Lead researcher Irene Tuffrey-Wijne, a palliative care specialist and a member of Kingston University's Faculty of Health, Science, Social Care and Education, along with her team of researchers, analyzed documents related to 900 legal euthanasia cases released by the Dutch government's euthanasia review committees.
Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in the Netherlands have been legal since 2002, becoming the first country in the world to allow doctors to kill patients. To facilitate euthanasia and assisted suicide cases, the Dutch government set up five regional euthanasia review committees that make the final determination on whether or not a request for euthanasia or assisted suicide complies with the country's due care criteria. If the conditions are met, the death will be carried out.
The review committees are only supposed to approve euthanasia requests if the patients meet very strict requirements, including having an incurable illness that is causing "unbearable" physical or mental suffering.
Between 2012 and 2021, nearly 60,000 people were approved for euthanasia or assisted suicide at their own request. (Related: Dutch government backing euthanasia for terminally ill children.)
According to Kingston University's report, intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or a combination of the two were identified as the sole causes of suffering in 21 percent of the reviewed cases, while they were a major contributing factor in 42 percent of cases. The study also noted that doctors frequently determined that there was no hope for improvement due to the lack of available treatments for such disabilities.
The reasons cited for the euthanasia requests were social isolation and loneliness (77 percent), lack of resilience or coping strategies (56 percent), rigidity in thinking or difficulty adapting to change (44 percent), and oversensitivity to stimuli (26 percent). In around a third of the cases, physicians concluded that ASD and intellectual disability were not treatable, leading to the determination of "no prospect of improvement."
Among the cases studied, five individuals were under the age of 30, including a young man in his twenties who associated childhood bullying and an inability to connect with others as the reasons for his pain.
"There's no doubt in my mind these people were suffering," said Tuffrey-Wijne. "But is society really okay with sending this message, that there's no other way to help them and it's just better to be dead?"
Simon Baron-Cohen, from the University of Cambridge's Autism Research Center, strongly criticized the situation, calling it "abhorrent" that individuals with autism were euthanized in the Netherlands without adequate support.
Dutch psychiatrist Dr. Bram Sizoo also expressed concerns, stating that some young people with autism viewed euthanasia as a solution and were even "almost excited at the prospect of death," mistakenly believing it would end their own and their family's problems.
A representative speaking for the Royal Dutch Medical Association claimed it was up to doctors to decide if a patient meets the criteria for euthanasia, adding that many cases involving patients with autism were "highly complex" and that "age itself is not a decisive factor to determine whether a person suffers unbearably."
For the latest news regarding legal euthanasia around the world, check out Euthanasia.news.
Watch the video below to listen to the discussion on whether euthanasia is mercy killing or murder.
This video is from the Bible News Prophecy channel on Brighteon.com.