A champion of the Dutch euthanasia system has admitted that British critics are right to warn that assisted dying is a slippery slope to ‘random killing of the defenceless’.
Dr Bert Keizer said that the type of patients whose lives are ended in the Netherlands has spread far beyond the terminally ill and now includes physically and mentally healthy old people who ‘find that their life no longer has content’.
Dr Keizer, one of his country’s most prominent practitioners of euthanasia, said that, in future, assisted dying in the Netherlands is likely to be extended to prisoners serving life sentences ‘who desperately long for death’ and disabled children whose parents believe their suffering is hopeless.
A champion of the Dutch euthanasia system has admitted that British critics are right to warn that assisted dying is a slippery slope to ‘random killing of the defenceless’ [File photo]
He said that after assisted dying was legalised in the Netherlands in 2002 ‘what our British colleagues had predicted years earlier, with unconcealed complacency, happened: those who embark on euthanasia venture down a slippery slope along which you irrevocably slide down to the random killing of defenceless sick people’.
Dr Keizer added: ‘Every time a line was drawn, it was also pushed back.’
His view, set out in the Dutch Medical Association Journal, amounts to a warning to British right-to-die campaigners.
Last month Tory MP and former Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell added to pressure for an assisted dying law
They have pressed in Parliament for a law to allow doctors to prescribe deadly drugs only to terminally ill patients and in recent weeks have revived their attempts.
Last month Tory MP and former Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell added to pressure for an assisted dying law.
‘We need to make clear that we are not looking here for a massive change,’ he said.
‘We are looking for very, very tight reform.’
But Parliament has repeatedly refused to change the 1961 Suicide Act, which provides for a jail sentence of up to 14 years for anyone who helps someone to die.
In the most recent Commons vote in 2015 MPs rejected a law to allow doctors to prescribe such drugs by 336 to 118.