Seduced by Death: Doctors, Patients, and the Dutch Cure

Herbert Hendin, Author W. W. Norton & Company $27.5 (256p) ISBN 978-0-393-04003-6
Advocates of legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia for terminally ill or chronically suffering patients often point to the Netherlands as a model, the only Western industrialized country that has embraced these practices. Hendin, a New York City psychiatrist and executive director of the American Suicide Foundation, whose goal is suicide prevention, traveled to Holland to research this important and alarming report. He found that Dutch doctors aggressively market physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia; that mercy killing has become almost a routine way of dealing with serious or terminal illness, even with grief; that the Dutch accept assisted suicide for depressed, suicidal psychotherapy patients who do not respond quickly to treatment; and that many wrongful deaths occur as doctors increasingly exercise paternalistic control over patients. Despite official guidelines and safeguards, there are more than 1000 cases a year of Dutch doctors actively causing or hastening death at their discretion--without the patient's request--according to a Dutch government-commissioned study. In the U.S., Hendin believes, legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia would make large numbers of the poor, minority groups and older people especially vulnerable to pressure by family, physicians, hospitals and nursing homes. As an alternative, he recommends palliative care in a hospice or at home, plus advance directives--a living will and a health-care proxy stipulating what you would want done should you become incapable of making decisions. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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