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Explains three different approaches to the valuation of human life. The first, 'vitalism', holds that life is an absolute good that should be preserved at all costs; the second, the 'sanctity of life', that it is a basic good that should never be intentionally taken; the third, 'Quality of life', that life is an instrumental good that has value if it is 'worth living'.
Defends the criminal prohibition of euthanasia and physician-assisteds suicide from the charge that it is hypocritical. The charge rests on five grounds: first, that the law is ineffective and winks at these practices; second, that it permits palliative treatment which shortens life; third, that by not prohibiting suicide it recognises a right to suicide; fourth, that it allows patients to end their lives by refusing treatmen, and, finally, that it allows life-prolonging treatment to be withheld or withdrawn.
The chapter questions the argument advanced by Professor John Griffiths in 2008 that the Dutch system of control of euthanasia had become effective. The chapter points out that, by relying on self-reporting by doctors, the system remained as 'intrinsically ineffective' as he noted it was in 1998; that there was still much intentional life-shortening which fell outside the Act's regulatory scheme; that the intepretation and enforcement of the guidelines by the review committees was lax; and that non-voluntary euthanasia had been condoned by the courts in relation to both infants and incompetent adults.
The chapter details continuing concerns about Dutch euthanasia practice which have been expressed by various observers including the UN Human Rights Committee and scholars including Professor Cohen-Almagor; Dr Gorsuch and Professor Boer. It also draws on the observations by supporters of Dutch euthanasia, including Dr Kimsma and Dr Chabot, which serve to illustrate the lack of effective control and the reality of 'bracket creep'.
Contrasts two different understandings of why autonomy is valuable. It maintains that while autonomy is a valuable capacity, not every autonomous choice merits respect, but only choices which are consistent with sound ethics.
This chapter outlines the proposal of the Dutch government in 2016 to extend the law to permit elderly people with completed lives to be assisted in suicide. The chapter offers several criticisms of the proposal, including its implicit devaluation of the lives of elderly people; its arbitrary criteria; the inability of the proposed legal framework to ensure effective control of the proposed extended practice, and the fact that it would further weaken the regulatory regime of the Euthanasia Act.
Questions the reassuring interpretation placed by the authors of the Dutch surveys, Dutch government representatives and the Dutch media on the empirical evidence concerning euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the Netherlands.