The Netherlands

The Law


The Netherlands decriminalised voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in 2002.

This euthanasia law specifies requirements to be followed in order to exercise “due care” or act “carefully”.

The Dutch definition of euthanasia includes a voluntary request from the person who dies. Therefore Dutch experts state that euthanasia without consent does not happen in the Netherlands.

However, the national official statistics identified 431 deaths in 2015 that were intentionally hastened by lethal drugs. Since these deaths do not meet the definition of ‘euthanasia’, they are called “ending of life without explicit request”. [1]

The Groningen Protocol allows euthanasia by lethal injection for newborns with disabilities such as spina bifida. This protocol is not officially part of the euthanasia law and the practice is often not called euthanasia.





[1]  See a screenshot of the statistics here. 

CBS Statline. (2017, May 24). Death by medical end-of-life decision; age, cause of death. Retrieved from https://opendata.cbs.nl