Tuesday 24 September 2013

Euthanasia deaths continue their relentless rise in the Netherlands

According to Dutch media reports today, 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 I 
reported previously, 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. 

I have never been convinced by the term ‘slippery slope’ which implies passive change over time. 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. 

previously described the similar steep increase 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).

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.

Further reports 

Daily Mail  (Euthanasia now accounts for one in 30 Dutch deaths)

Daily Telegraph  (13% rise in Dutch euthanasia deaths in one year)

Daily Mirror (My case against euthanasia)

Press TV

Washington Times 


  1. Interesting graphic; designed to look like death by euthanasia has risen by ten times the amount this year than six years ago. This is done by having the closest of the six columns ten times the size of the sixth column furthest away. Funny then that the article states: "......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....." THAT isn't reflected in the headline graph; I'd suggest someone is deliberately being misleading here. Looking at percentages the numbers drop from a 19% increase in 2010 to 18% increase in 2011 and a 13% increase in 2012 (hidden within the text by deliberately quotes years out of sequence) so we aren't actually seeing a "steady rise" we are seeing a plateau effect. Difficult to take this article seriously when the author is deliberately lying about what the statistics show and deliberately using incorrect graphs to conclude: "Euthanasia in the Netherlands is way out of control".

    Looking at the evidence in this article, I would suggest Christian anti-euthanasia campaigns are WAY OUT OF CONTROL.

    John Clarke

  2. The graphic is simply a graphic. The actual figures are in the text. I have however substituted the graphic. If you can find one which shows 120% increase over six years with 10-20% per year do let me know. The year on year increases are 10%, 10%, 13%, 19%, 18% and 13% so hardly plateauing. Furthermore as I point out in the article the 3% of deaths from injection euthanasia are just the tip of the iceberg if we consider life ended intentionally through terminal sedation, withdrawal of treatment and morphine overdose. I would say that is 'way out of control' and I'm astounded that you are unmoved by it.


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