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April 12, 1995

Physician-Assisted Death

Author Affiliations

Nanty Glo, Pa

JAMA. 1995;273(14):1088-1089. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520380024017

To the Editor.  —Dr Veatch's review1 of the book Physician-Assisted Death is excellent, but both the book and the review apparently overlook an important point.The Netherlands has already performed the "experiment" as to whether modern democracy can protect the civil rights of patients while allowing physician-aided dying under strict guidelines that is regulated by a government bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the Remmelink report sponsored by the Dutch government shows that as a result of this policy 1000 lives a year are ended deliberately by physicians without explicit request from the patient, and one fourth of all deaths come prematurely because the physician—not the family or the patient—decided to end life indirectly.2In short, the "slippery slope" has turned out to be an abyss. Yet, as Neuhaus wryly observes, there are ethicists who "regularly look into the abyss and report there is nothing to worry about."3 I suspect this

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