Boudewijn Chabot: an unlikely critic of Dutch euthanasia practice?

Dr. Boudewijn Chabot is well-known as the doctor in the famous Dutch court case that effectively made psychiatric euthanasia legally permissible in that country.  He recently published an opinion piece which is highly critical of the recent trends in Dutch euthanasia practice involving persons with dementia and chronic psychiatric illnesses. You can find an English translation here.

In his article, Dr. Chabot targets several entities in making the main charge that the Dutch euthanasia’s laws which require certain conditions be met (such as unbearable suffering that has no prospect of improvement) are no longer functioning as intended due to toothless enforcement.

First, he is highly critical of the End of Life Clinic which now provides the majority of psychiatric euthanasias in that country.  This clinic’s mission is to provide euthanasia for those patients whose requests have been declined by their doctors.  It is a system of mobile clinics, affiliated with the country’s main right to die organization.

Second, he criticizes the Dutch euthanasia review committees for essentially rubber stamping approvals.

Third, he criticizes the researchers who conduct the federally mandated evaluation of the law’s impact every five years.  He essentially accuses them of whitewashing unacceptable practices, while claiming to uphold the criteria in the law.

“What is astonishing is that in the third evaluation of the law, the researchers still keep up the smoke screen around ‘unbearable suffering without prospect of improvement’.”

He ends with: “I don’t see how we can get the genie back in the bottle. It would already mean a lot if we’d acknowledge he’s out.”

What makes this essay unusual is that it is by a prominent Dutch figure in the history of the country’s development of euthanasia practice. Of course, similar concerns have been raised by numerous external critics.  (See for example, an article my colleague Trudo Lemmens and I wrote, raising concerns about the attempts to legalize psychiatric euthanasia in Canada.)


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