Euthanasie: strafbar und doch zugestanden? Die niederländische Duldungspolitik in Sachen EuthanasieEuthanasia: criminal and yet permitted? The Dutch policy of tolerance concerning euthanasia

Ethik in der Medizin 10 (1):12-25 (1998)

Bert Gordijn
Dublin City University
Definition of the problem: The Dutch policy regarding euthanasia has been causing amazement in other countries over and over again: Although euthanasia is illegal in the Netherlands, there are cases of euthanasia in which no criminal prosecution follows. The latter are regulated actively and in public by the Dutch authorities. In other countries certain cases of euthanasia are sometimes tolerated as well, however, there it is in most cases merely tacitly consented to. In contrast to these countries, in the Netherlands it is declared in advance under which conditions physicians do not need to fear criminal prosecution of their illegal actions. How can this peculiar Dutch policy be explained?Arguments: The Dutch policy concerning euthanasia is a typical example of a policy of pragmatical tolerance. This societal phenomenon is typically Dutch and can best be explained from a historical perspective.Conclusion: The historical roots of this policy of pragmatical tolerance can be found in the Dutch republic of the 17th century, where two dominant and sometimes rather opposite societal forces influenced the Dutch mentality and policy. The merchants wanted peace and freedom through a policy of tolerance, exemptions and compromises. The calvinists, on the other hand, strove for normative regulation of all human behaviour corresponding to their rigid moral standards. These two forces constituted the Dutch policy of pragmatical tolerance: on the one hand certain criminal acts remained unpunished, on the other hand certain conditions for immunity from criminal prosecution were formulated in advance and in public by the authorities. As such the practice of tolerance of illegal deeds was normatively regulated. This typically Dutch form of tolerance still exerts an important influence on the present policy of euthanasia in the Netherlands
Keywords Key words: Euthanasia  Tolerance  Dutch mentality  Calvinism  Schlüsselwörter: Euthanasie  Duldung  Niederländische Mentalität  Calvinismus
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DOI 10.1007/s004810050003
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Why the Netherlands?Raphael Cohen-Almagor - 2002 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 30 (1):95-104.
Why the Netherlands?Raphael Cohen-Almagor - 2002 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 30 (1):95-104.

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