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June 4, 1997

Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in the NetherlandsLessons From the Dutch

Author Affiliations

From the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Department of Psychiatry of New York Medical College, New York (Dr Hendin); Department of Justice, The Hague, (Dr Rutenfrans); and Hospice Rosenhuyvel (Dr Zylicz), Rozendaal, the Netherlands.

JAMA. 1997;277(21):1720-1722. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540450076039

For 2 decades, both physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia have been given legal sanction in the Netherlands. In response to domestic and international concern about their policies, the Dutch government appointed a commission that oversaw a study of the practice of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in 1990.1 That study, which was largely replicated in a 1995 study, was supported by the Royal Dutch Medical Association with the promise that physicians who participated would receive immunity from prosecution for anything they revealed.

See also p 1705.

In 1996, the investigators published a report of their new findings in Dutch2 and summarized their work in 2 articles in theNew England Journal of Medicine,3,4 which was supported by an editorial in that journal.5 These reports have given a favorable interpretation to what could be seen as evidence of little or no improvement by declaring that since matters have not