
A significant proportion of these deaths involve doctors deeply sedating patients and then withholding fluids with the explicit intention that they will die.
As previously reported, although official euthanasia deaths are rising year by year in the Netherlands, these deaths represent only a fraction of the total number of deaths resulting from Dutch doctors intentionally ending their patients' lives through deliberate morphine overdose, withdrawal of hydration and sedation.
Euthanasia in the Netherlands is way out of control.
The House of Lords calculated in 2005 that with a Dutch-type law in Britain we would be seeing over 13,000 cases of euthanasia per year. On the basis of how Dutch euthanasia deaths have risen since this may prove to be a gross underestimate.
The term 'slippery slope', which implies passive change over time, has never been convincing. What we are seeing in the Netherlands is more accurately termed 'incremental extension', the steady intentional escalation of numbers with a gradual widening of the categories of patients to be included.
The similar steep increases of cases of assisted suicide in Oregon (450% since 1998), Switzerland (700% over the same period) and Belgium (509% in ten years from 2003 to 2012) are well documented.
The lessons are clear. Once you relax the law on euthanasia or assisted suicide steady extension will follow as night follows day.
Britain needs to take warning as debate on the Falconer and MacDonald bills approaches.