Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Harsh sentence for suicide information

The Dutch may have progressive attitudes and laws on voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide, but they apply only to physicians as this story demonstrates. What if she had read 'Final Exit' which was published in Dutch?

Dutch 'suicide consultant' is jailed for a year
Wed Dec 7, 2005

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch court sentenced a man calling himself a "suicide consultant" to a year in jail on Wednesday for helping a mentally ill woman end her life.

Jan Hilarius, the 73-year-old founder of Dutch suicide consultancy De Einder, was found guilty of helping a 25-year-old woman acquire medicines to kill herself 2003.

A court in the northern town of Alkmaar said in a statement Hilarius had corresponded with the woman and given her information about the deadly doses and combinations of medicines available online.

The court said the fact that Hilarius was not present when the woman killed herself was not the decisive factor.

"On the basis of his experience as a social worker, J.H. should have known that he could not diagnose whether the woman was suffering unbearably," the court said.

"J.H. professes to respect the boundaries of the law but crossed them by providing assistance in suicide to people who possibly were really looking for medical help."

The Netherlands became the first country to legalize euthanasia in 2001 but doctors must obey strict rules.

Patients must face a future of unbearable suffering and make a voluntary, well-considered request to die. Doctor and patient must be convinced there is no other solution. A second doctor must be consulted and life ended in a medically appropriate way.

De Einder -- Dutch for horizon -- was set up in 1995 to offer "professional help" to people who want to kill themselves by either persuading them to change their mind or assisting them to do so if that is their choice, the
group's Web site says.

An article on the Web site says the organization does not provide medicines itself but tells people how to order them on the Internet, advising about 350 people each year and helping at least 35 people to kill themselves annually.

This is not the first time De Einder has been in trouble. In 2003, another consultant was sentenced to six months in jail for helping a woman commit suicide.

The organization argues that the Dutch euthanasia law should be extended to allow professional help for people who have mental and not just physical reasons for wanting to die.

The precise number of euthanasia cases in the Netherlands is not known as not all doctors report them, but the government estimates that there are several thousand each year.


Post a Comment

<< Home