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Dutch doctors can sedate ‘agitated’ patients before euthanasia


Doctors in the Netherlands are now permitted to sedate patients without their knowledge or consent prior to euthanizing them if there is a chance the patient could “become agitated” as a doctor prepares to end their life. 

The rule change was reported on Friday, November 20 by The Guardian. The updated policy applies to patients who have dementia or a similar condition. 

The revised policies state that for dementia patients “it is not necessary for the doctor to agree with the patient the time or manner in which euthanasia will be given.” 

The updated process follows an April, 2020, Dutch supreme court finding that a doctor who sedated a patient prior to euthanizing her had not broken any laws. 

Dr. Marinou Arends had been convicted of murder after she euthanized a patient with advanced Alzheimer’s disease in 2016. The woman had previously indicated that she wished to be euthanized if she were moved to a nursing home. The woman reportedly answered repeatedly that she did not wish to die when she was asked about the possiblity of euthanasia. 

Despite the patient’s change of mind, Arends euthanized her after giving her a sedative mixed into her coffee. Despite the sedative, the woman attempted to jerk away from the lethal drugs, and was held down by her son-in-law. The supreme court vacated a murder conviction and cleared Arends.

Jacob Kohnstamm, who chairs the Dutch euthanasia review committee, said that the new policies were needed as “doctors now have less to worry about putting their necks in a noose with euthanasia.”

“They need less fear of justice,” he said. “Or for the review committee.” 

Read more at Catholic News Agency

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