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Dutch euthanasia law - what's involved
THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- The reform of the Netherlands' law legalising mercy killings is the addition of a special "criminal liability exclusion" to Articles 293 and 294 of the Dutch Criminal Code.
The articles treat voluntary euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide as criminal offences, although in practice prosecutions are rare if doctors adhere to a criteria of due care.
The new statutory rules make no substantive change to the existing situation. What they do is formulate the "due care criteria", so that when ending a life, the physician must:
The legislation also seeks to remove the stigma of criminality from euthanasia and suicide assistance by altering the role of the Dutch Public Prosecution Service.
Under the current system, once a life has been terminated, the doctor involved must notify the municipal coroner of his or her actions, and also submit a report to one of five special regional review committees. The coroner also submits a report.
The review committee is then obliged to pass on a report to the Public Prosecution Service, irrespective of whether or not it considers the doctor to have acted with due care.
Under the new legislation, a report is submitted to the Public Prosecution Service only if the regional committee considers the doctor involved did not keep to the due care criteria.
If he or she did adhere to those criteria, the case is closed.
Finally, the new legislation recognises the validity of written requests by a patient for the termination of their life. These are called "euthanasia requests".
Dutch to legalise euthanasia
Euthanasia in Holland
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