The Netherlands has some of the most liberal assisted suicide laws in the world. It’s one of five countries where doctors can end patients’ lives at their request, and one of only two that allows the procedure in cases where the patient is mentally ill. Those laws have come to international attention after a doctor was put on trial yesterday for administering euthanasia to an elderly patient with dementia, who had originally written a euthanasia request in 2012 but gave indications right before the procedure that she might have withdrawn her consent. If the judge rules that the doctor didn’t sufficiently check for consent, then the doctor would be in violation of the country’s euthanasia law and, in theory, could be convicted of murder.
The state prosecution team isn’t actively seeking punishment for the doctor, but has argued that it wants to use the case to create a clearer legal framework for determining consent in cases of assisted suicide. We’ll talk about the thorny issues surrounding consent when it comes to assisted suicide and how that relates to the ethics surrounding executions as the United States resumes implementation of the federal death penalty with Professor of Health Sciences at DePaul University Craig M. Klugman, a bioethicist who works on end-of-life issues.