ICBioethics Blog 

Perspectives on Euthanasia

Written by: Aimee Zellers

We’ll start this ICB blog with a soft toss at the longstanding and controversial debate surrounding euthanasia.


In August of 2012, a report on the euthanasia in The Netherlands was published called the Regional Euthanasia Review Committees. This report is the annual report on euthanasia for 2011. The committees received a total of 3,695 notifications of termination of life on requests. This is an 18% increase from 2010. Throughout 2011, there were 3,446 cases of euthanasia, 196 cases of physician assisted death, and 53 cases that were a combination of the two. The review found that in only four cases the physicians did not act in accordance with the due care criteria. However, there is the ongoing problem of physicians administering euthanasia and not reporting it. The Lancet published an article (2012) suggesting that as many as 20% of physicians do not report the administration of euthanasia.

In the U.S. euthanasia is illegal, however, physician assisted death is legal in Washington, Oregon, and Montana. The Netherlands has demonstrated that euthanasia can be a regulated and accepted medical alternative, yet there are shortcomings. Given the current statistics in this Dutch report, could the U.S. take some lessons from the Netherlands on regulation of a controversial medical practice?

Looking forward to your comments!

Mitch GennusoComment