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Dutch doctor cleared by court after euthanizing a dementia patient without her consent

The woman had said that she wanted to be euthanized, but at a time of her choosing

Carl Court/Getty Images

A Dutch court has cleared a doctor of wrongdoing, after she euthanized a dementia patient who had indicated that she wanted to be euthanized at a time of her choosing, but who had not yet given consent.

What happened?

According to The Guardian, the 74-year-old woman had a written statement saying that she eventually wanted to be euthanized, but also "to be able to decide [when to die] while still in my senses and when I think the time is right."

But her doctor had come up with a euthanasia date of her own and had two other doctors sign off on it.

Not only was the euthanasia done without the patient's consent, it took time to complete. First, the doctor slipped a sedative into her coffee. Then she gave her a shot with more sedative after the initial dose failed to take effect. After that, the doctor gave the patient the drug intended to kill her. But instead of dying, the patient woke up and got out of bed. So the doctor had the woman's husband and adult daughter hold her down while she gave her yet another dose. This time the woman died.

The woman's daughter, who had held her to the bed, said that the euthanasia had "freed my mother from the mental prison which she ended up in."

Even prosecutors were sympathetic toward the doctor, urging the judge not to sentence the doctor regardless of the outcome of the trial, since she had "acted with the best intentions."

What did the judge decide?

Judge Mariette Renckens cleared the doctor of any fault at a court in The Hague, saying that "all requirements of the euthanasia legislation had been met."

Prosecutors still intend to appeal the decision because the doctor failed to get the woman's and she may have changed her mind. Euthanasia has been legal in the Netherlands since 2002.

One last thing…
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