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The Dutch Debate on Euthanasia

KIM Moon-Jeong 1

1동아대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article describes the origins and rationale of the Dutch policy on euthanasia. Euthanasia is in principle illegal in the Netherlands, as it is in other countries. However, under certain conditions euthanasia is “tolerated” in the Netherlands. The Dutch ethicist Bert Gordijn attributes this to the typical Dutch mentality to avoid radical positions and instead compromise in disputes. According to Gordijn, two dominant and somewhat contrary social forces from the 17th century influenced the Dutch mentality and policy: conservative Calvinism and free trade. Disputes emerging from conflicting interests were traditionally resolved according to the policy of tolerance, and certain illegal acts remained unpunished. The Dutch policy concerning euthanasia, a typical example of pragmatic tolerance, attempts to prevent the greater evil of unregulated euthanasia by tolerating the lesser evil of euthanasia under strict preconditions. Ongoing public discussion in the Netherlands about the legitimacy of more liberal euthanasia laws have given rise to the current Dutch policy on euthanasia and medically assisted suicide.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.