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June 4, 1997

Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in the Netherlands: Lessons 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