David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Ethical Perspectives 9 (1):3-20 (2002)
The Dutch experience has influenced the debate on euthanasia and death with dignity around the globe, especially with regard to whether physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia should be legitimized or legalized. Review of the literature reveals complex and often contradictory views about this experience. Some claim the Netherlands offers a model for the world to follow; others believe the Netherlands represents danger rather than promise, that the Dutch experience is the definitive answer to why we should not make active euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide part of our lives.Given these contradictory views, fieldwork is essential to develop a fully informed opinion. Having investigated the Dutch experience for a number of years, in the summer of 1999 I went to the Netherlands to visit the major centres of medical ethics as well as some research hospitals, and to speak with leading figures in euthanasia policy and practice. This essay reports some of the main findings of my interviews and provides detailed accounts of the way in which some of the Netherlands’ leading experts perceive the policy and practice of euthanasia in their country. These accounts are quite fascinating.The discussion begins with background information on the guidelines for euthanasia. Next, explanation about the research methodology is outlined and then I discuss the interviewees’ views about the guidelines for euthanasia. I conclude by indicating that the Dutch guidelines on the policy and practice of euthanasia do not provide ample mechanisms against abuse. Virtually every guideline has been breached or violated. This finding reiterates Hendin’s finding. I recommend that the Netherlands amend its policy and remedy its troubling practice
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